Saturday, September 1st, 2012 09:16 am GMT -6 Saturday, September 1st, 2012 09:16 am GMT -6Saturday, September 1st, 2012 09:16 am GMT -6
Precision tools for scale airplane design

Looking for an unusual scale model airplane subject?





The world does not really need another scale model of a Piper Cub or P-51 Mustang. Yes, the world will gladly take it. But there is no shortage of less well known full-size airplanes just begging for an enterprising modeler to tackle the job.

I get an email once in a while from a modeler desperately looking for a kit of a full-size airplane that they are fond of. They have looked everywhere and cannot find one. They have usually already tried talking to kit manufacturers before they contact me. The kit manufacturers do not even acknowledge their emails. Sadly, my response is that if they want to see a scale model of that particular airplane, they are going to have to put it together themselves.

Here’s a little secret: most scale model airplanes are not all that hard to design. You need to have good building and flying skills. It might take some trial and error to come up with a design. But these are all very learnable skills. And yes, it gets a lot easier with practice.

The following websites are packed full of interesting potential scale subjects. Once you have honed in on a subject, a Google search is a great idea. But if you are still not sure what airplane you want to model, that is when these websites come in handy.

All The World’s Rotorcraft

Very nice website of helicopters and other vertical take-off vehicles. Easy to navigate and lots of pictures.

Virtual Aircraft Museum

Sister site for the rotorcraft directory. Note the web address! Yes, very confusing. Like the rotorcraft directory, excellent contents.

With over 2 million photos, this is one of the better online aircraft photo websites. You won’t find much background information on the airplanes pictured. There is also a strong bias towards the more common airplanes. But they also have lots of pictures of lesser known designs.


The information on airplanes in this general purpose online encyclopedia is surprisingly good. The pictures are not too shabby, either.

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force – USAF Aircraft & History

Online catalog of the aircraft in their collection. Needless to say, a great starting point if you love American military aircraft.

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force – Virtual Tour

This is really good. A virtual tour of the entire museum. If you click on the aircraft, a separate window opens up with detailed information. I wish all aviation museums had something like this.

National Air and Space Museum – Aircraft Collection

This museum’s collection of historical airplanes is second to none. I wish they had more information online, though. From this page you can access a directory (with thumbnails) of their aircraft collection.

Russian Aviation Museum

A russian aviation “love fest”. There seems to be a definite slant towards obscure military aircraft. It is not a very good looking website. It also has not been updated since 1999. But as they say, content is king. With 1321 russian airplanes listed, this is the largest online collection that I know of.

Identified Flying Objects (IFOs)

Looking for weird flying stuff? This is a good place to look. The focus of the website is disc shaped aerospace VTOL craft made by humans. No, they do not have real UFOs. If you look hard enough, I’m sure you will find a suitable scale subject for your next quadcopter.

Wings Palette

Vast database of individual aircraft markings. Even if you pick a popular scale subject, you can at least give it an interesting paint scheme. Most airplanes seem to only have side views. An excellent resource if you are looking for a unique paint scheme for your scale model.

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