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"Best AIRCRAFT scale / suppliers for 20mm gaming" Topic

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Dan in Vermont04 Oct 2018 10:10 a.m. PST

Hi all: So I'm confused by the various choices out there. What seems to be the standard for Aircraft scale for company level games such as IABSM or skirmish games for single aircraft strikes. Ideally, I'd like a model that can stay aloft on a single thin wire stand so it is about 12-24 inches above the table. Any suggestions on Scale, Vendors, best sources for stands (other than the clear plastic that's only about 6 inches high).. Thanks, Dan

Dan in Vermont04 Oct 2018 10:31 a.m. PST

I think 1/100 or 1/144 seem to be most common. thx

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP04 Oct 2018 1:30 p.m. PST

Stick to plastic and resin planes. Lead miniatures and diecast toys can be cheap, but they're heavy, topple easily and frequently, and can actually cause real damage to anything they land on.

1/72 scale remains the best scale for variety and accuracy, and probably availability. The models are also big enough to make modifications relatively easy, if you want to make special versions or unique individual aircraft nobody has produced in a complete kit. 1/72 scale is also quite literally in scale with 20mm miniatures. OTOH, bombers and even large fighters in this scale are really big. A B-25 and most twin-engine fighters will have wingspans around 9", and other twin-engine ground attack planes will be even bigger.

1/144 scale bombers are probably still on the large side for gaming (4"-6" wingspans), but might be okay if you're just bringing in one for an attack run. The fighters will look a bit small next to 20mm troops, but are probably about the right size for gaming tables (2.5"-3" wingspans for single-engine fighters), and the Japanese "gashopon" collectible model industry makes beautiful pre-painted WWII planes that are generally easy to build and are ready to hang in a display case immediately after assembly and decals (F-Toys, Bandai, 21st Century Toys, Dragon, Cafereo). Unfortunately, gashopon models are also limited production runs (they're meant to be collectible), so you have to buy them when they hit the market or you will search for years and pay through the nose to get what you want. Sweet Aviation also makes really nice bare plastic (not pre-painted) 1/144 model aircraft (look nice, fit together well, sturdy, easy to build), but unfortunately has a limited range of only certain very popular subjects, and hasn't released a new model in years. Mark 1 Models is another excellent quality 1/144 plane manufacturer, also with a limited selection of models. Finally, you can also find 1/144 aircraft of varying quality on Shapeways.

1/200 scale currently has the best selection of lightweight WWII planes: AIM, HBM, Wings of Glory, Zvezda, Shapeways, and now Warlord Games' Blood Red Skies series. This scale is growing in popularity and size. The fighters are pretty small and probably look too diminutive next to 20mm troops, but this might be the right scale for medium bombers most twin-engine bombers will have wing spans of 4"-5".

- Ix

mgk416704 Oct 2018 2:48 p.m. PST


As noted above, 20mm gaming does not demand 20mm aircraft. In fact, I find that the scale relationship between smaller scale aircraft 'flying' overhead gives a more realistic look than 20mm. As also noted above, the smaller the scale aircraft the better chance you have of being able to pop them on a stick and make them fly above the troops, rather than some monster aircraft that may crash down and do real damage.

I have used 1:144 and 1:200 quite successfully for years. I recommend a smaller scale, in resin or plastic. Works for me

d88mm194004 Oct 2018 6:17 p.m. PST

As for sources, try Rare Plane Detective. He moved to SoCal a couple years ago and has a great selection. Great prices and great service. I've purchased many models. not only aircraft, from him for the past ten years or so.
He will send you his monthly 'deals' catalog if you purchase from him and give up your email address.
PDF link

He also sells on ebay, I believe.

deephorse07 Oct 2018 2:46 p.m. PST

For a 20mm game I want 1/72 scale aircraft. Anything smaller just looks silly when viewed from above, which is generally where I view my table from. I'm not going to be using four-engined level bombers in my games so the physical size of the model is not an issue. As for stands I make my own from wire coathangers with a 1.5mm plywood base. Cheap & easy to do.

Dan in Vermont08 Oct 2018 11:47 a.m. PST

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone (especially to Yellow Admiral !).

fozman16 Oct 2018 5:10 a.m. PST

The other advantage of having 1/72 aircraft for a 20mm game is that if you do an airfield-based game (LRDG raid, or German paras on Crete or even German Paras on Battle of France/Britain airfield) your aircraft that you use "in the air" are equally at home on the ground…

Grumble8710604 Nov 2018 6:56 p.m. PST

My bases are wooden blocks centered on a piece of plywood. The stands are old radio antennas from defunct appliances. That way I can put the plane at whatever level I want to. I make a plastic tip for the stand out of discarded plastic ball-point pens. All my models have a hole drilled in the bottom to fit the tip of the stand. One of the antennas had a swivel base, and I use that one to position dive bombers at an appropriate angle.

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