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"1/6000 aircraft experiment" Topic

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hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2020 9:48 a.m. PST

Creating a new thread to consolidate discussion of some 1/6000 aircraft experiments I'm doing with a friend. I am trying a 3D solution, and he will be doing a 2D printed version.

So to test the 3D idea, I scratch-built 3 G3M "Nell" bombers, to be mounted on a single stand of some sort, and intended to represent some number of real planes (like 2 or 3 to a model). The stands would need to be numbered to keep track of this.

Due to the small size (and I haven't tried fighters yet), I create the basic shape while the model is still attached to the plastic strip, which is .010" thick styrene. A small additional piece of .015" half-round styrene is added to the top to represent the fuselage. Tools used are a #11 Exacto blade and a small half-round file. After the aircraft blank is removed from the sprue, it is still possible to fix mistakes; the blank is balanced at the end of a wood block, and clamped in place with a hand-held steel ruler. The protruding portion of the plane can then be filed, though the resulting burr needs to be removed afterwards.

This shows a blank being shaped while still on the sprue.

This shows a blank after the half-round piece has been attached, but not yet filed and trimmed.

This shows a possible stand design, made from wire and a metal washer. I am still exploring options, so it's not an actual stand, but a Photoshopped version of a photographic image of the aircraft sitting on a clear plastic box top with a ship underneath (chalk wake). The stand is about 1" tall, and whether this can adequately represent aircraft at different altitudes is TBD.

Thresher0118 Jul 2020 9:57 a.m. PST

Very nice.

I'm impressed with your ability to work with such small minis.

I think I'd just go with "pre-painted"/colored, cardstock counters instead though, for ease of use and "durability".

Having various lengths of support wire should permit the different altitudes you seek.

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2020 10:15 a.m. PST

WRT the altitudes, I'm just looking for a single stand height which satisfies my sense of aesthetics. Remember that one would have both torpedo bombers (generally very low) and other aircraft. I am hoping that the 1" can function as a visual compromise. The in-game altitude would be handled by record-keeping.

I have consider a number of methods for varying the stand height between "low", "medium", and "high", at least one of which I've used in larger scales, but all ideas so far would result in the stand overpowering the aircraft models.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2020 12:45 p.m. PST

I like this project, and I am watching with popcorn in hand. grin

I'm personally wedded to the idea of low/medium/high stands. I waste loads of time trying to make things like that work, because I vastly prefer visual cues to paperwork.

Is clear plastic rod more visible than thin black wire? I've had some luck supergluing 1/16" diameter supermagnets on the ends of 1/16" clear rod. Here's an example from a 1/2400 scale starshell project I made in April:

The rods could be made in different heights to be swapped in between a base and a squadron. The magnets tend to hide at the top and bottom of the rod and can be hidden more with paint and/or blackening agents.

The clear plastic rod (and the acrylic I made disks from) is shiny and needs to be dulled down, a problem I haven't solved yet. I haven't found a dulling agent that doesn't make clear substances cloudy, but I also haven't spent enough time experimenting. I'll find something eventually.

I made bases from clear acrylic to mark the exact size of the flare area, but you don't have that requirement, so your color-matched bases above would work fine. (I magnetized the center of each disk by drilling and tapping a hole and screwing in a tiny steel set screw with an allen wrench; I used set screws with black oxide finish so they hide better.)

You might also try painting the wire a neutral gray, mid-light gray, or maybe the color of the sea surface, to see if it hides better. Lighting angles and contrasts are the real obstacle here.

- Ix

NCC171718 Jul 2020 12:53 p.m. PST

There are aircraft molded on the 1/6000 Hallmark/Figurehead Russian WW1 seaplane carriers:


My attempts to scratch-build similar planes have been over scale and crude in comparison:


I may try again using some of your techniques.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2020 12:53 p.m. PST

One thought: consider mounting the rod/wire at the leading edge of the base. This eases measuring a little bit, helps clarify the direction of the planes on a round base, and allows a flight to get right up next to a ship without having to move the vessel (e.g. lifting it onto the disk) or remember that the planes are closer than they appear.

I discovered this accidentally because I mounted my 1/1200 CAP Aero planes in vics on square acrylic bases, but marked the center front of each base for measurements. It made torpedo runs and AA fire easier to measure than trying to line up a ruler over the center of the flight.

- Ix

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2020 2:45 p.m. PST

@Yellow Admiral: What one needs here is the thinnest available clear plastic rod, made from a rigid plastic (don't want the AC flopping around). The stand could have 3 interlocking parts for low / medium / high. One would turn down a section of each part to produce a peg at one end, and drill a matching recess at the other. The aircraft would be permanently mounted to one stand section, and the base would have a recess as well. Then for low one uses just the end section, and for medium / high, insert 1 or 2 additional sections. Inevitably the diameter of the vertical rod would greatly exceed that of a piece of wire, but hopefully the transparency would compensate. This sort of thing is available commercially, but it's way too large for 1/6000.

@NCC1717: If you try my method, you will quickly find that cutting into a thin piece of styrene will tend to split it. So to get around this issue, you have to cut V-shaped expansion spaces, starting with the tiniest possible V-cut. The recess defining the AC's horizontal stabilizer (rear) is particularly tricky.

WRT the aircraft models in general, I wonder if mass production could be used (1-piece mold for resin casting, or etched metal).

NCC171718 Jul 2020 4:29 p.m. PST

I have experienced the styrene splitting. Often I will start with a nibbler and then go to small files.


hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2020 6:14 p.m. PST

FWIW, some measuring tools. Note the right jaw on the dial calipers catches on the aircraft blank, to allow rough markings along the center axis.

Thresher0120 Jul 2020 6:02 p.m. PST

If you want all the stands to be the same height, just change the scale of the minis to delineate altitude.

Larger aircraft are higher, e.g. closer to the "gods" viewing them from on high.

Uparmored20 Jul 2020 10:08 p.m. PST

have you considered blue wire?

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2020 2:04 p.m. PST

If you want all the stands to be the same height, just change the scale of the minis to delineate altitude.

I prefer that all models be the same scale, as the over-scale aircraft bother me more than the altitude compromise. We all have our preferences on these things. :-)

have you considered blue wire?

For this type of stand I use stainless steel instrument strings, as these provide the best combination of stiffness and thinness. Painting them blue is an option, but remember that the paint adds thickness, so I'll have to play it by ear. In the previous depiction they are not painted black, but instead are being viewed from the shadowed side (note the blue-painted washer). From other directions they would be less visible.


Bozkashi Jones22 Jul 2020 1:44 a.m. PST

1/600 planes? Madness, sheer madness!

Nice work there gents :)

Uparmored22 Jul 2020 1:45 a.m. PST

Yeah steel would probably work better, especially if those aircraft go over an island.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2020 10:15 p.m. PST

1/6000 planes? Madness, sheer madness!
I think the mere fact of being involved enough in this hobby to have found and posted on this web site disqualifies each of us from decrying the madness of any of the others. grin

I have the greatest admiration for the crafting displayed in this thread. My scratchbuilding limit seems to be about 1/600 scale and larger. Even then, I can't imagine I will ever attempt a plane; compound curves are the enemy of my sanity.

- Ix

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2020 10:16 p.m. PST

I was thinking of doing a small General Quarters scenario to test the 1/6000 aircraft, loosely based on the sortie of Force Z in 1941.

I now have 6 G3M "Nell" models made, which are enough for 2 stands of 3 models each, which could in turn represent 12 or 18 real aircraft (1-2 versus 1-3 ratio).

Since one option for the Force Z scenario is to include the carrier HMS Indomitable, I want models to represent her 1941 fighter complement, which consisted of Sea Hurricanes and Fulmars. So I have decided to try some Sea Hurricanes first, as they are the smallest.

I'd been hoping to use the same technique on fighters (which are half the size) as on the G3Ms, but my tools aren't up to the job. In particular, my tools aren't small enough to shape the cutout between the wing and the tail plane. After several false starts, my tentative work-around is to represent the fighter's tail plane by splitting the plastic at the end of the its fuselage, bending the 2 halves out slightly, and hiding the split by gluing the half-round piece above it. The image below shows the Hurricane blank so far, and an experimental tail section. Since the latter seems to work, I will use this technique at the rear of the main Hurricane blank.

Bozkashi Jones26 Jul 2020 2:45 a.m. PST

lx – fair point matey – and, in fairness, I've been pondering scratchbuilding some 1/10,000 modern ships for true 'blue water' strategic games, so I suppose I can't talk!

"No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness."
― Aristotle

Nick :)

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP26 Jul 2020 6:43 a.m. PST

At this point, my portion of this thread is more of a proof-of-concept project, to see what 1/6000 aircraft look like on the gaming table. However if it works out, a next step might be to simplify production.

So, have any of you model-makers used (in another context of course) either of my suggestions for mass producing 1/6000 aircraft? I don't think 3D printing is up to this yet, but perhaps 1-piece-mold resin casting, or photo-etching? I have purchased commercial photo-etched detail parts for N-scale model railroad models, and they are pretty finely detailed.

Here's a video on at-home photo etching: YouTube link

Mark H.

wardog26 Jul 2020 11:36 a.m. PST

ok the neil has 2 tails
how do you do aircraft with single tails ,never looked right, either angled off fuslage centerline( at small scale very noticable / always falling off etc
note info doesnt have to be as small as original posters scale

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP26 Jul 2020 2:45 p.m. PST

Etched brass would not be my first choice.

Back in the 1990s a friend of mine demonstrated how he photo-etched his own circuit boards. The process was simple enough in concept, but required a lot of equipment and toxic chemicals that had to be carefully managed and disposed of. As you can see in that video, modern printers and CAD/drawing software have made photo-etching even easier, but you're still going to end up expending money and storage space on things that may be of very limited utility for anything else in your life.

There is also the consideration that etched brass is really thin, and difficult to manipulate into the illusion of 3D. You might be able to achieve some of the illusion with paint and maybe layers of brass. Or maybe affix etched wings and tail to tubes of plastic, or something.

I haven't been able to cast anything this small with resin. There are some lower-viscosity resins around, but they still don't flow like water or alcohol, so they need assistance from carefully applied mold release agents and a vacuum pump or centrifuge to properly fill a mold with a lot of fine detail.

One nice thing about this tiny scale is that you could probably create low-wing planes completely flat on the bottom and nobody would ever notice. That would ease casting quite a bit.

Are you sure 3D printing isn't up to this? It seems like an obvious fit to me. You would need a really high-quality printer capable of tiny details, but many of the 3D items I've ordered from Shapeways have details smaller than the bits of the planes you pictured. 3D printing would have been my first stop on this journey. I don't have the patience to try to carve planes this small from flat and round plastic stocks…

- Ix

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP26 Jul 2020 3:07 p.m. PST

I've been pondering scratchbuilding some 1/10,000 modern ships for true 'blue water' strategic games
I'm not sure how you'd see anything but the aircraft carriers at that scale!

OTOH, this might actually be a good application for etched brass. Or 3D printing the whole task force on a base and doing the work with a paintbrush. Hrm.

- Ix

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP26 Jul 2020 4:44 p.m. PST

ok the neil has 2 tails; how do you do aircraft with single tails

Actually, I haven't modeled the 2 fins (vertical stabilizers) on my Nells, but instead tried to file down the fuselage half-round piece at the rear to avoid suggesting a single fin. To represent a single central fin I would just leave that material in place, as I plan to do with the Hurricanes. Was thinking of modeling the twins, but was trying to simplify; could glue a piece of hair or something on each side, I suppose.

Are you sure 3D printing isn't up to this?

Pretty sure, given how badly 1/6000 3D printed ships look, and they're larger. BTW, my planes are only superficially 3D, as most of the structure is a top-down silhouette in .010" plastic, to which I glue that half-round piece. That's it. So etching is probably an option, perhaps with either a 2-part etching to yield the center spine, or a fold-forward piece attached to the tail of the etching. Remember you can layer etched brass during construction, and I've seen this to be quite effective in N-scale etched brass kits.

Thanks for the feedback on resin casting; I suspected that gravity wouldn't be enough.

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP26 Jul 2020 4:53 p.m. PST

@Yellow Admiral and @NCC1717. I intended to complement you on the excellent images you posted originally, but got side-tracked. Very nice work. :-)

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP26 Jul 2020 6:25 p.m. PST

Layering etched brass is an interesting idea. I've never seen it done. Imma goin lookin now. grin

- Ix

Russ Lockwood27 Jul 2020 3:02 p.m. PST

Wow! I'm amazed at your miniaturizing skill, which inspired me to check something.

I poked around the internet to see what 1:6000 was in feet per mm and the online calculator said 1mm in 1:6000 scale is 19.63 feet.

I then googled the wingspan of a G3M Nell: 82 feet.

To keep in scale, the wingspan should be a tad over 4mm wide on your model. A Zero's wingspan is 36 feet, or a little less than 2mm.

But that V of Nells sure looks good. Painted, it would look great. That said, I guess it depends on how long it takes you to create a bomber model.

For grins, I then scrounged around for a Pico 3mm sample pack of Battle of Britain aircraft I bought a while back. The German HE-111's wingspan is 74 feet. The German HE-111 wingspan on the model is 37mm -- about 9 times the size, or the same as a 1:700 scale plastic model size.

Man, 1:6000 is tiny! Now I'm even more impressed at your work.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2020 4:47 p.m. PST

No updates in a week and a half. Has there been any progress?

- Ix

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2020 11:47 a.m. PST

Not much progress. I ruined the original hurricane because I couldn't see it well enough. So I bought a more powerful magnifier, and tried again. This is the result. A bit chubby, but at least they are to scale overall. I now need to make 3 more hurricanes to go with my 6 Nells, and make 4 stands. 2 stands will have 3 Nells each, and 2 stands will have 2 sea hurricanes each, all with models representing 2-3 real aircraft. As stated above, the idea is to do some test games, and see what they look like, before looking into the mass production idea (etched brass or stainless steel).

4th Cuirassier24 Sep 2020 3:20 a.m. PST

I wouldn't have the patience. I think I'd just print outlines onto clear decal paper and apply them to clear plastic.

They're teeny enough in 1/3000 scale!

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