Flying Models will be publishing my article on how to create scale details for your glider or sailplane model using readily available drawing tools such as CorelTM and IllustratorTM in their August issue. A couple of paragraphs from the article here and we will do a full reprint after it has been published.
One of the most satisfying parts of building scale flying models is the addition of details that make your completed model more realistic, and of course more noticed by fellow modelers for the extra effort and originality that these details represent. One of the easiest and most satisfying of these to produce, believe it or not, is a scale instrument panel, a detail that is sure to be noticed by everyone at the flying field.
Since I began building scale models, I always remembered the instrument panels that were printed on the plans and I always cut them out and applied them to the instrument panel bulkhead before I started doping on the tissue or ironing on the covering. When I began designing scale U.S. sailplane models for the TMRC kit line (www.tmrcsailplanes.com), I immediately searched for photos of the correct panels so I could draft them and include them at proper scale on the plan sheet. It wasn’t long before I looked at ways of using the resources already at hand to produce even better looking graphics and soon, to produce the panels themselves.
First, all panels no matter how complex, are based upon some simple building blocks and many of these are standardized. Second, in civil and commercial aviation and in many military applications, navigational instruments are standardized in just a few diameters and sizes. Once you’ve drawn one altimeter or compass for example from a classic 50s or 60s single engine prop plane, you’ll find that the same instrument will fit in the circular panel cutout in just about every other aircraft of that type and era. There have been only so many major instrument manufacturers over the years and standard instrument faces were 3 1/8 inches and 2 ¼ inches in diameter. Radios too were manufactured to fit standard openings and toggle switches were about the same throughout the industry. All of this helps keep it simple for the model panel designer and builder.
Panel shapes can often be found by doing a simple search of the internet, calling the manufacturer of the full size craft, or visiting the website of one of the panel design companies throughout the U.S. and in our resources list. Simply scale it to the new size needed and cut and paste it into your next project drawing. Some laser cutters may even be willing to send you a list or PDF file of available instrument faces that they have drawn and you can have them send you files for the instruments you need or you may simply need to provide a photo of the panel you want to build and a vertical and horizontal overall dimension for the cutter to scale the outline and drop in the instruments to match in a digital format for cutting and provide a quote for the parts.
The digital elements needed to produce a scale instrument panel kit are shown above taken from the Adobe IllustratorTM file. If you click on the image you may be able to see the drawn panel, frames, bezels and screw detais.
Below is the assembled, painted and completed panel by Jim Hoffer of New Mexico and placed in his one fight scale SGS 1-23D model.