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1:400 Scale
1:500 Scale
      How To Build
      Skill Ratings
      Hints & Tips
      Tutorial 1
      Tutorial 2

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Hints and Tips


If you are not used to building models of this kind, you will find that your skill improves with more experience. If you have any doubts, start off with simpler models (those with a lower Skill Rating), then work up to the more complex ones.

If the card sheets are curled slightly when the model is delivered, flatten them out by placing underneath some heavy books for a few hours.

Work Area

Work in a well lit area. Natural light is best, but a table lamp is useful to give additional lighting. A right-handed person will generally find it best to have the light coming from the left when scoring and cutting, and from the right when gluing. Of course, a left-handed person will prefer the opposite.

Cutting and Scoring

Always use a sharp knife for cutting out. Never be tempted to "soldier on" with a blunt knife, as it will tend to tear the card instead of neatly cutting it. Use a knife with the thinnest possible blade. The type of knife with a blade that can be broken off to expose a new tip is very good.

The side of a cut that is under the ruler is usually the neater edge, so try to position the ruler on a part's printed area when cutting around the edges. It's also safer should the knife begin to 'wander', as it is less likely to damage the printed part. However, take great care not to scratch or scuff the printed area.

If a part refuses to come away cleanly from the card, make sure all the cuts have gone right through, especially in the corners between tabs. Cut them again carefully and don't just pull the part away, as it might get damaged in the process.

Position the ruler just below the line to be cut or scored, to take account of the thickness of the blade. Make sure that the knife blade is pressed against the side of the ruler as it goes, as a sharp knife may have a tendency to 'wander'. Mind your fingers!

It is usually best to cut out simple parts first, and then the more complex ones.

For a large model, don't cut out too many parts at once. Only cut out the parts needed to build each section of the model, that way you lessen the risk of losing or damaging parts before they are needed.


Always check the fit of parts before gluing. We have tried to make every part fit exactly, but sometimes the fit of a part depends on how accurately it has been cut or folded. Occasionally you may find it necessary to trim a part to make it fit, and this is very difficult to do once the glue has been applied.

When gluing, squeeze a little glue onto a suitable container, and apply with a fine paintbrush. Replenish the glue frequently, so that you aren't using stale glue that is already beginning to harden. Wash the brush frequently too, to stop it from going hard.

Try to avoid doing too much gluing in one go, as the glue will have a tendency to dry before you have fitted the part in place. If you need to glue a large item, try to do it in stages. Otherwise, make sure your glue is fresh, to avoid the possibility of it drying out too quickly.

A plastic lid from a jar or other container is useful to squeeze a small blob of glue onto when building a model (the lid from a pack of Pringles is good). If you cut small notches around the edge of the lid it will stop the paintbrush from rolling away when you put it down.

Sometimes you will have to fit a part to tabs where you can't reach inside to push them together (usually on the last side of a "box" structure). In these cases it is usually best to bend the tabs so that they stick out slightly and then hold the part against them until the glue is dry. This ensures that enough of the tabs make contact to hold the part in place.

It is often useful to press a part against a clean, flat surface while the glue dries. Anything that is box-shaped, or has a flat bottom, can be pressed against the work surface until dry. This is especially useful where long tabs have to be held in place along their whole length, like on the bottom of a walkway. Otherwise use the ruler or the handle of a paintbrush to hold parts in place. A length of square-sectioned wood (like an old chopstick) is also good for reaching inside models.


If a model has joins that show along one side, try to position it in your diorama so that the joins are either against another building, or facing towards the back where no-one will see them. If a model is made up of several large parts, try to make sure the joins are all on the same side.

When building multiple copies of the same model (eg jetways and gates), make sure the parts are fitted the same way round on all of them. Quite often things like roofs can be fitted either way around, so it's best to make sure everything matches. The same applies when putting models together on a diorama. Make sure everything faces the right way and lines up properly.

Don't be disheartened if a finished model doesn't look perfect at close quarters. Remember that the models will be viewed from a distance when fitted into a diorama and will look much better as part of an overall display with aircraft around them.

Models can be enhanced by adding airline logos and other signs. These can be found quite easily in various locations (especially on-line), printed and glued onto the models in appropriate places.

In some cases models from different scales can be mixed in the same diorama quite successfully, to give more variety. 1:500 models are 80% of the size of 1:400 models, so the difference in size of details such as doors and windows is not great. So, for example, a hangar that holds a Boeing 747 in 1:400 scale could be used to hold smaller types if the 1:500 scale version is used.


When pavement sheets are butted up against each other, there is often a raised edge where they have been cut. Use a round-ended spoon handle to smooth the edges down after gluing.

To check that runways and taxiways are being laid perfectly straight, put your eye down at ground level and look along the centreline markings.


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