Sometimes you don’t want your model to look like the one on the box. Maybe, you want your model to have insignias from a different country, or maybe you want it to be a different series of the same model…

…or how about adding a little electric motor to move the propeller or add a little more realism to your diorama?

Making your model accurate

One of the main objectives of a serious scale aircraft modeler must be to make the model look as real as possible. Direct your effort to show as much detail as you can, basing your work on reference materials like photographs or diagrams.

  • If the instrument panel is visible and the scale of the model allows it, paint the dials and switches. You can accomplish this by using a very thin brush and a magnifying glass to help you see the panel detail.

  • Add colors to the inside of the cockpit, the frame of the seat(s), seat belts, light controls, etc.

  • Make the engine look real, use different metal paint shades.

  • If the airplane has propellers, add some paint chips to the leading edge of the propeller fins.


  • The bigger the scale the more detail you will need to add to your model. A 1/48 scale model will have more detail than a 1/72.

  • Moving parts such as flaps, ailerons, canopies, propellers, landing gears should sit on the model as they do in the real thing.

  • The appearance or “texture” of the model should look real. Does the metal finish of your model looks like the full-scale model?

  • Is the model going to look new or will it show wear and weather effects?


I like to make my models look as real as possible. In trying to give my models a “real look”, I install electric motors in propeller airplanes. I have to internally modify the model to make room for the motors and wires.

By using a Dremel motor-Tool and an X-Acto knife I carve the interior making room for the motor(s). I use a glue gun to fix the motors inside the fuselage. Be careful not to overheat the plastic because it may deform. Apply the glue in small quantities at a time.

I build a Control Box where I install switches and a variable resistor to control the engine(s). I either install battery holders or connect an external AC/DC adaptor to power the engines.

Look at the following diagrams to get an idea of how to make the wiring for the motors and the parts you will need for this modification:

View a Circuit for a four-engine airplane

Some of my models include LEDs or miniature bulbs and smoke generators to even add more realism.

Watch the Boeing B-29 in action.


A modification or conversion is anything that makes the model appear different from what it is intended to.

It can be a different paint scheme, a different subtype of the same airplane, or a conversion of a single seat to a double seat airplane.

Example #1: NA-50 of the Peruvian Air Force

Pictured on the right is an example of a major modification. The kit was originally an AT-6 Texan, it was modified to depict an NA-50 of the Peruvian Air Force.

Click here to view the model project.

Example #2: AT-6 of the Peruvian Air Force

Click here to view the pictures of the 1:72 scale model of the AT-6 of the Peruvian Air Force and the reference diagrams and pictures that were used to build this model.

Example #3: Boeing B-29 Superfortress of the US Air Force

This 1:48 scale model of the B-29 was heavily modified. I added 4 electric motors, LED (Light Emitting Diodes) to simulate the taxing lights located on the wingtips, flashing light located on top of the tail, a light located on the front landing gear, a light under the belly of the plane, and a couple of internal lights that illuminate the cockpit and the rear section of the plane. The lights and motors are controlled from an external switch box attached to the plane.

Click here to view a video of the B-29 model.

Click here to view a picture slideshow of the B-29.

B-29 Superfortress in scale 1/48