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Taking Flight: Aircraft Over Your Layout

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Taking Flight: Aircraft Over Your Layout
Posted by mlehman on Saturday, March 15, 2014 10:41 AM

Pics of my aircraft have stirred some interest in knowing a little more about them. I work in HO, so most of the specific info here applies to this scale. There are some general principles that apply to all scales, though.

Generally, you want to find aircraft models in your scale or smaller. Flying aircraft are almost always seen at a distance, so using aircraft models in forced perspective works well. If you happen to have room for aircraft on the ground, in most cases you want something the same scale as the layout, unless you are trying for something in the background in forced perspective there.

Hang them high...OK, it's less grim than it sounds, but to give the impression of flying, at or above you eye level works best. More is better, but even being over 6' and with a 6'6" ceiling, it really doesn't take much over eye level to work.

Use the lightest monofilment fishing line you can find to hang your aircraft. I have some 4 pound test line that works well, although I suppose aircraft models in larger scales might demand something heavier. I estimate the center of gravity with my fingertips and the angle I want the plane to fly at and mark the spot that seems best, then use a #78 drill to drill a hole. Dip the line into CA then slip it into the hole and hit with accelerator.

After the CA sets up, I tie a loop in the top end with the line double back, then loop it through one of those square-shaped paperclips. This allows it to hang anywhere along the track that holds the suspended ceiling and easy movement as needed.

The angle of attack and turn shouldn't be too steep in most cases. Small planes and miltary aircraft tend to be a bit more aggressively flown than airliners, so use you best judgment or Google up some images for guidance. That's also a good way to figure out how to paint, weather, and modify your aircraft.

Speaking of realistic looks, I often sub in clear plastic discs in place of stationary props. These are easy to make by cutting a prop-diameter circle and substituting it for the prop when you get to this point in your assembly of the model. Obviously, a jet doesn't have this issue and helicopters have huge horizontal discs that may look odd, so YMMV on this effect.

Planes in HO scale are pretty scarce. I'll list a few, but any others people want to add would be helpful.

Roco makes (made) HO Bell UH-1 Huey helicopters. I painted mine black, because it gets people excitedWink I also "fly" it relatively low below the mountaintops.

One problem for model railroaders with the models available is that military aircraft are generally more popular, so there are often fewer suitable choices in civilian aircraft. Some military aircraft make it into civilian service, though. Bush planes are one type especially useful. The DHC Beaver covers both, as large numbers flew in Army aviation in the US, as well as in Canada, the US, and all over as bush planes in civil guise.

Osborn Models, http://www.osbornmodelkits.com/HO_scale_railroad.htm, makes a neat kit for the Beaver that comes with floats. I converted mine to wheels, but see they now offer an add-on to make this simple. The also offer a Cessna 172 and some WWII era fighters. Here's my Beaver, to which I've added some radio antennas, a favorite mod I often do as I'm a bit of a radio geek, too.

I think Roco or someone made a plastic HO Cessna 172. Walthers offered a C-47/DC-3 in HO. Anyone know of others?

The rest of the aircraft over the layout range from 1:100 to 1:320. Here's the newest addition, a New Ray/Testors C-130 in 1:100. I plan to add some antennas later. It show how close to the ceiling most fly.

This pic of my B-52 (1:320, IIRC) shows it flying in formation thanks to Photoshop.

More later...

 

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by dknelson on Saturday, March 15, 2014 10:49 AM

When I used to fly alot on business I was always interested to see how many cities had active and interesting rail lines very near the runways of major airports.  

Dave Nelson

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Posted by superbe on Saturday, March 15, 2014 11:55 AM

By Happen stance this plane, a Ford Tri Motor, hung over my desk before the layout took over. It was a model of a Chevron plane ,supposedly. Look to the left of the Gulf sign.

 

 

Mike, as you said when the plane is in the air scale isn't as important.

Bob

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Posted by Fergmiester on Saturday, March 15, 2014 12:14 PM

The thought never crossed my mind before. An aircraft would add a new dimension to the layout but the way I feel about the layout right now and not making headway I'm tempted to bring in a big Bomber!

http://www.trainboard.com/railimages/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=5959

If one could roll back the hands of time... They would be waiting for the next train into the future. A. H. Francey 1921-2007  

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Posted by dcfixer on Saturday, March 15, 2014 12:41 PM

Thanks for sharing that, Mike.

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Posted by G Paine on Saturday, March 15, 2014 2:18 PM

Busch makes a glider, with or without a trailer and Faller makes paragliders

http://www.walthers.com/exec/search?category=&scale=&manu=&item=&instock=&split=30&Submit=Search&keywords=glider&words=restrict

In airplanes , I see Busch makes a Bf109 (more commomly called ME 109), Herpa makes a number of airplanes from 1/160 to 1/500 depending on prototype size, there are a few O scale planes and Plastruct makes some generic planes in a couple of scales
http://www.walthers.com/exec/search?category=&scale=&manu=&item=&keywords=airplane&words=restrict&instock=Q&split=150&Submit=Search

Promotex sells a much larger selection of the Herpa airliners and other planes - look in the menu for Herpa Wings, Wings Rare, Inflight Collection, and 1/87 Arsenal M collection (scroll down below the armoured vehicles - A number of DC-3/C-47s are listed)
http://www.promotex.ca/

George In Midcoast Maine, 'bout halfway up the Rockland branch 

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Posted by Burlington Northern #24 on Saturday, March 15, 2014 5:05 PM

For N scalers, http://minicraftmodels.com/collections/1-144-aircraft?page=1

I'll be back later to include some models I have in the 1:144 variety. 

SP&S modeler, 1960's give or take a decade or two for some equipment.

 http://www.youtube.com/user/SGTDUPREY?feature=guide 

Gary DuPrey

N scale model railroader 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, March 15, 2014 5:41 PM

Those are some effective photos, Mike. Thumbs Up

In another train forum, I created a character (Barney Secord) and a back-story to whom overhead photos of the layout could be attributed.  He's very-loosely based on a real person, and is more than a bit of a "character", as was his inspiration. 

Favourable reception to the photos and accompanying stories inspired me to search for a model of his plane, and I eventually found this slightly-smaller than HO scale Stearman in the toy section at Walmart.  Painted in John Deere colours, it was a perfect choice for Barney, a former WWI pilot and now barnstormer, crop duster, and owner of an aerial photography outfit:


I repainted the plane, and a quick-witted fisherman caught this shot of him flying under the Maitland River bridge - anyone else would've likely flipped with that wheel touching the water Whistling


...dunno who took this one:


...and an example of his more legitimate work (photo courtesy of Secord Air Services):


While it's unlikely I'll make him a permanent fixture in the skies over my layout, your idea may result in him being seen at least once in a while. Smile, Wink & Grin


Wayne

 

 

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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, March 15, 2014 6:04 PM

Those models look great, Mlehman.

I do not have models over my layout, but I have put aircraft in my background sound mix both the steam and diesel tracks. 

I have a nice jet passing overhead from right to left on the diesel track, and my favourite is the crop dusting that I have mixed into the steam background sound files.  I was able to find the right sound tracks of a 1950s era duster...start, taxi, take off, several passes and land and shut down.  It adds a lot to the ambience of the session.

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Posted by Southwest Chief on Saturday, March 15, 2014 6:24 PM

Thanks Mike for the info on how you hang you airplanes.  I'll use your techniques for future models.

I used to have a Pacific Southwest Walthers DC-3 over my layout.  But it fell onto the layout when an earthquake shook it too much and broke the string.  Although it sustained some paint and surface damage the worst thing are the cabin windows.  When it hit the layout, the windows popped inside.  I'd have to break the model open to fix them Sad

Matt from Anaheim, CA and Bayfield, CO
Click Here for my model train photo website

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Posted by wholeman on Saturday, March 15, 2014 7:53 PM

I don't have aircraft for the layout, but maybe I should.  I might buy the HO Cessna 172.  I work at Cessna so that would be special to me.  While I build Cessna jets, I do work at same facility that makes the 172.

Will

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, March 15, 2014 8:53 PM

Wayne!

Wheels on the water with a dead engine! And under a bridge to boot! Amazing flying!! I assume he survived.CowboySmile, Wink & GrinLaugh

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Saturday, March 15, 2014 9:05 PM

Matt,

You could make that PSA Douglas Racer the centerpiece of a dead engine forced landing scene on your layout.  Then put lots of little people footprints in the stirred up mud, all headed away.

A team of FAA inspectors and an official car of appropriate era would be a nice touch.

This former aircraft maintenance tech won't have any aircraft on the layout.  Over it would involve a pilot with a death wish (the landforms would top out several meters above the ceiling if built to full height.)  My picky with airborne machinery is the same as my dislike of clouds on backdrops - the real things don't stand still.

As for grounded machinery, the only possible helipad is covered with dry-yarded logs.  Fixed wing facility? - none anywhere near my modeled area.

Chuck (Retired mechanic modeling Central Japan in September, 1964 - a no-fly zone)

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Posted by "JaBear" on Saturday, March 15, 2014 11:38 PM

I must not get side tracked, I must not get side tracked,I must not get side tracked, I must not get side tracked........

.....this grainy photo from the September 1973 Airpower intrigues me and presents a certain modeling challenge....

on Flickr

I must not get side tracked, I must not get side tracked,I must not get side tracked, I must not get side tracked........stick with the ferry project. Laugh

Cheers, the Bear. (Not yet retired aircraft maintenance engineer.)

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by mlehman on Sunday, March 16, 2014 12:29 AM

Great pic, Bear!Big Smile I wonder if that's a B-57 Canberra? Many of them were converted to fallout samplers like the WB-29 I discuss below.

There really is room for airplanes, because generally they don't take up any room on the layout.

Thanks to everyone for the great comments. Angel

Here are a couple more of my aircraft. This WB-29 started off as a Testors B-29. I wiped some of the lettering off, deleted the guns, then built the "bug catcher"perched on top of the fuselage. This served as a way to catch and filter air through special paper filters, which were then monitored for fallout by measurement with special counting units. A plane very much similar discovered evidence of the first Soviet nuclear test in early September 1949.

This is a Minicraft 1:144 DC-6. It has a "simplified" Western Airlines scheme, mainly because I messed up the long stripes that surround the windows on one side and things got simplified.

 Note that it carries dual antennas for the two radios generally required for over-water flight.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by "JaBear" on Sunday, March 16, 2014 3:44 AM

Gidday Mike, Its a B-45C Tornado, a 1/87 model, now thats the challenge,Stick out tongue Laugh, though it's quite doable. Alas, too many projects, not enough time.Sigh

Cheers, the Bear.

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by mlehman on Sunday, March 16, 2014 5:12 AM

Gidday Mike, Its a B-45C Tornado, a 1/87 model, now thats the challenge,Stick out tongue Laugh, though it's quite doable. Alas, too many projects, not enough time.Sigh

Cheers, the Bear.

 

Aha! Well, I was close, considering all I had to work with were tail feathers...Stick out tongue

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by Fergmiester on Sunday, March 16, 2014 8:08 AM

Looking at all these posts one could easily have a crop duster scene or even a water bomber doing a run on a forest fire though I don't think the Mrs would appreciate all that smoke in the basement!

http://www.trainboard.com/railimages/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=5959

If one could roll back the hands of time... They would be waiting for the next train into the future. A. H. Francey 1921-2007  

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Posted by BRVRR on Sunday, March 16, 2014 8:44 AM

I have experimented with hanging aircraft over the layout a few times. This is the current one, shown in place from above to emphasis the propeller arc.

Some time ago I purchased an IHC kit with 2 gliders and 4 airplanes. IHC Stock no. 2086. A couple of months ago I built one of the tow planes for a thread on another site. I added the pilot figure and a disk of clear styrene to simulate the propeller arc. It has been a real hit with my youngest grandson.

Remember its your railroad

Allan

  Track to the BRVRR Website:  http://www.brvrr.com/

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Posted by bigpianoguy on Sunday, March 16, 2014 1:49 PM

I've given thought to aircraft over my layout, or maybe even a small 'local' airfield. In sourcing out HO models around Ebay, I've seen quite a few biplanes, which would work as I primarily model the steam era. I've also seen any number of Cessnas as well, and someone had a European manufacturer's hangar kit. 

But the revelation about smaller scales - thanks!

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Posted by mlehman on Sunday, March 16, 2014 2:21 PM

Some notes in reverse order...

bigpianoguy
...the revelation about smaller scales - thanks!

bigpianoguy,

No problem, glad to point it out. It's one of those simple things that you go "A-ha!" about as soon as you see what's going on. There is a pretty good number of 1:144 planes out there, including airliners. I just wish we had more bush planes.

Allan,

Nice pic. I'm remembering the gliders and tugs vaguely, but they do make an interersting scene. In fact, there's a glider field just north of Durango along the D&S, but I don't have room for a field. I may be able to work some gliders in overhead, though. Thanks!

Fergie,

It's pretty easy to convert some of the bomber aircraft to waterbombers, so that's a great idea.

Will,

Building Cessnas, cool jobCool I'd almost bet no one would have a problem with one circling around your locker or toolbox.Wink

Matt,

Bummer on your Gooney Bird. I've had that happen beforeEmbarrassed. I have to get me one of those someday. Looks like she'll be OK with some work if you can get her opened up neatly.

Cisco,

Using sound only is a great idea. Not everyone can hang plnes for one reason or another.

Wayne,

Awesome pics...and awesome flying by SecordWink. I know a little about the USAF Secord, if that's the same personality, definitely quite the character. Love your cropduster, gotta keep my eyes open for that.

Gary,

Thanks for the Minicraft link. Even if you're not in N scale, kits like this are what you want. And they even have a KC-97! I can see one of those in the future, along with a Harrier.

George,

Thanks for those leads. If you are in O and have the room, there are a lot of 1:48 kits out there as it's one of the prime scales for serious aviation modelers. I've got a 1:48 DHC Otter that's one of my favorites, although I'm having trouble finding good decals for it. Too big for the layout so I have it upstairs fighting of bats...hmm, maybe I should get a pic of that, it's good for a laugh? I told Osborn I wish they'd make an Otter in HO to go with the Beaver, so if anyone else wants to lobby them we might get one.

Bob,

Love your Tri-motor, as I've been eying one and we have one from one of the nostalgia flying exhibits that visits the area semo-rgularly. Diffeerent sound form those engines. The Tri-motor also offers a way to work planes into your RR ops. For a time in the 20s, maybe into the early 30s, airlines and RRs teamed up on trasncontienantal runs while flying the Tri-motor and other early airliners. The passenger flew on planes during the day. The planes then landed near a station to allow them to board sleeping cars, where they rode until dawn made it feasible to get back in the air in the days before VFR. This could make a neat scene and even add operational interest.

Dave,

I alwaya enjoy trainwatching when I'm aloft. It helps take away the scaIck!red to death feeling...

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by Burlington Northern #24 on Sunday, March 16, 2014 3:34 PM

You're welcome Mike, Planes were my second love to trains. I'd love to pick up a B-17 as that is my favorite WWII, Warbird. I still need to find the 1:144 ones that I have and post them. 

SP&S modeler, 1960's give or take a decade or two for some equipment.

 http://www.youtube.com/user/SGTDUPREY?feature=guide 

Gary DuPrey

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Posted by NorthWest on Sunday, March 16, 2014 3:49 PM

Sorry to "JaBear": http://www.railpictures.net/photo/471819

A very interesting set up.

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Posted by mlehman on Sunday, March 16, 2014 7:03 PM

NorthWest

Sorry to "JaBear": http://www.railpictures.net/photo/471819

A very interesting set up.

Must have been one heck of a ride in that noisy drum. Makes that Space A C-5 ride I took once look positively luxuruious and I'm certain it rode better than that H-P. The poor thing looks like a leftover WWII glider thay threw some spare engines at.

But, hey, they had to do something to compete with the Chunnel...which is what I suspect this modern, innovative operation was mobilized to counter.Wink

Mike Lehman

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Posted by NorthWest on Sunday, March 16, 2014 7:46 PM

 But hey, it was only a loud turboprop across the Channel...

I think that bird was out of passenger service before the Chunnel opened, if the caption is to be believed. It was either ferry, or that, if one went by train...

 

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Posted by mlehman on Sunday, March 16, 2014 8:45 PM

NorthWest

 But hey, it was only a loud turboprop across the Channel...

I think that bird was out of passenger service before the Chunnel opened, if the caption is to be believed. It was either ferry, or that, if one went by train...

Oh, I would've taken the ride if it was offered, just commenting on how other airlines were flying, a-hem, more modern aircraft by the date of this pick. The Chunnel opened in 1994, so yeah, no direct passenger competition.

But it was under construction for a long time and I vaguely remember several schemes by various combinations of transport all working to stay relevant for the day when it did open. This one actually was interesting as you caught the train from Paris, where connection were much better than from the coast, which went basically to Paris so you missed the most boring part of the train ride if that's how you were proceeding to your destination.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by Tracklayer on Monday, March 17, 2014 3:18 PM

Ever since I've been into model railroading I've always had a plane of some kind hanging above my layout to match the time period I was modeling whether it's the 1930s biplane, 1950s DC-3 or modern airliner.

Tracklayer

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Posted by "JaBear" on Saturday, March 22, 2014 7:37 PM

NorthWest
Sorry to "JaBear"

Gidday, no need to be sorry,Smile, if I modelled the NZR I have an example here......
Nice photo btw, I have never seen a Herald but have heard many a Rolls Royce Dart, “Audible Torture”.Ick!
 
Cheers, the Bear

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by NorthWest on Sunday, March 23, 2014 11:25 AM

Not my photo, so thanks should be directed to the uploader over at Railpictures.

That said, I hope KiwiRail reopens the line through Gisbourne again. I have heard conflicting information about whether there is tourist service (or none at all) over the runway.

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Posted by mlehman on Sunday, March 23, 2014 2:03 PM

NorthWest
That said, I hope KiwiRail reopens the line through Gisbourne again. I have heard conflicting information about whether there is tourist service (or none at all) over the runway.

A rail line across an active runway? I'll bet that made for some interesting dispatchingConfused

Did the aircraft side of things involve crossing gates or were light signals considered sufficient? That and the common sense of not landing if you see a train approaching...Oops

Could be a problem when landing from IFR conditions, though.Blindfold

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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