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Vlad

Why are "wheels up" aircraft builds unpopular?

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Silly question, probably discussed before but I'm curious. Almost all builds I see in RFI or at shows display aircraft on the ground. Why aren't there more in flight? After all that's an aircraft's natural element. Are transparent stands, or hanging by fine/invisible threads considered too toy like? Personally I don't see why that kind of display method, well executed, would detract from an otherwise very well made model, especially since most builds are fairly "closed up" anyway... apart from the landing gear. I'd like to know what hang ups (pun intended) people have about building aircraft kits wheels up.

Edited by Vlad

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From my point of view, and it’s a personal one, I build wheels down because I like the fussiness of everything below my models. It also makes it slightly easier to display and photograph the models. I am quite keen to develop dioramas for display and photography. 
 

I don’t have anywhere to sensibly hang models, though I have to admit adding stands or supports would effectively double my current display cabinet's space!

 

All that being said, I do like to see imaginative displays of aircraft in flight. I’m not so keen on a clunky looking stand, though.

 

There is an argument to be made that most aircraft spend most of their lives on the ground, so building and displaying models on the deck is quite reasonable! 

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I build almost all airliners "wheels up" and have them on stands but most other aircraft I have them down. Even then sometimes I just cannot be bothered to paint and fit an undercarriage and go "wheels up".

 

Dave

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From bitter personal experience display stands, particularly those provided by the kit manufacturers, usually produce a very top-heavy display piece which is very vulnerable to being tipped over, thereby removing any delicate protruding bits (DE for @CedB if he’s reading this).  I’ve seen many beautiful bespoke display stands/bases that are much better than the kit items but they are either expensive, time-consuming to make or beyond some modellers’ skills or facilities to make to a satisfactory standard.

 

Suspending models from the ceiling renders them susceptible to dust accretion with attendant difficulties and/oror inconvenience in its removal.  I have heard of one modeller who wound up on the wrong end of a divorce action when a 1/24th scale Airfix Harrier made an unscheduled vertical landing on an enthroned guest in the smallest room after the cotton/thread/fishing line broke.

 

 

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I think for prop jobs the static props on a 'flying' model can look unnatural and some of the 'prop blur' accessories aren't very 'lifelike' either.  This may put some people off, but for me - if I'm going 'wheels up' I simply chop the props off and fill the holes.

 

There is no right or wrong - just what you fancy.  I make my own stands and use clear rods with a tiny needle in the end - leaving the hole in the base of the aircraft virtually invisible.

 

01-left-down.jpg

 

04-left-up.jpg

 

09-focus3.jpg

 

At the end of the day - it's just a bit of fun - so whichever way you go - just enjoy yourself.

 

Steve

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Personally I like modelling aircraft on the ground because this is where I generally get to see them. As Heather said, the reality is also that military aircraft in particular really spend much more time on the ground than in the air, and here is where they get photographed more often.

It's also more practical to represent an aircraft on the ground, just put them on a shelf on their landing gears. Modelling an aircraft in flight requires a stand of some kind, and these are hardly very good, with a few exceptions. It should be said that scale pilots are also hardly particularly good, unless going for resin replacements. Again with a few exceptions.

 

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  1. Modellers are obsessed with detail. Undercarriages, and bays are full of detail.
  2. Aeroplane modellers always moan that they can't paint figures

 

* sweeping generalizations *

  • Like 2
  • Haha 6
  • Confused 1

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Agree with @BIG X. For prop modellers it creates an additional realism issue. Besides, I love to model props, open cockpits and occasional engine displays. Undercarriages aren‘t actually my favourite parts, though 🙃

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..I've always felt it was to do with the build 'experience' and 'entertainment value'  - you don't buy a kit and then not 'build' half of it by not putting the gear on.

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I think the OP has hit the nail on the head, when he used the words "...too toy like". There is always an assumption made by people who don't make models that it's an inherently "childish" pursuit. As an adult, most people think "Oh, he spends half-an-hour gluing something together and never paints it. How quaint?" when you tell them you make models. They think that because (much of the time) that's what they did when they went through a model-making phase as a child.

 

This view is reinforced by websites such as E-Bay and Amazon classifying models as "toys". I've always thought that "past-times" would be a better category. Children play with toys - adults engage in past-times. There is a distinction to be drawn there.

 

The great majority of adults have never been to a model-show and have no experience of seeing the hundreds of hours of effort and experience, not to mention considerable expense that are devoted to producing the beautiful kits on the tables at a show. They think everything is only built at the level they have experienced. 

 

Going back to the original poster;s question, I think most modellers don't use the wheels retracted / hanging from the ceiling option because it has too many echoes of childhood attached to it. And - as previously stated - the accumulation of dust is inevitable. 

 

Chris. 

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Interesting opinions! 🙃 Certainly some things I didn't think of like needing to do prop effects and a pilot. Something about the way my imagination works means I'm perfectly happy seeing a model "flying" with a static prop and empty cockpit, but can't really unsee landing gear when I prefer looking at planes "clean". Even if, as rightly said, they may realistically spend more time on the ground than airborne.

 

I do build some wheels down, but this has been a more recent development for me as my collection has reached a size I feel I can afford to show a plane both ways. And spending a lot of time in flight sims has made me more interested in being able to see the cockpit/instrument panel on my builds

 

3 hours ago, Heather Kay said:

I don’t have anywhere to sensibly hang models, though I have to admit adding stands or supports would effectively double my current display cabinet's space!

3 hours ago, stever219 said:

Suspending models from the ceiling renders them susceptible to dust accretion

Who said anything about ceilings? I hang my wheels up plane models from the undersides of the shelves in my display cabinet. Double the display space as Heather said, and no dust issues 👍

 

1 hour ago, FalkeEins said:

..I've always felt it was to do with the build 'experience' and 'entertainment value'  - you don't buy a kit and then not 'build' half of it by not putting the gear on.

How do you cope with kits that come with swathes of parts options or mutually exclusive redundant parts e.g. all possible armament options? 😋

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8 minutes ago, Vlad said:

How do you cope with kits that come with swathes of parts options or mutually exclusive redundant parts e.g. all possible armament options? 😋

 

..everything' hanging' and 'open' of course..nowadays, that sometimes involves buying a second kit, eg recent Airfix Sea Fury. No doubt goes back to the days when I (one) was lucky if you came across a kit where you could 'pose' the ailerons, flaps, elevator etc..

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For me,

there's no feeling like seeing an aircraft in the environment it was designed to excel in. 

The same goes for the scale model that successfully re-creates that feeling. It just looks like it was made to be there.

I do like them on the ground (with numerous panels open), every aircraft needs servicing, but they are just taking a break from what they are supposed to do.

 

I do agree with the prop-blur issue. That's why I haven't modelled a helicopter in flight yet.

 

Penguins look fine on the land, but are amazing in the water ;)

 

Si.

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I do agree that planes are designed to fly, and modelling in flight is definitely appropriate.. Perhaps, as I have several fixed undercarriage planes in the stash, I’ll think about installing a crew when I build them so they can fly if I want them to. :) 

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O - those happy WWI fixed gear modellers!

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I think simple practicality is an issue. If you are hanging them from the underside of shelves that isn't such a problem but, if you are hanging them from the ceiling then, for reasons of practicality they need to be above head height but I, and I think most others, prefer to see the upper side of the aircraft rather than the underside so, unless you set them up flying inverted you won't be able to see that side of them.

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14 hours ago, IanHx said:

Easier to stand them on shelves if you glue the wheels on !

 

But is building and painting the landing gear more effort than threading it up for hanging? 😜

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My 'flying' models never get more than 6" off the shelf - so viewing the top side is the standard view...

 

11.jpg

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I mostly build wheels-down, on the ground.

About 25 years ago I joined the local IPMS group, and very quickly realised that my wheels-up builds looked toylike at meetings.

Static prop, not always with a pilot - unrealistic.

 

Thereafter moved mostly to wheels-down.  Offers the choice pilot or not  but most often all buttoned up.  

I do sometimes build wheels-up now, but those will have an appropriate pilot harnessed in, disc for a prop, and stand of some description.   

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@BIG X I have to say I absolutely love your displays. Unfortunately for me shelf space is a big issue, I couldn't afford to build bases like that. For a long time I only built ships and they take up the bulk of my cabinets, so hanging planes from the shelf above is as much pragmatism as it is aesthetic choice. I don't base my ships either despite nearly all being waterline (again, I like them "in their element" but my imagination can fill in the sea surface). Ships sit nicely alongside each-other while planes take up a very awkward shaped space even without bases.

 

I might try your "sanded off blades" effect though at some point, it does look very convincing. How do you deal with allied aircraft and their yellow prop tips?

Edited by Vlad

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13 minutes ago, Vlad said:

I might try your "sanded off blades" effect though at some point, it does look very convincing. How do you deal with allied aircraft and their yellow prop tips?

I simply ignore that :whistle: :lol:

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It's all a matter of personal taste and the only test which really matters is that the builder is happy with his/her model whether it's on its wheels, on a shelf, hanging from the ceiling or part of a diorama.

 

I always build my airliners as they would be seen at the gate, i.e wheels down, flaps retracted and so on but I take my hat off to modellers who do amazing stuff like this. I'm too lazy and too incompetent to drop the flaps on a 747, never mind construct such a superbly detailed display, but I love seeing it. It also solves the problem of having the aircraft in flight but with its wheels down and anybody who calls modelling of that standard "toy like" needs to see an optician as a matter of urgency.

 

Dave G

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