The fitting of antennae wires to
model aircraft is sometimes seen as a 'Dark Art'. It is one of those
little touches that can make or break a good model. I'm sure that, as fledgling
modellers we all used our Mothers' sewing thread, and it looked 'OK' (I know I
did), but over the years I have developed a few methods that work for me.
In no way do I claim to be an expert; I just decided to share what
(little) I know.
I personally use a variety of
materials for antennae, the ones I use depend very much on the scale of the
Knitting-in elastic. Available from your local Haberdasher, Knitting
emporium etc. This reel cost me only £1.99 (about $2.50) and has about
100 yards on it. As the average 1/48 single
engine plane only uses about 4 - 6 inches it should last you for years.
I use this mainly for 1/48 and larger aircraft. It has the advantage of
'giving' when touched and therefore prevent damage to masts etc. during
transport and handling.
& 3 These are 'Invisible' mending
threads, available in clear and grey. I used to use these on 1/72 and
smaller but don't any longer, as they have no 'give' and put a strain on
aerial masts and fittings.
This is Stainless Steel medical wire from 'Ethicon' it comes in packs of
50 x 18" strands. (I think I paid about £5 for a pack , about $7.50)
Although it looks real, because it is real metal, it is prone to kinking and
bending, especially during transport. I use this for 1/72 'whip'
antennae, such as seen on the spine of Mosquito FB.VI's and later model
Spitfires. For larger Spits and Mossies I keep the .010" top
'E' string from my electric guitar for these whips (I wasn't going to take a
string off my Strat just for this article!).
This is my Wife's hair. I use this mainly for 1/72 single and
twin-engined planes. She saves it for me from her hairbrush.
Believe it or not, it takes paint and superglue well and, because she is a
brunette it looks good in its natural state.
For fitting the wires I use the
A good pin vice and a selection of
drill bits (this set goes from 0.5mm to 2mm), cyanoacrylate, cocktail sticks
or toothpicks, and accelerator. The accelerator is an option, but a
useful one, because it stops you looking like an idiot when waiting for 10
minutes in a strange position waiting for the superglue to dry!
First of all, I stress that this
is a personal thing and should not be taken as gospel, but this is how I
Look at all your reference material closely and logically. Most will
show exactly where the aerial wires run, and even where they come from inside.
On an early Spitfire or Hurricane, for example, the wire comes up from the top
of the fuselage, through an eyelet on the mast, then to a tensioner on the top
of the fin. The logical thing to do then, is to rig the model the same
way. Drill a hole near the base of the mast, and one through the mount
on the mast. Anchor the end of your antenna in the hole in the
fuselage with C-A glue, wait for it to set, then run the aerial through the
top mounting on the mast (Glue if you want) then back to the fin mounting.
Apply a little tension, glue and, Voila!
Most Luftwaffe aircraft have an
insulated 'lead-in' somewhere on the fuselage. Apply the wire from mast
to tail first. Then the one from the insulator to the main wire.
The join between the main and secondary wires can be tricky to get the right
amount of tension on, but with practice it gets easier.
Not all aircraft have a tensioner
or attatchment at the top of the tail. My nearly complete Firefly is a
case in point. Here, you will have to drill a hole in the leading edge
of the fin, then attach the aerial here first, then to the mast, then the nose
touch up the hole with some paint later.
Some aircraft (Me 110, He 219
etc.) which are twin tailed have a lead from each fin to a mast. For
these, I find it is best to attach the free ends to BOTH fins first, then |
loop the elastic over the mast, giving it a twist, which simulates the
tensioner device often seen there (see picture below)
Most aerial leads have an insulator, or several, along their length to prevent
shorting out etc.
found the best way to achieve this is to take a little white glue, clearfix or
paint; get a bit on a fine brush (1 or 0) and then brush it at RIGHT
ANGLES to the wire. When dry, paint required colour (usually white).
For all you 'Jet Jockeys' out
there, a little one I picked up a while ago. Don't throw away your old
toothbrushes; The bristles, when cut off, make excellent static
Good luck to you all, I hope this
will be useful.