Making Parachutes

for the 1/48 Academy Su-27 Flanker

Tools 'n' Tips Article by QC Tan



Quiz: Guess what the parachute is made from? prize... but it was interesting figuring out how to 'engineer' this.  It is still not perfect.

Well it is actually made from transparent packaging tape..... the type that you use to tape up boxes when you are should be able to find it a local store...get the 2 inch wide type.

As for the wire, it is 35-40 gauge copper wire... you will likely get 25 strands of it if you strip the insulation layer off a regular electrical wire .......there is some trade-off to be made between how thin to scale it to and how strong the wire to carry the weight of the chute.

Firstly, the things you need..
.. A roll of packaging tape - transparent type 2 inch wide
.. A board with the outline of the chute
...A strand of wire

Click on image below to see larger image

...oops... and of course, a light bulb
Secondly, the details...

1. You need to prepare a board to help line the 'parachute strings'...mine consisted of 1.5inch square divided into 7 equal portion as below, I also marked out the middle portion that I will be trimming off as a reference..... you can also use your cutting mat as reference but it may be 'messy' when lining up the strings
2. Next, you will need to strip out the wire (see photo to the right) and spray paint it black.... It should be about 35-40 gauge using normal household wire, the length should be about 3 times the length of the chute, in this case about 13.5 inches..... (note that in this tutorial, I will be using a thicker 30 gauge and unpainted wire)

....that's about the main stuff you will need...

On the subject of material for the string, here's the current list:

  • Piano string....hmm that's a new one (should open up the piano to take a look)
  • Long Hair.......Need to drop by the Saloon
  • Horse hair...exotic, but interesting
  • Fibre Optic.......ah, that's interesting....maybe I can design it in such a way that is glows in the dark
    Any other?

    Ok...on with the tutorial.
1) Layout a strip of packaging-tape with sticky side up and taped it down at the end as shown with scotch tape....make sure you have a gap between the edge and the scotch-tape
2) Next lay a strip of packaging-tape perpendicular to the first and tape it down with scotch-tape
3) Start laying the wires in both directions!
4) critical step..... lay a strip of packaging-tape sticky side on the wire OVER the wire in both directions. Basically you are sandwiching the wires between 2 layers of tape
5) You can now remove the entire construction for further processing
6) start trimming with sides with a regular scissor.... not to close to the wire or you may have wire being ripped of the edge during the forming stage,..... there is still a finishing trimming
7) Trim off the middle slots....
8)..and finally, get rid of the scotch-tape...
9) Now you use the light bulb... to form the curve shape!
10) Trim off as close to the wires as possible
11) DONE......
Strong enough to stand on it own wire...and take some load!

now wasn't that easy ?


PS here a link to what my complete model looked like.  1/48 Academy Su-27 Flanker

Photos and text by QC Tan