Monday, March 8, 2010

1/600 Scale Aircraft Props

I love my little planes, I really do but there was something about them that just didn't feel right.  At first I thought it was because they were so small or maybe even because there wasn't that many miniatures on the table.  But a week or so ago it came to me: no props.  The aircraft look incomplete without them.  So how do I make props that small?

I found some scrap laminate I had left over from my card making projects and used a hole punch to make some small discs.  Then using a hobby knife I cut a hole in the middle, this almost ended badly for my hand so please be careful if you are going to try this yourself.

It took a lot of work but I eventually ended up with an aircraft that looks like this:
Yeah I know, it looks freaking sweet!  A little grey paint for some prop blur and it will look amazing.  Great so now I just need to make around a hundred or so of these...

Mass Production
My wife has one of those Craft Robo hobby cutters which should do the trick nicely.  The ideas is to use a laminate sheet which should be sturdy without being too thick for the Craft Robo to cut.

It's so obvious now but when putting a laminate pocket through your laminator with nothing in it you have to make sure it comes out the other side.  I wasn't paying enough attention when I noticed half the pocket had gone in one side but nothing was coming out the other!
 Done properly you should get something like this:

So I put the laminate onto the carrier sheet and loaded it into the Craft Robo, making sure to put in the right blade and the check all the settings... then I pressed the cut button. 

It looks like it's working...

And it does!

I made two sizes, one based on the the Spitfire prop size and the other based on a He 111.  I rounded the Spitfire one down to the nearest mm while I rounded the Heinkel one up.  It turns out that the bigger ones are too big while the smaller are just right.  I think the bigger ones will be fine for the really big boys like the B-17's and such so I'm not too worried.


I'm really happy with the results, they might need a bit of grey paint to show prop blur but even as is they look way better than they did.  I've stuck them on using MDF glue which will dry semi transparent and help with the blurred look.  All up this has taken maybe an hour from cutting the plastic to sticking them on the aircraft and it only cost me one laminate pocket which my rough calculations comes to the princely sum of 16 cents.

Here are the files for anyone who wants to have a go this themselves.  I've included a PDF version so you can cut some out on plain paper to see how the size fares with your models.
PDF version

GSD version

The only outstanding issue is now of storage.  All of my aircraft are currently stored here:
Most of the aircraft have enough clearance with the props on to be stored as-is but a few of them will need little risers.  I think I'll make up some little MDF risers and put some a strip of magnetic sheet on top to hold the aircraft.

If you have aircraft without props and have access to a cutter of some sort then you need to do this.  Your aircraft will look so much better for it.

Corrected aircraft names in the Mass Production section, thanks Doug.  Not enough sleep and I think one thing and type another.


  1. ah timbo you've done it again!

  2. What would it cost to buy some from you? Would be way cheaper than buying the device to make them (smile).

    Just bought the "Scramble for Britain" rules with a/c from Tumbling Dice. Props for the a/c with the rules would be great.

  3. mate, that looks awesome! Somtimes you can fidle about for hours for hardly any effect. This is not one of those times at all- it really brings them to life (and I was a skeptic before).

    I'm with Dan, I reckon you could pay for a few modelling supplies by making these- I'll be (grudgingly) second in line behind Dan!

  4. I know I won´t get into aerial wargaming. At least I shouldn´t. Ok, maybe I´ll TRY not to.

    But following your take on it, with the painting, modelling and props making, it usually encourages me to really wait for the right moment to dive into it. The moment when I know I can do it right.

  5. Hello
    Do you use 1 inch base or an another size ?

  6. Hi Anonymous,

    Yeah I use standard 1" hex base. Mine are a mixture of old GW ones and some newer ones from eM4 miniatures.