How To Display Model Aircraft The Right Way

How To Display Model Aircraft The Right Way

20th Jan 2022

You've spent hours perfecting your model aircraft and making it look as authentic as possible. It's only right that you display it so that everyone can admire and appreciate your work. But how exactly do you display model airplanes the right way?

The way you display your model aircraft will affect how it is seen and perceived. But more importantly, learning how to display your model aircraft correctly affects how long you can preserve its quality.

Don't worry - today, we're going to teach you how to display model airplanes. We've come up with the top tips to help you display model airplanes correctly and protect them from wear and tear. To kick things off, let's talk about where you should display your model.

Where to Display Your Model Aircraft

First and foremost, display your model plane in a spot where it is least likely to get accidentally damaged. Avoid spots that have shelves overhead in case something falls on your display case (or the model itself). Areas where your model airplane can get accidentally elbowed (e.g. beside a couch) are no good either.

If you have children or pets in the house, you should showcase your model at a good height off the floor. At the same time, the surface you're displaying it on must be stable enough in case a child or a pet knocks into it.

You also have to keep your model away from direct sunlight. Why? Because constant exposure to sunlight can cause your model plane to deteriorate faster. It can also cause unwanted discoloration. Unless your windows are coated with UV-blocking film, keep your models away from natural light and illuminate them with artificial lighting instead.

How to Display Your Model Aircraft

Once you have found the best space for your model, it's time to think about how to display your model plane. Generally, you only need two things to display model airplanes properly: a display base and a display case. Or if you have multiple models, you can go with a display cabinet.

Display Base

Some model airplane kits already come with their own display bases. If your model kit doesn't, you can buy a base or pedestal online. Bases can be made from wood, marble, metal, or even glass. But if you want to go for a classic option, choose wood or marble. We also recommend getting a customized nameplate for an extra touch of style.

Display Case

The purpose of a display case is to protect your model from contaminants (dust, oil, fingerprints, etc.) and damage. In doing so, it helps slow down the deterioration of your model, keeping it in good condition for as long as possible.

There are two main types of display cases; glass and acrylic.

Glass Display Case

Glass display cases are the most popular option for displaying model planes and model ships. Choose a glass case that is coated with UV protection film, especially if you want to showcase your model near natural light. We also recommend choosing high-quality glass cases over cheap ones. While you'll pay more, you get more value and peace of mind. Cheap glass can shatter even with the smallest impact, and this can significantly damage your model.

You can also consider getting a case made from tempered glass. Tempered glass does not shatter easily. However, it has a slight greenish tint that may not look right in certain types of lighting.

Acrylic Display Case

Acrylic display cases are cheaper than glass and just as clear. They are easy to replace if you scratch or break them. However, they require more maintenance. You'll need to use a non-abrasive cleaner with a soft cloth when cleaning the surface.

Which One Should You Choose?

Glass is more durable than acrylic, offering better protection against sunlight, heat, and physical damage. It also requires less maintenance and cleaning. On the other hand, acrylic is lighter, cheaper, and can be more transparent than glass. However, you will need to clean it more frequently.

Both of these materials can last a very long time with proper care. So, it all boils down to how much maintenance you are willing to do and how much money you want to spend on your case. If you ask us, however, we recommend choosing the glass option.

How Big Should Your Display Case Be?

The general rule of thumb is that your display case should be at least 2 inches larger in width, height, and length than your model dimensions. When in the market for a new case, make sure you know:

  • The width from one wingtip to the other
  • The length from the tip of the cockpit to the end of the tail
  • The height from the tip of the fin/rudder to the surface underneath

It's also a good idea to use a stand to make it look like your model aircraft is in flight. When using a stand, factor in the number of inches it adds to your model's height so you know for sure both will fit in the case.

Glass Cabinet

If you have multiple model planes to showcase, why not put them together in a glass display cabinet? Choose from either a cabinet with non-glass backing or a cabinet made entirely out of glass. The latter is the better option if you want to see your models from all angles.

These cabinets have more space than a case, and multiple shelves or departments so you can separate and organize your models. You can put all your WW2 aircraft on one shelf, and your modern aircraft on a separate shelf.

Apart from allowing you to house multiple models in one place, another great thing about a glass cabinet is that it has a sliding door. This feature allows you to place models on and off the shelves without disassembling anything.

There are all sorts of cabinets out there you can buy. But if you want to showcase models of varying sizes and have something specific in mind, you can get a customized one.

How to Illuminate Your Model Airplane Display

To showcase your model airplanes in all their glory, it's a good idea to illuminate your display case or cabinet.

There are specialty lamps or lights designed just for this. You can illuminate the entire top part of your display case or cabinet with LED strips. Or if you want small spotlights for a more dramatic effect, purchase several flat LED lights that you can attach to the top of your case.

You can also place lights outside of your case. For example, install a spotlight on the wall and angle the beam toward the cockpit of your model plane. However, exterior lighting works best for non-glare acrylic cases; glass cases can reflect light if it's coming from outside and make it hard to see your model plane.

Final Thoughts On How To Display Model Aircrafts

Your model airplanes deserve all the attention that they can get. If you showcase them the right way, everyone will be able to appreciate and admire them in the best way possible. Furthermore, displaying your models properly will ensure that they last as long as possible without degradation. It also cuts down on the frequency you need to clean your models.

By following the tips we've put together here, your prized models will stay in tip-top condition for decades. And if you want to learn how to display model ships, we've got you covered on that, too. Take a look at our related blog post.

Here at Free Time Hobbies, we have an unparalleled collection of model aircraft kits and model aircraft accessories. Whether you're a first-time builder or a seasoned hobbyist, we have the perfect model for you! Find your next project today among our selection of rare, hard to come by kits.