Recreating WW2 aircraft recognition models (and more!)

Most of us enjoy the thrill of reviving old stuff: seeing something dusty, damaged and worn come back to vivid life again after a little (or a lot more) care and work. But restoring is not limited to damaged items: how about those old templates you could find in journals and magazines? 

Every picture in this article have been provided by Makerspace Arran.
Thank you!


This WW2 journal occasionally provided instructions on how to make silhouette card models for aircraft recognition training, which at the time (around 1943!) served as an educative piece but also a pleasant and fun way to learn something useful.

Today we have the comfort of having laser cutters available in community workshops, schools and even at home where such models can be cut using the machines instead of having to do it all by hand. We just have to prepare the files our lasers can work with!

Makerspace Arran (find them on Instagram and Facebook !) posted about their project into our Community Forum, and shared more details with us about their process.

"I simply scanned the journal pages as a jpg, imported them into Inkscape on the PC as that is what I normally use for my lasercut designs and then converted them into a vector drawing. The lines needed a little tidying and slot widths checked but it was pretty quick, maybe an hour of file preparation. The laser runs on Lightburn and design worked nicely first time."

The slot width is one of the most important things to make sure in these assemblies, as it needs to match the thickness of your material. LightBurn now has a feature to automatically adjust those, which can come handy when you have a lot of tabs and slots to work with, and would rather not do each of them one by one.

We also asked how available these specific journals were online, as that can be a helpful lead to enthusiasts looking to have a go at making the recognition models.

"I don’t think the journal is available online anywhere - I saw a post of a model Focke Wulfe fw190 on a Facebook group for scale model builders but then bought a dozen of the original journals on eBay to look for more. About 1 in 6 that I’ve found have the model plans included but I haven’t seen them collated anywhere online (& I’ve really had a good go at looking)."


Although these specific journals can't be found digitised yet, that only gives an opportunity to go on a treasure hunt in your local or more remote secondhand shops, antique book shops, charity shops & similar places where any sort of old magazines could be found; not only of the same topic, but of other themes too. Perhaps there are copies already on your attic or inside the basement!

Once you are done preparing the models with your chosen material, why not give them some other props, a backdrop, or even a lick of paint? The examples below from Makerspace Arran are showing aircrafts that are not from the journal, but the hangars they are inside should serve as an inspiration!



Show us your makes by tagging us (smoke_and_pictures) on Instagram and Twitter (@tweetsandmirrors) !

Happy making!