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Thursday, January 20, 2022
Thursday, January 20, 2022

This technique tutorial will be on making scale turnbuckles and rigging for 1/48 and 1/32 scale aircraft. This will also work for other scales and models other that aircraft. I do not claim these techniques as my own. There is no right way or wrong way, this is just my prefered methods. I prefer the elastic rigging wire as it is easy to use and very forgiving if you accidentally bump it. You can purchase premade turnbuckles from metal, resin or photoetch but I prefer to scratchbuild.

1/48 Scale : In this scale I do not prefer to use turnbuckles, they seem to oversized to my eye. I just use a pin drill with a very small bit and drill a hole and superglue the elastic rigging wire into the hole.

1/32 Scale : This is where I like to use either twisted wire eyelets and rigging wire or scratchbuilt turnbuckles. A pilot hole is drilled in to the surface and the eyelets are glued into them, then the rigging wire is threaded through the brass tube, pulled tight and glued.

Rigging material: E-Z Line, Ushi van der Rosten “Rig that thing”, fishing line, stretched sprue

Brass tube: 0.5mm OD x 0.3mm ID

Wire: 36 AWG

CA glue (superglue)

Hobby knife


Pin drill

Small hook to twist wire: I use a dental pick with the end slightly bent


OPTIONAL: Magnifying optics



Step 1: Drilling pilot hole

Using the pin drill with a very small bit, I drill a 1mm hole into the wing surface


Step 2: Eyelets

Using the the 36 AWG wire, I cut off a length of wire (about an inch).

Fold the wire in half, loosely, and hold the two ends with a wide, flat bladed tweezer.

Using the hook tool (bent dental pick) at the loop end of the wire, gently pull up to hold tension and twist the wire until you make a small eyelet and remove the hook.

Cut off excess wire, I leave about 1-2mm long.

Step 3: Turnbuckle

Using the 0.5mm brass tube, cut into 2 mm lengths and and use the tip of a hobby knife blade to remove the burrs from the ends of the tube. * Caution! I hold the brass tube with locking medical tweezers. Work slow and carefully, we all know blades are very sharp!*

For added realism to the turnbuckles, you can glue eyelets into both ends of the brass tube.

Step 4: Rigging!

This is where the fun (or not fun) begins!

Glue the eyelets into the pilot holes from Step 1

Take you rigging wire and tweezers, and thread the rigging wire through the brass tube, then pass the wire through the eyelet and once again back though the brass tube (This is where removing the burrs is a must!)

Carefully tighten the wire while moving the brass tube down to the eyelet and apply a small dab of CA glue to secure.

Repeat until all wires are ran.

Step 5: Congratulations

You have rigged a scale model aeroplane!


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Scale_History combines scale model building with the history associated with the subject. Bringing history alive, one scale model at a time. Follow me on Facebook @ScaleHistory Instagram @scale_history and YouTube Scale_ History


SMWAdmin 19th May 2020 at 10:39 am

Really good article. Thank you for sharing 🙂

Rafael 7th June 2020 at 10:40 pm

Excellent post, it is always daunting to do rigging but you made look achievable. ??

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