Model Kits

Best Model Airplane Kits – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Whether you are a seasoned or a beginner modeler, there are some modeling kits out there that are hard to resist.

Incredibly detailed, remarkably realistic and a load of fun to put together, these models are capable of giving you hours of fun. Even better, they look incredibly good as a part of a miniature collection or a diorama.

Without a doubt, airplane models are among the most beautiful types of models out there. However, being there so much demand for this kind of product, the market is full of airplane models, making it difficult to know which one to buy. With that in mind, this buyer’s guide will review seven of the best model airplanes out there. Additionally, it will provide useful information about airplane modeling in general.

Best Model Airplanes – Comparison Table

ProductScaleRecommended ageDimensionsWeight 
Mastercraft Collection Grumman E-2C Hawkeye Model1:4812 years and up15 x 20 x 7 inches4 pounds Check Price
Aero Base The Wright Flyer 1903 Brass Model Airplane Kit1:728 years and up7.6 x 1.3 x 11.9 inches1.12 ounces Check Price
Flight Miniatures Delta (07-Cur) Boeing 747-4001:20014 years and up13.8 x 13 x 5 inches8.5 ounces Check Price
Tamiya Grumman F-14A Tomcat Model Kit1:4814 years and up 15.7 x 16 x 4 inches 2 pounds Check Price
Hasegawa 1/48 EA-18G Growler1:4812 years and up15.1 x 11.3 x 5.3 inches1 pounds Check Price
Revell B-24D Liberator1:4810 years and up17.4 x 27.1 x 4.5 inches3 pounds Check Price
Revell Japanese A6M5 Zero Plastic Model Kit1:4810 years and up7.1 x 9.9 x 2.5 inches0.32 ounces Check Price

1. Mastercraft Collection Grumman E-2C Hawkeye Model – Best Plastic Model Airplane Kits

Mastercraft Collection Grumman E-2C Hawkeye Model ReviewHandcrafted and hand painted with expertise, this model airplane is truly an exceptional piece of art. Despite not being incredibly detailed, it looks very realistic and dynamic. Pre-assembled and pre-posed, it’s ready to be added to any miniature model collection.

Materials and Construction

Made of high-quality plastic, the Mastercraft Collection Grumman E-2C Hawkeye Model is durable and resistant to external elements. Expertly constructed and designed, this miniature model has a nice weight and balance to it. At the same time, once assembled, it’s stable and solid.

Resemblance to the Original Subject

Without a doubt, one of the factors that make the Mastercraft Collection Grumman E-2C Hawkeye Model stand out is its incredible level of realism. Modeled after the Grumman E-2C Hawkeye, this miniature has all the details that make that legendary aircraft what it, albeit on a much smaller scale. What is more, its proportions are remarkably precise, making this a museum-quality piece.

Overall

Taking everything into account, it’s easy to see how and why the Mastercraft Collection Grumman E-2C Hawkeye Model has become popular among experienced modelers. Featuring a tight and solid construction, this model feels as good as it looks. Additionally, it comes with a great base that holds it up perfectly in position.
Pros
  • Made with materials of the highest quality.
  • Hand-painted and handcrafted.
  • Comes with a base for display.
  • Incredibly realistic.
  • Highly detailed.
Cons
  • Cockpit can’t be opened.
  • Expensive.

2. Aero Base The Wright Flyer 1903 – Best Historical Model Airplane

Aero Base The Wright Flyer 1903 Brass Model Airplane Kit ReviewDesigned after the first airplane ever created, the Aero Base The Wright Flyer 1903 Brass Model Airplane Kit is as unique as it is captivating. It is full of intricate details that will catch your eye. However, its most important feature is its mesmerizing realistic structure.

Minimalist Design

Being a representation of the first working airplane created by the Wright brothers in 1903, this model airplane features a remarkably minimalist design. To be sure, its beautiful structure is very streamlined and simplistic. However, seeing the Aero Base The Wright Flyer 1903 Brass Model Airplane Kit up close, you will notice various amazing small details.

Assembly Process

Without a doubt, the Aero Base The Wright Flyer 1903 Brass Model Airplane Kit is a difficult model airplane to put together. However, its assembly process is as fun as it is challenging. What is more, this process is logical enough to function as a puzzle. Luckily, the kit comes with a set of instructions that is very comprehensible and detailed.

Overall

With everything on the table, it can be said with confidence that the Aero Base The Wright Flyer 1903 Brass Model Airplane Kit is one of the most unique model airplanes on the market. Additionally, it’s historically-accurate enough to be used in a didactic or educational context.
Pros
  • Very lightweight.
  • Easy to assemble.
  • Durable and stable.
  • Includes display base.
  • Includes pilot figure.
Cons
  • Contains many small pieces.
  • Assembly process can be slow.

3. Flight Miniatures Delta (07-Cur) Boeing 747-400 – Rarest Model Airplane

Flight Miniatures Delta (07-Cur) Boeing 747-400 ReviewThose who are looking for rare items to add to their collection may benefit from checking this product out. A faithful representation of the classic Boeing 747-400 airplane, this model is as eye-catching as it is imposing. What’s more, it’s made of high-quality materials and expertly constructed.

Realism

As was just mentioned, this model airplane is a realistic representation of a classic passenger aircraft. As such, it features a myriad of small details. Even better, the Flight Miniatures Delta Boeing 747-400 was designed after the precise specifications and proportions of the real-life subject.

A Collector’s Item

Without a doubt, the Flight Miniatures Delta (07-Cur) Boeing 747-400 is the ultimate collector’s item. Apart from its realism, large size and expert construction, this item has something else that collector’s love: rarity. Being no longer in production, there is a finite number of this item out there.

Overall

With everything taken into consideration, it becomes apparent that the Flight Miniatures Delta (07-Cur) Boeing 747-400 is a model that’s made for collectors. Imposing and full of details, it’s a joy to look at. Additionally, it’s rare enough to be a special item.
Pros
  • Stable and well-balanced.
  • Perfectly set up for display.
  • Features a high level of realism.
  • Features many small details.
  • Represents a famous historical aircraft.
Cons
  • Snap fits come apart easily.
  • Can’t be personalized or modified.

4. Tamiya Grumman F-14A Tomcat Model Kit – Best High-Complexity Model Airplane

Tamiya Grumman F-14A Tomcat Model Kit ReviewMore often than not, model airplanes are modeled after either classic or historical airplanes. For that reason, models that represent modern aircrafts are always a breath of fresh air. Without a doubt, this Tamiya product is one of the best of that kind.

Astounding Detail

By most accounts, the Tamiya Grumman F-14A Tomcat Model Kit stands out due to its details. Made of almost 1000 parts, its construction is intricate and complex. What is more, each individual piece features several modeled and painted details.

Assembly and Personalization

Featuring a large number of complex small pieces, the Tamiya Grumman F-14A Tomcat Model Kit is particularly difficult to assemble. However, its assembly process is as fun as it is challenging. Additionally, it features various decals and accessories that allow personalization.

Overall

Taking into account its complexity, it can be said that the Tamiya Grumman F-14A Tomcat Model Kit is a great option for experienced modeling enthusiasts. In particular, it has features that the people who are most attentive to detail will enjoy.
Pros
  • Features a remarkable amount of detail.
  • Includes two pilot figures.
  • The cockpit can be opened.
  • Durable construction.
Cons
  • Difficult to put together.
  • Has more than 600 pieces.

5. Hasegawa 1/48 EA-18G Growler – Best Battle Model Airplane

Hasegawa 1/48 EA-18G Growler ReviewWithout a doubt, lovers of small details in miniatures will be attracted to this product by Hasegawa. Modeled after one of the most effective battle aircraft to have ever flown, the Hasegawa 1/48 EA-18G Growler looks amazing. Apart from its superb construction, it features a myriad of small details that provide it with realism.

Construction and Design

Made of high-quality materials, the Hasegawa 1/48 EA-18G Growler is solid and tough. That wouldn’t mean much, however, if its construction and design weren’t as tight and solid as they are. What’s more, its design is incredibly realistic in terms of proportionality.

Realistic Accessories

Apart from various built-in details, the Hasegawa 1/48 EA-18G Growler includes several accessories that help increase its level of realism. For example, it features detailed landing gear that can be retracted into the aircraft’s body. Additionally, it has detachable parts such as pivoting stabilators, a boarding ladder and a multipart optional position canopy.

Overall

All in all, the Hasegawa 1/48 EA-18G Growler is a great model airplane. It’s detailed enough to be realistic, featuring various accessories and sections that were modeled separately. At the same time, its construction and design are top-notch, resulting in great stability and durability.
Pros
  • Includes various different accessories.
  • Includes instrument markings and stencil data.
  • Includes decals for easy customization.
Cons
  • Does not include paint or modeling tools.
  • Difficult to assemble.

6. Revell B-24D Liberator – Best Large Model Airplane

Revell B-24D Liberator ReviewIt’s only logical that a model that represents one of the most imponent aircrafts to ever exist will be as impressive as the Revell B-24D Liberator.

Attention to Detail

Whether they are built-in or painted on, the Revell B-24D Liberator has an impressive number of details. Without a doubt, the most impressive ones are located in its openable cockpit.

Functional Parts

Apart from all the lines, brackets, indentations and crevices that a large aircraft would have, this model includes functional sections such as an openable bomb bay door. What is more, it has movable landing gears, movable turrets and various accessories such as a land vehicle.

Overall

If you are looking for a large, realistic model airplane, this may be a good choice. Well-constructed and full of small details, it certainly is impressive to look at. Additionally, it’s assembly process is very straightforward.
Pros
  • Very realistic.
  • Includes land vehicle model.
  • Includes bomb load.
  • Openable bomb bay doors.
Cons
  • Some pieces need to be filed or sanded to fit properly.
  • Instructions are hard to follow.

7. Revell Japanese A6M5 Zero Plastic Model Kit – Best Plastic Model Airplane

Revell Japanese A6M5 Zero Plastic Model Kit ReviewModeled after a classic aircraft that flew during World War II, this product is traditionally beautiful. Its design is simple but clever, hitting all the notes that made this aircraft such a staple of its time.

Scale and Realism

Featuring a scale of 1:48, this model airplane has the perfect size to be a part of a large WWII diorama. It’s not small enough, however, that its various details can be easily overlooked.

Overall

Despite its simple design and straightforward construction, the Revell Japanese A6M5 Zero Plastic Model Kit looks realistic and beautiful. Its openable cockpit has an impressive amount of detail, even featuring a pilot figure. Additionally, it includes waterslide decals for two different models.
Pros
  • Includes a seated pilot figure.
  • Includes waterslide decals for 2 versions.
  • Durable construction.
Cons
  • Does not include paints or modeling tools.

Best Model Airplanes – Buyer’s Guide

What to Look For When Buying a Model Airplane

Skill Level

Best Model Airplane Kits - Reviews & Buyer’s GuideDifferent model airplane kits vary wildly in difficulty. For that reason, it’s important to find out whether a specific kit has got the right difficulty before you buy it. Luckily, most manufacturers provide a skill level with each product they put out.

Scale and Size

A scale is a number that indicates how many times a miniature model would have to be enlarged in order to be the size of the real-life subject it represents. The more scaled down a model is, the smaller it will be in comparison to said subject. This is important to take into account because it tells you how big the model will be after it has been assembled.

Number of Pieces and Assembly

Typically, miniature models come disassembled, requiring you to put the pieces together in order to get the finished product. It’s important to take into account that, depending on its particular design, each model has a different number of pieces. Normally, the more pieces, the harder the model is to put together.

Materials

Best Model Airplane Kits - Reviews & Buyer’s GuideThere are three main materials that modeling kits are made of: plastic, wood and diecast metal. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Plastic is lightweight and durable but it can look less realistic than the other materials.

Wood is warm and beautiful but it can give some models a rougher look than its counterparts. Diecast metal is the most resistant and durable of these materials but it can be difficult to paint. The matter of which is best also comes down to a matter of personal taste.

Tools Required for Assembling a Model Airplane Kit

Paint

Best Model Airplane Kits - Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

After assembling a new miniature model, it is likely that you will have to paint it in order to make it look perfectly realistic. Unfortunately, however, not all kits include paints. For that reason, it is a good idea to have at least a few basic colors around, including white and black. Now, choosing the type of paint can be tricky.

There are two main types of modeling paint: acrylic and oil-based. Acrylic paint is water-based and, as a result, it’s thinner and easier to clean up. As a result, this is a good choice for beginners. On the other hand, oil-based paint is thicker, making it harder to clean up. However, it’s more durable and resistant to external elements.

Tweezers

Best Model Airplane Kits - Reviews & Buyer’s GuideMore often than not, many of the pieces that constitute a model airplane kit are very small. For that reason, it can be difficult to manipulate and assemble them with your bare fingers.

As a result, a good pair of tweezers can be incredibly helpful when it comes to putting together a modeling kit of this kind. Even better, you can have a few tweezers of various sizes and shapes.

File or Sander

More than likely, you will encounter rough edges at some point during your modeling endeavors. Often, they are created by the action of detaching the pieces from the sprue tree. However, rough edges can also take place due to manufacturing errors.

In any case, it’s important to have a file or sander at hand at all times in order to smooth out any rough edges or imperfections. Apart from making the model look smoother, this will help prevent the creation of lumps during painting.

Cement/Glue

Best Model Airplane Kits - Reviews & Buyer’s GuideMany modeling kits out there have snap-on fittings that eliminate the necessity to use modeling cement or glue. However, some of the more difficult kits available require you to use an adhesive substance in order to fit its various parts together. On the market, there are various brands and types of modeling cements and glues.

Choosing the best one has a lot to do with taking into account the type of material that the model is made of. Often, a model kit’s manufacturer will provide explicit indications as to what type of cement or glue should be used.

Hobby Knife

Without a doubt, a hobby knife is an essential part of a good tool kit for modeling. First of all, this type of tool will help you separate the individual pieces from the sprue tree. Doing it without the use of a sharp knife can result in damage to the pieces. In addition, a good hobby knife can be used to make small modifications to the model that will help with its process of assembly.

Conclusion

Whether you are looking to build up your collection or create a realistic diorama, you can’t go wrong with one of the model airplanes featured in this guide. Apart from being incredibly realistic and detailed, these models are fun and challenging to put together. At this point, it’s up to you to choose the perfect model airplane for your needs. Hopefully, this information will help you do just that.

About the author

Bill Murphy

Bill Murphy

Bill Murphy is an avid model railroader, offering advice for model enthusiasts on the YourDiorama website. For more helpful tips and information, visit https://yourdiorama.com

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