Tag Archives: Aircraft

F-4 Phantoms and the fine art of building camouflage

For almost ten years I have had a model of an F-4 Phantom in my LEGO aircraft collection. I have kept making changes to it, as I learned new tricks and picked up new parts. However, certainly compared to newer and larger models by Carl Greatrix and James Cherry, my old US Marine Corps F-4N looked a bit dull. Mind you, I am not about to start building studless or creating more of the colour scheme with stickers any time soon, but I did feel like jazzing it up some. My choice: turn it into an Israeli F-4E Kurnass 2000.

F-4E Kurnass 2000

What makes this interesting in my book is the brick-built camouflage and most of the work in the rebuild was spent on this. The LEGO colours that best match the original colours weren’t particularly easy to work with: tan, dark tan and sand green, but the overall look was worth the trouble.

Fellow Phantom enthusiast Justin Davies (rx79gez8gundam) recently posted an update of his Phantom design, built in LDD.

Click through to read more about designing camouflage in LEGO

The Mirage IV was a beautiful jet with a sinister purpose

In the sixties, under president Charles De Gaulle, France started to follow a fiercely independent foreign policy that included reliance on its own nuclear deterrence force, often known as the Force de Frappe. Nowadays, its core is formed by a small number of submarines armed with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, but from 1964 to 1996 France also operated Mirage IV medium-range supersonic bombers armed with nuclear weapons. It took Dutch builder Kenneth Vaessen about a month to build his 1/36 scale model of this relatively little-known Cold-War jet.

Dassault Mirage IV-P - 1

In the logic typical of the era, these bombers were intended to deter a Soviet nuclear attack on France, by being able to destroy Soviet cities in retaliation. Few sane people would like to think about this sinister mission for long, but you’ve got to admit that the jet looks beautiful. With its tall undercarriage, sharply angled delta wing, and long and slender forward fuselage, it completely follows the unofficial rule in aeronautical design stating that, if it looks right, it flies right. The excellent model has a retractable undercarriage, opening cockpit canopies and working airbrakes and is built in a realistic two-tone camouflage scheme.

The first of the Century Fighters

During the nineteen-fifties, rapid advances in aeronautical engineering meant that the top speed of fighter aircraft shot up from below supersonic to more than twice the speed of sound. For the U.S. Air Force, this huge increase in performance coincided with the introduction of a now almost legendary range of fighter aircraft, starting with the F-100 Super Sabre and ending with the F-106 Delta Dart, also known as the Century Fighters. Over the years I have built both an F-105 Thunderchief and a Delta Dart. Just after Brickfair Virginia 2013, a number of military builders including myself visited the National Air & Space Museum Udvar Hazy Center near Dulles Airport and, after seeing the museum’s Super Sabre, I wanted one, badly.

F-100D Super Sabre

The trouble was, this is not particularly easy. I didn’t just want any old Super Sabre; I wanted one in Vietnam war era camouflage much like the one in the museum. I find the best match for the camouflage colours is dark tan, dark green (or Earth green, as LEGO calls it) and old dark grey, and the parts palette in all of these colours is limited. The jet also doesn’t have a particularly easy shape, with a slightly odd oval intake and curved fuselage sides. Then I got a bit side-tracked, building movie cars for a couple of years. However, after a lot of procrastination and head-scratching, it is finally done. The model represents an F-100D that served as a fighter-bomber aircraft with 184th Fighter Squadron, the ‘Flying Razorbacks’, of the Arkansas Air National Guard, late in the type’s operational career.

Elegant airship takes to the aether

I really like this steampunk airship, The Morning Mist by Ooger. The hull enjoys nice lines and great color-blocking, and those balloons are excellent. The masts between the spheres provide unobtrusive support, ensuring the balloons look like they’re genuinely holding the ship aloft, a trick many steampunk creations don’t manage to pull off convincingly.

The Morning Mist

The dragon head adds a lovely touch of the exotic, but what made this model stand out for me was the uncluttered deck area. Steampunk building often lends itself to a messy, cobbled-together feel, but sometimes it’s good to see something as sleek and clean as this creation.

The only area where I think this build could be improved is in the way the various flags and puffs of smoke are currently all blowing in different directions. It’s a tiny thing, but it undermines the sense of the ship being in motion. However, that’s nit-picking at an otherwise great piece of building. This is the sort of fancy sky-yacht I’d quite like to own myself.

You’ll believe a dwarf can fly

Dwalin Forkbeard has built a cracking little Dwarven gyrocopter, packed full of fantasy steampunk goodness. The model takes inspiration from the Warhammer tabletop fantasy wargame, and I think it’s brilliant. A clanking, whirling, mechanical marvel with no chance of achieving lift in real life – this is my favourite kind of steampunk flying machine…


The dark green curved section sits atop a wonderfully greebly underside, studded with functional-looking appendages. The cannon at the front is nicely integrated and looks wonderfully stubby. The star of this show however, is the rotor assembly – a fantastic piece of machinery seemingly cobbled together from spare cogs and timber. Great stuff.

Microscale plane gets props for its props

Karf Oolhu is the busiest builder I follow. My Flickr stream is regularly filled with his latest creations – always fun, always imaginative, and often packed with interesting parts use. This cute little plane and hangar is no exception…

The little plane...

Look at the propellers. LOOK AT THE PROPELLERS. Ice skates in control lever bases, clipped onto seat backs. Undoubtedly an illegal connection (as in a combination the designers of official LEGO sets would not be allowed to use) but utter class all the same.

Deadly in gray & red

Cole Blaq has just finished a batch of really awesome matching near-future military vehicles, led by this vicious VTOL aircraft. I love how the red striping even continues around the central turbofan. Spots of yellow from printed tiles and the tips of white missiles add interesting detail to the basic gray and dark red color scheme.


The VTOL has a matching APC and walker mech. The APC is reminiscent of the vehicle from Aliens, which is not at all a bad thing.


Be sure to check out the photoset on Flickr for more pictures of all the models.

Mi-171 helicopter good enough to be an official LEGO City set

From the very first sight of it, Sergey Antokins‘s scale model of a Mi-171 helicopter charmed me with its neat design. Its structure is skillful enough to surprise you with a couple of unusual building techniques, but at the same time, stays clean and straightforward and looks totally like a slightly refurbished LEGO City set. I give bonus points for this pleasing white and blue color scheme — we finally have a model of a civilian aircraft to blog!

MIL Mi-171

Click through to see more photos of this great helicopter

The King of Sky-Fi strikes again

Jon Hall has done it again – diving out of the sun to hit us with yet another fantastic sky-fi plane.

J-24 Katana

This ticks all the boxes on my “Jon Hall Building Checklist” – unusual shaping, strong color schemes, custom stickers, and cracking photo editing. There’s also some nice parts usage with binoculars in the engine, and black windscreen pieces used to create the cowling.

I want to hold this in my hand and run round the house making screaming attack dive and pew-pew noises. Great stuff.

The Red Baron flies again

Grantmasters is pushing the boundaries of microscale with this lovely set of Great War aeroplanes. My favorite part of microscale is how much can be evoked with just a handful of pieces, and here the Sopwith Camel and Fokker DR1 are instantly recognizable. The forced-perspective with the clouds and mountains in the background is easily overlooked, but also subtly adds a lot to the scene.

Stunning scale model of F4-Phantom made of 6,000 LEGO bricks

James Cherry has posted images of his beautiful F-4J Phantom II which I highlighted as my “Best In Show” in the roundup of BRICK2015 in London.

F4J Side

The model is 1.2m long, contains around 6,000 pieces, and took James nearly 5 months to design and build. But beyond the impressive scale and the lovely custom stickering, it’s the smooth curves and the shaping of the various sections which make this creation stand out for me. I also really like the handful of studs left exposed, creating a feel of riveted panels around the intakes.

F4J Nose

James managed to squeeze no less than 5 Power Functions motors inside the model, allowing the rudder and various flaps to be operated using a remote control. It was very cool to see these features “in the brick” in London last weekend, and I wasn’t alone in thinking it was a highlight of the show. Carl Greatrix – one of the best LEGO plane modelers around – spent ages examining this creation and pronounced it “Bloody good”. High praise indeed.

I’d heartily recommend a visit to James’ Flickr photostream to check out all the details of this amazing model in the close-up images, as well as photos of his beautiful custom-chrome P-51 Mustang model.

Lego P-51 D 2

The Ace of Spades

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat was a big beast of a fighter, similar in size and weight to many WW2 bombers, but it could also carry a big punch in the form of four long-range air-to-air Phoenix missiles nestled under the fuselage and a Sidewinder and Sparrow missile under each of the wings. The jet and its armament were faithfully reproduced by Péter Dornbach (Dornbi). Like the real aircraft, his 1/48 scale model also has a working variable geometry ‘swing wing’.

Grumman F-14A Tomcat (1)

It may be an old warrior by now, with the last examples in US Navy service having been retired almost ten years ago, but it’s still one of the coolest jet fighters in my book, certainly in the high-visibility colour schemes typical for the Seventies. Péter’s model is resplendent in the markings of Fighter Squadron 41 “The Black Aces”, aboard USS Nimitz in 1978. Excellent choice!