Although not based on a specific aircraft, the latest model from Finnish builder Tino Poutiainen accurately replicates the wild, “held together with string and dreams” frontier of the early days of manned flight. Like the real-life Wright Flyer, Baldwin Red Devil, and other early turn-of-the-20th-century experimental aeroplanes, Tino’s model appears rickety, thin, and massively unsafe: he did a superb job of making the whole thing look like it’s going to fall apart as soon as its wheels leave the ground.
Even though the North Vietnamese didn’t have much of an air force at the start of the air war over Vietnam in 1964, with Soviet assistance they were soon able to present US pilots with a few surprises. Their MiG-17 fighters were old-fashioned and only had guns as their armament. The jets were small, though, and well-suited to out-turn heavier US jets mostly optimised for higher speeds. Peter Dornbach has built the more modern MiG-21, known as the “Fishbed” in the West. This entered Vietnamese service in 1966.
Peter’s model has a retractable undercarriage, opening cockpit and a brick-built representation of the characteristic camouflage used by the Vietnam People’s Air Force. With its higher speed and two AA-2 Atoll air-to-air missiles the Fishbed was typically used in hit-and-run attacks. The US countered this threat using the F-4 Phantom II. This wasn’t particularly agile, but had powerful twin engines. Its crews were taught to use these as an advantage against the MiGs by manoeuvring in the vertical.
The particular example built by Evan Melick is “Showtime-100”, a US Navy F-4J flown by Randy “Duke” Cunningham and William Driscoll who put this tactic to practice shooting down three Vietnamese fighters during a famous mission in May of 1972. Added to their two previous victories, this made them the US Navy’s first and only aces of the Vietnam war. Like most US Navy aircraft from the time period, it had distinctive squadron markings, which Evan recreated on his model using a mix of brick-built patterns, custom vinyl stickers and water-slide decals intended for 1/48 scale models. Note his clever use of new 45 degree angled tiles to build studless leading edges on the jet’s wings.
Both jets are part of a Vietnam collaboration by about a dozen builders, including yours truly, which will be on display at Brickfair Virginia in a little less than three weeks.
Sometimes we get so caught up with focusing on what complicated LEGO techniques and original ideas our next build will have, that we forget the most important things, like building something that simply looks good. And “simply” is the key word here. Jussi Koskinen‘s sunset landing and all its main components are mostly simple in their design, but come together as a breathtaking picture.
The landscaping is very nice, with different layers creating a forced perspective, which is really solidified by the frontmost layer. The plane has some really clever solutions, especially the inverted convex tiles (boat studs) to make the wingtips as elegant as possible. The real magic is in the lighting though, setting the serene evening feeling of coming back home from a business trip or a vacation.
Last time we featured builder Wesley, he took us to the smoky skies above the trenches of WWI with a magnificent trio of early aircraft. This time he’s set the clock forward a few decades to the Battle of Britain with this gorgeous Supermarine Spitfire Mk.II, created in a nifty scale that’s slightly smaller than minifigure scale. He’s taken off a few of the panels to show the plane in service, which also acts as an added bonus in showing us how it’s built.
In the last year or so, I have been steadily building a collection of classic US Navy aircraft. The latest addition is the A-3B Skywarrior, a twin-engined carrier-based jet bomber.
Back in the late forties nuclear weapons were large and heavy. According to the US Navy, a jet built to deliver one over a meaningful distance would have to weigh about 45 tons and be the size of a small airliner. Given that they wanted to operate their nuclear bombers from aircraft carriers, where space is at a premium, this posed an obvious problem. To add insult to injury, the first of a new generation of super-large aircraft carriers intended to operate these bombers was cancelled within a week after its keel had been laid. So, when the brilliant designer Ed Heinemann, also known for the A-1 Skyraider, proposed that Douglas Aviation build a bomber of about 30 tons that could fly from existing aircraft carriers, he definitely caught the Navy’s interest.
The resulting aircraft entered service in the mid fifties as the A-3 Skywarrior. It was still a big beast. It was the heaviest aircraft to routinely fly from aircraft carriers, which earned it the nickname “Whale”. The LEGO model is a pretty big beast too. At my usual scale of 1/36, it is about 78 studs long.
It never ceases to amaze me that the Blackbird SR-71 was an invention of the 1960s. One can only wonder what flight technology exists today that we will only learn of decades from now. The sleek body and shape of this black beauty are captured well even it is brick form. Builder and designer Plane Bricks even made sure it fit the two required flight crew for operation with a pilot in the front, and reconnaissance systems officer behind complete with flight panelling details.
Check out some of the other detailing where the bird is also designed with a proper landing gear and storage during flight and flaps that tilt.
“Swooshable” is one of the finest compliments that can be paid to a LEGO aircraft or spacecraft model. Does it make you want to lift it up and swoosh it around the room whilst making engine noises? This cracking air racer from Red Spacecat could serve as some sort of dictionary definition of the term. The smooth lines, the rear-mounted contra-rotating prop, the colour blocking and stickers — all magic.
Couple all that with a folding undercarriage and a touch of Octan sponsorship, and you’ve got an absolute belter of a little LEGO plane…
Thanks to builders like Roland Skof-Peschetz, the age of steam is alive and well. According to Roland, this the K&K Luftpost uses this flying postal vehicle to deliver mail to the most remote locations of Austria. Upon seeing his quadcopter, the positioning of the four blades instantly reminded me of commercially available drones. Amazon, take note…We would like to see this quadcopter used for your Prime Air delivery service!
When it comes to the “Sky-Fi” Dieselpulp style of LEGO building, one man is the undisputed master of the air: Jon Hall. He strikes again with his latest retro-flavoured aircraft — the P-98 Nemesis. The shaping of the hefty triple-fuselage structure is excellent, and there are loads of lovely touches on display — the strong colour-blocking, the raked exhausts peeking from beneath the engine cowls, and the racks of ordnance slung under the wings.
Packed full of Jon’s trademark attention to detail, the model includes custom stickers, a folding undercarriage, and a detailed cockpit interior. Check out this view of the seat and the instrumentation panel with its trio of joysticks. And don’t miss the spanner mounted up-front as a gun sight — great stuff.
Watching Top Gun is like eating a Philadelphia cheesesteak with cheez whiz. Some of the ingredients are a bit dodgy and there really is an awful lot of stringy cheese, but it tastes oh so good. Why? Forget Tom Cruise—the undisputed star of the movie is the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. However, instead Lego Admiral chose to build one of the villains, called the MiG-28, and that’s cool in my book.
The MiG-28s in Top Gun weren’t really Russian, of course, because they never made a MiG-28. In reality, the planes on-screen were F-5 Tigers, which are normally used by the US Navy as adversaries in air-to-air combat training. However, the jets certainly looked the part, as for the occasion they were painted in temporary color schemes with fictional national markings of some Communist country. This made them look even more sinister, as we all know that evil wears black. The LEGO model has a long shark-nose and an expertly rendered coke-bottle fuselage. Even more than thirty years later the MiG-28 still looks bad-ass.
Harking back to an age of more gentlemanly aerial combat, these LEGO versions of a Sopwith Camel and a Fokker Triplane from Vaionaut are beautifully done. The tan and dark brown colour scheme on the Sopwith is perfect, and I particularly like the smart use of clip-and-bar pieces to give the upper wings their signature raked-forward look. Nice use of binoculars and screwdrivers to create the twin machine-guns too. The restrained use of some custom stickers, an appropriate choice of minifigures, and a lovely little workbench all come together to complete the scene.
However, if you have a Sopwith, you must have an opponent in red. And sure enough, Vaionaut has built a gorgeous Fokker Dr.I to accompany.
A Second World War themed LEGO airplane fleet is a rare sight to behold. This image by Allen Lim looks amazing, even though the Japanese Zero fighters are multiplied digitally. Obviously my favourite part is the effort put into editing, but that should not overshadow the excellent work on the aircraft carrier and the aircraft itself. There are some shapes around the cockpit and on the wings that are very impressive once you take a closer look and think about how they are done.
I think the best way to view this aircraft is in combat in a dogfight with a Spitfire.
Allen has been building military aircraft throughout February so expect to see more from him in the near future.