Forming model plane canopies

Written by james black
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Forming model plane canopies
Model aeroplane canopies can be easy to build and add a level of realism. (machine gun jet fighter image by Aaron Kohr from

Airplane canopies add a level of realism to your model that can't be had any other way. It is possible to make your own model aeroplane canopy, given the right supplies and time needed. Making your own model aeroplane canopy is fairly easy, and no experience in forming model aeroplane canopies is necessary.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Oven
  • Clear acrylic sheets
  • Vacuum cleaner with a detachable hose
  • Plywood sheets
  • 1-by-2 wood boards
  • Circular saw
  • Drill
  • Razor Blade
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Bolts, washers and wing nuts
  • Carving tools
  • Styrofoam blocks
  • Weather stripping

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  1. 1

    Determine how large your model aeroplane canopy will be. Cut two pieces of plywood 6 inches square. Cut four additional pieces of plywood measuring 6 by 4 inches. Screw these pieces together in a box measuring 6 by 6 by 4.

  2. 2

    Drill a port for the vacuum hose on the short side of the box. Place the weather stripping along the perimeter of the top of the box. Drill a 1/8th inch hole every half inch on the top of the box.

  3. 3

    Cut the 1-by-2 wood boards into eight 6 inch lengths. Assemble two square frames out of the 1-by-2-by-6 inch boards using screws. Stack the two frames on top of each other and drill through both frames. Install the washer and bolt through these holes and attach the frames together with wing nuts. Place weather stripping along the perimeter of the frame with the bolts.

  1. 1

    Carve a mould for your canopy out of styrofoam block.

  2. 2

    Take the square frames apart by unscrewing the wing nuts. Cut the acrylic sheet to fit inside the frames with the razor blade and secure the frames together again.

  3. 3

    Place the styrofoam mould of your canopy on the top of the box. Connect a vacuum cleaner to the vacuum port on the box. Place only the frame holding the acrylic sheet into the oven at 204 degrees Celsius. Wait until the acrylic sheet has begun to sag in its frame and immediately place the frame on the box with the weather stripping side down. Turn on the vacuum cleaner. The acrylic sheet will form itself to the styrofoam mould.

  4. 4

    After the acrylic sheet has cooled, turn off the vacuum cleaner and separate the acrylic sheet from the frame. Cut the canopy from the acrylic sheet with a razor blade.

  5. 5

    After the canopy is cut from the acrylic sheet, it can be painted to show support structure. Attach your canopy to your model aeroplane.

Tips and warnings

  • Thinner acrylic sheets will require less time in the oven and will provide a more accurate cast of the desired shape.
  • The frame will be very hot when removing it from the oven. Be sure to use potholders.

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