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Attaching Ordnance

by David W. Aungst

 

 


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Background

 

I like to build a certain amount of "survivability" into my models.

I realized a long time ago that the models I build are likely to be sitting on my display shelves for quite a few years. I will regularly dust them. My kids will occasionally launch flying objects into them. And, I will have to move them about from time to time. Building the models so that these routine happenings do not cause damage keeps me happier - I hate having to take time from the "current" model to fix a broken model.

One of the more fragile components of most any aircraft is its weapons and other ordnance. Bombs, fuel tanks, gun pods, rocket pods -- all are usually only attached to the model at two tiny contact points. As they normally get attached fully painted, the only glue that makes sense to use on them is super glue. But, super glue is itself rather brittle and prone to break easily under almost any shearing force. After getting tired of continually re-attaching weapons to my models, I decided to find a better way to do the attachments.

 

 

Supplies

 

Tools and Supplies NeededBuilding some durable strength into the attachment points was what I needed. The best answer I came up with was brass wire.

A visit to a local hobby shop that deals mostly in train supplies revealed some fine brass wire used for detailing model locomotives. The wire comes in sizes all the way down to 0.005". That is practically as thin as a human hair. In practise, I find that 0.010" brass is fine enough, but the smaller size has uses.

The picture to the right shows the tools and supplies needed for this process. The two smallest wires are the train detailing supplies I wrote about above. The larger wire is the smallest K&B brass wire, 1/64th inch. The two needle vices show #80 and #63 drill bits, which pretty well match the sizes of the brass wire.

 

 

Doing the Deed

 

  1. I start the process by drilling holes in the weapons where the attachment point are found. My example shows me drilling a painted bomb, but in practise, I drill the weapons prior to painting. The wires then become great hand-holds for holding the weapons while painting, decaling, and weathering.

 

Drilling a Bomb Hold the Bomb for Painting

 

  1. Once drilled, I insert a length of brass wire. I usually use 0.010" diameter wire unless the weapon is very small, in which I will use 0.005" diameter wire. Larger items like fuel tanks will get the 1/64th inch size of wire. The limiting factor on choosing the diameter of wire is the size of the mounting points. Very thin items will dictate the use of finer wire. With all the weapons having the pins installed, I go on to finish the painting, decaling, and weathering of the weapons.

 

 

  1. Eventually the time to attach the weapons to the model comes along. In my example, I attaching Mk82 Snakeye bombs on a Multiple Ejector Rack (MER), then attaching the MER to the centerline pylon of an A-4 Skyhawk. I hold the weapon in place and note the place where the wires are contact with the mounting points. Then, I drill the first mounting hole. Placing the corresponding wire of the weapon into the first mounting hole, I pivot the weapon slightly so as to scratch the paint and mark the location of the second hole. Then I drill the second hole.

    Alignment of these holes is critical. If they are not spaced properly, the wires mounted in the weapon will not fit into both holes. Also, if they are not aligned with the centerline of the weapon, it will hang crooked on the model. It takes some practise and a little "eyeballing" to get the alignments to work.

 

Drilling The First Locator Hole in the MER Marking the Position of the Second Locator Hole
Drilling The First Locator Hole in the Weapons Pylon Marking the Position of the Second Locator Hole

 

  1. With the holes drilled, I place a small drop of super glue on the ends of the mounting wires and slip the weapon into place. It is actually the wires that hold the weapon. The super glue only adds stability to the fit. Now, if I bump the weapon, it might bend over, but it will not break off. Then, I can just bend it back and have nothing to fix!

 

The Bomb Load in Place



A side benefit of this procedure is the near elimination of glue marks on the weapons. Since the only glue used amounts to small beads placed on the tips of the mounting wires that get shoved into locator holes on the model, there is almost no visible glue on the weapons after attaching them.

 

 

Conclusion

 

I have shown this process using aircraft weapons, but the same procedure works on most any small item on any type of model. I do this parts pinning on antennas, dump masts, canopies, and any other attached protrusions to the model. As the wire is much stronger than the plastic locator pins on weapons pylons, I sometimes will even cut away the molded pins and drill mounting points to use brass pins on these, too.

The bottom line still comes down to "survivability". Being a little ham-handed with the model may produce a bent over weapon or antenna, but not a broken (and potentially lost) one.


Text & Images Copyright 2002 by David W. Aungst
Page Created 28 January, 2002
Last Updated 19 April, 2004

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