Scaling Back…


Earlier this year, I abandoned 1/48 scale in favor of the larger 1/32 scale. For the most part, I’ve had no regrets. Among World War I and World War II subjects, 1/32 feels like the scale that’s seeing the most innovation.

But I can’t say the same about more modern aircraft.

After much deliberation, I’ve made the decision to go back to 1/48 scale – for modern aircraft only.

There are several factors that, taken together, make too powerful an argument for 1/48 over 1/32 when it comes to lawn darts and boring gray triangles.


Modern jets are big. Even the diminutive F-16 dwarfs basically every single-engine prop job. Larger twin-farters like the F-4 or F-15? They’re positively monstrous. Thanks to relatively manageable wingspans, my display cabinets could accommodate them, but only a few, since the sheer size would quickly eat up available room.

Consider the F-15. It’s 64 feet long with a 43-foot wingspan. In 1/32, that works out to 24 x 16 inches – longer than a 1/32 B-25, and wider than a 1/32 P-47. In 1/48, the Eagle works out to 16 x 10.75 inches. In other words, more or less similar in terms of footprint to a 1/32 Jug. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but it’s way more manageable.

Ultimately, 1/48 jets fall into my sweet spot of kits that fall between 10×10 and 18×18. Just like 1/32 props.

Kit Quality and Selection

Let’s face it. Once you get past 1945, kit selection drops. Fast. For anything flying after 1960, it’s extremely rare to be able to choose between even two manufacturers. Want to build a MiG-21? Get ready to suffer Trumpeter’s kit. An F-4? Congrats, you get to pay way too much for an old Tamiya kit. F-16? There’s an exquisite Tamiya, a selection of dated Hasegawas (raised panel lines) and a line of Academy Falcons that look far nicer in the box than they actually go together. Want to build a MiG-29? There’s Revell’s sad effort. Or there’s Trumpeter’s MiG-29K and MiG-29M, only one of which is even in operational service.

Drop down to 1/48, and the options explode outward…and are continuing to expand. Great Wall’s MiG-29s are exquisite. Kitty Hawk is surprising left and right with interesting subjects. Hobby Boss is releasing a new F-84F and A-6A Intruder. For $20, you can get into the very good Revell F-15E Strike Eagle or F/A-18E Superbug. If you want to go with a MiG-21, there’s Eduard’s huge lineup to wade into.

Aftermarket Options

Aftermarket for 1/32 jets is improving, but it still pretty much sucks compared to what’s available for 1/32 props or 1/48 jets.

Marking Options

The state of play for 1/32 jet markings – in the form of decals and masks – is abysmal. Props are golden…there’s more decal support, plus the steady trickle of books + decals from Kagero and the like. And…props tend to sport larger and simpler markings that can be reproduced with custom paint masks. That’s just not the case for modern jets, which more or less require decals for many of their markings. Decal support is critical, but really lacking. I would say, from a completely subjective, non-scientific poll that consisted of me clicking around various websites, that the decal selection in 1/48 is at least four times greater than what’s to be had in 1/32.


So. When it comes to jets, I’m planning a general shift back to 1/48. Because reasons. Agree? Disagree? Sound off below.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Jon B says:

    Agree! For me its all about space, which is at a premium. Modern jets in my house are only 1/72 with the occasional 1/48. Its a sound choice you’ve made that will certainly benefit you.

  2. Bill Simpson says:

    I totally agree space is also an option for me and 1/48 is a good scale for modern aircraft. Also 1/72 is nice for jet fighters when space is a real issue.

  3. Doog,

    Made the same decision myself recently. Those MiGs from Eduard and Great Wall and the F-4s from Academy (not to mention Kinetic and what’s coming from Great Wall) sealed the deal. But especially for WWI, 1/32 remains the way to go!


  4. kermitsbench says:

    If the Flanker i am working on is any indication (and i think it is) then 1/48 will be big already. I am getting a strong 1/32 feeling working on it, go figure. I think it is a very logical thing to do

  5. waikong says:

    All i can say is,, welcome back to 1/48,, we missed you. 🙂

  6. Steven B says:

    Agree. Halfway through the 1/32 Trumpeter Su-27 and the sheer size of the thing makes working on it difficult…then there is the display issue. 1/48 is the sweet spot for modern jets!

  7. Andy says:

    Tamiya’s new 1/32 WWII fighters have convinced me to go with that scale for that era. Plus Wingnut Wing’s great kits too. I am not interested in jets so maybe i am done with 1/48? I guess i should sell my kits in that scale now. Maybe keep my ProModeller ME 410 🙂
    Happy 2014 to you!

  8. I completley agree.. I do myself have almost the complete line of U.S Jets in 1/32, lacking one here, one there like A-7 Corsair, Crusader etc etc. A forgotten kit that I own and you did not mention, is the Revell RF-4 Phantom. I bought is just because the price was more or less pocket change. I´ve not done any research there at all, just taken a few quick looks in the box. I wasn´t too disappointed, but have yet to dig deeper to have a serious opinion. When it comes to my own scale selection it goes as follow… Super number ONE scale for me is 1/48. I focus 75% of my purchases in this scale. I am a as big of a fan of either WW II props or modern jets. When the kit turns out to have 2+ prop engines, I go down in scale. I love heavy WWII bombers and here the choice is 1/72 where tremendous development has taken place the last five years. I modell armour as well, here it is mainroad 1/35 scale.. Then I have finally a very soft spot for Civil Airliners. The shelves in my mancave offer 100+ kits of commercial subjects. (Hats off for Zvezda for pleasing us the last 3-4 years with awesome kits)… Scale here, 1/144 off course. I started off with 1/72 for everything when I began in 2004. Eventually I sold off the 300+ kits 2006-07. I made a decision to upgrade to 1/48 puerly because you get more “show-model” per invested building hour than a 1/72 kit. I kept my bombers and will do so.. I have cars, motorcycles and warships as well. Too many of everything. Concluding my first post here on your very nice site that I follow, I can say for myself. I have set the scales where I put my effort. The next problem is (or is it a problem really 😉 ?). I have not matured yet, to narrow down to where I should decide on focusing on vehicle type. I know I am just mad as hell about 1/48 P-47´s and F-4 Phantoms as well as 1/72 Lancasters and B-24´s. There is no logic here as the next order at HobbyEasy or ModelEric could easily be just 5 or 6 German Panzers from Dragon in 1/35. I pray to god it will never ever sink in and that I will realize that I will never be able to finish the 600+ kits that are aging like good wine in my cabinets..

    Now have an awesom Happy New Year !! I will watch the fireworks together with my family at 24:00 from the balcony. After that I will probably start off 3 hours in to 2014, by placing orders at HobbyEasy and E-bay.

    Mattias in Sweden

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