Aircraft Cockpit Instrument

Aircraft Cockpit Instrument Panels by Brian Boot

Using the power of your computer to enhance your modelling projects

Image Before Cleaned up and improved image

I gather data and graphics on various aircraft instruments from sources such as reference books, model magazines and the internet then I scan the photos or artwork into the computer. Using a graphics program (Photoshop in my case) I clean up and enhance the image and initially scale them to 1/24th scale, for this exercise I refer to 1/24th scale decal sheets of instruments. The image is saved as a bitmap file on the computers hard disk at 600 dots per inch for quality and definition.

Over time I have amassed enough instrument images to allow me to produce almost any instrument panel layout required for my projects a few examples are shown below.

I do like to illuminate my panels on models of 1/48th scale and above and to that end I make up a light box from thin aluminium plate in which I house bulbs and the instrument panel. I regularly check to see that the whole assemble will fit into the models fuselage, including the wiring.

Instrument panels can be scratch build by making the up in your graphic program, selecting the individual dials and panels and dragging into previously produced instrument panels as shown below.

When working on producing the instrument panel I scale the artwork up to four times larger than required. This ensures the fidelity of the graphics making it easier to work on and to ensure that the artwork is sharp and clear. As already mentioned I produce artwork at 600 dpi which gives best results when the instrument panel is reduced to the intended size.

These days most model kits of 48 to 24th scale have etched metal instrument panels and the dials are produced on the film which help the modeller no end when making a illuminated cockpit.

To make the dials illuminated, the basic instrument panel should be light proof. I use thin aluminium sheet for this purpose. I make a template using the instrument panel graphics as a guide to enable me to drill, punch or file out the dial apertures accurately when lined up and fixed to the metal sheeting.

Template for drilling, punching or filling out dial apertures 1:48 Wyvern Cockpit with back lit dials

2 Replies to “Aircraft Cockpit Instrument”

  1. I am in the process of building a scale model of a Miles Hawk Speed 6 aircraft.
    On the top of each wing is a fuel gauge. The gauge is circular with a white background and black lettering. The pivot point for the needle is at the bottom of the gauge as you look at it, not in the centre. The diameter of the visible part of the gauge needs to be 15mm.
    Can you please help? I look forward to your reply.

    Geoff Clark.

  2. I am building a 1/35 scale AH-1w super cobra in extreme detail. I’m in the planning stages of building both pilot and gunners instrument panels. I’m needing a complete set of instruments and gauges in full color. The 1/24 scale that you provide is really no problem as I can reduce and print them on transparency film. My goal is to back- light the panels to view them in dim light. Hopefully you can meet my needs.

    My sincere thanks for any help you can provide.

    David Pennell

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