Close up view of rc panel lines and rivets on an airplane surface.

As an enthusiast of the smaller sized rc model, there always seems to be something missing from many of the kits I purchase – scale details. It’s not that I craved the precision found on a Top Gun Masters Class competition aircraft; rather it was the kind of scale detail that made a passerby take a second glance and transformed the airplane from a kit to a scale model. Therein began my experiment, and eventual success, with what I like to call Fun Scale.

The Airplane Selection

I chose the E-flite T-6 Texan in part because the ARF kit lent itself well for an electric-to-glow conversion but primarily because I’m a fan of the North American Harvard and have always been impressed with its full scale performance and history. Additionally the small size of the kit, its relatively low cost, and the fact that I had all the necessary components on hand, made this experiment easier to swallow in the event something went horribly wrong (a.k.a. complete fail).

Mapping It Out

I created a masking tape guide which helped me in mapping the panel lines and spacing between each rivet (.5cm), all marked with a fine point permanent Sharpie®. Additionally, had a very detailed small plastic T-6 model that I used to reference where to place my lines & marks. And since my focus was only to “wow” myself, the mapping was done sporadic and measured by eye.

Laying The Lines

After mapping all my guidelines I cleaned the models surface with glass cleaner to remove any grease and began laying 1/32″ pinstripe tape over my marks. Since I was going to paint the entire aircraft after the detail was added the color of pinstripe didn’t matter. Personally, I choose yellow so I could stand back and assess my patters on the plane more clearly.

The Rivets

My rivets came from an A.C. Moore store in the form of sewing pins – 700 of them to be exact. And for as tedious as it may seem, sitting down and cutting rivets from the pins and hand installing every rivet gave me much needed downtime from any hectic week. Each rivet was pushed through the balsa surface, no glue. How the rivets would eventually stay in place was via the several layers of paint that would be applied for the Harvard’s paint scheme. The Fun Scale may seem out of proportion in comparison to the size of the airplane but I assure you it looks great.

To polish it all off, I glued two strips of 180-grit Scotch Wet/Dry black sanding paper to the wings for the wing walk areas. It’s not going to win a scale contest any time soon but no matter, it’s the right amount of scale detail for me.

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  1. Adi
    February 10, 2016


    Just wanted to say this is a great resource for build tips and general modelling info, so thank you! I wanted to ask whether you ever went ahead and converted the AT-6 to nitro?

    Thanks in advance

  2. Chatter
    February 10, 2016

    Thanks for the shout-out! As a matter of fact I did end up converting the AT-6 to nitro using an O.S. .25 two-stroke. And it flies great. A little fast on the landings but, that’s to be expected. However, I had to hangar the bird after an unfortunate nose-over due to tall grass and it snapped the engine right off. The structure of the front nose is weaker then I anticipated for such a heavy engine so be sure to enforce the front before you mount anything heavier then an electric motor. Also, highly recommend flaps for landing – you’ll need to bleed the speed 🙂 Cheers!

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