Preparing Documentation for Scale Competitions

Somebody suggested that it would be helpful if I did a piece on preparing the necessary documentation for scale competitions, so here we go!

Letís start with the BMFA Open classes, where the documentation is similar for indoor and outdoor. Itís also the most demanding in terms of information required. As an example, this is what I did for my rubber powered Curtiss SOC-1 Seagull.

First thing to find is a suitable 3-view of the full size aircraft, ideally the one you based the model on, because you donít want any disagreements between the drawings and the model outlines. If you know there are areas on the drawings that donít agree with photographs, then make a note on the drawing and refer to the photo that shows the difference. For a free flight open model the wingspan of the drawing must be minimum 150 mm.

For this model I had scanned the Aviation News 1/72 scale drawings in four sections, so I didnít have a neat set of drawings that would fit onto an A4 sheet of paper. Thus it was a case of printing out sections of the drawing to a constant scale and cutting out the views I wanted to use. You can get away with top view, side view plus front view, but I also included a bottom view. Wingspan of the drawing came out at 165 mm, so above the minimum.

Here are the two reference books I used for the photos and colour scheme information.

Now to select which photos to use. The rules state you need three photos of the aircraft, one of which has to be the subject you are modelling. You should aim for 150 mm minimum size, but obviously, the larger and clearer the better. Also (and I have fallen foul of this) each photo should show the complete aircraft. You can include close-up detail shots, but make sure that you have in addition a minimum of three photos showing the whole aircraft.

Also, you should aim to have photos showing the aircraft from different angles, so side, top and front. This isn't always easy, so just do the best you can. In the absence of a photo, the judges will check the model against the 3-view drawing.

I chose two side views from opposite sides, a front view, nice underside shot and one from above. This last one is the floatplane version, but shows the upper fuselage contours quite nicely, plus upper wing detail (slats etc).

At the left is the full colour drawing of my subject aircraft from the On Target special. References like this are brilliant, but remember you have to have a photo of the aircraft in this exact scheme as well as the drawing.

Sorry to all you book lovers out there, but I confess I cut the photos out of the book rather than scanning and printing them on my laser printer. It's just that the quality was better that way!

It's very helpful to have some written proof of colours in your documentation, as here in the caption for the photo of the subject I modelled.

One other essential piece of paper, at least for a BMFA competition, is this competitor's declaration sheet, which can be downloaded from the Scale BMFA website. I highly recommend filling this in before the event - you don't want to be looking up your aircraft's cruising speed or calculating its wing area during the competition!

So, here are the final documents. I used a re-stickable glue stick to lightly tack down everything on to A4 sheets of copier paper. Each sheet can be slipped into a clear wallet and kept in a folder until needed.

For the peanut scale class, the documentation requirements are not so comprehensive - basically one photo showing the aircraft you have modelled or a printed reproduction of the full size subject aircraft and a 3-view drawing of minimum wingspan 2". If the photo or reproduction is not in colour then you also need a colour description (e.g. photo caption). A coloured 3-view of at least 1/144 scale is also acceptable.

To design my new peanut scale Vought Kingfisher I had used this very comprehensive set of drawings produced by Vought Aeronautics.

If you print this out on a sheet of A4 it does actually fulfil the 2" minimum wingspan criteria, but if I were a judge I would much prefer to have the relevant sections taken out of this monster drawing and presented at a somewhat larger scale. Hence I cropped out side, top and front views of the landplane version, plus a few cross sections using MS Paint and printed them out at a constant scale.

Here you can see the views I wanted to use after cutting them out from from their A4 paper sheets.

I was very fortunate in finding pre-war colour photographs of the aircraft I was modelling on the internet, so two of these were printed out to a suitable size.

I also had a colour drawing from the same "Wings of the Fleet" book that supplied the page for the Seagull docs. This time I used a scan from the book rather than cutting a section from the page and printed it out.

Here are the finished docs, with the sections cut from the 3-view arranged on a sheet of A4. I decided to also include the full 3-view drawing in case the judges wanted to see where the sections were cut (this is only shown on the drawing of the floatplane version). It also shows the source of the drawing. Remember you will also need a declaration form.

Of course, there are other ways of presenting your information, many more sophisticated than shown here, but this works for me. I would say there is a sweet spot to be found between not providing the judges with enough information and burying them with a mountain of unnecessary photos. Judges are working under time pressure, so try to help them by pointing them to the information they need to judge your model as efficiently as possible.

To finish, we should mention kit scale, which couldn't be simpler. Here you just need the original kit plan, or a printed copy, plus a photo or drawing of a representitive colour scheme. You can tape together a tiled plan downloaded from if you like. No 3-view drawing is needed.

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