Properly done, model planes are amazing pieces of work, often incorporating tiny details and extravagant paint jobs. They often seem like someone managed to shrink a real aircraft to a miniature scale. On the other hand, they can take weeks to properly assemble, and the kits are difficult to find for decent prices.
Solution? 3D print your own models! Not only is it cheap and relatively fast, your model plane can also have as much or as little detail as you like. It grants you modeling experience and the ability to take the plane straight off the print bed and onto the display shelf.
What if models aren’t really your thing and you prefer a good R/C plane? Well, then, we’ve got good news for you! This list includes some of the best R/C models we could find to print and fly!
So what are our criteria for the projects on this list?
We mainly look at complexity, or the amount of detail in a print. In the case of the R/C planes, this is how difficult it will be to assemble. Our second criterion is printability, or how difficult it is to properly print a model. This includes things like the need for supports, optimal resolutions (there is a big difference between SLA and FDM quality models) and the amount of post-processing required.
Being curated models, all of the models in this list are proven to be printable on FDM machines. We’ve also narrowed our list to the five most exceptional prints we found in each category. Otherwise, our list would have far too many models to sift through.
To make it easy for you to find a good model, we’ve split the article into three sections:
Designed for 3D printable wargaming and micro-modeling, this model is tiny in an epic way. In fact, it’s so small that the creator recommends printing at least three at a time, so that the plastic has enough time to cool! According to the description, printing a batch of three should take less than 45 minutes, so you should have no problem creating a massive fleet to conquer your opponents in battle.
While not perfectly scaled and precise, this model jet has some sleek aerodynamics. It prints relatively well, considering the thinness of the wings and some of the finer details, but requires a very high layer resolution of 0.15 mm or less. If you want a good model to put your printer to the test, this Swedish fighter has you covered.
If the Gripen was too difficult for your printer, don’t worry, we’ve got another jet for you. This remarkably well-modeled FA-18 will be sure to blast off your printer in a jet of streamlined style. Although it actually prints in two pieces, along with a stand, we’ve included it in the solid prints category because the majority of the plane is one piece, and will require very little post-processing to finish up.
The futuristic, sweeping wing of this concept plane from an era gone by is sure to capture your imagination, whether you hang it from your ceiling or set it on your shelf. Originally modeled by user Helijah on Blend Swap, this model has been adapted for 3D printing by MaximSachs on Thingiverse. Like the FA-18 above, it’s technically a two-part print, but again, there is very little post-processing involved.
Here’s a model for those who love the classics, a relic of the Second World War. This model is perfectly scaled to the real thing, but the designer mentions that the number of details are reduced to highlight the beautiful curves. You could of course add the details on after printing it, just like any other model, or you can leave it as-is.
A pre-WWII classic, Lucky Lindy’s windshield-less wonder made the first solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, and now you can print it at home! Made of multiple pieces, this model is designed to snap together without glue, expediting the modeling process. You’ll need a minimum 150 mm x 150 mm print bed for this model, as all of the parts are pre-plated in one file.
Another classic from World War II (there sure are a lot of them, aren’t there?), this Spitfire has some amazing details that print really nicely. With the option to have either a smooth nose or a full propeller, as well as an optional stand, this model has plenty in the way of modeling choices.
This time a model from Nazi Germany, this scale Messerschmitt BF-109 was designed with detail and wargames in mind. Paired with a good paint job, this model is a great addition to any historic tabletop gamer’s Luftwaffe.
Popularized by the opening scenes to “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”, the A400M is a hefty military transport plane, featuring distinctive dual turboprops. This highly detailed model takes the beast of a plane and shrinks it down into a little ornament-sized model. While “fiddly to assemble”, as stated in the description, this model has some great features, including spinning propellers.
Another pre-WWII plane, this model of a Fairchild 22 trainer is great for those who like the full modeling experience. Printing in a large number of simple parts, this won’t put too much stress on your printer’s performance. It will, however, test your skills at accurately gluing small parts.
One of the few 3D printed fan-jets in existence, this model has a unique appearance and some sleek aerodynamic curves. Flown on a “bank-and-yank” basis, this plane won’t offer the full acrobatics of a more complete model. But it should be plenty of fun all the same!
If a biplane is what you’re looking for, this is certainly the model for you. This massive Sopwith Camel prints in quite a few pieces and will likely use up a lot of filament. As a finishing touch, you can print out a scale Snoopy for the cockpit, ready to dogfight with the Red Baron!
This 36-inch plane certainly looks strange, but don’t let that fool you! This model, dubbed the “Northern Pike”, flies exceptionally well, and will easily draw the attention of onlooking crowds. Feeling a little derpy? Then this is the plane for you!
A unique custom design, this sailplane should have you soaring gracefully above the airfield. With a 48-inch wingspan, this is quite a large plane. The model features some custom-designed parts for adjusting the elevators and micro-rudder. The entire thing is cut into multiple pieces to allow it to be printed on just about any FDM machine.
If the static Spitfire from earlier in this list just wasn’t doing it for you, we’ve found a better one! This Spitfire is an airworthy model, and we have to say, it looks quite impressive. The description mentions that the current version is a bit heavy, so it might require some post-printing modification to get it flying trim and micro fine-tuned.
License: The text of "3D Printed Plane – 15 Great Curated Models to 3D Print" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Subscribe to updates from All3DP
You are subscribed to updates from All3DP
You can’t subscribe to updates from All3DP. Learn more…