Oct 31, 2018

3D Printed Plane – 15 Great Curated Models to 3D Print

Are you an aviation enthusiast looking for the best model plane to add to your collection? Or maybe you're a hobbyist and you want to 3D print your own custom R/C plane? Either way, this is the list for you!

3D Printed Plane Models Types and Criteria

A CAD render of a 3D-printable model P40. Source: 3D modeling / Thingiverse

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:

  1. Solid models are model planes suitable for single- or two-piece printing.
  2. Multi-part models are models that have either been designed to print in many parts, or that would not turn out if printed in only one or two pieces.
  3. R/C planes are of course all of the functioning, air-worthy models on our list.

3D Printed Plane Models #1. 1/700th Scale B-17 (Solid Model)

A painted micro B-17. Source: BenjaminL / Thingiverse

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.

  • Complexity (detail): Low
  • Printability: Medium, fine-tuned settings are optimal
  • Post-processing: Minimal
  • Who made it: Benjamin L. (BenjaminL)
  • Where to find it: Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #2. JAS 39 Gripen (Solid Model)

The finished print. Source: siwe96 / Thingiverse

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.  

  • Complexity (detail): Medium
  • Printability: Low/Medium, requires supports and fine-tuned settings
  • Post-processing: Medium/High
  • Who made it: Simon W. (siwe96)
  • Where to find it: Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #3. FA-18 Super Hornet (Solid Model)

A rendered CAD model of the FA-18. Source: STEye / Thingiverse

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.

  • Complexity (detail): Medium
  • Printability: High
  • Post-processing: Low, some glue required
  • Who made it: Marc Veenendaal (Marcpv)
  • Where to find it: Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #4. Horten Ho 229 (Solid Model)

A front view of the finished model. Source: MaximSachs / Thingiverse

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. 

  • Complexity (detail): Low
  • Printability: High
  • Post-processing: Low, some glue required
  • Who made it: Original Model by Baranger Emmanuel (Helijah), made printable by Maxim Sachs (MaximSachs)
  • Where to find it: Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #5. Curtiss P40 Warhawk (Solid Model)

The finished P40 in all its glory. Source: 3Dmodeling / Thingiverse

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.

  • Complexity (detail): Low
  • Printability: Medium, supports required
  • Post-processing: Medium
  • Who made it: Cyril Bertinchamps (3Dmodeling)
  • Where to find it: Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #6. Spirit of St. Louis (Multi-Part Model)

The assembled model, dramatically suspended in midair. Source: Fichthorn / Thingiverse

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.

  • Complexity (detail): Medium/High
  • Printability: Medium/High
  • Post-processing: Medium, assembly required
  • Who made it: Rick Fichthorn (Fichthorn)
  • Where to find it: Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #7. Spitfire XIV (Multi-Part Model)

The fully assembled Spitfire XIV. Source: Yellasing / Thingiverse

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. 

  • Complexity (detail): High
  • Printability: High
  • Post-processing: High, requires gluing and fitting of small parts
  • Who made it: Adam Garratt (Yellasing)
  • Where to find it:  Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #8. 1/56 Scale Messerschmitt BF-109 (Multi-Part Model)

The assembled and painted BF-109. Source: Kolo33 / Thingiverse

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.

  • Complexity (detail): High
  • Printability: Medium
  • Post-processing: Medium, glue required
  • Who made it: Kolo33
  • Where to find it:  Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #9. Airbus A400M (Multi-Part Model)

The A400M hanging from a holiday pine. Source: ads365 / Thingiverse

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.

  • Complexity (detail): High
  • Printability: Low, requires fine-tuned settings
  • Post-processing: High, will require sanding and gluing 
  • Who made it:  ads365
  • Where to find it: Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #10. Fairchild 22 (Multi-Part Model)

An assembled Fairchild 22 model. Source: multirap / Thingiverse

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. 

  • Complexity (detail): Medium
  • Printability: High
  • Post-processing: High, lots of assembly & glue required
  • Who made it: multirap
  • Where to find it:  Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #11. GASB 2 Fan Jet (R/C Plane)

A fully assembled, ready to fly GASB 2. Source: Carletto73 / Thingiverse

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!

  • Complexity (assembly): Low
  • Printability: High
  • Post-processing: Medium
  • Who made it: Carlo Colombari (Carletto73)
  • Where to find it: Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #12. Sopwith Camel (R/C Plane)

Displaying the massive size of the Camel. Source: xcorwin / Thingiverse

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!

  • Complexity (assembly): Medium
  • Printability: Medium, requires a lot of time/filament
  • Post-processing: Medium
  • Who made it: Cor Winckler (micro modelling)
  • Where to find it: Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #13. Northern Pike (R/C Plane)

The assembled 36" Northern Pike in red PETG. Source: localfiend / Thingiverse

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!

  • Complexity (assembly): Medium
  • Printability: Low/Medium, lots of fine-tuned settings needed
  • Post-processing: Low/Medium
  • Who made it: localfiend
  • Where to find it: Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #14. Modular Sailplane (R/C Plane)

The assembled Sailplane. Source: Walt / Thingiverse

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.

  • Complexity (assembly): Medium/High, some custom mechanisms involved
  • Printability: Medium/High, but will require special settings
  • Post-processing: Low/Medium
  • Who made it: Walt
  • Where to find it: Thingiverse

3D Printed Plane Models #15. Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIII (R/C Plane)

The assembled Spitfire. Source: rikesh_dhirajlal / Thingiverse

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.

  • Complexity (assembly): High
  • Printability: Medium, settings will need tuning for lightweight prints
  • Post-processing: High, will need sanding to reduce weight
  • Who made it: Rikesh Dhirajlal (rikesh_dhirajlal)
  • Where to find it: Thingiverse

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.

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