Are there best practices for building aircraft models to avoid landing gear breaks?
I am about to start an Academy 1/72 F-15E Strike Eagle for the Twin Engine Bombers campaign. While I regularly build card model aircraft, about 40 years have passed since I last built a plastic model airplane. Card model aircraft all have wire reinforced landing gear struts so they rarely break. My memories are that plastic model landing gear always break.
Reading reviews of the Academy kit, a number of people mentioned fragile landing gear. My initial thought was to drill a hole through each landing gear strut, then fill the core with piano wire. That will transfer the weight of the model from the strut to the connection between the strut and wheel. If I bend the piano wire at 90 degrees, I can then put all the weight into the center of the wheel, which should take the weight easily. Card model landing gear work this way.
Drilling a straight hole through the entirety of a small diameter landing gear strut without special equipment seems unlikely. I do not own a drill press. In my experience, most pin vise drill bits cannot make it through a thin piece of plastic card stock. They suck.
Another option involves creating a mounting point in the aircraft near the center. If the mounting point is reinforced, a piece of stiff wire running from the mounting point to the ground will carry all or most of the weight of the model.
Casting replacement landing gear struts out of white metal would largely solve the problem but I lack the facilities for that. Scale Mates does not list an after market product of this nature for the Academy 1/72 F-15E.
My last idea would involve running very thin piano wire along the outside of each strut, possibly on either side of the strut, and securing it through a 90 degree angle inside the associated wheel. This method, while making the landing gear inaccurate, seems doable and may not look too conspicuous under a coat of paint. “They’re, ahhh, break lines. Yeah.”
I would really appreciate input from experienced aircraft modelers on this matter.
Thank you for your consideration!