Best Practices for Preventing Landing Gear Breaks?

Hey, hey.

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!

Bend the piano wire in the shape of the brake line and insert it into the strut at a 90 degree angle. It’ll look more realistic, plus you get a little more rigidity.


Well not much to help you but in 40+ years of building aircraft mainly 1/72 and 1/144 I have only had a handful of undercarriage breaks and those were all aircraft that got transported back and forth to displays at shows, being packed/unpacked. Perhaps I’m doing something different but I feel not.


I find it’s not the landing gear it’s self but the post for the wheel that is the weak point.

A few ways to address the issue.

  1. Leave the wheels off til the last item. After painting, decaling etc. Add wheels then attach to base. Handle the base to move the aircraft around.

  2. Use a wood dowel inserted in one engine opening etc to hold the aircraft to paint, decal etc. Add engine exhaust last. Especially for the Eagle this will make painting the exhausts area easier, especially if replacing with resin exhausts.

  3. SAC metal landing gear
    McDonnell F-15E Strike Eagle Landing Gear, Scale Aircraft Conversions 72147 (2017)

Honestly don’t see the need but an option if you so choose. Still have the wheel post issue.

1 Like

Sounds like a different technique is in order.

Thanks, 18Bravo. The brake lines on an F-15E are kinda crazy muffins but I will give it a try.

In my experience, women like the one pictured are more interested in bank statements than issues of structural integrity.

1 Like

Thank you, Littorio. Maybe modern aircraft models are stronger than I remember. On the other hand, I busted about a dozen parts last week alone. It could get ugly.

Thank you for the advice! If things go horribly wrong, I will purchase the white metal landing gear you linked. I am not familiar with after market items for aircraft and did not see them listed on the Scale Mates website.

I had posted a link to scalemates for the item.
Here is a link to Sprue Brothers.


Maybe build model tanks…they’re more difficult to break! :thinking: :rofl:
:smiley: :canada:


Ha! On tanks I usually break the antennas and headlights.

Awesome. Thanks again. It’s in the cart.