Douglas DC-6B scratch build in panels

  • Hello Paperformers,
    Triggered by Patels thread on constructing a Spitfire model using separate panels, which I also have attempted in the past, I was asked what techniques I used. I'll try to describe how I am going about with the Douglas DC-6B under construction at the moment. So here goes:

    I started by searching for accurate 3-view drawings, scanning them and printing them in the correct model size (in the case of the DC-6B around 64 cm, i.e. 1:50, so two sheets in A-4 size and putting them together.

    I happen to have a set of the Douglas Service, a magazine technical maintenance digest published by Douglas, and in the March/April 1956 issue, there was a clear drawing of the DC-6B fuselage, and of the wing planview. I also copied and printed the formers of the Schreiber DC-7C to use as the formers of the fuselage.
    See picture.

    I'll stop here and see, if this gets into a proper thread all right, including the pictures, before continuing.
    Moderators, the thread by Mr Patel was in English, and without thinking I continued in that lingo. But if you wish me to continue in German, that is OK with me, although there could be some grammar deficiencies in that case. Please let me know what your preferences are.

    Best regards,

  • Hi Mixbou,
    another interesting thread here. I will follow that. And I would say just go on in english, most people will understand. And if not I can help.


  • To continue the description of my way of building an aircraft by attaching panels on a balsa frame, the following pictures explain the process.

    After the central bulkhead is made from a sideview printed to scale (1:50) and glued to thin balsa planking of 2 mm. I glued formers which were copied from the Schreiber Swissair DC-7C and also glued to 2mm balsa planking on the side bulkhead. The similar bulkheads of the cilindrical part of the fuselage were glued at every two windows spacing (ca 4,3 cm) and at the curved shape of the fuselage I glued bulkheads at smaller intervals. The in-between bulkheads were rougly shaped, glued in place and sanded to form a contineous shape, looking alongside the fuselage.

    Then, I held thin wooden strips, 2 mm square, to mark their position on the bulkheads, putting a longeron above and below the window row, and subsequently 2 and 2 longerons evenly spaced in the remaining space above and below the windowlongerons, on both halves. Then I removed the strips. With a battery sanding machine I formed dents in the bulkheads, in which the wooden strips would fit.
    The position of the windows, taken from the side view must first be marked, and a strip goes ca 2 mm underneath and above the window position. These strips will carry the window panel.

    Next will come attaching panels in the nose section.
    Bye for now.

  • I am excited. This is a combination of old methods (balsa formers & stringers), designing from scratch (3-views), and the advantages card modelling offers.

    Will watch this with continued interest.


    Dankbar für die Gelegenheit auf Englisch schreiben zu dürfen, kann aber Antworten problemlos auf Deutsch lesen.

  • Yes Leif, the advantage in my view is, that the shape of the paper model build in panels has not 8 or 13 joints or whatever, where the angle of the shape changes, giving it an angular shape, but many direction changes, so that the curvature is better represented.

    Now some pictures on panelling itself. Using a transparant tracing paper, available at the art shop or office supply shop, I then draw the outline of a panel on the lines of two longerons and two formers or bulkheads. For small curvatures you must use longerons and formers next to each other, for long cilindrical areas, you can use larger panels, covering 2 or even 3 longerons or bulkheads. Not too many however, otherwise the "metal sheet" effect as on the real aircraft is lost.

    Small panels needing to cover complex curves, I found, can be better shaped by first moistening them with a drop of water and then pre-shaping them in the correct double curvature. I use the old cover of fountain pen, which has a sort parabolic-cilindrical shape to it.

    After that, the panel needs to be accurately trimmed to fit precisely in place. That is the subject for the next time.
    Best regards,

  • Hi Mixbou.

    It's amazing. I always admired scratch built. The combination of balsa and paper is very interesting and I like the using of panels :)

    I think that we are lucky that we use paper, since it is a material that can offer a lot of opportunities.

    I will look forward to see the progress. Good luck!


    Plastic is bad for health


    Tornado - Halinski - 1:33

  • I have covered the framework of the fuselage with paperstrips in such a way, that the surface is smooth and in one plane, and so that the panels can be attached with ease onto the fuselage frame, see the various puictures.

    Now it is time to start building the panels with the windows of the DC-6B. I started with a copy from the side view with a selection of the windows. I printed these windows in the correct size (1:50) to the backside of silver cardboard. (I am going to use silver cardboard on the right side and white glossy cardboard on the left side of the fuselage. That is because KLM had two colour schemes in the 1950's: white roof and aluminium at windows and vertical tailplane, but later, from around 1954 colour liveries had white painted area's at the windows and the vertical tailplane. I want to show both colour schemes on the model)

    With a punch that I bought at internet, and which has rotating punches as you push the top, giving very neat holes at various diameters, I punched out the 4 corners of each windaw outline. Then the straight line connecting the corners were cut, and an open window results. From the plastic address window of a heavy duty envelope, I then cut the outlines of the windows in the exact shape as the outline in the aluminium cardboard, and with some plastic glue the treansparant pane was secured in the outline cut out in the aluminium cardboard, from the back. In that way I made the whole length of the window panel.

    Next step is marking the correct position of the windows on the fuselage. The side view in the middle bulkhead gives a clue for this, I stuck a pin at the bottom line of the windows postion and one at the end of the fuselage and stretched a thin thread between the pins, see pictures. The DC-6B window line at the underside of the windows runs at a level of around 0,9 of the window hight beneath the side cockpit window back to the leading edge of the horizontal tailplane. Thie postion of the thread was marked on all bulkheads and longerons where posibble to give a guidance for the postion of the later window panels. I hope the pictures make this proces clear.

    Checking the fit of the panels over the length of the fuselage will be the subject of the next thread.

    So long and enjoy your weekend.

  • It is now time to prepare the first window panel for assembly onto the fuselage.

    First however, I want to detail the inside of the panel. Airliners of the fifties had little fabric curtains in homely colours fitting the windows. Those were the days, which I remember as a 10 year old, flying in one of KLM's DC 6B's to South America, and these real curtains were much finer than the horrible plastic sliding panels airliners now have...
    For this, I used the tissue paper in which they wrap up china plates and cups in the department store. I have painted it with acrylic paint in beige, cut out small strips which are squeezed into a diabolo shape and glued to the inside of the window panel, at the window sides.

    Further, I modelled more or less a passenger head out of a small scrap of balsa, with some plastic putty, to make a rounded shape. A tiny triangular piece of paper is attached as a nose, and then I painted it with flesh colour, and brown hair, including an indication of eyes and mouth.
    Since the fuselage will be dark inside after finishing the fuselage, there is no need for too much detail, you will barely see the little head. It gives a lively effect if you see a hint of passenger faces behind the windows.

    I fixed the figure to a bulkhead inside the fuselage and finally glued the window panel onto the fuselage.

    See the pictures, which also includes an general overview with the framework of the wings and horizontal tailplane. Just to get a feeling of how the KLM livery will look like when I make the decals at the final stage, I drew the KLM stripes in a photo painting programme, so that picture is a fake of course.

    Till the next time.

  • Hello everybody,
    I have some more pictures of the progress made sofar.
    First, I started panelling the right wing. To begin, I made a paper strip to carry the panels over both the roots of the outer wing and center wing, which forms an integral part of the fuselage, see pictures. When dry, I slit a razor knife between the two root wing ribs, so that I had on both the outer wing and the center wing a paper strip lying in the same plane. That means that a panel on the center wing will match exactly a panel on the outer wing, so that the two parts are still detacheable. I hope I am expressing myself clearly, if not just ask me.

    Next step is starting panelling the leading edge. This I made from long sections stretching for almost half the wing span, and then cutting this in three parts, so that I will have nice panel lines, while the whole remains in one continuing and straight line.

    The rest of the wing is panelled in the same way as the fuselage.

    Next comes a test build of an engine, to see how it will fit. I will put this in the forum later this afternoon.

  • So, let's see how the engines will look like. As I said, I will build them from a copy of a 1956 card model of the KLM Douglas DC-6B, published by EMSCO in The Netherlands. The original scale is 1 : 66 2/3, which I scaled up to 1:50 (130% size increase).
    In the first picture, I noticed the underside of the inside nacelle did not show the bulge covering the main wheels when retracted. So, I slightly extended the shape and made two V-shaped slits. When closing the nacelle, I burnished this part, closed the slits with a little strip of card and got a nice bulging underside. The fit of the other sections of the engine, the middle part and the engine cowling with the curved front inlet is perfect. Again, the cowling and the front opening were burnished to take away the angular shape it would otherwise have.

    Being a copy, the silver colour was reproduced as grey, and the blue colour of the cowling decoration had yellowed with age. Therefore, this needs to be painted in the final stage.

    The propeller needs some more volume in the blade and the hub, so I filled it with heavy card, and cut away a sharp edge to form the trailing edge. To simulate the propeller blade pitch housing, I rolled thin strips around the blade foot. Later I will cover the leading edge with black tissue paper to simulate the rubber de-icing boot. It is not yet visible in the pic's, this will come later.

    The last part will be an overview of the aircraft with wing and engine, to check if the overall impression is good enough.

    Bye for now

  • The air intakes above and below the nacelle were not much to my liking in the card model, so I modified them, see pictures.
    I added two lips under the air opening in the front by extending two lips which I curved and closed. Further, two narrow v-shaped slits were cut half way the intake, so that they would become slightly more curved. The engine now looks better.
    Next I will show you, how the aircraft looks like up to now.

  • Hi everybody,
    I thought I should show you some progress on the DC-6B. As you can see, the fuselage and wings are now fully pannelled and from some distance, it is beginning to look like an aircraft. I have varnished wings and fuselage with water-based parquet high gloss varnish, which is absolutely colourless and somewhat UV-resistant.

    Before attaching the horizontal tailplanes, I must first prepare the KLM colouring, for which I will use normal decals. I have both white and transparant decals, which can be printed on any inktjet printer, a Canon i4500 Pixma in my case, because of the more UV resistant inks it uses.
    In Paint Shop Pro I have painted the blue cheat lines which go under (narrow one) and above (wide one) the cabin windows On the upper cheatline I have inserted the text "The Flying Dutchman" and "De Vliegende Hollander" in light blue, and further I made or scanned the various KLM logo's and registration marks etc. Then I printed this design on a A-4 normal white paper to check if the sizes are correct, by glueing them temporarly with photo (rubber) glue. The effect is already looking like a 1950's KLM airliner, although I am not quite sure of the correct hue for KLM-blue. I am now using blue with RGB-code 24-77-116. I probably will have to try a small piece on actual decal paper and see how it works on the model. If anybody has suggestions for a correct colour-code, I'll be gratefull.
    Bye for now

  • I have finished the DC-6B and will make some pictures under the thread "Fun with Models" which I think is in another forum. Meanwhile, to show what the overall effect is of such a large scale (1 : 50) model, and the specific technique of paper panels on balsa, as I showed in previous entries, here are some pictures. They are still raw, I need to adjust lighting and colour in some, bur it will give you an impression.
    Don't hesitate to ask any questions :)