Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

Any basic tips for building planes with closed landing gear?

10 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June 2019
  • From: Middlebury, CT
Any basic tips for building planes with closed landing gear?
Posted by Hechojazz on Thursday, June 13, 2019 4:08 AM

Novice question: I’m trying to build a 1/48 Revell P-38J - Droop Snoot variant. Just getting back into modeling as an adult, and find I’m in need of some basic jury rigging advice. This fighter will hang in flight above my basement workbench (need to avoid wifely ranting so won’t hang from dining room chandelier). 


Anyway, I assembled the two engine nacelles with the landing struts trimmed to fit closed and without the tires.  I find the main gear outer doors just won’t fit in a closed position. I’ve tried stuffing the space inside with a mix of paper towel and aluminum foil, looking to provide support for the doors in a closed position, but can’t get an apparently decent fit such that I’m prepared to apply glue. 


Seems from a related post that the majority of you expert types build gear down. With this P-38 however, my trimming of the struts has foreclosed that option. I’m stuck with doors that fit like redneck dentures (don’t ask for clarification on that metaphor - it‘s 5am and what the heck am I doing up already anyway?). 


I guess ill need to pick up some modeling putty whatever I do, but the fit is so off I just don’t know how to proceed. Any advice will be sincerely appreciated. 

  • Member since
    June 2017
  • From: Winter Park, FL
Posted by fotofrank on Thursday, June 13, 2019 7:47 AM

I'm building some 1/72 scale early jets and I'm posing them in flight, gear up, on display stands. The first thing I do is make sure the landing gear doors fit. This sometimes takes some sanding and shaping to get the doors to fit the space. Then I glue the landing gear doors in place, very early in the assembly process. For an F-84F and a T-33A I'm doing the nose gear doors when on before the fuselage halves were joined. Later some PPP and Bondo and sanding and shaping were needed. The gear doors on kits meant to be posed with the gear down seldom fit the space correctly when closed. In the case of your P-38, I would have attached the landing gear doors before closing up the booms, sanding and shaping and fitting before gluing. Since you have already closed up the booms, you may have to glue in one door at a time, holding the door with a pair of tweezers until the glue sets up a bit. And if I am closing up the landing gear doors, I just don't use the landing gear struts and wheels. Good luck. I hope this helps some.

OK. On the bench: Way too much to build in one lifetime...

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, June 13, 2019 8:32 AM

The problem seems to vary with kit manufacturer, and even from kit to kit from one mfr.  Some kits have gear doors that fit beautifully- with others it is a real struggle.  I think most kit mfrs feel no one builds kits with gear up anymore.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    January 2012
  • From: Barrie, Ontario
Posted by Cdn Colin on Sunday, June 16, 2019 7:35 AM

Have you tried holing each door in place while you tack the corners with liquid cement?  Then take the tape off and cement the rest of the seam.

I build 1/48 scale WW2 fighters.

Have fun.

  • Member since
    April 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Monday, June 17, 2019 1:25 AM

If there is a bottom inside the wheel wells, you can always knead together some two part putty (like green stuff brand). Place a wad at both ends and press your doors into place.  Any excess will just squeeze into hollows, and depending on the brand, you have a good two hours to make adjustments.  This assumes that your doors have been corrected to fit properly beforehand.



  • Member since
    September 2017
  • From: Roanoke Virginia
Posted by Strongeagle on Monday, June 17, 2019 10:00 AM

Dear Hechojazz,

I have the same kit you're dealing with on my workbench right now (mine will have the gear down,and I just epoxied half my supply of BB's in the nose so that it will sit on the gear).  The problem with gear doors on this kit is that there is nothing to glue the doors to in order to fix them in the up position.  I recommend that you take some bits of styrene sheet and glue some attachmen points to the wheel well outlines in order for you to have something to glue to.  Without attachment points, the doors kinda have to sit out in the open space.  

Revell 1/48 P-38 main landing gear door opening

  • Member since
    June 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Monday, June 17, 2019 10:50 AM


 I glue the doors together if they are two parts. I glue the center seam . Then place in the opening .If they are too small this allows me to use plastic strip to close up any holes .

 I do NOT put the struts in in any case .Cutting them off will not produce any bracing as such and the strut stub isn't needed . On single doors I remake them out of plastic thick enough to fit the hole without a hollow and sand to fit then re-scribe the edges .

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Monday, June 17, 2019 10:53 AM

I know Don will relate to this.

There was a time long ago where a lot of kits came cast in "inflight" mode. Including a pilot figure. The modeler could build the model in wheels down mode, but it involved cutting out the gear bays, which sometimes were shown with a line on the outer surface, and sometimes a depression on the inner surface.

Following that, a roughed in bay, doors, gear, wheels had to be added.

That all seemed to change with the Revellogram 1/48 and 1/32 kits. Working landing gear! Doors pen and close!

I think the point well made above is that models now are not engineered with a good closed door option, and it has to be tackled early.

Modeling is an excuse to buy books

  • Member since
    June 2017
Posted by UnwaryPaladin on Friday, June 21, 2019 5:09 PM

I tried to do make a 1/72 Academy P-47 razorback with wheels up. Same thing you've run into, the covers just don't fit. Now the plan is to make it part of a diorama, wheels up landing. 

By the way, Airfix is very good with the in-flight option. Most of their kits also include a reasonably nice pilot figure.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: AandF in the Badger State
Posted by checkmateking02 on Friday, June 21, 2019 6:54 PM

Welcome to the Forums!  It's a very interesting subject you've introduced, and I learned a lot for myself from reading through it.  Thanks!


Alifero tollitur axe ceres




  • Member since
    March 2015
  • From: Close to Chicago
Posted by JohnnyK on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 2:45 PM

There is a similar problem with modeling the Revellogram 1/48 B-29 with the bomb bay doors closed. There is no ledge to hold the doors in a closed position. I had to use strips of plastic to create a ledge to glue the doors to. Even then, the doors didn't fit correctly. 


Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.


By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.