Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

LED Lighting an X-Wing

4 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June, 2017
LED Lighting an X-Wing
Posted by UnwaryPaladin on Friday, March 30, 2018 1:58 PM

I picked up a Bandai Resistence X-Wing Fighter at a recent model show. The kit looks really nice, great detail, lots and lots (and lots!) of decals. 

I'd like to add LED lighting to the exhaust ports, and this will be my first attempt at lighting. 

Have any of you put LED's in an X-wing before? Looking for any advice, things you learned, etc

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Central Texas
Posted by NucMedTech on Friday, March 30, 2018 2:45 PM

Ooohh, LED lighting. I have not done an X-wing, but; I have done an Acclamator, a Battlestar Valkyrie and I hope to start on a Imperial Star Destroyer this summer. For my attempts I used LEDs pulled from Christmas lights and resistors that I got from Fry's electronics. While this worked for my first attempts I would tell you not to do this, Ebay and Amazon has LED bundles that you can get pretty cheap that have resistors already attached. This is alot easier than trying to figure out what types of resistors to get. What you will need to figure out next is what type of power source to use and there are calculators on the internet that you can use, but with four LEDS on an X-Wing I am pretty sure that two AA batteries or a single 9volt battery would be more than enough power.


Most barriers to your successes are man made. And most often you are the man who made them. -Frank Tyger

  • Member since
    April, 2013
Posted by KnightTemplar5150 on Friday, March 30, 2018 2:48 PM

I haven't lit the Bandai kit, but I've lit probably a dozen of the AMT-ERTL kits in the past, using nearly as many different approaches to lighting them. The X-wing is fairly easy to light and it's a good project for anyone who hasn't installed lights before. 

With the last one I built, I used the VoodooFX lighting kit for the sake of simplicity. The kit includes a basic circuit board, wires, resistors, and LEDs, as well as simple directions. Solder the resistors to the board, then attach the LEDs - very easy to do. Having the resistors on the board itself, rather than soldered in-line, frees up a lot of space inside the model and it makes placement a snap to do.

Plus, with twelve lines running out, the board allows for lighting the cockpit and the R2 unit, as well as the engines. You can (with a bit of trimming) fit the board completely inside of the model, or squirrel it inside a display base and just run wiring up the mounting pole.

Lots of companies do similar kits (Sterling, TenaControls, Madman, etc), with similar approaches. The Tena kit features a pre-built circuit board with screw terminals, making it easy to assemble, but you need to install resistors. Great kit, but it is a little expensive. I went with VFX simply because the boards in their kits can be modified for other projects and components can be swapped around for different applications.


  • Member since
    June, 2017
Posted by UnwaryPaladin on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 6:25 AM

FineScale (May 2018) just featured an article on how to light a Viper! A little more complex than I thought. 

What do you typically do to light the cockpit? The builder in the article uses PE to modify the Viper for lights. 

Also, I would like to build the X-Wing "open", the wings splayed for combat. How do you thread the wires from the exhaust ports to the fuselage? There is very little room where the wings join the fuselage, really just a hinge. 

  • Member since
    April, 2013
Posted by KnightTemplar5150 on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 7:25 AM

Green Strawberry makes a PE set for the Bandai X-wing, which includes plenty of detail for the cockpit:

A combination of strategically drilled holes and fiber optic strands gets a similar effect, but there's some work involved. 

I haven't built a Bandai version, so I really can't tell you exactly how to light the engines  but if it's like the old MPC kit's set-up, wire is routed through carefully placed holes in the fuselage and wings at the hinge. Additionally, MPC's plastic was thick enough to carve channels with a Dremel to bury the wires inside one half of the wings. Once constructed, you'll never see it at all. If you pick up a VFX lighting kit, the instructions feature photos of models as they are being built up, along with directions that will guide you through the necessary modifications.

Depending on the size of the hinge, on this kit, you may also want to consider using wrapping wire. The stuff is very fine (36-42 AWG) and insulated with a shellac rather than the vinyl insulation found on most wires. When soldering, just placing a warm iron against the wire is enough to strip back the insulating coat prior to joining it to the LED.

The fineness of the wire makes it ideal for areas without a lot of room to work in and eliminates much of the need to carve channels to keep things out of sight. Just be careful of what resistors you use there - the stuff can get warm under load if you're not careful with your calculations. Take my word for it - it really stinks when you have to take things apart to replace a toasted LED.



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.