Buying model airplane kits and building them has been a hobby by children and even adults for many years. Many best flying model airplanes have adorned not just kids’ rooms but big conference rooms as well.
It comes as no surprise that best model airplane kits are still doing well in the era of iPads and the Sony Playstation. The main reason, probably, is that building model airplanes is a great stress reliever, and most kits have really detailed and lifelike replications of the real things, as well.
Of course, not all model airplane kids can be the centerpiece of a shelf or display rack. Also, it would be impractical to purchase all available kits as that can be expensive when put all together. Thus, hard choices would have to be made. There are some things that a buyer would simply like and dislike, even if it is not a popular opinion. With that, here’s our top choices for the best modern airplane kits.
With the many model airplane kits that are available to us, we have sorted through many of the options and ranked the top kits based on price, size, assembly time, and quality. Some additional information about the aircraft as well as a little bit of trivia were included in order to make the list more interesting.
|Model||Scale||Category||Parts||Length, in||Length, mm||Age, years||Weight, onc||Our Raiting|
|Revell P - 51D (Editor's Choice)||1:48||Airplane||49||12.1||308||10 and up||6.9||4.5|
|A6M5/5A (Editor's Choice)||1:48||Airplane||-||7.5||190||4 and up||7||5|
|Tamiya P-51D||1:32||Airplane||550||12.1||308||14 and up||17.6||4.5|
|Messerschmitt BF 109G-10||1:48||Airplane||40||7.5||189||10 and up||6.4||4.5|
|B17G Flying Fortress||1:48||Airplane||148||19.1||487||10 and up||34,24||4.5|
|Skymarks SKR715 American 777-300||1:200||Airplane||5||14.5||355||8 and up||16||4.5|
|F4U-1 Corsair Birdcage||1:32||Airplane||-||12.5||318||14 and up||35.2||4.5|
|F-22 Raptor USAF||1:48||Airplane||368||15.5||394||10 and up||28.8||4|
|SR-71A Blackbird||1:72||Airplane||66||18.5||461||10 and up||14,4||4|
|F15E Strike Eagle||1:48||Airplane||192||15.5||394||10 and up||12||4|
|1:72||Airplane||47||6,5||165||8 and up||4.7||5|
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Revell 1:48 P – 51D Mustang (Editor’s Choice)
They were classified as fighters and fighter-bombers with over 15,000 units built. Many P51D’s still exist in various displays all over the world, with some being used for races and air shows.
The Revell 1:48 P-51D Mustang comes packed with 48 molded pieces made out of high quality plastic. It comes with an assembly manual and enough decal stickers for two planes. A detailed instruction manual is included as well. All in all, the model stands at about 12 inches long, 7.5 inches wide, and 1.8 inches high once completed.
Assembly is not that complicated, with a rated assembly time of around 30 minutes. There is no facility to create the model without the landing gear, though, so a little retrofitting must be done if you need to hang the plane for a flying scene.
Tamiya Mitsubishi A6M5/5A Zero (Editor’s Choice)
There were many variants of the Mitsubishi A6M, but the A6M5 Model 0 was considered as one of the best. The plane was used by the Japanese during World War 2.
It was referred to as “Zekes” by the Allies and served primarily as dogfighters during the early stages of the war. As the Allied forces caught up with aviation technology, they were then used for kamikaze runs. About 12,000 units of this best difficult plane model kits have been constructed.
From trusted brand Tamiya comes the Mitsubishi A6M5/5A Zero best model airplane kit brand. Build at a 1:48 scale, the product features very detailed designs especially when it comes to the cockpit. The package includes the pilot as well as additional crewmen, and additional parts may also be purchased for a more lifelike appearance such as pilot tubes, gun barrels, and wheel chocks.
The model measures at 12” x 12” x 5”, and takes about 5 hours to complete. Most of that, though, would be spent painting as the model is quite bare when it comes to design. Thus, having model paints and brushes handy will definitely be a plus.
Tamiya P-51D Mustang – Best Model Airplane Kits For Beginners
Aside from model airplane kits for adults, Tamiya has made a name for itself through the production and distribution of radio controlled cars.
Slightly larger with a 1:32 scale, the Tamiya P-51D Mustang Hobby Model Kit measures are 19 inches from front to back, 11.5 inches from wing to wing, and 4 inches from top to bottom. It also contains multiple small parts that can take quite some time to assemble. The item is geared towards teens and adults due to the complexity of assembly, which can take weeks.
Expect to do a lot of painting and gluing, but Tamiya’s exquisite production process allows for seamless fits for all components. Decals are also available to design three aircrafts. Both a seated and standing pilot are available, and along with retractable landing gears and other configurations, these can provide buyers with multiple options on how to mount their models.
Revell 1:48 Messerschmitt BF 109G-10 – Vintage Model Plane Kits
The Messerschmitt was one of the most advanced fighter crafts created by Germany. It was built in 1937 and was a match against enemy crafts even well towards the end of the war, with aces such as Erich Hartmann being very popular at the time.
The Messerschmitt BF109G-10 is scaled at 1:48, and is very suitable for beginners. It comes in both light grey and clear variants, and with enough decals to mark three different aircrafts. The item is 12” x 7.5” x 1.8” in size, and can be assembled in 30 minutes. Detailing, however, will take some time.
Good points include a moving propeller as well as retractable landing gears. Once criticism about the product, however, is a lack of detail in the cockpit as well as a lack of a pilot. Still, this is one of the best beginner kits that you could get for someone with even no experience with best model plane kits.
Known as the Flying Fortress, Boeing developed the B17 as a heavy bomber.
It is one of the most widely produced bombers with over 12,000 constructed from the 1930s to the 1960s. B17s are also known to be very tough, with many surviving damage that would have easily crashed other aircraft, and is responsible for almost half of the total bombs dropped on enemy lines during World War 2.
The Revell B17G Flying Fortress 1:48 Scale has a length of almost two feet, with a wingspan of a foot and a half, making it one of the largest model airplanes to build that you can get your hands on. The product has almost 150 parts, and it provides tons of details components both inside and out of the structure.
The bomb bay and most of the interior is pretty complicated to build, but this can be skipped if you are not a perfectionist and would just want something to display. However, trimming may be necessary due to some parts not fitting together properly. A bit of sanding and glue here and there can rectify the situation, however.
Daron Skymarks SKR715 American 777-300 New Livery Airplane Model Building Kit with Gear, 1/200-Scale
Created by Boeing, this model of the 777 Series was created with maximum storage in mind, capable of carrying more passengers at an extended range as compare to the popular 747 series.
First introduced in 1995, 60 units have been produced, the last of which was in 2006 which was also around the time that the Extended Range version of the aircraft was being introduced. However, many planes of this type are still in use by airlines today.
The Daron Skymarks SKR715 American 777-300 New Livery Airplane Model Building Kit with Gear, 1/200-Scale is also very large with approximate dimensions of 14.5” in length and a foot when it comes to wingspan.
The model is made out of high quality plastic, and what’s nice about this is product is just how accessible it is as there is no need for glue due to its snap fit. Assembly takes less than an hour, and even young children can complete this model in a day.
The Skymarks SKR715 also has metal components, particularly when it comes to the engine, and the added weight gives the completed model a heftier and more solid feel. There’s also no need for additional painting done unless you would like to have some customizations made to the final product. This is the only commercial plane that has made it to this list.
Tamiya F4U-1 Corsair Birdcage – Hobby Model Kit
The F4U Corsair was built by plane manufacturer Chance Vought, of which over 12,000 units were created.
Used primarily during World War 2 and the Korean war, the F4U was used as a fighter-bomber and is more commonly seen in aircraft carriers at sea. The F4U-1 was given the codename Corsair and was known to be very durable as it was designed for landings and take-off on deck. The F4U was officially retired in 1953 in the Unit States, but still saw action in some areas as late as the early 1980s.
Manufactured by Tamiya, the F4U-1 Corsair Birdcage Hobby Model Kit is at a scale of 1:32, with intermediate assembly skills required. Made of high quality plastic components fit well together and assembly times takes as a little as a day. Of course, complete detailing will take additional time.
Although provided with decals good for up to three aircrafts, customer may also opt to purchase upgrade kits for even new designs. Why these were not included in the original package is anybody’s guess, however.
What makes the product stand apart from most model airplane kits is the many possible configurations that can be done for display purposes. The wings can be folded, flaps can be up or down, and the cockpit can be opened or closed. Two pilots round out the display so you can place it seated on the plane or standing outside.
The F-22 Raptor was developed by Lockheed Martin and is still in service up to this day.
With around 200 units released with the last produced in 2012, the F-22 is known for its stealth and signal disruption capabilities. In addition, the F-22 is one of the aircrafts that are most prominent in movies, appearing in movies such as Hulk, Iron Man, and Transformers. F-22 Raptors are primarily used by the United States Air Force.
The Hasegawa 1/48 F-22 Raptor USAF is a 1:48 scale model made up of plastic, and intermediate to advanced assembly skills are required. Details that are worth mentioning are the landing gear, the missile systems, and the numerous decals that come with the product.
Painting is necessary to give it a more authentic feel, and there are guides included in the package that indicate what colors to use. As such, expect to purchase paint and brushes among other tools in order to be able to finish the job. For those who want more detail, you can expect completion for paint jobs to be around 1 to 2 weeks after assembly.
Revell 1:72 SR-71A Blackbird – Best Quality Plastic Model Airplane Kits
Developed by Lockheed in 1964, the SR-71A Blackbird had about a 30 year lifespan but is still very popular up to now due to its futuristic design.
Capable of reaching high altitudes and speeds up to Mach 3, the Blackbird is utilized mainly for long range recon missions. The SR-71A has also held the record for the fastest speed for a manned air-breathing aircraft since 1976, unseating the previous holder YF-12A, also created by Lockheed, by over 120 miles per hour.
At 18.5 inches by 9.25 inches, the SR-71A Blackbird is a larger model compared to other kits within its price range. It also has a black initial paint job that may no longer require a lot of modification. The product also includes an illustrated manual with images to help in assembly.
The SR-71A blackbird kit is very detailed when it comes to reproducing the actual craft. Two pilots incomplete uniform are include in the package. Decals are also included in the package, with USAF markings that can be attached to the body for a more authentic look.
The F15E Strike Eagle is a strike fighter that is being produced and used even up to this day.
Over 400 units have been built and the craft has been used by countries such as the US, Korea, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. The F15E has been used for Operation Desert Storm any many other operations since then, mainly for long range and strike missions. McDonnel Douglas created the Strike Eagle, and it was continued by Boeing upon their merger in 1997.
Produced by Revell, the 1:48 F15E Strike Eagle comprises of 192 parts and is made out of high quality plastic. Great for beginners, assembly can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to finish. Some skills when it comes to painting and attaching the decals is required, however. Completed, the item is about 14 inches long and around a foot wide from wing to wing.
Additional details include boarding ladders, fuel bods, and a detailed cockpit. The package only comes equipped with four Sidewinder missiles, which may seem lacking considering the real Strike Eagle’s weapons capabilities. There may be some fitting issues, but sanding and trimming can do the trick.
Airfix A68204M Mitsubishi A6M2b Zero 1:72 – Small Starter Military Plastic Model Aircraft Kit (For Beginners)
Airfix is a UK based manufacturer of model kits ranging from aircraft, spaceships, boats, trains, cars, and many more.
They have also dabbled in video games. Established in 1939, Airfix started building model airplane kits in 1954, with rapid expansions in their product line throughout the 50’s and 60’s. Airfix was then purchased by Humbrol and again by Hornby where they have continued the production and sale of established products.
The A68204M Mitsubishi A6M2b Zero 1:72 Military Aircraft Small Starter Plastic Model Gift Set by Airfix is designed specifically with those new to modeling kits in mind. The kit includes the parts required to assemble the aircraft, as well as paints and glues to complete the build. When completed, expect the size to be smaller than those not belonging to the same brand or product line.
The kit takes about an hour to assemble, although those with larger hands may find attachment to be difficult without using special tools. However, with only 47 parts, a child will have no trouble completing the craft in no time.
This model is thus great for those who have had little to no experience in building kits, and it can be used to build skills for bigger and more complicated ones along the line.
Best model airplane kits – Buyer’s Guide
Best quality model airplane kits are not created equally. Materials used can be different from one another, and poor ones can be quality flimsy and easily breakable. Solid plastic molds are the best to work with, while wood can be quite difficult.
Metal ones may exist, but these are sure to be expensive. Expect also that not all fits would be perfect, but trimming is usually the norm when it comes to assembling these types of kits. In addition, check if you have all complete parts in the package before you start building your model.
Make sure that you purchase high quality cement and glues to fit the parts together. For paints, try colors out on inconspicuous areas first to see if you are getting the output that you want. Lastly, always refer to the installation guide so that you will know what you are doing. Of course, make sure that you have the skill level necessary before making any purchase so as to not let the it go to waste.
Building model airplane kits can be a very relaxing activity and it can also be a bonding opportunity for the family. Young and old alike can enjoy countless hours of assembly and they can build their own museum of aircraft replicas at home. Just make sure that what you are buying is not only age appropriate, but skill appropriate as well.
Perhaps more importantly, it helps build patience and creativity, as you will spend hours upon hours perfecting and improving your build, and enjoying every moment of it. As such, it makes for a wonderful gift for people who have the time and effort for this kind of hobby.