Rigging is one of those task associated with WW1 aircraft modelling that turns a lot of people away from even attempting to build a kit. In this section I hope to show you just one of many techniques used to accomplish a realistic and relatively easy way to rig your model. For this demonstration I will be using monofilament (fishing line), brass tubing, twisted wire for the eyelets and CA (super glue). You will need two pair of good tweezers, a very sharp knife, a selection of micro drill bits and a good quality line trimmer.

To start with you will require the correct number of eyelets to insert into each wing for the rigging to connect to, making eyelets is covered here.

The following photos show how easy it is to install the eyelets into the wings, I drill the holes in the wings using a 0.4mm drill bit and drill about three parts of the way into the wing. In the demonstration I am fitting the eyelet to the top surface of the lower wing.

Hold the eyelet at the eye end with a good pair of tweezers, dip the shaft into a drop of CA which you have just dispensed onto a non porous material. You will only need a small amount of CA on the shaft. Because of the rapid drying properties of CA you will have to work quickly.

Insert the eyelet into the pre-drilled hole in the wing making sure you push it all the way in until the eye is just touching the wing surface, also making sure that the eye is facing the correct direction in relation to the way the rigging line will be running. Leave for about ten minutes before adding any rigging.

These photos show how the eyelet should look once fitted properly. Note that it is just touching the wing surface, it is facing the direction of the rigging run. Also note that no glue is visible on the eyelet or the wing. Continue placing the eyelets until all rigging holes in both wings have an eyelet fitted. Even though it may look big, the eye has only a 0.3mm opening. There may also be positions on the aircraft fuselage and undercarriage where eyelets are required, just follow the same procedure as placing the wing eyelets. Once all the eyelets have been positioned it is time to start attaching the rigging lines.

There is a large number of different types of material used for rigging, everyone has their own likes and dislikes, but whatever you are comfortable with and what works for you is the one you should stick with. I have tried many different types of rigging material but have had a lot of success with monofilament (fishing line), so this is the one I like using. The line in this demonstration is Maxima brand, 0.12mm and coloured Chameleon, I will also be using 0.5mm brass tube cut to 0.75 - 1.0mm in length.

Cut a piece of mono, I always like to have plenty of length to work with so I cut it to around 24 inches long. Start by threading the line through the eye of the eyelet pulling through a few inches. On the other end of the line thread one of the brass sleeves and slide it up the line towards the eyelet. These brass sleeves are very small so tweezers are essential when handling them but remember, do not grip the tweezers to such an extent that it will crush the tube, it is only 0.5mm diameter with a 0.4mm bore so wall thickness is very minimal. Other materials can be used instead of brass but to date I have found nothing comparable.

Loop the line back towards the brass sleeve, it is important that the end you are about to feed back through the brass sleeve has a good clean cut end, I usually cut the end at a 45 degree angle which assists in threading it through the sleeve. Hold the sleeve with a pair of tweezers flat on a hard surface, next hold the prepared end of the line with another pair of tweezers, try to hold it close to its end only leaving around .5 - 1mm exposed. Insert the line into the sleeve being careful not to bend the line by applying too much force. Keep releasing and then re-gripping the line pushing just a small length through at a time until there is about 2mm exposed at the opposite end of the sleeve, once here, pull a few inches of line through. Picture 2 shows the line as it looks just at initial insertion while picture 3 shows the line through the sleeve and pulled through a few inches. More photos of this process can be found here in attaching turnbuckles to rigging. It takes a little time to get the technique working but once you have done two or three you will find the task quite simple and quick. A good pair of angled tweezers are great for holding the line to insert it into the sleeve, see photo.

Slide the sleeve towards the eyelet until it is just short of touching, the distance you leave the sleeve from the eyelet is entirely your choice but fairly close looks good. Picking up a minute amount of CA on the end of a 0.2mm piece of wire, place it on the end away from the eyelet and let it flow into the brass tube, very runny CA is crucial for this process. Allow the CA a few minutes to dry.

Once the glue has dried it is time to trim the excess line, for this you will need a good pair of cutters that trim flush with the sleeve or a very sharp knife or scalpel. Weight the end of the wanted line, I use a pair of self clamping tweezers, then hold the excess line keeping tension against the weighted line, place the cutter against the brass sleeve and snip off the unwanted line being very careful not to cut the required line as well. If using a knife or scalpel, hold the line the same way and cut away from the wanted line. The end result should be a very clean cut with no or only a very small amount of excess line showing past the end of the brass sleeve.

This picture shows what the finished rigging line should look like. It is a very affective and strong way of attaching your rigging to the aircraft and gives a more realistic look. Advantages of this system over through the wing rigging is that if a line become slack or breaks it is easy to replace, plus a variety of line sizes can be used.

I have used the top surface of the bottom wing for this part of the rigging process mainly because of clarity. I always fit all the rigging lines to the under side of the top wing first, (exactly the same method as described above) every line is attached before I mount the top wing to the aircraft. I have found this system to be very affective and less complicated and it means that all the lines can be connected while the wing is upside down flat on your work place without the need to work around struts and so forth. The next part of this tutorial will cover the connection of the rigging between the top wing and bottom wing including the strut bracing (incidence or stagger wires), double flying wires and drag wires.

Using exactly the same method as described above, I have connected all the wires to the eyelets on the underside of the top wing. There are no stagger or incidence wires under the wing because this particular aircraft has those wires connected to the top and bottom of each strut. Next stage of the rigging will be to connect all these lines to the bottom wing.

The lines have been connected to the top of each strut using the same method as above, the connection to the bottom of each strut will take place after the top wing is fitted. If you connect the stagger wires at this stage it will pull the struts out of alignment and they will not line up with the strut locating holes in the bottom of the top wing. The four lines you can see coming from the wing root are the double flying wires which, on the real aircraft (Sopwith Pup), pass through the wing and connect to the undercarriage legs. I have drilled holes part way into the wing and glued the lines from the top. The same will apply on the underside where the lines go from the wing to the undercarriage legs, holes will be drilled part way into the underside of the wing and the lines glued, this system will simulate the lines passing through the wing if viewed from the front or rear. It is now ready for the top wing.

NOTE. I mentioned earlier that when I cut the mono I like to have plenty of length, the reason for this is when working on the struts, once the line is threaded through the hole in the strut bracket there is plenty of mono to take down onto my work bench so I can add the brass sleeve and loop the other end of the mono through the sleeve, it’s then just a simple matter of sliding the brass sleeve up towards the strut bracket, glue and trim. This is much easier then trying to work with the line in mid air if the mono was cut shorter. You will see shortly when I start connecting the wing rigging the advantages of what I am try to explain, I will add photos for a clearer explanation.

The top wing is now glued to the struts. Note that all the rigging lines are hanging straight, there are no twists or crossed lines. Make sure when you fix the top wing that no rigging lines are twisted around the struts or around each other, all rigging lines should be in roughly the position that they will be fixed and most important, no kinks in any lines.

I always start my rigging by doing the cabane struts first. In this example I am doing the cross bracing at the front of the cabane struts. Make sure you have the correct rigging line selected, then thread a brass sleeve onto the line, thread the line through the eyelet and pull it through. I threaded my line from the rear of the eyelet bringing the line forward, but it doesn’t matter which way you thread through the eyelet, it will all end up the same. The photo on the right in this series shows the line pulled all the way through and held tight, the brass sleeve is sitting where it will be when the rigging is completed. I find that by placing a sheet of white paper on your work bench it makes threading the brass sleeves a lot easier to see.

This photo shows you the advantage of having plenty of length with your mono. Pull the line back through the eyelet until there is enough on your work bench to loop the mono back through the brass sleeve, a good clean cut at the end of your mono will make threading it through the brass sleeve a lot easier.

Hold the brass sleeve between your fingers and pull the excess line through, keep pulling the line until it is close to the final point. Don’t pull the line too fast, take it nice and easy allowing the line to slip through the eyelet without grabbing. Holding the excess line with one hand and using a pair of tweezers, slide the brass sleeve along the final little bit. The photo on the right shows a small amount of tension being held on the line pulled in the same direction as from where the line is first anchored, while holding tension, slide the brass sleeve down until it nearly touches the eyelet. You will find that the brass sleeve will hold the tension on the line and no slipping will occur, add a small drop of CA to the outer end of the brass sleeve allowing it to run inside the brass tube.

After waiting a few minutes for the CA to dry, very carefully cut off the excess line as close as possible to the brass sleeve. Be very careful not to cut the rigging line, this can quite easily happen and means removing the rigging and starting over again.

The final photo shows the completed rigging. You do not need to have a lot of tension on the line, just enough to have the rigging line taught, over tensioning will pull the wing out of alignment, if this happens it means removing the rigging and redoing it. Continue with the remainder of the strut stagger wires doing alternate wires on each side of the aircraft, doing all the rigging on one side will also alter the wing alignment in comparison to the bottom wing and fuselage.

Once all the strut rigging is completed now it’s time to do the wing rigging. This is pretty much the same procedure as described above the only difference is that it is a wing instead of a strut. Firstly, thread a brass sleeve onto the mono then pass the line through the appropriate eyelet on the bottom wing. Pull the line through then pull down the other part of the line and place on your work bench, now thread the looped line through the brass sleeve. Hold the brass sleeve between your fingers and pull the excess line through, keep going until most of the line has been pulled through.

In the same direction as where the rigging has originated, hold a small amount of tension on the line. Using a pair of tweezers, hold the brass sleeve and slide it down towards the eyelet stopping just short of the eyelet. If you release the line from between your fingers you will see the the tension is maintained, as long as the brass sleeve is pushed down far enough. Add a single small drop of CA to the line just near the brass sleeve and allow it to run inside the tube, very runny CA is needed for this part of the procedure. Once the glue is dry, normally a few minutes, trim off the excess line being extremely careful that the rigging line is not cut as well. Continue in the same manner for all the rigging lines remembering not to over tension the lines, just light pressure is all that is needed.

The photos above show the completed rigging of the wings, struts and undercarriage. The process to achieve the end result is virtually exactly the same for each section of the rigging, it doesn’t matter if you are rigging the wing or the undercarriage, the technique is the same. The rigging process may seem a little complicated but once mastered it is a very quick method, it is strong, it is easily repaired if damaged and can accommodate many different size mono lines. This same process can be used for other scales as well, the only difference would be the size of the mono and brass tube.                               Please ask if you have any questions. Contact us


This shows the fuselage frame bracing using turnbuckles, brass sleeves and monofilament line as the rigging cable. The technique used here is virtually the same as for the wing rigging except on a smaller scale, end result is the same. This is a Sopwith Pup cockpit.

Here are the completed stagger wires on an SE.5a. Note the mono is looped through the strut brackets then threaded through the brass sleeve, the same as the wing rigging minus the eyelets. Do not over tension these lines as they will pull the wing out of alignment.

This one shows the the connection of the double flying wires as fitted to the Bristol F.2b. The rigging technique is exactly the same as the usual wing rigging only that the two wire are very close together. Be careful when threading the line through the eyelet, it is very easy to go through both eyelets at once, this is not good.

This example shows a turnbuckle fitted into the wing and an eyelet on the other end of the turnbuckle where the rigging is attached, the process of fixing the rigging is the same. Spad VII c.1

Like the photo above, this shows the stagger wires in place using the same method for the rigging. The inboard interplane strut with it’s centre cross member complicated the stagger rigging on this Spad VII

Even though the rigging technique is exactly the same, the connection to the inboard interplane strut was complicated and extremely fiddly. Rigging of this type should only be attempted by more experienced modellers. This is a Spad VII c.1

Rigging WW1 aircraft models
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