Air Combat using miniature models
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Altitude Stands
Making Altitude Stands
by Paul A. Hannah 
I am often asked how I make the altitude stands I use for 1/300 scale MUSTANGS air games.  Here is a step-by-step cheat-sheet on how I do it.  Alas, it's a tedious process. 

1) Cut Anniversary Board (or similar heavy poster board) into about 70 - 2 squares.
2) Use a ruler to mark an X at the center of each stand (for ease in centering).
3) Saw 3/32nd inch brass tube into lengths as noted below.  Suggest 8 10 per level.
4) Bend 1/16th inch brass wire lengths, twice (see illustration below).
5) (This wire & tubing is available at most hobby shops.) 
6) Apply super glue to the wire and place on the stand.
7) Apply small pieces of masking tape across the base/wire. 
8) Apply super-glue to vertical wire & position the brass tube. 
9) Glue 3 pennies or washers on the base as ballast with white glue.
10) For the levels 5 6, add a couple more pennies or washers for extra ballast. 
11) When dry, spray with primer to seal the copper of the pennies.
12) Cover the base with spackle or plaster.  When dry, paint or flock as desired.
13) In one corner of the stand, write the altitude of the base with a marking pen. 
14) Let about half an inch of the 1/16th wire extend from the bottom of your planes. 

Cut tube to this length  Total height of stand 
Alt. 0 1¾ 2
Alt. 1 2¾ 3
Alt. 2 3¾ 4
Alt. 3 4¾ 5
Alt. 4 5¾ 6
Alt. 5 6 ¾ 7
Alt. 6 7 ¾  8

Join the AirPirates Yahoo group. This e-group is loosely devoted to the "MUSTANGS" air-combat game, but any aviation related wargaming or air-racing topic is open for discussion. 

Stuka on an angled bracket to show in dive.

by Ian Croxall

When I first played Mustangs with Paul Hannah, I was a little dismayed by the amount of space his stands took up. I was living in an apartment, waiting for my hose to sell and didn't have much in the way of free storage space. One of the gamers came up with a neat suggestion - I tried it out - and it works.

This is the complete set of stands for one aircraft.

The base is cut from 3/16th basswood, and is 2" square as per the method to the left. 
A second smaller step of 3/16th basswood is cut and glued on top. 
Four pennies are clued around the center pedestal to add weight.
A 1/16th hole is drilled through the center and a 1/16th brass rod is clued in place it is cut so that it protrudes 3/4" from the top of the stand. 
The rods (altitubes) are then cut from 3/32 brass tube.

Here is a stand prior to having its textured coat of acrylic paint medium applied to the top of the stand. The weight pennies can be seen in each corner and the 1/16th brass rod is protruding in the center.
Base Thickness 3/8"
Cut Tube to
Total Stand Height
Altitude 0
1 5/8"
Altitude 1
2 5/8"
Altitude 2
3 5/8"
Altitude 3
4 5/8"
Altitude 4
5 5/8"
Altitude 5
6 5/8"
Altitude 6
7 5/8"
Altitude 7
8 5/8"

The tubes need to be cut with a dremel disc cutter to get clean ends, then filed and reamed. If you don't have a dremel, you will have to insert a rod into the tube and cut it with edge cutters. The inserted rod will stop the tube from being crushed. You will still need to file and ream the open ends. 
Prime the bases and the tubes 
Cover the base with spackle of coarse acrylic paint medium. 
Around the bottom ends of the tubes, paint bands to show the altitude. Group the bands in patens to make them easier to read.
Ensure that the 1/16th brass rod peg does not protrude more than 1/2" from the aircraft.
Create a set of "altitubes" and 1 stand for each aircraft you will have in place.

So - did you figure out the angled piece yet?

This is the dive bomber attachment - for Stukas, Vals, Ju88's and the likes. It is an angled piece of brass rod inserted into the end of a short piece of tube. If you make this attachment, be sure and place your aircraft peg slightly to the rear of its center of gravity so that the aircraft "hangs down". Here it is in action.

 Using Stands

The stands are used to mark the altitude ones aircraft is operating at. Most Mustangs players that i know, mount their aircraft on little pegs of 1/16th inch brass wire commonly available from the hobby stores.

These rods conveniently insert into 3/32nd tubes brass tubes, also available from the hobby stores.

It is important to mount the brass peg as close to the aircraft's center of gravity as possible. This prevents the model rotating on its tube to find it's natural equilibrium.

Some models, such as this Midway B26A Marauder Torpedo Bomber have weapons that prevent mounting the peg directly at the center. Two methods can be used. Either mount the peg to the side protruding out at about 5:00 or 7:00 and bend the peg down, or simply cut the torpedo and have a gap in the ordnance the width of the brass tube that fits over the peg.


One player in our group very nicely mounts a model - and old 1/300th truck or some other similar model that fits the terrain being used, which makes his aircraft very easy to identify.

Another idea might be to leave part of the base flat enough to paint an identifying characteristic on it, such red-1, red-2 etc.

Such base markings could be taken further, and another idea I have thought about, but tired yet, is to drill a small row of holes in the base, large enough to take marker pegs that could be moved up or down the grid of holes to indicate the speed that the aircraft is travelling.