Model making underwent a fundamental change around the time of the second work war. There have always been people who built models of trains and vehicles as a hobby. And people also started building models of planes after powered flight became possible. But prior the Second World War models were either made from solid wood or from balsa wood and tissue (think papier Mache). It was during the Second World War that plastic plane models first appeared. These Bakelite plastic planes were actually used by the military, training pilots to recognize various allied and enemy aircraft. But the plastic materials later caught on with the general public in the form of construction kits.
This history of plastic model becomes a little more complex as cheap plastic aircraft models did exist shortly before the 1940s war, but these were toys rather the construction models. Nonetheless the materials used and general interest in aircraft did start to catch on with the general public.
Details on Scale Models
Many hobbyists like to add detail to a commercial scale model. Two common additions are adding wear to a vehicle, because all real machines suffer wear over time, or the addition of smaller parts like cables, aerials, engine parts.
It is not too difficult to add the appearance of wear. A little grey/silver paint can be used to replicate scratched paint; this will look like exposed metal. The effect is more realistic if the area is indented, or if model paint is scratched to reveal metal coloured paint underneath.
Adding small parts to a model is a more difficult skill. One popular trick is to use the spare plastic that comes with the model kit. This plastic frame that the model parts are attached to can be cut and filed into shape, or parts of this plastic frame can be shaped with the aid of a heat source like a candle. A plastic rod can be heated over the candle and stretched to make a thin thread, which can be cooled and painted to resemble a rope, wire, cable or other aircraft accessory.
Hobbyists will add fine insignia and small details to aircraft models by using decals. These decals will provide far finer details than paint can achieve. In the past model builders were limited to the decals that came with the model kit. But now it is quite easy to design and print decals on a home computer system.
Decals can be created with a computer graphics program and printed on most home computers. All that is required is decal paper. Metallic decals, blue backing decal, inkjet decal paper, and thin waterslide decal paper are available for this purpose.