P-38J Lightning – CNC Files For The Laser Cut Miniature Model

P-38J Lightning – CNC Files For The Laser Cut Miniature Model

Lockheed P-38J Lightning - miniature 1:212 laser cut foam model

Lockheed P-38J Lightning - miniature 1:212 laser cut foam model


Here is another model I’ve designed around the size limitations of Groover’s micro laser cutter from discarded DVD drives – 1.5″x1.5″. I wanted this model to be in the same scale as my earlier Supermarine Spitfire model – 1:212 scale after seeing a 1944 photo in Famous Aircraft: The P-38 Lightning (by Gene Gurney) picturing a P-38 (F-5 version on a reconnaissance mission) accompanied by a Spitfire and the caption said: “Two of the fastest aircrafts in the world at the time this photo was taken”. I though it would be nice to see them together again, materialized on a much smaller scale :)

This small scale does not allow for too many details and so the recognizable shape of the model plays a very important role. I would say that P-38 with its double boom body has probably the most recognizable shape of all WWII fighters and so I decided to make this my next model.

The actual 1:212 scale, by the way, has no special significance other than the fact that Spitfire’s wings at that scale can fit into the 1.5″x1.5″ (38mmx38mm) box and therefore cut on Groover’s laser cutter. Also, these “postal stamp” sized models create an additional layer of difficulty that makes designing the models even more fun.

P-38 Lightning is a larger plane and would not fit into the box unless the wings could be assembled from two or more pieces. The two boom body design makes it possible to conceal the seams and hold the pieces together, and so I opted for the three-part wing.

Lockheed P-38J Lightning - a 1:212 scale laser cut foam model

Lockheed P-38J Lightning - a 1:212 scale laser cut foam model

One of those days I should come up with a better assembly instructions but for now suffice it to say that this isn’t yet too complicated a model and all the pieces should rather easily find their matching counterparts.

You may want to start assembly by sliding the wings’ center piece through the slot in the pilot’s cabin – it would be too late after the booms are installed. All other pieces come together in no particular order, just whatever makes it easier for you to hold the model while working on it.

Don’t forget that craft foam can take a lot of stretching and flexing, which will be needed (lots of stretching!) to attach the pieces. If your cutter is focused properly, all pieces except for the landing gear should come together without any glue. You may need a tiny drop of foam glue (I use Styrofoam glue but anything that dries clear should do the trick) to hold the landing gear – it’s too small to hold on its own.

As always, send me pictures of your finished models, I’ll post them here!

Oh, I almost forgot: the actual Inkscape SVG and G-Code files are on the CNC Files page

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