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Written by Fred Cronenwett
Scale documentation
As seen in the August 2017 issue of
Model Aviation.

One aspect of Control Line (CL) Scale competition that is not fully understood is how to put together the Scale documentation that is shown to the judges. You want the documentation package to clearly document the outline, color, and markings of a particular aircraft. What you put or do not put into the documentation package will change your static score—without anything changing on the model.

That same Scale model can receive a different static score depending upon how the documentation is put together. The wrong three-view can lower your score, and the right three-view can raise your score. The same thing applies with how the color and the photographs are presented. Using photographs that prove your model is “wrong” can lower your score.

Principle Elements of the Documentation Package

The rules say that you can have up to four pages of documentation for Fun Scale and 1/2A Scale, and eight pages for Sport, Team, and Profile Scale. Authentic Scale allows for 12 pages. The rule book also says that the pages should be 8 1/2 x 11, and typically put into a three-ring binder with sheet protectors.

The documentation package contains these basic elements: a three-view drawing, aircraft color information, and photographs of the full-scale aircraft. Artist drawings of the aircraft can also be used to document the color, color scheme, and the markings. If you are documenting one particular aircraft, all of the information presented is taken from the aircraft’s N-number, bureau number, or tail number.

When I refer to one particular aircraft, the photo documentation needs to show that same aircraft without any changes. If you are making a Scale model of a restored aircraft, keep an eye out for things that have been changed such as the owner adding a fly-in sticker or repainting the airplane.

Information about the full-scale aircraft in written form is not required per the rules. The judges have to work quickly and the only information they need is the three-view, color scheme, and photographs.

Choose Your Three-View

To prove the outline of the full-scale aircraft, you can use any of the following:

1. Three-view
2. Production plastic model
3. Selection of photographs

Most people use a three-view, but a production plastic model is occasionally used. Build the plastic model with the landing gear extended and then leave it unpainted. Mount a dowel through the tail so that the judges can see the full side, top, or front view of the aircraft while holding it with the dowel. If you can’t find a three-view, but have a plastic model, this is an option.

Before you start building, identify the three-view that you are going to use and keep it handy while you are constructing the model. Most aircraft have several three-views from which to choose, so use the one that is best suited for the event you are entering.

Fun Scale does not need a detailed three-view showing every panel line, fuselage cross-section, and other details, but it needs to be accurate in terms of the outline. If you are building for Authentic Scale, make sure that it has panel lines and fuselage cross-sections.

I have collected three-views for many years, and have seen some that are just the basic outline of the aircraft with little or no detail information. In some cases, it will be the only three-view you will find. With other examples, such as the P-47 Thunderbolt, I have at least five three-views from which to choose.

This P-47 three-view has multiple versions shown on it. It was repackaged to show only the version that the author needed.

Some three-views are arranged so that they are confusing for the static judges. Remember that the judges are only looking at one airplane, so if the three-view shows P-47D Razorback, P-47 bubble canopy, and P-47M versions, that will cause a problem.

Some three-views are simply wrong and should not be used. Most three-views were not drawn by the original company that produced the aircraft, but by artists who researched the model. Paul Matt authored a set of excellent scale airplane drawing books that show that he took measurements to get the right outlines.

Look at the three-views you have available, compare them to the photographs of the full-scale aircraft, and see if there are errors. I have one three-view for the B-29 that shows the wrong shape of the vertical fin—a visual inspection of any photograph will reveal that flaw. If you showed this three-view to the judges, your score would reflect the error.

Choose the three-view that shows the version of the aircraft you are building, and only show that three-view to the judges. Do not use the three-view if the outlines do not match the photographs of the full-scale aircraft.

There are three-views that have major errors and you do not want the judges comparing your model to an incorrect three-view. I have a three-view drawing in my collection that is labeled as a P-51D Mustang, but the line drawing shows a P-51H Mustang.

This P-51D three-view is labeled incorrectly because the aircraft shown is a P-51H, which is different from the D model. This should not be used in upper-level competition, but it is a good example of a simple three-view that is ideal for Fun Scale. The outlines, however, have to be correct!

Some three-views have too much information. I take the three-view and repackage it into a format that is more easily understood by the static judges by eliminating the detail views that do not show the version in which I am interested.

I don’t modify the three-view. I am only showing the detail views that apply to the version that I have selected. I will scan the three-view as a TIFF file and use Photoshop and PowerPoint to repackage the views into something that works better for my purpose.

If you have a large three-view, copy it and mount it to a flat board. Most of the time the aircraft are judged outdoors. You don’t want the judges trying to keep the paper flat while it is blowing in the wind.

The original three-view for the author’s P-51D was scanned and repackaged into a three-view that was easier for static judges to work with. The original had views that conflicted with the documentation.

Some three-views show markings. If possible, use a different one. If the only available one is that is dimensionally accurate shows markings, add a note that the photographs are to be used for the markings and those on the three-view should be disregarded.

After looking through my collection, it was not uncommon to see markings on the three-views. This could cause a problem if the judges look at the three-view and see one thing and the picture shows something else. Do the judges ignore the markings on the three-view? I clearly label that the three-view is only to be used for outlines.


Color can be proven several ways by using:

1) Color chips
2) Photographs
3) Artist drawing(s)
4) Written information on the three-view
5) Written description from a reliable source (Refer to my August 2015 “CL Scale” column for a full discussion about color and color chips.)

When your subject aircraft was produced will determine what color information is available. If the aircraft has a military background, there are books that document what colors were used, categorized by nations and by year. For civilian aircraft, use one of the photographs as the color chip if you don’t have written information about the colors that were used.

One project I have wanted to build is the Messerschmitt Bf 110, but this aircraft presents some problems with color and markings information. I can prove the colors based upon the typical Bf 110 that was used during the war, but when I try to choose one particular airplane, I don’t find enough photographs and other information that agree with each other.

This Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a color drawing is a great source for the color scheme. The original was copied to a smaller version to fit into a sheet protector. Try to locate a black-and-white photograph to match the color drawing.

If the documentation is confusing for the judges, your score will not be what you expect, regardless of how well the model is built. If I wanted to enter the model into Fun Scale, I would not have a problem because the level of information needed is much lower than the Sport or Authentic Scale classes. If I built an Authentic Scale model of the Bf 110, I would have to photograph a restored aircraft at a museum, instead of using a wartime aircraft.

Another source for color information comes from the plastic modeling world. The kits often have color schemes, decals, and color information with Federal Standard (FS) numbers. If you find both a kit and a wartime photograph with the same markings, you can show the judges the paint scheme and prove the colors. The plastic model will also help you figure out the exterior shape of the aircraft and other details.

If you obtained your photographs from the internet, print one of the pictures to be used as the color chip.


Markings on a model aircraft, such as the N-number, stars and bars, and other text, are also judged. The judges will look at the photograph in the documentation package. If the full-scale aircraft has (for example) N63412 on the vertical fin, the judges will expect to see the same markings on the model. The markings on the model need to have the same text, font, color, location, and relative size to get full points.

In CL Scale, your AMA number is placed on the inside of the model because you should not change the N-number to your AMA number. All of the markings on the model need to match exactly what is shown in the documentation package. If there are four markings on the full-scale aircraft, the model needs to have all four markings with the correct text, size, color, and location.

The documentation for the author’s B-29 uses the color drawing for the markings. The black-and-white wartime photographs match the color drawing.

If your model is entered into the Sport Scale category, the model will be judged from 15 feet away. If the text on the model is small enough, the judges might not be able to read the actual text from 15 feet. If the judges see the markings on the model, and the size and location look correct, you have done your job. The text does not have be the exact text as the full-scale aircraft if it is so small that it can’t be read from 15 feet.

Photographs of the Full-Scale Aircraft

The best documentation is when you can photograph and get all of the pictures and color chips you need of the full-scale aircraft yourself, and use the pictures in your documentation package.

Take eight walk-around pictures of the aircraft, including the front, right front, right side, rear right side, rear, rear left side, left side, and the left front views. Then take detail pictures and photos looking straight on at all of the markings, and not at an angle. Make sure that you take a picture of the bottom of the elevators and wings.

If you take 100 pictures, you might only show the judges 12 of them in the documentation package, but you have all of them available while you build the model. Take a picture of the color chip next to the full-scale aircraft to prove that the color chip you have selected is correct.

The problem with images taken from the internet is that they might or might not have been taken the same day. The markings could have changed, or the aircraft might have been repainted. This leaves you with a problem when one picture has a pilot’s name underneath the canopy and another picture does not. The photographs in the documentation package have to match in terms of the markings and the color.

One nice source is You can search for photos of types of aircraft. It is not uncommon to find pictures of a restored P-51 Mustang that have been taken by several people throughout a period.

Documentation for the author’s North American SNJ is based upon color photographs, a Paul Matt three-view, and color chips.

During that time, there could have been changes to the exterior of the aircraft. If you show the judges two pictures that don’t agree with each other, your static score will suffer. Only show one of the pictures and make sure the model matches the documentation.

When you choose the photos for the documentation package, only use those that will enhance your score. If a detail photograph of the vertical fin shows three external details, and your model only has two of them, remove the photo. Do not prove to the judges that your model is incorrect by including this photograph showing three details. It can result in a large point deduction.

The rules also allow for subjects with limited information, such as the World War I-era aircraft that were flown before color photography was available. One example is the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a, of which I have a color drawing.

There is enough color information on the artist drawing that I can prove the color scheme and the color based upon that written information and the color chips. If I am able to find a black-and-white photograph showing this aircraft, that will be enough to judge the model.

Artists Color Drawing

Artist color drawings can be used, but try to find a black and white photograph that shows the same markings and color scheme. Add a note for the judges, instructing them to use the three-view for the model’s outline, and to only use the artist color drawing for the color scheme and markings.

If you have color chips documenting the color of the aircraft, add a note to the color drawing, instructing the judges to use the color chips and only use the color drawing for the color scheme.


I tend to choose the models that I build based upon what documentation I have available. Instead of going with an aircraft and hoping I can find enough documentation, I work the other way around.

I find documentation that includes the three-view and build that model instead of something else with limited documentation. Some projects I have not even started because the documentation is incomplete.

The documentation for static judging needs to be clear and well organized so that you don’t confuse the judges. They will be looking at the outline, colors, markings, and craftsmanship for the static score.

Upcoming Contest Calendar

August 12-13: West Ohio Stunt and Scale Classic, Dayton, Ohio
September 3: Midwest Regional Championships, Sugar Grove, Illinois
September 16-17: Broken Arrow CL Stunt & Scale Contest, Buder Park, Missouri

I always welcome contest reports, flyers for upcoming contests, and pictures of projects you are building and flying.

Land softly!

-Fred Cronenwett


National Association of Scale Aeromodelers (NASA)

Paul Matt Scale Airplane Drawings
Wind Canyon Books
(800) 952-7007

Aircraft Documentation Services
(330) 335-0050

Iliad Design (color chips)

AMA CL Scale Competition Regulations

How to Select and Prepare Scale Three-Views for Model Airplane Competition (*embed in digital edition)

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