Phil Turner

Who has the most models on display at Farnborough? It may come as a surprise, but it's not one of the major airframers or engine-makers, it's model-maker par excellence, Space Models.

Since the company was founded over 40 years ago, Space Models has worked alongside manufacturers and suppliers to the aerospace industry to produce models and exhibits as varied as the 1910 Short-Wright Biplane, to the latest stealth and JSF programmes. The four friends who originally founded the company are still in place as its working directors, and between them boast a wealth of experience making display models for all the major airshows around the world. Their 50 full-time staff bring skill to the job and draw immense satisfaction from seeing their finished products on display. And at Farnborough this year that includes some of their finest work. Manager director Brian Pugsley - who at the Colonial Club, Chalet 17, with his executives - says: "All the staff, without exception, take an immense pride in their work. Everyone here is devoted to his or her own job."

When Space Models began there were around 30 aircraft manufacturers in the UK alone, and to reflect the developments that have taken place over the years, a special Millennium Collection has been created for BAE Systems and can be found on show in the Heritage Pavilion. On the Rolls-Royce stand there are two finely detailed models of the new Lockheed Martin and Boeing JSF competitors. These are both perspex displays so that the internal powerplant installation can also be viewed.


"These are hooked up to all the major aerospace companies worldwide, enabling accurate presentation and fast turn around at the right prices."

This ability to embrace new methods in its work places Space Models in good stead to continue at the forefront of the field, and also to expand into increasingly diverse areas of model-making.


The company provides for the high security world of military equipment, producing a huge range of military aircraft, vehicles and weapons systems on virtually any scale required. Military manufacturers often use these models to ensure that weapons and stores fit, and to assess the viability of building such aircraft.

As well as providing for the world's aviation industries, the company also supplies motor manufacturers and film and advertising agencies. It built a model of the Phoenix Flyer for Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, several of 007's cars and even the sets so often destroyed in the finale of the James Bond films. In the early years Space Models also made the original craft for the Thunderbirds and Blake's Seven series. The company has produced armrest and in-car fittings for Rolls-Royce, hi-fi speaker cabinet and even prosthetic limbs. One-off commissions have included a replica of an Inter-City train, a giant electric shaver, bars of chocolate and a quarter scale model of a Victorian staircase.

But the bulk of its output remains in aircraft. At its Feltham base, 1.5km from Heathrow airport, Space Models builds hundreds of commercial models for the world's leading airlines, small promotional models, models for travel agency displays and huge exhibition models, all finished in the airline's livery. The process begins at the company's factory in Andover, Hampshire. Moulds are produced here; patterns were traditionally hand-carved out of wood but on a long production run the mould could wear, potentially creating slight imperfections on the finished product.


However, computer-aided design (CAD) now enables the company's experts to create the shape of the aircraft on a computer screen, highlighting particular areas and viewing cross-sections through the wing, fuselage and tail. The meticulous attention to detail that CAD provides results in an accuracy of representation that can be translated automatically into wear-free steel moulds. The moulds are then injected with a polyurethene foam material at a high temperature. Once the mould is set up and production is under way, Space Models can turn out finished products at an astonishing rate - the company once completed 7,000 1/200 models of Concorde for British Airways - its biggest order to date - in just 12 weeks.

The finishing process takes place back at Feltham, where models are sprayed with several coats of paint. Each coat is carefully hand-flatted to produce a final high gloss.

Source: Flight Daily News