How To Build Brick Airplanes: Detailed LEGO Designs for Jets, Bombers, and Warbirds

How To Build Brick Airplanes: Detailed LEGO Designs for Jets, Bombers, and Warbirds

by Peter Blackert


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How to Build Brick Airplanes puts the power of the world's most fearsome jets in your hands—learn how to build the SR-71, the P38 Lightning, the B2 bomber, and more, from LEGO bricks.

Grab some bricks, because it's time to get building!  How to Build Brick Airplanes is loaded with clear, easy-to-follow designs for creating contemporary and classic jets, warbirds, bombers, and more using nothing more than bricks found in many common LEGO sets. More than just simple, generic recreations, the planes here are all scale models of their real-world counterparts.

How to Build Brick Airplanes opens with simpler designs, before working up to more detailed builds. This vivid, user-friendly, and fun title is sure to bring hours of joy and airborne wonder to LEGO fans across the globe, whether you're an aviation enthusiast, LEGO lover, or looking for a project to share with little ones of your own.

LEGO is the world's #1 toy company. The adults who grew up building LEGO City and Spaceports are now passing their old sets on to their children—and a new generation of LEGO builders has emerged, along with a rabid online community and celebrated custom builders.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780760361641
Publisher: Motorbooks
Publication date: 10/09/2018
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 558,737
Product dimensions: 8.40(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Peter Blackert is the most prolific vehicle builder in the LEGO community. He has built thousands of cars from LEGO over the years, drawing on his experience as a Powertrain & Chassis Systems Engineering Architect for the Ford Motor Company. His Bugatti Veyron, featured in his first Motorbooks title How to Build Brick Cars, was listed #5 in TopGear magazine's “Ten Greatest Replica Lego Cars” in 2014. His work has also featured regularly in articles on LEGO fan sites, such as and, and car-club magazines. Peter's work can be found on Flickr under the username lego911, and on Instagram under lego__911. His second Motorbooks title How to Build Brick Airplanes published in 2018. He lives near the beach in Australia with his wife and three kids, and a large room full of LEGO bricks.

Read an Excerpt




We begin with Miniplanes. Not planes that carry only one person (or none), but models built in a very small scale. All the planes in this section are modelled from 1:90 (Fokker DR.1) through to 1:125 (P-51 Mustang). This scale means it is not possible to include a LEGO® minifig in the aircraft, but they are a good scale to sit on a shelf or be mounted on a stand.

The image at left shows the vast size of the B-2 Spirit bomber — it is close in scale to the other planes present, though the two WWI planes would be even smaller if they were at identical scale! The B-2 is a very challenging build, however, and has as many parts as the models in the Intermediate section.

This chapter follows chronological order, in part to support the increasing size and complexity of the models, but in checking the specification tables, you will also see the rapid development of power and speed between 1914 and 1974. The aircraft are iconic models of their era, but are also typical for their time. The difference between failure and success was often found in small details.







LENGTH/WINGSPAN: 18' 11" (5.77 m) / 23' 7" (7.19 m)

LOADED MASS: 1,291 lb. (586 kg)

POWERPLANT: 1 × Oberursel Ur.II 9-cylinder rotary engine

THRUST: 110 hp (82 kW)

MAXIMUM SPEED: 115 mph (185 km/h)

COMBAT RADIUS: 185 miles (298 km)

The Fokker Dr.I derives its name from the German Dreidecker, which means "triplane." The aircraft has three wings, stacked vertically. Although seen in a multitude of colors and decorations — a common occurrence in German aircraft in the Luftstreitkräfte during World War I — the model shown here is decorated in the colors of Germany's most famous pilot, Baron Manfred von Richthofen — the Red Baron! The Fokker Dr.I was the aircraft in which he achieved his last nineteen victories and in which he was killed on April 21, 1918.

Biplanes and triplanes were common in World War I due to the fledgling nature of aeronautical engineering. The long wings common today were not robust enough to handle the forces seen in flight, so two (or more) wings were a safer option. Nonetheless, aircraft lost their wings all too often, frequently killing their pilots.

Early aircraft also deployed a variety of interesting engines. The Fokker Dr.I used an Oberursel rotary engine with 9 cylinders. Rotary and radial engines are similar in configuration, but rotary engines spin the entire engine array around during operation. The Fokker Dr.I had a mere 110 horsepower (82 kW), allowing a maximum speed of 115 miles per hour (185 km/h).




PRODUCTION: 1917–1920



LENGTH/WINGSPAN: 18' 9" (5.72 m) / 28' (8.53 m)

LOADED MASS: 1,453 lb. (659 kg)

POWERPLANT: 1 × Clerget 9B 9-cylinder rotary engine

THRUST: 130 hp (97 kW)

MAXIMUM SPEED: 113 mph (182 km/h)

COMBAT RADIUS: 150 miles (242 km)

The Sopwith Camel was one of the most iconic aircraft of World War I. A staggering 5,490 were built and operated by the Allied forces during the last year and a half of the war.

The Sopwith Camel was a biplane design with two sets of wings, one above the other. The Camel's construction was typical for the period: a wooden box-section fuselage (body) with plywood paneling around the pilot for protection, aluminum engine coverings, and fabric coverings for the wings, fuselage, and tail. Minimizing weight was a key goal in the design of early aircraft, and the Camel weighed 930 pounds (420 kg) empty.

Wanted! Skinny pilots only!

The Sopwith was powered by a variety of different engines, mostly the Clerget 9B or the Bentley BR1, both 9-cylinder rotary engines. Various versions had between 110 and 150 horsepower. The engine made up nearly 40 percent of the empty weight of the aircraft.

The Sopwith Camel was known to be a difficult aircraft to fly, but it was extremely maneuverable (desirable in air-to-air combat) due to its tightly packaged engine, fuel tank, and pilot. This reduced the aircraft polar moments (an engineering term referring to the distance of mass from the central rotation point), a key goal in designing fighter aircraft even today.




PRODUCTION: 1934–1935



LENGTH/WINGSPAN: 29' 0" (8.84 m) / 44' 0" (13.41 m)

LOADED MASS: 5,550 lb. (2523 kg)

POWERPLANT: 2 × de Havilland Gipsy Six R six-cylinder air-cooled inverted inline engine

THRUST: 230 hp (172 kW)

MAXIMUM SPEED: 237 mph (382 km/h)

COMBAT RADIUS: 2,925 miles (4,710 km)

A mere five de Havilland DH.88 Comets were ever built. Its inclusion here is due to the staggering number of aviation records achieved by the aircraft during its operational history.

Its most famous achievement was the MacRobertson race — "The Great Air Race" — a long-distance multistage journey from the Mildenhall in the United Kingdom to Melbourne, Australia. The race was scheduled for October 1934.

At the time, the United States had taken a lead in aviation, but Geoffrey de Havilland, a British aviation pioneer and founder of the de Havilland aircraft manufacturing firm, was determined that the race be won by a British aircraft.

To create a high-speed aircraft with good range and fuel capacity, a number of innovations were needed. The DH.88 housed two inverted Gipsy Six engines, one under each wing. The front profile was very small, reducing aerodynamic drag. The front of the fuselage, normally reserved for the engine, was used to increase the fuel tank size. Variable-pitch propellers were used to improve liftoff performance and high-speed cruise performance.

The majority of the aircraft was wood; to handle the wing and engine loads, a nautical engineering technique of wood paneling layup was used. The outer sections of the wing were even lighter, with the ply reduced to 0.07 inches (1.75 mm).

Three DH.88 aircraft were entered in the MacRobertson race: the dark 28 G-ACSR, the G-ACSP Black Magic, and the winning aircraft, G-ACSS Grosvenor House, the model shown here, which completed the race in 71 hours, 18 seconds.






NUMBER MADE: 15,000+

LENGTH/WINGSPAN: 32' 3" (9.83 m) / 37' 0" (11.28 m)

LOADED MASS: 9,200 lb. (4,175 kg)

POWERPLANT: 1 × Packard V-1650-7 liquid-cooled V-12 with 2-stage intercooled supercharger

THRUST: 1,490 hp (1,111 kW)

MAXIMUM SPEED: 440 mph (708 km/h)

COMBAT RADIUS: 825 miles (1,377 km)

MUSTANG. It was a fitting name for a World War II fighter designed to defend Europe from the advancing German armies and the feared Luftwaffe.

The P-51 Mustang was first developed for the British Royal Air Force, utilizing spare North American production facilities. The Mustang Mk I entered service over France in January 1942.

The original specification used the Allison V-1710 engine, which was also used in the P-38 Lightning. This engine did not perform well at high altitude, so early Mustang action in Europe was confined to ground attack and reconnaissance. An upgrade to the Roll-Royce Merlin V-12 and its US-licensed Packard V-1650-7 version transformed the Mustang into its B/C and D versions, respectively, lifting the game to the advanced Luftwaffe aircraft both figuratively and literally. The Mustang was now able to perform well at altitude and had the range to fly as a bomber escort over Germany.

The P-51 was also used in the Pacific theater in China and, late in the war, as a bomber escort against Japan in 1944.

The two Mustang versions shown here have famous squadron markings. The aircraft with the 21-red tail represents the Tuskegee Airmen, a flying corps of African American airmen known for their bravery. The plane with the yellow nose is the P-51D Detroit Miss from the 375th Fighter Squadron. Urban L. Drew flew this plane to great renown in 1944, famously downing six enemy aircraft in a single mission.





RETIRED: In Service


LENGTH/WINGSPAN: 56' 10" (17.32 m) / 37' 3" (11.36 m)

LOADED MASS: 33,370 lb. (14,900 kg)

POWERPLANT: 2 × Klimov RD-33 after-burning turbofan

THRUST: 18,342 lbf (81.59 kN) each

MAXIMUM SPEED: Mach 2.25 (1,490 mph, 2,400 km/h)

COMBAT RADIUS: 444 miles (715 km)

The MiG-29 Fulcrum, built by Mikoyan, is a late–Cold War air-superiority jet fighter developed during the 1970s that entered service in 1982.

The MiG-29 was developed to counter the new jet fighter aircraft designed for the United States (the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon) as well as European NATO allies and independent states.

The MiG-29 was a very successful commercial product, and over 1,600 aircraft have been built since its introduction. Many were sold to more than thirty nations, primarily former Eastern Bloc countries, India, and many Russianallied nations in the Middle East.

Advances in aeronautical engineering and combat aircraft over the past three decades have focused on electronic systems controlling avionics (flight), radar tracking and evasion, and weapons deployment. The MiG-29 has been progressively upgraded in these systems, usually starting with the Soviet and Russian air forces before being sold in later years to customers.

The MiG-29 has a high-speed interceptor capability, achieving Mach 2.25 (2.25 times the speed of sound) at high altitude, dropping to Mach 1.21 at low altitude. The aircraft is powered by two Klimov RD-33 after-burning turbofans (jets) producing 18,342 pounds (81.59 kN) of force each.

The MiG-29 is still in Russian service, though a plan is in place to replace the aircraft with a fifth-generation fighter within the decade.







LENGTH/WINGSPAN: 62' 9" (19.1 m) / 64' 0" (19.55 m)

LOADED MASS: 61,100 lb. (27,700 kg)

POWERPLANT: 2 × General Electric F110-GE-400 after-burning turbofans

THRUST: 16,610 lbf (73.9 kN) each

MAXIMUM SPEED: Mach 2.34 (1,544 mph, 2,486 km/h)

COMBAT RADIUS: 575 miles (926 km)

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat was introduced in 1974 as the primary naval air-superiority fighter and interceptor, as well as for tactical aerial reconnaissance. The aircraft was developed during the Vietnam War and incorporated many design concepts based on experiences of US aircraft flying against Soviet MiGs during the war.

Naval-based aircraft have been typically designed with unique specifications: two engines (for the sake of reliability), two crew members (one to fly, one to navigate), long range, and the ability to be deployed from aircraft carriers. The F-14's role was to defend naval assets at sea and to project US military strength abroad.

These specifications can be seen in the variable geometry (swing) wings, which allow for enhanced lift at low speed, supersonic flight (Mach 2.4), and a compact footprint when stowed. Though designed primarily for the US Navy, the F-14 was also adept as a ground-attack airframe, a role it played primarily for its sole foreign customer: the Imperial Iranian Air Force. A total of seventy-nine F-14As were delivered to Iran prior to the Revolution. The newly named Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force saw much action during the Iran-Iraq war through the 1980s, though over time, it became more difficult for the country to maintain this fleet. The F-14 is still flown by the Iranian air force.

In the United States, the aircraft was updated and _own until 2006, at which point it was retired and its role passed to F/A-18E/F Super Hornets — a plane designed to similar specifications and layout.





RETIRED: In Service


LENGTH/WINGSPAN: 69' 0" (21.0 m) / 172' 0" (52.4 m)

LOADED MASS: 336,500 lb. (152,200 kg)

POWERPLANT: 4 × General Electric F118-GE-100 non-after-burning turbofans

THRUST: 17,300 lbf (77 kN), each

MAXIMUM SPEED: Mach 0.95 (630 mph, 1,010 km/h)

COMBAT RADIUS: 3,450 miles (5,550 km)

Introduced to the US Air Force in 1989 and first deployed in combat using non-nuclear ordinance in the Kosovo War of 1999, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber saw significant action in the second Iraq War. The original intent of the B-2, however, was as a strategic strike bomber during a large-scale Cold War nuclear conflict.

The B-2 began concept development in the early 1970s under a deep veil of secrecy. Many early proof-of-concept prototypes were operated out of Area 51, and Northrop was selected to carry the project forward in 1981. A design brief change in the mid-1980s saw the aircraft modified from a high-altitude aircraft to a low-altitude, terrain-following one whose design, material, coating, and advanced electronic systems all minimized radar detection by enemy equipment.

Its silhouette disguises how large the plane really is — at 172 feet (52.4 m) across the wings, the B-2 is only slightly narrower than a B-52 bomber. The wing surface appears to be the whole aircraft, as the cabin is little more than a raised bump in the front center. The front edge is a continuous triangular form with a 110-degree included angle. The rear edge of the aircraft has a sawtooth profile with 110-degree voids.

Though the B-2 treads quietly from a radar signature perspective, the aircraft is loud and powerful. Each of the four engines produces 17,300 ft. (77 kN) of force to lift the 336,500-lb. (170,600-kg) maximum-weight aircraft. Despite this power, the non-afterburning engines can only push the B-2 to Mach 0.95 (630 mph/1,010 km/h). The goal of the B-2 is speedy but unobservable penetration, not high-speed intrusion.




There are five aircraft in this section. Three are propeller-driven, modelled in the same 1:32 scale, covering the period between WWI and WWII. Prior to WWII, jet aircraft had been in early development, but both jets and propeller aircraft evolved quickly, and jets did not achieve an advantage until after the war; from then on power and speed increased rapidly.

The two jet aircraft in the book, modelled in 1:48 scale, bookend the jet age. The Dassault Mirage III was flying less than a decade after the war, and was capable of nearly twice the speed of sound. The Lockheed-Martin F-35 is the very latest aircraft designed in the Western hemisphere, though it is barely faster than the Mirage sixty years its junior. Airframe competitiveness has become about much more than sheer speed. Modern electronics and materials engineering deliver stealth capabilities and communications technologies (called avionics).

The models in this section and beyond can carry LEGO® minifigs, and are assembled using a modular construction technique. Again, they are very typical for their era, and the techniques can be used as a template to make similar aircraft. The engines are modeled separately, and can also be mounted alongside the aircraft they are fitted to.







LENGTH/WINGSPAN: 24' 1" (7.33 m) / 29' 8" (9.05 m)

LOADED MASS: 2,066 lb. (937 kg)

POWERPLANT: 1 × Mercedes D.Illau 9-cylinder piston engine

THRUST: 200 hp (150 kW)

MAXIMUM SPEED: 116 mph (186 km/h)

COMBAT RADIUS: 185 miles (150km)

The Albatros D.V was the final development of the Albatros D.I family and the final Albatros fighter to see service. A critical shortcoming of earlier models of the series — wing failure — was the primary design flaw to be rectified once and for all in the D.V design. Unfortunately, the new design retained many features contributing to the structural failures, and it remained a bugbear that plagued the Albatros through its short operational history.

In all, nearly 2,500 aircraft were produced to maintain Imperial German air power in World War I. A benefit of the D.V over the earlier series was a new elliptical section fuselage, said to save 71 pounds (32 kg) on an empty 1,515-pound (697-kg aircraft). The D.V used a largely carryover inline 6-cylinder Mercedes D.IIIa engine rated at 170 hp (127 kW). (The D.Va had a slightly more powerful engine to offset an additional 23 kilograms of weight.) The D.Va commenced production in October 1917 and ceased in April 1918, by which time there were 131 D.V and 928 D.Va aircraft in service.

Germany's most famous World War I pilot, Baron Manfred von Richthofen, operated the D.V, and the model shown here is in the style in which his D.V Serial D.4693/17 was painted.


Excerpted from "How to Build Brick Airplanes"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc..
Excerpted by permission of The Quarto Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface, 4,
Why Build Brick Planes?, 5,
How To Use This Book, 6,
Section 1: Miniplanes, 8,
Fokker-Flugzeugwerke Dr.1, 10,
Sopwith Aviation Company Camel, 12,
de Havilland DH.88 Comet, 14,
North American P-51D Mustang, 16,
Mikoyan MiG-29, 18,
Grumman F-14 Tomcat, 20,
Northrop-Grumman B-2 Spirit, 24,
Section 2: Intermediate, 32,
Albatros-Flugzeugwerke D.Va, 34,
Supermarine Spitfre Mk VB, 48,
Rolls-Royce Merlin 61 V-12 Engine, 56,
Mitsubishi A6M Zero, 58,
Nakajima NK1C Sakae-12 Engine, 68,
Dassault Mirage IIIO, 70,
SNECMA Atar 09C Jet Engine, 82,
Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II, 86,
Section 3: Advanced, 104,
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, 106,
Lockheed P-38 Lightning, 130,
Allison V-1710 V-12 Engine, 158,
Appendix I: Build Components, 164,
Appendix II: Parts Index, 185,
Resources, 190,

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