Sunday, March 31

Review: 3D-Printed Aircraft Missiles from FAB Scale in 1/48th...

A new company - "Fab Scale" has launched with a bunch of new 3-D printed accessories & items for your 48th scale jets. The AMRAAM, HARM & Sidewinders are just three we will review today...

Review: 3D-Printed Aircraft Missiles
From FAB Scale
1/48th scale
Reviewed: Mar 2024

FAB Scale are another small after-market player based in China, focusing on 3D printed weapons and detail parts in 1/48.

In this review I'll look in more detail at three of their modern aircraft weapons sets:
FA48054 - AIM-120C AMRAAM
FA48056 - AIM-9M/L Sidewinder
FA48073 - AGM-88 HARM

From Fab Scale
1/48th scale
Set No: FA48054]
First up is set FA48054 containing four (4) AIM-120C AMRAAM A-A missiles in 1:48. Each missile is printed as a single piece with all the fins already attached. This makes preparation for painting a breeze as all that is needed is to remove the fine supports, no gluing or aligning necessary. Most aircraft modern weapons have a lot of safety and information stencils as well as warning bands applied. FAB Scale provide a full set of these markings on a small decal sheet and a color A4 sheet for the decal layout plus paint colors.

The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) is an American beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capable of all-weather day-and-night operations. It uses active transmit-receive radar guidance instead of semi-active receive-only radar guidance. When an AMRAAM missile is launched, NATO pilots use the brevity code "Fox Three".
More than 14,000 had been produced for the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, and 33 international customers. The AMRAAM has been used in several engagements, achieving 16 air-to-air kills in conflicts over Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, India, and Syria. 
Closeup photos of the missile bodies shows very clean prints, with thoughtfully placed supports, allowing for ease of removal whilst minimising risk of damage to the part.
Modern 3D printers are more than capable of reproducing the smallest of details, even in 1:48. The fins of the AMRAAM are all to a realistic scale thickness and the surface detail provided is also restrained. 
No visible layers or voxel artefacts are present on the surface of even the smoothest parts of the missile.
Fins and tails are thin and with good detail.
A single decal sheet is supplied and includes all the markings needed for four missiles. Even under magnification the registration and clarity of the decals holds up very well.
You can see how fine the smaller stencils are in the photo below.
The A4 instruction sheet includes paint callouts are for Gunze Mr Color range or FS (Federal Standard) colors where appropriate.

AIM-9M/L Sidewinder
From Fab Scale
1/48th scale
Set No: FA48056
Set FA48056 contains four (4) AIM-9M/L Sidewinders A-A missiles in 1:48. Packaged in a sturdy cardboard box (with bubble wrap) all the parts are well protected whilst being transported and stored.

The AIM-9L ("Lima") was the first major advance in IR Sidewinder development since the First Generation Rear-Aspect Variants, with the introduction of a true "all-aspect" seeker bringing with it the ability to attack from all directions, including head-on, which had a dramatic effect on close-in combat tactics.

The AIM-9M was an improved AIM-9L inheriting the all-aspect capability of the L model, but providing all-around higher performance. Having a better background rejection and infrared countermeasures discrimination (WGU-4/B), and a low-smoke motor to reduce the visual signature of the weapon, and improved guidance control section with counter-countermeasures and improved maintainability and producibility. The AIM-9M uses an annular blast fragmentation warhead. These modifications increase ability to locate and lock-on a target and decrease the missile's chances for detection.
It was deployed in large numbers during the 1991 Gulf War, the AIM-9M was responsible for all 10 Sidewinder kills recorded during that conflict. The AIM-9M was used by the RAAF being their standard dogfight AAM, carried by the F/A-18 and F-111. 

The main body of the missiles have been printed vertically, with supports therefore needed for the horizontal fins. Found it very easy to remove the supports with sharp cutters and then a light sand to clean up. 
The orange resin used is a bit loud but it responds well to cutting and sanding so we know the prints have been properly cleaned and cured.
As the missile is generic, to be used on any suitable aircraft type, it will up to the modeller to add attachment supports to the body to suit the pylon or launch adapter they are using. 
The various components of the AIM-9 are nicely represented from the IR seeker head to the tail rollerons (providing gyroscopic stabilization).
Some care is needed to remove the main (heaviest) supports from the bottom fins. A trick I like to use is to soak the part in hot water for a few minutes to soften the resin before using a sharp knife or cutter to slice through the support tips. The helps minimise the risk of damage to the resin part.
FAB Scale have also included a full set of seeker covers, which are often seen when the aircraft is parked. A RBF streamer is normally attached to the front of the cover which makes for a colorful addition to your modern jet.
A single decal sheet is supplied and includes all the markings needed for the four missiles. Even under magnification the registration and clarity of the decals holds up very well.
The full color A4 instruction sheet includes paint callouts and stencil marking layouts.

AGM-88 HARM Missile 
From Fab Scale
1/48th scale
Set No:FA48073
Set FA48073 contains two (2) AGM-88 HARM missiles in 1:48. As the HARM is a larger, more complex, missile some assembly is required as the forward fins are printed separately. Two options for the LAU-118 (launch adapter) are thoughtfully included by FAB Scale.
The AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) is a tactical, air-to-surface anti-radiation missile designed to home in on electronic transmissions coming from surface-to-air radar systems. It was originally developed by Texas Instruments as a replacement for the AGM-45 Shrike and AGM-78 Standard ARM system. Production was later taken over by Raytheon Corporation when it purchased the defense production business of Texas Instruments. 
Being a larger more complex print, FAB Scale have taken the time to add more of the surface details on these missiles. All the parts are well printed, cleaned and cured resulting is excellent finished parts. Unfortunately there are some dodgy operators out there who do not take care with the printing process, but I can say without hesitation that FAB Scale are not one of them.
The larger "steering" fins are printed separately and come in their own protective cage. These need to be attached to the body of the missile (probably after painting).
Two types of launch adapters (LAU) are included by FAB Scale. These are needed to cater for the slight differences between USAF and USN pylons. 
The longer pylon (USAF) used the LAU-118(V)2/A whilst the shorter Navy pylons required the LAU-118(V)1/A adapter.
The single decal sheet includes all the markings needed for the two missiles.
The full color A4 instruction sheet includes paint callouts and stencil marking layouts.

CONCLUSION - FAB Scale 1:48 3D Printed Aircraft Weapons
Having seen a steady stream of exhaust nozzles from most of the new 3D printed cottage manufacturers, its refreshing to see some love for new aircraft weapons.

FAB Scale will be new to most of you (as it was to me) but I'm happy to say their products do not disappoint. The main thing that has me sold is the single piece AIM-9 and AIM-120's. Trying to align multi-part resin bodies and photo-etch fins are a thing of the past in this new 3D world.

These parts (plus many more in the FAB Scale range) can be found at the usual online shops, such as and

I certainly have no hesitation is recommended these detail sets for your next modelling project.

Gary Wickham

Thanks very much to the people at Fab Scale for sending these to Gary to review...