Aircraft Display Cabinets
After constructing a few kits you are left with the decision of where to display them. Open shelves are the easiest solution. Hanging them from the ceiling or on the wall certainly gets them on display as well, however in either of these display examples the dust build up has adverse effects on the kits and cleaning them (with all their fragile parts) is a real challenge.
For this reason, I opted early on for building cases with glass fronts that would keep the dust off the kits and still provide for good viewing. My early cases were floor-standing units, pretty much from floor to ceiling with 15" depth for stability and room for the bigger jets. Later display units were built to hang on the wall in order to save floor space (that way I could mount them above the workbench or my office area). I standardized on a 24" x 48" cabinet for several units as that was an available plexiglass size and a decent enough storage bank to build. For these wall mounted units I tended to stay with a 12" depth. Eventually I had to build a case to house the larger bombers and transport aircraft so I built another floor based unit and increased the depth to 20" to handle these aircraft (that is until I built my AC-130 in 1/48th scale and realized that it wasn't going to fit in any case!) So, the Hurcules is currently collecting dust and my B-29 kit and others like it are on hold until I figure out something to house these monsters (or maybe hang them flat on the wall). In the meantime I can spend more time building kits and less time dusting (and potentially breaking and fixing) them.
Photo Booth Version
When you want to share your scale model creations with a wider audience, taking and posting photos is a good approach (especially with the advent of Social Media). On the fly shots are decent enough for in-progress builds and such however, once you get everything finished up nicely, I found myself searching for a decent backdrop to photograph the kits against.
I started out using plain or poster board cloud backgrounds to isolate the aircraft, which was alright, but either was too small an area or lacked the character setting I thought was needed to add to this end result photo. Others I had noticed produced excellent results with natural field or airport like backdrops, however the logistics and lighting control of this setup sidelined this option for me. Seeking something that would add to the subject matter, be reproduceable year-round and enable me to easily control the lighting got me settled on "The Hangar" backdrop.
The first iteration was produced inside my spray-booth, as the lighting was already decent and it didn't require any additional space to be occupied. In this example I would just replace the paint sprayed walls with foam board inserts and then add the supporting "Iron-works" structure beams using styrene square and I-Beams. This setting served me well for a while however the larger aircraft were difficult to photograph in this limited paint booth space. The next iteration of "The Hangar" was designed to be a 48" x 48" floor area with 24" of height so the ceiling wouldn't be a factor. This would allow a large enough area to photograph the large SR-71 and C-130 types as well as get group shots of aircraft. The overhead lighting was achieved by adding a 4-pack of high lumen digital lights. This type of lighting provides great output without the heat byproduct of other lighting types. I also constructed this new Hangar version in a way so that all the components could be disassembled for more compact storage when the photo booth was not required. Refinements are ongoing with the latest additions being some signage on the walls and additional accessories and personnel.
My continued interest in the hobby eventually amassed quite a number of kits to deal with, as one of my goals was to have as many different types of military aircraft as I could build on display. Of course favourites resulted in multiple builds of one type or another, which further expanded the collection as well. The space to display them is a constant challenge as you can imagine.
My latest display cabinet (still under construction) is a bit of a combination of the above two projects, whereby I have constructed a large display area (formerly a TV /Entertainment unit space built into the basement wall) that is segmented into "mini-hangar" areas for the display of my completed kits. As this display area is 20" deep and has low ceilings, (typically 7" or less) lighting was incorporated into the design as well. The design of this shelving is quite different, as the construction of the lower floor is the support for the floor above it (as opposed to a typically built shelf unit where affixing the shelves to the outer shell provides the support). This display area is 6 feet wide by 5 feet high with 9 levels so as to maximize ground level display space. Digital strip lighting was incorporated, hidden behind the top front ledge so as to provide good individual shelf lighting, while eliminating any associated visual lighting glare. Post supports were utilized at the front of each shelf to counteract any shelf sag over time. The electrical connections were disguised in the Hangar "Electrical Room" and the lighting can be controlled by a remote unit as the entire infrastructure would be glassed in eventually. So far I am quite pleased with this display cabinet concept and will continue construction and enhancements as required until it is completed. In the meantime tenants have moved into completed floors while I work on finishing the others. As always, feel free to ask me any questions you may have, and good luck with your builds - Cheers