Despite my best efforts at painting wooden propellers, I have to admit nothing I've done captures the look of real wood anything like... well, real wood. Trouble is, carving an accurate wooden propeller is no easy task in itself - which is one reason why most modellers are resigned to making do with painted kit props.
So I was very excited when I was contacted recently by Douglas Craner, an artist and scratchbuilder who has decided to make his hand carved 1:32 wooden propellers commercially available and sent a pair of Axial types for review.
The propellers arrived very safely packaged in a novel way - individually wrapped in paper and held firmly inside a CD jewel-case. I've never seen a jewel-case used for this before, but it offers ideal protection for delicate items such as these.
The propellers themselves are simply exquisite, with finely reproduced contours, sharp trailing edges and a smooth polished finish. Each one represents some three hours work by Douglas, from making a "blank" from a sandwich of close-grained veneers of ash and mahogany, painstakingly carving the correct shape and then varnishing with stained shellac for the final finish. The Axial propellers feature six laminations, while some other types have as many as eight. The result is remarkable; there's just something about the natural grain under varnish that almost seems to "glow" with a life that is hard to replicate.
The propellers are supplied with a pre-drilled hole and the position of the boss marked. Douglas did not originally intend to supply a hub - the one seen here is made from Milliput for demonstration purposes - but is testing casting resin versions with a view to supplying the propellers fully "ready to go", so modellers won't need to resort to aftermarket extras and can simply add manufacturers' logos taken from the kits' decals.
At present, the range includes German WW1 propellers such as Astra, Axial, BuR, Heine, Niendorf, Propulsar and Wolffe, and will grow to include Allied types if they prove a success. Douglas is also happy to undertake commissions for "one-offs" and can be contacted at:
A hand-carved wooden propeller really is the icing on the cake for a largescale WW1 or Golden Age subject, and part of the beauty of them is that, just like their full-sized counterparts, no two are precisely identical - you will have something truly unique for your model. At £15 each I believe they represent very good value for money in view of the time they take to produce by a master craftsman and they deserve to be a great success. Highly recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE