Starting with the 1940 Ford, round sealed beam headlights came into wide use and were standardized into 3 sizes and 4 colors. Some were manufactured with diffusion grid lines and others were produced with thick smooth lens faces. Everything (autos, military vehicles, aircraft, Trucks, etc) used these three sizes until recent US Government DOT deregulation allowed all shapes of bulbs to appear on autos and trucks. M.V. Products lenses were originally developed for Model RR usage and therefore are smooth faced. In recent years many lens sizes and colors have been added that are for non-railroad use (i.e. Black IR) Lights used prior to 1940 were mainly of bulb, reflector and lens type and varies in sizes. Models should be measured using the sizing table and the appropriate size and color.
Aircraft & Helicopter Applications
Both Worlds War II aircraft and modern aircraft & helicopters use a variety of lens sizes and colors. Aircraft (red/green) anti-collision (navigation) lights were located in each wing tip. Single or dual clear landing lights were located I wings. On landing gear doors or on the landing gear struts. In addition some jets have clear taxi lights in addition to the landing lights. WWII and Modern military aircraft that are involved in night formation flying have multiple blue formation lights located on topside surfaces. Many US Army air Force WWII Bombers & Fighters used red, green and amber arranged like a stop signal for recognition signaling.
Military aircraft recognition lights use red, green and amber lenses. Recognition lights were used on underside of starboard (right) wing on many US Army Air Force WWII aircraft (P-47, P-51, P-38, P-82, B-26) for signaling. On the B-24 they were located on center frame separating the forward right and left bomb bay doors, Use #702 or 500 for 1/72 scale, #502 for 1/48 scale and #800 for 1/32 scale aircraft.
Aircraft anti-collision (navigation) lights: Green is used on the starboard (right) wing tip and red is used on the port (left) wing tip.
US Navy and Army aircraft formation lights: Blue lights are located on topside of the aircraft. B-17s used 3 lights along leading edge of the vertical stabilizer. B-24s used 7 lights (3 on fuselage near tail and 2 on each side of horizontal stabilizer. Navy F4u-1/2 used 2 (1 near each wing tip). Use #700 for 1/72 scale, #304 for 1/72 and 1/48 scale and #223 for 1/48 & 1/32 scale.
Aircraft landing & Taxi lights (Use either 4.45″ or 5.7″ Clear lights.) On prop driven and early jets either dual or single lights were usually placed in the wings leading edge or in some cases the lights were landing gear well-mounted as in the P-51. Most Modern jet aircraft mount eight 1 or 2 lights on the nose wheel struts such as the F/A-18 (1 light) or fairing. A few mount a single light on each main landing gear struts such as the F-16. Helicopters mount either single or dual lights on the nose or on the underbelly. 1/72 scale; use #22 for 4.46″ and #25 for 5.7″; 1/48 scale use #409 for 4.46″ & # 116 for 5.7″; 1/32 scale use #136 for 4.46″ & #180 for 5.7″.
Autos, Trucks, Police & Emergency Vehicles
Auto, Trucks, Police & Emergency vehicles use all the sizes & colors of headlights/fog lamps/signals lamps described in the introduction. The 7.03″ diameter is the most common used in single headlight configurations. The 5.7″ diameter is the most common used in dual headlight configurations. The 4.46″ diameter is used as spot lights, red& blue signal lamps Y amber fog lamps. In many cases the 5.7″ diameter has the same uses.
Military vehicles such as the Jeep, Scout Car, Half Track, ¾ Ton, 1 ¾ ton trucks and other utility vehicles usually use single headlights on each side of the vehicle & the information listed above under autos will directly apply. In some cases the headlights are shielded, other military vehicles such as tanks, self-propelled howitzers & APCs use either single or dual headlights. In many cases the headlights may be single or dual clusters. On dual cluster headlights the inside lights are usually black (IR) but in some cases may be red. Headlight sizes may be either 4.46″, 5.7″ or 7″ diameter lamps. The main scales that military vehicles are made in is 1/48 and 1/35 scales. As an example, Tamiya’s 1/35 scale M113A Fire Support Vehicle uses 2 #128 Clear headlights as the outside lamps. The inside lamps are black (IR) #132. Other Tamiya vehicles such as the US M113A APC, M577 Command Post & M106A1 armored SP Mortar, M1//M1A1 Tank, M60A3 tank use the same light arrangement as the M113A Fire support vehicle. If headlights have large bezels (4″ diameter showing) use 116 clear, 118 black& 117 red. The Abrams series of APCs use clear headlights on the inside and red lenses with a very small shield on the bottom on the outside. Other identified uses are as follows:
Tamiya 1/35 Scale:
M4A3 Sherman uses 3 # 116
Japanese Type 97 & 7.5cm SP gun uses 1 #128
US Willys Jeep uses 2 #116 & 6 lenses from #220 (red)
M151A2 Jeep uses 2 #199 & 4 #129 (red)
Russian KV1 & KVII uses 1 #199 (7″ diameter)
Russian T34 uses 1 #199 (7″ diameter)
Italeri 1/35 scale
M4 Sherman uses 2 #116
M32 uses 2 #116
Kubelwagen uses 2 #136 & 1 #116
Schwimmwagen uses 2 #136
Horch uses 2 #218
Military Shielded Lights (Clear or Red)
Red or Clear lenses may be installed into existing headlight or tail light frame casting by slightly countersinking a hole of correct diameter. Also tail light lamp holders may be fabricated by using a section of brass tube or a piece of plastic sprue which has been countersinked & cut to length. When installed paint on the shield. The lens is made with a tough polymer with a metal backing & is not affected by paints. If paint job is botched, wipe off the paint with thinner & start over.
Search/Spot lights (Military Vehicle & ships)
Search/Spot lights are of two types. The bulb-reflector/lens type and the sealed beam type. The only sizes available for the sealed beam type spotlight is 4.46″ or 5.7″ diameter. Other types of searchlights will vary in size. The light should be measure and a Clear lens selected using the sizing table. The Tamiya 1/35 scale M113A Fire Support Vehicle uses #166 to simulate a scale 5.7″ sport light located on the side of the turret (a perfect fit).
Ship searchlights are covered above. Ship running lights are utilized the same way as aircraft anti-collision lights. Green running lights are used on the starboard (right) side of the ship and red is used on the port (left) side of the ship. Since ship scale varies pick the size lens that looks correct for the model.
A Tamiya M113A Fire support vehicle was built to see if the lenses could be added to a finished model. It was done as follows: Place your thumbnail behind the headlight cluster. Mark the center of the casting with a sharp object (i.e. #11 Xacto blade) Select the correct drill for the selected lens (Make sure it’s sharp) and hold it between your fingers. The plastic is soft and a few turns will do the job. Go slow. Not much pressure is needed. If off-center, a slight pressure to the side will center the hole. The searchlight was done the same way.
Lighting the lens
If desired the lens may be used with a lighting system due to the heat resistant properties of the hybrid polymer. Locate a starter hole (using a sharp tool such as an awl) in the center of metal backing. Drill a small hole approximately ½ way through the solid lens (select a drill size that looks good for the size of the lens to be lighted). During Power-On operation the light will shine through the hole resulting in the whole lens glowing with its bright center giving the appearance of a scale bulb. Unlike lighted models which lose their prototypical appearance when not powered up, MV Lenses will still provide a realistic appearance for the model.
MV Products lenses provide the ultimate in realism with a lens system consisting of a 12 to 15 thousandths thick parabolic metal mirror and a solid lens made of a hybrid polymer. The lenses are available clear or tinted in red, green, amber, blue, or black (IR). The lens system is designed to pick up and reflect all available light providing a prototype appearance to the model. The lenses can be used to enhance every type of model.
For Model railroad steam engines, diesels, electrics, cabooses, passenger cars, Switch stands: Use clear lenses for headlights, marker lights, class lights. Use red lenses for marker, classification and signal lights. Use green and amber lenses for marker and classification lights. Blue is also used by some railroads for signal lights.
For Auto, Truck, Police, Emergency and military Vehicle Headlights: Use clear lenses. For Fog Lights use amber lenses. For Emergency lights, use red or blue lenses. Clear lenses may be used for police, fire, emergency and military vehicle searchlights. For military vehicle IR lights use black.
For Aircraft: Use clear lenses for landing and taxi lights. For Helicopter models use clear lenses for landing and search lights.
For military aircraft recognition lights: Use red, green and amber lenses. Recognition lights were used on underside of starboard (right) wing on many US Navy and Army air Force WWII fighter aircraft for signaling Recognition lights were used on the underside of many US Army bombers.
Drill size: Lens diameter In/mm: MV lens part number
54: .046″ – – 1.17mm: 700,701,703, 702
55: .052″ – – 1.32mm: 300, 301, 303, 304
52: .063″ – – 1.6mm: 22, 220, 221, 222, 223, 501
50: .070″ – – 1.78mm: 600, 601, 602, 603
49: .073″ – – 1.85mm: 26, 18, 103
47: .078″ – – 1.98mm: 25, 24, 19, 23
45: .082″ – – 2.08mm: 280, 281, 28
44: .086″ – – 2.18mm: 20, 27, 200, 201, 202, 203
41: .096″ – – 2.44mm: 409, 410, 411, 412
38: .101″ – – 2.29mm: 29, 30, 31, 32
35: .110″ – – 2.79mm: 109, 110
32: .115″ – – – 2.95mm: 116, 117, 118
1/8″: .125″ – – 3.18mm: 800
30: .128″ – – 3.25mm: 128, 129, 130, 131, 132
29: .136″ – – 3.45mm: 136, 21, 137, 138, 139
25: .147″ – – 3.79mm: 149, 150
21: .159″ – – 4.04mm: 159, 160
19: .166″ – – 4.22mm: 166, 167, 168, 169
17: .173 – – 4.39mm: 173, 174
15: .180″ – – 4.57mm: 180, 181, 182, 183
13: .185″ – – 4.7mm: 185
10: .193″ – – 4.92mm: 193
8: .199″ – – 5.08mm: 199, 11, 111
6: .204″ – – 5.18mm: 204, 2
4: .209″ – – 5.31mm: 209, 210, 211, 212
2: .221″ – – 5.61mm: 218, 216, 217
1: .228 – – 5.79: 228, 229, 230, 231
15/64″: .234″ – – 5.94: 401
¼”: .250″ – – 6.36mm: 248
17/64″: .265″ – – 6.73mm: 402
9/32″: .281 – – 7.14mm:403, 414, 415
19/64″: .296″ – – 7.52mm: 404
5/16″: .312″ – – 7.93mm: 400
21/64″: .328″ – – 8.33mm: 405
11/32″: .343″ – – 8.71mm: 406
23/64″: .359″ – – 9.12mm: 407
3/8″: .375″ – – 9.53mm: 408
½”: .500″ – – 12.7mm: 413
MV Products information sheet appears courtesy of MV Products, who retains rights to its use.