The closer you look the more you will be in awe of this shockingly intricate 777 replica. The fully-articulating landing gear alone has over 2,000 parts and 200 hours of assembly, not even including the penny-sized tires with individually-cut lug nuts. All carved from manilla office folders by hand.
A high school
art architecture class in 2008 inspired this build by teaching a few papercrafting techniques. When [Luca] got a hold of a precision Air India 777-300ER schematic, he started building this 5 foot long 1:60 scale model. His project has received a fair amount of media attention over the years, including some false reports that he was so focused on the build that he dropped out of college (he did, for 2 years, but for other reasons). 6.5 years in the making, [Luca] is rounding the homestretch.
The design is manually drawn in Illustrator from the schematics, then is printed directly onto the manilla folders. Wielding an X-acto knife like a watch-maker, [Luca] cuts all the segments out and places them with whispers of glue. Pistons. Axles. Clamps. Tie rods. Brackets. Even pneumatic hoses – fractions of a toothpick thin – are run to their proper locations. A mesh behind the engine was latticed manually from of hundreds of strands. If that was not enough, it all moves and works exactly as it does on the real thing.
Tires actually swing and steer. Landing gear actually collapses and folds up. The flaps move. The engines are not just magnificent static replicas; the 777 has a collapsible rear section for reverse thrust and so does [Luca]’s manilla version. The cabin and cargo doors hinge and lock into place. Even the bathrooms are just as cramped as you remember them being.
[Luca] spent a whole summer just on the furniture: the 300+ economy seats took him 20 minutes each, two business class seats could be finished in a day, and a single first class suite was a full 8 hour shift. The engines took another five months. The galley too has plenty of detail – row after row of carts and cabinets.
It is not just the precision, meticulousness, and detail that impresses – the infinitesimal scale defies belief. The individual cockpit controls are each dwarfed by the grooves of their maker’s fingerprints. See the video embedded below of the main landing gear retracting and note the whole assemblies manipulated by tweezers. Just like the real thing the gear is small but strong, it can support several times the weight of the finished jet.
Expecting to be complete later this year (though he said the same thing last year), [Luca] has already started painting the fuselage. After he is done he plans to one-up himself with a 20 foot version.
[Luca] does not have a project page per se but he documents well. He even spent two weeks editing 130 hours of time-lapse footage for his fans to appreciate the work that goes into a single assembly. For all the glorious details see his Flickr albums or his Youtube channel.
Thanks [Lars] for the tip.
* Corrected, it was an architecture class, not an art class.