3D Printed P-38 Lightning

by FliteTest | December 5, 2016 | (12) Posted in Reviews

We flew something we’ve never flown before…a 3D printed plane! This particular design was created by 3D Lab Print, which has plans that can be downloaded and printed on a 3D printer.

This plane requires a 12-channel radio, so we used the Graupner 24 Pro transmitter and had the plane programmed in about five minutes.

Instead of using the 3000 mAh battery, we used two 2250 batteries to make it a bit lighter since the printed airframe is fairly heavy on its own.

The P-38 can be printed from two different materials, PLA and PETG, and the materials for the build only cost about $15­–$18 (plus $40 to download all the STL files).

This plane is an advanced flyer and flies like a big, slow, heavy gas warbird and looks incredible in the air!

Thanks to 3D Lab Print for sending us the P-38 files! We had a great experience flying this beautifully designed plane!

Learn more about the P-38 Lightning on the 3D Print Lab website, and be sure to check out the incredibly detailed owner’s manual!


Length: 1042mm (41.0in)
Wingspan: 1410mm (55.1in)
Height: 298mm (11.7in)
Wing area: 30.5 dm2
Wing loading: 65.9 g/dm2
Airfoil: aircombat modificated
Print weight: 1160g
Empty weight (w/o battery): 1750g
Takeoff weight (3s 3000 lipo): 1980g
Max takeoff weight: 2200g
Never exceed speed, VNE: 205 km/h
Design maneuvering speed, VA: 165km/h Stall speed, VS: 34 km/h
Propeller: aeronaut ELP 9/6 or APC 9/6 – 9/7.5
Motor: 2x Turnigy D3530/14 1100KV or similar 3530-35 1100kv
ESC: 30A Electronic Speed Controller or similar
30-40Amps Battery: Turnigy nanotech 3000 mAh/3s/11.1V, 238g, 25C


Scarcasm on December 5, 2016
I bought the plans and I am in the process of printing this plane, I can't wait to fly it!
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termitehards on May 21, 2017
what's the news on your build buddy?
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wanabeRCexpert on December 5, 2016
that pretty awesome
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LordVader on December 5, 2016
I have the plans for the P 47, BF 109 and the Spitfire. Have printed all three. Only have electronics in the P 47, but haven't flown it yet. I also have the P 38 plans too. Great web site, good people to deal with. Lots of youtube vids on their products.
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Yogenh on December 5, 2016
I would really love to have one but don't have a 3D printer
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AkimboGlueGuns on December 8, 2016
Try to find a local makerspace. You'd be surprised to see how many there are are around with 3D printers.
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Traveller on December 26, 2016
HI Yogenh, google or look on gearbest for the Anet A8. This is a very affordable 3d printer (under 200 dollars). I just got one and I'am extremely happy with it.
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Yogenh on December 27, 2016

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InspGadgt on March 23, 2017
I was just looking at the Anet A8. Is it capable of printing these models? One of the pictures showing a print in progress looks like a kit printer so I thought it might.
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Zealousvoyager on December 6, 2016
What are the 3D printer requirements to print a plane like this?
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jpleaner on December 7, 2016
Speechless!... I am without speech!
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CaptBill on December 7, 2016
I had no interest in 3d printers until I watched this vid. Today I cought myself pricing out large format 3d printers and reviewing what it takes to build one. I really dont think I will do it but its funny how much an interest can be fueled by a sweet looking model
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CafeBikeGirl on December 9, 2016
Check out Wanhao, I hear they are excellent entry level 3D printers. I haven't used one yet but should have one showing up any day now.
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Brandutchmen on December 11, 2016
Look at the Robo 3d R1 plus. it is on sale right now and with some tweaking and tinkering its a dream machine. (I was able to print higher quality than the $20,000 printer we put it against.
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CafeBikeGirl on December 9, 2016
If you glue the sections together with ShoeGoo they will have a slight amount of shock absorbance and it will allow you to replace sections since you don't have to break a hard joint. Just pull the damaged section off, peel off the rubber and glue the new section back on.
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Brandutchmen on December 11, 2016
You are a genius
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Plane Stupid RC on December 11, 2016
I like the idea that you can print the plane. I'm used to printing plans!
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Dale57 on December 18, 2016
Why Does This Model Require A 12 Ch Radio? Seems Like A 6 Channel Would Be Enough.
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mac357mag@gmail.com on December 21, 2016
I agree, to an extent, but I come up with 11 channels: 2-Ail, 2-Rud, 2-Flap, Rt. Main Gear, Lft. Main Gear, Nose Gear, Ele, Throttle. What am I missing? I suppose that you could go all out and have each throttle on its own channel. That would give you 12.

I plan on putting the Ail, Rud, and Flaps on Sbus then flying my FrSky Horus running OpenTX. Will also probably add an external BEC just for safety.

Yes, I've committed. Plans downloaded, parts ordered, sections being printed as we speak. EXCELLENT job on file preparation, by the way. Just loaded them up and away it went!

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Sotm on October 19, 2017
You don't need two channels for ailerons, or rudder, or flaps, or elevator, or gear. Modern RC Radios do ailerons with one channel, actually both sides and both directions of any flight control with one channel. All landing gear y harness together and the nose steering y harness with rudder, two esc (throttle) y harness together. Add that up and you only need a 6 channel. Maybe older radios used two channels per flight control - dumb.
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alstein on April 4, 2017
How is it that a pair of 2250mAh are lighter than a single 3000mAh battery? I don't ge it.
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wcufo123456789 on April 25, 2017
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robot432 on September 7, 2017
Can i use a twin C pack for it?
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Sotm on September 23, 2017
Why do you say 12 channel? I count only 6 needed! Ailerons, Rudder, Elevator, Throttle, Gear, and Flaps!!
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Hawki on October 18, 2017
One amazing bird!! I was feeling the same anxiety that Josh had to be feeling why flying this beautiful plane. It was a rush just to watch! Great video!!
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3D Printed P-38 Lightning