I've heard of many different ways of doing vehicle aerials - the common one seems to be using brush bristles, but I have heard of people using piano wire (ouch!) and melted down plastic sprue stretched thin. I came accross the method I use by accident somewhere (I can't remember where so can't give credit) and a few weeks later a local discount supermarket had fishing gear on a special offer. I picked up a pack of two reels of fishing line for a couple of £'s and have been using one of them ever since.
I use a pin vice to drill out the relevant number of holes (normally in tank turrets).
|My trusty (squeaky) pin vice.|
This picture of 33 Armoured Brigade Shermans actually shows three aerials in the turret.
|Not my picture - used without permission!|
This is the stuff I use - I can't talk about it's usefulness for it's intended purpose I'm afraid!
Once I've drilled the holes (normally done when I am building the model and applying stowage) I snip some fishing line to the lengths I want. I normally aim for one to be longer than the other slightly but that's just what looks 'right' to me.
I then test fit the fishing line into the holes, just to make sure they are drilled out and not filled with varnish or paint. If required I do a quick spin of the drill bit just to make the fit snug. The thickness of the line fits well with the 2nd largest size drill bit I have (I've long since lost the packaging for those, so no idea what the measurement is - if in doubt start small as you can always widen if the hole is too small).
I then carefully dab a small amount of superglue onto the end of the wire. Sometimes it goes on like a little bead of glue, other times it just coats the bottom of the line and forms a bead when you hold it upright. I then carefully put the line into the hole, making sure that the natural bend of the line is in the correct 'direction' - ie, it bends slightly backwards towards the rear of the turret. If it stuck straight up I wouldn't mind, but I think it looks better with a slight bend in it and I try to make sure the lengths I snip from the reel have a curve and no kinks making it stick out to the left or right.
|'natural curve' as you can see here. I snipped this bit out as it had a little bit of a funny shape to it.|
Once the glue is dry - it may sometimes require a little bit of holding in place to get it to stay in the right direction - it's a simple matter of carefully painting the fishing line with a little black matt paint. I normally do this before the final spray of matt varnish, just to give it a little more protection.
When I am doing new vehicles for the first time I will normally try to find some reference pictures just to get an idea where the aerials are supposed to be. It's worth being careful with the smaller models as the places where the aerials should go on the turrets tend to be quite brittle and will snap off while you drill. This is especially true of the British armored cars. I have started doing the same with my infantry models that have radios as well, just because I like how it looks - but I will have to go back through all my models at some point and do all the radios (along with upgrading the basing with the aid of some flower tufts - more on those later).
The fishing line seems pretty durable and along with decals and stowage are small touches that I think really brings the vehicles to life. Well worth the effort of trying yourself!