Italeri Leonardo da Vinci Ornithopter

KIT #: 3108
PRICE: 18.99 GBP
DECALS: None required
REVIEWER: Jeffery Simpson

Suitable for Age 10 and above, no glueing required, no painting, make in 30 minutes. "Button to activate the wings".


From the kit instructions: "An Ornithopter is a machine designed to fly by the flapping of its wings in imitation of birds. In 1485, Leonardo da Vinci began to study the flight of birds. He grasped that humans are too heavy, and not strong enough to fly using wings simply attached to the arms. Therefore he sketched a device in which the aviator lies down on a plank and works two large membranous wings using hand levers, foot pedals and a system of pulleys."


Italeri have a series of plastic kits (made in Korea) based on ideas sketched by Leonardo. They make up into decorative working models. The ornithopter is one of this series, it is powered by a wind-up spring. The box top image looks rather better than an "out of the box" assembly and I surmise that it is not actually a straight photo of a finished model.

The model has a span of 222mm no scale is stated, but if we assume a "real" span of 7 metres this comes out at approximately 1:32 scale, which seems plausible to me. However the model does not include any representation of the hand levers or foot pedals and pulleys, nor indeed the "membranous" part of the wings. The plastic name plate is in English "flying machine".

The kit comes in a lidded box. The parts, in brown and black plastic, and a spring drive unit, are all sealed in plastic bags. There are no decals. There was a small amount of flash on my kit, most of the parts have a slight ridge where the mould join line would be. The kit represents the wings and tail in skeletal form, there is a suggestion of planking on the "pilot's" board, otherwise it is fairly smooth. The brown plastic has a sort of "woodgrain" effect and looks appealing.

There is an 8 page fold out multi-lingual instruction leaflet.


I am a little disappointed that the kit does not actually demonstrate a scientific principle (the way bird wings work), nor does it actually depict a working device proposed by Leonardo. However it should make up, into an attractive working toy/model, at reasonable value for money.


I did not attempt to verify the authenticity of this model. I have no doubt there are large numbers of books and numerous pages of internet archives on Leonardo da Vinci for anyone wishing to pursue the matter.

Jeffery Simpson

March 2016


I paid for this kit myself.

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