Scale Comparison

This article discusses scale, a term used in model-making which describes the relative size of a model to its real-life prototype. Scale is also used in map making and diagrams and describes a proportion between two sets of dimensions such as the distance on a map to that in the real world.

The first column of the table below shows common scales used in model-making, miniatures gaming, and model railroading. For instance, a model of a house that is constructed at 1:64 scale (often voiced as "one sixty-fourth scale" or "one sixty-four scale") has dimensions that are 64 times smaller than the real house. Multiply the model dimensions by 64 to get the real house dimensions. Many plastic models planes and tanks are 1:72, 1:48 or 1:35 scale.

The second column of the table shows common miniature human figure heights. Most miniature wargaming is played with 6, 10, 15, 20, or 28 mm figures. When talking about miniature human figures, the discussion of scale is complicated by the perception of the average human height. In the United States today, the average height for a male is 69" (175 cm) and a female is 64" (163 cm). Most people in the U.S. would guess the average height of a man is 6 feet (72 inches or 183 cm) which is probably influenced by the nice round figure and the taller-than-average height of politicians, warriors, athletes, and movie stars. George Washington's height was measured at 74" (188 cm) which must have been towering for a man of the late 18th century. Over time, the average height of humans is getting taller. The average Imperial Roman or Dark Ages Saxon was probably about 65" (165 cm) tall. Most of the figure heights in the table below are based on a human height of 71" (180 cm). Thus a 28 mm figure representing a man of 180 cm is about 1:64 scale. However, because of assumptions and perceptions about human height, the correlation between the first and second column below can vary by up to about 5%.

The third column shows common model railroad gauges. Gauge is a term used to indicate the distance between the rails and determines which cars can roll on which rails. Just be aware that common model railroad figures are N and HO scales.
Scale Comparison Table
RatioModel Figure SizeModel Railroad Gauge
1:87 20mmHO
1:76 24mmOO
1:72 25mm 
1:64 28mmS
1:60 30mm 
1:48 37.5mmO
1:45 40mm 
1:35 51.4mm 
1:32 54mmI
1:30 60mm 
1:25 72mm 
1:24 75mm 
1:22 80mmG
1:20 90mmF
1:18 100mm 
1:15 120mm 

There is also an article on modeling Britannia in Scale which discusses various scales for recreating Lewis Pulsipher's Britannia game.

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Last modified: Thursday, 09-Jun-2011 12:51:07 MST.