Abstract Sandwich structures are increasingly used in the aerospace field, also for primary parts. However, due to the extensive manufacturing process, the evaluation of their precise mechanical behaviour is not straightforward. This evaluation is, at present, a key task to enable future exploitation of these structures. Numerical simulations are powerful and flexible tools to study and identify the mechanical behaviour of such components in detail. Thus, in the present work, an extensive and highly accurate identification/validation strategy based on experimental tests has been developed. Finite element simulations (virtual tests) have been carried out in order to investigate, in detail, the effect that several manufacturer’s parameters have on the crushing mechanics of sandwich panels containing a Nomex™ honeycomb core. Numerical scale modelling has also been evaluated with the aim to increase the understanding of the crushing phenomena, particularly the reciprocal effect of the cells.