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Pavla Models 1/72 scale Vought F6U-1 Pirate

Kit: No. 72010
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Pavla Models (Czech Republic), imported by Military Model Distributors, 1115 Crowley Dr., Carrollton, TX 75011-5010, phone 214-242-8663
Price: $19.97
Comments: Injection molded, 75 parts (41 photoetched, 2 vacuum-formed plastic), decals.

Jet engines were in their infancy when Vought rolled out the Pirate in 1946. In an attempt to increase the performance of the disappointing F6U, Vought and the Navy added a new contraption called an afterburner to the exhaust pipe of the puny J34 engine, increasing its thrust from 3,200 pounds to 4,225 pounds. Even with this improvement, the Pirate was inadequate for sea duty and never made it "out to the boat." Only 30 F6U-1s were built.

Pavla's Pirate features fine recessed panel lines and smooth exterior surfaces, but lumpy flash at all mold-parting lines. The exquisite photoetched fret produced by Extratech includes a seven-part ejection seat, consoles, and an instrument panel with photo-film gauges. Markings for two Pirates are included with the well-printed Propagteam decal set.

The instructions include a brief history, 11 assembly steps, parts maps, four-view drawings of each markings option, and a cartoon catalog of Pavla's kit range. For the most part, the instructions were easy to follow and assembly was straightforward. However, folding and assembling the tiny photoetched cockpit parts drove me mad. It looks simple enough in the diagrams, but I had trouble when it came to manipulating items that were a millimeter or two across. I started to solder the seat parts, but they were so small that heating to solder the second part only loosened the joint of the first. I eventually used gap-filling super glue to finish.

After an hour or so of cleaning the edges of the plastic parts, I was ready to assemble. The finished seat, bulkhead, consoles, stick, and instrument panel fit well between the fuselage halves. I loaded the nose with lead shot to keep it down on the gear.

I built the wing assembly next and dry-fit it to the fuselage. There were significant gaps where the top surfaces of the wings met the fuselage, and the curvature of the bottom surface at the trailing edge was greater than that of the fuselage. My solution was to shim the bottom fuselage seam with .060" styrene strip. This increased the diameter of the fuselage unnoticeably, but improved the fit of the wings topside and bottom. Gap-filling super glue, wet sanding, and elbow grease fixed the rest.

It's not clearly shown in the instructions, but the Pirate's tip tanks were not centered on the wing tips. They hung slightly below the tips, so I modified the apertures in the tanks to get them in position.

There are no positive locators for the landing gear, and the struts are molded longer than they should be. I didn't realize this until the model was finished; it sits too high off the ground. Teensy photoetched hinges that are to be folded double and attached to the tiny tabs on the photoetched nose-gear doors are overkill. I pitched them and simply bent the tabs and super glued the doors in place.

The vacuum-formed canopy fits perfectly on the fuselage. It's a little rough and benefited from a double dip in Future floor polish.

I painted the model with Testor Model Master gloss sea blue and used Bare-Metal Foil for the afterburner section. The decals, while sufficiently opaque, are thin and difficult to reposition. A large puddle of Micro Set helped a little, but you should place each marking almost exactly in position before removing the paper.

The finished model looks great next to the rest of my early U.S. Navy jets. Its length is correct, but the wingspan is about a scale foot and a half short according to the dimensions in Lloyd Jones' U.S. Naval Fighters.

I spent 35 hours on the little buccaneer, much of it folding and building the cockpit, cleaning parts, and improving the fit. Pavla's kit is not for beginners, but if you enjoy incredibly tiny detail parts, you'll love this one.

Paul Boyer

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