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Roden 1/144 scale Douglas C-47 Skytrain

Kit:308 // Scale:1/144 // Price:$24.99
Roden, from Squadron Products, 877-414-0434
Good detail and finesse for the scale; great fit; good-looking landing gear and engines
Engraved detail falls short; astrodome looks too tall; poor-fitting canopy; balky decals slightly out of register
Injection-molded, 39 parts, decals

Roden has made fans of 1/144 scale happy by releasing a kit of one of the classic aircraft of all time — the Douglas C-47. Markings are included for one invasion-striped, post-D-Day aircraft. While there are only 39 parts, all the necessary details are there, including competently designed engines with cylinder detail, main wheels with treads, the Gooney Bird’s trademark sturdy landing gear, and petite propellers.

The kit nicely captures the classic look of the military aircraft, and it even has wonderfully thin trailing edges on all flying surfaces. Still, there are a few minor shape issues that actually hint at a civilian version in the future. They all involve minor details related to the shape of the tail.

The fuselage is molded with the typical civilian streamlined tail cone in place, along with corresponding fairings on the elevators. All are easily corrected by trimming with a sharp knife; the fairing has the truncated shape molded into the panel lines that can serve as a cutting guide. The kit also includes a mysterious unmentioned “door-shaped” part that I believe represents the baggage door located aft of the main door in the fuselage of civilian airliners, as evidenced by flash on the inside of the left fuselage half. By adding an airliner door insert and different markings, Roden could quickly make use of this tool for a host of airliner versions.

I have to admit, I was so pleased with how this kit looked in the box that I rushed to get the fuselage together quickly — so quickly that I forgot to glue the window inserts in place first. I was able to confirm that they fit well, but thanks to my enthusiasm I had to use Micro Kristal Klear for the cabin windows after painting.

The fit of all parts was quite good, with no filler needed. Even the wing roots fit well, with just a bit of sanding to address the joint. I did find that removing the pins on the inner wing root produced a better fit. The landing lights required a bit of trimming to fit, too. Roden did not correctly portray the flaps on the underside of the wing, and it missed the center section flap completely. A bit of filler on the inboard wing flaps, some scribing to complete the outboard flaps between the inner flaps and ailerons, and a scribed line across the center section completed the correction — about 20 minutes of extra work.

After the major airframe components were assembled, I test-fitted the canopy and found the one major problem with this kit: the canopy is about .030" too narrow at the rear. I could have applied filler to fair it in, but I decided to try widening it instead. I gently cut the canopy down the center from the rear surface to the forward edge of the escape hatch with a razor saw. I inserted a splice of .030" strip plastic, then trimmed, sanded, and added a spot of filler to blend everything together. This worked like a charm and only added a few extra minutes to the build.

With a little bit of knife work, some sanding, and just a touch of filler, Roden’s C-47 builds up very easily and looks great assembled. I painted my plane using Tamiya paints.

I was in a hurry to gild my Gooney (Is there a theme developing here?) and mistakenly masked invasion stripes on both upper and lower surfaces instead of just for the undersides as shown in the instructions. Oh well. Hopefully my airframe flew during D-Day as well. Since I goofed, I added a “chalk” number in white colored pencil to simulate a paratroop dropper from D-Day. I applied Roden’s decals, and, while they look all right, they did not respond to setting solutions. Maybe it’s better that Roden did not include the stripes.

I added the small details after all the painting was complete. The astrodome looks too tall to me, but other than that the model looks every inch the Gooney.

I’m happy with it. It took just under 14 hours and was a pleasurable build. I hope Roden releases a civilian version soon, although I think I will invest in some aftermarket decals.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2013 FineScale Modeler.


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