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Airfix 1/72 scale C-47 Skytrain

Airfix’s resurrection continues with a brand-new kit of the venerable “Dak” (short for the British nickname “Dakota”). Interestingly, Airfix’s original mold of the C-47 was retired years ago; recent Airfix releases have been repackaged Italeri kits! But this kit has no relation to earlier kits – it’s all-new tooling.

Molded in Airfix’s now-standard soft (but not rubbery) light gray plastic, the moldings include good interior detailing for the flight deck and cabin. You even get both lowered and folded troop seats. The main cargo door is molded in three pieces and can be posed opened. Alternate parts include narrow-blade props, small intake scoops for the top of the nacelles, and a jeep ramp; these are not mentioned in the instructions but will be in future issues of the kit. This kit has a set of skis for the landing gear to go along with markings provided on the decal sheet for a postwar Arctic-service machine.

I like Airfix’s new instructions. They clearly show each assembly step including only a few parts. Then, in the next step, they highlight (in red shading) the final position of the previous step’s parts. This helps you confirm that you have the installations right.

The fit of the parts was excellent overall, even though I had my doubts about the separate wing fillets. No problems, and I didn’t need filler anywhere.

The cockpit detail is great, even including what may be a galley behind the cockpit. But, truth is, you won’t see any of it, even with the little forward crew door open. It took only an hour to assemble, paint, and install the interior and close the fuselage halves.

Airfix includes two pilot figures that I will save for other projects.

The rudder and elevators are separate and can be installed offset if you like. But be careful installing them; the hinge tabs won’t take much strain.

Watch out assembling the forward engine nacelles; the firewalls look the same and will fit into either front, but the little notch in the firewall fits onto a tab on the rear nacelles (molded on the wing’s upper surfaces). If you get them mixed up, your cowls will be out of kilter. Yes, I screwed up mine and had to chop off the tabs to make ’em right.

The main landing-gear strut assemblies are impressive, and you get alternate parts if you want to show the gear retracted. Each main bogie has seven parts, plus the wheel/tire halves. They are fiddly, but once installed have adequate strength to support the model. The tires are “flattened”; if you want to have the gear retracted, roll the flat side inside the well. The props, antennas, and pitot tubes are beautifully molded.

The skis are neat, but they hold onto the gear struts only at the axles. I would also have liked a more positive method of mounting the cargo doors open. As it is, you have to glue the faces of the hinge covers to each other without the benefit of pins and holes.

I liked adding the windows after painting. The cabin windows fit fine, but I had to carefully sand the edges of the cockpit window inserts and windscreen to get them to sit right. If you’re not careful, the cockpit windows could fall inside as you install them, so proceed with caution.

I painted the model with black primer and Alclad II aluminum, then masked and painted the Arctic markings with Testors guards red. The decals, printed with silver surrounds on the national insignias, went on perfectly. (The box says they are Cartograf decals, but there’s no label on the sheet.) Alternate markings are for a D-Day Skytrain, Kilroy Is Here.

Another great kit from the “new” Airfix. I spent 23 hours on mine. It is clearly the best C-47 kit in the scale now, and offers plenty of possibilities for different versions of military transports and Douglas DC-3 airliners.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2014 FineScale Modeler.
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