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Valom J2F-1 Duck

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/72 scale aircraft kit, a biplane amphibian
Grumman’s Duck was a biplane amphibian that could also operate from aircraft carriers. The J2F was developed from the similar JF and had an enlarged hull that could carry passengers beneath the cockpit.

Valom has released a pair of Duck kits, a J2F-6 and this J2F-1. The parts in both kits are the same, but for this earlier version you need to cut off the forward fuselage and replace it with alternate parts. The kit comes with photo-etched (PE) detail parts for seat harnesses, rudder pedals, and instrument panels. Photo-film instruments are also provided, along with a pair of vacuum-formed canopies. Decals for a camouflaged and a “yellow-wing” Duck look good.

The surface detail on the main parts is well done. The fuselage is molded to the contours of the later J2F-6 with its raised engine mount. The instructions show where to cleave the forward fuselage and add the alternate parts. Careful cutting and assembly will reduce the amount of filling and sanding on this step.

The cockpit has good detail and fits into the fuselage without trouble. Valom provides a basic machine gun for the rear-seater, but there are no attachment points to hold the half-ring gun mount. One little detail: Valom’s color code in the instructions says “blue” for items that should be flat black.

It isn’t clear exactly how and where the parts for the firewall and landing gear mount inside the fuselage in Step 3. Photos show a wide variety of intakes and vents in the forward fuselage. A photo of the example I chose to model shows no scoop (part No. 64 in Step 6), so I left it off.

The illustrations for installing the landing gear are poor, so I browsed the web to find photos of how the multi-armed retraction mechanism should look. 

The biggest hurdle was mounting the upper wing. There are shallow divots to show where most struts should go, but there are no divots for the forward pair of cabane struts. Complicating matters is the misnumbering of the cabane struts in the instructions. You should mount the longer and wider ones to the rear. There is no forward view in the instructions to show the angles at which the struts should be placed. I used solvent cement to attach the cabane struts to the fuselage, then quickly dry-fit the upper wing and adjusted the angles of the struts before the glue set.

In Step 11, the short N struts that brace the float on the right wing are shown backwards — just rotate them 180 degrees and install. The kit’s vacuum-formed canopy is clearly cast and fits well to the fuselage.

One of Valom’s markings options was a Duck assigned to the carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3). The drawing shows this aircraft in blue gray over light gray, but a photo in Al Adcock’s U.S. Navy Flying Boats and Amphibians in World War II (ISBN 978-0-89747-556-3, Squadron/Signal) shows this aircraft in the short-lived 1941 overall light gray scheme that I chose. The decals are well printed, but they are thin and rubbery. I applied a coat of Microscale Liquid Decal Film to the decal sheet to get them to handle more easily.

There is no guide for rigging in the instructions. The box art helps a bit, but I had to consult references to figure it out. 

I put 31 hours into the Duck, not bad for a detailed biplane in this scale. I think beginners would have trouble building this model, but experienced modelers should be able to handle it.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2018 issue.
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