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Dora Wings Bellanca CH/J-300

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/72 scale aircraft kit with great decals
RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT
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Dora Wings’ Bellanca CH/J-300 has nicely rendered panel lines and detail, with beautiful representation of the flying surfaces — the wings with their pronounced undercamber are particularly well-done. A photo-etched (PE) fret of small details and a set of masks are included; and flashed-over cabin windows point to another forthcoming Bellanca 300 release.

Optional landing gear configurations are supplied for each of the three different variants in the kit, including extremely nice resin ones for the J-300 flown from New York City to Istanbul in 1931, the version I built. A couple misnumbered parts and decals are shown on the instructions, but it’s easy to figure out the right ones.

The forward cowling is a five-part assembly with nice louver detail, and the engine itself comprises 11 parts, nine being individual exhaust stubs to connect each cylinder head to the central collector. Patience with one tiny stack at a time produced a good representation of the Wright J-6 engine. 

The fuselage mounting holes for the wing pins must be opened before joining the fuselage halves. All parts fit well, though drilling locating pin sockets deeper helped them mate snugly. The separate control surfaces required some refining to fit their hinge points, and they could be offset for appearance’s sake if the PE control horns and wires were altered.

I assembled and painted the fuselage, wings, struts, and tail surfaces separately and joined them later, which made masking and painting a ton easier.

The locating pins for attaching the wings to the fuselage were fairly small, so I added a couple brass wire pins to reinforce those joints. The horizontal stabilizer mounts atop a plinth on the aft fuselage, and the fin sits clear of it. So, you really can see daylight all around it on the real airplane. It looks odd, but it’s correct. I had to trim down the upper halves of the wheels so they’d fit into the resin fairings.

The instructions include color callouts referencing Mr. Hobby paints for the exterior paint schemes. I painted my model using GSI Creos and Tamiya acrylics, with different shades of Testors Metalizer for the engine, exhaust, prop, and wheel hubs. The Decograph decals were flawless.

I saved the PE parts for last, and while the jury struts worked well, the control horns with their cables was a different story. The cables are so gossamer-thin that cleaning up their fret attachment points bent and broke them easily… and boy, did I.  I really botched this part of the build, and in the end used what horns I could salvage from the unbent ones, making the remainder from scrap plastic, and used ceramic wire for the cables.

This exercise in mental-and-metal frustration took almost half my 30 hours of building time. The basic kit is a nice, easy enjoyable build, but superdetailing it with the included PE is better suited for a modeler who’s used to minuscule parts ­­— and a maestro with tweezers. 

Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2019 issue.

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