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  1. For many years I have wanted to build a Ford trimotor. Dutifully purchased Monogram's (the scale of which is usually stated as 1/77th) and Airfix's (1/72nd) kits. The trimotors, thought by many to have been based on Junker's and Fokker's ideas and products, had not doubt nevertheless played an important role in the field of aviation in the US and abroad. The first obstacle I found years ago as I started to collect information on the trimotors, is that they came in an extraordinary diversity of flavors. It's not just a matter of slapping your preferred decals, or registration, or schemes on them, as details varied from minor to major. There is excellent literature on the matter, and I have more books and articles on it than I can remember. The data available is so vast that while trying to make sense of the complexity, by nighttime I am already confused about what I read in the morning. In a week, my "knowledge" of the plane would be a jumble of small details rattling like a maraca inside my head. As I am more used to research obscure types, mainly one-offs, the idea of wading though a quagmire of ever-multiplying variants is not really appealing for me. Thus I decided to cut the chase and center on the possible planes I would like to model, and, from that choice, find out the pertinent details of those specific machines. After looking at hundreds of photos and considering the history and aesthetics of the candidates, I narrowed the selection to a few: - Any machine that operated in Argentina with local reg., or under NYRBA, or Pan American Grace. - A machine on floats, for which I acquired the aftermarket vacuformed items from Execuform. - The SACO (Servicio AĆ©reo Colombiano -Colombian Air Service) plane F-31, in which Carlos Gardel, the Argentinean world-renowned tango singer lost his life -together with his entourage and crew- in a catastrophic accident during take-off while on tour in Colombia in 1935. As I went through the photos of all trimotors I noticed some unusual schemes that also grabbed my attention, alas with no more information than an image or two, so may be for the future. The Airfix kit corresponded well, with minor exceptions, to the details of the SACO plane. And so the choice was made. I had acquired long ago a second kit, just in case, as I usually apply mods and some surgery to my builds, in order to have spares. And what do you know, once again, missing and marred parts that I only discover as lay down the part of the building boards and check them. In the second kit the cockpit transparency is a short shot, and the tail wheel and horizontal tail are missing. Drat!!!!! Fooled again! Check your kits immediately upon buying them, fellow modelers. One important fact that I would like to add to the historical context is the despicable, rabid racism and anti-Semitism of Ford, well established and thoroughly demonstrated, even by himself, in writing. If you want to have indigestion, track and read his publications, or the nazi praises to him. And yet here is another whitewashed American industrial "hero", same as Lindbergh, a close pal of Ford, and holder of the same disgusting racist views. No defense or "explanation" will do for the above-mentioned characters, racism is indefensible. Back to the build: The Airfix kit is incredibly old, but it holds relatively well, if you are not tremendously demanding. There are a number of things that you would like to correct/enhance, but if your goal is to keep things reasonable, here a few things you may like to address (things actually I may like to work on): - The wing trailing edges are very thick, thus sanding from inside the wing halves is desirable. - Only the outer section of the wing leading edge was smooth, the medium inner sections carried the corrugations on, wrapping them around the LE, whilst the kit has none. A trick should be employed here. - The engines are not state of the art, but aren't awful, you may consider replacing them, or at least the nose one, that in most cases doesn't have a cowl. - The props have the wrong side of the blades (flat/concave) facing the front. You have to either shorten the long pin, make that side the front (convex side), and add a new long pin to the back, or just carefully drill away the axle and add a new one that is longer on the flat side of the blades. Capisce? - The mail compartments in the wing varied according to the model in size (single or twin-bay), or weren't present at all in some trimotors, and the kit has a rather crude depiction of them: it has the size of the twin-bay arrangement, but only external sides boxing it, whilst it had also separators in the middle. Those boxing sides were made of a square section tube structure and wire netting, they were not solid as depicted in the kit. Study your intended plane and modify if needed. If displayed open, you may like to do a better job than the kit's parts. - The elevator and rudder control arms are molded fused with the fuselage side. Not sure how acceptable the result might be of removing them and then having to restore the corrugations, and adding new arms a bit distanced from the surface, plus the cables from them, through the wing, and over the fuselage to their destinations. - The kit has a reasonable interior, with cockpit and cabin aft bulkheads, it even has a positionable cabin door, BUT...NO RESTROOM!!!!! this MUST be corrected. The metal-colored plastic is somewhat hard, and sands strangely. Like many other old Airfix kits, in opening the box you will find that many parts had freed themselves from the sprues (yippee!) and are happily cavorting and rubbing against each other, a lifestyle not particularly recommended for the transparencies: the cockpit one was scratched. The other clear parts are so bad that it doesn't matter, as they probably will need replacement anyway. Since I will build a different model than those catered for in the decal sheet, I threw it away, as it was, like many old Airfix decal sheets, not really good. My older son, who built two of these trimotors, has a bitter memory of them. Contents of the box: Comparison of some parts of the Aifix and Monogram (smaller) kits The Monogram kit (that I won't be using) comes with adorable animal life: And figures: Recently BM was graced with some nice trimotor builds. I just looked at them, and was happy to corroborate some findings. Most of the shortcomings of the kit were discussed some years ago in a Yahoo Group I used to belong to (Wings of Peace). I took some valuable notes at the time, that have just become very useful.
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