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  1. A build from 8 years ago, related to the thread of my model of the Tupolev ANT-25. Classic planes from the Golden Age of aviation have a charm that increases with time, as it should be with classics. After finishing the Clark GA-43, it seemed natural that the Vultee V-1 would follow, as they share some characteristics, not being the least important their remarkable aesthetics. They had the same weight, were single-engine cantilever low wing monoplanes and featured modern metal monocoque fuselages. The Clark could carry ten passengers and the Vultee 8. Although aware of the Special Hobby release, I choose to exhume from my stash the Execuform vac. As described in the Clark GA-43 article, these are simple molds that should be regarded as a white canvas to express yourself. Once the research stage started, one machine immediately caught my attention: the V-1AS variant that Russian pilot Levanevsky and navigator Levchenko flew to Moscow from California -where I live- via Alaska and Siberia in 1939 (CCCP-H208 in Cyrillic). For this version a new vertical stabilizer, front cowl and floats were needed. Fortunately adequate vac floats were found in the spare parts’ bank from the same manufacturer’s Clark GA-43. The kit I had was purchased some time ago from an online vendor specialized in rare kits, since at the time I wasn’t aware that Execuform kits are now available from the manufacturer. Nevertheless, mine included an epoxy engine and prop that used to come with the kit before. Since the plane I was modeling had a “winter” front cowl, which almost completely blocked the view of the engine, I included the one that came with the kit. The prop after some refinement was deemed usable, but I replaced it anyway for a metal one. In some photos the plane sports a chubby spinner. Plenty of images of the V-1AS can be found on the Net, and some color clues that in some cases are not entirely accurate. After some study the choice was a blue general color with red flying surfaces and trim, plus black rubber boots on all leading edges. Many attractive liveries can be chosen for the Vultee V-1, I counted at least twelve when browsing the Net. The American Airlines and the iconic Lady Peace come to mind. All these versions require some tweaking because they diverged in minor details. Strangely enough, the markings used for the plane modeled here are the western version of the original Russian Cyrillic CCCP (actually SSSR in western language); but the code H208 wasn’t translated as N208 as it should have been, being “H” Cyrillic for “N”. Construction started by marking, scoring and separating the parts from the backing sheet, then sanding and adjusting carefully. Locating and opening windows followed, and then the interior structure was scratched from leftovers of the same kit, all of that depicted on the customary in-process photos. It is worth of note that in the Russian Vultee, although it flew 10,000 miles, the supplementary fuel tanks were in the wings, not in the fuselage as in Lady Peace. N-208 had the full eight cabin seats compliment. The bathroom was also scratched and even provided with a toilet roll for the long trip. All the cockpit and cabin detail, as it happens frequently, would be almost hidden once the fuselage halves are glued together. A vertical stabilizer was as said fabricated, considering that modifying the kit’s one would have taken more time than making a new one. Departing from the Execuform arrangement I separated the stab parts in order to be able to deal first with the aft cone of the fuselage and then add the stab halves via a spar inserted through the fuselage. The wing halves were glued, and here Execuform devised a way to “embrace” the fuselage by gluing the wing halves and later cut the upper central section in order to lodge the fuselage. The joint will need attention. Styrene “Contrail” and brass “Struz” airfoiled struts were used to prepare the attaching structure for the floats; the later were trued and detailed as per photos. Bear in mind that although wearing floats this machine had the landing gear retracted, not deleted, since after reaching Russia it left the floats and reverted to wheels. After arriving to Moscow (where Nikita Khrushchev was present!) the plane was carefully examined by the Russian aviation industry, finding it remarkably modern and intelligently built and suggested that many of its features should be incorporated in Russian design and production. Once the interior was finished windows were inserted before closing the fuselage as described in the accompanying images. One by one they were cut and adjusted, because unlike men they were not created equal. You could super-glue very thin rubber pads to your broad tweezers in order to hold the window panes as you sand their edges to make them fit. I didn’t, and scratches were the result. Sometimes in these articles what it looks like a straight line from zero to model is actually a winding, meandering, puzzling scribble that involves a good number of boo-boos and their correction (or not). I had to do a few parts more than twice, blotched, marred, patched and so forth a number of times, so if it happens to you too, don’t feel alone. While the fuselage was drying, it was time for engraving the flying surfaces’ panel lines. I had a lot of fun filling and sanding the results of the over-exuberance of my scriber. A few exterior details were fabricated like the DF loop, carb air intake, “winter” front panel for the cowl, hatches, Pitot, Venturis, exhausts, nav lights and so forth. Especially tricky were the cockpit transparencies, due to the strange angles of the panes at the front and the lack of positive locking points. Four individual panes and some tweaking did the trick. The floats were primed with their struts and inspection covers already in place; the rudders, rudder posts, horns and “pulleys” were glued and then the floats were set aside. Same for the engine, cowl, prop and associated bits. The wing was fitted to the fuselage, then the stab halves, and then the vertical surfaces were removed and replaced by the scratched, bigger ones. Then it was the somewhat dull job of puttying, sanding, re-scribing, but all in good mood listening to the music of Fito Paez, Charlie Garcia and Spinetta. After a rather complicated masking/painting session to do the stripes and separate the colors the horizon looked better. A few minor decals were applied at this time on the prop and the vertical stabilizer. All the bits started to come together and flat black-sprayed decals were used for the de-icing boots. The floats’ rigging was done and tiny cleats that came with one of Khee-Kha’s sets of EDO floats were added (I ordered those detailed and impeccably cast floats for the next model, the Wiley Post’s Orion/Explorer hybrid –more on that matter later, stay tuned). A well-hearted fellow modeler and friend, Christos Psarras, sent me the white registrations decals. Thanks to him the model could be finally finished. Now the Vultee with its conspicuous shape is part of the ever-growing collection of hidden beauties of the Golden Age. (The model as said is 8 years old, the photos are not the best, I see that I dodged building a beaching trolley as I do now for such models, and I photographed the model on grass. Hope all these sins are forgiven)
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