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C-46ECM JASDF EW Training Aircraft - PLATZ (PD-22) 1:144 scale

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C-46ECM  JASDF Electronic Warning Training Aircraft

PLATZ 1:144




The design for the Curtiss C-46 Commando was originally intended for the civil airliner industry, however its capability for high altitude flight, with pressurised cabin and freight space, plus the large load carrying ability it was soon identified as ideal for the military needs of transporting troops and logistics. The design of the C-46 was not trouble free and was there were constant series of modifications and version changes in order to try and overcome some of the major deficiencies. One such problem was the unexplained, at the time, losses of aircraft or those that exploded whilst in flight, which weren't really overcome until after WW2.

The early versions C-46 Commandos had enlarged side door facility which allowed for the loading of abnormal loads, including Jeeps etc., but later versions such as the C-46D reverted to a single side door as typical for parachute drops.

Post war many of the later versions of the C-46 were sold out to commercial interests, however some were sold on to developing nations for their military requirements. One such country was Japan, with the establishment of the Japanese Self Defence Force (JSDF) in 1954, who purchased 48 C-46D Commando transports between 1955 and 1957.

The JASDF C-46D transports remained in Japanese military service for many years and until their own, domestically produced, transport the Kawasaki C1 entered production in 1975. Most of the JASDF C-46D's were retired out of service after that but three were kept in service; 91-1140, 91-1143 and 91-1145, and in 1973 were converted for Electronic Warfare (EW) training roles for which they operated between 1973 and 1978. These airframes were redesignated C-46ECM however all three were externally different from each other, most notably in the shape of nose-radomes and antenna fits. Of these three ECM variants, two have been preserved and are on display at air museums in Japan: 91-1143 (ex USA Bu No 43-47222) is on display at the Tokorozawa Aviation Memorial Park. 91-1145 (ex US Bu No 43-47328) is on display at the JASDF Iruma Airbase.

The Kit

The box is a sturdy, if somewhat large for this scale kit, lid and base design which does allow for stacking in the stash without fear of crushing. As I mentioned, the box is more 14 inches (36cm) wide and typical of a small 1:48 model rather than a 1:144 kit. The box underside contains colour art work for the colour call-outs,the decal positioning and also includes the relevant FS numbers in order to match your particular model companies paints to.


Inside the box we find three sprues, in light grey plastic, holding the main aircraft components of fuselage, wings, engines etc. A futher clear sprue contains the canopy plus a clear 'bomb-aimer' style front canopy; the use of which would be dependent upon the version of C-46ECM you build.

The fuselage is produced with fine engraved panel lines that look just about right to be still visible after a coat of primer and topcoat. The windows are depicted as solid indentations in the fuselage, however PLATZ has catered for this by providing neat little grey window decals. Looking at the jointing elements for the fuselage halves, this kit has rectangular male and female stubs, as opposed to circular ones on other producers kits, and this looks to allow for a more secure alignment when assembling the fuselage. The cockpit consists of a deck-piece, with intergral pilot's seats and instrument panel, and two control columns which should be adequate as visibilty into this tight space would be very limited.

The engine cylinders are constructed as separate components from the cowling covers and this should be very beneficial when it comes to painting and detailing these tiny parts. There side covers are also moulded separately and, although there is no side engine/cylinder detail, this possibly could allow for a scenario with the covers open?

The main undercarriage system consists of four pieces; the main strut, support calipers, wheel and tyre. Separating items into constituent components is excellent for painting as it minimises the chances of overpaint onto adjacent components. Looking at the main struts, they are very fine indeed and care may be needed not to snap them as they are removed from the sprue; plus they may be a tad fragile once assembled, even with the attached support calipers. The tail wheel assembly has been produced as a single entity and is a much sturdier unit.




Interestingly, there are some hard points/hinges visible on the fuselage port side, between the nose and wing root, that are not obvious in photos I've seen on the web. At the rear of the fuselage, the hardpoints for the ladder to the cargo doors are also slightly more pronounced than need be and could benefit from sanding down slightly.

The next Sprue has the wings, tail planes and wheel bay doors. Again, the panel lines look just right as are the small fillet extensions on the tail planes ailerons.




These first two sprues appear to contain all the parts needed to make a basic C-46D Commando so, in effect, there are choices to make one of four variants of the C-46 in this kit.

The third sprue is the extra sprue which contains the elements to make up the ECM variants; including a separate nose section, for use if modelling either 91-1145 or 91-1140, and all the ECM antenna pods and aerials for all three ECM aircraft.

It would appear that only 91-1143 retained the original nose section (with the exception of the clear bomb-aimer type canopy) and therefore, if you are not building that one, this part of the fuselage needs to be cut away with a fine saw and a new nose section, shown below, has to replace it. The inside of the fuselage has a cut-out area prepared to ensure the new nose is attached correctly.


The final sprue contains the clear glazing for the canopy and also the small window which fits at the front on 91-1143. If you were to build the basic C-46 Commando version then this clear front would just need to be painted over to look like and intergral part of the nose section.




As I mentioned earlier, although all three aircraft have the designation C-46D ECM, they are each visually different in their shape and antenna fit. Care needs to be taken in ensuring the correct components are used in your build and PLATZ has been helpful here by providing profile views of each aircraft in the instruction sheets. Examples from the instruction sheet, describing the differences is shown below:

91-1143 has the least amount of changes with only the 'bomb-aimers' style front glazing and a few antennas to be added to the fuselage. This is also the version which could possibly be built as the basic C-46D Commando, by painting the glazing in the same colour as the rest of the fuselage and leaving off the antenna points.




91-1145 would require the front of the fuselage to be cut away with a fine saw and the new nose from sprue 3 to be attached and the join filled etc. Once the nose is installed then the relevent nose radome would need to be fitted along with all the antenna points as shown in the profile below.





91-1140 as seen in the profile view below, would also need to have the surgury done to it as 91-1145 but the smaller radome being fitted and the correct antenna points added.







Once the kit has been assembled and painted then the decals would be attached and these variants were very colourful hi-viz aircraft. The bright red nose and fuselage bands have been provided as decals, thereby removing the need to mask off and spray those awkwardly shaped areas. In addition, there are pre-shaped cut outs for the windows and canopy, plus an additional canopy frame decal (35B or 37B) if wishing to match all the windows and not use the clear glazing part.

The remainder of the decal sheet contains high and low vis warning signage and Squadron tail flash, walkway runs and the Hinomaru (red nationality disks) of the Japanese Self Defence Force; and altogether makes a comprehensive set of decals for a 1:144 scale model aircraft.






This is a very colourful and interesting aircraft and I am very please to see a plastic kit of this aircraft being produced to 1:144 scale. Although PLATZ has produced a C-46D Commando as a separate kit (No. PD-21) I suspect that all the parts to make up a C-46D Commando, with the exception of relevant decals, are contained within this kit so that is an added bonus.

I think the undercarriage is really good however, because it looks accurately thin, it may just be a bit fragile when holding up this model. The panel lines look just right and the choice to build one of three versions allows for some interesting build variations. I may just have to get more of these to make up all three, or even four, versions.


Review sample courtesy of


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Interesting little kit.

It would be nice to see that upscaled a bit to, say, 1/72?

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That looks really nice, I might have to get one. That radome is plug ugly though!

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