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Flight of the Phoenix, Scratchbuilt 1/72nd scale (Timm/Tallmantz P-1 Phoenix)


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The Phoenix raises again!

For the step-by-step building post you may go to:

To avoid any confusion, let's start by saying that the plane in the movie was...several planes.

As you know, the Fairchild Packet is the plane that crashes. Then a (not actually flying) plane is "made from it" that is used in the film scenes as a static prop. At the same time, a flying  plane was designed by Otto Timm and built by Talmantz Aviation for the filming of the flying scenes. After the crash that took the life of Paul Mantz, another plane was converted to have a vague resemblance to the general lines of the Phoenix, a North American O-47.

The model I am presenting here is that of the Timm-Tallmantz Phoenix P-1, the plane flown by Paul Mantz to film the flying sequences, and not the non-flying prop used for many other scenes on the ground. All those planes differed noticeably from each other.

Knowing that a AT-6 Texan nose, engine, propeller, cockpit and wheels were used, plus the wings from C-45 Expeditor, I used those -combined with the measures of the actual plane- to draw a set of sketches as a guide for the construction of the model.

This plane never took off or landed on the desert (real or film location), but operated from a local airfield. It had silhouettes to represent the "passengers" in order not to have drag and weight added. The only windshield was that of the pilot, the ones for the passengers were just frames.

Yet once again I take pleasure in transforming bellicose machines into higher-purposed birds.

The construction of the model employed known techniques and utilized a few already-made kit parts cited above. Some long hours were spent needless to say checking photographs (there are much less images available than one would have thought) in order to adjust and re-adjust the home-made construction sketches. I usually don't weather models, but the plane was stained to show signs of (in the movie) its "problematic origins".

The only decal was -as usual- commissioned from and provided by Arctic Decals from Finland, the country as you all know where all the planes' fins are made.

 

Mantz obituary in the New York Times (at the Cloverfield.org page:

https://cloverfield.org/people/mantz_pa/index.php

goes as far as stating that the movie was based on actual events, mentioning that during WW2 a mechanic refashioned a twin-engine plane into a single-engine one and took six men strapped to the wing to as nearby base, which is absolutely bogus, as far as I can tell, and no records whatsoever exist of that. I think the Times was the victim of an ethically-questionable movie studios ploy to sell more.

Ethics were as scarce then as they are today in much more important places, if you get my meaning. 

 

Finally, as those who are familiar with the movie know, the Phoenix, born from the ashes, returned to the ashes after its crash, only to be re-born again an again in our models to illustrate one of the most beautiful metaphors about life.

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Edited by Moa
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I really enjoyed your build log and the completed model has even surpassed my expectations of what was obviously going to be a first class model. Brilliant modelling in every way.

 

P

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