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Fletcher FU24 Cropduster 1/48 Unicraft Build


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About 25 years ago - I scratchbuilt a 1:48 Fletcher FU24 (pic below). Scratchbuilding is an almost certain guarantee that the subject will be be released as an injection moulded kit within a matter of years. This subject has been somewhat resilient though - but we do now have a 1/48 scale RESIN kit from prolific Ukraine manufacture Unicraft (Igor Shestakov).

 

Unicraft specialise in models of obscure aircraft (just google them) mostly in 1/72. They fall into the cottage industry end of the spectrum (ie "some modelling skills an advantage") - and are not recommended as the first kit to introduce your grandchildren to model making?  But Unicraft ARE making resin kits of unusual/unique subjects including no doubt some deliriously happy Luft46 modellers? This build will hopefully give you evidence that with a little effort you can get a nice result by supporting the cottage industries efforts - even if they're a little short of a Tamigawanuts?

 

Anyway, to kick off - here's my 25yo scratchbuilt Fletcher.   Doing another one sort of averages out the effort - well that's my excuse. Oh - and I like crop dusters...

DSC02238

 

So let's look at the kit (I've actually done a bit of preliminary work). Lots of resin - solid left wing and right wing. 2 x fuselage halves, separate tail feathers.  And bits and bobs like wheels, U/C leg seats, prop etc that may or may not form part of my final model. Panel lines are a bit on the heavy side (think Matchbox) but fixable with the usual methods. 

 

DSC02234

 

The shape actually looks good vs my plans (that's ingredient #1 in my view). Fuse profile looks good. wing chord looks good.  Not sure about the wingspan yet - but that's because I haven't cut off the wingroots and checked where things will line up).  Rather oddly - there are cargo doors port n starboard (handy if you're a parachutist but I don't think something the manufacturers thought up.  Also some handy retractable wheel wells on the wings but the FU24 had fixed undercarriage.  Hmmmm.  Both easily fixed. 

 

So here's what the fuse looks like.  You can see you get value for money with the resin - plenty there! The external surfaces look just fine - the internals - well you're not going to see them so don't fret!   You'll also see that I have spent a bit of time using a small grinding tool to grind out the cockpit area, thin down the walls and prep it for a detailed cockpit - because we ARE going to see that

DSC02231

 

Next steps are to continue with the basic preparation.  The nose is going to be chiselled out to make way for lead (which is heavier than resin) - and probably grind out the tail section too (as air is lighter than resin).  No point having this as a tail sitter!  Anyway - looking forward to this in a bizarre sort of way! (and isn't that what model making is about?).

 

Also a bit of a plug for oldmodeldecals.com which is a NZ manufacturer of decals in 1/72 and 1/48 primarily for NZ operated aircraft. They have a GREAT range of decals for this kit - NZ was a key market for the Fletcher and it's successor the Cresco. (note I have nothing to do with either Unicraft or OldModelDecals - just like what they do!). 

 

 

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Hum, Ian....

Mach 2 and now Unicraft?

You got me seriously concerned.

What's next? Merlin? the old Dujin kits?

You probably know that I don't shun kits with limitations...but your proclivities merit a visit to the psychoanalyst.

It's a slippery slope, Ian....

 

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In 2012 or so I emailed every model company under the sun asking them to produce a 1/72 kit of the Fletcher. Igor was the only one who was interested and asked me for more info and photos to make a model. Once I got the required pre-orders to fund production the kits were made and OldModels Decals was very receptive to producing decals for it. Then I did the same for the Cresco.

 

I was amazed and surprised to see the 1/48 kit and a little disappointed Igor never contacted me about it, especially when I saw the errors you point out Ian. It's frustrating to see such glaring issues but at least they're fairly easy to fix. One day I'll get one, but for now I'm very happy to see someone building it online.

 

And fine work on the scratchbuilt version Ian!

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11 hours ago, Moa said:

...but your proclivities merit a visit to the psychoanalyst. It's a slippery slope, Ian....

 

Ahhh yes indeed. Still it makes for relatively cheap modelling when you look at the hours put into it vs kit-slamming the latest exquisite [insert brand].  Thanks for the tip-off on the box spar  (which I was too late to execute on the Piaggio P166 scratch).  It's worked a treat on the Viscount wing.

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2 hours ago, k5054nz said:

...Once I got the required pre-orders to fund production the kits were made and OldModels Decals was very receptive to producing decals for it. Then I did the same for the Cresco.

 

And thanks Zac for not only having the initiative - but also seeing it thru to execution!  I do think this is going to come together rather nicely. Resin quality looks/feels good and much better than I gather their earlier work.  

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I'm from Wanganui, home to a major operator of both types, so since childhood I'd wanted a model of each* and was amazed there wasn't one around already. After a while I tried scratchbuilding but my skills weren't up to it. I just got fed up and started emailing! 😁

 

*I do have a 1:1 FU24 in my parents' driveway, but that came later.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Some visible progress.....   And a bit of work behind the scenes.

- fuselage halves have been thinned out - particularly in the cockpit area. Around half the kit resin has been removed using (wait for it) - an angle grinder! Carefully wielded and with appropriate safety gear of course!

- weight added to nose, plenty of it, including some lead under the seat. Don't want a tail sitter here.

- fuselage superglued together and cleaned up

- cockpit bulkhead and floor added - happy with the way this has turned out. 

- wings joined on with the aid of 2 x brass tube spars - should ensure it stays put.

 

DSC02288

 

the lego is now my standard process for squaring up fuse vs wings. Essential with this sort of kit to make sure the basic alignment is correct...

 

DSC02287

 

Next steps are blending in the wing joins - and adding tailplane.   And pick up some decals from NZ - Oldmodeldecals is the source for that!!

 

Actually pleased with the way this is coming together - yes it requires some modelling skill, but it is not causing any angst?

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  • 3 months later...

This has been progressing along a little slowly - but some more visible progress over the last week or 2 for some reason. 

 

Here she is for scale comparison alongside a Work-in-progress CAC Ceres (a conversion of the CAC Wirraway which itself was the prodigy of the North American NA-16). And a beaut set of Wanganui Air Works decals from NZ decalmaker OldModelDecals

DSC02626

 

I decided to mould a new canopy - as the kit canopy was just too bulbous for my liking. The mould is my original master for my scratchbuilt FU24 - and the vacform set up is distinctly home grown. Sandwiched plastic goes under the grill till droopy - and the master is attached to an airbox which is hooked up to the home vacuum.  I have about a 90% first-time success rate with this setup. 

DSC02629

 

 

And here's the new canopy roughly cut out for a preliminary test fit. The kit canopy sits on the wing - you can sort of see it looks pretty bulbous vs my version (and the real thing)

 

DSC02634

 

As of yesterday - I have trimmed the canopy and glued it to the model. Blended in with a bit of Mr Surfacer 500 (great stuff!) and will over the course of the next week be heading towards paint. Very happy with the way this is coming together - the kit requires a lot of basic preparation work but the shape looks right and provides an alternative to scratchbuilding. 

DSC02649

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 11 months later...

Kiaora Ian, I just found this as I embark on a similar project in the 'Anything but Injection' Group Build. Your final result looks great for both the kit and the scratch built versions. I love the mirros on the leading edge and the ribs added to the reailing edge of the wing.

Can you share some pictures of the underside showing the exhaust for the Super phosphate? I can see something is there but all the underside pictures on the net seem to be skydive versions. Clearly not many photographers prepared to rish getting a dump of Super phosphate on their cameras! You've covered up the necessary part of the plans in your third picture as well. 

 

Cheers

Colin

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Nice job on this Ian, sorry I missed it last year, funny :unsure: old year it was. Did you manage to acheive balance on it, or did it turn out a tail sitter?

Steve.

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1 hour ago, Colin W said:

Can you share some pictures of the underside showing the exhaust for the Super phosphate? I can see something is there but all the underside pictures on the net seem to be skydive versions. Clearly not many photographers prepared to rish getting a dump of Super phosphate on their cameras! You've covered up the necessary part of the plans in your third picture as well. 

 

Cheers

Colin

Hi Colin,

It doesn't help that many companies seemed to create their own versions of the hopper box. This is ZK-CZA, photographed by Craig Lewis and shared on Facebook recently. I think you can safely use this as a basis for a model, unless the subject aircraft has something specific you want to replicate.

51067322421_9e68786415_b.jpgzk-cza-by-craig-lewis-via-facebook_49554069151_o by Zac Yates, on Flickr

50998133490_e3de097f1e_b.jpgzk-cza-by-craig-lewis-via-facebook_49554069136_o by Zac Yates, on Flickr

51067322466_61dbc82527_b.jpgzk-cza-by-craig-lewis-via-facebook_49553576408_o by Zac Yates, on Flickr

 

Also, here are the drawings from Australian Modeller September 1968 (unfortunately needs to be stitched together):

51066623963_2294ae8b9e_z.jpgAustralian Modeller Fletcher FU-24 Sep68 01 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

50998139610_d5a1cfb17d_z.jpgAustralian Modeller Fletcher FU-24 Sep68 02 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

51067328416_7e840eaf2b_z.jpgAustralian Modeller Fletcher FU-24 Sep68 03 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

51067328496_99868aa86f_z.jpgAustralian Modeller Fletcher FU-24 Sep68 04 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

 

Also also, if you need further references including cockpit I have 20 photos of ZK-EGK on Flickr - starting about halfway down this page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zacyates/albums/72157718589017928

 

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Many thanks @k5054nz This is really useful.

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On 3/25/2021 at 10:47 AM, Colin W said:

Many thanks @k5054nz This is really useful.

You're most welcome! I've ben interested in the type since childhood and have one in my parents' driveway awaiting attention. If you use Facebook feel free to join our page, almost any question will be answered in quick time! https://www.facebook.com/groups/252944322905 

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On 3/24/2021 at 10:27 AM, stevehnz said:

Nice job on this Ian, sorry I missed it last year, funny :unsure: old year it was. Did you manage to acheive balance on it, or did it turn out a tail sitter?

Steve.

It sits on the nose wheel - by the skin of its teeth. A little trick required - the (superglued) wheel chocks have effectively moved the pivot point back about 3mm which is sufficient to bring the nose back to earth.  PLENTY of lead in the nose, fuse thinned - but so much weight in the solid resin tail surfaces...

 

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On 3/24/2021 at 8:42 AM, Colin W said:

...share some pictures of the underside showing the exhaust for the Super phosphate? ...l. 

 

Cheers

Colin

Hi Colin, thanks for the compliments - and good luck with your own build.  I see Zac has supplied you with some great reference pix.  Which I'd vouch for - they're very much the design (and I think the exact photos!) I used for mine.      Cheers, Ian

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Yes many thanks for the pictures and plans.

I drilled out the nose to allow me to install more lead but held back on fitting the instrument panel incase I need to pour 'liquid weight' in as well.

 

Colin

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