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The Eternal Classic: Northrop Gamma - Cochran Long Nose Bendix racer

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Some designs just seem to embody the Golden Age Divine Proportion.

I know we all have our favorites, I have many, but the Gamma is one I keep going back to.

I have built it first a lot of years ago following the original boxing:



But more recently I went for seconds and thirds, incapable of resisting the need to extract more flavorful modeling juice from it,

building it in some of its more exciting incarnations:



I have now the Arctic Decals/Dekno resin/decals set that was released after my build, to do the Conqueror Cochrane again (you need a particular Azur-FRROM kit for that), but once more I couldn't resist taking the awkwardest path, and decided instead to do the very long nose conversion withe the stripy cowl used by Jackie Cochran, powered by a Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp Jr. for the 1935 Bendix race.

I got a number of photos of it, and the old and venerable Williams Bros kit.

Again a lot of surgery will be needed to modify the fuselage top, the nose, and the details on the kit that are not just quite right (rudder, for starters, and cockpit).

Since I have done this 2G conversion before, I know what I am in for (sigh...).

I am still looking for a plan/drawing of the plane, but it will be very easy to extrapolate from photos to extend that nose and work out the details associated with it's Pinocchio characteristics (Pinocchio, now what that reminds me of? ah! a president!)

I have pulled out the kit and started already to separate and clean the useful parts -many will have to be discarded-, but today I don't want to complicate my life with photos and posting them, so the graphic part of this will have to wait for a little while, meanwhile this station will continue with its regular programming (the pending two Ju-86s, Republic Seabee, Vultee V-1D, London Bus, and Supermarine Sea Lion, all the latter just needing decals that are in transit)


Aiiiiiiiooooo Silver!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Lone stRanger

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Actual work commenced.

I got an old boxing of this kit, with lots of hard flash. Cleanup took a little while.

The boxing included that printed material of old:





A lot has to be done to that wing. Engrave those ailerons, modify those short stiffeners, remove the central fairing and substitute it for proper ones, fill those leading edge lights, add the retractable landing light under the wing, add nav lights to the wing tips, etc. etc.

Not to mention that fuselage, which is far from where it should be for this particular Cochrane incarnation. The openings and cockpit pan need to be moved back, the turtledeck changed, new transparencies, and so forth.

The rudder needs a mass balance incorporated too:



I will use just part of one of the nose plugs, since I have to extend the nose much further:





Here is how the excised ring will fit:



The gap to bridge:





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The cockpit pan is drastically reduced in width to be able to slide it back:



The front of the plug that I sliced before is also glued. The idea is that one will be connecting the fuselage with the extension and the other will be at the front of the extension, holding the engine as originally intended.

(I ordered the engine from Engine & Things in Canada):



Loop and Venturi from the spares:



The balance portion ahead of the rudder is engraved, the old line will be deleted using putty:



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Work has begun on the wing.

Some time was spent on obtaining a good fit, which implied vigorous but careful sanding of the mating surfaces.

Then the central relief on the bottom was obliterated.

Then ailerons and flaps were engraved, flaps ultimately separated, some stiffeners corrected, and the holes for the "park bench" aileron supports filled with stretched sprue.

Next will be the drilling of the landing lights, new fairings added to the bottom central panel, and gluing of wing halves:


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The assembly would look like this (the engine is just something I grabbed from a Khee-Kha kit to represent the one that will be there, a Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp Jr. ), the added section will be shorter and the cowl has many cooling gills that need to be added):


The added section at the correct size (dry fit):


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The wing halves are united after drilling the position of the retractable landing lights under the wing, and placing some resemblance of structure inside the flap areas. The clear leading edge "lights" are are glued in place, and later will be covered since this model did not have those:


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  • fjaweijfopi4j48 changed the title to The Eternal Classic: Northrop Gamma - Cochran Long Nose Bendix racer
20 hours ago, Moa said:

The fine raised lines of the kit are used as a guide for the engraver:

Looking at the plan view of the wings and stabilizers, you can sure see the basic foundation for  the SBD Dauntless, which if my failing and ancient Mk 1a memory banks are correct, was also a Northrop design, with the BT-1 later morphing into the BT-2 and then the Douglas-built Dauntless. 


On a more serious note, I can't wait to see this one finished, and I totally, totally agree, dude, with the other posted comments that your builds are always instructional and educational. (Have you ever considered a digital book of some sort showcasing some of your techniques? I only say that because it seems to me, as I am getting rapidly closer to the end rather  than the beginning of my model-making, that there are far fewer among us that have the conversion, correction, and scratch building skills to turn out museum quality plastic models, and from where will the next generation  of modelers be inspired or taught, if not from people like yourself and many others that grace us with their skills here on BM?)


Hoo, boy- when I go off-topic, I really go off-topic! My sincere apologies for the random rant...perhaps I shouldn't have had that second cup of coffee this morning, or maybe it's almost 50 years of being exposed to the heady aroma of Revell 'S' cement and Floquil paints!


Edited by 72modeler
added text
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1 hour ago, 72modeler said:


Thanks Mike, you are indeed extremely kind, but there is a lot of truly undeserved praise in your post.

I just work enthusiastically, enjoying what I do, trying to solve problems in a practical (to me) way. I am no master, that word is several sizes bigger than my frame. Truly.

I try to share what I do, since one of my greatest frustrations about this hobby is the number of good models that never have accompanying information.

So that model is great, but how did you do this and that? eye candy alone doesn't satiate my appetite, thus the need of the much welcome "WiP" or step-by-step building (thanks, BM!), so we all can learn, and improve, and enjoy, and avoid as much as possible frustration, waste of $$$, time and materials.

I have met many very good modelers that were/are very jealous of their techniques, materials, sources, etc. They are in the shadows caressing their models and calling them "my precioussss".

And others that were very generous with their knowledge, time, and resources, excellent mentors and friends. On the latter case you love model and modeler, while in the former you admire model and try to stay away as much as possible for the person.

I am too, much closer to the end than to the beginning, so close I can glimpse the exit door 😁

There are many real modeling masters out there, I am not one of them, I just love what I do and what others do (well, not all, as we all know). There are models and modelers that are truly extraordinary. Many of them here.

But all who have fun, and learn, and share, achieve the goal of the hobby, I firmly believe on that.

Because, tell me, what's more important: a "perfect" model, or a happy modeler?

By endeavoring to show how, and what, and why, to the clear limits of my ability, I am a trying to repay my debt to all the mentors and friends. I just hope it is useful.

The other aspect of what I do is to present an alternative, subject-wise, meaning-wise, because in the many decades of my life I have seen enough killing machines and symbols of hate. As fascinating as history may be, it can't be that 95% of the content of a hobby is geared toward representation of war. It saddens me greatly.

So, if somebody can find something useful for their builds, or discovers the universe of civil planes, then the time and effort are well spent.




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2 hours ago, Moa said:

I just work enthusiastically, enjoying what I do, trying to solve problems in a practical (to me) way. I am no master, that word is several sizes bigger than my frame. Truly.



There is so much wisdom in your post above, that it probably should be quoted in full. The wisdom shows why you are indeed a master. It's a joy being able to follow your work. Thanks a lot.

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Not only are you a master modeller, you are also a master teacher in the arts of styrene manipulation and related materials.


If you're not a master, then I'm a pre-human knuckle-dragger beyond description!





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The simple interior was painted...


..and glued to one side (further back, you may remember, to fit the model 2G config.
I used the inst. pan. decal from the very old Microscale set that came with the kit. Surprisingly, and although it took about 10 minutes to soften, the decal did not brake or shatter, and adhered properly:


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Another prop (white one) that will match the new engine is grabbed form the spares.

The white styrene stick is a conduit that runs on the right hand-side of the fuselage and needs to be added for this version:



How the cowl will look once installed (cooling gills still off):


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