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Moa

Ford Trimotor - modified Airfix 1/72 kit

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For many years I have wanted to build a Ford trimotor. Dutifully purchased Monogram's (the scale of which is usually stated as 1/77th) and Airfix's (1/72nd) kits.

The trimotors, thought by many to have been based on Junker's and Fokker's ideas and products, had not doubt nevertheless played an important role in the field of aviation in the US and abroad.

The first obstacle I found years ago as I started to collect information on the trimotors, is that they came in an extraordinary diversity of flavors. It's not just a matter of slapping your preferred decals, or registration, or schemes on them, as details varied from minor to major.  There is excellent literature on the matter, and I have more books and articles on it than I can remember. The data available is so vast that while trying to make sense of the complexity, by nighttime I am already confused about what I read in the morning. In a week, my "knowledge" of the plane would be a jumble of small details rattling like a maraca inside my head. As I am more used to research obscure types, mainly one-offs, the idea of wading though a quagmire of ever-multiplying variants is not really appealing for me.

Thus I decided to cut the chase and center on the possible planes I would like to model, and, from that choice, find out the pertinent details of those specific machines.

After looking at hundreds of photos and considering the history and aesthetics of the candidates, I narrowed the selection to a few:

 

- Any machine that operated in Argentina with local reg., or under NYRBA, or Pan American Grace.

- A machine on floats, for which I acquired the aftermarket vacuformed items from Execuform.

- The SACO (Servicio Aéreo Colombiano -Colombian Air Service) plane F-31, in which Carlos Gardel, the Argentinean world-renowned tango singer lost his life -together with his entourage and crew- in a catastrophic accident during take-off while on tour in Colombia in 1935.

 

As I went through the photos of all trimotors I noticed some unusual schemes that also grabbed my attention, alas with no more information than an image or two, so may be for the future.

 

The Airfix kit corresponded well, with minor exceptions, to the details of the SACO plane.

And so the choice was made.

I had acquired long ago a second kit, just in case, as I usually apply mods and some surgery to my builds, in order to have spares. And what do you know, once again, missing and marred parts that I only discover as lay down the part of the building boards and check them. In the second kit the cockpit transparency is a short shot, and the tail wheel and horizontal tail are missing. Drat!!!!! Fooled again! Check your kits immediately upon buying them, fellow modelers.

 

One important fact that I would like to add to the historical context is the despicable, rabid racism and anti-Semitism of Ford, well established and thoroughly demonstrated, even by himself, in writing. If you want to have indigestion, track and read his publications, or the nazi praises to him. And yet here is another whitewashed American industrial "hero", same as Lindbergh, a close pal of Ford, and holder of the same disgusting racist views. No defense or "explanation" will do for the above-mentioned characters, racism is indefensible.

 

Back to the build: The Airfix kit is incredibly old, but it holds relatively well, if you are not tremendously demanding.

There are a number of things that you would like to correct/enhance, but if your goal is to keep things reasonable, here a few things you may like to address (things actually I may like to work on):

- The wing trailing edges are very thick, thus sanding from inside the wing halves is desirable.

- Only the outer section of the wing leading edge was smooth, the medium inner sections carried the corrugations on, wrapping them around the LE, whilst the kit has none. A trick should be employed here.

- The engines are not state of the art, but aren't awful, you may consider replacing them, or at least the nose one, that in most cases doesn't have a cowl.

- The props have the wrong side of the blades (flat/concave) facing the front. You have to either shorten the long pin, make that side the front (convex side), and add a new long pin to the back, or just carefully drill away the axle and add a new one that is longer on the flat side of the blades. Capisce?

- The mail compartments in the wing varied according to the model in size (single or twin-bay), or weren't present at all in some trimotors, and the kit has a rather crude depiction of them: it has the size of the twin-bay arrangement, but only external sides boxing it, whilst it had also separators in the middle. Those boxing sides were made of a square section tube structure and wire netting, they were not solid as depicted in the kit. Study your intended plane and modify if needed. If displayed open, you may like to do a better job than the kit's parts.

- The elevator and rudder control arms are molded fused with the fuselage side. Not sure how acceptable the result might be of removing them and then having to restore the corrugations, and adding new arms a bit distanced from the surface, plus the cables from them, through the wing, and over the fuselage to their destinations.

- The kit has a reasonable interior, with cockpit and cabin aft bulkheads, it even has a positionable cabin door, BUT...NO RESTROOM!!!!! this MUST be corrected.

 

The metal-colored plastic is somewhat hard, and sands strangely. Like many other old Airfix kits, in opening the box you will find that many parts had freed themselves from the sprues (yippee!) and are happily cavorting and rubbing against each other, a lifestyle not particularly recommended for the transparencies: the cockpit one was scratched. The other clear parts are so bad that it doesn't matter, as they probably will need replacement anyway. Since I will build a different model than those catered for in the decal sheet, I threw it away, as it was, like many old Airfix decal sheets, not really good. My older son, who built two of these trimotors, has a bitter memory of them. 

 

Contents of the box:

IMG_1466+%25281280x955%2529.jpg

 

Comparison of some parts of the Aifix and Monogram (smaller) kits

IMG_1466b+%25281280x955%2529.JPG

 

The Monogram kit (that I won't be using) comes with adorable animal life:

IMG_1466bb+%25281280x955%2529.jpg

 

 And figures:

IMG_1466c+%25281280x955%2529.jpg

 

Recently BM was graced with some nice  trimotor builds.

I just looked at them, and was happy to corroborate some findings.

Most of the shortcomings of the kit were discussed some years ago in a Yahoo Group I used to belong to (Wings of Peace). I took some valuable notes at the time, that have just become very useful.

 

 

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The Airfix kit is riddled with ejector pin marks:

IMG_1467+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

The wing trailing edges are very thick, here is just one half:

IMG_1468a+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

 Thinning them is desirable, but has to be done properly:

IMG_1468b%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

To the left, untouched wing section, to the right, the scraped/sanded one:

IMG_1480+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

Now, that's better:

IMG_1486+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

Not forgetting the center panel:

IMG_1486b+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

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Ejector pin marks are removed and sanded:

IMG_1488+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

IMG_1490+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

IMG_1491+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

IMG_1492+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

The detail, given the age, is almost admirable:

IMG_1495+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

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The door on back bulkhead has been opened. The same will be done to the cockpit bulkhead. Instead of struggling with the kits parts, these can easily be scratched from styrene card:

IMG_1496+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

The LG legs suffer the most from improper molding:

IMG_1497+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

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All parts cleaned up. Took about a day:

IMG_1498+%25281280x916%2529.jpg

 

Part of the leading edge on the kit is inaccurate, as it wasn't smooth all the way, just the most outward section, thus the corrugations need replicating:

IMG_1499+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

IMG_1500+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

IMG_1501+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

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Oooooo this will be good,  I  built one if these a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it.  The decals were okay too.  I am looking forward to your build  and I note more Toilets !!! Crikey Moa you are obsessed !!! Don't forget to put the toilet seat down or Mrs Moa will be after you again!!! Great start fella. 

Chris

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5 minutes ago, bigbadbadge said:

Don't forget to put the toilet seat down or Mrs Moa will be after you again!!! Great start fella. 

Nevah!

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This will be good.........heck, they’re all good but this will be really good.

 

Dennis

 

 

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The build's acme has been reached, as the toiled is ready. Other accoutrements are in progress.

The prop axles have been respectively shortened and extended, to reverse the direction the blades face (how could Airfix have gotten this wrong, is beyond), the nut or bolt at the front added as a small punched disk:

IMG_1503+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

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Posted (edited)

Could you elaborate a bit on how you are correcting the wing leading edge? I presume that's aluminum tape I see in which you have reproduced the corrugated surface, but how do you roll it and trim it to size without collapsing those same corrugations? This is what has defeated me in my attempts to make corrections.

Edited by Space Ranger

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Another delightful subject.

 

Have you detailed how you fabricate those plumbing fixtures? I have the intention to do a pre-war LOT Ju-52/3, SP-AKX. A furnished lavatory would be a nice touch.

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Looking forward to this, Moa! It's a graduate course on the Ford Trimotor so far.  Do you have a photo of the real aircraft you can share?

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10 hours ago, Space Ranger said:

Could you elaborate a bit on how you are correcting the wing leading edge? I presume that's aluminum tape I see in which you have reproduced the corrugated surface, but how do you roll it and trim it to size without collapsing those same corrugations? This is what has defeated me in my attempts to make corrections.

I use the thicker variety of the aluminum kitchen foil. I carefully press it into a large part of the corrugations anywhere in the kit's surface with a somewhat rounded toothpick.

Then a cut a section either with a very new Xacto or scissors and superglue it in place, using thick superglue to build up body behind the corrugations to avoid marks on them later, and also because the setting time is slower allowing for a modicum of positioning. The edges may coincide with a panel line for better effect. Very careful sanding of the edges will make them less conspicuous, and after that the usual primer.

Needless to say, some practice is needed.

I curve the sections on a wood dowel, gradually, evenly, carefully. A very gentle hand is needed. You will most likely screw many sections (I do), until some usable ones are obtained.

 

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2 hours ago, Moa said:

 

IMG_1466c+%25281280x955%2529.jpg

 

What flavour is it?

Seriously, though, this is a great start on what looks to be a fascinating build!

Can I put in a good word for the livery of Lao Che Air Freight? ;)

Kind regards,

Mark

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15 minutes ago, dnl42 said:

Another delightful subject.

 

Have you detailed how you fabricate those plumbing fixtures? I have the intention to do a pre-war LOT Ju-52/3, SP-AKX. A furnished lavatory would be a nice touch.

I know I have done it somewhere along the hundreds of builds, but will take hours for me to find out.

I just use styrene sheet, rods and strips. The sinks are many times obtained from commercial vacuformed trails (the photo above). Be on the lookout!

IMG_1506+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

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The control arms have been removed, their pivoting points drilled for later:

IMG_1505+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

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1 hour ago, Moa said:

Nevah!

 

8 minutes ago, Moa said:

I know I have done it somewhere along the hundreds of builds, but will take hours for me to find out.

I just use styrene sheet, rods and strips. The sinks are many times obtained from commercial vacuformed trails (the photo above). Be on the lookout!

IMG_1506+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

The seats up. Oooooo you rebel !!!

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25 minutes ago, TheyJammedKenny! said:

Looking forward to this, Moa! It's a graduate course on the Ford Trimotor so far.  Do you have a photo of the real aircraft you can share?

Sure!

https://volavi.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2015_Ford_Trimotor_Colombia_Ford_Trimotor_Colombia_6.jpg.webp

2015_Ford_Trimotor_Colombia_Ford_Trimoto

 

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EbOqlzOX0AICYos?format=png&name=small

EbOqlzOX0AICYos?format=png&name=small

 

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EbOqmEzWAAAiVut?format=jpg&name=900x900

EbOqmEzWAAAiVut?format=jpg&name=900x900

 

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18 minutes ago, Moa said:

I know I have done it somewhere along the hundreds of builds, but will take hours for me to find out.

I just use styrene sheet, rods and strips. The sinks are many times obtained from commercial vacuformed trails (the photo above). Be on the lookout!

IMG_1506+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

That looks like the MoaFlush Model 2; or is it the Model 2A?

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27 minutes ago, Moa said:

I curve the sections on a wood dowel, gradually, evenly, carefully. A very gentle hand is needed. You will most likely screw many sections (I do), until some usable ones are obtained.

But then how do you trim the edges of the curved portions without flattening the corrugations? Pardon my lack of comprehension, but I am having an allergy/sinusitis flare and my brain is not working quite right.

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1 hour ago, dnl42 said:

Another delightful subject.

 

Have you detailed how you fabricate those plumbing fixtures? I have the intention to do a pre-war LOT Ju-52/3, SP-AKX. A furnished lavatory would be a nice touch.

Toilette a la carte:

(You owe me 20 minutes of my life, as I made this for you. Let's call it "a potty break" 😜)

IMG_1507+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

IMG_1508+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

IMG_1509+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

IMG_1510+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

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IMG_1512+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

IMG_1513+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

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IMG_1515+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

IMG_1516+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

From my Junkers Ju52 build:

IMG_3449%2B%2525281280x960%252529.jpg&ke

 

IMG_1518+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

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2 hours ago, Space Ranger said:

But then how do you trim the edges of the curved portions without flattening the corrugations? Pardon my lack of comprehension, but I am having an allergy/sinusitis flare and my brain is not working quite right.

 

I do not understand what is that you don't understand 😜

 

Longitudinally speaking (cutting then with the "grain", along the corrugations, you pre-cut sections that are applied one consecutively to the next before curving.

Transversely speaking (cutting across the corrugations), the corrugations are restored naturally as you press them overlapping them slightly against the kit's corrugation.

But there are certain things that you will understand better as you grow up. It has to do also with cabbages and storks from Paris:

IMG_1520+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

IMG_1521+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

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My dear friend, extraordinary musician, composer, and bandoneón player Ricardo Fiorio, sent me this link to a youtube clip (IN SPANISH) that shows the SACO trimotor as it leaves Bogotá.

The accident happened later in Medellín:

 

 

 

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I took these at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

They are a general guide, as almost no Fords were created equal, so always study photos of the very same plane you want to represent:

(Photos are for everyone's benefit, If you re-post or share, please add the link to my blog, where they were posted originally, as I took these images myself:

https://wingsofintent.blogspot.com/

 

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(Photos are for everyone's benefit, If you re-post or share, please add the link to my blog, where they were posted originally, as I took these images myself:

https://wingsofintent.blogspot.com/

 

we+143+%25281280x960%2529.jpg

 

we+144+%2528960x1280%2529.jpg

 

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