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The G.55 is not the best known WW2 Italian fighter, this honour sure goes to the Macchi MC.202/205 and even Fiat's own CR.42 is probably better known. Yet I feel this is not right because in the opinion of some, me included, the G.55 was the best Italian fighter of the war !

The G.55 marked a departure from the older Italian love of very manouverable fighters and was designed mainly to be a fast and robust aircraft capable of operating at high level  and featuring an impressive firepower. The Macchis were nicer to fly and pilots loved them. The Re.2005 flew beautifully. However in 1943 Italy did not need a nimble low level fighter or a great performer with a flimsy structure, they needed something capable of dealing with fighters and bombers at high altitude, something capable of fighting on the same terms with P-51s and Spitfire IX and shooting down B-24s while being able to absorb hits. The G.55 could do exactly that

The relative fame of the G.55 has reflected in the availability of kits as not ,many have appeared of this aicraft: in 1/72 a very old Frog, a similarly old Italaerei (later Supermodel) and then nothing for quite a while, with the exception of a few cottage industry products. Then in 2005 Special Hobby issued their G.55, that while still a short run product, was something easily available in the shops all over the world (and is still easily available): Today Sword offer an even better kit, however having the SH kit in the stash I will build this one, in particular an aircraft of the "Sottoserie 0" (where = stands for Zero).

 

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Now what is a Sottoserie 0 (with 2 Ts, SH wrote incorrectly) ? Simply this means the first production sub-series. The aircraft built in this subseries featured an armament of 4 12.7 mm machine guns in the nose and a 20 mm cannon firing through the spinner. The later production aircraft removed the two MGs on the lower engine cowlings and added 1 20 mm cannon in each wing, for a total of 3x20mm and 2x 12.7 mm. Quite a powerful armament.

There were other differences among the Sottoserie 0 and the later machines, for example the shape of the rudder, These were introduced on the production lines so are not necessarily an indication of the production series, however most early machines had the different rudder (the rudder was later modified again but the final design was mainly seen on the postwar G.59).

Why am I discussing these aspects ? Because they will explain the content of the box:

 

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The plastic parts are all relative to a standard production aircraft. The differences of the Sottoserie 0 are covered through the use of resin parts like the new tail and the whole engine cowling with the 4 MGs. This approach makes the kit really suitable for those modellers who already have some experience and don't mind cutting and gluing. In any case most details are made in resin anyway even in the standard boxes, the cockpit is all resin and PE parts, the wheel wells are in resin and so on. This is not a kit for the beginners.

Speaking of PE parts, some of you may have noticed that there are two frets in the bag. This has nothing to do with this being a Sottoserie 0 box, it's because I have bought this kit on Ebay and the guy who sold it had crammed two full kits into one box and properly advertised this as a 2-kit bundle. The other kit will built at some point, probably as a Syrian aircraft.

 

Pictures of the decals will follow as I'll not be using the kit's. My plan is to build an aircraft based at the Bresso airport, just outside Milan, using a Skymodel sheet. Bresso airport still exists today as a general aviation small strip and is my local airport ! How local ? It's just across the motorway and I can see the runway from my windows.. one more reason to build this subject !

 

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Interesting subject Giorgio and I have to admit an aircraft that I know nothing about so will follow along and hope to learn something. 
 

James

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Great choice Giorgio on first glance these are similar in lines to the more famous Macchi’s but are recognizable on inspection. Quick question if you don't mind seeing as you know way more on Italian aircraft. Interior colors on Macchi’s, grey-green true, or is it something else ? And props should be a light green grey-green also ? Or were they changed at some point ? Looking at the 1942-43 era for my build. 

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Classic looking aircraft which is very much in the Italian tradition of looking fast even while standing still !

 

Not a kit I'm familiar with but, look forward to seeing this one come together, best of luck.

 

Cheers Pat

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1 hour ago, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

Great choice Giorgio on first glance these are similar in lines to the more famous Macchi’s but are recognizable on inspection. Quick question if you don't mind seeing as you know way more on Italian aircraft. Interior colors on Macchi’s, grey-green true, or is it something else ? And props should be a light green grey-green also ? Or were they changed at some point ? Looking at the 1942-43 era for my build. 

 

The colours used in the cockpits of Italian WW2 aircraft are not always easy to get right because for a while the Air Force didn not specify one colour. However things changed in 1941 when the "Tavola 10" specified the use in the cockpit of Grigio Azzurro Chiaro, that was the same colour used on the undersides.

Since you're building a MC.202 I quote here the words I wrote regarding the Macchi I built 4 years ago for the first MTO GB:

 

The subject of Italian WW2 cockpit interiors has been approached in different ways over the years but with the discovery of more and more documents, we can now say we have a relatively good view of the colours used. Or have we ???

The problem with the colours used by Italian aircraft is that before 1941 there wasn't a proper catalogue of colours to use for camouflage or cockpits but the Authorities in charge issued indications that only stated the kind of colour. Each company then purchased the colours required from one or more paint manufacturer, with the result that there was more than one shade of every colour. The same applied to primers, for which there was more than one type approved for use on military aircrafts.

Cockpit colours can seem even more confusing as some companies just applied a primer in these areas while others covered the primer with some other paint. Recently many modellers have used the famous "Verde Anticorrosione" for every interior but this is wrong! This colour is a primer for metal surfaces, it was sure used but was often covered with other paints. And aircrafts with wooden or fabric covering would have never had this colour applied as it was not for these materials...

In mid 1941 however the Air Force recognised the need for some consistency and issued the "Tavola 10" (Table 10) where all colours to be used were finally stated officially together with their shades. The Tavola 10 also mentions what colour was to be used for cockpits and other internal areas and this colour was Grigio Azzurro Chiaro (light blue grey, although the real colour has very little blue...).

Of course existing paint stocks could be used to depletion by the manufacturers and this meant that other colours could be seen up to the end of the war.

Hope anyone reading will forgive the digression, let's now see what written above has to do with my aircraft: the MC.202 was built by 3 companies: Macchi of course, then Breda (Breda actually built the largest number of 202s) and SAI Ambrosini. I know that aircrafts built by Breda have been proven to have grey cockpits. I also know that Macchi built aircrafts may have used either grey or a green. Both Macchi and Breda previously used green on the MC.200 so it makes sense to think that early 202s may have had green cockpits. Unfortunately I have no idea about SAI built aircrafts. As the aircraft I'm building was part of a batch built between November 1941 and April 1942, I'm assuming that by then the Tavola 10 indications were used by all manufacturers so I've deciced to use grey for all interior parts.

 

So what colour should you use for a Macchi MC.202 ? Depends on the era and the manufacturers, although grey is the most common colour. How to tell the manufacturers ? Of course from the serial number but also from the camo scheme as the 3 companies that built the 202 (Macchi, Breda and SAI) applied the prescribed camo scheme in different ways. I checked your thread and as you want to build an aircraft in the smoke-rings camo it's easy: this scheme was only applied by Macchi.

Macchi built aircraft are known to have used bot a green and a grey. however as the smoke rings were used quite late in the war I'd assume that by then the grey prescribed by the Tavola 10 would have been the standard. The same colour would have been used in the wheel wells and I know that in any case Macchi painters treated areas like the wheel wells as part of the undersurfaces anyway.

Back to the cockpit, I seem to remember that Macchi built aircraft had the inner cockpit frames in black, while Breda did not. Unfortunately I can't find the source at the moment

 

Propellers on the MC.202 could be in two different colours: light blue or black. And often the blue was painted only on the front blade surfaces, with the rear in black.

Generally, particularly later in the war, the colour used more frequently on the MC.202 was black, so if you don't have a picture of your aircraft go for black, you'll likely be right. Black propellers also had yellow tips, similar to British aircraft

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I wouldn't lose too much sleep over cockpit color. As a matter of fact, it might be smart to go lighter than what was used in reality, just to increase visibility in that tiny concealed space. A very light greyish blue, like Tamiya's intermediate blue, might be ideal.

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15 hours ago, SoftScience said:

I wouldn't lose too much sleep over cockpit color. As a matter of fact, it might be smart to go lighter than what was used in reality, just to increase visibility in that tiny concealed space. A very light greyish blue, like Tamiya's intermediate blue, might be ideal.

 

I would agree if the matter is to choose say "a grey", the problem here is that the choice is between a green and a grey and using one or the other would make some difference. The cockpit opening of a Macchi 202 is not very wide but in 1/48 the different colour would be well visible. In other Italian aircraft of the era the choice may be between two greens but very different ones.

In this case fortunately at least the grey is well known, it is the same used on the undersurfaces and is available in several model paint ranges. I agree that starting lighter is best and this is what I generally do, followed by washes to better show areas in shadow (that results in a better visibility of many structural parts) and drybrushign to highlight those parts that are likely to be better illuminated. In this way it is possible to have a veru effective 3-dimensional representation of a cockpit

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23 hours ago, Giorgio N said:

Thanks all, glad to see that this subject has raised some interest !

You're an inspiration Giorgio.  I was thinking about your wealth of knowledge when a F-104S somehow fell into my cart a couple months ago...and yet again last week when the Ca.311 fell into the basket when I was looking at Cold War MiGs.  Talk about a divergence.  :whistle:

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Looking forward to the project. Italian colours of WWII are a bit of a mystery to me so I’m interested in what you find!

 

[edit: and Italian airports do have some interesting historic aircraft parked outside - I’m thinking of the SVA5 at Genoa airport]

 

Regards,

Adrian

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Thanks folks, hope this build will help someone who want to build a similar subject and will inspire others to try some kits of Italian WW2 aircraft !

I will try to make this thread as informative as possible, at least within the limits of my knowledge on the subject.

 

First of all, what is a G.55 ? This was Fiat answer to a Regia Aeronautica (the Italian Air Force) request for a fighter powered with the German DB605 engine. Other proposals were submitted by Reggiane (the beautiful Re.2005) and Macchi. Macchi actually submitted 2 proposals: a stop-gap solution (the MC.205) that was simply a re-engined and up-gunned MC.202 and a more advanced design, the MC.205N. This would have been the definitive fighter but never saw service. The 3 fighters that saw service are known as the "Serie 5", since they all had a 5 in their designation to indicate the engine. The use of the same engine is the reason why the 3 fighters look similar in profile and are sometimes mistaken one for the others...

 

Let's start ! As with most short-run kits of the era, the first thing to do is to prepare the plastic parts to accept the resin ones. This involves 4 areas:

 

THE WINGS: the main wheel wells are reproduced with a single resin part with good detail. The part fits fine in the wing lower section, although in the real aircraft the rear wall should be a little behind the edge of the well opening. I'm not going to modify the parts here, I'll live with what SH gives me.

Of course having a resin wheel well means having to thin the upper wing halves from the inside, otherwise these will not close properly. The trailng edges are also quite think and will benefit from some scraping and sanding, again from the inside surfaces. Here are the wings parts, the wheel well has been glued onto the lower half and the upper halves have been thinned from the inside. To glue the wheel well in place I used a combination of superglue (to fix the part in place quickly) and 2-component epoxy (to give good strength and a reliable long term adhesion)

 

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Unfortunately while I used a dremel to reduce the thickness of the plastic I had a couple of small accidents and now the let upper wing half will need some work to clean the areas where the drill slip

 

THE FUSELAGE: as I'll be building a Sottoserie 0 aircraft, the cowl as moulded with the fuselage halves has to go to make room for the resin part. Cutting these away is not difficult as the cut is along panel lines. In the picture below the cowling has been cut from one fuselage half while the other is still intact.

The whole cockpit is also represented in resin and I decided to thin the walls of the fuselage....

 

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Now the inner surface of the fuselage where I thinned the area looks pretty bad, but there's a reason: I want to use 2-component epoxy to fit the walls in place, reason why I cut some "channels" to let the glue grip better.

 

Note for those who want to build this kit: the resin cockpit will fit with no problem even if the fuselage walls are not thinned. I did this only because without such a job the edges of the sidewalls would have been pretty thick. In this way I'll have a more realistic thickness of this area. It is not however a necessary job.

 

THE TAIL: The picture below shows the difference between the early tail (in resin) and the late variant (in plastic). The larger compensation tab of the later tail is clearly visible. I have now cut the tail from both fuselage halves, tomorrow I'll test fit the resin part.

 

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Important: the early tail was also seen on some aircraft from the Serie 1 (that is armed with wing cannons) and the later tail appeared on a few aircraft of the Sottoserie 0. The change in the tail was introduced during production and therefore is not necessarily an indication of a Sottoserie 0 or of the definitive production series. My aircraft had the early tail, if building another one better check if there's a picture available before cutting the tail from the fuselage.

 

 

 

 

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Very informative as usual, G :worthy:  I'm very much looking forward to how this build will proceed :popcorn:

 

Ciao

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Weather wasn't very good here over the weekend, that meant mainly staying at home. Not always the best thing to do but at least gave me time to do some work on my Fiat, and it was a production weekend indeed ! Although it started with a serious dilemma.... what colour for the cockpit ?

 

To recap the situation, it is known that Fiat was an early user of grey in the cockpit of their aircraft, even before this colour was stated in the Tavola 10 (a document that introduced for the first time standard colours in the Regia Aeronautica). For this reason alone it would have made sense to use grey. However the bulk of the not particularly large G.55 production was completed at a time when rules were not followed that much anymore... more so as there was no Regia Aeronautica anymore and most G.55s served with the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR), the air force of the fascist puppet state in the North.

As a result of the chaos and limitation on production after the Armistice, it is known that aircraft often were just finished with a coat of primer in the interior areas. Fiat earlier used mainly grey primers, but there is a serious case for the use by the same company of a yellow primer during the G.55 production. This is the kind of colour that the beautifully restored aircraft at the Vigna di Valle air force museum wears in the cockpit and wheel wells.

However this is debated ! The use of yellow (where for yellow I mean a zinc-chromate kind of yellow) was confirmed by people who had worked at Fiat but some believe that only happened in the immediate post-war years. The aircraft at the museum in particular is a G.55 that was then converted into a G.59 after the war, so it is possible that the yellow primer found during the restoration was applied during the postwar conversion. Others mention the existance of a yellow primer even before the war, named Tekital.

Then there are the Vitocharts, a set of samples painted by a guy who worked as an illustrator at Fiat and having an interest in the colours used got samples painted with the real paints from the production lines. In the Vitochart there is a yellow translucent primer, however the same chart includes a sample of how the colour looked once applied on aluminum surfaces... and it was not yellow anymore.

To muddle the waters even more, a number of site crashes of G.55s have been excavated in the past by local enthusiasts in the Turin area and the wrecks have been examined by persons who were both aviation historians and modellers. And they seem to have found traces of a yellow primer in the cockpit (other areas had different primers and most of the fuselage interior areas were left in natural metal).

 

So armed with all this knowledge I decided to paint my cockpit.... grey ! I was tempted to paint it yellow and I even prepared a few mixes, however in the end I tried to think of this particular aircraft: this was a Sottoserie 0, built before the armistice. I can not be sure if by then Fiat had already abandoned the use of grey in the cockpits but since this was quite an old practice for them I assumed that they would have continued to do so. I also doubt that when the aircraft was refurbished for ANR service she received a new colour in the cockpit, it would make more sense to think that she was just given new insignia. So I've decided to go for grey on this one and I'll use yellow when I'll build a Serie 1 aircraft built after the Armistice.

 

I used Lifecolor's Grigio Azzurro Chiaro 1, following the Tavola 10 indications and this is what I got after adding all the various details and the PE instrument panel:

 

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Now a few comments... first of all, the grey for some reason took a greenish tinge. Not much I can do with it.

The seatbelts are not the ones supplied in the kit. SH offers these as separate PE parts that have to be glued together but as this is meant to be a quick build (or at least as quick as a short run kit can be) I decided to use belts from an Eduard set. The style I decided to use is not 100% accurate, should have another strap at the bottom but none of the belts in the Eduard set represent this. I used the "early" style as the top attachment point is the same shown in the G.55 parts catalogue, however the early style misses the lower strap that is present in the "late" style.

 

It was while checking pictures of the cockpit and the drawings in the parts catalogue that I noticed one thing: the cockpit in the kit looks nice but it is quite inaccurate ! The seat for example should have two parts, a lower part and a rear armor at the top shaped to fit the head. The harness system should be attached there and not as I did.

The instrument panel is also wrong, the lower instruments should be in a separate panel slightly behind the main one and the same should be for the small angled panels on the side. The panel should also be higher in the fuselage... bottom-line: if you want a cockpit that looks good without much hassle, just build it as per kit parts (like I did here). If you want an accurate cockpit, be ready to modify these parts a lot.

 

The kit parts also miss the gunsight for some strange reason. The control stick is also missing from the main resin part but only because this broke in the bag and the stick went lost

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When I mentioned that the weekend was productive of course I didn't mean that what I did in two days was just painting the cockpit....

While the paint was drying I had all the time to glue the wing halves together and with this assembly completed I started working on a small modification: the Sottoserie 0 aircraft had no wing armament, therefore all indications of this on the wing have to go. This means filling some panel lines on top and bottom halves and the spent case ejection slots under the wings

 

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I do not exactly know what the shape of all panels was in the Sottoserie 0, so I'm following my logic.. and a drawing in the operating manual of the aircraft that gives some rough indication.

While working on removing the panel lines I also sorted some of the scars resulting from the few times that my Dremel slipped while thinning the interior of the top wing halves. Hopefully by the time the model is fully primed these will have disappeared.

 

Not related to the wing but something to remember is to glue the rear wheel well in the fuselage. This part fits very well and it's very easy to find the right position. With this done, I glued the part in place with 2-component epoxy, followed by silicone sealant to keep the parts there forever...

And while I was working on the rear fuselage, I also drilled holes to help gluing the tailplanes in place. This is a technique I use quite often: a hole in the fuselage, a hole in the tailplane and a length of metal rod going through both holes

 

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And the tailplanes with the rods in place:

 

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It is a quick job that however makes a big difference when gluing these parts together. I do this not only on short runs but also on mainstream kits of subjects where the contact surface is on the small side, for example the MiG-21

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And with the paint in the cockpit all dry and all required holes drilled in the fuselage, it was time to close the fuselage ! And I have to say, fit wasn't that bad actually, although I wonder if the lack of the whole engine cowling area did help in this...

 

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Worth noticing, apart from my dirty fingers, are a couple of things..

One is that I added a gunsight. Of course nobody makes any San Giorgio sights for Italian aircraft in resin so I had to improvise. I've been told that some G.55s used German Revi sights while in ANR service and this was an option. However I decided to represent something similar to the proper sight by modifying a Quickboost British GM2 sight. The final result is a bit too large but at least makes the cockpit busy. Remaining in the cockpit, I also added a control stick, scratchbuilt from rod and plasticard.

Another thing is the plastic tab I glued where the rear part of the wing lower half will meet the fuselage. This is made necessary by the fact that SH would just like the modeller to butt join these. The plastic however is pretty thin on the rear of the wing part and the part also needs some bending to properly follow the fuselage contour. A bit of plastic fixed in the right place will make the joint much easier and more robust.

Warning: not only the way this part is supposed to fit is not the best, in my case I also had to shorten the rear end of the wing lower half by around 1 mm, as otherwise this part was too long to fit. Other kits may be different, or maybe all will have this problem. In any case, I aligned the wing leading edges to the wing roots moulded on the fuselage to get the length right

 

 

And with the fuselage closed and the wings ready, I could close my Sunday by gluing the two assemblies together ! And again, fit was decent, actually pretty good on the top and less good but not too hard to sort on the bottom:

 

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For some reason these pictures are not particularly good, but while I'm not happy with them I sure am happy enough about the general fit of the parts

 

 

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A productive WE indeed, G! :clap:  :clap: The cockpit looks suitably busy, and the overall model turned out very neat - looking forward to how you'll manage the engine and cowling :popcorn:

 

Ciao

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Thanks guys !

Now, how to manage the engine cowl... it wasn't easy... the cowl itself fits decently in reality, it should only be a bit taller but I sorted this by aligning at the top and then sanding the lower fuselage slightly, nothing major.

The real problem with this kind of assembly is that the cuts on the two fuselage sides often are not perfectly aligned and this happened in my case. My fault maybe, but I'd have preferred to have the cowling in two halves. In this way I could have attached the cowling parts to the each fuselage part separately, using the fuselage from the second kit to help the alignement.

Anyway, in the end thanks to a combination of CA glue and 2-component epozxy I got the cowling in place, hopefully it's aligned correctly

 

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Couple of comments: the dark "line" where the cowling meets the rest of the fuselage is not a shadow or a recessed line, it's a different 2-component resin that I use for filling wider gaps. I use it because it sets quite hard, so works better than the usual filler in these situations. To get the cowling properly aligned, I inserted a plasticard spacer, of which part can still be seen, fixed the cowling with CA first, followed by clear epoxy and then I filled using the dark one. This should make the assembly pretty strong.

Some may notice that unfortunately one of the exhaust sections (moulded together with the cowling) is damaged. I had noticed this before gluing the part in place and for a while I considered replacing it with the part from the other kit. However I don't know yet what to do with this, I'm considering using it to build a standard production aircraft but I may sell it and in this case I'd rather keep all the right parts in their bag. I'm also considering building one of the prototypes as they wore a very nice camo scheme and a couple were also used operationally. So I'm keeping the damaged exhaust, let's say that my aircraft that day had this small problem.

 

As the pictures show, I also glued the resin vertical tailplane in place. This still requires some filling and sanding to be blended into the fuselage, this will be the next job, followed by the horizontal tailplanes.

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That's some proper modelling job, G - the cowling fit looks impeccable :clap: 

 

Ciao

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It's always a pleasure to read the history you include with each project Giorgio and this one is no exception. Nice work so far on the kit as well :thumbsup:

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry for the long delay folks, I was hoping to have some progress earlier but got stuck in a little detail...

The Sottoserie 0 featured guns in the cowling and the spent cases and links were ejected downward through hole covered by fairings. The SH kit includes these fairings in resin but I doscovered that these were on top of a panel that differed in shape from what included in the kit. Now some sources state that this panel was overlapped onto the existing ones, others just show a different shape of the panel. I have not found any positive answer to the matter but in the end I've decided to represent the feature by scribing a different panel. If proven wrong, I'll add the overlapped panel.

In the meantime I've also added the oil and water radiators. These feature PE parts for the radiators matrixes, a nice touch. Unfortunately the water radiator fairing is in resin and requires a lot of care to be removed from the moulding stub without breaking,,,. and of course I broke a piece. Fortunately I managed to glue everything back in place and the damage is barely noticeable.

 

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I said about the different fairings, but they are not glued in place yet... at least the tailplanes are in place, they needed filling and sanding at the roots as the thickness of these parts differs from the thickness of the roots moulded on the fuselage. A common problem with many early SH short runs...

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