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A Gold Medal Storch - Academy 1/72 Cobelligerant Fi.156


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With the G.55 almost rehdy for painting (have to glue the vacform canopy in place...), I've decided to add another build to this GB, this time of a model I've wanted to start for a long time: the Academy 1/72 Fi.156

My model will represent an aircraft that played a big part in the war in Italy: the Fi.156 piloted by Lt. Furio Lauri of the Italian Cobelligerant Air Force.

Furio Lauri was a pilot with the Regia Aeronautica and by mid 1943 he had a tally of 11 victories, 1 on the CR.42 and 10 on G-50s. The armistice found the pilot recovering from wounds suffered whn shot down earlier and when news arrived of the German attack on Rome he offered himself to fight as an infantryman. The defence of Rome by the few Italian forces is a story of heroism that however could only slow down the German advance.

Lauri escaped capture and fled to the mountains around Rome, where he formed a small unit of resistance fighters, sabotaging infrastructures and German forces. When the area they were operating was attacked by the Germans, he managed to hide in Rome and when US forces liberated the City he joined the Air Force again.

It was while serving with the CBAF that he completed the missions for which he is best known: flying into the territories occupied by German forces to liaise with allied commando and Italian resistance units. For these missions he used one of the 3 Regia Aeronautica Fi.156 that had remained in the South after the armistice. These flights involved crossing into enemy territory at very low level, sometime at the limit of the Storch range. During these flights Lt. Lauri brought back downed aviators and wounded SAS and partisan men together with important information about enemy forces and activities. At the end of the war, flying the same Storch he was able to bring the German commander in Genova into allied territory, so preventing the demolition of the Genova harbour infrastructure by the Germans. It was for all these missions that Lt. Lauri after the war received the Medaglia d'Oro al Valor Militare (gold medal for military valour), the highest military award of the Italian State. And it is for this reason that I've titled this thread as Gold Medal Storch.

Lauri's association with aviation did not end with the war: in 1947 he was one of the founder of the company Meteor, that later was one of the very first company to work on remotely piloted aircraft and went on to become an important name in the manufacture of both target RPVs and surveillance drones. Lauri passed away in 2002

In a later post I will tell something about the Storch in Italy in general. For now I feel it's worth mentioning that Furio Lauri and "his" Storch reunited when the same aircraft, that had survived the war, was acquired by the museum of the Air Force. Lauri's hope was that the aircraft could have been kept in flying condition and exhibited at air shows but the Air Force decided otherwise. In any case this aircraft still exists and is visible at the Air Force Museum, of course carrying the colours worn during those daring missions in the winter 1944/45.

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After the long introduction, let's look at some plastic. I've decided to use the Academy kit for the simple reason that this is what I have. An aircraft as significant as this would maybe deserve a better kit like the wonderful Tamiya 1/48 offering, but most models in my collection are 1/72 scale anyway and in this scale it's either Heller or Academy (or the old Airfix kit but IIRC this is the worst). The Heller kit from what I understand is better than the Academy one... in any case the Korean kit is clearly "inspired" by the French one.

No box to show, that often happens with my builds, This is another kit bought at the now closed local flea market and came with no box. All parts however are fortunately still into their sealed bags:

 

resized_d0da1263-08be-4ca9-8cf5-ffb33da4

 

The plastic used is typical Academy, hard but easy to work on. It's a kind of plastic I like as allows to mould very sharp details. There aren't that many parts but one thing I noticed was the size of the thing: the Storch was not a very small aircraft

 

resized_9cb90e66-632c-4de3-a153-44a241a7

 

resized_f16b1f66-732d-4698-bb41-7a70f3c0

 

Everything is sharply moulded but really the detail level is not exciting. All parts are quite simple and this is not a problem for most parts but some really would deserve replacement. The cockpit has some detail but there is no almost representation of the structure, that in the real aircraft is quite visible.

The cockpit floor shows a step at the rear that from what I understand was not present. It was however in the Heller kit and so was the possibility of building the radial engined MS.500, another hint that Academy likely used the French kit as "inspiration"

Decals are for a German aircraft in Africa (that in itself would be a good subject for this GB) and a French late-war MS.500. I will not use any of them but who knows, one day I may build another Storch using one of these schemes.

 

Plan for the build: mostly OOB with a couple exceptions:

- Cockpit: I have to do something as the cockpit as provided is a bit bare and inaccurate. I'll add part of the structure with plastic rods and modify the seats. Nothing more as the cockpit is small anyway

- The engine cowling: Academy has moulded this in a very simplified way, with raised sections to representthe smaller intakes and a grille where the main intake is. The front of the cowling is a single very thick plastic piece, work here will need time and a lot of swearing... the final result however should benefit a lot from this

 

 

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I look forward to seeing your build having seen one in action at several local events. They are gangly but just lift off the ground almost instantly. I swear a good gust of wind would allow these to be vertical takeoff aircraft.

 

Interesting to see a full radial engine among the kit parts. The Storch that flies just up the road from me looks to have more of an in-line engine, but might be a difference in the German- vs. Italian-built versions.

 

Here are a few om ny shots of the Fi 156 C-2 4362 at the Flying Heritage Collection

 

Storch-FHC-2017-06-18-7653.jpg

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Storch-FHC-2011-09-24-8054.jpg

 

and the one at the IWM Duxford appears to be the same

Storch-IWM-Duxford-2008-02-19-1413.jpg

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Storch-IWM-Duxford-2008-02-19-1414.jpg

 

I don't think the two Italian examples I have photographed shed any light

 

MS.500 724 at the Pima Air Museum

Fi-156-Storch-Pima-03-23-17-9633.jpg

 

and 

MS.502 381 at the Planes of Fame, Chino

Storch-Chino-PoF-2018-04-11-6896.jpg

 

 

 

 

Not sure my limited interior shots will be of help, but just in case.

Storch-FHC-2012-01-22-9804.JPG

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Storch-FHC-2012-01-22-9798.JPG

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Storch-FHC-2016-11-09-4785.jpg

 

 

 

Very graceful in the air

Storch-FHC-2014-08-16-5118.jpg-nggid0478

Edited by Ol' Scrapiron
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Later postwar French builds substituted a radial engine for the  Argus and the aircraft were then known as the Morane Saulnier Criquet.  Several Academy kits bear a considerable resemblance to their Heller predecessors.

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1 hour ago, Ol' Scrapiron said:

I look forward to seeing your build having seen one in action at several local events. They are gangly but just lift off the ground almost instantly. I swear a good gust of wind would allow these to be vertical takeoff aircraft.

 

Interesting to see a full radial engine among the kit parts. The Storch that flies just up the road from me looks to have more of an in-line engine, but might be a difference in the German- vs. Italian-built versions.

 

Here are a few om ny shots of the Fi 156 C-2 4362 at the Flying Heritage Collection

 

and the one at the IWM Duxford appears to be the same

 

I don't think the two Italian examples I have photographed shed any light

 

MS.500 724 at the Pima Air Museum

 

and 

MS.502 381 at the Planes of Fame, Chino

 

 

 

Not sure my limited interior shots will be of help, but just in case.

 

 

 

Oh, these pictures sure help a lot ! Thanks very much, appreciated ! They show a number of details that I wasn't sure of and will be very useful. And look at the front of the engine cowling, your picture show this very well and give a clear idea of the kind of work I'll have to do.

The Italian aircraft were standard German aircraft with the in-line engine, I've yet to decide if I want to try and represent the engine, the lower opening is really wide even in 1/72 scale so maybe something inside should be added

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Fantastic story Giorgio, watching with interest.

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Hi,

 

Also in my opinion I rank the Heller kit higher than Academy. In fact I'm not yet decided if I'll built one either from Heller or a combination possible using main components from Airfix as least the cowl looks better in it and struts, landing gear and glazing from Heller - if they fit. For the greenhause I have a etch set from Kuivalainen to get instrument panel, pedals and so on to get the cockpit looking a bit busier.

 

Cheers,

 

AaCee 

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I'm watching this with interest having completed the Smer boxing of the Storch for the Heller GB last week. The glazing was no fun to mask or put together :)

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