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Mobutu's personal Congolese AF Alouette III (Heller 1/72) +++ FINISHED +++


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Having dramatically (and necessarily) scaled back my group build aspirations to realistic, manageable and possibly even achievable levels, this is my pick for this GB, the 1/72 Heller Sud Aviation Alouette III first released in 1980, which will be built as a chopper flown by the Congolese Air Force in 1967 (with a very appreciative tip of the hat in the direction of @RidgeRunner, who sent me the decals.) I'll probably make a start on this next week by which time (hopefully) my LeO will finally be out of the way.

 

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Cheers

 

Tony

 

 

Edited by TonyOD
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  • TonyOD changed the title to Um Bongo, Um Bongo, they flew it in the Congo... 1/72 Heller Alouette III

That looks very smart, looking forward to seeing it progress.

 

So many name changes I had to look up which country this is - it's the massive one in the middle that was Zaire, not the smaller one sandwiched between this one and Gabon which is now The Republic of Congo but used to be The People's Republic of Congo. I have markings for Zaire and The Peoples Republic but hadn't seen these ones before.

 

Andy

Easily confused.

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11 minutes ago, Foxbat said:

Easily confused.


Africa is a confusing place. I’ve read a bit on its colonial history in particular and some of it is hair-raising stuff.

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Well, I was determined to stick to my one-at-a-time rule but as I'm waiting foe the Klear in the LeO to cure and I have time on my hands I thought I'd have at it.

 

Obligatory sprue shot. There are many tiny, tiny pieces and I swear I heard the carpet monster licking its lips.

 

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I've made a start on the cabin, and have been pondering what it might have looked like as Alouette interiors seem to come in many colours and configurations. The kit instructions show the seat on the port side facing backwards, I worked out fairly quickly that this would be for the purposes of looking after a patient in a stretcher on board the Gendarmerie version and it would face forward in my helo (not quickly enough though, I'd already glued the frame in place and had to correct it.) I'd already seen one pic of this a/c where you just get a hint of red pilot's seat. Anyways, I just stumbled across this. Turns out this was the personal taxi of notorious despot Mobuto Sese Seko, as related by the young and barely qualified Belgian pilot who was recruited to fly him around. There is an excellent shot of the cabin, which was luxuriously appointed throughout, replete with armchairs sumptuously upholstered in red leather. It would be a sin not to have a go at representing this cabin in all its glory! (I don't half pick 'em...)

 

"A presidential Alouette"https://www.alouettelama.com/articles/mobutu.pdf 

 

The man himself:

 

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Edited by TonyOD
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Nice subject choice with a Congolese 'Copter Tony :thumbsup:

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  • TonyOD changed the title to Congolese AF Alouette III (Heller 1/72) - Mobutu's personal helicopter

Got some arms on the seats. Wee bit fiddly.

 

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3 minutes ago, mitchem said:

Dear me! What type of microscope are you using?

 

I have a bit of previous on upgrading miniscule 1/72 seats. It can't be good for the eyesight. But we can't have the general sitting on substandard furniture, can we?

 

(I will get back to that Dragon Rapide one of these days...)

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Mr Pierre Gillard, who runs the outstanding Alouette & Lama website, has kindly given me permission to use pictures from his site here. It's a fascinating resource and if you ever find yourself building one it should be top of your list to visit for references!

 

www.alouettelama.com

 

So here is Mobutu's helicopter with the swanky red seats on display. I've put arms on all three of the seats, but now I look closely it seems that the pilots' seats didn't have the arms, only the seat nearest the port door (which is presumably where the boss liked to sit) had arms, so I'm going to have to sort that out. 

 

I'm trying to work out what paint I'll use, it's an interesting shade of goldish-green.

 

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It is great to see this one coming along, Tony. For the interior would it not have been Chamois?

 

Martin

 

 

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1 hour ago, RidgeRunner said:

It is great to see this one coming along, Tony. For the interior would it not have been Chamois?

 

It would appear that Mobutu had a thing for red leather Martin. 

 

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Another photo courtesy of  M. Gillard, The seating, floor, back wall, side walls and as far as I can see from other photos even the ceiling were covered in it. In fact in this photo the already red seats were covered in additional red leather covers. Additionally, the side and ceiling windows were tinted blue. The interior in itself is going to be an interesting project. (Part of me is disappointed that Mr Mobutu, a man not known for his sartorial restraint, didn't go for floor-to-ceiling leopardskin. Still, it would've been a sod to paint at 1/72).

 

The photograph below purports to show the Alouette still at the factory in Marignane prior to delivery (in fact this pic was taken in the same place as the one above - if you look carefully you can see the same buildings in the background). The seats show up very dark, but then so does the red stripe in the Congolese flag on the tailfin (trick of the film then), so it looks like the fancy interior was factory fitted. Speaking of which, the tailfins are much bigger than standard size, and will need to be scratch built. This has all the hallmarks of a custom job for a "very special customer".

 

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Edit: both photos indeed taken at Marignane, the buildings in the background are identifiable as the old hangars there:

 

https://structurae.net/en/media/263880-marignane-hangar 

Edited by TonyOD
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I'm loving this one already :D

 

Great pictures. 

 

I'm no expert, but isn't that a French Armee de Terre standard green overall finish? that would make it a bit easier if it was.

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2 minutes ago, Smudge said:

isn't that a French Armee de Terre standard green overall finish? that would make it a bit easier if it was.

 

I daresay it is! This seems to have been standard finish for the various African operated Alouettes that I've seen, possibly an "off the shelf" colour? 

 

Of course, what would make it much easier is if someone could point me in the direction of an enamel paint that would do the job 😁

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:D fair point.

 

(I'm sure someone somewhere will do it)

Edited by Smudge
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I’ve ordered the Brengun etch set to tart it up a bit and I can’t do much with the cabin until that arrives, so a bit of light masking and tinting tonight. I think it will take several coats to get uniform coverage of that clear blue.

 

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Edited by TonyOD
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Does the tint on the real thing shift and fade with time? I don't know, but that  pretty, almost aquamarine shade you have achieved, would be a shame to lose, in the effort to even the blue out.

 

Just a thought.

 

 

 

Edited for judicious (over?) use of commas.

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4 hours ago, SoftScience said:

that  pretty, almost aquamarine shade, you have achieved

 

I think you're flattering me a bit with "achieved", it's just how it came out of the jar 😁. It's funny stuff, a bit like a blue syrup. I tried thinning it with a bit of water and experimenting on a spare transparency but it didn't work out, it just puddles up. I don't even know why I bought it, I've certainly had it over 10 years but I must have used it at some time. I have the red and green too which I've only ever used for little things like navigation lights.

 

It's evened out a bit with overnight drying and I've put another coat on this morning which I think will do the trick.

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The etch sheet has arrived so I'm doing a bit of painting. apart from a couple of harnesses one i don't have any experience of using PE, and it's terrifying, frankly.

 

The kit cabin is configured with two back seats whereas Mobutu's Alouette had three, I've scratch built the three-seat bench and will have to come up with another seatbelt.

 

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Edited by TonyOD
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3 minutes ago, TonyOD said:

i don't have any experience of using PE, and it's terrifying, frankly.

I’m with you there, Tony

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Paint trial. I’m definitely leaning towards Revell 42, but feel perhaps just a dash of Humbrol 80 might add a little something.

 

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On 2/28/2021 at 7:47 AM, RidgeRunner said:

 Have you considered this?

Yeah I saw that one but I'm not sure I can be bothered with £2.50 + postage for such a small area of painting. Maybe I could use it for camo on other French subjects? I'm going to do a trial mix of the two enamels I've got to see what happens.

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On 27/02/2021 at 12:17, TonyOD said:

Paint trial. I’m definitely leaning towards Revell 42, but feel perhaps just a dash of Humbrol 80 might add a little something.

 

Having a couple of French helicopters in the stash, I have a vested interest in your colour paint trial. Plus I did stick my oar in a suggest it was Armee de Terre green, so feel slightly responsible.

 

It's difficult to tell by looking at your test patches, so I got out my Humbrol colour's and paint chart and had a look to see what you were seeing, so to speak.

 

I found these which I felt might be worth a try, if you have them.

 

155  Matt Olive Drab (my personal choice, looking at the tin lid anyway)

 

159 Khaki Drab (worth trying)

 

 

 

 

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  • TonyOD changed the title to Mobutu's personal Congolese AF Alouette III (Heller 1/72) +++ FINISHED +++

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