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Savoia-Marchetti SM 81 Pipistrello***FINISHED***


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Hi,

 

Now I have finished the builds in a couple of other GB I can get back to this one and get my "Monty's Caravan and Daimler Dingo" finished. However, a few weeks ago I swapped a few kits with Pat in Scotland and as a result acquired this beauty – thanks Pat!

DSC04979-crop

I don't know if this is true, but I have read that a couple of Italian brothers who were modellers, fed up with the lack of proprietary kits of Italian planes, decided to set up their own company to build them – Supermodel. The company produced an initial batch of kits in around 1973 of which this was one, the others being a mix of Fiat, Macchi and Reggianne fighters plus both versions of the Cant Z1007 bomber (Monoderiva and Bideriva or single and twin tails if you prefer) and also the Alcione floatplane. Later in 1977 they released the Bv 138 flying boat I built a year or two ago and which impressed me enormously given its age. Reviews say this earlier kit is a bit iffy in terms of fit and the 2 page instructions leave something to be desired but I will see what I can do. Italeri seem to have acquired at least some of the moulds later and have re-released this, apparently with some improvements.


Once the kit arrived I started thinking about including it in this GB. By the time WWII started it was being phased out of bombing duties as it was replaced by the SM 79, but it did make a few bombing raids from African bases, mostly at night. Later it served as a transport, and I have the paints to do the normal sort of camo on it at that period. However, the scheme I am considering doing it in is potentially somewhat more tricky. During the war in Abyssinia in 1935 onwards SM 81 bombers were painted in an all over "cream" colour and on the upper surfaces of the wings they had the so called “anti-camouflage” stripes painted in red – they were apparently both a recognition marking and also helped to locate any downed planes in the desert.

812

The box art is a bit misleading as it shows an Alpha-Romeo engined one in this scheme in the foreground with a solid green/brown camo a bit like the RAF alongside it. However on the back of the box the painting instructions show the cream one with Piaggo X engines and also a torpedo bomber in a light/dark green mottle pattern. In fact this could have a wide variety of schemes as it served in numerous theatres of war – East Africa, Libya, Russia, Spain, Metropolitan Italy, the Balkans and the Aegean to name a few.

 

The decs are a little sparse and do not include either the wing red stripes or the big tricolour for the tail, but given their age I suspect they could have been a problem anyway so I am going to have to rely on masking. I will probably end up using tape but first I am going to try an experiment on one wing using some frisket film which I have printed a life size image of the wing stripes on – probably won't work but worth a try.

Looks like fun - I must be mad!

 

Pete

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Posted (edited)

Here are the parts - some have fallen off the sprue, mainly props and cowlings, and they are in the plastic bag on the right.

 

DSC04982-crop

And here is my first pass at the wings!

DSC04984-crop

IPMS Stockholm say that the nearest equivalent to the "cream " colour used by the Italian AF between the wars is Hu 74 Linen, and whilst it is nothing like as yellow as in the pic, it might still be not quite right - I will check it under natural light in the morning. At worst it will do as a primer, and I think I have found something that will look better. The call out on the painting diagram is for "Giallo Sabbia" or yellow sand, and I happen to have some old White Ensign Colourcoats "Giallo Sabbia Chiaro" or light yellow sand in my stock, which although it was bought as a paint for tanks may well do - I tried it a couple of days ago on a tank I was building in another GB and it is somewhat creamer colour whilst still having a slight "lemon" tint. If that does not look right I have several versions of "bleached" / "natural" / "clear doped" linen paint for my WWI planes that might fit the bill.

 

So a little bit about the SM 81 Pipistrello aka Bat from my old Profile Publications book on the subject.

The SM 81 was a Bomber/Transport design which first flew in 1934 as a development of the SM 73 trimotor transport. Like the later SM 79 it was of mixed construction with a wooden wing which contained some 36 sealed flotation chambers in case it ditched and a metal framed fuselage covered with metal and fabric. The aircraft was fitted with a variety of engines – 650 HP Alpha Romeo 125 RC.35, the 680 HP Alpha 126 RC.34, the 670hp Piaggio X and the 650hp Gnôme-Rhone K.14. A twin engined version the SM 81bis was experimented with, powered by 2x 840HP Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI RC 12 cylinder Vee engines but was not proceeded with. Props were initially 4 bladed but were mostly replaced with 3 bladed ones, though the lengths were slightly different, those for the Alpha-Romeo engines being 4” longer in diameter. Supermodel provide cowlings for both an Alpha-Romeo and a Piaggio engine but only the one set of props.

 

Defensive armament comprised two hydraulically operated semi retractable turrets with twin 7.7mm mg though later some were replaced with a modified turret carrying a single Breda-SAFAT 12.7mm mg. A single 7.7mg was mounted in the rear fuselage so it could be fired through hatches on either side. Bombload was up to 4000lb though normally about 2640lb, and the bombs were carried vertically which resulted in problems - anybody who has seen pics of He 111 unloading their vertically carried bombs would have noticed how much they wobble and the book says this was the reason why Italian bombing was generally considered innaccurate. Like most if not all inter war and early wartime designs it suffered from the chronic inability of the Italian aircraft engine industry to develop a really powerful modern engine which is perhaps why so many Italian planes were trimotors. This coupled with the rather heavy structure and fixed undercarriage resulted in a top speed of about 210mph and a combat range with max bombload of only 270 miles, which is no doubt why the bombload was usually reduced. It had a crew of 6 and around 535 were built. Once the SM 79 entered service in 1937 it was gradually switched to transport and training duties but was still in second line use at the time of the Armistice in 1943 and even later.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

 

 

Edited by PeterB
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Thanks Chris,

 

That could be useful!

 

Pete

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Hi, I am glad to observe another input from Italo-Abyssinia a bit forgotten war! 

regarding the colour - it is creamy white rather then yellow I think.  At least it was always reproduced this way on profiles:

f072a91a0652483cf158ce7818228722.jpg

 

In the Italeri kit, which is an improved only a bit kit of Supermodel, this colour is named "Bianco Avorio" (what means "Ivory white") what defintly is not a yellow but rather white. It has given the FS number 33613. I am using Humbrol 41 (gloss creamy white - but then applied mat varnish). 

You may see here

https://www.kustomservice.com/it/regia-aeronautica-acqua/493-ra05-colore-acrilico-regia-aeronautica-bianco-avorio-5-30ml.html

However the Stormo suggests Hu 148 for it https://www.stormomagazine.com/RegiaAeronauticaColorsinWWII_3a.htm

When you look on photo

http://www.magpiecards.co.uk/cards/789.jpg

This Ivory White is just a tone darker than flat white of national color on tail

I stay with Hu 41...

https://www.stormomagazine.com/ColorGuide/VITOCharts/Photos/Img1.png

Regards

J-W

 

 

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Thanks J-W,

 

That is very helpful. I have seen references to Bianco Avorio and suggestions of using Radome Tan for that. I don't actually have any Humbrol 41 - one of the very few colours I do not have in my paint stock. I tried the Colourcoats Giallo Sabbia Chiaro and it is a nice colour but probably a bit too dark, so I tried Hu 103 Oak and that was only a little lighter. I may end up using Colourcoats Doped linen which is close to the colour shown in the old Profile Book you attached., though perhaps still a little dark from what you say.  I will try and post some comparison shots in the morning as it is best to see them in natural light.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

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PS. 

The examples of FS 33613 by different producers:

Lakier-akrylowy-Radome-tan-FS33613-RC227mrcolor-c318-fs33613-radome-semig.jpg    485_rd.jpgMMP_070_FS_33613_Radome_Tan_1024x1024.jp

 

The last one is perhaps the best one, it is https://www.missionmodelsus.com/products/radome-tan-fs-33613

 

This is really surprising to me, that using Federal Standards you can differ so much. In light of that Hu 41 is too white....

Regards

J-W

 

 

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From Profile Publication # 146 The Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81:

 

51146260035_0ec4f9cda0_b.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Chris

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Thanks Chris, 

 

I am using the Profile Publications version with straight edged red stripes, though knowing my standard of masking they may just end up with wavy edges!

 

Pete

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Hello there, nice start. The Supermodel brand was set up by two of the original partners of Italeri and focused on Italian airplanes, unfortunately, drawings and info weren't exactly thick on the ground and their production suffers from dimensional errors. The Pipistrello (Bat) is one of their best efforts.

Bianco Avorio, while "warm", is still white and not yellow. Your best reference for the exact nuance would be, old piano keys or snooker balls, or, if you don't have any handy, a white chocolate tablet 😋

Keep up the good work!

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Posted (edited)

Having checked the several hundred tins and bottles of paint I have for planes, ships, tanks and trains, these are the two nearest I can find - I really don't want to buy any more at the moment!

DSC04988-crop

On the left Colourcoats doped linen and on the right their Giallo Sabbia Chiaro. Judging by the comments by @Bonehammer, @JWM and Chris @dogsbody the one on the left is probably as near as I will get without mixing up my own, which I would prefer not to do as it can cause problems when trying to touch things up later - any thoughts/comments? I tested both with a small area coated with varnish and there is no obvious change

 

This is the second Supermodel kit I have built and I gather it is one of the early releases. The BV 138 was a bit later and had far better instructions as this just has a sprue shot and two assembly steps which means that sorting out where some of the bits go is problematic - perhaps one of the reasons why the review I saw commented on having trouble working out how to get the undercarriage to fit! There is a lot more detail included than in many comparable kits of the same age but from what @Bonehammer says they suffered from the usual lack of info so some of them are not perhaps as accurate as they could be. One problem with this one is that whilst the Bv 138 had a colour call out for all the bits - eg crew uniform, gloves, guns, props etc a bit like the lists on old Airfix instruction, this has nothing so I am not entirely sure what the interior colour would be. The usual Italian green perhaps, or maybe that was restricted to the cockpit area only and the rear was in something else? Any info will be gratefully received! Also, what would be a good match for the green in the Tricolore on the tail - the Sky Models decal sheet I have for the SM 79 says HU 3 Brunswick Green.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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What a great subject, Pete! :). It isn’t my era but it is certainly my kind of Approach to building unusual aircraft :). 👍

 

Martin

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Posted (edited)

Hi Martin.

 

To be honest the period between the wars has never really been my era either, apart from those planes from the late 1930's that actually flew from 1939 onwards. Part of that may be down to the dearth of kits from that period when I was younger - like most youngsters I built almost everything Airfix produced until maybe 30 years ago so I built their original Gladiator (not very good as I recall) their Bulldog, and their Demon, having missed out on the Hart. I also built the Matchbox Gladiator, Siskin and Fury together with their Boeing F4B, and the Revell P-26, but that was about it. I did fancy some more "silver" biplanes but the only ones I can remember were probably not in 1/72 - can't remember the make, but likely to be American and they had according to the box a "skin" of some sort, perhaps a form of decal, which appeared to cover the kit to save painting - but my memory may be playing tricks. Of course the range is far greater now due in part to the various limited run manufacturers that appeared from about 1980 onwards but I am sort of stuck with WWI, WWII and "modern". However when Pat offered me this I thought why not  - I will probably regret it but the cream with red wing stripes has always had a strange appeal!

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Posted (edited)

A couple of years ago I bought some "Frisket" masking film having seen it used in a magazine article. It is a thin transparent sheet which has a low tack adhesive on the back and is stuck to a thin paper backing sheet with a grid printed on it - mine is in sheets 10" x15". You can draw lines on it in pencil to copy a pattern which you can see through the backing paper, but I tried printing directly on to it - the ink did not dry so I wiped it off and printed a reversed image of the wing pattern on the back! I had hoped to just cut out the "stripes" where it was painted red and apply the whole thing as a stencil, but that did not work - it might have with more thought and some practice but anyway I just ended up cutting out the "cream" stripes and lining them up by hand. Another way might be to just draw in the pattern in pencil, cut out the outline of the wing and stick the whole mask on before cutting the pattern out carefully when it is in place. That might make aligning it easier but risks scoring the plastic wing surface, though paint probably would hide that. By the time I had finished fiddling about the masks were not sticking too well so I ran a thin layer of the "cream" paint down the edges, and once that was dry I applied several thinned coats of red - this is the result-

 

DSC05007-crop

 

Ok, I still got some bleeding under the mask so I will have to put more "cream" paint on the edges next time but not too bad for a first attempt – now all I have to do is try and get the other wing to match! With the existing wing to guide me I hopefully should not have to keep taking the frisket off and adjusting it quite as much as the first time so it should stick down rather better. Would it have been easier with normal Tamiya tape - possibly on this straight edged pattern but maybe not on a splinter pattern, but anyway I wanted to try this stuff and should learn enough to make it easier when I get round to the Luftwaffe splinter patters in future. Also, the offcuts will be useful to protect the Tricolor on the tail when I paint that shortly, and maybe to reduce the damage that might be caused if I have to fill and file the wing to fuselage joint as seems likely according to the review I read. It is a slightly strange joint as it is almost a butt fit, with just a short "tongue" sticking out from the fuselage to mate with a slot in the wing. If and when I get the hang of using the frisket properly it should be the same as the ready cut vinyl masks for camo pattern, and at around £1.50 for a large sheet and rather less if you buy it on a roll, it will be cheaper as well, which naturally appeals to a cash strapped Yorkshireman!

 

So, on to the other wing.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

 

Edited by PeterB
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Posted (edited)

Just to give you some idea of what I am up against, here are the assembly instructions-

Humber pip

Yes - that is all you get! The location of some of the parts, for example the exhausts on the Piaggio cowlings I will be using are a bit vague to say the least so I will be looking at as many pics as I can. I can understand why the reviewer had problems with the undercarriage - the struts have to be glued to seperate "blister fairings" that have to be correctly positioned under the wings and fuselage - at least there are markings showing where they go but there are so many ways everything could be out of alignment that it will definitely be a case of slow drying glue and a lot of fiddling, not to mention multiple dry runs.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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7 hours ago, PeterB said:

That might make aligning it easier but risks scoring the plastic wing surface, though paint probably would hide that.

Just did that on my cavalier mustang build with Tamiya tape. It did score the plastic even though i wasn't pressing to hard. It is mostly hidden unless you know where to look for it. 

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51148191526_5c7ed2ac95_b.jpg

 

 

The first technique in this video might help reduce paint bleed problems

https://www.goldenpaints.com/videos/hard-edge-techniques-using-golden-products

 

Basically, what they suggest is:

- paint the base colours

- mask

- re-apply base colour (to block the bleed channels)
- apply top colour

 

The principal works for both hairy-stick painting and airbrush

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2 hours ago, Robert Stuart said:

51148191526_5c7ed2ac95_b.jpg

 

 

The first technique in this video might help reduce paint bleed problems

https://www.goldenpaints.com/videos/hard-edge-techniques-using-golden-products

 

Basically, what they suggest is:

- paint the base colours

- mask

- re-apply base colour (to block the bleed channels)
- apply top colour

 

The principal works for both hairy-stick painting and airbrush

Thanks Robert - that is the technique I am using but a combination of the adhesive on the frisket getting weakened by being moved numerous times and probably not quite enough paint run down the edge made it less effective on the first wing - worked a lot better on the second and virtually no bleed. Unfortunately I also discovered another potential problem with frisket with this particular use - my cutting was not entirely accurate so I am having to make a few small corrections to the position and size of the stripes. Should not be a problem with say a Vulcan or Ju 290 but for this unusual pattern where symmetry is required, masking tape might have been better.

 

Pete

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Pat,

 

I should have thought of that - getting old! It will not be the easiest of kits to get right but so far it looks as if I should be able to manage it. It is interesting to see the changes Italeri have made - drop the crew and torpedo, add a bit more interior detail and the bomb bay doors, small changes to the engines and turret guns. It is also interesting to note that in their blurb on the instructions, Italeri have copied the suggestion that Supermodel made that the name "Pipistrello" or "Bat" came from it being used on night operations, and yet the Profile book shows at least 2 Gruppo using the bat insignia on their planes in 1936 and 1937 when they were day bombers!

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Ok, the pattern may not be quite right but at least it is the same on both wings now!

DSC05019-crop

Still a little touching up to do but that was the part of the painting I was least looking forwards to, though the vertical tail could be a little tricky as well. Otherwise it should be fairly straightforward - just a case of several thin coats applied with care! I have made a start on the interior of the fuselage in my own take on Italian cockpit green - pics before too long. The base "cream" colour may be a little dark according to previous comments but it matches my own mental impression of what it might have looked like pretty well - looks far better in daylight as above. The Hu 60 "scarlet" may be a little too bright but all the other reds I have are either even lighter or much darker and for a job like this I try and avoid mixing paint, particularly enamels, as just when you need to do a final touch up they always seem to have dried out even when I use one of my fancy wine bottle vacuum stoppers to seal the jar without letting air in (in theory) though in fairness it does more than double the normal "shelf life"!

 

Whilst not perfect the wing to fuselage joint does not look that bad when I dry fitted them so instead of 5 minute epoxy I might get away with normal plastic cement followed by running CA in the gap later - obviously I want to avoid damaging the wing paintwork as much as possible, though the rear part will need the "fillet" on the fuselage painting red anyway. For the big tricolour on the fin, then as nobody has responded to my previous enquiry I will go with off white and Hu 60, and perhaps a mix of Hu 3 with Hu MC 7 French Dragoon Green which is another colour I have seen modellers using - might be a bit light straight from the tin but we will see - I don't mind mixing paint for a small job like that.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

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Well done with the stripes on the wings, I need to remember that trick. The colors look right, don't fret the exact placement of the stripes, there was variation a-plenty.

The '81 had a metallic structure so Verde Anticorrosione, FS 34558, should be appropriate. Either mix Humbrol 23 and Humbrol 80 or use a dark green wash on Hu 23.

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  • PeterB changed the title to Savoia-Marchetti SM 81 Pipistrello***FINISHED***

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