Pavla 1/72 Cessna UC-67 Bobcat/Crane

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $
DECALS: See Review
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Short run with resin and etched parts

HISTORY

The Cessna Bobcat T-50 was a 5 seat twin-engine aircraft intended as a commercial transport and produced by Cessna Company in 1939. It is regarded as one of the prettiest American aircraft of the early 40s and is the American parallel to the British Oxford and Anson, in many cases also used with a crew of four for radio training.

  It has a fuselage made of a fabric and wood covered steel tube with a tail-wheel and a retractable gear fitted to a plywood covered wooden wings and fabric covered wooden tail surfaces. It was soon discovered in both USA and Canada that the T-50 had the qualities as a twin-engine type that can be adopted as a conversion trainer and soon ordered into service as Crane Mk1 and AT-8 with delivery reaching a total of 673 of the two types. 550 machines were passed to Canada designated as Crane Mk1A to serve as multi engine trainers. Also the USAAC showed interest in 33 machines marked AT-8. The USAAF soon ordered 1330 AT-17 and sub variants, these being powered by Jacobs R-775-9 engines. Bobcats began to be used near-battle line transport. The T-50 as was by then more commonly known served in transport role with the USAAF with the new Bobcat designation C-78. In January 1943 these were designated UC-78 and these only differed internally. 67 were also delivered to the US Navy referred to as JRC-1. A total of 5360 Bobcats were built of all types and sub variants with varied equipment. 

The Cessna T-50 Bobcat/Crane Mk1 had a wingspan of 4111, a length of 329 and a height of 911. It weighed 5,000lbs when fully loaded and 3,500 unloaded. The AT-8 version was slightly faster than the AT17 at a maximum of 200 MPH. The aircraft carried no armament.

THE KIT

The Pavla kit of the Bobcat is the first of its type to come out as an injection moulded form in plastic. Previous to this, Forma Plane released a vac-form kit circa 1978 via the then distributors BMW models of UK. Pavla, the Czech Rep based company made the better of the two Bobcat offering in both simplicity to build as well as detail that comes with the model and is also complete with a variety of decal options.

 The Pavla box top has the familiar coloured side views of the kit, featured one in RCAF and another in USAAF different colours, the first one being overall yellow in Canadian markings, which obviously attracts the attention. The kit is moulded in light grey plastic consisting of 35 injection moulded parts. There are clear vacuform acetate parts for the cockpit canopy and side windows. The radial engines come in two detailed resin parts, cream colour. There are also 18 brass etch parts for the cockpit interior, undercarriage detail, aerials for the fuselage, instrument panel, seats, etc besides others. Detail of plastic parts is carefully reproduced to represent fabric-covered areas on main planes, tail planes and tail unit. Sprue runners are on the thick side and parts should therefore be carefully parted using a fine hack saw in order to avoid damage. There is an instruction booklet, which is easy to follow and contains sprue parts plan and six assembly steps with exploded views format along with profile sketches with plan views for three different colour schemes, i.e., besides the two views shown on the box cover there is another colour scheme offering of a Bobcat in anodized silver overall with yellow cowling and fuselage cross trim, representing the type that was based at Pensacola. Some reference suggests that the yellow colour should in fact be willow green to conform to those carried on a recently restored aircraft attached to NAS Pensacola.

CONSTRUCTION

After having a general examination of the parts, I started the construction with fixing the tiny interior detailing in brass etch parts. The parts I find easy to cut from the fret using a pair of scissors, understanding that the brass is of the 70/30 Alpha structure type, which renders it very ductile and soft. The items are fixed in their proper places using a tiny drop of super glue. The interior of cockpit and cabin was given a coat of cockpit green while the seats were given a coat of leather brown. One or two tries brought all the correct parts fitting nicely. This was not without a little effort as the fuselage halves had no lugs and locating holes as found in most kits. But now I have got used to the Pavla style of kits and as the saying goes practice makes perfect. One should note here that I did not use the vacform side Perspex since the windows are of such size that I could use Kristal Kleer in place of the perspex given. The cockpit canopy was cut to fitting size and assembled in place using tiny spots of white glue. This and side window openings were masked off with masking tape to protect any dust from entering or damage to the cockpit canopy. Cockpit frame painting will be left to a later stage.

 The main wing parts have some excess plastic that needs to remove from the inside face, before the wing parts could be brought together. Each of the pair of engines painted in silver and touches of grey had to fit inside the cowlings, which were painted in zinc chromate on the inside. I inserted a distance piece to fit inside the cowling and behind the resin engine. This will prevent the resin part from moving back which will spoil its relative position with the front of the cowling. The complete cowlings are then brought to the wings and if any gap remained this were easily remedied with a tiny quantity of putty. The undercarriage legs are also fixed in place but the wheels were left to a later stage. The butt-jointed wings were glued in place and care was made to align these as best one could. Other external items as engine intakes, aerials; engine exhaust pipes, tail wheel and propeller blades that also come in separate items were all assembled at this stage. Incidentally the prop blades and aerials needed drilling holes at the joining place and also at the engine center to take the prop shaft. One should also ensure to place the blades to give the proper pitch when fixing these in place. I found it needless to emphasize on the exact positioning of the instrument panel and all the tiny detail that goes with it since all this will be hidden in the end and one should do the best when fitting these interior details. One other item worth mentioning is that I trimmed slightly all the wing trailing edges as well as the end of the rudder as these were on the thick side, not a big job to do but the end result is quite effective. Having all the items glued in one piece I allowed the assembly to dry overnight.  Next thing was applying some putty to wing root to blend it to the fuselage. The kit is so small that it did not render any interior stiffening of the wing to root joint and the only thing I reiterate is to get a good alignment of the wings when kit is viewed from front.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 The kit was then given a smooth wet and dry sanding overall and washed. The cockpit clear area was then re-masked using Maskol and the kit was given a coat of semi-matt white, allowing it to dry and then given a coat of ID yellow using a Compucolour brand. The kit was afterwards given a smooth wet and dry sanding once more, allowed to dry and given another coat in yellow slightly richer in thinner than previous coat. Cockpit was carefully done at this stage using a thin brush, this was allowed to dry and re-masked. Finally the completed kit was given a coat of Liu floor polish. This gave me the desired sheen prior to applying the Canadian roundels and markings. Wing walkways were added using black decal sheet cut to size.

 A Formaplane vacuform kit

 My other model that I built of the Bobcat is one I referred to earlier. This I bought some time ago and having the faculty of a good supply of extra decals that came with the Pavla model I have taken the liberty to assemble the Forma Plane offering as well. This needed much more work than the Pavla kit and the 20 odd vacform parts that came with the model needed careful sanding, using the Pavla kit as a reference to kit parts. The only drawback with this kit was that the rear fuselage section was on the narrow side and the large Perspex intended to incorporate the cockpit and side windows would have been better if left without the windows unmarked as these were incorrectly engraved. In spite of this I managed to finish the kit in the USAAF olive drab upper and medium grey lower and using the Pavla decals to decorate the completed kit.

 It was a good effort to make the two models and having tried my hands on two different kit makes I definitely would go for the Pavla model which was a pleasure to build and add to my ever growing 1/72 scale model collection.

Carmel J. Attard

May 2006

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