Pavla 1/72 Fairchild UC-61 Forwarder
KIT #: ?
PRICE: Around $20.00
DECALS: See review
REVIEWER: Joel Hamm
NOTES: Short run, currently out of production.

HISTORY

If you’ve seen my last few reviews, you know I’ve got this thing for US utility / transport / liaison aircraft, particularly WWII .  They were basically civilians clothed in OD, soldiered faithfully but unglamorously, took on the dull and dirty duties, and never intentionally or directly hurt  anyone. Pretty much just like this reviewer. Something about them also attracted the attention of the Czech kit makers, because they’ve cranked out quite a passel of U and L planes from the late 30’s early 40’s.  The Forwarder is one  most of us never knew existed, let alone looked for in injected plastic.

What more needs to be said, other than that it was designed for the expected upsurge in private flying, but like everything else with wings or wheels, was scarfed up by the military.  All sorts of technical esoterica can be had by asking Mr. Google.

THE KIT

If I just say “typical Czech short run” is there anyone out there who still needs further elaboration? Oh, alright. Crisp detail, but not as crisp as if molded by the US Mint, or Hasemiya Ltd. Resin bits  for parts not suited for their softish plastic or low pressure process. Need for minor cleanup.  No slots, tabs, pins, or holes for holding parts in place.

            The windshield is vacuformed, but the side windows are provided only as a postage stamp of clear acetate, that is supposed to be cut and fitted without benefit of bevels, flanges, or tabs in the openings.  Who, me? Faced in the past with similar challenges, I had rigged a method of casting epoxy in-situ. That created clear, but thick and optically distorted portals. For the Forwarder I opted to mold vacuformed panels of door and quarter windows together.  I taped over the outside of the windows, used Blue Tack type stuff (actually it’s yellow) to form a reservoir inside the fuselage, and filled the resultant female  mold with Durham’s Rock Hard Wood Putty, which is water based and shrinks slightly as it dries so the male copy  comes away easily from the plastic. The circumference of the window protrusions had to be filed down slightly to allow for the thickness of the stretched clear stuff; then the first whoosh-suck-plop of my home-made vacu-former produced a pair of acceptable transparencies – not “Clear-Vax” quality, but good enough, considering the window size, and their position  tucked beneath a high wing.

CONSTRUCTION

            I spent a bit more time than necessary detailing the inside  - little can be seen. A persistent problem with these Czech light plane kits is placement of the floorboard assembly. The forward seats seem invariably to sit too far back. Inching everything noseward a few millimeters might improve the interior view. Another goof on the instruction illustrator’s part is a diagram specifying no dihedral.  Photos of the actual plane clearly show a distinct upward bend; which is just how things will turn out using the full length of struts provided.

            Speaking of struts, getting all the pieces of landing gear attached and aligned is a chore. Best way is to clamp the plane in a swivel vice, glue on a leg and position the assembly so gravity holds it in place. When dry, the supporting braces can be added.

            The kit allows for building one of two versions – the radial engined plane used by the Army, and the inline Ranger engine incarnation bought by the Coast Guard. I opted for the snub nose mainly to avoid the metal finish of the nautical bird. The engine is intricately detailed in resin, but like most Pavla/MPM/Sword etc. radial renditions, the cylinders seem a bit atrophied.

            The vacanopy  fit with a minimum of fiddling, held in place with Varathane H2O varnish. Framing was done with painted strips of Pactra Trim Tape.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 Gloss enamels rather than flats eliminate the pre-decal Future coat; but olive drab doesn’t come that way.  A flim-flam of orange dribbled into bright green does the trick. Neutral grey is available shiny, or you can mix black and white. The Czech kits’ decals are usually superb, owing to their use of Propagteam. Usually but not always. This time they opted for Extratech brand.  The insignia roundels are way too small (judging by the marking guide) and printed off register. The “4” numerals that go on the fin and cowl are also diminutive. Spares for both were easily found.  Luckily, the tail codes and fuselage arrowhead insignia were correct.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

Just a coupl’a minor appurtenances and protruberances completed the project. Never figured out how to simulate the grain on a wood prop, but it Mox Nix  in that scale, beside, the outer half  was covered with greenish paint and/or fabric and had a brass leading edge protector strip. A dot of etched brass somethingorother made a convincing propeller hub.

CONCLUSIONS

  Looks so cute on a shelf full of wartime Cubs, Cessnas, and Stinsons that now I have to build the straight schnozzed version – ‘cept its OOP and I can’t seem to find one.

Joel Hamm

December 2005   

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