SMER 1/48 Piper L-4 Cub

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $4-5 USD in Czech Republic
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Martin Dolejsi
NOTES: Your editor thinks this is probably the Heller 1/50 kit.

HISTORY

The first Piper Cub J.2 was built in 1936 followed by J.3 version in 1938 equipped with 48kW / 65 hp Continental engine. This was the most successful version with 3000 aircraft built a year in early forties.

Military version, designed L.4 “Grasshopper” had modified canopy and instruments according to the military needs. This version saw the first action during the invasion to North Africa and served as courier, reconnaissance and observation aircraft. From then served on all fronts well through the war years. Altogether some 5500 L.4 were built.

 After war the aircraft was in service of many countries and some still in it are until nowadays. And here and there you can see them in the movies.

THE KIT

The Smer kit was first released in early eighties, I believe. The box contains some 40 gray plastic parts, injected 4-parts canopy and decal sheet for two aircraft. There used to be PE set produced by Eduard, but I did not have it. The plastic frames are, in spite of the age of the forms, free of flash and no disturbing pins on the exposed areas. The instruction sheet with quite clear drawings and with some extra references for the details, there is no problem to follow it. 

I don’t check against the plans the correctness of the size and shape but there are few problematic things you notice straightaway. Some details are too rough and the fabric pattern, otherwise quite nice, is missing on the top and bottom sides of the fuselage.

CONSTRUCTION

I make the kits in Out-of-Box style with few added details or corrections. This time I started with the cockpit adding the fuselage metal structure made of plastic frame bits (just to find later it was mostly covered with fabric, but left it there).  Then glued the fuselage together to be able to install the seats, sticks and the front pedals I scratched made (that you cannot see really through the glassing anyway).

Next step was to complete the engine part. There is need to thin the cylinder covers and both bottom exhaust pipes. After that I assemble the engine parts except the screw and glue it to the fuselage. I sprayed the interior and the sticking places with the green enamel to check the errors. I found out that the engine needs some correction of the top lid, that looked smaller, I used some thick glue that was sanded to the correct shape.  Then I sprayed the cockpit with the Gunze H80 Khaki green and glued the instrument panel to the place. This I painted Humbrol Flat Black and scraped the instrument edges with scalpel so you get the faces light gray. Next the elevators were glued to the fuselage. I masked the interior and sprayed the fuselage with the Surfacer 1000. I drilled little hole at the bottom of the fuselage just above of the tail wheel for the only rigging that the model needs. The last step was to assemble and glue to the place panted cockpit structure of the ceiling .

The wings, have classic top/bottom parts, were glued together, sprayed with Surfacer and left aside.  Later I glued the supports to it, as I thought it would help me to hold the correct angles.

 Now I painted the main assembled parts and after they dried up, I continued with the details. The canopy is a bit challenge as there are 4 parts, sides, top and front shield to be assembled. I finally used the trick of sticking the side to the fuselage in correct angle and glue the top on them. Then the front shield was glued too. When everything was dry, I took it off the fuselage to leave the assembly for later (I am not sure if this is the best way to do it, as I ran into some problems later with the clearness of the glassing). I painted the internal frames (yes, there are internal frames interpreting some inner structure), masked the outside frames of the canopy and glue it to the fuselage. The main leg parts were glued to the fuselage (it needs to look after the correct angle).

 At the last the wings were glued to the places, the painted screw and the tires were installed. The rigging was made of 0,8 fishing rod painted Humbrol Gunmetal enamel.

The horror started when I took off the masking tape of the canopy. Part of it was sprayed inside, as I left the gap between the canopy and fuselage in the place of the door and the sprayed colour went inside… To correct that, I had to take off the canopy, clean the windows (fortunately the Mr Colour Thinner worked well) and glued everything together again, to end up with mist on the windows… again the cleaning took place. Finally I painted the canopy with the Gunze gloss varnish and glued it to the place with moreless satisfying result.

COLORS & MARKINGS

I choose the "Torch" aircraft that seemed to me a bit more attractive with the yellow front and yellow edges of insignia.

 First I sprayed the fuselage and wings with Surfacer 1000 to find and correct some sanding marks.

 The parts of canopy were painted separately, inside frames using H 80 Khaki green and outside frames with H 78 Olive drab. After assemble of it I masked it again and sprayed outside again with Olive drab.

 The upper sides of the fuselage and wings were done with H78 Olive drab and bottom with H53 Neutral gray. The engine cover was sprayed with black primer and then with few layers of H3 Yellow. Then I sprayed the whole model with gloss Humbrol varnish and applied decals. Then came another level of gloss. I made some marks of the dust/sand near the wheels and tail using Gunze H66 Sandy Brown.

 After the final assembly of the kit (wings, wheels, screw) I made some scratches on the metal parts with Revell 90 silver,  to brake solidness of the Olive I used thinned Gunze Sandy Brown and Yellow. On the engine cover I added a bit of oil stains and that was it. After that I sprayed the model with Gunze Matt varnish to end up with some gray patches here and there. Thank to my friend Carmel who advised me to give it another spray, the correction wasn’t too hard.

CONCLUSIONS

As I mentioned, the kit is quite old and therefore doesn’t seem to meet nowadays standards.  I don't check the 100% correctness of every detail so I found this kit entertaining enough to buy another one. And as there is only one other possibility for this scale, if you are interested in this kind of aircraft, it is a good choice, because it is very cheap and provides good base for nice model.

REFERENCES

 I only used a number of the web pages to find about some details that are not well represented in the instruction sheet.

Martin Dolejsi

September 2010

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