Chemica 1/72 Vultee A-35 Vengeance
|PRICE:||Around $6 many years ago|
|NOTES:||It's at Frog mold.|
In previous write-ups I confessed a soft spot in my modeling heart for underdog airplanes. Most folks agree that Vulteeís V-72 / A-31 /A-35 Vengeance was one of the under-est und doggi-est. Attracted by its Grumman Avenger beafy-ness and expanse of greenhouse canopy I had built the FROG kit early in my career; but it was eventually consigned as an organ donor to the spares box. Several years ago a line in the old Lencraft Hotsheet caught my eye, listing a 1/72 Vengeance produced by the Polish Chemica Co. It turned out to be a direct re-issue, differing from FROG only in rougher molding and a cruder canopy. I decided to play with it as a platform for trying new (to me) techniques such as part swapping and thermo-stretch forming. I hadnít at that time built my kitchen table vacu-former and discovered how easy it was to melt-suck new clear parts.
Centerpiece of the enterprise was to be addition of a True Details complete resin interior, which also came from Lencraft for only $2. That set was for the Douglas Dauntless; but I figured the innards of one dive bomber likely resembled that of any contemporary; and if it did not, no one would get close enough to compare.
Actually, condemnation of the V-Plane among ďhistoriansĒ is not universal; neither is consensus on its origins. Some books and Web sites say Vultee developed it independently in the Ď30ís as an export project. Others claim it was a direct response to a dire shriek from the Blitzed British for anything that could fly while carrying guns and bombs. Most speak coolly (to put it politely) about its effectiveness, but some recent books claim to contain glowing reports by those who served aboard it. Vengeances flew combat with the RAF and Indian Air Forces in the CBI theater, but after Pearl Harbor the US restrained and retained some 300, which reportedly saw service no more hazardous than as target tugs. I make no personal guarantee of the accuracy of these gleanings; and no, I donít know why the wings were cracked and cranked at that ugly forward sweep.
Molding was really pretty good, though many parts were simplistic, particularly the engine. The canopy was thick, cloudy, heavily framed, and provided only as the open forward half. The kit included a single cockpit interior piece of seats and consoles, which was based on imagination alone. The plan was to fix these and other shortcomings with a full length melt-mash canopy, the True Details interior, a resin radial from EnginesíníThings, and whatever replacement parts tumbled out of the spares box.
First order of business was forming a new full- length closed canopy. I actually located the 30-year-old FROG part, measured, cut, and glued the two hoods open end to end. This push-me-pull-you affair got dunked into a tub of RTV silicone rubber to form a female mold, which in turn produced a male copy cast in automotive epoxy resin. That became the master that was shaped, smoothed, shimmed, and trimmed to fit perfectly into the cockpit opening. (Fuselage halves were temporarily taped together.)
It took several tries with chunks of Squadron Thermoform Sheet to get an acceptable stretch-formed transparency. This was framed with painted strips of Pactra Trim Tape, coated liberally with aqueous polyurethane varnish, which provided a bit more durability than Future, and set aside while the task of interiorizing was tackled.
The TD Dauntless cockpit wouldnít, of course, fit as a unit; so it was parsed with parts apportioned as apparently appropriate. A bit of scratch building by way of struts, stringers, radio shelves, seat belts, and such added more detail than can be seen or appreciated. A zotz of Chromate Green followed by picking out with contrasting paints set the stage for clam shell close up. (Iíve never yet mastered the art of highlighting with washes.)
The remaining airframe assembly proceeded without need for filling or fiddling, despite the age of the molds. The wheel wells got purtied up with stringers, but, of course, nobody gets to look up there no-how.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
I had intended to do a re-possessed bird in RAF camo with US insignia, but couldnít locate any full view reference shots. I settled on standard OD/NG livery copied from some grainy postage stamp sized photos. Decals came from the spares envelope, with the actual tail code cut from individual numerals.
Major steps in this phase were replacement of the pathetic FROG radial with one only moderately better from EnginesíníThings; a prop swap with a close-enough from the spares pile, canopy close-up, and the usual antennae and pito-whatevers.
There are now available several reputable Vengeances in 1/72 from the Czech companies. This one will suffice for my collection.
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