Italeri 1/48 Fiat CR.42LW
|NOTES:||Eduard etched belts|
The Fiat CR.42 was a result of Celestino Rosatelli’s innovative aeronautical designs evolution. Starting with the CR.1 in 1924 the CR.42 first flew May 23, 1938. At a time when low wing, high powered monoplane fighters were flying or in tier prototype stages this bi-plane aircraft seemed to be an anachronism. Rather than launch into a discussion on the state of the art at that time let’s focus on how good this was as the apex of development of the CR series of fighters. Its test pilot after the first flight stated it was “the ultimate pilot’s airplane”. The CR.42 was powered by the FIAT A.74 RC.38 radial engine which produced 828 h.p. at 12, 465 feet. Even an in line DB601E engine was fitted and tested in this airframe (CR.42DB) during 1942 but by the end of initial flight testing the air ministry recognized the day of the bi-plane was over and that ended the CR.42. Its initial armament consisted of two fuselage mounted Breda-SAFAT .50 caliber (12.7mm) guns synchronized to fire through the propeller arc. A field conversion was available and used to replace the weapons with Breda-SAFAT .30 caliber (7.7mm) guns – as a weight saving gambit.
The CR.42 was produced from February 1939 through June 1943 for a total of 1700 airframes. It evolved from the initial day fighter design into a night fighter, fighter bomber and two seat training airframes. It was well liked by its pilots and served in the Spanish civil war, Western Europe (Belgium/France), Mediterranean, Russian and North African fronts. It was even used by the Luftwaffe designated CR.42LW in Italy during 1944 and in France during late 1943 for anti-partisan missions. When the war ended it was still in service stationed in Austria and Croatia. It was an ace maker logging air-to-air combat success for pilots from Italy, Hungary, and Belgium.
The version in this kit is the “LW” representing a special contract batch of two-hundred CR.42 airframes designed for night and anti-partisan use by the German Luftwaffe. The “LW” (Luftwaffe) CR.42’s were equipped with flame dampers on their exhaust pipes and modified wheel fairings. The CR.42LW had changes to some internal parts such as a reinforced fuselage framework, information plates in German, FuG-17 radios and ETC 50 VIII bomb racks (two under each wing). Production ceased after September 1944. About 49 were built with a number of CR.42AS versions partially converted or adapted to the units resulting in a total of about 112 accepted for use by the Luftwaffe. Thus, you might see a photo of a German CR.42 with a different night exhaust implementation. One of the references I used, MMP #8104 FIAT CR.42 Falco on page 80, has a non-dust filter carburetor air intake with the extended flame damper exhaust which looks like one of the captured CR.42AS versions used in its tech profile.
Italeri have released three versions of their CR.42 Falco kit. This was the first release, a CR.42 LW (# 2640) in late 2004 for the CR.42LW Luftwaffe Night Attack version with partial landing gear spats. The kit represents a final version of the CR.42 which was a final short production run for the Luftwaffe who were at that point contesting ownership for northern Italy in the face of an Allied advance. The # 2640 release has a design providing an extending to sprue “B” providing the half-spat wheel pants and an extended night exhaust. However, this kit had no bombs which are an omission. The full spats remain on sprue “A” but there is no standard air intake only the dust filter intake is provided making it difficult to use this version for the more common standard CR.42 flown by the Italian Air Force.
Italeri continued its CR.42 series followed by # 2653, a CR.42AS Fighter-Bomber, which added on the opposite side of sprue “A” a no spats landing gear (it also has the full spats plastic parts as well), dust filter air intake and some bombs the following year. The Italeri # 2653 release has a wonderful color printed walk-around booklet that is of great modeling value and tremendous help in building this aircraft. There are many details on the CR.42 to be found and understood. The booklet positively helps with and adds a lot to your building satisfaction.
In 2007 the Italeri # 2702 Falco Aces release came out featuring the most produced version of the CR.42 with colors and markings of aces from Italy, Hungary and Belgium. Italeri’s # 2702 Falco Aces features the required full spat landing gear and simple (non-dust filter) carburetor air intake along the bottom centerline as an addition to sprue “B”. The first two releases by Italeri, # 2640 and # 2653, only have the tropical dust filter air intake limiting how many CR.42 versions you can produce from those kits. The tropical dust filter air intake is removed from spue “A”.
The Italeri CR.42 was well received when it was released and several in-box reviews appeared giving it positive marks but always indicating that the value of this kit would be determined after it was built. It was hoped that a new tool injection plastic kit of the CR.42 from a major manufacturer would reward modelers with a kit they have been waiting for. Classic Airframes released a series of CR.42 kits, starting in 1995 with # 402, followed a few years later with an improved tooling for kits #474, 475, 496, 497, 498, and 499 spanning all the possible CR.42 variants including a two seat trainer and seaplane! The Classic Airframes kits are still available from many hobby shops, eBay and some internet retailers as well. I mention the CA kit here because it set the standard against which the Italeri kit would be compared.
The main differences in the three Italeri CR.42 kit releases are in the landing gear, bomb racks/shackles and carburetor intake parts. Sadly, very few Italeri CR.42’s have appeared at modeling contests that I have been to. I have not seen many in on-line web builds either despite the many versions and years of sales availability. In general it could be because bi-planes are more difficult to build. It could also be because the specific kit releases proved to be difficult to build into nice replicas due to construction impediments.
Perhaps another reason is other kit makers released block buster kits in the same year and that took the buying public’s attention away from the Italeri releases. For this Italeri release perhaps the combination of perceived or relatively high price for a small and simple kit along with some building challenges are partly to blame for the lack of appearances in builds at contests and in shared builds seen in on-line forums.
Scott reviewed the kit stating “For decades we had no 1/48 CR.42 until Classic Airframes released their short run kit several years ago (about 1996). While nice, it had some issues in terms of dimensions. This kit was retooled last year (i.e. about 2004) and produced in a much nicer version. So it was with much surprise that we find Italeri producing the same aircraft as a 1/48 kit. Now one might think that I'd compare the two, but really, it is an apples and oranges thing. The CA kit is a short run multimedia kit with lots of resin bits and pieces. This is a mainstream injection molded kit and so does not have the usual resin and photo etched bits that one finds in short run kits. Not the same animals at all.”
That helped me with answering the question of do I want to buy and build some of the newly released Italeri models or get down to building the Classic Airframes kits in the stash. So I bought the Italeri kit and cut into the two large sprues that fill a pretty good sized box. The clear windscreen was the only part found on the small clear tree. It has an indentation on the forward portion, probably to represent the glass screen of the gunsight, though one is not indicated nor is this feature explained in the box instructions. At first I did not know why Italeri had this strangely shaped diagram on the front windscreen. Most kit reviewers overlooked or failed to comment on this windscreen anomaly. I still don’t really “know” but here’s what I think after reviewing the Italeri kit # 2653 booklets color photos found on page 30. Many web reviewers made no mention of it or noted it looked like an opening for a telescopic sight. Some were unsure as to its meaning or purpose. So I will go out on a limb and note the gunsight is just behind the front windscreen and probably represents the gunsight glass superimposed on the windscreen as a design simplification. It, the gunsight, is there at the top of part A2. Once the cockpit is in the fuselage, the San Giorgio Type B reflector gunsight in the middle of the panel pokes up behind and below the windscreen – almost touching it. Thus, by placing it as part of the front windscreen’s “panel lines” it looks like the gun sight glass is there, sitting on the gunsight, when looked at from certain angles. It is an interesting alternative but I would have preferred a separate gunsight with glass on the clear parts tree.
All the parts are molded in a soft grey plastic with the required engraved detailing. The interior looks complete in the box with a seat, instrument panel, rudder pedals, control stick and side panels. Each kit part has nice detailing; some more than others, but in my opinion, for a recently released kit from a major manufacturer, the cockpit is somewhat crude. The cockpit looks like a limited run kit (minus the resin detail parts), when the short-run kit makers were in their early learning curve stage working on improving their product. I am all for a simplified cockpit, as long as the details are there, but in this model I was disappointed with the crude cockpit detail. Levers are missing or represented by fat round blobs. The firing button on top of the control stick would be as large as a pie plate if scaled up to 1:1 scale. The seat and cockpit interior should have round tubular rails but are represented by solid panels that obstruct the proper installation of the starboard side panel. The starboard instrument console, parts 48/6 did not fit without cutting and filing in all four of the Italeri kits that I built. The lower portion of parts 48/6 hit the cockpit floor part # 3A’s seat pan “armrest” when I tried to close up the cockpit walls. This could be due to a slight misalignment of the cockpit walls caused by the loose guide slots. There is way too much movement when the cockpit parts are brought together to result in an error free assembly. Italeri improved their cockpit parts moulding in the later MC.200 Saetta release.
The kit cockpit seemed designed for a novice modeler and had rough details. It greatly benefited from adding some Eduard etched details. I had much higher expectations of Italeri for this kit after my recent build of their Macchi MC.200 kit which I found to be quite nice. I even found the fit of the completed cockpit tub into the fuselage to be a problem on one of my two initial builds for this kit. This was unexpected since the kit looks like it is very simple to assemble due to the few parts involved in its construction. The only saving grace is you cannot see much of the cockpit once the kit is built due to the small cockpit opening. However, the bi-plane wings do not obstruct peering into the cockpit and that means you should think about improving this area, especially the seat and main panels with some color etched metal.
Since resin aftermarket details for the Italeri MC.42 are non-existent and you can peer into the cockpit, I was concerned about the lack of detail. Folks at contests surely will peer into the cockpit. Although it is a very simple cockpit comparing pictures to the kit plastic with an actual airframe left me wondering why the opportunity to make a definitive CR.42 was missed by Italeri. The oxygen tank and compressed air tanks are missing from the cockpit area. The San Giorgio gunsight is poorly done and the magnetic compass that sits under it is missing from the cockpit. The finished cockpit has a brown or natural leather color trim pad running from the headrest to the front edges of the cockpit. This is clearly seen in the photos on pages 30 and 31 of the Italeri booklet. The padding even encompasses the rear edges of the windscreen. Only the rear headrest padding is provided, the rest of the cockpit opening padding is not represented in the kit plastic.
As our Editor Scott noted, and I too was perplexed that the general color of the interior was given as light grey and not the Italian Interior Green found on most Italian aircraft. However, this is the color used in the aircraft FIAT built after the war. A beautiful restoration CR.42 was created from parts for an Italian Aviation Museum. It is documented in color photographs in the booklet that comes with kit # 2653. There are two options for the instrument sections. Both decals and raised detail panels are offered for the main instruments and side panel. Also, a seatbelt decal is provided.
I built my CR.42’s using several variations of cockpit additions. I think the combination of instrument decals with some decal solvent on the raised detail panels looked best if you want to avoid any aftermarket additions. I tried this on a build of the Italeri CR.42LW version and turned out to be the best almost OOB route. However, the kit seat belt decals were incorrect so the build was accompanied by Eduard "EU49017 Seatbelts Italy" pre-painted etched metal seatbelts. I did not use the flat plastic instrument side panel and main console part 48A and used 6A with 49A/50A. I used the raised detail panels applying the decal with some Microsol. The solvent worked perfectly to adapt the decal to the raised surface and gave a better end result. The instructions would have you apply the decal to the flat plastic parts. By using the raised detail part you can easily paint it flat black after the decal snuggles down since the decals are raised above the plastic panel (see photo comparison) for an improved appearance.
The seat belt decal does not appear correct for the CR.42 since the Regia Aeronautica used a metal chain and seat pad restraint system which is quite distinctive. It is well reproduced by Eduard in etched metal but incorrectly done on the kit decal. This is one example of the lack of subject research reflected by poor detail or a decision on the part of Italeri to accept mediocrity in its cockpit parts. This lack of finesse in moulding detail was a big concern I found with this kit. Ideally these parts could have been a moulded on part of the kit plastic.
There is no mention that two steel support rigging cables are part of the end portions of the struts. They are in an “X” configuration and nowhere to be seen as a suggested addition in the assembly instructions. They do appear in the instruction booklets painting guide, decal colors and markings placement profiles for the aircraft if you look closely. The kit decals should have the prominent FIAT A.74 engine information plate (see page 24 & 25 of the kit # 2653 booklet). The FIAT “eliche” or propeller logo which is similar to the Hamilton Standard prop logo (its picture is on pg. 27 kit # 2653 booklet) is close enough so I will give them an OK on that item. These are examples of the small details that could have made the kit a standout and worth its asking price.
The general surface detailing of the wings and stabs is a bit overdone. It seems like the tooling is not on par with other mainstream manufacturers in terms of details and finesse. Although Scott noted you can tone down the detailing by sanding them down a bit if you want, why should we have to do this for a premium priced kit that is also a recently tooled kit? In the box, the wing strut placement slots look like they would be easy to locate and also looked like it would keep things nice and solid. Maybe because I have not built many biplanes I had some assembly problems with placement of these struts. I was really put off by the difficulty of using these struts. I think there are some mistakes in the lengths of the struts as well. Although the attachment holes in the wings are large the reality is following the instructions led to one disaster after another. They would have worked better with square end tips for a more secure fit.
Despite using what I thought would be a great tool for this project, an “SRAM T02 Biplane Assembly Jig”; it was a mess to get the struts in place. Visions of other modelers comments on the web forums about “binning” a kit and foul words came to mind but were not uttered as I worked this part of the build cycle. It was no fun and would keep me from building another CR.42 from Italeri if I were not so intent on building a few more CR.42’s due to a passion for the subject. Basically due to its color schemes and unique versions of this aircraft I find it an attractive plane to model. I now understand why Classic Airframes and Italeri both produced such a wide range of releases on this aircraft.
Italeri would have you glue all the struts in step
4 and simply flip the upper wing upside down. Because of its superior
engineering all the struts would line up and drop into the slots on the small
lower wing and fuselage. This didn’t happen as you can expect. The struts
require perfect, and I mean perfect alignment partly because they have raked
angles. They are not positioned vertically upright, that is at a 90 degree
angle, so gluing those at the required angle, per the diagram, did not work for
me. Although the end points have accurate angles as part of their design they
did not click into place. The tips have rounded attachment points which make it
easy if you are sliding it into the holes using some liquid glue. My experience
building four of these kits, working them two at a time (simultaneously) was the
struts tend to wander and fall over while you attempt to glue them in place.
They also come loose while drying because some are apparently slightly short and
stressed to fit. The small rounded knobs on the ends tend to slip out of their
attachment points (holes) very frequently. This was most frustrating even when
using a special tool like the SRAM to hold the wings in place while attempting
to align and attach the struts.
Also, since it is a sesquiplane configuration the two lower wings are like stubs and attach separately to the fuselage. If the lower wing is not perfectly aligned it will also throw off your strut angles. Any miscalculation on the less than secure attachment points of the struts is magnified by this problem. This part of the kit engineering and build did lessen my appreciation of the improvement in kit "build-ability" this release provides over previous short run releases like the Classic Airframes kit. Improved and more secure strut alignment thought put into the kit design and engineering would have greatly improved this kit.
When this part of the assembly was completed the top wings on both builds were misaligned when viewed from above. Even using the SRAM jig failed to assist in this building stage as I had hoped. That soured the whole kit building experience. Some of the struts have small sink areas in the thickest parts so filler was needed. I found this with other parts in the kit so be aware that they are there and you will have some unexpected work to complete for a good looking model. Also, the manner of attachment of the landing gear uses a hole composed of the area where the two parts of the lower wing join to the fuselage. Any misalignment in the attachment of the wing and you will not have a good landing gear socket – “ask me how I know”. In building four of these at the same time I noticed two of them suffered from this wheel attachment problem. In an effort t to accurately align the sesquiplane wing surface top to the fuselage a lower wing misalignment occurred requiring gap filling glue to stabilize the landing gear. Classic Airframes has a one piece unit for the entire lower wing section. The wing bomb shackles, parts 7a/7b are missing the “y” shaped shackles. They are simple racks with a post that goes into the bombs. Other reviewers have objected to this and added some scratch built shackles. Since they were ETC 50 VIII bomb racks and composed of two under each wing perhaps they are overly simplified or incorrect? This is another example of something that should have been properly looked into and correctly moulded given the price tag for this kit.
The engine is complete and nicely done. It is a nice reproduction of the FIAT A.74 RC.38 radial engine and is similar to the Italeri Macchi MC.200 engine with two rows of cylinders and separate push rod detailing. However, the pushrods did not reach the top portion of the cylinder heads which was a shock and disappointment because they were fine on my Italeri MC.200 build. The CR.42, all three Italeri produced versions that I built, suffered from short push rods (part # 23a & 19a). Also, the prominent engine manufacturer’s data plate on the engine’s port side is missing from the kits decals. It is quite large and visible on the actual engine. A tiny decal is all that was required to improve this area.
The cowling is comprised of a front, aft, and two center sections construction, as in the MC.200. This I imagine is to provide for something no longer supplied by other manufacturers which is an exposed engine detail option. I think if you want to do this the better alternative would be to use a resin with etched metal aftermarket enhancement set. To date I do not believe an exposed engine detail set in resin is available from any of the wonderful resin detail producers that we admire. Since the kit stuff just isn’t ready for an attractively detailed open engine display, unless you are a fourteen year old building their first kit and feel the plastic kit details are perfect, I wish this option wasn’t provided. It just detracts from the ease of assembly and final result. The assembly of the four part cowl was a reminder of bad times in the past when other manufacturers provided open engine viewing options and the panels did not fit well. So I would deduct a few detail points for the multi-sectioned cowl. This is a case where simpler equals better and is a missed opportunity by Italeri to reduce the mould cost and improve quality. A one piece cowl would have been much better – but there could be a problem getting the engine inside the cowl so a minimum two part cowl could be required but it is better than a “dodgy” four part combination cowl construction process that Italeri provided. The exhaust collector ring(s), part 18, includes hollowed out exhaust outlet tips which is a nice touch. It comes as one part on the tree and you must cut it into two parts for proper fit and alignment. The flame dampers attached to the engine exhaust outlet. They look too large for this scale. I compared the flame damper extensions to the Classic Airframes kit resin dampers and to some aftermarket “CR” night exhaust dampers from Owl Resin and Italeri’s were much larger appearing like fat sausages compared to the thin tubing extensions portrayed by the resin parts.
The landing gear has separate tires and is well moulded on the sprue. The tires are easy to attach and look the part once on the kit. I did experience disappointing alignment of the landing gear spats on the Italeri Kit # 2640. The spats required putty and sanding to fix the gaps. It seems the spats locating pins are imprecise causing a joining malformation. The other Italeri CR.42 kits provide separate lower wheel pants which are removed and those are included as well as a standard set. This kit had the two types of prop spinner which is nice. Separate gun barrels, aileron and rudder actuating rods are provided.
Instructions are good, providing clear construction sections with color information given as needed. These are all given as Model Master Paint codes. The last release uses Italeri paint numbers (Vallejo being the OEM maker for Italeri paints) references as well as a generic name. The initial Italeri CR.42 kits used Model Master Paint numbers so this is a change for Italeri. My only concern is the Model Master MM2110 Italian Sand color is very different from the Tamiya Desert Sand (XF-59) that I usually use on Italian desert camouflaged aircraft. The Tamiya XF-59 has a yellow tint compared to the Model Master’s brown tint. The Tamiya shade is closer to color profile drawings. I did not have the newly released Italeri or Vallejo paints on hand to round out the color comparisons. This move by Italeri to expand their product line with paints reminded me of the Monogram Models paint line released many years ago.
Markings are provided for three similarly camouflaged aircraft, representing a Luftwaffe unit called Nactschlachtgruppe 9 in March and April 1944. The color box art represents one of the decal choices and is a good supplement to the painting information. I prefer to have a color profile to help with painting since camouflage schemes can be misinterpreted for black and white shading such as that used by Italeri in their instructions. All of the aircraft are similarly colored having RLM 76 flat light blue gray undersides and dark green, brown and RLM 75 mottled upper surfaces. A mottle of RLM 74 and RLM 75 appears on the undersurface as well. The decals are well printed, and flat or dull finish. I was surprised to see they were not done by Cartograph but they appear similar to Cartograph quality. They are very thin, the printing is crisp, small details such as stencils are clearly printed and are opaque and easy to work with.
There are several aftermarket decals for the CR.42. There are many terrific and colorful schemes that I would like to build thanks to these decals. There have been decals released by Skymodels, sets # 48036 & 48037 - FIAT CR.42 Parts I and II, several Classic Airframes kit decals which were printed by Microscale could be used covering all versions of the CR.42; Stormo WW2 Italian Aces Part II; Third Group Decals 48-015 Multi-National Fiat CR.42 Falco, and AeroMaster 48-188 Fiat CR.42 Falco Collection area among the many choices.
The fuselage halves closed with some minor concerns coming from the cockpit area. I did not attach the two cowl guns in step 2 preferring to leave them off until the final, post painting detail step.
By the fourth build I think I isolated what was causing the strut misalignment problem. It all happens with step # 4! In my opinion parts 12B and 14B throw off the alignment possibly because they are the wrong length or the attachment points are poorly located. If they are glued in place after the two inner cabane struts the wing will twist out of alignment when viewed from above. This problem will skew the top wing and then all the other struts will be short or not reach their correct locations. I found by gluing parts 13B and 15B then attaching it to the wings before the glue has set permits the first alignment to be usable and sets the foundation for the next steps. I used the SRAM tool to hold the wing in place (see photo) while attaching the upper wing to parts 13B and 15B. Once dry I glued in place the outer braces, parts 8/9 and 18/19. Once they set the rest were put in place and they were much easier to get into their assigned locations. Doing it this way means parts 12/14 are the last struts to go into place. It was a struggle to get them, parts 12/14, to fit so there may be a better way. I have yet to find a perfect way to get this step go smoothly. It is a big barrier to creating a desire to build more of these aircraft. Also, I recommend not attaching the pitot tube at this point as indicated in the instructions. I tried this on the first build, much to my skepticism and yes it broke off. I replaced it with a metal pin which was much more durable than plastic and it was added as one of the final pre-painting steps. Some other web builds that I read had photos of weighted objects used to force the struts into place while the glue dried. So this step was the biggest challenge of the whole kit assembly process. I wonder how many Italeri CR.32’s went to the shelf of doom after this step?
Step 6 has you assembling the engine and engine cowl. Part “B” of step 6 has you cutting the exhaust ring, part 18a, into two parts and attaching it to the engine. I could not understand why Italeri didn’t leave this as a one part unit and has you cutting it into two parts. It is so much easier to work with as one part. The alignment is also better. I followed their instructions in one CR.42 build and in the other three CR.42 builds I left part 18A as one unit and found it much easier to attach to the engine as a single part. The attachment, whether you use the Italeri two part process or keep it as a uni-body assembly as I tried, is not precise. It just did not properly line up and attach to the exhaust ports on the Italeri engine.
Step 5 has you attaching the cowl rings and again there is some sloppy design or misguided effort to open up the cowl. Breaking down this area into four parts creates a troublesome area where it should be a quick painting and assembly process. I inserted the engine, glued all the sections together and left the cowl off the fuselage for painting. I did it this way to permit an easier painting of the exhausts and insertion of the exhaust stacks as well as getting the exterior paint coverage into the section at the nose that connects with the front cowl. The disadvantage of this is the engine air intake does not properly attach to the cowl without leaving a noticeable gap. Part 40, which is the engine air intake, is added in step 6. This is where having the cowl as a one or two part item with the intake portion (Part 40) under the cowl, that is moulded with it rather than as a separate part, would have been a better modeling solution. But, if you have a multi-piece cowl as your design objective this causes potential alignment problems. My vote is for a one piece crisply moulded cowl… maybe next time?
Step 8 has you assemble and attach the spats and landing gear. No surprises here except for the above mentioned misalignment gaps requiring filler putty. The spats required filler and sanding before attachment. Since they are small it was not a big problem. It gets magnified in the other kit releases where you have full spats. Note, part 39A, a sway support brace connecting the two spats has a forward sweep. Since there is no attachment key aligning it or preventing you from gluing it in backwards be aware of this and dry fit because you could attach it backwards. If you overlook this concern the join results in braces that fail to connect with the spats. The brace also serves as a nice alignment tool to keep the landing gear correctly aligned.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
The decals come on a well printed sheet with three options. I chose the markings “E8-FK” White 2 while stationed in Turin, Italy in 1944 in the original delivery color scheme of Marone Mimetico 1 (FS.30109) and Verde Mimetico 2 (FS.34092) . Verde Mimetico 2 was applied using Testors Model Master # 2112 Italian Olive Green, with Model Master # 2111 Italian Dark Brown mottle and Gunze Aqueous for the RLM 75 mottle. The under surfaces and wing struts were used Gunze acrylic. I experienced some problems applying the decals. They did not want to slide off the carrier sheet and I had to pry them off with tweezers. Perhaps humidity during storage activated the decal glue or I left them in the water too long or not long enough? The kit is missing the German national socialist party emblem swastika so you will need to source this decal to accurately finish this version. I took some from an Aeromaster decal sheet to finish the markings into a more historically accurate model.
The biggest challenge in the painting step was whether to apply the paint to a separate upper wing and struts then attaching the wing after the paint has dried. The alternative was attaching the wings and struts during parts assembly per the instructions and after all the parts are glued together masking the undersurfaces. Given my lack of success or patience with the wing attachment process I went with the secure the upper wing to the fuselage as the instructions would have you do. Next in the process was some strut and brace gap repairing, followed by painting, strut over-spray re-painting, a bit more masking and more touch-up painting process.
The cockpit and related parts were painted in light gray – which was almost the same color as the kit plastic. For the overall fuselage finish I used Model Master Enamels in order to get exact color matches. They worked very well and were more resistant to problems caused when you apply additional layers of paint in a mottled finish since it is a complex multi-layered camouflage. The propeller blade front was painted Grigio Azzurro Chiaro, using Gunze H306 acrylic , as it came from the FIAT factory while the back side facing the pilot was painted flat black.
Weathering and Final Coat – some pastel chalk and black/brown pin wash was used. I sprayed on a Future coat used during the initial decal application and after decaling was completed I used Future using a brush to seal all of the decals. Testors Dull Cote was used during the final step to seal all of the decals and give the correct flat finish.
The props had the correct decal stencil. The kit decal # 15 are the prop logos. They were supplied with the kit and look like the Hamilton Standard logo since the props were license built props. It was so small I could not make out if the printing indicated a “FIAT” logo stencil on the prop since they are similar in shape and appearance the Hamilton Standard logo.
The kit looked decent once assembly was completed if you don’t look too closely. I went over the kit to fix a number of small gaps or incomplete joins with Tamiya putty and some Mr. Surfacer 500. One of my biggest concerns was the gap between the fuselage cowl and engine air intake. I had to use glue and clamps to mate these parts since they are separate units resulting in large gaps. The intake should have been moulded as part of the cowl but that would mean a loss of ease of manufacture since the other CR.42 versions have a dust filter box at the tip of the intake. Classic Airframes took the same approach as Italeri with this component making it a separate part. The CA kit has you cut off the tip of their air intake and add a resin dust filter box to the end. That would have solved the gap problem I experienced with Italeri.
The very last steps were attaching the wing bracing wires, the venturi and engine with its cowl since I opted to paint the kit with the cowl off. That allowed me to attach the exhausts after the cowl was painted and avoid repainting them. I could do this because Italeri provided a keyed attachment point for the engine to the fuselage which was easy to use and secure. The only problem is the dust filter tunnel and nose tip underneath the cowl does not get attached as closely as I would like. Normally I would attach the cowl and paint everything at the same time but I did it this way to avoid having paint overspray getting in behind the cowl flaps. That could have affected the aluminum engine or inside cowl green zinc chromate paint.
The wing tip lights were painted Testors chrome silver. The lights needed some filing and sanding because the upper and lower wing segments of the wing lights failed to correctly align. The first time I thought it was my assembly error, but by the fourth kit it gave me an impression of weak quality in the moulds. If the lights would have been one piece units, maybe on the clear parts tree or as part of either the top or bottom wing half this mis-alignment could have been avoided. When it was dry I used Tamiya clear red and green over the lights. After everything was dry I used some clear epoxy on the wing lights and rear white tail light. The white tail light is a very prominent feature on the actual aircraft as seen on page 34 of the Italeri C.R.42 Falco Walk-Around booklet.
The very last step was to paint a leather pad around the cockpit edge including the rear of the windscreen frame using Tamiya XF-64 Red Brown. Testors leather might be a better color choice but the Tamiya is close enough. I did this after reviewing some photos in the Italeri CR.42 Falco walk-around booklet’s pages 30-31 cockpit pictures section. I did not notice this from any other reference book and it is not visible from a distance but when close up it is a prominent feature so I added it as the final step.
Italeri could have moulded their plastic parts much better and improved the kit assembly process by doing so. Some of the parts are somewhat crude, especially compared to other major plastic kit manufacturers. Some parts were not the crisply moulded plastic I would have expected from them. I always try to be positive about a kit release since I truly appreciate a manufacturer making the investment in new moulds, marketing and research. I was really looking forward to Italeri’s release of this kit and to this build. That makes me more kind and generous in my evaluation. As much as I like the subject matter and trying as hard as I can, this is a situation where I failed to be able to overlook the weak details and poor engineering given its relatively high price. Given its small size and simplicity if it was a $20.00 MSRP kit I could be more forgiving because you do end up with a nice replica of the CR.42.
The overall shape and dimensions of the Italeri CR.42 kit are correct so don’t lose hope since you can build a very nice model from this kit. With a lot of care and application of modeling skills to overcome kit deficiencies it all works out in the end. I encourage you to build one because some of the problems can be seen as a challenge to apply some modeling skills and it’s part of the hobby. I am very pleased to look at this CR.42 now that it is completed. I will build a few more when I can get them for a more reasonable price. My finished kit may not be a contest ready model but it is satisfying to have one built sitting on my model shelf and there are other CR.42’s I would like to model.
Despite the Italeri kit being an all styrene effort, I would say the Classic Airframes CR.42 kit(s), second release series, is a competitive alternative to Italeri in all respects. The CA kit has a much better cockpit with far more accurate detail. You have to balance that with the inherent complexity of working with mixed media including some thin and at times flimsy etched metal bracing for the CA kit interior (in its first release), so be careful what you wish for. The CA kit is more difficult to build with a far greater parts count than the Italeri so there is a slight ease of assembly concern in the comparison. Italeri has a much better engine and the CA engine has too many resin parts. However, the CA resin interior and color etched metal parts are impressive and not hard to work with compared to the Italeri plastic when it is one of the components with a sloppy fit.
FIAT Cr.42 , Orange Series # 8104, Stratus Books, Mushroom Model Publications 2007
Fiat CR 32/CR 42 In Action, # 1172 by George Punka, Squadron Signal Books 2000
Profile Publications No. 16 FIAT Cr.42
C.R. 42 Falco Italeri Kit # 2653 booklet, 2006
Fiat Cr.42 Ali e'Colori No. 1 La Bancarella Aeronautica
SKYmodels decal 'Fiat CR.42', # 48-036 and 48-037
Fiat CR 42, Ali D’Italia #1, La Bancarella Aeronautica, 1995
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