|Trumpeter 1/48 Sovoia-Marchetti SM-79 II Sparviero|
Eduard SM-79 Internal and Exterior Photo-etched Detail Sets Used, Sky Models (sheet no: 48-018) decals used.
The history of this aircraft has been adequately covered in this website (and many others), so I shall not bore you readers with yet another repeat.
A preview of this kit can also be found in this website. I would like to add that initial impressions of the moldings were quite crisp although cockpit details are sparse. Sidewall details in the cockpit area are totally non-existent and the ribbing detail in the cabin area was marred by numerous ejection pin marks. The representation of the fabric covered areas of the fuselage and tail surfaces are rather exaggerated. Wheel wells details are also lacking.
I departed from the usual practice of starting off with the cockpit; I proceeded with the wings instead. Fit was generally good with the exception of the leading edge slats. The modeler is given the option of posing the latter in either the stowed or deployed position. Since my references indicate that the slats were usually stowed when the aircraft was parked, I elected to represent this by fitting the slats in their stowed position. This was when I discovered that the fit was far from perfect. Generous quantities of Milliput epoxy putty were used to fill any offending gaps. Once set, the Milliput was sanded down and lost panel details were restored with my trusty scriber. The nacelles were fitted with wheel bay details added with plastic strip. The front and rear of each wheel well was blanked off with 30 thou plastic card. Ailerons were fixed in the neutral position while the flaps were positioned slightly drooped.
FUSELAGE AND INTERIOR DETAILS
My next task was to remove all the internal molded framing in the fuselage sides. I suppose that if one chooses to build the model as intended by Trumpeter, i.e. with the clamp shell dorsal opening closed and the port door closed then the original detail (or lack of it) can be lived with since not much will be visible anyway. As I chose from the onset to display the innards of this model, serious detailing work awaited me. However before brandishing my X-acto Number 12 blade and 150 grit sandpaper, I transferred the framing detail on paper by gently rubbing a 2B pencil over appropriately sized typing paper to get the imprint of this detail . I then scraped away the raised detail with the Number 12 blade and removed any remnants with 150 grit sandpaper. Ejector pin marks that were too deeply etched were filled with plastic putty and a further sanding with 230 grit sandpaper ensured that everything was nice and smooth.
The fuselage framing detail was restored with 20 by 30 thou plastic strips; I used the impressions which I prepared earlier as a reference together with a set of vernier calipers to ensure that everything lined up and was symmetrical. I elected not to use Eduard’s photo-etched cockpit sidewall details for the framing as I felt that they were too flat and might not show up well after painting and dry brushing. Therefore I used these as patterns and fashioned the details in a similar pattern as the fuselage cabin framing. Cables, wiring and wiring harnesses were fashioned from copper wire and lead foil respectively.
The cockpit floor was assembled with the photo-etched parts per instructions with the exception of the rear bulkhead where the rearward firing machine gun ammo boxes were mounted. I managed to completely botch up these photo-etched parts and had to completely rebuild the bulkhead and ammo boxes from plastic sheet. The results were better than originally expected. The photo-etched seat belts were super-glued to the kit supplied seats without much hassle.
I tackled the instrument panel next. The detail from the kit supplied instrument panel was sanded off as the backing mount for the photo-etched panel face and acetate film representing the individual instruments. The rear of the acetate film was sprayed white and the photo-etched panel face was primed with industrial grade acrylic primer from a can. Once the primer had set, I gave the panel a coat of Testors Flat Black from a can and dry brushed with neutral gray and white enamels to enhance the details. The acetate film was then super-glued to the photo-etched panel and the excess acetate film was trimmed away. This subassembly was then attached to the kit instrument panel with generous amounts of super-glue.
The bomb bay framing was provided as photo-etched parts. Again I chose not to use these as I felt that they did not give the 3-dimensional look especially in this scale, and were over-simplified. Once again, I used the photo-etched parts as patterns and fabricated the complex framing using 25 thou plastic rod and strips, with references gleaned form the web from other modelers’ examples.
Eduard supplies all 3-dimensional components (throttle quadrants, junction boxes, bomb release station etc..) as photo-etched parts which had to be folded to shape . I wish they had supplied these as resin castings but folding up these parts was much easier than originally envisaged and required only patience, good lighting and a firm pair of tweezers (I did not even have to use my Hold n Fold tool at this juncture).
The entire internal portions of the fuselage, cockpit and bomb aimer’s gondola was sprayed with Testors RAF Interior Green, a close approximation to Verde Anticorrosione. Some references indicate that the interior was a light gray shade but I chose to go with Interior Green instead. Details were accentuated with my usual concoction of black/brown water colour spiked with kitchen cleaner. Once dry, I removed all excess wash with tissue moistened with kitchen cleaner and gave a coat of Testors Dullcote Lacquer from a spray can. A highlight consisting of the base colour lightened with about 30 percent white was dry-brushed to further bring out the detail. Other details were picked out with black, white, red and yellow paints as appropriate. Silver was dry-brushed on high traffic areas to simulate wear and scuffing. Once done, a further coat of Dullcote was given to seal everything in.
The cockpit floor was then trial fitted to the starboard fuselage half after first carefully scrapping away the paint on all contact areas. This was when I noted that the instrument panel was too wide and prevented the fuselage halves from mating at the front. I used a No. 10 blade and reduced the thickness of the fuselage wall where the instrument panel was fitted. Despite a rather substantial reduction of the wall thickness, I still had problems getting the two halves to meet satisfactorily. I attached the cockpit assembly, the bomb aimer’s station and tail wheel with super-glue and reinforced the cockpit assembly with generous applications of super-glue and accelerator. Before the two fuselage halves were closed, I reinforced the front portion (just forward to the instrument panel) with scraps of plastic sheet. The fuselage halves were then fitted together using liquid cement and tapped together while the glue set.
The underside of the fuselage from the bomb aimer’s gondola to the rear half of the wing chord was concave. This necessitated generous applications of plastic putty to level the two halves and eliminate the concavity (Pictures do not show the amount of putty used very clearly as the putty is similar in colour to the base plastic, perhaps I should have used Squadron Green Putty for better contrast). All panel lines lost during the sanding process were restored with my trusty scriber.
My next task was to attach the wings to the fuselage sub assembly. The mating area at the fuselage was recessed, which meant that the contact area of the wing to the fuselage was confined to the narrow ridge around fuselage wing root. I figured that this was not ideal considering the size and weight of the model; handling by the wings may crack the joint. I proceeded to fill out this area with 20 thou plastic sheet cut to suit the profile of the airfoil section . I allowed this to set for a day before attaching the wings with generous applications of Humbrol liquid cement. As Trumpeter’s instructions did not indicate the dihedral of the wings, I referred to Squadron’s S-79 In Action which featured 3 view line drawings. I supported the wings with Blue Tac as the glue set. I noted that the joint was far from perfect especially at the trailing edge areas near the wing fillet and the lower portions, the latter having quite substantial gaps. As my references indicated that the curve portion forming the joint line on the lower surfaces of the wings were absent, I proceeded to fill out these gaps using stretched sprue and generous quantities of liquid cement. I prefer this technique over the use of filler for relatively small gaps as this adds strength to the joint and also makes subsequent scribing easier. What’s more, the filler material is similar to the parent plastic so I do not have to worry about working with dissimilar materials. Once the plastic had set hard, I used my trusty X-acto number 12 blade to scrape away the excess material and sanded the areas with 230 grit paper. All lost panel lines were once again restored with my scriber. I made a template out of 10 thou plastic sheet and used this to aid scribing of the curved panel lines at the wing roots .
TAILPLANES AND GONDOLA
I now turned my attention to the tailplanes. For added interest, I elected to glue the elevators in the down position and checked my references to ascertain the correct droop angle. I decided not to correct the improperly shaped profile of the tailplanes as some other modelers have done since I felt that the effort was not worth the time and I was satisfied that the overall outline of the model did not detract from the SM-79 prototype anyway. The support struts for the tailplanes needed slight trimming to achieve a satisfactory fit and the locating holes had to be enlarged to accommodate the struts’ location pins. Once the glue had set, I attached the rudder and offset it slightly for a more candid appearance. The upper support struts as supplied in the kit are totally wrong. These were cables on the actual aircraft. As such, these struts were omitted during the tail plane assembly to be replaced by steel wire at a latter stage of construction.
Attaching the bomb aimer’s gondola to the fuselage proceeded without incident except when I test fitted the glazing to this, I found an appreciable gap between the glazing the fuselage underside. To overcome this, I first attached the glazing to the gondola with careful applications of liquid cement and once set, I filled the offending gap with slow setting epoxy applied with a cocktail stick. I used a Q-tip dampened with isopropyl alcohol to remove any excess epoxy before setting the whole assembly aside to allow the epoxy to cure.
I now focused on the transparent canopy section. Internal ribbing details were added with plastic strip, the clear portions were masked and the internal colour was airbrushed and highlighted. The forward firing machine gun was fixed and the barrel removed to be replaced by the photo etched one from Eduard. I expected the rolling of the photo etched gun barrel to be quite finicky, but this again proved easier than expected. However, do note that the part should be annealed over a gas flame before rolling it over a suitably sized rod with the diameter of the barrel. Eduard’s instruction sheet indicates that the ring and bead sight is to be affixed. My references indicated otherwise. All the other flexible defensive machine guns were also done up at this juncture. I did not quite like the way the opened dorsal clamp shell hatches were depicted by Eduard so I cut up the original kit part, thinned down the thickness appropriately and cemented the various portions in the overlapping manner of the actual prototype. The entire dorsal assembly was then cemented to the fuselage sub-assembly. Fit was satisfactory and I only needed some application of Mr Surfacer 1000 to fill gaps between the windscreen and fuselage. After this was done, I realized that I had inadvertently missed out the photo etched ring sight which was to be fitted in the windscreen. There was no way I was going to rip apart the assembly and decided to live with this omission. Also, when the barrel of the fixed forward firing machine gun was installed, it appeared to be too short when compared to references. As with the previous omission, I did not make any corrections.
ENGINES AND COWLINGS
Trumpeter depicts an aircraft with the earlier exhaust arrangement, i.e. all facing the port side. As I chose to model an aircraft of a later variant, I had to modify the starboard cowling so that the exhaust stack faced outboard. This was done simply by rescribing the engine access panels. Also since the aircraft I chose to depict had the later style ‘flattened’ fishtail stacks, I discarded those supplied in the kit and scratch built three sets from plastic sheet using the various references I had. According to my references the cowl opening should be smaller. Again, I chose not to correct this and went ahead with the kit supplied items.
I assembled the engines per the kit instructions, leaving off the crankcase at this juncture. I decided not to add the ignition leads as I felt these would not be visible under the pushrods. However, I added the cowl braces fashioned from plastic rod. The diameter was carefully measured with a pair of vernier calipers and the pattern for the braces was transferred on a sheet of paper. This pattern served as a jig to ensure that the three sets of braces were correctly and symmetrically lined up.
Once assembly of these parts were completed, I sprayed the engines and crankcases with Humbrol Gunmetal and highlighted the details with a dry brushing of sliver. The crankcases were then glued to the engines and the subassemblies set aside.
The undercarriage assembly was assembled per the instructions, I only flattened the tires to ensure a more realistic sit of the model. I elected once again not to use the brake lines supplied by Eduard because of the 2 dimensional effect but instead used these as patterns to fashion ones from copper wire. Brake line harnesses were fabricated from lead foil and these were super glued to the inboard oleos. The tow hooks supplied by Eduard were also super glued to the inboard oleos at this juncture. The entire assembly was painted and weathered before assembling the individual components. I temporarily attached the undercarriage to the model and let the entire model sit on a glass sheet while the glue on the wheels set to ensure that the flat portion was in full contact with the ‘ground’.
The photo-etched wheel door interiors were fitted to the kit supplied doors with subsequent painting, weathering and dry brushing of the interior surfaces.
Although Trumpeter supplied two torpedoes, numerous references indicate that operationally, the SM-79 only carried one on the port side. The torpedo was assembled according to the kit instructions and the photo etched details were subsequently added. The mounting holes in the torpedo were filled with appropriately sized plastic rod before the entire assembly was painted. The front portion of the torpedo was sprayed chrome silver and the rest was gunmetal. References indicate that torpedoes carried by SM-79 came in an assortment of colour combinations so I allowed myself some artistic licence here. Once the paint had set, I sealed it with a coat of Testors Metalizer Sealer.
The torpedo mounting rack supplied with the kit was discarded and replaced with the photo-etched one from Eduard. Installation proved tricky and I suggest careful alignment before the braces are glued permanently to the underside of the airframe. As this entire assembly was to be the same colour as the undersides, I attached them before painting. One must be extremely careful during subsequent handling as the bits and pieces are very fragile. Remarkably, I did not knock these off during masking, painting, decaling and final assembly!
These were assembled per the kit instructions. The spinners were sprayed with Tamiya flat white enamel and the red tip hand painted. Weathering was accomplished with black brown pastel chalk powder with paint chipping simulated with a sliver coloured oil pencil. Testors Dullcote from a spray can sealed everything in. Once dry, the spinner was masked off and the propeller blades sprayed with Humbrol chrome silver. The sliver paint was allowed to dry for two days before the manufacturer’s logo decal was applied. This was then sealed with Model Master Metalizer sealer. The masks were then removed and the propellers set aside for final assembly.
CAMOUFLAGE & MARKINGS
Prior to painting, all parts to be painted were given a good wipe with Jiff kitchen cleaner and subsequently with isopropyl alcohol.
All windows and openings were masked off before the airframe was primed with Mr Surfacer 1200. An inspection was done and any imperfections in filling and sanding were rectified. The primer was allowed to set for 48 hours before proceeding with pre-shading with black on the panel lines.
The white fuselage band and rudder cross was sprayed with Tamiya flat white enamel and masked off when dry.
The undersides and wheel doors were sprayed with Model Masters Italian Blue Gray, allowed to set, masked and the top sides subsequently shot with Humbrol 65 Sand. I proceeded to spray the brown mottles freehand using my Testors airbrush with the finest tip (sand coloured). Model Masters Italian Red Brown thinned with 60 percent thinner was used to accomplish this task with frequent cleaning of the nozzle to prevent spatter. Humbrol 112 US Army Green was thinned similarly for the green mottles. When the paint had dried to the touch, all masking was removed and any touch ups were performed with the appropriate colour shot at the offending area with my airbrush.
The engine cowls were painted yellow and when this was dry, the bronze and polished metal areas were masked off and sprayed accordingly.
The entire airframe and cowls were given several coats of Testors Glosscote lacquer in preparation for decaling.
I used Sky Models decals for one of the versions offered. The painting guide which came with the decal sheet showed the cowls camouflaged with the unit emblem on the fuselage sides while the colour profiles in Squadron Signal’s publication showed a similar aircraft with yellow cowls, no unit emblem and red numeral ‘3’ at the nose. I decided to let artistic license overrule accuracy and chose to amalgamate the two schemes, i.e. with yellow cowls, unit emblem and red numeral ‘3’ adorning my model. A slightly unusual feature with this version is that the emblem on the tail is not positioned at the intersection of the cross but rather slightly above it.
The Sky Model decals were excellent and went on without problems… well almost. When applying the 278-3 numerals on the fuselage sides, I only realized that these came as discrete digits, including the dash! The absence of carrier film meant that the ‘7’ and ‘2’ folded into an unrecognizable mess as I slid them off the backing sheet. Thankfully after much fiddling accompanied by some choice words, I managed to rectify the mess.
Kitchen cleaner and a damp cloth was used to remove any traces of decal residue and the model sprayed again with another coat of Testors Glosscote.
My usual wash of black-brown water colour/kitchen cleaner cocktail was used to accentuate panel lines and weather the model. Once this had dried, the model was sprayed with Testors Dullcote shot with my trusty airbrush. This was allowed to dry before further weathering was applied with powdered pastel chalks, black brown to simulate general staining and light gray for faded areas. Paint chipping was applied with the sliver coloured oil pencil before another two coats of Dullocote was applied.
I managed to break off the antennae mast and had this replaced with brass shaped suitably. The bracing wires at the tail planes/fin were fashioned out of 11 thou steel guitar string with the spacers represented by lead foil. These were then painted.
The loop antennae was an etched item. I managed to completely botch up the item while trying to shape it. I tried to rectify it as best as I could and the photos bear testament of my somewhat futile attempts.
The antennae wires were fashioned from monofilament sewing nylon. There are two sets of these wires originating just aft of the canopy to mid-span of the wing on either side. I realized I made an error only after these were completed. I thought that the slight bumps just aft of the side canopy glazing on either side were the points of origin. It turned out that I was wrong, they should have been slightly lower down.
The electric generator fan was attached and a wire originating from the rear pod was fashioned with copper wire.
The undercarriage and gear doors were super glued in place together with the engines, cowling and propellers.
The pitot tubes were replaced by Evergreen plastic tube heat stretched over 13 thou steel wire and attached to the wingtips with super glue. I did not replicate the strange protuberances on one of the pitot tubes as depicted in the kit as all my references did not indicate the presence of these somewhat dubious appendages.
As a final touch, all flexible machine guns and the torpedo were glued to their respective mountings using white glue. This was a departure from my usual practice of using super glue for these items as I did not want to risk botching up anything at this final stage.
I originally planned to build this kit out of the box. However having seen others’ models of this aircraft displaying all the innards inspired me to go beyond out-of-the-box assembly. Moreover, having spent almost two times the money on after market goodies as compared to the kit itself provided the additional impetus for such an undertaking.
There are several inaccuracies in this kit; the tail plane profile, the cowl openings, the exaggerated fabric effect and the tail plane struts. If one is able to live with these, this kit is quite a pleasant build. If built out of the box, the sparse interior should not be a bother since not much will be visible anyway with the dorsal calm shell and door closed.
While certainly not a competition winner with the imperfections and the glitches on my part, I found this to be quite an enjoyable build. I completed the model in a period of slightly over a year. At SGD 50 (not including the aftermarket stuff), it is certainly a worthwhile bargain.
Squadron Signal’s S-79 in action.
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