Revell 1/72 Stearman PT-17 Tanker

KIT #: H-649
PRICE: $inexpensive
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Brian Baker
NOTES: Old kit with lots of development potential


Nearly everyone is familiar with the story of the Stearman-Boeing “Kaydet”, and I wrote an article on the type back in Jan. 2010, so refer to it for details. Many of these aircraft have had three careers (1) military trainer, (2) agricultural aircraft, and (3) privately owned “warbirds”. After the war, thousands were sold surplus for very low prices, and most ended up as dusters or sprayers until the sixties, when they began to be replaced by more efficient airplanes. Most were rebuilt several times over their careers, and the smaller radial engines were eventually replaced by P.W. R-985’s taken from inactive BT-13’s or Beech C-45’s which littered civilian airports during the forties and fifties.

This particular Stearman, A75N1 (PT-17), N75081, serial 75-3182, is historic because it was the first airplane to be used commercially in the role of fire bomber. The even occurred in 1955, when Vance Nolta, pilot for Willows Flying Service, in Willows, CA, dropped either borate or water on a forest fire in the vicinity. The aircraft was later photographed by Aviation Historian William T. Larkins, and I used his photo for reference. At that time, 1964, the plane was one of the few to have a P.W. R-1340 600 hp. radial engine. The plane may be in a museum today. If not, it should be.


This kit has been around for a long time, first appearing about 1965. For many years, it was the only Stearman available in 1/72 scale, although in recent years, Pavla has issued a Stearman, and although I have one, I have never built it. It is fairly typical of early Revell kits, with a fair amount of detail, marginal fit, and quite poor engine detail. There are some problems in wing/fuselage fit, and you should be prepared to use a fair amount of putty to fill in the seams and imperfections. The lower wing needs added dihedral, and the landing gear struts need a lot of work. There is almost no cockpit detail, so you’ll have to add this yourself.


Construction is not complicated, although you will need an accurate three view to get the dihedral angle right. I would suggest painting the airframe first, as one wet of wings is yellow, while the other wings are silver. The struts are dull red, and these should certainly be painted before final assembly. A cockpit interior is required, and since the engine is an R-1340, the unit from a Monogram Curtiss F11C-2 works fine. The landing gear struts need trimming, but they are useable. The forward cockpit needs to be filled in, but this is relatively simple.

Other than the forward cockpit, the only change is the structure under the belly, which is part of the gate mechanism for the water release doors. The coloring seems strange, but that is what the color photos of the plane show. The “N” number and code (appropriately No. E-1) are in black. When completed, the model MUST be rigged to get the full biplane effect.


If you are tired of doing mundane military aircraft, this would be a good way to do something different. There are a LOT of Stearmans, dusters, sprayer, tankers, and other strange functions that can be modeled, and there is plenty of information available on these.

Brian Baker

24 October 2017


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