Revell 1/72 Huff-Daland 'Duster'

KIT #: H-43
DECALS: home made
REVIEWER: Brian Baker
NOTES: Conversion using Revell Fokker D.VII and other bits


The Huff Daland Company was formed in Ogdensburg, NY, in 1920, and shortly afterwards, moved to Bristol, PA.  They produced a series of biplane trainers, light bombers, and observation types for the U.S. Army and Navy.  Later, the firm became part of the Keystone Corporation, and later the organization became part of the Loening Company.  Eventually, the firm became part of the Curtiss-Wright Company.

In 1924,  the company began producing what was to become the first purpose-built agricultural aircraft for operations with the Huff Daland Dusters, a firm created in Macon, GA.  It later operated in Monroe, LA  against the cotton boll weevil infestations common to the area.  Later, the firm became Delta Air Service, and was the ancestor of Delta Airlines.

Eighteen “Dusters” were manufactured by Huff Daland by 1928, and these were operated until after World War II, when they were replaced by war surplus Stearman PT-17’s.  Two restored examples currently survive, one at the National Air and Space Museum, and one at Delta Airlines’ museum in Atlanta.

The “Duster” had a wingspan of 33’-3”, a length of 23’-1”, and was powered by a 200 hp. Wright J-4 radial engine.  They were licensed in the “restricted” category, and carried “NR” registrations, although most photos show them without any registrations whatsoever, meaning that the photos were probably taken in the middle twenties when many airplanes were not registered, or just carried state registrations.

I saw the restored “Duster” at the NASM’s Silver Hill, MD, storage facility in the middle 1970’s. It was silver overall with fuselage markings denoting the company, but no CAA/FAA registration number.  This is how it is now displayed at the Dulles NASM.


Since there is no kit of any Huff Daland airplane, I was left to my own resources.  However, looking sat the airframe,  it is suspiciously like the Fokker D.VII, with only a few major differences that are mostly minor conversions.  One exception is the ailerons, which on the Fokker are tapered, while on the Duster, are  constant chord. I ignored this, but otherwise, the model is accurate.  A new engine and propeller from the spares box was used, and new tail-feathers were made from card or scrapped model components, but otherwise, the Revell Fokker D.VII was easily convertible.


I actually used parts from several D.VII’s that I had scrapped years ago, and made modifications.  The upper wing required cutting and the addition of a center section with a squared cutoff, while the lower wings could be used straight from the box with only a little trimming required for the wingtips.  I made a three view drawing of the airplane, using the Duster’s dimensions, and after building up a cockpit interior, I trimmed the forward section back to conform to the tapered contour of the Duster’s nose section.  For the cockpit cutout, I used part of the unit from an Olimp Curtiss Jenny, which provides two different parts. With a little filler, the deed was done, and the lower wing was attached to the fuselage.  I then cut and mounted the horizontal tail unit, and whittled out a rudder.  There is no vertical stabilizer,  only a balanced rudder.  A small protrusion underneath the belly serves as the dust dispenser, which was built up from trimmed card,  and the Revell landing gear, sans center section, was installed, using some struts from a previously built Fokker E.III kit.  The N struts from the kit were used without change, but the cabane struts needed to be modified to conform to the Huff Daland design.  Like the Fokker, there are no rigging wires, and the only rigging I did was the installation of control cables for the rudder, elevators, and elevators. The tailskid was scratchbuilt.


Once the basic airframe was completed, a coat of aluminum enamel was applied, and after such parts as the little four bladed dust hopper prop on the leading edge of the left wing were installed, I made my decals.  I used the basic layout of the fuselage markings,  “Huff Daland Dusters, Inc. Monroe, Louisiana” on the fuselage sides.  I then found a photo of one of these airplanes registered “NR2953” and applied these to the rudder, lower left wing panel, and upper right wing panel, as per CAA regulations of the day. 


I’ve always liked to build models of airplane that are uncommon, and this model fits in quite well with my collection of agplanes, which includes Stearmans,  two FM-2’s,a couple of AT-6’s,  a TBM, and even a Westland Lysander.  Since this is the original, it is an essential part of the story of ag aviation, and whenever any of the kit manufacturers makes kits of any of the pre-war Waco, Travelair, Bird, Stearman, and other biplane types common in the thirties, I’ll be sure to build some ag conversions. But this one was fun, and there are a lot of conversions of all types of airplanes that can be done from Revell’s Fokker D.VII and E.III kits.

Brian Baker

March 2015

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