Revell 1/48 Reno Racers


Revell 1/48 Reno Racers




$13.50 MSRP


See review


Eric Bergh


Two for one!


 The set builds up two Reno air racers, a P-51D "Miss America" and a T-6. I can't vouch for their accuracy as I didn't plan on building them as boxed. I wanted to build an SNJ and saw this as a chance to also experiment with a bare metal finish using SNJ powder. If figured that I wouldn't be out much if the experiments failed!

 The T-6 model is actually reboxed Monogram kit, with nice cockpit details including exposed framing. It has several options for the canopy, including full, and partial sections. The parts had a bit of flash which cleaned off quickly, and panel lines are engraved. The P-51 is an old Revell kit. The cockpit detail is good, with side panel details and engraved panel lines with a bit of flash on the parts. Both kits came with details that would not be found on a Reno Racer (I hope!) such as a machine gun for the T-6's rear cockpit, and drop tanks for the P-51.

The supplied decals for the T-6 give you the white data and stripes. The kit comes in Red plastic. For the P-51, which was cast in white plastic, you get the white stars lettering and the blue chevron for the tail. The Blue and Red panels on the fuselage and wings will need to be painted.


 The T-6 has a nice cockpit with a tubular frame. I painted the interior with Modelmaster Interior Green enamel, with panels in matt black. Details were picked out with a silver and a white pencil, with drops of Future on the instrument faces. I used the silver pencil to show some wear along the seats and rudder pedal troughs. As I wanted to model an SNJ,  I needed to deviate a bit from the kit's directions, which are well written and tell you how to modify the kit to look like the racer. I found several pictures on the web, and also found that the Decals Carpena directions were an excellent reference in getting the correct details in place. I chose to model an SNJ-4 as used 15 mile from me at NAS Alameda, in 1943. That meant omitting the rear gun, adding the radio mast (included in the kit) and using an engine cowl without a gun port (included) I replaced the molded in pitot tubes, that I managed to snap off, with brass wire. The kit provides dropped flaps which I used. It went together well, although I did have to check the fit a bit when placing the interior cockpit frame.  I needed to use Mr Surfacer on the seam between the cockpit and the tail, but the rest of the seams closed up snug. The canopy sections were cast thick enough that I chose not to mount the front cockpit canopy, as it rode up high on the mid section.

For the P-51 I again ignored the directions to demilitarize it, choosing not to remove the gun ports, etc. The cockpit went together easily, and I added a set of etched seat belts. I used Modelmaster Interior green inside, picking out highlights with a white and silver pencil, and some bits with red paint. Silver pencil was used to highlight the edges of the radio boxes in back and the seat framing. I painted the floor brown, then while still damp, pulled some tan across to get a plywood look. The headrest was painted with a leather color of Humbrol enamel. The panels were done in matt black. The gun sight is pretty bad, but a bit of filing and paint helped.

Following pictures on the web, I added the drop tanks (included) and an actuator rod for the vent underneath the cockpit. I also added a bit of styrene back a bit inside the air scoop to block light. I drilled out lightening holes in the canopy cross brace. The fuselage seams and the front of the engine needed some help from Mr Surfacer to fill the cracks. My tailwheel casting was a blob of plastic, so I filed it to shape and opened up the tailwheel support with a drill and file. I had some problems with gluing in the canopy to the frame and ended up with some white glue showing where I couldn't reach... big thumbs I guess. The castings for the engine exhaust are pretty marginal. I tried drilling them out which helped. I also drilled out the holes in the wheels.


 The SNJ was painted with Modelmaster enamel Non-Specular light gray, FS 36440 underneath, and Non-specular Blue gray FS 35189 above. The wing tips and prop tips were done with Yellow, FS 33538, and the prop blades in a gloss black. After painting I sprayed the plane with Future (a first) and found later a lot of unevenness! A second lighter coat helped level things out. The Decals went on easily and were very nicely printed. A final coat of future went down over them. I tried using white glue for the landing lights (if the pieces were there, I lost them before ever seeing them). -Not a really satisfactory solution as one shrank in a bit. The other was ok. Antennas were done with Invisible thread.

I had decided to try using the P-51 as a practice for a bare metal finish. Boy, what an experience! Next time I am going to sand a LOT more with finer grits! The SNJ spray and powder part went quickly and easily, with it drying in minutes, with no primer coat. I tried rubbing the powder on the control surfaces and access panels for a bit of contrast. I had thought I could get away without masking everything and hand painting the OD on top of the engine and the black wing walks. Dumb! Should have covered up everything and sprayed! The contrast between the SNJ and the brushwork is real obvious. That and some cat dander...

The Aeromaster decals were excellent, with very good directions. The antenna was done with the invisible thread.


I went into this project looking for some practice of new techniques: shooting Future and SNJ, using the invisible thread, using future as a decal setting solution (works really well, esp. if you put it down on the surface, then apply the decal, and then apply future on top too.), Drilling out the exhausts and wheels, etc. The kits didn't come out great, but the next ones benefited. So, all in all, I think I got a really good value from a pair of older kits. As my t-shirt says, "Learn by doing!"

Eric Bergh

July 2003

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