Airmodel/Airfix 1/72 YC-97
|REVIEWER:||Carmel J. Attard|
|NOTES:||Vac-form conversion kit|
The C-97s A to L were development of the X-97/YC-97aircraft which was a transport version of the B-29. Originally designed in 1944 the C-97 was to the B-29 as the 307 Stratoliner was to the B-17. From the YC-97 then came the C-97A, B, C, and D which were all transport aircraft used in M.A.T.S. C-97 units entered service from 1945 with the USAF and Reserve units until more recent years (late 70s) when replaced by modern jet tankers and transport type.
This is basically the Airmodel kit No 185 in 1/72 scale molded in white soft plastic. The cockpit canopy and also the refuelling bulging aft gondola are in clear vacform acetate. Apparently at the time of its release (circa 28 years ago) there was also a separate kit conversion to produce a B/KB-50 that was not yet released in injected form at the time. These two Airmodel kits seemed to borrow parts from each other.
The conversion Airmodel kit was designed for use in conjunction with the Airfix B-29. It was determined at the early stage to go for a prototype C-97 since there was a wide variation between the early mark and later versions.
The high tail fin and rudder was then cut from the vac fuselage as this was that of later version found on KC-97 and was replaced with one from the Airfix B-29, this time using super glue for a firm joint. Area was smoothened with filler. Reference was made to scale plans located in ‘Aircraft of the Fighting Powers’. The rest of kit assembly followed that of the Airfix instructions.
The internal strengthening of wing root and joints at an earlier stage paid well as it served as good support for the heavy Airfix wings. Tail planes added and finally cockpit interior was painted and scale crew figures added before the vac clear canopy lowered into place.
The YC-97 was a service test aircraft. Photos of the aircraft showed it in B-29 type of engine cowlings and propellers, tail unit and wings at the time. An astrodome above cockpit and also a handle bar antenna were added to forward fuselage. A gondola shaped forward radome was carried under the fuselage. This was shaped from half part of a 1,000lb bomb and painted black. This early version had the wire antenna attached to the vertical fin. Nose wheel and main wheels were also identical to those of the B-29 pattern.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
There is some contention as to the exact color of the winged motif and fuselage stripe as some color photos may be misleading making it appear dark blue more than green. This reminds me of the occasional dilemma, which arises concerning the top camouflage of Mustang of 365-fighter group, which appears dark blue in most color photos when in fact it was dark olive drab camouflage on top surfaces.
The subject I have picked definitely is a colorful one reminiscent of those hay days of the 50s era when every transport, trainer, or prototype aircraft and those operating in the arctic region wore bright high visibility colors.
It is with big surprise that with skies getting so congested with liners and military type no longer is given regard to these bright high visibility colors, but then it is quite understandable considering the advancement in radar contact, state of the art communication continuously progressing, new anti collision remedies introduced and continuous watchful eyes from ATC and area radars that make aircraft in the sky easily located and recorded and thereby the chance of mid air collision these days is very slim.
My next kit build now should be the Academy KC-97 Stratotanker.
Carmel J. Attard
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