Minicraft 1/144 KC-97G Stratotanker

KIT #: 1441
PRICE: $12.99 MSRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Shawn Payne
NOTES:  

HISTORY

The Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker was a United States strategic tanker aircraft based on the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter. For many years, it was the backbone of the United States Air Force's tanker fleet until replaced by the Boeing KC-135. 

The KC-97 Stratotanker was an aerial refueling tanker variant of the C-97 Stratofreighter (which was itself based on the B-29 Superfortress), greatly modified with all the necessary tanks, plumbing, and "flying boom." The cavernous upper deck was capable of accommodating oversize cargo accessed through a very large left-side door, or transferrable jet fuel was contained in tanks on the lower deck. Both decks were heated and pressurized for high altitude operations.  The USAF began operating the KC-97 in 1950. It purchased a total of 816 KC-97s from Boeing, as opposed to only 74 of the C-97 cargo version. The KC-97 used piston engines, fueled by aviation gasoline, but it carried jet fuel for its refueling mission. It therefore used independent systems for both types of fuel.  In 1956, SAC began phasing out the KC-97 in favor of the KC-135.

KC-97s continued operating with TAC, the Air Force Reserves, and Air National Guard units. They were finally retired completely in 1978, when the Texas and Utah Air National Guardís exchanged their KC-97Ls for C-130s and KC-135s, respectively.  KC-97G dual-role aerial refueling tankers/cargo transportation aircraft.   KC-97G models carried under wing fuel tanks. 592 built.

History taken from Wikipedia.

THE KIT

Being that this is 1:144 scale the kits looks rather basic in the number of parts and amount of detail to them.  There is no engine face detail at all nor is there any detail to the wheel wells.  But being that these areas are small this does not distract from the overall appearance of the completed model.

There are two clear parts, one for the cockpit windows and the other for the refueling boom operator enclosure.   The kits decal sheet is printed crisp and no misalignment problems.  The decals provide the rest of the windows and door outlines. If you want an idea of what the sprues look like, check out the B.377 preview.

CONSTRUCTION

For this scale I choose to paint the inside of the windows black so I did not put in the cockpit bulkhead and floor before gluing the two fuselage halves together.  I did add nose weight to the model but later it turned out that I had not put in enough, so keep this in mind when building. 

I puttied over the cargo and door hatches and sanded them smooth along with the upper and lower seems.  The decals door and cargo hatches did not line up with the molded in lines for these areas and they seemed to be a little heavy for the scale.  I found that the clear part for the cockpit windows did not fit flush and sanding work was going to be needed here.  This is where I would have liked the kit to have been engineered different.  The area of the part that needed the heavy sanding to get the right contours was right next to the rear cockpit windows.  So trying not to scratch the window and sand the area right next to it proved to be a challenge.  This is where I would have liked to have seen the kits clear part extend back to the next panel line or not have a clear part at all as the windows are painted black anyways. 

Next are the wings.  Assembly is straight forward here.  Upper and lower wings with lower engine cowlings parts.  The lower engine cowling parts do not line up all that well and will need some filling attention. 

On went the lower clear part for the boom operatorís station.  The major sub assemblies completed I polished the model and got it ready for the NMF.  I kept the model broken down for painting, not putting on the engine housings, wing tanks, wings, tail planes, landing gear and floating boom.

COLORS & MARKINGS

  First thing I painted was the red for the tail areas.  Then I masked off several different panels on the fuselage and wings and painted them flat black.  I do not have much experience with NMF yet  and thought this would help bring out some contrast to the NMF.  I went with Testors Model Master non buffing aluminum for the overall finish.  I airbrushed on the NMF to all parts of the model, including the wheel wells and gear doors.  The flat black under painted panels did give contrast to the overall finish, however just not enough to really tell unless your right on top of it.  Once the paint was dry I removed the masking from the cockpit windows and tail area.  I now attached the wings, tail planes and landing gear.  WOOPS!  It is setting on its tail and I havenít even put on the floating tail boom.  To fix this I cut away as much of the propellers shafts as possible and filled the space inside the engine cowlings with as much lead as I could.  This brought the nose back down to the ground; well it teeters but will sit on the nose wheel.  There does need to be some reshaping of the wing part of the cowlings to get a good fit for the engine cowlings.  I just trimmed this area with my X-acto knife until the parts met flush.

The decals went on with no problems and worked well with the Micro sol setting solution.   Alignment of the SAC star band needs a little care but it will join up and the fit at the bottom comes out right.  I used black decal strip for the de-icing boots, but in later found reference photos I never saw any of the KC-97ís with them.  I should have done more research prior to decaling.  I finished up with the detail painting on the floating boom and attached it along with the wing tanks and it was complete.

CONCLUSIONS

Not a real easy build with some of the fit problems but nothing a novice canít overcome.  I was pleased with the overall outcome and like this scale for these larger planes. 

 Shawn Payne

January 2010

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