Fine Molds 1/48 R3C-0 Seaplane Fighter “Porco Rosso”
The Curtiss R3C was a single seat racing biplane designed for both ground and sea landing (R3C-1 and R3C-2 respectively.) Its major claim to fame was winning the 1925 Schneider Racing Trophy and setting a world speed record when flown by aviation great Jimmy Doolittle.
Only three R3Cs were produced with the sole survivor on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (Udvar-Hazy) in the markings it had when it was flown by Jimmy Doolittle.
The anime classic Porco Rosso showed a
heavily modified and armed version as flown by the antagonist air pirate
mercenary/actor Donald Curtiss.
For over 60 years, the Hawk/Testors R3C was the only kit of this plane in 1/48 scale (and it still kind of.) It shows its age with its over simplified detail, but with a lot of work can make an excellent replica of the real life R3C. Fine Molds released this gem in 2007 based on the plane from Porco Rosso and is a fairly simple kit, but with much better interior detail and comes with two figures of Donald Curtiss (one in scale for the cockpit) and the other larger scale figure for display. One major difference between the actual R3C and the Donald Curtiss version is that the wings are gull shaped at the roots on the Donald Curtiss version while the actual R3C had straight wings.
It contains two sprues of dark blue plastic, one grey sprue, one tan sprue, one clear sprue, a decal sheet, a pair of screws/float weights to keep it from tail sitting and a set of polycaps to allow the prop to spin. A grand total of 53 plastic and 2 metal parts in all along with a decal sheet and a detailed instruction booklet in Japanese. One third of the parts are for the beaching trolly.
The detail is amazing despite the simplicity of the kit as they provide a somewhat detailed engine and interior. Fine Molds provides a decal for the seatbelts, but one can scrounge up some photo-etch replacements if one desires.
For the most part the parts are clean but my copy has a small amount of flash around the floats. The kit itself looks like it is very easy to put together which is not surprising as it appears this kit (like their Star Wars kits) was designed more for folks who are more fans of the film than experienced modelers.
The decal sheet contains all the necessary markings for Donald Curtiss’ plane, but more experienced modelers will probably prefer to paint most of the markings.
Despite it being written in Japanese, in my personal experience I have found Fine Molds instructions visually easy to follow and they use Gunze/Tamiya color call outs so it will not be hard to figure out what paints are needed. Also provides what I can only assume is a detailed history of the actual R3C series planes in Japanese.
This is an excellent kit for modelers of all skill levels. I highly recommend it for fans of Miyazaki’s work or those who want a detailed 1/48 R3C model. Should be a fun model to build.
My only (minor) gripe is a lack of a rigging diagram, but that can be found on the internet with a bit of searching.
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