Special Hobby 1/72 FMA Pucara
Editor's note: I've been carrying on correspondence with Jorge and other regarding this kit and thought it would be nice to have the opinions of someone who is very interested in this aircraft to give you some insight that most of us do not have. For a look at my original preview, please visit this link.
Well, after so many years waiting for a decent injected Pucará in 1/72 scale, here we finally have Special Hobby's offering. I want to let you know I sent them some of my material, together with many other contributors, just to make clear that I have had a bit of involvement with the kit in case you find out later and think my comments about it have been made to hide or cover any mistakes. Let me assure you this is not my intention and that I am going to be as objective as I can be.
Since the kit was released though, I have seen a lot of words written about it in reviews and aviation forums. They range from 'very nice, let's give it a try' to 'if you bought it, you have wasted your money', with everything imaginable in between. What prompted this words is that nobody that has criticized the kit really seems to have knowledge of the machine because I still have found nobody mentioning any of the kit's true errors. And yes, unfair comments really irritate me.
Mention is to be made here about comparing the kit with plans and printed profile views. The only good plans I have yet seen are the ones prepared by Mike Keep for Aviation News some time after the war. Yet, there are a few areas, like the nose contour, that are not perfect there. Perfect plans are not out there and I have seen some profile views (to illustrate different
camouflages) that are just mere representations of the aircraft's shape. So my advice here is to better check the kit with pictures, like the ones I have included with these words. SH seems to have done a very good job as far as shapes are concerned and you will be better of checking against pics of the real aircraft rather than against suspect plans.
For one, and your opinion may of course differ, I am really thankful to Special Hobby that they decided to embark in producing a kit that no other manufacturer dared to attempt, no doubt thinking it would not be profitable, and am real happy to have one in my hands as it is generally speaking VERY ACCURATE in both SHAPE and DIMENSIONS.
Total length of the real thing is 14.25 m, or 19.79 cm in 1/72 and the kit is spot on here! As for the span, 14.5 m is 20.14 cm in 1/72, while the model measures 20.16 cm, a mere 2mm more than it should be. This is perfectly close for me. Also, every shape looks very, very good, including the nose area .
The kit is not perfect however as I have found several things that should need attention.
What I consider the kit's 'major' fault is the sweep angle of the horizontal tails. The sweep angle in the real aircraft is 5.6 degrees, whereas the kit parts have double that sweep. Although tedious, it is easy to correct however with the addition of some plastic sheet in the leading edge that can be incorporated to the airfoil with some sanding and putty. As a guide, if you make the leading edge parallel to the adjacent panel line (the one some 5 mm back ) in the horizontal tail, you will get the right sweep angle.
The next area in order of importance regarding accuracy are the wing pylons. They are too slim when viewed from the side and would require them being extended down some 1 to 1.25 mm at their leading edge. This should be accomplished with some plastic sheet and putty too, and you could take the opportunity to add a clear piece of plastic on the lower front section to act as a landing light, given that SH does not include it among the clear parts. The pylons could also do with reducing their thickness a bit before joining the two halves.
Then we move to the fin area. There is a strake in front of the fin, much like the one that was fitted to latter marks of the P-51 Mustang, which is thinner than the fin and produces a noticeable step as it joins it. SH has molded the strake as part of the fin hence omitting the step. The offending thick strake should be filed away and a new one fashioned with plastic sheet.
Be warned that in doing so you will find a gap where the fuselage parts do not meet each other so it would be advisable to add some bits of plastic inside the fuselage before removing any plastic.
The centerline pylon is not provided, which is wrong because neither the wing or centerline pylons are ever removed from the aircraft, save for maintenance, repair or inspection. It should always be there so that leaves you with having to manufacture your own.
Each of the four single slot Fowler flaps has two supports on the sides that protrude from the wing undersides. The flap center of rotation is at the tip of these faired supports. While the outer one in the outer flap is faired behind the wing pylon, there are three of them missing per wing underside. It is a pity SH missed this feature because they could have easily been included in the PE fret. Plastic sheet would do the trick if you want to include them.
Another missing thing are the rows of very tiny vortex generators along the edge of the upper ailerons. There should be 47 V-shaped double vortex generators in front of each aileron and, although almost invisible, it would have been nice that SH could have had them represented in some way. I still have not figured out how to add them to my model, wondering if it could
really be worth bothering...
The cannon bulge area under the fuselage could use a little more bulge as it extends back, but the saddest mistake to report is that the paneling in the area is too far forward by some 2.75 mm. If you check the lower views on the painting instructions, you will see it is represented correctly on the drawings.
The History Notes says the aircraft sent to the islands were camouflaged, 'so they received a coat of light brown, light green and light blue'. That of course is a simplification of things and it should read: 'so they received a coat of brown and green on top with either light blue or unpainted undersurfaces'. All 24 aircraft sent to the islands received camouflage before hostilities began, but they were painted in batches and the greens and browns differed considerably. Some also recived light blue on the undersurfaces, but most did not.
The 'Notes About Coloring' in page four are, as far as I know, totally wrong. Since the first production Pucará, all landing gear legs have been painted in a very pale shade of green, and I am not aware of any exceptions to the rule here. That of course includes all Flaklands/Malvinas aircraft. My only explanation is that the color is so pale that it may have been mistakenly interpreted as light grey or silver in some poorly printed or reproduced pictures. Just for the record, I had to look hard into my files until I finally found that the three prototypes had them painted bright silver. Wheel discs should be silver, and some late aircraft have some in white too.
There is a slight mistake on stage 15b as part D4 is shown to go on the incorrect side of the engine nacelle. It should be fitted as in step 15a as they are on the same side on both engine nacelles.
CAMOUFLAGE AND MARKINGS:
A-511 is correct in both the colors and pattern as they coincide with what British sources have previously researched after the war. I am however not fully convinced that the wing and tailplane moving surfaces received camouflage, as it was common practice to leave those areas unpainted. If anybody knows better than me here, please let me know. What is incorrect however is the inclusion of the small badge (decal #25). This is the badge of Grupo Técnico 3 (the Pucará fixers) and it started being applied way AFTER the war. In fact none of the four aircraft represented should have it fitted. Also, when paint was applied on the wings, the serials would be overpainted, but I cannot be completely sure in this case.
A-549 has the same color reference for the brown and green as A-511. This is obviously a slip as A-549 was a uniquely painted aircraft, with a dark brown and very light green on the top surfaces. I have a picture of A-549 before it was sent to the islands, and it shows the moving surfaces of both wing and tail being left unpainted on the undersides. It is my suspicion that they are also unpainted on the upper surfaces. On the contrary, the panel behind the canopy that is in aluminum should be painted with the camouflage colors. Also, only the left pylon received an unusual application of upper camouflage colors, but no the left one which was in light blue. This aircraft, although very faded, still exists in its original colors in the UK, and if anybody has access to it I would like to please contact him to clear some doubts. The pics I have seen of A-549 are not that good, but seem to indicate the serials were overpainted on the wings too.
A-520 is the most puzzling. It was never to sport the badge of GT3 as it did not survive the war, but the most intriguing thing is that it is portrayed as a Natural Metal Aircraft ('). As far as I know, it had a medium green and medium brown on top with unpainted undersurfaces by the time it was taken out of action by SAS.
A-568 should be correct for the time period, save for the badge. If it is applied however, it could represent the aircraft as it looked years after the war.
Although not absolutely perfect, this is the first model of the Pucará injected in any scale (and no, I do not consider that horrendous Puky representation of the Pucará that appeared in Argentina in the late seventies a 'kit'), and I am delighted about it. Save for a few, the problems with it are easily corrected and it looks every inch a Pucará to me. I wish it were more detailed, like the latest Fairey Firefly which includes full cockpit and wheel well details in resin, but I suspect we may see that in the future. For the time being, I think SH should be congratulated on their release and I just can't wait to have mine finished to see it on my shelve because it gets better as it progresses. The Special Hobby Pucará shows to have received a lot of research and attention from the manufacturer, and it shows in the overall shape, the paneling, the dimensions and the PE fret. Besides, it is light years ahead of anything on the market, including vacuform, resin or multi-media kits produced so far and it is very much worthy of a build, whether straight from the box or as a super-detailing project.
There are a lot of interesting schemes and colors and I hope to be building many, many Pucarás. Hopefully my comments and pictures will encourage would-be builders, for I am sure they won't be disappointed.
Jorge R. Figari
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