Planet Model 1/48 SIAI-Marchetti SF260M

KIT #: 194
PRICE: $47.99 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Pat Earing
NOTES: Resin with metal, photo etch, and vacuform parts
Max Decals set 4820. History provided by your editor

HISTORY

The Aermacchi SF.260 is a light aircraft marketed as an aerobatics plane and a military trainer. It was designed by Stelio Frati, originally for Aviamilano, which flew the first prototype of it (then designated F.260) on July 15, 1964. Actual production was undertaken when SIAI Marchetti purchased the design soon thereafter and continued with this firm until the company was bought by Aermacchi in 1997. The military versions are popular with smaller air forces, which can also arm it for use in the close-support role.

The design is a conventional one, featuring a low wing and tricycle undercarriage, and is often praised for its sleek lines and sporty appearance. The pilot and up to two passengers (or pilot and one student in trainer versions) are accommodated under a broad, extensively glazed canopy.

The SF.260 holds the airspeed records for aircraft in its class over the 100 km (62 mile) and 1,000 km (621 mile) closed circuits.

The aircraft was marketed in the United States in the late 1960s as the Waco Meteor, although it was in no way connected with the Waco aircraft company. Thirty SF.260EA - the most recent version - were delivered to the Italian Air Force in 2005 for a total price of Ä33 million ($40 million).

THE KIT

Planet Modelís SF 260 is a gem.  The kit includes six loose resin pieces, two additional bags of resin as well as a bag with white metal landing gear and a separate bag with two vacuformed canopies and a sprue of etched metal.  All of the resin is well cast with very petite panel lines.  The fuselage is hollow cast in two parts, and my example exhibited no warpage or pin hole blemishes.  The wing is one piece as are the separate tail surfaces.  The cockpit is simple, but complete.  The floor is a large casting that incorporates the seats and rudder controls.  Further details are supplied in the form of a comprehensive set of etched seatbelts, resin instrument panel and control sticks.  The canopies are appropriately thick and blemish free and thoughtfully, two canopies are included in case of a mishap.  The white metal landing gear legs are well cast with no appreciable flash.  Additional etched metal parts are included for the various antennas found on the airframe and smaller cockpit details.  Overall, a very well engineered and detailed package.

CONSTRUCTION

I began construction with a soapy wash and rinse to clean any mold release agent from the resin parts.  Once dry I painted all of the appropriate interior parts with Floquil Engine Black; including the cockpit floor, fuselage sides and instrument panel top.  At this time I also sprayed some dull coat on all of these parts as I a barrier, because I would be brush painting additional colors and I did not want any mixing or streaking to occur.  In preparation to begin assembly, I detail painted the seatbelts using Model Master PRU Blue.  The Instrument panel on the Irish Warriors was generally a light grey color with black instruments.  Although small, the detail is well cast and responded well to careful painting.  I used a few small placard decals to further create the image of a complete and busy instrument panel.  Missing from the kit castings are the engine controls and a smaller, roundish panel found between the front seats.  Using pictures I recreated these out of scrap plastic adding small brass levers and additional details with paint.  The s were painted with a random dark green color, and when dry the photo etched seatbelts were added for both the front and rear seats.  At this point I installed the nose wheel bay, cockpit, instrument coaming and weights-lots of weight!  Gratuitously, Planet Models leaves a large area for this in front of the instrument panel where the engine would be on the real aircraft.  I filled the area with small bits of lead, being careful that none would interfere with putting the fuselage halves together.  Once sure that I would not have a tail sitter I painted the lead bits black just in case they might be visible under the instrument panel and joined the fuselage halves using CA glue with accelerator.

I now checked that the wings would fit, and doing some minor scrapping for a good fit, glued the one piece wing assembly to the fuselage.  Prior to joining the fuselage halves, I checked the one piece tail surfaces and made sure that I could get it through the provided slot with the fuselage closed up. I did have to do some minor carving to alleviate a bind and some cocking it kept them from true, but once I had the wings attached and available for reference to horizontal, I stuck the elevators in and bound them with thin CA glue.  At this junction I also cleaned up and attached the vertical tail surface.  This item will benefit from careful cleaning and numerous test fits to get a near perfect mating surface; however, be careful that you do not take too much material from the angle at the bottom rear of the part, as this will push the vertical tail unit too far forward and interfere with the canopy installation later.  Planet Model includes an ingenious solution for the engine by providing a part to help align and mount the front cowling while providing the appearance of cylinder heads in the cowling openings. I painted the cylinder heads with Floquil Old Silver and the rest of the area (possibly visible) with black.  At this point I attached the front cowling and the major assembly was complete!  Checking references I noticed that there should be a landing light centered below the propeller, as well as a visible hole for the starter offset to the left side at about 4 oíclock from the front, but partially covered by the spinner assembly.  These details I created using small drill bits and careful drilling.  The landing light lens was created using a Waldron punch set, some chrome paint and CA glue for the lens.  Finally, I added the two wing tanks which have a thoughtfully provided wing placement outline cast into them.  Make sure that you attach them with the small protruding tab to the top front.

Now it was time to fit the canopy.  Using a fine point sharpie, I outlined the lower canopy framing line all the way around the canopy I had chosen to use. As I wanted the canopy closed, I then cut the two canopies apart, and began the process of cutting away the excess plastic using some extraordinarily sharp drafting scissors.  Once free of most of the excess material I used a single, new #11 blade, free hand, not in a handle to clean up and achieve a good fit with the fuselage.  I spent about a half an hour trimming and fitting to achieve an excellent fit.  The canopy was dipped in Future and when dry I masked up and the interior framing and painted it with Foquil Engine Black, including a prominent sun shield that is under the Perspex.  I then attached the canopy with CA glue and accelerator to the fuselage.  Be careful here that you fully seal the glue edge of your canopy-I thought I had, but clearly hadnít as after priming and sanding the inside had become covered with a fine dustingÖ Grrrr!  Even though the fit was great, the canopy edge took a liberal amount of putty, sanding and priming to get it fit for paint. 

Overall, the fit of the resin parts are excellent, but I did have to fill a low spot on the top of the engine cowling and well as the wing to fuselage seams and the lower fuselage seam.  Also, the wing leading and trailing edges required a good sanding with 400 grit sandpaper as well as the wing tanks to remove casting seams and blemishes.  Once sanded and in final primer I rescribed a few lost panel lines with an Olfa P Cutter and remasked the canopy for paint.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 Painting commenced with the application of Floquil Reefer White followed by Testors Model Master International Orange FS 12197 on the wing tanks, cowling, and tips of the tail surfaces.  For the Irish machine I intended to model I used Max Decals sheet #4820 the Irish Air Corps 1920-2010.  Max Decals suggests red for these areas; I, on the other hand went with International Orange after looking at numerous color images of the real Irish SF 260ís.  Leaving things to dry for a couple of days, the areas to remain International Orange were masked off and Testors FS 34079 was applied.  This is another break with Max Decals as they suggest that the Irish SF 260ís were painted in FS 14079.  In any case, FS 14079 is not available in the MM line, and the FS 34079 is a close match to color images I have seen.  In my opinion, neither is quite right, but I did not have the energy to chase an elusive color match.  I unmasked everything but the canopy and the model was over-coated with testers Glosscoat and set aside to dry.

The decals were applied using warm water and Micro-Sol to get them to snuggle down.  Over all the Max Decals went on with little or no trouble, although they are extremely thin and require some care during placement.  When the decals had dried a final coat of Gloss coat was sprayed over the entire model and the masking removed.  Unfortunately, some dust had gotten inside and coated the inner surfaces of the canopy.  I considered removing the canopy and starting over, but in the end simply drilled a 3/32 hole through the bottom of the wing center section and used a syringe with soapy water to carefully wash the canopy.  Although not perfect, the results were simpler than redoing all the paint work, and acceptable to me.

Final assembly was precluded by carefully masking the engine cowling and wing walks and spraying Foquil Engine Black for these areas.  Finally, the landing gear was cleaned up, painted Model Master Camouflage Grey and installed.  I them used card stock to create several of the unique antenna found on the real Irish SF 260ís.  The propeller was sprayed with a custom mix consisting of Floquil Old Silver and various grays, with the tips being masked and white sprayed for the warning markings and the backs with Engine Black.

CONCLUSIONS

What a nice build.  Quick and easy, as resin kits go without any nasty surprises.  Because of the large vacuformed canopy and the somewhat flimsy and very small etched parts I would suggest this kit for modelers with some experience, but possibly looking for a first resin project.  The Max Decals preformed as anticipated and are highly recommended.

REFERENCES

The Irish Air Corps: An Illustrated Guide  Maxwell, Joe and Patrick J. Cummins.  Max Decals Publications Ltd, 2009

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SF-260

Pat Earing

January 2012

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