|NOTES:||Rare kit of a unique subject|
The Savoia-Marchetti S-55 was a double-hulled flying boat produced in Italy beginning in 1924. Shortly after its introduction it began setting records for speed, payload, altitude and range. It was one of the first airplanes to cross the Atlantic Ocean when the Santa Maria under Francesco de Pinedo made the crossing between Dakar, Senegal and Pernambuco, Brazil in February of 1927; 4 months before Charles Lindbergh's first solo crossing.
The Italian Air Marshall of the time, Italo Balbo soon became famous for organizing fleets of S.55s for Atlantic crossings, culminating in his 1933 flight with 24 aircraft to Chicago's Century of Progress International Exposition. These large fleets of aircraft became so well known that even today a large formation is sometimes called a "Balbo".
The aircraft went on to serve the Italian Air Force and the Luftwaffe in World War II as a long range bomber and patrol aircraft.
I found this kit at a swap meet and had a chance to look in the box before I plopped down my hard earned cash. Considering the subject and my love of Seaplanes, I find it money well spent. Upon opening the box, one gets the impression of a SMER kit; lots of flash, heavy molding and simplistic detail. The parts are cast in a soft, gray plastic. There is 2 rather large sprues containing the plane and 1 large clear sprue. The model sprues contain large gates that will make the parts difficult to remove cleanly. The clear parts are thick but well cast. The horizonal control surfaces are molded separate, but the triple rudders are one piece. Also included is a clear display stand and a rather simple set of beaching gear.
The model itself is well molded with no panel lines. There is no internal detail to speak of other then 2 simple seats and a crude panel. The one strange part is that a partial decal sheet is included for Italo Balbo’s aircraft, but for some reason it doesn’t include the the wing serials.
The instructions are a single page printed on both sides. They are all in Italian, as are the color call outs.
What can I say…. this kits a pig. I knew that going in, so I really wasn’t surprised. The wing is made up of a single lower part with 3 upper parts; a center section and then the upper wings. No matter what I tried, a large step resulted where the outter panles met the center section. This step required a LOT of filler and took me several applications to get it looking halfway decent. Thank God the plane has no panel lines!
As I had very little in the way of reference, I left out the “cockpit” and painted the inside of the canopy black.
The twin-hulls are 2-piece upper and lower parts. Again, filler is needed at most of the seams as well as a large amount at the tips, which I found were molded short. I decided not to use the plastic windows and opted for Kristal Klear instead. Filler was also needed where the hulls meet the main wing. The closeness of the hulls makes the inner seams a bit of a problem.
The engine is made up of 3 parts and also requires filler (go figure). I cut off the molded on exhaust stacks and replaced them with plastic rod. After assembly, the fit of the engine pod to the wing is not good as the supports come in contact with the canopy. I ended up filing down the supports just enough to get them to clear.
The tail assembly will take a bit of care to get everything lined up correctly. There was a bit of warpage in one of the booms, but nothing that will hinder the build.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
I really didn’t like the scheme shown in the instructions and on the box, so I looked on the net for a better one. I found 1 picture showing a red-striped S-55, so I decided to do that one instead.
I painted the S-55 with Model Masters “German Aluminum”. I have used it in the past and found it a good match for doped paint that was common of the period. I do most of my painting outside and I think it was a bit too cold when I did. The paint went on good, layed flat but dried grainy. The red stripes were then taped off and painted with MM “Insignia Red”. As for the wing serials, I went down to the local Hobby Lobby and found some stick on numbers that were about the right size. Now that it’s done, I think they may have been too thick.
The decals that did come with the kit splintered in the water but I was able to save the really important ones. They went on well and settled down with an application of Micro Set.
I used another product I found at HL to rig the S-55. It’s called “Magic Streach” and is an elastic used to make braclets. I got the .5mil, but I think I should have used a smaller size. While it looks ok, it could have looked better.
drilled the rigging holes as I went along with assembly and all I had to do was
run the rigging and glue it down. CA is required to hold it in place and a
slight touch up of the paint when done.
This is not a kit for the faint hearted and it took me several months to finish. Between letting filler dry and such, it is a time consuming build. However, if you love Seaplanes the way I do, it’s the only game in town. These kits show up on Ebay once-in-a-while, but be aware, they are pricy.
I am also not too sure of the rigging pattern. I found very little on the net about the S-55 and even less in clear pictures. I did receive a very nice CD containing a wealth of information from an individual that saw my progress pics, it came to late to help with my build however as I was too far along.
Wikipedia for the history.
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