Williams Bros. 1/72 Douglas World Cruiser

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $currently out of producton
DECALS: Four options
NOTES: Treat it as short run


            After WWI the US Army and Navy entered a period of “stunting” to promote interest in and demonstrate the capabilities of aviation. In 1923 the Army decided to stage an around the world flight. They selected a modified Douglas bomber and launched 4 planes, only 2 of which completed the 175 day trek and one of which now hangs in the National Air and Space Museum in DC. Several books are available on the feat and one of many  summaries  can be found at http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Aerospace/Douglas_World_Trip/Aero27.htm.


            Williams Bros. had a relatively small repertoire of historically significant aircraft.  They bounced around quite a bit in scales and in subjects – from military to civilian to parts thereof (they did some kits of engines and guns).  After a long dry spell of no new releases they went belly up. According to posts on several modeling sites the company was bought and turned to producing RC components; with hints of possibly returning to injected plastic scale.

(Joel doesn't mention that the kit can be built either with wheels or floats. It is also one of their earlier kits and so cockpit detail is somewhat minimalist. You'll also find a lot of ejector pin marks on parts as those were not considered the bane they are now when the kit was originally engineered sometime in the 70s. If it is like any of the other Williams Bros kits I've built, many of the parts are so closely molded to the sprue as to be a real pain to remove. This includes some of the very fine parts that will often be broken in the process unless one uses a fine razor saw and much care.  Ed)


              For fit and finish Williams’s molding was top of the line at the time, and probably still would be today. The closest comment to a complaint would be mention of a tad or two of flash. If I recall correctly, windshields came as pre-cut pieces of acetate – or perhaps you had to cut them according to a template. All struts were individual parts that had to be fastened and aligned separately. Joining top and bottom wings was not a task for the impatient or the fat of finger. Rigging was done with monofilament sewing thread looped and tied to the struts. Other than that, nothing noteworthy can be added.

(Joel's too brief construction description is probably overly kind, but then Joel builds Merlin kits. The fact is that all Williams Brothers kits need to be treated as short run. Though there is a variance in quality of engineering depending on how old the kit is, fit is generally fair. I've not built the DWC, but have built several others and I can tell you that modeling skills are needed to achieve an acceptable result. Ed)


            I built the DWC during my flat period. Fellow modelers had browbeaten me out of my devotion to glossies, insisting that flat, fully flat,  and only flat was the proper finish for all airplanes.  All perhaps except the Douglas World Cruiser, which, as it hangs in the Smithsonian, is quite shiny. Flats had problems. I wasn’t savvy to the need to gloss then re-flatten them for decals, but I was lucky. Williams’s transfers were also top-notch and settled on their bed of nails with nary a sign of  silvering. Model Master flat yellow had (perhaps still has) a greenish tinge that detracted from the proper cadmium glow of the surfaces. The worst problem with flats resulted from my use, at the time, of a single room for building and displaying. Despite the huffings and puffings  of a high volume exhaust fan, a cloud of sanding dust and airbrush spray hung perpetually in the air and settled indelibly everywhere. The effects on my properly flat models can be seen in the accompanying photos. The effects on my alveoli can probably be seen in a chest X-ray.


             If The Williams Company does indeed return to its injected roots there is no shortage of historically significant aircraft needing enshrinement.  As a grand come-back project, and as a perfect companion to the First ‘Round the World Cruisers, wouldn’t a First Across the Pond NC-4 be a Dandy  Sight to Set Before the King?

November 2006

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