Airfix 1/72 C-47 Skytrain

KIT #: A 08014
PRICE: $39.99 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit


The C-47 was vital to the success of many Allied campaigns, in particular those at Guadalcanal and in the jungles of New Guinea and Burma where the C-47 (and its naval version, the R4D) made it possible for Allied troops to counter the mobility of the light-traveling Japanese army. Additionally, C-47s were used to airlift supplies to the embattled American forces during the Battle of Bastogne. Possibly its most influential role in military aviation, however, was flying "The Hump" from India into China. The expertise gained flying "The Hump" was later be used in the Berlin Airlift, in which the C-47 played a major role, until the aircraft were replaced by Douglas C-54 Skymasters.

In Europe, the C-47 and a specialized paratroop variant, the C-53 Skytrooper, were used in vast numbers in the later stages of the war, particularly to tow gliders and drop paratroops. In the Pacific, with careful use of the island landing strips of the Pacific Ocean, C-47s were even used for ferrying soldiers serving in the Pacific theater back to the United States.

C-47s (approx. 2,000 received under lend-lease) in British and Commonwealth service took the name Dakota, from the acronym "DACoTA" for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft. The C-47 also earned the informal nickname Gooney Bird in the European theater of operations.

Other sources (C-47/R4D Skytrain Units of the Pacific and CBI, David Isby, Osprey Combat Aircraft #66, Osprey Publishing Limited, 2007) attribute this name to the first plane, a USMC R2D - the military version of the DC-2 - being the first plane to land on Midway Island, previously home to the native long-winged albatross known as the Gooney Bird which was native to Midway.

The United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command had Skytrains in service from 1946 through 1967.

With all of the aircraft and pilots having been part of the Indian Air Force prior to Independence, both the Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force used C-47s to transport supplies to their soldiers fighting in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947.

Several C-47 variations were used in the Vietnam War by the United States Air Force, including three advanced electronic warfare variations, which sometimes were called "Electric Gooneys" designated EC-47N, EC-47P, or EC-47Qs depending on the engine used. EC-47s were also operated by the Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian Air Forces. A gunship variation, using three 7.62mm miniguns, designated AC-47 "Spooky" often nicknamed "Puff the Magic Dragon" also was deployed.

The Royal Canadian Air Force and later, the Canadian Armed Forces employed the C-47 for transportation, navigation, and radar training, as well as for search and rescue operations from the 1940s to the 1980s.

After World War II thousands of surplus C-47s were converted to civil airline use, some remaining in operation in 2014 as well as being used as private aircraft.


 One aircraft type that has not been overlooked is the DC-3/C-47. It is probably one of the most recognizable aircraft from the 1930s that there ever was. The aircraft has been kitted in every scale from 1/200 to 1/48 and in between. In 1/72 scale, the ones that come to mind are the original Airfix kit, as well as those by both ESCI and Italeri. As part of Hornby's revamping of Airfix, they are making new tool kits of many of their favorites and it is now the time of the C-47. Having it released in conjunction with the 70th Anniversary of D-Day is probably just smart marketing.

Initial impressions are quite good. The panel line engraving may be a bit much for some, but to me it makes little difference. In comparison with the previous 'kings of the hill', the way the panel lines have been done are more reminiscent of ESCI's kit than of the Italeri offering as there are more vertical panel lines on the fuselage. No sprue layout on this one as Airfix doesn't do that. Search the 'net and you'll find sprue images.

You would expect more detail from a new tool kit and you get it in terms of a complete radio compartment and a nice military cargo compartment. This latter area has troop seats that can be modeled folded against the bulkhead. There are also overhead strips provided that I've not seen in any other C-47 in this scale. Though you won't see much of it, there is a well done cockpit that even includes rudder pedals. Airfix always provides cockpit figures and this one is no exception.

The lower wing is in three sections while the upper is in two. There are separate wing fillets, which is something I've not seen in a Skytrain kit before. There is some wheel well detail in that engine oil tank bits have been provided for the forward upper well. Engines are pretty much basic shapes with pushrod detail. Nothing to write home about, but adequate for the scale. Cowlings are right and left sides so there will be a pesky forward cowling seam to deal with. I do not understand why the cowling couldn't have been molded as one piece. Exhausts have that little intake tube jutting from the front of them. I guess this is supposed to help with flame damping or something. On the top of the cowling are two piece carb intakes.

On the bottom are nicely done landing gear that includes the smaller retraction strut that is missing in other kits in this scale. Wheels are of the 'flattened' variety. The gear legs have extensions on the side so that skis can be attached for the second option. If not using skis, these need to be removed. Each of the skis are five part constructs with the little wing on the back. Both the cockpit door and cabin cargo doors are separate with the cargo door having a separate passenger door. The cargo doors can be posed optn. All of the clear bits are separate and fit from the outside. This includes a three piece cockpit windscreen and side pieces.

Though there are no separate ailerons or flaps, the rudder and elevators are separate bits. The kit includes both the earlier pointy tip props in addition to the later paddle blade versions. I would bet that other boxings will be coming on this one.

Instructions are well drawn in a 3D form and include some color bits. The booklet is on a newspaper quality paper with the all Humbrol paint numbers. Two markings options are provided. First is the box art plane "Kilroy is Here" which is the warbird on which the kit was based. This is a markings option I used on one of my Italeri C-47s last year and is a nice one though painting intensive due to the invasion stripes. It has also been featured in aftermarket sheets and other kits so it would have been nice to have something different for the WWII option. The other option is a post-war version in overall aluminum with red Arctic markings, operating out of Isachsen Airstrip in northern Canada in 1949. This is the options with the skis.  The decal sheet is nicely done and has all sorts of data markings. It also has wing walk areas for the post-war option as well as an instrument panel decal. The wing and fuselage insignia for the post-war plane have silver backgrounds where it goes over the red. There is also a silver rectangle for the tail serial. You will need to mask the cut outs for the MATS logo.


I am sure that Airfix will sell a bucket-load of these kit, even at $40 retail. It is nicely detailed and offers features the earlier kits do not. However, if you have a bunch of ESCI or Italeri kits, go ahead and build those. They will make just as nice a model for your shelf and probably for less money. If you must have the latest and greatest, well here it is. Hopefully it will engender a spate of new aftermarket sheets.

September 2013

Thanks to me for the preview kit.

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