KIT: Special Hobby 1/72 Lodestar
KIT #: 72112
PRICE: 17.70 at www.hannants.co.uk
DECALS: Three Options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run kit with etched parts.

HISTORY

The Lockheed 18 Lodestar was a passenger transport aircraft of the Second World War era. The prototype, which first flew in 1939, was constructed from one of a batch of Lockheed L-14 Super Electras which had been returned to the manufacturer by Northwest Airlines after a series of crashes of L-14s. The fuselage was lengthened by 5 feet (1.5 m), enabling the fitting of two more rows of seats and hopefully making the aircraft more economical to operate. However, most US airlines were by then committed to purchasing the Douglas DC-3, and Lockheed found the Lodestar difficult to sell at home.

Overseas sales were a little better, with 29 bought by the government of the Netherlands East Indies. South African Airways (21), Trans-Canada Air Lines (12) and BOAC (9) were the biggest airline customers. Various Pratt & Whitney and Wright Cyclone powerlants were installed.

When the United States started to build up its military air strength in 1940-41, American operated and part-built Lodestars were impressed for Army or Navy services under various designations. Lend lease aircraft were used by the RNZAF as transports. Post war, many of the New Zealand aircraft were later used for aerial topdressing.

THE KIT

The Lodestar is by no means a small aircraft, being only slightly smaller than a DC-2. There are six grey sprues and two small clear ones with the cockpit canopy and the smaller windows, many of which had become detached during shipping. You get the usual fine engraved panel lines, a touch of flash on some of the parts, such as in between engine cylinders, and the usual sink areas. This one has them on the flap tracks, just like the Hudson, because that sprue is taken from the Hudson as it is clearly marked as such. In fact four of the six sprues are from that kit. Only the main fuselage sprue and the one with the seats is specifically for the Lodestar. All of the large pieces have ejector towers that will need to be sanded or scraped off. Those on the interior will be the most difficult, but thanks to the rather distorted cabin windows, removal of these doesn't need to be perfect. I should also mention at this time, that the kit comes with a small resin sprue (not shown) that consists of small lights that will fit onto the overhead bag compartments. Since these probably won't be seen, adding these will fall into the 'modeling for God' category!

Most of the airline seats that come on the interior sprue will not be used but he canvas jump seats will. The builder needs to make 12 small supports of .5mm rod for these. There is also a small toilet section included, but since it will be totally hidden from view, aside from a tiny clear window, I wonder why it was even included. Apparently this is the Cyclone powered version as one uses the larger nacelles with the single 9 cylinder engine face. A small etched fret is included for an upper flap fairing and belts for the cockpit crew

The instructions are well done with generic, Humbrol and I guess Agama paint references. None of the markings are really 'wow' types with the box art plane from BOAC being the most colorful. It is in standard RAF Dark Earth, Dark Grey over Silver markings. The next one is in OD over Matte Black as operated by the 20th Transportation flight. It has RAF insignia and Norwegian tail flashes and operated from Oslo from the end of the war until early 1946. The third option is a Light Aircraft Grey overall with  Matte Black lower engine exhaust areas. This version has full Norwegian markings as operated by 335 sq in 1948-1950. Decals are superbly done and quite thin, though the blue in the Norwegian roundels and flashes seems a bit light to me.

CONCLUSIONS

I have to say I'm surprised at how much of this kit is in common with the Hudson. With a bit of effort and probably not that much, it will make into a superb model of an important type used both during and post war by a number of Allied nations.

January 2007

My thanks to www.hannants.co.uk for the review kit. Check them out for more neat models and accessories.

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