Dekno 1/72 Spartan 7W Executive
Designed for comfort, the interior of the 7W was large
and spacious featuring 18 in (46 cm) of slide-back seat room for front-seat
passengers, arm rests, ash trays, dome lighting, deep cushions, cabin heaters,
ventilators, extensive soundproofing, large
windows, and interior access to the
100 lb (45 kg) capacity luggage compartment. Built during the Great Depression,
the 7W was the brainchild of company-founder William G. Skelly of Skelly Oil who
desired a fast, comfortable aircraft to support his tastes and those of his rich
oil-executive colleagues. Unlike many pre-World War II aircraft, the Spartan 7W
Executive was popular enough to see design replications continue well into the
post-World War II period of aviation. Of a total of 34 7W Executive's built,
many are still extant. This version was impressed into the USAAC at the start of
the war as the UC-61.
The Executive's high performance allowed the aircraft
to compete in the 1939 Bendix Air Races piloted by Arlene Davis. It earned fifth
place. A military variant of the 7W Executive was produced by Spartan with a
more powerful 600 hp (447 kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine and named the Spartan
in a somewhat small square box, the kit itself arrives in the usual
segmented plastic bag that is popular with many short run resin companies. I
was pleased to see that there were few parts in each segment and that they
were all related to each other (engine bits in one, interior bits in another
and so on). The moldings on the parts are very good and inspection turned up
no molding glitches. These are somewhat old school in that you'll need a
razor saw to remove the small pour stubs from some of the parts.
My kit was molded in a rather bilious green resin that reminded me of VW's
of the 60s. The kit is quite well detailed as such with some detail bits in
the interior. Clear parts are resin as well as while not as clear as
injected plastic can be, they are still not badly done at all. The one-piece
engine cowling had a few nicks in the front where the pour stub had been cut
away which will need filled. There is a full engine accessory section that
fits onto the fire wall and then has the engine attached to it.
A well molded one piece wing is included along with separate stabilizers and
a separate rudder. Landing gear is nicely done and molded on its side along
with the rudder pedals and the steering column and wheel. Interior seats are
also well done. There are seat belts molded onto the seats, but they
could be improved by using tape or etched brass bits to make them stand out
are provided for two planes. One is the UC-61 version in OD/Neutral Grey
that retains the red forward cowling and spinner of its civil markings. The
second is a Texaco plane in bare metal with red forward cowling and spinner.
The builder will need to match the red paint of the speed stripe on this
one. No interior color information is given, despite the civil variant being
based on a restored plane that is still flown. A search on the Internet will
probably locate the appropriate colors in this regard. Decals are nicely
printed and are probably very thin as well so one needs to take some care in
applying them. I recommend Alclad II paints for the civil version as they
provide the proper shine needed for this beauty.
With resin kits such as this, the initial step is to remove as much of the
resin flashing as possible. In this case, most of it was in the fuselage
windows. Two windows, however, has very thick flash that was not quite as
simple to remove. I highly recommend a set of miniature files when doing
resin work. They will provide the control one needs to not only clean
delicate areas like this, but are great for removing small amounts of
I then cleaned up the bottom of the seats and glued those and the control
column onto the interior piece. Fit is very good. The instructions would
have you install the resin clear bits as the first step. This is a good
idea. None of the clear bits fit particularly well and much handling, filing
and fitting was needed. The problem I have with resin clear bits is that
they soon become quite fogged up with all the handling and trimming. I've
not been super successful in returning them to clarity, though I've been
able to get them close enough to tell there is something on the other side.
Fitting each window piece was very time consuming and with all the trimming
and fitting and repeats, came to about 15-20 minutes per clear piece. All of
the windows were larger than the initial opening I made. This was true of
the door as well, which I fit in the closed position. Naturally, this was
not done all in one day and it took me nearly a week to eventually get them
During this time, I painted the interior. I used a tan for most of the
interior with brown seats, white belts and black instrument panel and
control wheel. When all that was done the fuselage halves were cemented
together. MUCH filler and sanding was done to take care of the seams,
especially on the upper surface. I didn't get the fuselage to join well
above the cabin, so a lot of filler was required to smooth things out. Even
now it isn't perfect. All this destroyed much of the detailing, especially
the rims around the windows that you can see in the image with the clear
trimming was needed to get the interior to fit well, but I was able to get
it pretty well in place from the underside before committing it to cement.
The next step was the wing. It is a bit oversize in terms of fore and aft
fit and there are rather large gaps at the wing root that will need filled.
Not only that, but I had to do some major grinding on both the wings as well
as the fuselage and the interior insert. Particularly near the front. As you
can see from
this image, the interior section was level all the way to the forward
section. That and part of the fuselage root and forward section needed much
grinding. I also had to grind on the wing section itself, but couldn't do
much for fear of breaking through the wheel wells.
After trimming the back of the fuselage to fit the rear of the wing and
having the rest as good as I could get it, I cemented the wing in place.
Thanks to the softness of the resin, I was able to sand the step between the
wing and forward lower
to where it blended in rather well.
Back at the wing roots, I started filling in the gaps with super glue. I
guess I could have used strip styrene as well, but went the glue route.
Again, several applications were needed. Then sanding and then standard
filler to take care of the gaps. I'm not a great modeler so those areas
could be smoother, I guess.
The next step was the addition of the rudder and the horizontal stabilizers.
The stabs needed a bit of root trimming to fit well, but they and the rudder
were actually quite painless compared to
wing and fuselage! On the underside, I had to enlarge the tail wheel opening
to get the tail wheel to fit.
I then glued on the engine accessory section to the firewall, followed by
the engine. This allowed me to test fit the cowling. It is a very tight fit
and even on the finished model wasn't glued in place.
Turning the kit over, I installed the landing gear. These have a rather neat
ball and socket fitting arrangement that worked very well. During this time,
I also attached the main gear doors once I determined I could get the wheels
in place with them installed. The doors seem a bit short compared to the
opening, but I wasn't going to sweat it.
The clear bits were masked and it was time to head to the paint pit.
The kit offers two different options when it comes to
schemes. One is a nice polished metal civil version as owned by Texaco in
1930s and the other is an impressed version in the USAAC at the beginning of the
war. Now I really wanted to do the civil one so I started by painting the entire
airframe with Alclad II aluminum. No primer, just sprayed on a couple of coats.
Since the plane has fabric control surfaces, these were masked. I then painted
everything with Alclad II polished aluminum to give it a shine. And shine it
Bits of the plane, specifically the forward cowling,
wheel hubs and spinner were painted gloss red using Humbrol's paint. I hoped
this would match the red on the decals. It turns out it is close, but a bit
dark. You might want to try Gunze Red Madder as this seems like it might be a
closer match. One thing I found is that the red decals darkened a tad when
applied so the difference isn't horribly apparent.
Speaking of decals, they are superb. They look a bit
'pebbly' but they fit just great. I used Mr. Mark Softer for a setting solution
with no issues. I considered using Testors Metallizer Sealer but decided against
here, actually. Just painting and installing the wheels as well as the prop. You
have to drill out the axle holes about double what is shown on the wheels and I
also trimmed the axles a bit as they seemed too long. The engine had the prop
shaft hole drilled as well.
Last bits to attach were the exhaust. The holes here
also needed enlarged. These were painted Vallejo Tinny Tin and one of them went
'zing' when I went to install it. Fortunately, the short protection stubs on the
resin blocks are just a teeny bit larger so I cut and drilled one of those to
use as a replacement. No weathering was done on the aircraft as these were
generally kept in pristine condition.
The masking was removed from the clear parts and I was
finish a kit, I'm generally pleased with the results and this one is no
exception. This one took me quite a bit of work, but the end result is very
pleasing, despite the cloudy clear bits. I was prepared to do work on this one
as I do on just about every resin kit I've ever built. Not sure if I would
prefer vacuformed windows or not, though they would be more transparent, that is
for sure. Perhaps the answer to this would be a pair of clear fuselages, but
really clear resin is a tough thing to accomplish and is better left to when one
goes to injected styrene.
If between the wars civil aircraft are an interest,
then you may well want to look into one of these kits. Dekno will be doing
more aircraft like this and I look forward to being able to build another.
the preview kit. Get this and other neat kits from the link.
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