Dekno 1/72 Spartan 7W Executive

KIT #: 720100
PRICE: $47.00 from  
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Full resin kit


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 8W Zeus.


Packaged 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 more. 

Markings 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 material.

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 all installed.

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 bits.

More 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 fuselage 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 the 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 the late 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 does.

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 it.


Not much 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 done.


When I 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.


August 2011

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