Revell 1/32 PA-18 Super Cub

KIT: Revell 1/32 PA-18 Super Cub
KIT #: 04208
PRICE:  $30.80 from GreatModels
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New mold kit: Full engine.


Early in 1948, Piper assigned the model designation PA-18 to an improved version of the PA-17 Vagabond, which was to be introduced to the marketplace in 1949. A Continental C-90 powered prototype was built and tested, but Piper decided to cancel the program early in 1949.

At the same time the company was developing the PA-19, which was a version of the PA-11 cub Special for the U.S. Army. Only three were built and one of them, N5011H (Ser. No. 19-1), would serve as the certification test bed for the installation of the Continental (1-90-12F; Lycoming 0-235- C1 and O-290-D. The PA-11 airframe was unchanged, except for a revised center section and the use of the more rounded rudder that was first used on the J-4 Cub Coupe. The PA-11, which was an updated J-3, had retained the more angular Cub rudder. (An interesting side note: When Dick Wagner developed his Cuby, Wagabond and 2+2 kits, all were fitted with J-3 rudders. Reason: Dick had purchased all the J-3 inventory left at Piper's old Ponca City, OK plant, which included a barn full of J-3 elevators, stabilizers, gear legs and rudders. Golda and I were there in Lyons. WI to see them shoals after Dick returned home with the first semi load of goodies)

Military orders for the PA-19 that Piper Aircraft hoped for did not immediately materialize, so the company decided to ''civilianize'' the design and market it as the Super Cub. Rather than advancing to the next model designation, which would have been PA-20, Piper chose to go backward and assign the unused PA-18 designation to the Super Cub. Actually, by this time the PA-20 designation had already been assigned to the four-place Pacer, so the only other alternative would have been to jump ahead to PA-21! All this model designation confustion came about because these different airplanes were under development at the same time.

     Finally, however, things were sorted out and the Super Cubs went into production - replacing the PA-11 on the production line in November of 1949. The very first Super Cub was N5410H, Ser. No. 18-1 . It is still on the FAA'S books today - registered to Eugene Frank of Caldwell, ID, who has been deceased for a number of years. There's a vintage treasure for someone to unearth and restore.

     Super Cubs were certified and produced by Piper Aircraft with five different engines (plus several dash number variants of those engines).

Along the way a variety of sub models were produced, including PA-18s seaplanes and PA-18A ag planes. A total of 1,493 were built for the Air Force and Army as L-18s and L-21s, and many of those were sent to foreign countries under the Mutual Defense Aid Pact. The military models were ordered and built in blocks of serial numbered right along with the civilian production.

In total, Piper Aircraft built 10,326 Super Cubs between 1949 and 1994. Just 44 were built at Vero Beach - all the rest at Lock Haven. The biggest year for Super Cub production was 1953, when 1043 were built.

Like the J-3s and PA-11s before them, most Super Cubs were initially used as working airplanes. They served as trainers, dusters and sprayers, banner towers, pipeline and bowerlike patrollers, border patrollers, military liaison aircraft, bush planes and in any other way pilots could use and abuse them. Few aircraft have ever been subjected to more aftermarket modifications than the Super Cub - in fact in their efforts to squeeze out more performance, Alaskan bush pilots have sometimes rendered them virtually unidentifiable as PA-18s.

The Super Cub, however, did not die when Piper Aircraft ceased production in 1994. A host of small companies simply tooled up and began building their own versions of the airplane - in kit form to avoid the cost of certification. There are even turboprop versions flying today!


I'm sure that there are a number of people out there who are as pleased as I that this kit has been produced. I happen to enjoy building light aircraft and few are really well done kits. For the Super Cub, I've built a couple; boxed by Bandai or Minicraft. Nice kits, but not easy builds.

This latest one from Revell AG continues their work in the civil sector. If you look at the Revell AG catalogue, you will see that they have been producing a few of these types every year and have amassed quite a nice selection. This one is everything we have come to expect from Revell AG. A well engineered kit with a lot of detail and not asking the moon when it comes to price. Were a certain Chinese company to produce this, not only would there be errors in shape, but we'd be paying twice as much for it.

Let me first address the detail level. This one has the fabric part of it down pat. It is nice and taught and smooth, just as it should be, without the 'hills and valleys' that were so popular not that long ago when it came to reproducing fabric surfaces.  Revell has decided we want maximum detail, so has provided a complete engine for us to display. The engine cowling side panels can be glued open so we can look at the nice job we have done. There are few real options in a light plane like this. One of them is an optional tail wheel strut and another are optional instrument panel decals. Yes, decals for the instrument panel, but since there are several differences between markings options, it was  logical choice. You also have the option to install wheel brakes, something these planes did not often have. The rest of the options are in the colors one paints certain parts. Those of you looking at the sprues and thinking you get separate ailerons may be disappointed to find that you don't, but it should be easy to cut if one wants.

I have to mention the clear bits. They are extensive, but very well done. I am particularly pleased to note that Revell has provided a very hefty wing spar. This is incorporated in the upper clear part and should help to keep those wings on nice and tight.

Revell instructions have always been well done and these are quite similar. The usual plethora of warnings in the usual plethora of languages, just to keep the lawyers at bay. There are four markings options. Two civil, including the one on the box art in basic red and another with a checkered rudder in yellow. Two Bundeswaffe L-18Cs make up the military planes. Markings are similar aside from codes and unit markings. Both are overall Paint Mix A with Paint Mix B cowling and wing tips. Yes, you'll have to mix a lot of shades. A=RAL 1007 which is a yellow, while B=RAL 2005, which is daglo. Colorful planes that were used in calibration duties. The huge decal sheet is superbly printed in Italy. Revell provides all the needed striping so you won't have to do any masking.


If you are like me, you have more kits than time and this one will be one more on an ever-growing 'must build' pile.


July 2008

You can find this kit and a ton of others at GreatModels

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