Platz 1/144 C-46D 'JASDF'

KIT #: PD 21
DECALS: Multiple options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit


The Curtiss C-46 Commando is a transport aircraft originally derived from a commercial high-altitude airliner design. It was instead used as a military transport during World War II by the United States Army Air Forces as well as the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps under the designation R5C. Known to the men who flew them as "The Whale," the "Curtiss Calamity,"  the "plumber's nightmare", and among ATC crews, the "flying coffin," the C-46 served a similar role as its counterpart, the Douglas C-47 Skytrain, but was not as extensively produced. At the time of its production, the C-46 was the largest twin-engine aircraft in the world, and the largest and heaviest twin-engine aircraft to see service in World War II.

After World War II, a few surplus C-46 aircraft were briefly used in their original role as passenger airliners, but the glut of surplus C-47s dominated the marketplace with the C-46 soon relegated to primarily cargo duty. The type continued in U.S. Air Force service in a secondary role until 1968. However, the C-46 continues in operation as a rugged cargo transport for Arctic and remote locations with its service life extended into the 21st century.

The C-46D of which this kit represents, differed from most models by having an additional jump door on the starboard side of the fuselage. It was this version that was used widely by the JASDF, who kept them in service for many many years, some serving well into the 1970s.


I saw this one in the 'coming' section of the Platz web site and was very much hoping for one to be sent in for review. Those who know realize this is the second injected C-46 to be produced, the first one in 1/72 by Williams Brothers, which is more of a short run kit than a main-line offering.

1/144 is a good scale for this aircraft as the C-46 was quite large. It measures a wingspan in this scale of 23 centimeters, which is around 9 inches. The 55 parts are all newly molded and are very nicely done. There is a cockpit with seats and instrument panel molded to the floor and a pair of control columns. A clear cockpit transparency is provided with the cabin windows being represented by decals. As there is nothing to see on the inside, this would be adequate for most.

There is a forward engine molding that goes into a three piece cowling with the forward part of the cowling molded to the lower third. Nicely done Curtiss-Electric props are provided. Landing gear are nicely done with a separate wheel and tire to ease painting. The C-46 was festooned with antennas and those are also provided in the kit. Holes for these will need to be opened up by the builder. This tells me that other C-46 boxings are going to come, perhaps including the JASDF's EC-46D. The only option is the installation of the ADF 'football' under the nose or an ARN-7 antenna. I would go by the instructions regarding this antenna. There was a considerable mix of which plane used the older or newer one, so a photo would be your best reference.

Instructions are very well done and pretty much all in Japanese. However, it will not be difficult to figure out what goes where. I noted a lack of color information for the cockpit as well as the inside of the gear wells and inner doors. A good reference search should turn up this information. The decal sheet is huge. There were two transport wings that flew the C-46D, the 401st out of Miho AB and the 402nd out of Kisarazu AB. Platz has provided serials for every C-46D in the JASDF inventory so you can pick your own. From what I have gathered reading the FAOW book, all the 91- serials were C-46A versions and so did not have the right side jump door. All of the da-glo red markings are decals as are all the black painted areas of the lower nacelles, wing walks, and the de-icer boots on the flying surfaces. You only have to paint the nose white. In addition, there is one aircraft in the delivery scheme without the da-glo or white bits and with a USAF serial. A USAF plane as used in Korea with a black underside is also provided (hence the red USAF). It is quite generic with no unique markings. Both Gunze and Model Master paint numbers are provided.


This is a superbly molded kit and if you are familiar with any of the Platz releases, you know how nice they are. This one opens up all sorts of possibilities from the aftermarket decal folks and it would be a real surprise if a bevy of alternate cargo liveries were not produced. Platz also does a nice etched detail set for this in case you wish the additional detail.


Famous Aircraft of the World #122, Bunrin-do, November 1980

February 2013

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