Platz 1/144 C-46ECM

KIT #: PD 22
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


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. In fact, the type that served the longest was a variant equipped to perform ECM duties. Three airframes were converted to serve with the Electronic Warfare Training Squadron as part of Air Defense Command. These planes were slightly different from each other in terms of the systems and antennas they carried. Two of them are still extant in museums in Japan.


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 superbly molded as you'd expect from Platz. 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.

Platz has included an additional sprue with this kit. On that sprue is a complete new nose as is peculiar to the ECM variant. There are also a number of antennas as well as other lumps and bumps.

Instructions are very well done and pretty much all in Japanese. However, it will not be difficult to figure out what goes where. There are notes in the build to show which antenna suite goes with which serial aircraft. One plane does not have a nose radome so will not need the new nose section. My personalfavorite is the box art plane as it has the most bits on it compared to the others.

The decal sheet is large and colorful, providing markings for whichever aircraft you are modeling. 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 for one of the versions that does not have a nose radome. 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 is a bit of a specialty aircraft as no other air arm operated the ECM variant. One thing for sure, it will build into a very nice model.


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

September 2014

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