Hasegawa 1/200 KC-10A

KIT #

 01332

PRICE:

@$19.00

DECALS:

2 aircraft of 4th Wing

REVIEW :

Scott Van Aken

NOTES:

'Nose Art 2'

HISTORY

Back in the mid-1970s, there was seen a need for additional tanker aircraft in the USAF. The KC-135s had been out of production for over 15 years and there was little likelihood of the production line being reopened. Searching around for another aircraft that could combine cargo and tanking missions, proposals were requested and the winning design was a modification of the civil DC-10.  

First entering service in 1980 or so, the KC-10 fleet has been a real workhorse for the Air Force. In addition to being able to hold prodigious amounts of fuel, it also has a very large cargo-carrying capability. So far, of all the KC-10s delivered, only one has been lost, and that was due to a ground fire in 1986. When the first aircraft entered service, they were all assigned to SAC and painted in a very attractive scheme of white upper, grey lower with a large blue cheat line that wrapped over the cockpit section. This eventually gave way to the upper color being camouflaged in a dark grey that not only looked ugly, but faded rapidly and was a pain to maintain. This is the 'shamu' scheme shown on the box art. The current scheme is an overall AMC grey which will not as dark, still fades rapidly and is difficult to keep clean

During the Air Force reorganization of the mid-late 1980's, SAC and TAC were disbanded and combined into the new ACC. Overnight, tail codes sprouted on a number of former SAC assets such as B-1s, B-52s, and the tanker fleet. A huge number of C-130s were also transferred from AMC to ACC and began sprouting codes as well. After years of juggling these assets, all the tankers and most of the cargo birds were retransferred back to AMC. Tail codes have left all the non-combat big aircraft, to be replaced by rather boring tail stripes.

THE KIT

If you have built any of the DC-10 1/200 airliners, then this will look quite familiar. All the panel lines are raised with only hatches, doors and control surface hinges engraved. Different from the airliner kit are new fuselage halves and the tail boom assembly. All other bits and pieces are straight from the airliner kit. The only transparency is the cockpit window. There is no interior as none is really needed in this scale.

The decal sheet is new giving two aircraft from the 4th Wing with SJ tailcodes and a red fin tip as on the box art. The sheet is quite complete and while not having the color of the airliners, is well done.  The instruction sheet is from the initial release of this kit back in 1987. It is typical Hasegawa being quite complete and giving good detail to the assembly sequence. Unlike most kits nowadays, a display stand is included, but it does not have the nice, big nameplate decal to go on it that the original issue did.

 

CONSTRUCTION

 

Having built several of the airliners, there were no surprises with construction of this kit. The first thing done was the installation of the two-piece plastic noseweight. This fits into a slot just aft of the cockpit section. The cockpit was then painted a very dark grey (FS 16081) as were the intakes for all the engines. The fuselage halves were then glued together. While that was drying, the fan blades were painted aluminum and then installed into the engine halves. The halves were then glued together. At this same time, the wings were glued together.

After all those bits had dried, they were inspected for fit and need for filler. The fuselage needs quite a bit as so the underside of the wings. For some reason, the underside of the wings were designed with the joining seam running through the control surfaces rather just at the edge of them as on so many other Hasegawa kits. Filling this seam was easy enough, but it required the destruction of all the panel lines on them. I just removed all the panel lines from the bottom of the wings to make things easy. The engine pylons have large ejector pin holes that need filled. In fact, I used filler on most of the seams for this kit.

Once the tail section had the engine fan in it and was glued together, the engine front was glued in place. It also needed sanded down as it was a touch too large. There is also a large hole in the bottom that needed filling. After the marathon sanding session was over, those panel lines on the fuselage that I removed were replaced simply by running an Xacto knife over them. The raised plastic left by this is pretty close to the raised detail on the rest of the kit.

Major sanding and smoothing complete, the tail and the wings were glued in place as was the cover for the boom operator's window. The flying boom was also glued together at this time. Then the underwing flap hinges were glued in place as was a small exhaust at the rear of the aircraft. It was then time to do some painting

PAINT & DECALS

Now the instructions tell you to paint the underside FS 36622, which is a Vietnam era underside grey. The actual color is a Douglas Number 3536, which is, as far as I know, unavailable from the major paint companies. Requests for info were put to the internet and a Dana Bell article in the July 1992 Fine Scale Modeler was consulted. The Bell article suggested FS 16515 or Xtracolor X150 or 301. Folks on the net suggested RAF Light Aircraft Grey as a good match. Not having any of those colors, I used Xtracolor RLM 63, which seems to be pretty close to the color needed. This was sprayed on the underside of the aircraft, in the wheel wells and on the landing gear struts. The wheels themselves were painted aluminum with Aeromaster Tire color on the tires themselves.

The underside grey was masked off when dry, and the upper color was then sprayed on. The instructions and all references tell me to use FS 36081 and I had some Gunze FS 16081 Engine Grey which I then used. In case you are not familiar with FS numbers, the first digit tells you how glossy the paint is with 1 being gloss, 2 being semi-gloss and 3 being matte. Using a gloss paint means you don't have to overcoat it with a clear gloss before putting on decals. The engine exhaust cones and pylons were painted in 16081 as per directions. Later, the very ends were masked off and painted steel with the inner cones painted burnt iron.

After the usual back and forth painting, the kit was ready for the decals. A note on the upper surface color. Though engine grey, the USAF version of this paint does have a slightly greenish tint to it. I added a bit of Aeromaster Russian Topside Green (acrylic) to the Gunze to give it that greenish tint and it seems to look about right. Just as I was getting ready to put the first decal in the water, something caught my eye. It was a rather prominent seam that has seemingly (no pun intended) appeared overnight on the top of the fuselage. Well, I couldn't let that stay there so out came the 1200 grit sandpaper and I gently sanded the seam area. Yep, the filler had shrunk and left me with yet another seam to fill. This time I used superglue as it was such a shallow one. Only goes to prove that when it comes to filler, dry doesn't mean cured! After the offending trench was filled and sanded smooth, it was touched up with the old spray gun and the decaling got underway in earnest.

There are quite a few decals for an aircraft this small. A nice touch is that there are decals to cover the open holes for the fuselage windows. They work quite well, though there are those of you who may wish to fill those holes before applying the window decals. All the decals fit well and responded well to the various setting solutions that I tried on them, including Champ solution. Hasegawa decals have come a long way in the last few years and I do appreciate that. Though still a bit thick, they can take a lot of handling and are the proper shades and colors. It took several days to decal the aircraft as I like to do it by major section and let that section thoroughly dry before tackling another. Once all done, the airframe was wiped down with a damp cloth  to remove dried setting solution.

Once the decals were put on, then it was time to finish things up. The windscreen was cut from the sprue, and to my shock, there were a myriad of tiny and not so tiny air bubbles in it!  Well, no time to ask for a replacement as I was getting this kit ready for a contest. The windscreen was masked with Bare Metal Foil and sprayed with aluminum. While that was drying, the landing gear struts, doors, and wheels were glued in place. I found that the center main gear stuck down farther than the outboard ones so had to sand down the center wheels to get it all to sit evenly. Then the engine pods were glued on as were the horizontal stabilizers and the refueling boom: all using superglue. The windscreen was then glued in place  and the aircraft sprayed clear flat on the upper surfaces. The lower surfaces remained gloss. Then the nose was painted flat black with a brush and the masking taken off the windows. 

This kit took about two weeks from start to finish, the normal time for one of these airliner type kits. How many hours that is, I don't know. I always wonder how some of these people know how long it took to build something. They must keep time or something and write down how long they spent on it. I just build them.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, quite an enjoyable kit. No real glitches, no surprises, good fit, minimal hassle, nice decals. I mean, what more could one ask from a kit? The end result looks pretty much the way I expected and I expected it to look quite nice. It even comes with a display stand. I marked a little pip in the lower fuselage so that I can drill out the hole for the stand if and when the cats knock it off the shelf and destroy the landing gear!!

I can recommend this kit to just about all building levels. Now if only this kit was released in the current AMC grey scheme in addition to the early white and grey one, that would be great!!

Please note that this was a 1996 special boxing of the standard DC-10 kit and as of this writing, is no longer available.

March, 2000

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