Red Bear Resins 1/48 Basler BT-67 Conversion

KIT #:  
PRICE: $75.00
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Pat Earing
NOTES:  26 piece resin conversion set to convert Trumpeter C-47 into a Basler BT-67.  Decals and instructions included.


 The Basler conversion is Red Bear’s second kit to hit the market here in the US.  Distributed through Coopers Models/DMC Models the kit comes in a nondescript cardboard box with hand written title; and, although not an auspicious marketing visual, the box is sturdy and not over packed.

Inside you will find 27 beautifully mastered light grey resin parts.  The smaller bits are bagged together in two small zip lock style clear plastic bags.  Included are new forward fuselage halves, as the Basler conversion to the old Douglas C-47 includes a new 40 inch fuselage extension, two new wing tips, two engine cowlings and nacelles, a new instrument panel, spinners and ten propeller blades, exhaust pipes, and two plugs for the kit exhaust indents.  Additionally, a second baggie contains a small decal sheet of unknown origin that provides numbers and lettering to build the US Forest Service’s brightly marked N142Z. 

Instructions are printed on one 11x8 sheet of paper with an additional sheet included for decal placement.  In typical fashion for Red Bear, images of the resin parts mated to the kit plastic parts are used to show how the changes are accomplished.  Although nice, this method can be confusing as to how much or where a cut needs to be made-some measurements would have been a nice addition.  The final bit is a postcard sized color print of the actual aircraft with the Red Bear logo in the corner.

Overview: What a cool conversion set!  What a well mastered conversion set!  That said there are problems that the modeler will have to overcome.

Having built numerous Monogram (R/M) C-47/DC-3 kits over the years, the parts shown in the instructions clearly imply that the conversion was mastered for the Trumpeter kit.  However, that is my guess as nowhere is a kit recommended.  I will state that looking things over, the modeler who attempts to do this conversion with the R/M kit will be in for more work, and possibly some fit issues.  Personally, given that the venerable R/M kits are easily available at a third the cost of the Trumpeter, it might have made sense to split the difference somehow.

Although generally flash free, my kit suffered from some serious resin ‘blobs’ that marred the interior detail of the fuselage halves.  Not a big deal, as really nothing can be seen inside a closed up C-47/DC-3/BT-67, but for the cost, my expectations are very high and this seems sophomoric in execution.  The reason for the new forward cabin parts are because Basler adds a 40 inch plug to the Douglas fuselage just forward of the wing.  Internally, they also move the forward bulkhead an additional 20 inches (for a total of 60 inches gained) for more cargo space.  None of this is mentioned or addressed with the conversion, nor are there any interior views of the real aircraft.  Again, not a big issue as little is seen, but for those who will want to open the back, a serious amount of scratch building lies ahead.

The BT-67 also has some differences from the original Douglas unit in the form of a one piece windshield which will have to be made from the kit windscreen as a new one is not included.  Additionally, none of the numerous antennae that are carried on the back of the NFS bird are provided.  Although not hard to create, it again seems that for the cost one might expect these details.

The exterior surface detail is petite and shallow.  Panel lines are consistent in depth and width.  Unfortunately, the pour blocks on the fuselage castings follow the top edge and are clunky to say the least.  They will require careful trimming and considerable clean up.  I don’t know why the top edge was chosen, as it seems the bottom might have been a better choice, and certainly would have made it easier to hide all the work that will have to be done because of the casting blocks. 

Some images I have seen of Basler aircraft lead me to wonder if the upper cockpit hatch on some of the birds has been replaces with a clear or tinted panel.  The Trumpeter kit must supply this separate, as the Red Bear castings have it cut out, but it will have to be manufactured for a conversion using the R/M kit.  If the aircraft you choose to model has a clear panel, it also will have to be made from scratch.

In contrast to the problems with the fuselage, the engines are fantastic.  The pour blocks are well placed, small and look very easy to remove.  There are no pin holes or flaws to be seen.  Additionally, the nacelle tops look great with a hidden pour block area.  I fitted these to the R/M wing and things look promising-although until the entire upper nacelle is removed nothing can be confirmed.  A positive note is that these parts do not have a perfect fit on the real Basler aircraft!  Gaps are welcome…

The wing tips again look very good with no flaws apparent.  Here a conversion to the older R/M kit will require some tricky cutting as the aileron cut out is included; as I assume the Trumpeter kit has separate flying surfaces.  Not insurmountable; just tricky.     The small parts are fantastic and none of my propeller blades showed any signs of warpage or deformity.

The decals are a serious let down.  The white in my copy has a slightly yellow tint to it, almost like really old decals get.  Also, the shadow effect to the letters on the very prominent forward fuselage FIRE decals are handed, and I cannot confirm from images that this is correct.

Finally, an obvious omission.  Basler makes some serious changes to the old Douglas bird from top to bottom.  One of these changes is a fancy cover for the tail wheel.  This is not included in the kit, and every image I have seen of N142Z as provided in the kit decal sheet show the cover on the tail wheel.  Because of the shape and how it conforms to the strut, making this part may prove challenging.   A gear door for a F6F from the parts bin might be a good starting point.


Even with the problems noted here, a fantastic conversion of a unique aircraft can be achieved with some elbow grease.  Images abound on the internet of the fascinating and diverse paint schemes that these aircraft carry offering tons of options from fanciful to special ops. 

I can say that I am disappointed that Red Bear chose to target the conversion to the Trumpeter kit.  Without much additional work parts could have been included or changed in such a way that the old R/M kit could have been included in the party.  This becomes especially apparent when one considers the cost of the conversion plus the Trumpeter kit; versus the cost of R/M kits that can be found at a third that of the Trumpeter kit.

Finally, I find it hard sometimes to accept shoddy work at Champagn prices.  Yes this is unique.  No it will never be kitted in this scale as a mainstream release.  I realize it is targeted at advanced modelers.  But, at the cost of the kit one is asked to cut, the conversion should be complete and flawless and this one is neither.  In the classroom I ask my students to rise above mediocrity, and I expect the same when I pay cash.    I bought one, but I don’t think I can justify another… Sad, as there are some fun markings to be had here.

Recommended for advanced modelers

September 2012

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