Classic Airframes 1/48 Hudson Mk III/IV

KIT #:
REVIEWER: Patrick Earing
NOTES: Max Decals 4810 Irish Model 14 Hudson/Super Electra (Limited Edition)



 Others have said it better already, so I won’t take much space here.  Key point to consider as that the Super Electra was originally designed as an airliner; however, it successfully made the transition to light bomber and became known as the Hudson.  As I originally intended to build an Irish Air Corps (IAC) Hudson, the history would be brief as they had one.   Aircraft number 91 came to the Irish from No. 233 squadron RAF Coastal Command due to a forced landing in January of 1941.  Purchased with a few other downed RAF aircraft, it was subsequently repaired and put into service.

Unfortunately, I was not able to model No. 91.  Instead I have modeled EI-ABW, one of two Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra’s that Aer Lingus purchased in 1939.  These aircraft were obtained as a direct result of increased passenger counts and route expansion.  Later, in May of 1940 they were sold to Guinea Airlines.


The Classic Airframes Hudson is one of those kits that made me jump up and down for joy when I learned of its release back in 2001.  Who would have thought we would ever see one in injection molded plastic.  Additionally, I happened to be in a phase where all I wanted to build was US Navy twins-convenient, to say the least.  However, I had about this time entered one of those modeling ‘periods’ where I was not really building much.  In fact, I was not building anything at all and had not for some time.  Because I wasn’t building, I also wasn’t buying and I nearly missed the whole Hudson boat in a manner of speaking, as I didn’t make up my mind to purchase one until late 2002, and by then the Hudson kits were getting hard to find.  What put me over the edge was the urge to build something completely different-to break out of my rut and place something on the shelf that wasn’t grey or blue-I wanted to do a Hudson, but use Irish markings as provided in a sheet by Max Decals.  With this new found interest I set forth and purchased both a kit and the decals, cleared the dust off my bench and bravely set forth to build a model.

This being a revisionist history, I can tell you that the experience was less than ideal.  Although now, in 2012, I honestly do not remember the details; suffice it to say that I had never, ever not finished what I had started in terms of a plastic model and did not have a box of doom.  As such I fought valiantly, with this kit-a kit that was at best difficult.  In fact, as I remember it, I was winning; although slowly.  The nose was on, the wings and tail were attached, and most of the body work was done and in primer.  Then… it happened.  I dropped it.  Nose first.  The kit dropped right onto the concrete floor of my (then) work space.  This did not go well.  The nose essentially shattered, as did most of the glue seams.  In a fit of rage, I glued it all back together, tossed it into a box and walked away-for ten years.

Fast forward to 2012.  Not only am I building models again, but I have slowly been plowing through the aftermath of the Hudson debacle.  From 2002 to 2004 I started about ten more models.  I finished two.  Some of these were fun, OOB builds purposely chosen to restart the passion.  Unfortunately, my work space was unfriendly and life intervened in the form of children and a new career which dictated that the box ’O doom grew large and distinguished.  Now, as of 2008  I have a worthy modeling cave, and have over the past three years turned out not only a seemingly prodigious amount of model work, but have come to enjoy the process again.  The box ‘O doom is down to four remaining, and so; I return to the shame of the Hudson.

For 2012 I have set a goal to build as many aircraft of the Irish Air Corps as possible in 1/48 scale.  As such, the completion of the Hudson seemed logical-it is nearly finished and in the box is a complete set of decals to mark it as the lone IAC Hudson.  Unfortunately, time had not healed the scars of the dropped Hudson.  Nope… it was still a mess.  But… I tried, and out of the ashes; well, you decide.

Now I realize that Patrick has told you very little about the kit itself. But trust me, this is typical Classic Airframes. Designed by the apprentices at MPM with all the parts there, just not ones that fit as well as you would hope. In other words, typical short run where you will have to use skill and filler to get a good looking model. Ed


I will pick up construct in 2012, as I do not remember the details of the past.  Suffice it to say that the detail I can see in side is fantastic, and my work looked quite good, with a few exceptions.  The fuselage windows.  Oh, I remember now; even before being dropped how I struggled with the windows.  They show it.  No apologies-they are rough and cloudy and not nice at all.  Oh well… I can always knock them out and make new ones from Crystal Kleer; right?

Okay, in 2012 I started by assessing the damage of 2002 and ten years of being moved around in a less that secure box.  On initial inspection everything seemed intact, so into the fray I went.  The kit I had purchased was the later boxing of the Mk III, IV V VI PBO-1; however, the IAC Hudson was an Mk I.  This was not a real problem, as the later boxing also included all of the necessary parts to create an Mk I or a Model 14 Super Electra.  That said, I had used all of the necessary items to make an Mk I (correctly I hope?) upon original construction and simply needed to correct the damage from the fall and get the thing painted.  Or so I thought…

Looking at the nose I realized that all was not lost.  In my fit of reassembly I had made some work for myself as the seams of the glass nose pieces did not line up well, but overall, all of the other sprung seams were finished and in final primer.  I really just needed to ‘fix’ the nose and move on.  I started with sanding and some small amounts of filler.  This is a real pain as the nose of the Hudson has lots of glass.  The seams for the nose are both vertical, at the fuselage joint and horizontal, split between the upper and lower set of windows.  Careful masking and sanding was called for to get these seams back in shape-oh, and patience.  After a few sessions, I was finally satisfied with the seams.  Really, they looked great and I still had windows.  Now it was time to rescribe all of the lost panel lines and finally install the nacelles onto the wings.

Rescribing lost detail is torture for me.  I don’t know why.  I do it a lot, and purposely rescribe whole kits, but it is a hang up for me.  After a few days of stalling, I dove in and got the scribing done.   I now use an Olfa P Cutter for most of my scribing, and where that does not fit I have a Bare Metal scriber and small pin tools (actually, old airbrush needles) that I use to get into real tight areas.  For an edge I use a mixed bag of a small flexible ruler, Verlinden scribe template and tape to get those lines straight. No real problems were encountered, and after a few redo areas were touched up I was finished.

I now mocked up the nacelles to the wing, looking for fit issues.  Overall, these fit fantastic.  Wow… I did not expect that to happen.  I did check that I could install the landing gear legs after I put on the nacelles,   Oh, and those little triangle pieces?  They are an extension of the lower cowling between the gear leg and the brace.  Unfortunately, they do not fit as the gear assembly sits too low into the opening.  I fussed with them some, but in the end threw then away with a clear conscious-their omission is not noticeable in the end, and why stress over that?  Once tightly glued in place I cleaned up the remaining seams around the nacelles, rescribed some lost detail added the air intakes.   Preparing for paint, I also masked and installed the cockpit canopy which fit excellent.

Now, I was finally ready to paint this beast.  It was a long time coming, to say the very least.  As an afterthought, I decided to build the rear turret and make sure of the fit before I painted.  Good thing I did, as the clear pieces that comprise the turret literally disintegrated as I was removing them from their sprues.  Holy Buckets… what a mess.  Now what?  Unfortunately, there are, as far as I know, no aftermarket alternatives for these parts.  Well… long ago I built a Koster PV-1 Ventura, and I recall using the Martin turret for that build, but the kit included an option not unlike the one that exploded in my hands… if I can just find it.  Needless to say, I did not find it.  Now what?  Back into the box ‘O doom?  Maybe…

I set things aside for a few days and worked on other projects to let my disappointment settle.  Looking over the Max decal sheet it became apparent that an alternative was available to me.  The decal sheet includes additional markings for two Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra’s that Aer Lingus purchased in 1939.  The aircraft were initially natural metal, but later in 1940, before they were sold to Guinea Airways they were given a traditional dark earth and dark green disruptive pattern on top.  Bingo!  I can honestly say that it was liberating to sand the nose smooth, eliminating all those troublesome windows.  In fact, rescribing the nose was no fuss at all; if only I could do the same for the fuselage windows!  With a new plan in place, I also set to filling the rear turret opening.  Luckily Classic Airframes included the necessary molded part to fill the opening, and with very little drama the hole was gone and I really was ready to paint.


Once I was satisfied that everything was masked up and ready to go I began spraying with my trusty Iwata TR-1.  To start with I sprayed the leading edges and panel lines with Floquil Engine Black.  Once dry, I masked up all of the de-icer boots and the glare panel in front of the windscreen.  I then started to finish the model working in colors from light to dark.  In this instance I started with the bottom, and I started with Model Master International Orange.  What?  Orange? 

Well, the instruction sheet for the decals states that they are not sure about the color on the bottom of the two Electra’s.  What they do know is that there is clear demarcation line in a published black and white picture of one of the two Electra’s prior to being camouflaged that is assumed to be International Orange.  At this juncture in time, neutral countries were painting the bottoms of their aircraft orange in the hope that they would not be mistaken as hostile and shot down. In any case, it opened the door for me-I love orange, and it might be a stretch, but it is possible that the painters just camouflaged the topside and left the bottom orange.

After a day or so to dry, I masked off the bottom and sprayed the topside with MM Dark Earth.  Using frisket paper I cut an approximated RAF camouflage pattern and sprayed the remaining areas MM RAF Dark Green.  The rear fuselage sported a natural metal area where the painters chose to leave the call letters for the Electra’s intact.  I replicated this with Floquil Bright Silver using the dimensions of the decals as a guide.  Once dry, I unmasked everything but the black areas and clear-coated the entire model with MM Glosscoat from a rattle can.

Max Decals are awesome, and even though these were quite old they worked perfectly.  There is some discussion about whether the Electra’s had a national flag painted on the bottom of the fuselage.  I made one using spare decal materials, but in the end I left it off as I couldn’t decide if went longitudinally (looking from the front or the back?) or crosswise.  After everything had a chance to dry I wiped the model down, unmasked the black areas and gave the whole thing a final coat of MM Dullcoat.  Here I must state that I love Testors’ lacquer system; however, I have over the years had some trouble with Dullcoat frosting, or whitening models.  This time, it got nearly sideways as most of the upper surfaces turned white…Grrrrrr!  Well, here is my solution.  I cut my bottle of Dullcoat with approximately one quarter (1/4) MM Glosscoat clear.  When a dull finish is created, it is achieved by adding a fine powder to an existing gloss clear that ‘dulls’ the gloss, but if mixed to heavily will color the clear like a pigment.  As such, the frosting is a result, I think, of too much matt agent.  (That sounds reasonable as I have had this happen to my usual Tamiya matte base/Future mixes if too much matte base is added. Ed) My solution of mixing in some more clear seems to help with the problem-in my experience.  I then way over reduced some of my ‘tinted’ clear (about 150%) and sprayed a very wet coat over the whole model.  This worked magically, except on the tail where I got a small run in the clear and some additional frosting.  Once things had set for a few days I went back and touched up the camouflage with the original colors and sealed the area with more of my diluted Dullcoat.


Now for all the small bits.  Prior to affixing the nacelles I drilled the small indentations for the main gear legs molded on the bottom of the wing.  The point of this was to allow a slight increase in gluing area for the main gear legs.  Mounting the legs required no small amount of trimming to the wheel bay opening to get the necessary room to set at the correct angle.  There are small pins below (above) the ‘foot’ of the gear leg that are there to help ease alignment.  With my holes, I had to use care not to overly reduce the leg length by pushing them all the way into the holes.  As stated earlier, I did not use the small triangular bits as they fouled with the landing gear.  I am not sure, but in an uncharacteristic move, Classic Airframes provides absolutely no wheel bay details, and I have to wonder if there was originally planned a resin bay part that would have further raised (lengthened) the gear so those small parts fit.  In any case, I painted the wells MM Zinc Chromate and installed the landing gear.  To make sure alignment was the same side to side I first installed the wheels onto the gear legs and as the glue was setting flipped the model over to visually check that things looked correct.  The Gear legs were painted Floquil Old Silver, and the tires a mixture of Engine Black and Weathered Black.  The tail wheel was assembled, painted and installed by drilling a small mounting hole in line with the elevator hinge line.

Propellers were sourced from the spares box, as I was not using the spinner covers, and were appropriately shortened and reshaped. Additionally, the football antenna was also sourced from the spares box and mounted on the existing mount that I failed to remove, and the large vertical antenna installed just in front of it.  I now installed the kit attitude indicator on the nose and gave the panel lines a slight wash with artist acrylics.  ‘The funky Fowler flap stubs were also painted and installed at this time-I purposely left them for last as I expected them to be rug monster fodder (being that they are easy to knock off.)

Finally, I made new exhaust pipes from plastic tubing, drilled holes at a sharp angle into the nacelle and installed them.  Here I used some pastels for a light staining.  The wire antenna were installed and shrunk up with a match, painted black and the Hudson was FINALLY finished.


Well, she is not my best work; but, certainly represents a stubbornness I exhibit to finish a kit at any price. She looks fine, and although not strictly speaking an Irish Air Corps aircraft, it is Irish.   Will I build another-NO!  Besides, these kits are being auctioned at simply ridiculous prices these days.  I can say that this kit went onto my shelf kicking and screaming the whole way.   Glad it is finished- I had some challenges to overcome both psychologically and physically along the way, but learned a lot; that is for sure.  This model certainly taxed the concept that modeling is supposed to be fun. But I have grown, and now I only have three left in the box ‘O doom.  Recommended for those who have deep pockets and are looking for a challenge.


Bowers, Peter M.   The Makeshift Armada  Wings, April 1984    vol. 14, No. 3   Pg. 26=41

Maxwell, Joe and Patrick J. Cummins   The Irish Air Corps: An Illustrated Guide.  W &G Baird, Ireland.  2009

Patrick Earing

May 2012

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