Williams Brothers' 1/72 scale
by Alan Sannazzaro
MPM's 1/72 scale Wellington Mk.II is available online from Squadron
Having a taste for something a bit out of the ordinary, and something olive drab, I decided to try my hand at the Williams Bros Commando. When looking for the kitset about 2 years ago, I was shocked to find out the postage from the States to NZ was going to cost ½ the price of the kit. I have a friend who deals in 2nd hand kitsets who mentioned he had one for sale. I said I’d offer him a cheeky $20 for it as it was partly assembled, had no box and most of the parts were off the sprue. He kindly accepted; I then proceeded to tell him how much money I’d just saved.
If modelling costs were based on price per hour spent on a kit, this kit has been very very good value for money. I have spent a lot of time (on and off for the past 2 years) modifying and improving on the original kit.
As the kit was partly started, I started by disassembling it, as it was very crudely put together. I replaced all the cabin windows with spares box clear parts which I then spent hours polishing to bring to a good finish. I decided to spend some time rescribing the entire external structure, as it was originally raised detail. My attention was then turned to the cockpit which required a total rebuild. B-17 seats were used, with scratch built seatbelts, and arm rests. Throttle quadrant, throttles, mixtures, and pitches were added. At this stage I also built the trim wheel which is a rather predominant part of the cockpit layout. The instrument panel was a decal from the kitset, but upon reflection I wished I’d printed my own refined one. I added soundproofing padding around the cockpit walls, but this proved to be a bit excessive, as none can be seen through the windows...
Once the fuselage was closed up I turned my attention to the front windscreen. For this I used the fantastic fitting one from Falcon. It was fairly easy to fit, and with a coat of Future came up very clear.
The wings were also glued together when I got the kit. Unfortunately they were not aligned, but I was able to pry them apart, thin the wingtips, scratch build the wheel wells (which were poorly represented in the kit parts), then glue the wings together again. This did present a slight problem in that the top of the wings, when mounted perfectly against the fuselage, left the bottom of the wing sitting with a recessed lip under the fuselage. So I filled this with some plastic card and moulded it in that way. The result has come up quite well. As previously mentioned the wheel wells were scratch built, adding the correct shape, wall framing and wiring to the wells. The main landing gear wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great either, so I have scratch built a fair amount of that also. Brake lines were added for effect. The main wheels in the kitset are rubber, which I loathe, so I decided to cast off a copy of the Valom Albermarle tires, which were the same size as the Commando tires. The interior of the tires was then drilled out, and the hub from the kit parts added. The hubs themselves were nicely represented in the kit, although I did add the perimeter bolts/rivets? around the outside as they are a feature of the hubs. The gear doors were quite impressive for the kitset, so I decided to use these as they were.
However the kit I bought had the tail doors missing - which I built. Speaking of which, it also had the entire tail wheel assembly missing. The tail wheel is quite unique in design... not too dissimilar to a Spitfire 5 spoke wheel, so I glued 2 of them together to get the spokes correct, and widened the tire to the correct profile. The tail wheel strut is totally scratch built.
The engines are P&W R2800s, but slightly modified from the Quickboost offerings (can’t remember how, but I do remember modifying the fronts of them). I’ve added the pushrods and ignition harnesses also. As most photos of Commandos on the ground have the cowl flaps open, I decided to open them too. Plastic card and wire did the trick, and I’m really happy with the result. The problem this presented was being able to see right into the back of the engine bay when viewed from behind, so I proceeded to build the back plate of the engines, engine mounting frame, extractors, exhausts and a few wires/fuel lines for effect. The cowling were then under fire, as I needed to drill out the cooling inlets, and thinned the surrounding plastic. I’m really happy with this result, as you can see the engines through these holes. Internal framing was also added.
I wanted to do the C-46D featured in the black and white photo, which had 4 blade propellers. The kit parts were terrible, and I was at a loss as to how I was going to get a sheathed 4 blade prop, which most C-46 aicraft had. Eventually I found the Quickboost Marauder props were pretty close, but a bit short in diameter. I went about cutting the blades off at the sheath, adding 1mm to each blade with plastic card, then gluing them back together (a total of 2mm diameter increase). This made for a scaled down 13ft, 6 inch diameter propeller, which was the length of the aircraft’s blades.
Painting was a pleasure. The panels were post-shaded. I masked and painted the wing walks, tail trim and de-icer boots. The only thing I’m not confident with is the colour of the tail trim, as I was modelling from a black and white photo. I decided white after assessing the photo for a while, knowing the serial number was yellow, and the nose number was white. I hope I’ve got this right, but if anyone knows better I’d like to hear from you.
The decals for the national insignia and prop stencilling are from Bombshell Decals ‘Corsica B-25’ sheet. They are okay, but a bit thick I thought. The codes are from a friend’s ALPS printer. All the decals were set using wet Future, and left until dry. The results are satisfying.
Before a final flat coat of paint was added I built all the antenna and aerials. The only exception to this is the football antenna which is from Academy’s B-17G. After de-masking the clear parts I drilled holes in the side windows, which was a nerve wracking experience, but the aircraft I’m modelling had them, so therefore my model had to have them. I usually put a wash in my panel lines, but to be perfectly honest... I forgot. I’m a little annoyed, but think the weathering is just subtle enough for me to get away without the wash.
The overall result of my C-46D model is very satisfying; it is just how I wanted it to be. The kit was 2 years on and off in the making, but was well worth it. The Williams bros kit is a great start to a good looking Commando. I thought this kit would get me all transported out, but last week I bought a Boeing 307, which I’ll do as a C-75, so perhaps in 2 years I’ll be here presenting a finished Stratoliner, hopefully sooner.
Model, Images and Text Copyright ©
2011 by by Alan Sannazzaro
Page Created 8 June, 2011
13 June, 2011
HyperScale Main Page