William’s Bros. 1/32 Gee Bee Z Super Sportster
Well, I’ve already professed a few of my loves in aviation (classic jets and round engines). Another would be the Golden Age of air racing. This was a time when mere mortals were designing and building aircraft in their garages and workshops. More often than not these were faster than any current military plane! The Z was a powerhouse during the 1931 season winning all six events in which it was entered.
The Williams Bros. kit is a little gem and breaks with my normal scale of 1/48. As I’ve stated I’ve started building some of my favorite planes in 1/32, so now that includes all of Williams Bros. kits! Some of them more than once, as the Wendell/Williams racer has three paint schemes. Naturally the first one I do will be Miss Patterson! (A fun fact about me…My cat, Gilmore, is named after the Red Oil lion! Another Wendell/Williams racer.) Assembly is very straight forward and fit of all parts was excellent! Again, no filler required. (I left the seams on the wings alone as these panels were removable.) The cockpit consists of an instrument panel, rear bulkhead, two side pieces to represent the tube frame, a stick and rudder pedals. More than enough given that you can’t see much through the canopy anyway! I didn’t even gripe about instrument panel decal for this very reason!
I had much trepidation about attempting the scalloped paint scheme and though long and hard about the best way to go about it. After I painted the base of MM chrome yellow and waiting a week I finally decided to mask the entire plane and using stencils copied from the (thankfully) full size plan views traced the designs on to the tape. Using an X-acto blade I trimmed away all areas to be painted black and sprayed using MM gloss black. While I waited for this to dry I put my time to good use practicing to paint the red trim by hand. I had thought about re-masking and airbrushing, but the thought of lifting paint squelched that idea! By the time I got to the wheel pants I had gotten pretty good at it, laying down a line half as wide as what was on the fuselage. After this was dried (I should have waited longer as the black was still a little tacky) the decals were applied.
There are a few niggles in the final product due to how I painted it. The wheel pants were assembled and painted while still attached to the sprue. Because of this I was not able to test fit before painting, so the gear isn’t totally snug to the bottom of the wing. I also wish I hadn’t attached the cowling until after I decaled it, as the decals weren’t as shiny as the black paint. I did brush a little clear gloss over them and was semi successful. Another thing I will do differently is to apply all the digits of the N number as separate decals. It will probably be easier that way, if more time consuming!
This was my first non-military aircraft model and the paint scheme was challenging, (which put me off building it for two years since I bought it!) but it was totally fun to do! It was also a nice break from military stuff and will add tons of color to the shelf! I intend to build another one applying lessons I learned on this one! First I have to get to work on my R2 so they can sit together!
16 additional images. Click to enlarge.