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1/72nd scale C-17A Globemaster III – Combat Models Vacuform

June 21, 2015 in Aviation

I started this back in November of 2014, and after 8 months of blood, sweat and tears, I’ve got my big C-17 finished.

There are two kits currently available in 1/72nd of the C-17: one being the Anigrand Craftworks resin kit, and the other is the Combat Models vacuform. I really wanted to add a C-17 to my collection, and with the fact that I don’t get on with resin all that well I decided the easier option for me would be the Combat kit. I love a modelling challenge and knew what was in store having built a few Combat ‘kits’ in the past… previous experience didn’t prepare me for what lay ahead though – this was a pig!

I also knew that the Anigrand kit is poorly shaped, with the wing being too far forward and the nose and cockpit being completely off. I’m not bothered about accuracy all that much, but having seen the Anigrand kit before, even I couldn’t live with the obvious shape errors. Rumour has it that the Anigrand kit was based on the Combat one, so I knew that the shape errors were likely to be common to both kits, and reshaping vacform parts is a far easier task than sanding chunks of resin. I was proved right, and much work was ahead of me.

The plastic is some of the thinnest I’ve ever come across in a kit, and the whole length of the fuselage had to be strengthened with bulkheads and bracing. The flightdeck had to be scratch-built, and the glazing was cut to shape from clear acetate and dropped into the apertures I’d cut. All the surface detail that you see had to be added by me – the kit’s surface is devoid of all detail and both raised areas and the panel lines had to be added.
The engines were very basic indeed and took almost as long to make as the remainder of the model – they’re about 30% kit plastic and 70% filler used for re-profiling and shaping them.

I sourced a set of undercarriage from Anigrand, but all the doors etc. needed to be scratch-built. The undercarriage took a lot of work to get installed – all mounts etc. had to be made from scratch. Decals were from DrawDecal, and provide a scheme for ZZ177 which wears the distinctive 10th Anniversary of C-17 operations badge on the fin – a splash of colour for an otherwise drab scheme.

Although this was a very challenging build, it was a huge amount of fun, too. They say that the name ‘Combat Kits’ are a description of the building process rather than a brand, and I’d have to agree. I’ve heard many modellers say that Combat vacs are about as close to being unbuildable as you can get, but I’ve happily proved they can be built – I just wouldn’t recommend one for a vacform virgin!

A full, in-depth WIP can be found here for those interested:

And also in our very own WIP section here:

As always, feedback both good and bad is gladly received.


11 additional images. Click to enlarge

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15 responses to 1/72nd scale C-17A Globemaster III – Combat Models Vacuform

  1. Masterfully accomplished, Thomas….a beautiful piece of work! I somehow sense we’ll be seeing this one again in a few weeks (wink, wink). 🙂

  2. Absolutely pristine details and finishes.

    Vacform virgins – now there’s a phrase you don’t hear very often!

  3. Wonderful Tom, another very well built kit, followed the wip and it was great.

  4. Very impressive, Tom, both the amount of research and work you’ve put it, and the finished model.

  5. This is really nice. Good work Tom.

  6. A great end result to match a great work in progress! You have a lot more patience ( and skill ) than me to build vacuform.
    There is a Kuwait air force C17 that lands at Newcastle airport every two weeks, and has done now for a couple of years. Nobody actually knows the motives for the re-occurring visit. Kuwait apparently bought it from the USAF for humanitarian aid purposes, but the reasons for it’s visits to the North East are a mystery.

  7. This is amazing! Very well done!

  8. So, with this and the others you’ve done, I take it you added a wing to the domicile to house them all?

    Really outstanding work. You’re a glutton for punishment, but the result appears worth it.

  9. What an amazing model! A true labour of love & a most entertaining article too. Thanks for posting Thomas.

  10. As I have mentioned before Tom, very impressive build, love to see it at Telford

  11. Oh my gosh – looking at what you started with (on the WIP post) compared to the final product tells me 2 things:
    It has confirmed my conviction to stay as far away from vac-formed kits as possible, and you have marvelous skills!

    Great work and love the final product!!

  12. Thomas- That is simply a stunning example of skill, patience and a love of modeling!

  13. Thank you for the kind comments and feedback – it’s much appreciated.

    The model was certainly a labour of love, but it was worth it in the end. I’m glad you like her!


  14. Just whispering “Combat Models” to some people will reduce them to a heap of tears– but this is just intense. Perfection!

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