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Jeff Thomsen
4 articles

The First Guppy

November 14, 2013 · in Aviation · · 37 · 5.3K

Here's a conversion in scale of the "Pregnant Guppy", the first of Aero Spacelines' series of "Guppy" outsize cargo airplanes. The Pregnant Guppy, Super Guppy, and Mini Guppy were based in my home town and they were fascinating to watch fly.

Two Stratocruiser kits were used to stretch the fuselage, then vacuform shells made to replace the original kit's upper fuselage. A framework was built up for the "forehead" area and filled with Apoxy Sculpt. I also used Eduard's C-97 photoetch set to detail the cockpit and landing gear, and Cobra resin cowls, exhausts, and landing gear parts. I also cut out the lower cargo/entry door and added a basic lower deck using Evergreen sheet plastic.

After sanding, priming, and rescribing the upper fuselage, the model was painted with Model Master enamels and Alclad. I designed the decals on Adobe Illustrator and they were printed by Draw Decals.

I couldn't find any props close enough, so ended up making a master and casting the blades and spinners in resin. The blade tips really were clipped on the real thing - had to clear that new fuselage!

The door details were made from sheet plastic and parts from the spares box. The mechanic figure comes from Preiser's 1/72 range.

Two of the photos of the model were taken with the Santa Barbara airport as a background. The original Guppy hangars are still there in the northeast corner of the field.

Hope you like it, and thanks for looking!

Reader reactions:
13  Awesome

15 additional images. Click to enlarge.

37 responses

  1. Amazing. Excelent work!

  2. Terrific looking model of a very odd purpose built aircraft. Glad to see someone still scratch building on that level.

  3. Thanks, Jack. This was the first time I'd used my Kingston vac machine and it's given me some confidence to tackle things that seemed out of reach.

  4. Fantastic job, Jeff...a true piece of "modeling" - turned out great! I envy your talent(s).

  5. This is a great example of using kits as a basis for a build, but then (literally) moving outside the box.

    I think the recent photos from Telford offer some examples of this. It's perhaps more common in Europe, where scratch-building and card/paper modelling is common, where for many years injection kits were not available/affordable and the older techniques and skill sets were maintained to great effect.

    I think it's a matter of building to the Idea of the project, rather than simply to kit instructions.

    Free your mind.

  6. Thanks, Rob. The model was a confidence builder for me, I'd really like to try completely scratch building something sometime. A good set of drawings seem to make all the difference.

  7. Very interesting transformation. And in the photo looks like a living airplane. Bravo!

    Best regards, Vlad.

  8. Very nice it came out great.

  9. Jeff ,your work is truly STUNNING this is the best build I've seen on this site for a long time , and that is quite a comment looking at some of the great submissions we get here , what makes this build stand out so much is the degree of imagination you displayed , this deserves a prize in my opinion thanks for showing.

  10. That is an astounding build Jeff, and as above the standard this month is soaring. Great work, not only the finish but as it`s been scratch built, I doff my hat to you sir. Well done.

  11. Jeff,
    Welcome onboard at iModeler. A conversion like this is a bold modeling undertaking. And really beautifully executed in all respects. In the photos with a natural backdrop the model could be mistaken for a real thing (and may I add that the inclusion of that figure is really clever).

    • Thank you for the chance to show it. Though the real airplane never won a beauty contest, it was a part of my environment while growing up in Santa Barbara. I seem to be more into nostalgia these days. Thanks for your kind words.

  12. Absolutely amazing! Well done, Jeff!

  13. I am all out of available adjective to describe this build. From awesome to zowie, I cant come up with anything but this is truly a dynamic build and I am very impressed.

  14. This is simply fantastic. Bravo.

  15. Jeff,

    Absolutely stunning. At first glance you see a very nice model of the "Guppy". As you went on to explain how you did things and went about putting this together it is even more amazing. Excellent work and a true compliment to the real "Guppy" and to Jack Conroy, it's creator. I lived and worked in Santa Barbara for a very short period of time in the late 70's and loved to go out to the airport to see this airplane. One had to love the terminal at Santa Barbara airport. You felt like Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman would step out of the building into the fog.

    I have no doubts that if you delve into a totally scratch built model you will make a masterpiece.

    As an aside, I will soon submit an article similar to this relating to Jack Conroy.

  16. I'd love to read this article when you finish it, Frank. I've talked to a couple of people who used to work for ASI, and their recollections are fascinating. I also drove a fuel truck around the airport in the mid 70s and would pass by the Guppies all the time.

    A lot of us living here miss the old SBA terminal, which was replaced recently. As a kid I remember watching United Cv340s and Pacific F-27s over the low stucco wall in the outdoor "gate" area. Those were the days.


  17. That is a lot of airplane, a lot of model, and a lot of work well done. That's one you can be proud of, Jeff.

  18. Brilliant work, Jeff, real imagination, research, skill and dedication. Hard to beat.

  19. Truly a stunning piece of work Jeff.

  20. Thanks much, Tom!

  21. Missed this one totally when you posted it but I am happy that I found it now! Absolutely stunning!



  22. Fantastic work!

  23. Hello Jeff, Your Super Guppy is super modeling, indeed. Would it be possible to obtain a copy of the drawings for your model? Please advise cost and addy details. Richard.
    [email protected]

  24. Absolutely gorgeous! I hadn't noticed the chopped propellor tips until you mentioned it & I saw your pics.

    Thanks for sharing, Jeff !

  25. Inspirational build! Beautiful work all around.

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