Finemolds Savoia S.21F & Curtiss R3C-0, 1/48. The Porco Rosso Pair.
The Savoia S.21F and Curtiss R3C-0 were two models I completed at the end of the first UK lockdown last year and shine brightly against the normal camouflaged warbird I make, both aircraft come from the brilliant animated movie 'Porco Rosso' by Hayao Miyazaki which whilst it make look like a kids cartoon on face value the amount of detail and love put into the aircraft could only be done by someone with a severe fascination with aviation.
These kits are both from Finemolds, who produce 6 different sets based on 'Porco Rosso' which are the Savoia S.21, Savoia S. 21F, and Curtiss R3C-0, each in 1/72 and 1/48 scale. This is my first and so far only example of a Finemolds kit, and let me just say I'm very impressed by what was in the box and would definitely buy again! Each kit contains the subject aircraft, a seaplane trolly for mounting the plane on if you so desire, and a pilot figure. Their 1/72 kits come with a handy in-flight stand, whilst the 1/48 each come with a different figure which is about 1/35 scale.
Their 1/48 kits also come with an engine, with the option of displaying it with panels removed so it can be seen.
For those unaware, 'Porco Rosso' is set in Italy over the Adriatic Sea during the 1930s where seaplane pirates and bounty hunters seek fame and fortune in an era soon to be limited by the rising Fascism coming to the country. The Savoia S.21 is a fictional design, based on some racing seaplanes produced in Italy during this era, but borrows the name of a real seaplane and heavily borrows looks from the Macchi M.33. The R3C on the other hand is a real racing seaplane, but this version receives a pair of fictional machine-guns.
The build process for these kits was fantastic, with good instructions and good fit there isn't a whole lot more you can ask for. The R3C probably took the better part of an hour to assemble as it is a very simple kit, there is a distinct lack of detail in the cockpit but I wonder just how much the real R3C actually has going on in the cockpit anyways. The S.21 is a different story as the cockpit is seen regularly in the film, and receives a really surprisingly well derailed interior with a full set of instruments, levers, some wooden construction, 2 machine guns, a seat up front for the included optional passenger and even a fuel tank. Its very interesting just how much detail is packed into this little kit, but the fit is wonderful throughout.
One notable construction is the flat underside of the flying boat construction, with a moulded 'U' shape fuselage, this two piece construction ensures no filling is required at all for the Savoia. One other thing to note is the plastic on both parts is moulded in the red/blue/khaki it should be, and you recieve decals for all the markings, so for a younger or inexperienced modeler the option is there to not paint the kit. No 1930s aviator is finished without a scarf, and so these two recieved a scarf made of the framework for the Photoetch, cut to size, and then bent back and forth over a thin rod.
Now, something had to go wrong right? Well I decided early on that there were two approaches to painting, either a super glossy finished implied by the film, or a very matt finish with over the top highlights to actually make it look straight out of a cartoon. I chose the super gloss, and got to work. I used Tamiya's 'X' line of paints entirely, X-7 Red featured a prominent role, but I quickly discovered that their glossy paints don't handle anything like their beloved flat paints and repeatedly found finger-prints days after applying the paint, and that masking tape would also damage it even days after curing. Lots of spraying, sanding, stripping, respraying went forth, and the effect was never perfect but was 'good' in my books so I finished it off with the gloss coats, by this time I had spent 2 weeks painting these planes and a day or two painting/building the interiors. About a month later I noticed a 'cracked earth' effect showing, like very dry dirt, appear underneath the paint. It's visible in certain lighting conditions but somewhat hinders the 'perfect gloss' finish I was trying to achieve. (Note: Photographs don't show this well, but then again I never tried to make this flaw visible when taking pictures).
In the end, these two amazing kits have been plagued by troubles painting and really the wrong method of doing glossy finishes. I plan on doing FG-1D Corsair, G-FGID of Duxford fighter collection fame which is also extremely glossy and learnt a lot on how I will approach that project due to these two kits, notably painting the aircraft in lacquer rather than acrylic paints, using a higher quality gloss coat, and using a polishing compound on the finish rather than relying on glossy yet fickle paints to bring the shine.
These Finemolds kits are great models, and build nicely. My main fault with the build wasn't the kits fault so shouldn't be judged for it. Most importantly I would buy from Finemolds again if the quality is the same as with these kits, though the main model I want from them (a 1/48 Sanka-B from some game I played as a kid) is out of stock unless I wish to pay £400 on ebay, but their A5M kits are supposedly the best in 1/48, and I've heard great things about their 1/72 A6M1 so hopefully that'll be made in my preferred scale soon. Finemolds also seem to have some interesting kits such as a Japanese Bf-109 and Brewster Buffalo which could also prove to be a unique piece on the shelf.
Overall, I strongly recommend getting these kits for your stash if you want something a little different to the usual military machine.
12 additional images. Click to enlarge.