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Clarence Novak
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1/72 MIL-MOD Antarctic Snow Cruiser w/ Sword Beechcraft

December 28, 2021 · in Automotive · · 12 · 2.4K

MIL-MOD Antarctic Snow Cruiser w/ Sword Beechcraft

Limited run resin kit with 1/72 Sword Beechcraft added. Many modifications:
Yagi antenna, corrected wheel hubs, re cut- re profiled wheel rims, custom strip decals, (courtesy Niels Emholt Christiansen) headlight buckets, added panel lines, white metal air horns, apx 30 brass pins (everywhere strength is needed), hydraulic wheel well fittings and added triple tail lights. I'm happy this kit was produced, but it has the usual short run resin kit challenges. In hindsight, I would probably have benefited by using the body parts as templates to cut from the right thickness styrene sheet stock. This would have allowed a crisper and more surface and symmetrically correct shape. The last time I will probably use decanted paint. For me, it seems to fragile to handling and very difficult to panel line match due to opacity variances with different coats. The Sword Beechcraft kit was imho the worst 1/72 plane kit I've ever built…I'm sure others could make less of a sow's ear of it?:)

How excited I am that someone finally made a model of the Snow Cruiser. For me, this was a very connected, inspired and personal build.

Locating the actual Snow Cruiser has been the very long term goal of our small global team, SCRG. All such long shot endeavors are fraught with challenges and changes of fortune. Yet without such dreams, the museums of the world would be far less populated with artifacts of history. Our research paper on this subject is published in Polar Geography. The Beechcraft Staggerwing's burned frame was recently found in the 'Aussie Bush' where it crashed and burned years after it's Antarctic service. This famous aircraft has now been recently restored to flying status by our associates down under. Despite the considerable dual sow's ears modeling challenges of a very limited run ‘garage kit and a Sword 1/72 aircraft, I'm happy to share this build at last. Thanks to Niels Elmholt Christiansen for the custom stripe decals. FYI the Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing was never fitted to the back of the Snow Cruiser despite the promotions, drawings and demonstration models in period. After much work, I did find great fortune locating it's Antarctic 'Flying Marine' Pilot, Colonel Ted Petras, the 'last resident' of the Snow Cruiser. Before he passed, this famous pilot provided details that were critical to our published paper and continuing search. (TINY URL link version)

Courtesy Wikipedia:

The Antarctic Snow Cruiser was a vehicle designed from 1937 to 1939 under the direction of Thomas Poulter, intended to facilitate transport in Antarctica during the United States Antarctic Service Expedition (1939–41).[1] The Snow Cruiser was also known as "The Penguin," "Penguin 1" or "Turtle"[2] in some published material.

Poulter had been second in command of Byrd's Second Antarctic Expedition, launched in 1934. From his time in the Antarctic, Poulter had devised several innovative features. The massive Snow Cruiser generally failed to operate as hoped under the difficult conditions (the tires, notably smooth to avoid becoming snow encrusted, did not grip the ice) and was eventually abandoned in Antarctica. Rediscovered under a deep layer of snow in 1958, it later disappeared again due to shifting ice conditions.

Reader reactions:
7  Awesome

3 additional images. Click to enlarge.

12 responses

  1. What do you build if you cannot just chose: go for a civilian bad-a*s terrain vehicle of immense proportions with an aircraft on top of it. Great project and really good looking model.

  2. Stellan,

    Thanks for your comment! I needed in my Covid dark winter mind today, a bit of humor and irony.
    Should I assume you fly a Gulfstream to commute between Sweden and South Australia?
    Impressive I say. In that, wherever it is, you are closer to the Snow Cruiser than I may ever be;)
    I perused your model blog and may I suggest you are possibly more 'dangerous' than I?
    That being people who not only listen to their own drummer but are in their own lane swimming against the current?

    The pig diorama... great! The Willy's weathering is a level of subtle that I'm still trying to sneak up on.
    But the 'wiring closet' and the TP, ... I'll try the word significant but that's not worthy of the individuality of that topped with the Tin Hat.. suggest to me as an iceberg, we see what's above water but it's whats below that makes up it's substance? The TP has additional meaning as I have had Bidets in home for so long that I forgot how to operate a paper roll? That's not TMI as I know many members have been very curious about my home plumbing? So now, that curiosity is beheaded at last. Thanks

    • Thanks for your comment on my comment, and thanks for your comments on my models 🙂

      Since almost two years I´m stuck in Sweden due to the frigging covid virus. I hope to get on board a banana boat or whatever in a few months to the world down under, no Gulfstream I´m afraid. The cold of the Antarctic waters do chill the St Vincent gulf so in a way there is a strange connection between me and that weird contraption of a massive wheeled soap box. Wouldn´t mind go there some day if someone bought me a ticket.

      When I look at that Snow Cruiser I can´t but help to think of it to be doomed right from the start. Amundsen did it right when he decided on dog sleds and no mechanics.

  3. Wow, this is an unbelievable project, Clarence @jagmkx
    When I saw the first picture I thought it was a 'what if' build.
    Great that you described the history of it otherwise I would have not believed its existance.
    Very nice result.

  4. An amazing model, Clarence! Two very difficult kits done in excellence. Amazing research, as well.
    Congratulations on this truly inspirational project!

  5. YES! I thought I'd never see this thing as a scale model, and I'm impressed that you did such a bang-up job on it!

  6. Thanks very much guys! I appreciate contact with peers, especially in this Covid period when
    it's easy to feel like your the first (only:) person on Mars...

    There's a reason I keep my 5 lb hammer out of the model room...that Sword kit (I don't by choice build 1/72 aircraft) begged to be the target;) I had to accept that the SC was a 'resin garage kit' and make the best of it. Permit Me:. I suggest that chasing perfect can lead to disappointment when you really should be pushed by perfect into gratefulness? As I never in my wildest thought there would be a kit?

    In the many years I've been on this full scale project, I have naturally fabricated a historically romantic picture of this endeavor. One doesn't have to be an engineer or hindsight clairvoyant to see the technical 'issues' of the SC. Weight, ground pressure, tires (?), motive power, lack of subsystem integration, and gearing for starters. Every project ideally, may I suggest the Tesla Model X (big fan of T) and it's brave but ownership issue gull wing doors for example: Needs a contrarian in the room who can have the voice to question: " ah what are we doing here...?" But the producers of big ideas have gravitas and momentum (to a fault at times) so the sensible pause to common sense reflect is sometimes sullied.

    To me the SC story and exhibition of the SC is a larger than life example of learning from mistakes.
    I do see, despite judgement distractions, the animal of dreaming big as an inspiration for future
    explorers. I prefer to see nobility in the bravery of an attempt albeit conceptually flawed. No concept is static in its historical prominence, it is only a placeholder until the next better 'thing' arrives. Then it becomes the history that keeps on teaching. Sorry...I don't get out much in this plague era:)

    • I strongly agree with your thoughts, Clarence @jagmkx.

      Back in those years, with no computers and anything else, to achieve a successful design was a usually the result learning curve after many attempts that were not that successful. Examining he SC, I cannot help feeling ecstatic about the thoughts of the designers' thoughts. They had no other 'help" but their inspiration. The SC might not have worked, but it sure taught valuable lessons for the future designs...

      ...which brings us to modern years where everything is designed and even tested by computers. No way an SC equivalent would have emerged as a design. Surely this is the way to go, but, call me weirdo, I kind of "miss' those years...

  7. Stellan,

    If you want to experience what going to McMurdo Base is like, this is the film that does it:
    ANTARCTICA: A Year on Ice / A film by Anthony Powell. (DVD)

  8. oops hit post b4 attach:(

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  9. Really interesting model, Clarence. Whatever was originally in the box, you made the most of. And the Staggerwing doesn't look half bad.

  10. Clarence,
    I have not posted for some time but I still peruse iModeler. The moment I saw this and from a long ago conversation at Talbot’s, I knew who created this. Excellent job. So glad to hear you are doing well in TN.

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