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Spiros Pendedekas
127 articles

Hobbycraft 1/48 U-1A

May 26, 2022 · in Aviation · · 27 · 1.3K

Hi everyone!

This is my U-1A, finished as a Vietnam era early bird.

The de Havilland Canada U-1A was a version for the US Army of the DHC-3 STOL utility transport aircraft.

The DHC-3 Otter was introduced in 1953 as a similar, but larger development of the earlier and highly successful DHC-2 Beaver. Dubbed the "King Beaver" during design, it would be the veritable "one-ton truck" to the Beaver's "half-ton" role.

Using the same overall configuration as the Beaver, the new, much heavier design incorporated a longer fuselage, greater-span wing and cruciform tail.

Seating in the main cabin expanded from six to 10 or 11. Power was supplied by a 600 hp PW R-1340 radial. Capable of being fitted with skis or floats, it was utilized by many users in a variety of roles, including Search and Rescue.

With 184 delivered (as U-1As), the United States Army became the largest operator of the aircraft. Other military users included Australia, Canada, and India. Still, the primary role of the aircraft as a rugged bush plane continues to this day, not excluding its popularity in the skydiving community.

A total of 466 Otters were manufactured, the type serving as the basis for the very successful DHC-6 Twin Otter.

U-1A #58-1695 was delivered to the United States Army at Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, CA on the very last day of 1958. It was initially assigned to 17th Aviation Company, Fort Ord, California.

From early 1962 till late 1968 it was deployed in Vietnam with the 18th Aviation, 339 and 338 Transportation Companies respectively. It survived the war and returned to the USA, being civilianized in 1977, only to be destroyed in 1980, when the roof of the hangar in which it was parked at Lac du Bonnet collapsed due to an accumulation of snow.
This build was entered in Erik's @airbum de Havilland Aircraft Company 100 years GB, or, simply, DH100GB.
The Hobbycraft kit was at places simplistic-towards-toy-ish, but, if you want a quarter scale, or even a 1/72 Otter, it is still the only game in town. That said, with some extra effort, a number of its oversimplifications or discrepancies can be addressed and a less toy-ish model can result.
Should you want to read the full build review, you may do so by visiting my beloved site Modelingmadness:

Happy modeling!
Reader reactions:
8  Awesome

27 responses

  1. Ok Sprios, you are going to HAVE to get a day job! The Pendedekas factory is just pumping out top-quality models in rapid succession. What are you giving up to get so much modeling done?!

    Good-looking addition to your burgeoning collection - and another in the "unusual suspects" department!

  2. Hi Spiros,

    Nice job Spiros on a kit that I have wanted to build.

    I have it in my stash and will do a USN bird in Antartica which is colorful.

    For some time I have tried to find some reference material on the interior with little success. I have have any sources you can point me to it would be most appreciated.

    All the best,

    • Thanks Kevin @chenango55!

      Truth is that I did my interior by consulting net available pics and a with a lot of speculation, coupled with imagination and reading whatever relative info found (for example, I read that U-1As typically had dual controls).

      There is a USN Otter in pristine condition exhibited in Pensacola Naval Air Station - KNPA

      USA - Florida:

      Just an idea: how about writing to them, to see if they have any evidence available?

      • Thanks Spiros and believe I looked at that website before as I thought they would have one.

        Like you I will probably just use some imagination when I do the cockpit. I have some seats I saved from a C-45 kit that will help. I do want to find a way to replicate the padding that is found in many cockpits as I believe they had it.


  3. Amazing outcome, Spiros @fiveten
    Absolute not a toy-ish looking build anymore, beautifully done.
    Your modelling factory does indeed run at full speed lately with incredible results, being this one a perfect example of it.
    Well done.

  4. Agreeing with Greg, it's yet ANOTHER interesting build. Well done, Spiros! Keep them coming.

  5. Nice build Spiros, @fiveten, I was involved in the restoration of a Beaver, it had been used in the movie "Six Days Seven Nights" (we believe it was the one that was on the beach). Later when I was working up in Washington where Kenmore Air Harbor is located I saw lots of Beavers and Otters. That company makes and sells parts for the Beaver and Otter, and we would often put and take our Beaver on and off floats at their facility. The Otter is a lot bigger, and uglier than the Beaver and they also had Turbine Otter's their. They look even bigger when they are on floats.

    2 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  6. Nice to see your Otter reappear again, Spiros @fiveten. Great posting over at MM.

  7. Nice build, Spiros!

  8. Nice work, Spiros! I’ve never seen one of these built before.

  9. Very nice realization. I like fixed gear planes.
    Gives it the "Look" and your model does too.

  10. Having followed this project, I am really glad to see the excellent result you got.

  11. Very fine build.

  12. Looks good, Spiros. I know the feeling of accomplishment when you turn out an improved version of a so-so kit. It makes our hobby even more rewarding. Keep it up! 🙂

  13. Dear Spiros, I prefer to imitate my friend @gkittinger than to write:

    "The Pendedekas factory is just pumping out top-quality models in rapid succession. What are you giving up to get so much modeling done?!" (LOL)

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