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Eric Berg
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1/48 AMT/Round2 Staggerwing G17S

August 25, 2022 · in Aviation · · 37 · 1.2K

The model G17S was the last of the series and approximately 20 of these were built between 1946 -1948. Staggerwings are considered one of the world's most beautiful planes. A grand total of 781 of various models were produced from 1934-1948.

This is the 2015 Round2 boxing of the 1977 AMT 1/48 tooling from the days when that company made a valiant stab at producing decent airplane kits. I picked this up several years ago at a hobby shop out of pure guilt and had no intention of ever building it. One day I made a visit to one of the last remaining LHS in the SF Bay area and closest to me – a good 48-mile drive one way. I must have spent an hour wandering around ogling but not buying a thing. Feeling remorseful and a bit sorry for the owner, I grabbed this Staggerwing because I couldn't walk out empty handed in good conscious. It was also the cheapest kit in the place.

Not a Bad Kit!
Surprisingly this AMT kit is not a bad build at all. There are a few inaccuracies and minor old school molding issues. Mine had a slightly warped top main wing and tail wing fit problems. Yet overall, the fit was decent and when finished, this Staggerwing does look passable. Turned out to be an unexpected fun win-win after all.

Assembly went easily even though the top wing was slightly warped downwards at the ends. The engine doesn't quite line up centered to the cowl opening, which I discovered a bit too late. The fit of the windshield flush to the fuselage on both sides is terrible without risking cracking to fix it. I painted this Stag to resemble the same burgundy color used on an award wining 2012 restoration of a 1947 G17S by H.O. Aircraft ( I also mimicked some of the updated modern avionics gear that was used on that plane. One glitch: I had no spare correct white serial numbers or extended pin stripes in my decal dungeon, so I just used the very good and quite opaque white Round2 sheet numbers to make life easy.

Wrong Choice of Paint Product
For the burgundy color, I experimented using Montana Gold NC-acrylic spray paint for the very first time. Big mistake. This paint is a bit thick and doesn't decant easily or thin well and tends to orange peel but does respond to light sanding in between coats. The problem is you can't sand the fabric areas without losing detail. The company recommends acetone for thinning, and you know how that stuff evaporates almost instantly! Despite the prep, this paint gave me gobs of obvious orange peel and ruined the finish, so now it looks good from two feet away. The stinky fumes from this paint completely fogged the already glued in place windshield. I had to detach it and polish the heck out of it but I still couldn't fully restore it. I can see how Montana rattle cans work well for murals or large projects, but this paint is just not designed for plastic models, it seems to me. Never again!

The Details:
I scratched the topside avionics gear and added the two cabin roof support rods that form a triangle up front in the cockpit. Eduard lap belts for the two front seats and detailed the cabin. You still need a pen light to see what's in there even with the door open. In addition to the Montana burgundy spray paint, paint wise I used Vallejo and Tamyia acrylics. Molotow chrome pen decanted and sprayed on spinner and prop. Rigid wire for the antennas, EZ Line painted aluminum for the rigging, and finishing with the Novis 1-2-3 polishing “system” applied over a gloss coat of AK's Gauzy clear.

All in All, a Fun Build!
I am sure the 1/48 Roden Staggerwing new tooling of several years ago is much more up to date detail wise compared to this old AMT bird, but I don't find Roden kits particularly user friendly. Despite some old school tooling issues and the paint, this AMT little plane was a fun and simple build. Now I have a reasonably good looking but dainty Staggerwing to keep my recently completed yellow Stearman

The really good news is the hobby shop where I bought this kit about five years ago is still in business!

Thanks for looking.

Reader reactions:
20  Awesome

6 additional images. Click to enlarge.

37 responses

  1. Another beautiful stagger-wing, Eric, despite the problems you encountered with the painting it looks great.

  2. Now that's one nice looking Staggerwing.
    Pity about the paint trouble, nice save on the windshield.

  3. Beautiful! I really do like the burgundy color, and that Gauzy really makes it shine! Great build all-around, and I really like your article. I've got to say too, the rigging looks excellent, and as a sum of your work, it looks striking like the aircraft you're replicating.

    • @pb_legend, Thanks Andrew. Believe me, your red Staggerwing in flight motivated me big time to finish this despite the crappy paint. I came close to giving up on it. Thanks for the compliments.

  4. Nice result @eb801!

    The only real "nit" one can pick with this kit is that the vertical fin and rudder aren't quite the right strange "Staggerwing shape." Otherwise, as you note, it's a very nice kit for its time and who made it.

    Staggerwings were the Learjet of their day. I was fortunate to have two chances to be in the right seat when the pilot threw caution to the winds and flipped the throwover yoke to me. It handles like a dream. If you have it trimmed up, you can put it in a standard-rate turn and it will circle forever, without losing altitude.

  5. Looks great, Eric (@eb80). I love the color and finish, even if you had to move heaven and earth to get there. I have built this kit a couple of times, and enjoyed both builds. Like you said, it's not a bad build.

    • Thanks George @gblair. These Staggerwings are so gorgeous I am tempted to built another one of these now that I know what to look for, but Round2 has discontinued the kit. Plenty exist on you know where.

  6. Another super job, my friend @eb801! Thanks for all kit and build details. You addressed perfectly the paint issues, the result looks great.

  7. Excellent result, Eric @eb801.
    The interior looks great.
    Pity about the paint issues but in the end it does look real nice.
    Even being a bi-plane, those Staggerwings look very modern to me.

    • I almost gave up on this one due to the paint issues, John @johnb. But I kept on it because you're right, the Staggerwings look not only modern and timeless, but beautiful as well! I think it's a tight squeeze in the cabin though. Thanks for the compliment.

  8. She's a real beauty. Well done, Eric!

  9. That’s outstanding, Eric! Beautiful paintwork and noticeable upgrades to a basically solid old kit.

    • Thanks John @j-healy. not a bad kit after all these years but as far I can tell Round2 has discontinued this kit. However, I called them up and they still had a decal sheet for this kit available in the stock room and sent it to me right away for $12. I thought I would need to double up on the white decals for opacity but no. One was enough. Round2 clearly upgraded them. Good outfit .

  10. @eb801, That is a beauty Eric! ? The color is so attractive and very classy looking too. Man, those were great looking aircraft and you've sure done her justice! ?

  11. Really beautiful Eric!

  12. Great looking Stag, Eric! Always nice to see some civilian models posted, adds a little color to the mix!

  13. Looks absolutely fantastic. Great build and awesome finish. Superb.

  14. Beautiful build Eric, nice work on this old kit and it looks great!

  15. Eric, @eb801
    This is a very nice looking model. It was my Dad's favorite plane from this era, and since he was born in 1930, I can see why. I have plans to someday build up a 1/6 scale flying RC model of it, using electric out-runner style power in it.

    You have done a remarkable job with her, and I'm glad to see that Round Two is making this one now. I remember building up the original AMT version as a kid. Mine was molded in yellow plastic, and it looked good enough for me after building it in one afternoon, so I slapped the decals on it and rolled with it "as-is". I even managed a few "test flights" in it around the yard, before I hung it up from my bedroom ceiling.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. You hit a home run with this one ! I definitely pressed the "like" button.

    • Good to hear from you Louis @lgardner. I can see why this was your Dad's favorite plane. It sure is sweet looking and timeless to boot!
      From what I can tell, Round2 had dropped this kit and all airplane kits in general. Apparently ESCI/ETRL used to make a version of a Staggerwing in this scale way back when.

      • Eric, @eb801
        Your correct, it had to be the ESCI / ERTL version, the AMT kit was likely the Stinson Gullwing I built, which was another one of Dad's favorites. SR-9 I think it was...The Stinson was molded in white plastic, and I built it the same way. 😉

        Both are very cool planes. My bad, and it's too bad they dropped this one. It's a great looking model.

  16. You’ve done justice to this aircraft with your build for sure.

  17. Just beautiful!

  18. Looks great - love the rich color of the finish, even though it was a tough slog getting it on! Well done.

    • Thanks Greg, @gkittinger. If I had used my head, I would have gone with Vallejo or should have mixed my own burgundy paint. I hate it when the model is almost all finished and the paint job blows it to smithereens due to typical pilot error.

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