Roden sent me a review kit back in early May that got waylaid by the plague and our new most wonderfullest “improved” postal “service,” thanks to Postmaster Louis De (no)Joy. So they sent a second that took a whole five weeks to get here and arrived last Friday. Having time now that “Downtown” has been turned in, I immediately “got to it.”
I am doing this as Stearman N747JR, an airplane in which I enjoyed 80 of the most fun hours one can have with their clothes on, 40-odd years ago up in Sacramento where a dawn takeoff on a Saturday morning when the sun was pink over the Sierras, climbing up to 3,500 feet for my own private sunrise while the city below still had the streetlights on was the perfect antidote to a week’s work in the bowels of the capitol as a Legislative Assistant. It was always a kick to call Sac Exectutive Tower: “Sacramento Tower, Boeing Seven-Forty-Seven-Junior with the numbers…”
Did a little internet sleuthing and discovered after I departed for the swamps of Hollyweird that 747JR managed to be involved in “incidents” in 1980 and 1983, and crash landedin 1988 and 1989 (A Stearman isn’t landed till it’s shut down, chocked down and tied down), a reminder of why most antiques aren’t owned by flying clubs. The remains were bought in 2005 and put in storage. However, by June 26, 2012, the remains had been turned back into an airplane, and she was sold to France, where she is now the well-known F-AZXN, operated by the Societe de Developpement Et de Promotion Aviation (sdpa) SNC, Cerny, Ile France Hte Normandie, based at La Ferte-Alais. Nice to know she’s still showing people the fun that can be had in an open cockpit. It looks like she’s been given an R-985 and a T-6 prop, a good idea if you’re going to do airshow aierobatics with a Stearman, which I can say from experience is “heavy on the controls” and needs all the power it can get (the one time I ever managed a loop I thought I was going to fall out of the top for sure).
So, anyway, the kit.
We’ve had an expensive resin 1/32 Stearman from Silver Wings for a few years. Now we have two injection-molded kits – this one from Roden and another from ICM, released within weeks of each other.
Looking at this kit, and looking at photos of the ICM parts, I think this kit has nicer surface detail, with the rib stitching and muted “hills and valleys.” That said, the ICM kit looks “cleaner;” this kit has a lot of flash that has to be carefully cut away from some fragile parts. The ICM kit also has both the wood and metal props while this has only the wood prop, and the ICM kit also has more markings options, to do either two different PT-17s or a “rode hard” N2S-3. However, the ICM kit is also around $75, while the Roden is going on EvilBay for anywhere from $38-$45 or so. I suspect I will get an ICM kit at some point, and do it as a WW2-era trainer, rather than the restored antique this will be.
The cockpit is nicely detailed, and looks like what I remember. I was able to get the Eduard p-e instrument panels, which look nice. I also used Eduard p-e seatbelts, but the full WW2 set with shoulder harnesses we had, rather than the lap belts only in the Eduard Stearman photoetch set.
The instructions are pretty hazy. I built and rebuilt the engine, finally referring to the accurate engine in the boxart painting to see what fit where. Parts fit here is “iffy” but with effort the result is OK. I am thinking of cutting off the too-thick plastic ignition harness and replacing it with wires.
My friend Mike Benolkin is doing a built review of this kit over at Cybermodeler and reported having trouble getting parts glued with Tamiya Extra-thin and going with thin Cyanoacylate. I assembled this with Tamiya Extra-thin and had no trouble. In fact, with careful fitting and assembly, I didn’t use any filler anywhere.
It’s definitely a limited-run kit, and experience with limited-run kits will help you get good results.
So far, I think I have around 15-16 hours invested to get it to the point shown in the photos.
I’m including some shots from back in the 80s I took of her, flown by other club members, and a shot I found on the internet of her new identity.
13 attached images. Click to enlarge.