I mean the movie, Terry Gillian’s.
That’s what you call aesthetics.
What can I tell you. Aviation, and by extension modeling, are for
me more than anything else about aesthetics. I see these things as sculptures,
architecture, design. Remember your old fridge? the cars from the 30’s, 40’s
and 50’s? the locomotives? How can anything be more beautiful than that? I
like those things. And then is when the cottage industry comes to the rescue.
I got the Execuform GA-43 for a reasonable price, and was happy for
what I got. Simple parts that saved me from hours and hours of scratchbuilding,
and the possibility of building my model in several configurations, given the
fact that includes floats, the two canopies (one for a single pilot and the
other for the two pilot version), the wheel pants of the prototype, the fairings
of the later versions and a differently-contoured rudder. Also references and
good gauge styrene.
You have to provide bits like prop, engine, wheels, and the like;
all of them readily available as aftermarket items. And if you so wish you can
add the interior. You can go to town or stay simple, is up to you. Many of us do
our own decals when they are not available, or know somebody that can help with
that too. Scribing panel lines is not a lost art either.
images below to see larger images
Execuform and many
other vac producers like Khee-Kha work hard to make available for us
lesser-known types that surely deserve a place in our collections. Their
prices are good, and you get something to really play and exercise those
skills. I have built several vac models, have many more in the stash, and
every single time I enjoy it very much. I never ever regretted or got
tired of building these out-of-the-beaten-path models. Heaven bless the
cottage industry, for they deliver the goods.
I have said this before, but I'll repeat it: approach the
vacuformed kits for what they are, not expecting a shake and bake
protocol. They require specific methods, but not rocket science at any
rate. Execuform kits are rather simple and basic, but you can make a very
decent replica of them, if you put some care. They are there to help you
get that model you want. Execuform catalog is ample and attractive, with
types not even in dreams other manufacturers will approach. Yes you will
have to work, but you will get something very unique too.
Oh, yes, the plane:
I never built a model with so many names and such complicated history.
Suffice to say that it is known as Faichild 150, General Aviation GA-43,
Clark GA-43, and North American GA-43. The “Clark” there is the same
one as in the
“Y” airfoil, for you aerodynamicists. The plane also has some Fokker
strings attached. To explain here all the mergers, acquisitions, take-overs
and other financial mysteries would take too much space, so let just say
that it was an all-metal ten-passenger plane with –after the prototype
was converted- retractable landing gear. It was used by Swissair (two
machines), SCADTA in
Colombia, Western Air Express in the
USA, one ended up in
as J-BAEP and yet another somehow managed to fly in
on the anti-Franco side. A pretty good story for only five machines built
in total. There is a very good article on the subject on Skyways magazine
issue of January 1998. On the article you can see an image of one machine
temporarily painted with the slogan “Back your president”. Oh man that
I was tempted by that one too. In total I counted about seventeen possible
finishes, some of them really different, some just minor variations.
(this is the very boring part, that says “I glued this to that”, but,
on the other hand, also is the part where you may actually learn
something, so it is your call):
I opted to
represent the prototype, since its spats and short one-seat canopy had a
chubbier look that was very appealing to me.
Parts were separated from the backing sheet using the well-known
tachyon pulse method, and flat-sanded cautiously while testing. References were
consulted in order to establish which parts were needed so they could be made
with the replicator. Some goodies were beamed-up from an obscure British
manufacturer with Klingon ties.
Do not get rid of the leftovers, many extra parts (like bulkheads,
spars, seats) can be cut from them.
The next thing to do was to establish the position of the windows, door
and luggage hatch on the fuselage and cut them open. Five bulkheads and the
cabin floor were cut from the leftovers (see, I told you!).
At this point I decided, after much pondering, to diverge from the
Execuform path and separate the stabilizer halves, restitute the tail cone its
integrity, and add the stab halves later. Execuform planned the parts to provide
some sort of easy keying for alignment, but I rather sand the fuselage smooth
and add the stab than meander between the parts later with the sanding stick and
The ten passengers chairs came next, each one made of six parts (back,
seat, head cushion, two armrests and magazine pouch in the back). As per photos
a few metal parts were found in my spares box too. The cavity showing the wing
root from inside was closed using sheet styrene. The wing roots in the model are
slightly asymmetrical, being one a bit higher than the other. Be careful to
compensate for that. The wing halves were glued and their panel lines engraved.
Beware that the prototype had longer span ailerons and no flaps. Also some
anti-stall small sections were located at the leading edge. Those were
replicated carving the styrene and adding a few small ribs. No landing lights
were present at the leading edge at the time that this first machine was flown.
No nav lights can be seen on the wingtips either, but two were present on the
fin and on the tip of the tail cone. The whole interior, as a single unit –see
images- was detailed and prepped for his later insertion between the fuselage
A roof was glued to one side and some detail added on those halves
All these may sound boring or difficult, but it wasn’t at all. Is
like solving a puzzle for which you create the pieces as you go. Very Zen.
Once the fuselage was closed the stab halves were refined and a few
parts created to better engineer its addition to the fuselage. To the wheel
pants a strip was added and blended to represent the shock absorption
I tried a new –to me- masking product, Mr. Masking Sol Neo. The
label is all in Japanese, and although I highly regard sushi and Zen koans, it
wouldn’t hurt to add an English translation, would it Mr. “Mr.”?
The product dried quickly, which is a good thing and a bad thing.
The cap has a brush/applicator reminiscent of gone modeling eras. When wet it
can be washed with water and soap, but once it starts to cure –fast- I could
only soften it with Simple Green (a cleaning product). It won’t dissolve it,
but it will soften it enough to be peeled away from the brush. Window cleaners
(which usually contain ammonia) had no noticeable effects. Lacquer thinner and
acetone sort of melt the cured product away. Once dry it peals off very easily
from a flat surface, but not from the brush. I didn’t try it on a painted
surface, but only on the transparencies.
The priming, filling, sanding, re-scribing cycle went on a few
times. It is a must –but I don’t have to really tell you this- to remain
patient. To avoid unfortunate anxiety-generated wrong moves I started another
model, a simple, small, easy-going one -the Mauboussin model that preceded this
article here on ARC- so things on the
would have time to dry and cure properly.
Successive layers of paint and masks went on the model, finishing
in four shades of metal.
If you believe that everything should always go smoothly, well,
that’s a good thought, but sometimes a few things get in the way. I scratched
the finish a couple of times, tinted the aluminum paint too much in a couple of
occasions, messed up some panel lines, got the masking liquid in the wrong
place, and a few more things. But, you acknowledge the mistake, correct it the
best you can, and keep going.
Once all the painting was done and set, home-made decals and a few
external details were added, and the gleaming retro beauty of the GA-43 shone
away in all its glamour.
You can reach Mike Herrill here:
And as Master Po used to say, a Shaolin monk is not ready until he
builds his scratchbuilt, resin and vacuformed models.
P/S: on a statistical note, I think this is article number 100 posted here on
A good cheer for that.
images below to see larger images