Modified 1/72 Eastern Express -ex Toko- Hansa Seaplane

Gallery Article by Gabriel Stern on Dec 16 2010


   Some of you may recall the Japanese Hansa with Rising Decals (J-BIRDs) posted here not long ago.

   There is another very appealing variation of the Hansa, a limousine conversion, made by ANDO in Japan for passenger transport.  This modification had a canopy with windows covering the area of the aft fuselage position, providing for a more comfortable ride for the passengers.

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   The limousine conversion was typical of the time when passenger carrying was starting to be taken more seriously. The pilot was exposed to the elements and the passengers usually sat face to face inside the enclosure, being an inheritance from the horse-driven road coach configuration. This arrangement pioneered the passenger transport before the now standard cabin started to dominate the field. The conversion was applied to pre-existing types that for one reason or another seemed suitable for the adaptation, being mostly military surplus or old types that were given a stretch on their life-span.

   There were many of such conversions, but I found only one photo on the Net depicting the plane with the registration J-BCAL. This time though the decals had to be home-made. The profile published in the same Arawasi magazine that featured the subject of the previous article is a good general guide, but compared to the photo shows a few minor inaccuracies, like the exhaust arrangement and a slight difference in the windows of the passenger cabin.

   Again the Eastern Express re-issue of the Toko kit was used with the transformations already depicted in the previous article, plus the “limo” canopy. The kit prop was used this time, since J-BCAL had a two-blade prop. Different exhausts were fabricated too and of course besides removing the front fuselage, the aft position area had to be removed too.  A wood plug was carved and used to vacuform the passengers’ canopy.

   There are a few obscure points regarding this plane’s details, but I couldn’t resist the combination of its unusual shape and attractive decoration.  The images will tell the story. The story of muskrats in Alaska and furry midget black seals in Puget Sound. Now if you want to know how to make the conversion you are on your own.

Gabriel Stern

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Photos and text © by Gabriel Stern