1/144 Minicraft E-3

Gallery Article by Douglas Conrady on Nov 23 2015



In an effort to make all, or at least, most, the aircraft that have had OK on the tail, here is my E-3. The E-3 is primarily based here in the states at Tinker AFB. One thing I learned about this aircraft is that it is relatively new to the USAF. Deliveries started in the late 70's, again, at Tinker. Since it was based on the "707", I figured it was an older design. The current iteration is the G model, and its got all sorts of hangly danglies and extra bulges on it. I like the clean looks of the earlier versions, so I built one of those. My build was assisted by a friend that was a flight engineer on the E-3's.

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Just coming off a few highly detailed commissions, I wanted to do a quick OOTB. Since the Minicraft already came with Oklahoma decals, this fit the bill. Construction began quite normally... 2 wing halves, 2 fuselage halves, etc. Everything went together quite nicely. In my research, I noticed the air intake for the radome? if farther forward than where the instructions tell you to place it. I filled the original holes and moved the intake to the right place. I also noticed that the arms that hold the radome up, didn't blend into the fuselage all the great. I sanded. Then I puttied and sanded some more. And lastly, I sanded. The transition isn't perfect, but its ALOT better than what it was. The other place I ran into issues was where the cockpit and the fuselage join. I had read that area was not right, and sure enough, it was not. I applied putty several times to try and smooth things out. I came close, and the result isn't the best, but I'm afraid I might still be there, had I not stopped. I did do one bit of customizing, I added the antennae on the wing tips. I simply cut thin strips of plastic sheeting and glued them on.

Painting was next. I scoured the 'net looking for E-3's that weren't in all grey. The scheme I came up with is from the 80's and early 90's (IIRC). I primed the whole aircraft, taped the movable surfaces, and sprayed the rest in aircraft grey. Then it was on to the details (leading edges, engine faces, etc.) The radome was a bit tricky. The decal that is the scalloped edges didn't go all the way around, and I had to paint the white band, in just the right width. Well, that's what was supposed to happen..... more on that later. After all that dried, I applied a couple of coats of future to prepare for the decals.

The decaling was pretty much business as usual. Then I looked at the flag decals. Minicraft does not include a starboard side "backwards" flag. Fortunately, in my ship making stash, I had a set of different sized American flags that were 2 sided. I found one that was really close to what came in the box and cut it in half. Viola, both sides of the tail are decaled properly. The other issue was the radome stripe. Apparently, I didn't measure all that great, and the decal was wider than my painted stripe. What to do.... What to do.... Then it hit me, cut the decal and overlap the middle. If you look really, really close, you can see the seam. The rest of the decals went on without issue. I then gave the E-3 one last coat of future to seal and protect. No flat this time, it seems to me that all E-3's are nice and shiny.

That seems to be it, hope you all like it.

Please email me if you've got any questions or comments.

Thanks for looking and don't throw rotten tomatoes!

Douglas Conrady

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Photos and text by Douglas Conrady