1/144 Minicraft Boeing 737-300

Gallery Article by Carl Jarosz on Mar 23 2020



Boeing 737-300 Western Pacific Airlines “Colorado Springs” Livery 

I urge the reader of this article to examine the Gallery tab of this website to appreciate my previous builds using the Minicraft Boeing 737 kit and Daco’s (Belgium) decal sheets for airliners. I pray you agree that this has resulted in some eye-catching models. This is yet another one of those endeavors. Yet I took this project on as primarily a challenge to myself, as I have to admit that I massacred an earlier bought decal sheet with the “Colorado Springs” livery. I had to restructure my thought and build techniques to successfully use the decals.

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With respect to the Minicraft kit, there’s not much to say other than it has basic Boeing 737-300 size and geometry for a 1/144 scale model. There is no interior; there’s not a wheel well for the main landing gear; there’s a simple recessed box for the nose gear. A few recessed lines break up the monotony of the larger pieces of plastic. One should not buy a 1/144 Minicraft kit to marvel at the design and construction of a Boeing 737, as there are other model makers that mold in much more Boeing 737 detail, but at a commensurately higher price tag. Instead, it’s the decals placed on the Minicraft kit that’s intended to draw attention and self-satisfaction.

As confessed above, I eagerly tried to use the “Colorado Springs” livery decal sheet a few years ago. I was totally unprepared for the wrinkled, cracked decals that resulted when placed upon a properly built Boeing 737-300 kit. This decal sheet has in my opinion the thickest decal film of the many Daco decal sheets I’ve used. Maybe that was intended, as one can see the rich colors employed by Daco for this livery. While thick decals are great for straight, smooth contours, it’s a kiss of death when applied to multi-curved surfaces. That, plus the nature of the film will only respond to a certain decal setting chemical, made to a specific concentration. I failed to heed the recommendation written on the Daco decal sheet instructions to use Daco’s unique decal setting solution, made in three strengths. I purchased the middle, #2, bottle, feeling a bit like “Goldilocks” when I did so.

I also did not pay slavish devotion to the decal sheet instruction this time: I’m convinced that only compounds the degree of frustration a modeler will already have using these decals. For one thing, I cropped the bit of decal sections that were shown wrapped underneath the fuselage. I simply could not comprehend how one paying for the real paint job would waste money applying garbled color designs at a part of the airplane that’s not easily seen when parked at the boarding gate. And if a motorist driving around the airport paid attention the ménage of colors on the belly of an aircraft flying overhead, I feel sorry for his and other motorists’ lives.

On the topic of decal setting solution, while the Daco brand performed better than Microsol, it still did not lay the decal down flat against the curved surface. Lancing and slicing the raised edge of the decal helped, but I stumbled upon an effective solution: I recently purchased a bottle of Ammo/Mig’s Decal Fix #2 for general use. I applied this to a definitely warped decal, and it finally worked to settle the film to the model, . . . but! After about half a minute after ladling on the Decal Fix, I was still dissatisfied with the degree of set, so I took my moist cloth and pressed the affected decal location, and it finally fell into place!

Now for a word of caution using Ammo Mig’s Decal Set: try to confine all the applied fluid to the decal, not being careless and spreading the fluid all over the adjoining plastic, especially if it had been painted, for the film tends to leave a faint milky film when dried in the non-decal area.

I now saved the worst of the decal sheet facts for last: Be prepared to have no less than three (3) layers of film overlapping at various locations: the decals are designed that way. So it’s imperative that one lets the first decal set in place, then it should be sealed with a coat of Future or some clear coat. After that’s dried, one can then apply the second decal in the proper location (see photos on decal instruction sheet). Do the same technique of applying Decal Fix, pressing with moist cloth after a short time (after lancing, splitting the decal at the worst curved points). Finally, perform the same steps for the final decal piece.

Again, I employed the above as the only solution to the first, massacred decal sheet tried. If some reader has successfully applied these exact decals from this sheet without the remedies listed above, I’m most interested in learning.

As for final weathering, these aircraft were mainly well maintained to advertise the city/town mentioned on the fuselage. The wings, however, generally suffered accumulation of oil spills, grease smudging and the like, so I tried to reflect that with an application of Black Detailer, followed by moist cloth clean-up to my satisfaction.

Carl Jarosz

Photos and text © by Carl Jarosz