1/144 Lockheed C-141B

Gallery Article by Bob Leonard on Oct 22 2018



This is the Roden 1/144 scale Lockheed C-141B Starlifter with Caracal decals. This is one of those projects I've dreamed of for years. I had an Aurora 1/109 C-141A back when I was an Air Force brat at Offutt AFB in 1969. In fact, I tried to scribe some panel lines with an Exacto knife and even used some Rub n Buff to create some variation to the natural metal finish. It was a disaster, befitting a 12 year old trying out new techniques. I never finished the kit. Years later Dragon issued 1/200 C-141A and B Starlifters, but that was not my scale. Within the last ten years, I bought a fantastic resin 1/144 C-141B from Scott Deopker that I never had the courage to tackle. Now Roden has come to the rescue 

President John F. Kennedy's first official act after his inauguration was to order the development of an all-jet transport to extend the reach of America's military forces. Lockheed's C-141A Starlifter was the result. Along with Nimitz class carriers, the C-141A/B was a fixture of U.S. Cold War power projection. The C-141B is a "stretched" (over 23 feet) C-141A with in-flight refueling capability. From 1964 on, if U.S. troops or humanitarian aide were landing in some spot no civilian American citizen had ever heard of, you could bet the Starlifter was in the picture. In August 1990, it was a C-141B painted very much like this one that ferried me and 200+ of my CENTCOM buddies from McDill AFB to Riyadh via McGuire AFB and Spain. A Euro 1 painted Starlifter brought me home. 

The kit has a commendably low number of parts. The key to this project is five miles of Tamiya tape and the fantastic decals by Caracal to replace the Roden decals I read tended to silver. The shape and detail is very good for this scale; however, the tool maker made a mistake and placed the emergency hatch (the ones behind the landing gear sponsons) too high up on the fuselage. I filled those in and used decals to place the hatch in the correct position. Black decals were used for all the windows and my Waldron Punch and Die set came in handy replicating the round fuselage windows. I replaced the kit provided antenna at the front of the T-Tail with small fine wire attached with super glue since I knew I would break the plastic version 13 times. 

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Paint is Model Master FS16473, Tamiya black and white acrylic. The gray area surrounding refueling receptacle and replacement engine panels is Model Master FS 36118. On Airliners.net I found a few photos where white/gray C-141Bs had engine panels replaced with those painted FS 36118 from aircraft already painted in the then new Euro 1 scheme. My model replicates that look. Weathering was limited Flory Washes "Grime" along the engines, the bottom fuselage near the landing gear, a small amount near the rear cargo doors and fuselage vents just below the leading edge wing mount. A great resource is C141Heaven.info. which has tons of information and photos. There are early Lockheed brochures on the site calling the C-141A the "Super Hercules" and early concepts drawings that look like the nose of a C-130 grafted onto the now familiar shape of the Starlifter. 

Finally, one of the fun aspects of scale modeling is you can create pictures that could never have happened in real life. In this case, I placed my 1/144 Minicraft C-135A Stratolifter (1961), the republic's first jet strategic airlifter along side my 1/144 C-141B (1989), its successor.

Bob Leonard

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Photos and text by Bob Leonard