1 /72 Revell C-160Z Transall

by Malcolm Reid

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Upon opening the box, one’s senses are filled with anticipation at the delicately crafted and moulded pieces.  All external surfaces are endowed with finely engraved detail.  A good level of internal detail is provided, considering this is a 72nd scale kit – the detailed interior includes troop seats and stretchers.  The kit accurately replicates the lines of this elegant aircraft.  Unfortunately there are one or two aspects of the kit which leaves a lot to desire, the main area of complaint being the propellers which are crude to say the least – a pity as this was one of the distinctive features of the C-160.  There are also irritating ejector marks on the insides of the main undercarriage doors.  The fuselage assembly must be approached with some care - the fuselage interior detail is brought together in a tube sub-assembly which is then enclosed by the two fuselage halves.  I had a real battle getting this to fit.  There was lots of grinding of plastic with dremel tool but to no avail.  The bad fit resulted in the use of a fair amount of glue and Milliput to fill the gaps.  The wing to fuselage joint also posed some fit problems and required careful shaving off excess plastic in some areas before the correct fit was attained.  The engine cowling assemblies consist of 6 parts each necessitating careful test fitting and assembly.  Once finished they do provide a nice “busy” look.  The undercarriage components are delicately moulded.  However, the main undercarriage bays lack any form of detail.  Luckily the kit sits so low on its undercarriage that one doesn’t have to worry too much.  The level of detail provided in the nose wheel bay is good.

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I left the main canopy off until the aircraft was complete. The reason why I did this is that I have a problem with build-up of residue on the inside of transparent parts during the painting (airbrushing) process. I ensure that all gaps are sealed thoroughly, but this still occurs. I think it may have something to do with using prestic (blu tac) as a method of sealing and this gives off some oily residue. Luckily the fit of the main canopy to the fuselage is good and could be glued on once all painting had been completed.

I decide to model a SAAF C-160Z. I added the two prominent antennae fairings beneath the forward fuselage which are peculiar to SAAF aircraft. I don’t recall that the SAAF Transalls were fitted with the “cat balls” RWR antennae fitted to so many of the other SAAF aircraft during the bush war in SWA / Angola in the 80’s. I added stretched sprue antennae to simulate both the dorsal and ventral antennae.

The model is a tail sitter and even though Revell recommends placing a 30g weight in the nose, there seems to be insufficient space to get the required amount in. So I assembled the model with the rear cargo ramp open thereby providing the necessary support to prevent tail sitting. I also assembled the forward cargo door in the open position to provide additional light into the interior to allow some of the detail to be seen. This door was rarely used by the SAAF.

To add a bit of extra detail, I painted the cockpit skylight panels orange using Tamiya clear orange. I added the curtains using pieces of tissue paper carefully super glued into place. These, and the orange skylight panels, are quite prominent on the C-160 at the SAAF museum at Swartkops Air Base in Pretoria.

The Transalls performed their duties well and with little incident during the border conflict in the SWA/Angola conflict alongside the C-130BZ Hercs. They were removed from service in the mid 90’s and eight have been relegated to the junk heap at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria.  The engines have been removed and there has been speculation on several occasions of selling them to other C-160 operators (France/Germany ?).  One other example, tail number 337, remains in its full splendor at the Air Force Museum at Swartkops AFB (also in Pretoria).  The museum folks have recently repainted this aircraft and have done a magnificent job.  I’ve attached two pics of its condition after 8 years in the sun and rain and in its latest repainted state.

The SAAF Transalls were painted in a wrap around camoflage of matt olive green and buff with only the fuselage underside painted in a blue-grey.  I replicated these colours as follows :

Buff – 60% Pactra Dark Earth IE85 + 40% Tamiya XF-60

Green – 100% Pactra Green IW52, overspray with thinned mix of 90 green and 10% Tamiya white X-2

Blue-grey – 60% Model Master 35164 + 40% Tamiya white X-2

These aircraft were relatively devoid of markings. I decided to model mine on the C-160 at the SAAF museum. The only distinctive markings on this aircraft are the full tail number either side of the rear fuselage in black with the last digit repeated in yellow above the cockpit. The remainder of markings consist of red propeller warning stripes on the fuselage and yellow demarcations around all doors and emergency escape hatches on the top of the forward and rear fuselage – these were carefully masked off and spray painted. Reference material shows C-160’s in the early 80’s with the original high visibility SAAF castle insignia. The kit decals are for French and German examples. The kit decal sheet is massive with a myriad of stenciling, but knowing Revell decals (like cardboard) I was happy to model a SAAF aircraft with its minimal decaling requirements. I printed the black digits on clear decal film.

The interior of the main wheel bays on the SAAF C-160’s were light blue (I used MM RLM78). The nose gear bay was painted silver. All undercarriage legs and wheel hubs are silver. The propellers and spinner are aluminium with yellow tips and black deicing boots. The main wing and horizontal and vertical stabilsers were all equipped with de-icing boots. I painted these in a very dark grey.

Weathering was done using pastels along panel lines with a final coat of matt varnish. I did not hold back on the amount of pastels applied as these aircraft saw lots of service and their matt finish tended to weather rather quickly. Final touches were a number of whip antennae using stretched sprue – these are located one each either side of the upper vertical stabilizer and two just aft of the cockpit.

It’s a nice sized kit and makes an interesting addition to my model collection – I just need to find space for it.

Malcolm

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Photos and text © by  Malcolm Reid