The Walthers DC-3 is a simple kit in HO scale.
A Note on Windows
The kit provides clear windows for passenger and cockpit locations. The passenger windows suffer from sever shrinkage and did not look good. The cockpit window is very clear. Micro Kristal Klear was used to simulate the passenger windows mitigating the issues with the kit provided windows. Kristal Klear was also used to simulate the cockpit window. Cockpit window frames were scratch built with 0.020 x 0.020 styrene strips.
Assembly and Painting
Sub-assemblies were built first. Fuselage and wings were glued together. Seams were filled and sanded with Squadron Products White Putty. And filled and sanded. And filled and sanded… Silver paint was used to check seams. Some re-scribing of panel lines was necessary. Once done, parts with cleaned with Isopropyl Alcohol to remove dust and grease in preparation for painting.
As this was to be a quick build, spray can paints were used. Also my paint booth is still under construction. The upper fuselage was painted with Model Master Bright White. A light coat was applied. Adding a second coat did not take very well and major orange peel was present. Light sanding was used but this did not provide the desired result. Testor’s Airbrush thinner was used to remove the paint. Fuselage was then successfully re-painted.
The leading edge of the wing was painted with a flat black to simulate the anti-icing boots. Wings were then masked with 3-M painter’s masking tape and the center section was painted Blue Angle Blue, along with engine cowls. Removal of the masking tape stripped some of the flat black off the wing. Touch up painting was required.
I was on vacation for about 2 weeks, and then it snowed upon return. So the fuselage white paint set up for about 3 weeks. I masked around the pilot cockpit area and sprayed Blue Angle Blue. The objective was to cover areas that the decals would not get to. With the extended white paint setting time, there were no issues with masking and paint pulling off.
I decided to try Bare-Metal foil for the natural metal finish. Chrome was used on metal areas and matte aluminum was used on control surfaces to simulate fabric areas. After fuselage painted white, the Bare-Metal was applied to lower window areas. Decals were then applied to fuselage and engine cowls. Decals were stiff and brittle. Lots of Micro-Sol was used to get decal as flat as possible. Some touch up painting was done around vertical fin to complete leading edge and area around rudder control surface recess where the decals cracked. Nose of aircraft got a lot of attention. Red stripe decals were used to complete red highlight line above the cockpit and additional blue paint to fill areas not covered by decals.
The Bare-Metal product worked well. I used Q-Tips to burnish the product onto the model. Surface details came through very well. Multi-curve surfaces lead to creases in the Bare-Metal foil. I had to remove those sections and piece smaller sections of the foil into place. Using a sharp X-Acto #11 blade, it was very easy to create “panels” with the foil. Almost like building a real airplane.
The propellers were painted with ALCLAD II Chrome. The under coat is gloss black from a Testor’s spray can. Hubs were hand painted with silver.
Decals did continue to give me problems. First issue was with the vertical stabilizer. I tried to mask to paint the anti-icing stripe on the vertical stabilizer. Even after “sealing” the decal with a clear coat, the decal still partially pulled off. I hand painted the removed section. Result was marginal. The de-icing stripe was finally applied by spray painting decal film flat black and applying it. This worked well. I’ll have to keep that one in my bag of tricks. On the left side of the aircraft, while applying the metal foil, part of the foil stuck the rear of the window stripe and partially removed it. Fortunately the upper red stripe remained. I hand painted white portion of the window stripe, used decal film painted blue for the center section and finally added a red stripe decal for the bottom boarder. Result is not too bad. Lesson learned – scan decals before use. You never know when you have to re-create a section.
The final touch was to add the antenna wire. Stretched sprue was used for this final detail.
Approximate Build Time:
Douglas Aircraft Company DC-3
Walthers, Cornerstone Series
Spray Enamel, Bottle Enamel, Bottle Acrylic, ALCAD II, Mr.Surfacer, MR Surfacer 1000, Vallejo, Bare-Metal Foil, Chrome and matte Aluninum