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C-47 "Pinocchio"

by Geoff McDonell




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One of two of the fastest C-47’s in the inventory of the Canadian Armed Forces, Pinocchio was used for tactical navigation training primarily from CFB Cold Lake in Alberta. Dolly’s Folly was the other NASAAR equipped C-47, which was equipped with the nose section from an F-104 Starfighter.

Having purchased the Leading Edge decal/conversion set some years back, and watching it collecting dust on my wall, I was finally motivated to open it up and pull an Italeri DC-3/C-47 Dakota kit off my shelves. The Leading Edge bag contains resin cast conversion parts consisting of the F-104 nose section, various small scoops and antennae, along with finely printed decals and a plethora of instructional/reference pages. Markings are provided for no less than four different aircraft – the CAF’s Pinocchio, a Lufwaffe NASAAR aircraft, a Lockheed Palmdale test aircraft with the F-104 nose, and a “normal” CAF machine. The Luftwaffe codes could also be re-organized to create a regular German Air Force C-47.


In addition to the nicely laid out instructions and reference photos in the Leading Edge set, I was also lucky enough to have a full set of walk-around photos of Pinocchio from a visit to Abbotsford Airport in the early ‘90’s. My photos were of the same vintage as the photo references in the Leading Edge kit, so accurizing the model was going to be quite straightforward.

The Italeri kit is very accurate and nicely detailed, however the preponderance of panel lines could be a debating point. While the recessed panel lines are relatively fine, they are out of scale and many, in fact, represent rivet lines on the actual aircraft rather than real metal panels. I was going to approach this project as a “straight from the box” exercise, using the Leading Edge parts, with some superficial detailing to add more interest to the model.




Assembly was straightforward, following the kit instructions. I won’t go into a lot of detail on the build-up, other than to mention some issues that other modellers may wish to note:

  • The wing assembly and fuselage joints were poor and could benefit from some additional structural stiffening, including a wing spar or two.

  • My kit suffered from a slightly warped set of fuselage halves that needed some TLC, and assembly with Zap-A-Gap to set the joints up tightly.

  • The engine cowling to nacelle assembly was “less than positive” and additional mounting tabs or pins might be beneficial.

  • The tailwheel strut assembly is too long, coupled with a shallow mounting well, creates an incorrect ground stance.

  • The representation of the fabric control surfaces is too coarse and could use some sanding down with some 600 grit sandpaper to smooth them out.



Some of the additional details I added consisted of the following:

  • Leading edge landing lamps created from a “pressed foil” lamp with some clear plastic glued over the leading edge of the wing.

  • Marker receiver antenna posts and wires under the nose.

  • Brake lines at the landing gear struts added from small diameter wire.

  • Scratchbuilt cowling scoops and wire “tube” connectors to the exhaust pipes.



Painting and Decals


While building the model, I ruminated about how to re-create the bare metal surfaces of the aircraft. I’d used various paint methods before and the task of masking, polishing and the fragile finish was never quite satisfactory. I started painting the non-bare metal areas of the model first- with Floquil’s Old Silver used for the fabric control surfaces and landing gear; flat white, followed by gloss white for the upper fuselage and areas which were going to be painted red later; a mixture of gloss grey (FS16473) mixed with Humbrol’s Sky to try to capture that elusive shade of the Canadian Forces Grey 501-109 colour on the underside; Testor’s Model Master Guards Red for the wingtips and stabilizors; and finally flat black for the de-icer boots on the leading edges of all the flying surfaces, the wing walks, and the anti-glare panel on the nose.

After much thought, I decided to try to use Bare Metal Foil as the easiest method to create the bare aluminum surfaces. The real aircraft was kept in very clean condition, and my stock of photos indicated that the bare aluminum surfaces were kept polished. I felt that the Bare Metal Foil might simulate this better than a painted-on finish. Well, to cut to the chase, yes, the BMF was easy to apply and maintain the existing painted areas, but the actual finish was too shiny and toylike. It just lacked the depth and sheen of real aluminum. Well, I could have stripped it off and used another method, but by then I just wanted to get the model finished, to make room for my next projects. I applied the decals, which went on beautifully, but some patience and care is needed to apply those long fuselage cheat lines. I cut mine into sections to make them easier to get onto the model and aligned properly.


Once all the decals were dry, I thought I’d shoot a light coat of Testor’s Dullcote onto the model to blend in the decal film and maybe reduce the shininess of the Bare Metal Foil. I mixed some Dullcote with an equal amount of Glosscote in order to get a satin-like sheen to allow me to build up an overcoat without getting too flat a finish, spraying it on the model with my Badger 200 airbrush.

I painted and decalled the props as a separate exercise, using some Arrow Graphics prop stripes for the red/white/red tips, and I applied some Hamilton Standard decals from my spares box. They got shot with the satin finish at the same time as the rest of the model. Final touches included adding the antennas on the fuselage spine and under the nose and adding the wing leading edge landing lamps. Some “grunge” weathering was added to the engine nacelles and wing undersides using a combination of chalk pastels, dark grey washes and some graphite rubbed onto some of the bare metal panels. The last thing I did to the model was to add the trailing edge anti-static wires to the ailerons, rudder and elevators, using stretched sprue tacked in place with Zap-A-Gap.




It was a satisfying exercise and looking at the finished model, I found that I was less critical of the Bare Metal Foil appearance, after the satin overcoat had dried and I did dome weathering.


Model, Description and Images Copyright © 2001 by Geoff McDonell
Page Created 27 October, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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