Detail & Scale Header
Digital Publications Link
Aviation Photo Section Link
Scale Modeling Section Link
Aviatin Artwork Link
Furball Aero Design / Detail & Scale Decals
About Us Link
Contact Us Link
Home Page Link

Detail & Scale Books

Quick Links to Available Detail & Scale Series Publications.


Detail & Scale Series


F3H Demon in
Detail & Scale
**********F2H Banshee in
Detail & Scale, Pt. 1

**********
SBD Dauntless in
Detail & Scale

**********

F-102 Delta Dagger in Detail & Scale
**********

F4F & FM Wildcat in Detail & Scale
**********

F-8 & RF-8 Crusader in Detail & Scale

**********

Military Aviation Websites:
Click Here

——————

Scale Modeling Websites:
Click Here



KIT REVIEW


Revell of Germany #04937
DC-4 Balair/Iceland Airways -- 1:72 Scale

 

Every so often, Detail & Scale’s kit reviews will take a look at subjects that involve civil subject matter, especially those that shared a pedigree with military aircraft.  The DC-4 is one such aircraft as it was the airliner variant of the Douglas C-54 Skymaster airlifter. Revell of Germany’s C-54 kit (see my review HERE) has been reworked just a bit to include new parts and decals to represent the DC-4 airliner.  Let’s take a look.

The DC-4 has one of the more interesting developmental histories of any 20th century airliner, particularly as it was intertwined with the lead-up to WWII.  The design originated in a 1935 requirement issued by United Air Lines for an airliner capable of carrying 42 passengers.  The resultant DC-4E (Experimental) featured path-blazing features such as the first large aircraft with a nose wheel rather than a tail wheel, auxiliary power units, power-boosted flight controls, cabin air conditioning, and three vertical stabilizers.  However, the DC-4E’s ambitious engineering and excessive complexity prevented the airplane from ever going beyond a lone prototype.  Still, many of the ideas and design features of the DC-4E were sound and re-emerged in the DC-4A in the early 1940s.  Yet, the influence of the DC-4E lived on in unanticipated ways.  In 1939, the DC-4E was sold to Imperial Japanese Airways but was quickly and quietly reverse-engineered to become the Nakajima G5N Shinzan bomber.  It too, failed to thrive as a viable combat aircraft for the same reasons that caused the DC-4E to struggle.     

Compared to the -4E, the Douglas DC-4A possessed a simplified design including an unpressurised fuselage, R-2000 Twin Wasp engines, and a single vertical stabilizer. In June 1941, the War Department took over all orders for the airlines and reallocated them to the USAAF as the C-54 Skymaster and the R5D in Navy service.  It proved a very effective heavy airlifter from WWII to the Berlin Airlift.  Between 1942 and 1946, 1,245 were built.  Five hundred C-54s were converted into DC-4 airliners along with 79 new build DC-4s following the war.  Operators spanned Pan Am, Northwest Airlines, KLM, Iberia Airlines of Spain, Swissair, Iceland Airways, Air France, South African Airways, Aerolíneas Argentinas, and Aeropostal of Venezuela among others.  Today, few DC-4s remain airworthy.  Among them, the last two operational DC-4 airliners are based in Johannesburg, South Africa.  They fly with the South African Airways Museum Society that runs VIP charters.  Also, C-54E 42-7370, “Spirit of Freedom,” travels the airshow circuit in the United States.  

Revell of Germany’s DC-4 kit comes on 14 sprues containing 356 parts cast in white plastic.  A sixteenth sprue (Sprue O) contains an additional 20 clear parts that are of excellent optical quality.  The model features fine recessed panel lines.  Rivet and screw detail is only represented on access panels on the bottom of the wings.  This is a fairly complex kit, with assembly playing out in 99 separate steps in a full-color instruction book.  Decals are provided for two DC-4s:

Strengths:  This kit has many high points.  The exterior of the airframe is outstanding, as the plastic is perfectly smooth and the delicately recessed panel lines are rather sublime.  From my references and photos, the panel lines appear accurate and the shape of the model appears correct.  The interior of the RoG DC-4 – from the cockpit to the radio operator and navigator’s position to the passenger cabin compartment – is all very well done and full of well-executed details at the upper end of what injection-molded technology can do.  The sides of the passenger cabin are molded as separate pieces, and as such, are filled with ribbing details quite amenable to pre- or post-shading painting techniques.  In a thoughtful bit of engineering, the cabin windows slip between the inside of the fuselage and the outside of passenger cabin clamshell assembly, so the long strip of clear plastic that connects all the windows to each other are effectively hidden from view.  Following a trend seen with some manufactures, the windscreen is part of a much larger clear part that includes some of the upper nose of the DC-4.  Technically speaking, one does not have to fair in the windscreen, as you’ll be working in the nose well below the glass.  This thoughtful engineering is much appreciated.

The parts for the troop seats are also very well done and well-detailed, though technically, the seat back mesh is notably over-scaled in terms of thickness.  The Pratt & Whitney R-2000 engines are particularly well executed, especially for a 1:72 scale kit.  Optional parts for open and closed cowl flaps are included, and the crew access door and cargo door can be positioned either opened or closed.  The landing gear are also well represented and missed barely a detail, even including parts for the main landing gear brake lines.  The rudder, flaps, and elevators can be positioned in either neutral or dropped/deflected positions.  Small detail parts that are often neglected in 1:72 scale, such as flap actuators, are also included in this kit.

The decals are of an excellent quality, and the two schemes picked for this kit are really beautiful liveries in my opinion.  Though it only says ‘Printed in Italy’ on the decal sheet, the small ‘Z’ following the product number means that they were printed by Zanchetti.  The decal color and print quality are really excellent, and the carrier film is restrained and mostly invisible.

Weaknesses:  The top-opening box is a bit over-sized for its contents, and that void within the box makes it vulnerable to crush damage. If you have this model in your stash, try to make sure it’s not at the bottom of a pile of kits.

On my review sample, you’ll notice intermittent minor bits of plastic flash on various sprues, and so a little extra cleanup and parts prep will needed.  The passenger seats on Sprue M are pretty simple from a molding perspective.  Lap bets are molded onto the seat cushions, and they are all identical, low-relief, and poorly defined (soft) details on each seat.  The cockpit instrument panel is not my favorite part in this kit, as dial faces are simply sunken circles.  There’s not much there for the detail painter, but this is probably because Revell of Germany intended builders to use the decal sheet’s instrument panel dial faces that are indeed adequate for this scale.  Earlier in the review, the rivet/screw detail on the bottom of the wings was discussed.  Many of these are very shallow, and if a scale modeler uses washes to bring out such surface detail, controlled and thin applications of paint will be needed to ensure that the depressions for the screws are not filled in with paint.  This unevenness of depth is especially an issue on the engine nacelles where rivets seem to be most shallow and can easily be filled with paint and become indistinct.  The wheel wells are a bit sparse and simplified, and could use more detail.  Also – modelers will need a razor saw if they wish the nose wheel doors in the open position, as the left and right doors are molded as a single, closed piece. Finally, the DC-4 has a center of gravity that is aft of the main landing gear.  She’s a tail-sitter.  Don’t forget to add the two areas of nose weights as suggested by the manufacturer. 

Revell of Germany has done an excellent job on this new-tool DC-4 kit. It fills various gaps in the world of 1:72 scale airliners and is the best DC-4 in any scale as far as I can tell.  Overall, the high quality and generally high attention to detail makes this a very attractive kit for builders of multiple genres and interests. 

Sincere thanks to Revell of Germany for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at http://www.revell.com/germany.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

(Return to top of page)

** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


 

 

(Return to top of page)

Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
*********

Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
*********


Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

********


Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
********


Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

**********


Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

**********