Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Caudron C.635 Simoun - Heller 1/72nd scale with tweaks


Simoun, a Sahara wind:

There are little jewels to which we keep coming back, being it for the quality of the kit, its aura of nostalgia, or simply because we just like them. Many classic kits have proven to hold up their own quite well, in spite of the passage of time, and Heller's Caudron Simoun is one of them (As it is their DH89 Dragon Rapide). Harmonious in its simplicity, with an effective surface reproduction and fair level of detail for its time, it gives a lot of later-produced kits a run for their money. I have built a few Simouns at different periods of my life, and upon seeing a resin reproduction of its engine, the Renault 6Q Bengali by Raresin, I bought it and retrieved a Simoun Heller kit from some vault in my dungeons. The engine is very nice, well cast, with a fair price and with good level of detail...on the other hand Raresin (Produced by Prop&Jet) has indeed committed a sin (or two): firstly there are no assembly instructions, so take a guess as to how to assemble the parts (the parts are not even keyed to indicate the side they go on, as I hoped), secondly you have to add the pushrods (no indication for them, no material to make them, no big deal, but..., and thirdly the engine represented won't fulfill all your modeling needs, as the Bengali had different types and configurations, and to be used with the Simoun you will have to modify/add parts. Still, a nice little engine, worth the price, that could enhance many builds. Now, to help the build a bit more, I purchased a masks + frames set from Arctic Decals. The plan is to open an engine access panel on the nose, a window and the door. We will see how far it goes. Browsing through some candidates, I decanted for a Saint Exupery/André Prévost machine that intended a flight from New York, USA, to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, but fell (literally) short during take off from Guatemala, due to being overweight as a result of a miscalculation of the fuel weight (US gallons vs. local gallons). F-ANXK, a C.635, was completely demolished, and the pilot and copilot who suffered multiple injuries. The plane had a simple but smart scheme of red with white trim and lettering plus metal window frames. Photos show that the interior of this plane was not at all red (red is the interior color that some think all the Simoun had) but a light color, perhaps cream. It had a big auxiliary fuel tank that occupied the width of the cabin, and photos seem to hint that the second seat was aligned with the pilot's, unlike the staggered usual configuration.

Here is an earlier and a bit naive effort on another Caudron Simoun, that attempted to do minor improvements:


Your out-of-the shelf Heller kit:

Mods in progress:

Aftermarket engine:

Assembly started, but the carb intakes and exhaust in this Simoun were different (and two, not one), and will have to be fabricated:

Arctic Decals masks+frames set:

All parts are now off the sprues. The flaps have been cut and lowered just a bit. The firewall was made, as well as another door, a bit better than the two previous ones. Some repairs can also be seen, giving testimony that mistakes are made, but it's not the end of the world. A second control column is provided, but located in the wrong place, so the locating hole for it is deleted, and a new one will be made in front of the right seat (that will have another column, but not the "bent" one provided, as the seat will be further forward). A couple other parts that go in the cockpit have been fabricated (they are in the little container), and the transparencies are about to be dealt with:

A comforting statement, seen a country producing their own stuff, n'est-ce pas?:

Perhaps the only part of this kit that may challenge the builder is the two-part front transparency. I understand why Heller did this, as it would have been difficult to do it in one piece, but Heller here passed the buck to the modeller. The seam fortunately coincides with a frame, but is not easy to deal with. At the seam, one part is thicker then the other, and care should be taken to level the glued parts at the three sides that will later contact the fuselage, front, back and base. On tidying the seam at the bit of front fuselage included in the part, it will again be difficult to avoid erasing two small air vents (possibly hot air anti-icing/air windshield wiper devices). If sanded, they could be added later from an Archer resin louver set or similar, or minute slivers of plastic:

Here is the panel for the nose engine access (and spare) and some attempts at rudder pedals:

Plastic needs to be removed from the front of the fuselage sides to improve the looks for the engine that will be later added:

Some publications from the Gallica repository:

Aviation magazine:


 Another area that may be improved is the kit's solution to hold the wheels. If you follow the instructions, the wheels will be secured, but will later be difficult to paint, and the pants at the edge difficult to touch up at the seam. I prefer to paint separately and add the wheels later, and deal with the pants without interference, so:

The pins that hold the wheels are removed:
Holders are fabricated and glued. As the width space is very limited, it's important to use .05 thou styrene, otherwise the wheel won't slide in:
The wheels are given a styrene rod axle equal in length to the width available inside the pants, about 2.5mm:

The elevators were cut and deflected a bit. The transparencies given their customary bath in floor polish. Parts being prepared for an airbrushing session:



To be continued....

Saturday, January 28, 2023

P-51 Mustang "Beguine" racer - Modified Academy 1/72 kit with Draw Decals


The Academy kit provided a pleasant build and the Draw Decals set is very good. The transformation of the basic kit into the racer requires some surgery and scratch-building, but I think it's within reach for the experienced modelers. This model was built a bit like a practice run for the one being built in parallel, exactly the same plane but from the Arma kit and the Red Pegasus decals.

The building sequence for this Academy kit build can be seen here:

And the parallel build of the Arma kit can be visited here: