Our Muse, that will guide us through these times of political darkness

Friday, July 24, 2015

1/72nd scale scratchbuilt SARO Cutty Sark of Seiji Yoshihara, 1932

 (for the completed model pleased go here:

A Japanese pilot, in a British flying boat, starting a record flight attempt from the United States. Strange as it may sound, pilot Yoshihara and mechanic Oishi were the main characters in this story. Yoshihara was already a pilot of certain renown, and he commissioned a Cutty Sark from the assembly line with the specification that the machine would have a single engine, instead of the customary two; the flight Yoshihara wanted to attempt required that, in order to save fuel for the long haul to Japan from San Francisco. The year: 1932.
I have many times contemplated the graceful lines of the SARO (Saunders & Roe) Cloud, Cutty Sark and Windhover, and wondered about them as possible models. I must confess that of the three, the Windhover attracted me the most, with its three engines and the auxiliary wing on top of them. A vision only the British could spawn. But that sounded like a very ambitious project, so when I saw a photo of the crashed Yoshihara plane with its atypical single engine, I decided I'd give it a go. This machine was British-registered G-ABVF, even when flying in the US, and it was legally considered an export to Japan (and thus potentially saving a lot of bureaucratic headaches with the local aeronautic and customs authorities). The engine was an Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVc.
The design is simple enough to attempt to scracthbuild it, and so I started to collect what I could on this specific plane and the general type. The converted plane did away as said with one engine, the additional two passenger seats, the amphibian landing gear, and installed large additional fuel tanks.
Photos show the legend "HOCHI NIPPON", very small flags at the bow of the above-mentioned three countries, and the regs on fuselage sides and wing. The fin and the hull bellow the floatation line are colored, and my choice for that color has been red. The rest of the plane is aluminum color, only the prototype of the series was painted light blue according to publications. "Hochi" was for Hochi Shimbun, the newspaper that sponsored the flight. As far as I can understand, hochi means to "broadcast", "inform". Nippon of course is for Japan.
I think the previous Zeppelin model put a smile on my friend Sönke, so I hope this little model will also make fellow modeler Shinichi smile, and may be Gordon Stevens and Andrew will cheer up for the British connection.
 The customary styrene sheet approach:
 Leftover engine, Aeroclub prop, spares bin gas tank tip:
 The simple approach to the wings:

 Sides pre-curved and glued:
 Formers inserted:
 Taking shape
 Main components:
 Ailerons engraved, spinner readied:
 Seats and part of the additional fuel tanks seen in photos behind the crew seats:
Sneaky strategy to render the wing floats:

 The floats are kept close at the aft end whilst the glue sets. The fuselage keel segments are measured, cut and glued in place:
 The engine need a Townend ring. A tube of proper diameter is chosen, around which two layers of plastic strip are wrapped one around the other and taped in place until dry:

The wing floats are ready to be filled with Milliput:
 The Townend ring is taking shape:
 Cockpit floor with seats and joysticks, Townend ring with rocker covers in place:
 Extra fuel tank scratched, bottom of the aft fuselage glued in place:
 The instrument panel in place and the floor for the bow compartment:
 The half-wings are glued together:
 Did not like the previous spinner, vacuformed another, slightly bigger one:
The floats already filled with Milliput and contoured:
 Metal control horns are glued to rudder and ailerons:
Styrene sheet planks are glued to the fore section of the bottom fuselage, pre-curving them to eliminate stress. Once set, a bit of filling and sanding will finish the job:
The hull is tidied-up:
 The parts so far. The wig has the location holes for the engine gondola struts:
The very tip of the rudder balance horn is cut out, and will later be attached via two rods to the stab, as per modification of the original plane. The back plate of the spinner can be seen too:
 Additional elements like the hull and tail trolleys are fabricated:
 Alignment fortunately went well:

A hatch is cut out in the nose planking: 
 And an anchor is made to lie inside the bow compartment:
The float battens are added:
 and trimmed:
 The location for the floats' struts are drilled, further work on accessories for display (trolleys):
Some of the elements painted:
The interior details are put in place and the nose is covered:

The aft deck in place:
A dry run of the wing:
 Another view of major components:
 The batten locations are measured and marked, and their installation begins:
 Also underneath the hull:
All battens in place:

 The floats are given their anchoring struts:
The engine pylon dry fitting. The front struts should lean back a bit, the aft struts should be perpendicular to the fuselage longitudinal axis:
Primer and -a couple days later- gloss black are airbrushed in preparation for the Alclad paint:
At this point, and thanks to the extraordinary good offices of fellow modeler -and scratchbuilder extraordinaire- Roger Holden, I realized a few mistakes and omissions that I started to correct. Thanks Roger for your -mostly undeserved- kindness! I promise I will think more kindly of certain dark areas of British design from now on (-:

Different hues of metal paint are used to airbrush corresponding parts of the model:
The red color is applied. Long exchanges and much pondering on photos had me decided about the colors of this one. The home-made decal sheet is ready:
The wing floats are glued in place and all associated auxiliary struts added:
 The wing is then glued to the fuselage:
Engine pylon in place, stab added:
More struts are added to the pylon (it has 8 total) and to the stab:
A Preiser figure is modified and repainted to represent Mr. Yoshihara:

 This is Yoshihara:
A probe seen in photos on the dorsal fuselage is prepared:
 More rigging and control cables are added to the tail:
Decal application commences. I have been producing my own home-made decals for more than 120 years now. The decal substrate quality has been steadily deteriorating along the years, very noticeably. Whatever the decal paper companies are outsourcing production to despicable quality factories in China, or they for same reason (costs) are cutting back in quality, the decal paper is getting worse and worse. Thicker, non-pliable, milky, pitted, and such. I have tried already most of the vendors I know of, to no avail. Interesting that with better technology and resources today's decals are crap compared to some decals and decal paper I have from long time ago. Sigh...:

Every piece of the canopy is cut, adjusted and glued in place by a process of measuring and trial and error:

 The cut-out section -as per original- will be glued in place open once the model is finished to avoid knocking it off:
It is starting to look like the original, yet many steps still to go: aileron cables, hatch, prop, canopy hatch, exhaust, Venturi on the dorsal fuselage, Venturi on wing...:

To be continued...


  1. hi gabriel very very beautiful scratch builds nice picture your works is magic

    1. Thanks very much Christian.
      I like the "magic" part!!
      All the very best