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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Fokker F.VIIb3m Southern Cross - based on Valom's 1/72 kit

The plane of the many lives
(For those interested, the step-by-step building process, kit review and some historical notes can be consulted here in this blog:
This Fokker F.VIIb3m was originally Wilkins Polar plane "Detroiter" that ended up crashing. It was repaired using also parts of the F.VII "Alaskan", also part of the polar expedition, and painted with the reg. 1985 as the Southern Cross with some sponsorships (The S.F. Chronicle, Fageol Flyer, Spirit of Los Angeles), flown finally to Australia with the registration 1985 earning much deserved fame -but without the sponsorship letterings-; it was re-registered there as G-AUSU and finally as VH-USU -and as such again in many different decoration schemes that differed from one another to some major or minor extent, as well as in windows and doors location and engine gondola types and other details.
 Later in its life the plane was restored to a more original configuration, and in that guise it can be represented with the kit as it comes, studying of course that later scheme. However, the kit, as it is, was not duly modified for the configuration necessary to represent the machine on its epic flight to Australia. For that you need to work a bit. And study another bit.
Depending on which moment in the plane's life you would like to represent, the details are as subtle as this: for the Fageol Flyer livery, you can see six-point starts, but from then on, only five-point stars depicting the iconic constellation. The kit's decals have seven-point stars, following the inaccurate museum "restoration" -that somehow mixed some features of the plane at different stages of its life.
 So this is one of the many VH-USU configurations, one less-commonly portrayed in photos and one I have never seen in model form before, that entails a specific decoration on the wings.
 The kit required some modifications and many additions to fulfill its destiny as presented here, but it is a fair base to work upon, so much so that I bought another one to build perhaps as the Wilkins polar exploration machine, or the Argentine ex-Friendship, or some other arcane livery.
 Valom's Fokker F.VII -already a bit dated- is not really a refined kit, although the resin and P.E. add-ons surely help. It's a bit heavy-handed and requires work to show its potential. But with some little skill, good references and love, it can be transformed and adapted to depict many Fokker liveries. Parts for those transformations are sometimes included already in the box. It is much better than  the Frog/Zvezda release, no doubt, but still needs the modeler's help to shine.
 Thanks once more to Mika Jernfors of Arctic Decals from whom I acquired this set, that needed specific marks.

 The belly and many details were added:
 Some idea of the interior provided:

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