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Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale
Fiat CR.42/AS

by Floyd S. Werner Jr.

 

Fiat CR.42/AS

 


Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Fiat CR.42/AS is available online from Squadron


 

Introduction

 

Background

Hot on the heels of the Cr.32ís success in the Spanish Civil War, the Italians were under the impression that the biplane, had a place in future warfare thanks to its superior maneuverability. History shows they were wrong - well sort of. Even so development commenced on the CR.42, the last Italian biplane of the war.

The very aspects that made the biplane vulnerable, such as slow speed and open cockpits were the things that made it ideal for some jobs. The Luftwaffe took an interest in the CR.42 following experience with Soviet night nuisance bombers. The Luftwaffe saw the CR.42 as the immediate fix for a night attack aircraft for use against partisans in the Balkans. This little biplane held the line until the Stuka could take over the unenviable job of low level night bombing.

 

 

Flying with Nacht Schlacht Gruppe 9 (NSGr 9), the CR.42 was equipped with flame dampening exhausts, disruptive paint and two bombs. It distinguished itself in combat and was known for its strength and ability to take punishment. Following Italian capitulation, other CR.42s were inherited by the Luftwaffe and used in training schools.



The Model

This kit is for experienced modelers. This is not the kit for you if this is your first biplane or first limited run kit.

The kit is a low-pressure limited run injection plastic kit molded in light gray. The panel lines are nicely engraved. The kit has some wonderful resin parts for the engine, some cockpit parts and the exhausts.

There are two frets of photo etch, some of which are colored, which display the appropriate use of the medium. If it is supposed to be flat it is on the PE sheet, if it is suppose to be round it will be resin.

There is a clear canopy included. The decal sheet has markings for four aircraft.

The instructions are broken down into a small booklet with an errata sheet. The instructions were from the initial release of the kit and the errata sheet covers the new moldings. You have to be careful and study both sheets, and sometimes the differences arenít readily apparent, but nothing too difficult. One other thing is a photo of the built up unpainted cockpit, which is very useful.

 

 

Construction

 

The cockpit and fuselage

The photo etch instrument panels are a three-piece affair. Tough for the pilot to see but for the modeler the prepainted panel is very nice and easy to work with. I attached them with CA and when everything was set I added a drop of Future to the lenses. This did two things it gave a glass look to the instruments but it also help attach the two panels together.

There is a lot of bending that has to take place in the cockpit. A Hold & Fold is an essential tool. The cage that enclosed the cockpit is very delicate. The cockpit is painted a light gray.

 



The seatbelt system can only be described in S&M terms. What were the Italians thinking?

Time to add the whole assembly to the fuselage halves. Guess what? Yup it is a limited run kit so the fragile cockpit cage did not fit. Time to break out the Dremel tool. I thinned the cockpit sidewalls and floor until they were slightly translucent. There is plenty of plastic to work with. The only drawback with this fix is that the detail that was on the sidewalls is gone. I used some tape to replace the formers. Once painted they look fine and besides they are pretty well hidden in the small opening. If you didnít replace them Iím not sure you would notice.

 



The fuselage halves fit just fine now.



The lower wing and tail

The lower wing is a one-piece affair. This attaches without any big trouble, except for the front. I ended up having to fill the front, but now that it is done, you really didnít need to do it, as the engine cowling will cover the area. The fit of the wing is fine. A little filler here and there but nothing objectionable.

The horizontal tails have no locating pins. I drilled out some holes to attach the tails to the fuselage for strength. Very little filler was needed to smooth things out.



Engine

The engine is a beautiful work of resin engineering. The cylinders are separate from the crankcase. I painted the crankcase neutral gray and the cylinders were flat black and dry brushed with Model Master Aluminum. The photo etch rocker arms are added to the front of the engine. Everything was given a wash of black and set aside.

The engine cowling is a two-piece affair. You have to be very careful when you remove them from the sprue. There are bumps on the mating surface that need to be carefully cleaned up. If you were careful there is only a little bit of filler that is needed. Check your references as to which spinner you need.

Attach the engine to the fuselage through the hole. This has a very positive mounting.



Struts

When you remove the struts from the sprue make sure you label them. This will become very important. Attach them with liquid glue or tube glue. A little filler will be needed at the attachment points, but again nothing exceptional. A technique to attach the struts is tape the upper wing to the bench then use Playdoh to level the aircraft over the upper wing. Attach the struts to the bottom wing with tube glue and let gravity help you in aligning the struts to the upper wing. I worked inside to out. Iím sure there are other techniques out there, but as this was a learning experience I was open to suggestions.

 



Youíll need to do some cutting for the tropical filter, if your aircraft requires it like mine. I left off the exhausts until after painting the bottom.

The landing gear of my aircraft had the fairing that covers the wheels and landing gear struts cutoff. Unfortunately, the cut is not on a panel line. The resin struts will go have to be put on after the cut has been made. I tried to cut them the same but Iím not sure I was entirely successful. I think it looks good though. I did have an issue that the wheels were FLAT. No, not bulged, flat. I elected to just live with it, but could have added plastic to get a more round tire. Attaching the struts seemed pretty straight forward, but that was not the case. Once attached to the model the struts caused the kit to be canted to the one side. I corrected this by cutting the strut right at the join and sanded until it was even. This looked really good, which surprised me.

 

 

Painting and Markings


After washing the model with Dawn dish detergent I primed the aircraft with Tamiya Primer. As usual I did have some cleanup to do, but eventually it was time to add paint. I preshaded the model with Flat Black, but to be honest it was a wasted step, as the camouflage would obliterate the effect on the top and bottom.

This aircraft has many interpretations of its paint scheme. I didnít like a single one of them. After reading ďGhost BombersĒ I found out that NSGr 9 painted their aircraft in an over spray of RLM 79. They kept this practice up even after switching to the Stuka and continued it until the end of the war. I painted the bottom of the aircraft Italian light grey, Classic Airframes suggests RLM 76. I disagree, but no one can prove either of us wrong. After that dried, I painted the lizard scheme on top which is Italian Dark Green (Verda Mimetico 3) with spots of a sand color (Gialio Mimetico 3). I used Polly-S for my Italian colors.

Once the basic Italian camouflage was done it was time to add a German touch to it. I added some hard-edged patterns in a Gunze mixed RLM 75 on the whole airframe. The bottom had small patches and the fuselage and top of the wings had larger ones. Classic Airframes has only the bottom of the wings camouflaged but this didnít make sense to me so I camouflaged the entire bottom. The other color on the bottom seemed very stark in contrast to the RLM 75 so I elected to use Gunze RLM 70. Again the bottom had small patches and the top and fuselage had larger patches. Also there were squiggle lines to aid the transition of the camouflage from the light bottom to the top.

After looking at the picture I determined that the upper surface was extensively over sprayed with the exception of the engine cowling, which may have been a replacement. Using Gunze RLM 79, I proceeded to curl my toes and over sprayed all my nice paint job. This was an exercise in airbrush control. I applied the color in a random pattern. When it was done I was not happy especially with the upper wing. I ended up repainting the upper wing back to the Italian standard then the RLM 75 and 70. Then I repainted the RLM 79. The 79 flowed really well so I reapplied the 79 over the fuselage as well. Now I was happy.

 



A coat of Tamiya Clear from a spray can prepared the model for the decals.

The decals were perfect. They were in register, opaque and very thin. They also responded well with Micro Sol and Set.

Sealed with another coat of Tamiya Clear and then a coat of Model Master Flat the model looked really good and abused.

 

Top Wing and Final Assembly


As this is only my second biplane ever I was a little nervous about that upper wing.

I contacted some friends who build world-class biplanes and got their thoughts on how to do it. They recommended two methods. One was to flip the aircraft over and attach the wing. The other was to use Playdoh to align the wings. I ended up flipping the aircraft over. I recommend that you fill the holes for the struts in the upper wing and then just center it yourself. The top wing was attached to the struts with liquid glue. Had I been smarter I would have used tube glue. I wish I could say that it went together with no flaws but that was not the case. Most of the struts fit well but two of the outer struts did not fit at all. I ended up having to break off the two offending struts and extended them with plastic and superglue. After reattaching them the rest of the wing went together ok. I had to sand the attachment points and that meant touching up the upper wing camouflage on the bottom, but it was not too hard.

The exhausts were painted Model Master Magnesium and then dry brushed with Model Master Burnt Metal at the front and the bend. Then some pastels were added for color. The exhausts were added with superglue.

Other small parts were added and the brace wires of .005 wire were attached with white glue. Thank goodness there were only four wires. Some small pieces of photo etch were added to the wings and everything was done.

 

Conclusion


This was my first Classic Airframes kit and only my second biplane ever so it can be done. I learned a lot while building it. It is for an experienced modeler, but not too difficult for someone who wants to stretch their skills. On the down side I could only think of two things, having to thin the inside of the fuselage and the struts not fitting (I may be at fault here). On the plus side, is an interesting multimedia aircraft with great markings, exceptional looking cockpit.

There were times I was frustrated but it was more with myself than with the kit. The kit was very nicely done.

I will build another Classic Airframes biplane in the future, maybe the He-51, and that is about as good an endorsement as I can offer any kit. If you are looking for a rewarding challenge this kit is just what you are looking for to expand your skills.

Highly Recommended.

Thanks to Classic Airframes for the review copy.

 

Conclusion

 

  • Ghost Bombers: The Moonlight War of NSG 9, Nick Beale, Classic Publications, 2001, ISBN 1-903223-15-6

  • Fiat CR 32/CR 42 in action, George Punka, Squadron/Signal Publications, 2000, ISBN 0-89747-411-2

  • Fiat CR 42, Ali DíItalia #1, La Bancarella Aeronautica, 1995

  • Model Airplane International Issue #2 September 2005

  • Sky Model Issue #3 Quarterly Volume II
     

 

Additional Images

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images: 

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Model, Images & Text Copyright © 2007 by Floyd S. Werner Jr.
Page Created 22 January, 2007
Last Updated 24 December, 2007

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