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Special Hobby's 1/72 scale
Sikorsky JRS-1

by James Kelly

Sikorsky JRS-1 "US Flying Boat"


Special Hobby's Sikorsky JRS-1 Flying Boat is available online from Squadron for USD$39.96

Part I: FirstLook


Special Hobby
1/72 Sikorsky JRS-1 "US Flying Boat"
Kit Number: SH72111

MSRP: $47.99

Known primarily for the rotary-winged aircraft bearing his surname, Igor Sikorsky's S-43 flying boat was a relatively successful civilian airliner-type aircraft, spawned during the later period of the "Golden Age" of aviation.

With war clouds darkening the horizons of the West, the Sikorsky "Flying Boat" was adapted for use by the U.S. Military and put to work immediately in each of the United States' branches; U.S. Army Air Force, U.S. Marines, and the U.S. Navy, who designated the aircraft "JRS-1".

The kit contains three gray sprues with plastic parts, one sprue with clear plastic parts, a small bag of resin parts, a small fret of photo-etched parts, and an acetate instrument panel.


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The instruction manual is typical Special Hobby/MPM print. An A4-sized folded manual, its black and white exploded-view drawings are relatively clear and easy to understand and the few descriptions are in both English and Czech.

The decal sheet, which appears to be in very good if not perfect register, provides markings for four different ship. Anyone of the three machines from VJ-1 can be chosen, one of which was sent to seek the Japanese fleet after the Pearl Harbor attack in December of 1941, and a set of markings to model the personal machine of Madame Chang Kai-Shek, wearing Chinese insignia. The U.S. Navy variants are markings for the colorful pre-war schemes, which are a favorite among modelers.

The sprues of gray parts are nicely detailed, particularly for a limited-run kit, for which Special Hobby and its parent company, MPM models, is known. The injection-molded instrument panel provides for raised instrument dials, which can be sanded flat for use of the detailed acetate insert.

Engraved panel lines round out the injection-molded pieces, and although I found the panel lines a bit deep for scale, and the fabric details a tad overdone, they were rendered nicely, overall, for an aircraft of this scale. A bit of gentle sanding should bring the fabric surfaces down to a stadium roar, and a coat of Future or the like for decal preparation should tone down the panel lines' depths.

The PE fret provides numerous interior details, and a small bag of resin detail parts completes the multimedia experience. The resin parts largely comprise the 11 seats for passengers, along with a seat for the pilot/co-pilot. Exhaust outlets and a few parts that I'm unfamiliar with round out the polyurethane components, molded on small pour-stubs that should remove with minimal effort.


Part II: Construction

The project begins with the crew cabin. The pilot and copilot seats are two of the resin items included, and are nicely detailed. The seat harnesses are molded on, and catch the eye nicely after drybrushing. The flooring and bulkhead appear a bit thick for scale, but when installed don’t present any reason to suspect such. Other than the elevated crewman’s seats, the only other detail provided is in the form of the instrument panel. The choice of injection-molded or photo-etch (PE) is offered. I typically opt for the PE choice, and this was no different. The panel is very nicely rendered, although in 1:72, and through the limited window view, it’s mostly lost in the tiny cabin.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Working fore to aft, the passenger compartment follows a small compartment just aft of the crew cabin (Galley?). There isn’t any details in here at all, save for a PE louvered “blind” on the port side window (since it’s a flying boat…is it a porthole?). Eleven resin seats make up the passenger compartment. Each has a finely cast arm rest n both sides, each with a cast-on leather pad. Very detailed seats, really, even in this scale. No seatbelts back in those days, so a little bit of work is saved through their absence. Each must be carefully sawed from the pouring block, however, and each one requires a bit of cleanup as a result. I used my powered, hand-held rotary tool (i.e., my Dremel!!!) to make quick work of it. A cautionary note here: Resin dust is a known carcinogen…wear a particle filtering mask, or at the very least, a well-ventilated area with a cross breeze when you do this. I actually wear a disposable particle-filtering mask, and do the grinding inside of my spraybooth. I have to clean it out with my Shop-Vac afterwards, but the resin dust is sucked out of the basement and into the outside air.

The small compartment aft of the passenger compartment is for the flight attendants (Stewards? Stewardesses? Seaman Recruits?) complete with jump seats and a staircase leading up to the topside of the aft fuselage. The hatch can be cemented closed, or with 2 slices, can be opened in the bi-fold fashion of the real thing. As with most of the flat pieces in this kit, the hatch was a bit thick for scale, and I was slightly less than successful on either side of it after the initial cuts. The one on the model is cut from stock sheet styrene.

Photoetched or injection-molded grab handles festoon the aft fuselage, and there is a styrene gunwale across the bow of the craft. This was faired in to be made flush with the hull/fuselage, using Tamiya Putty, Cyanoacrylate, and a lot of sanding and filing.

Have you noticed how this is the first mention of fit issues? In a limited-run kit? That’s not because there are none….it’s because they get their own section of the article! Read on.

Once the fuselage/hull halves are joined, the large support pylon for the wing goes together (2 halves) then sits atop the airframe. The instruction booklet calls for the cloudy, slightly opaque and mildly discolored (amber) windscreen/cabin roof to be installed, but it was left out, polished and dipped in Future, and set aside until the end.

The vertical stabilizer and horizontal flying surfaces are attached to the aft end of the craft, each side with two support struts.

The nicely detailed resin replicates of the Pratt & Whitney R-1690-52 engines were painted with Vallejo Black Grey (056) and dry-brushed silver. The cowlings are both 2-piece affairs, and don’t fit all the way around the radial engines’ circumference. The resultant gaps were shimmed in with stock styrene rodding. The propellers needed a fair amount of cleanup, in the form of sanding of flash and general surface smoothing. The one-piece wing required a bit of drilling in the pre-existent locator holes, as they were too small to accept the pins on top of the main support pylon. Once done, cyanoacrylate was used to secure the wing to the pylon. Before doing so, however, the separate wingtips had to be attached. Ever build the DML/Revell-ProModeler Ju-88? Remember the fun you had with that kit’s separate wingtips? Good, because these are less fun than that one. I am not sure why this kit has two separate wingtips, as the one-piece wing would fit in the box if it were truly one piece. But, there they are. Lots of sanding enjoyment for you right here. The main support struts went on next, two to a side. There were no problems with these struts, or with the ones holding the tail planes level. These items are often cause for concern for a lot of modelers, myself included…but this kit’s install with relative ease, so long as you take your time and double-check placement.

The main landing gear can be assembled in the deployed or retracted positions. I chose to deploy them, after some debate. I thought it would look nice to have the model resting in a watery environment, but I’d not done a base like that before, and this project was becoming a second career. Down went the wheels, to sit along side all my other land-lubbers in the collection. The pontoon rigging was strung using 2-pound fishing line attached into tiny drilled holes using-what else?-cyanoacrylate.

The windscreen/cabin roof mentioned earlier went on last. That’s fortunate, as it would’ve caused me to quit the project entirely if attempted sooner! The clear, injection-molded one piece affair is cloudy, mildly jaundiced, and simply does not fit. The plastic here is more brittle than expected in a clear piece, so extra caution is warranted. After polishing it and dipping it in Future, I tacked in place (sort of) with a few small beads of cyanoacrylate (I know, it’s not funny anymore…and I’m almost out!). The resultant step across the top back seam and the openings under the bottom front has to be seen to be beloved. The only part of the front that touched the fuselage was the point. I filled in the rest with more “Kristal Klear”, which didn’t cut it here. Lots of superglue and sanding as needed to get it to closely approximate the part to the fuselage. This is a real disappointment, as it is a focal point of the whole model, and even after a lot of work, the result is very unsatisfying.

Fit Issues

Let it be said that when one endeavors to construct a “limited-run” scale model kit, he or she will find there modeling skills pushed to the limit (pun intended). These kits are a far cry from the Tamiya and Hasegawa kits we all love so much, but in the end, provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that you won’t get with any other mainstream builds. Here is a summary of the fit issues I encountered while building this limited-run kit.

  • The left and right fuselage halves, while closely approximated, don’t quite fit. Particularly with the interior stuffed inside. A little sanding along the edges of the flooring parts will help here. So will about one dozen clamps, a bunch of rubber bands (gumbands an’ ‘at), and some putty, sandpaper, and…cyanoacrylate! Once together, the “heel” of the keel needs to be filed even, as one side will sit “proud” of the other. This is easier than lining them up evenly, and trying to file the bow to fit.

  • The shafts for the control yokes should be cemented about 1mm further forward than where the instructions will have you do. The pilot and copilot seats won’t fit without doing this, or a small pry bar

  • The fuselage portholes. The fuselage has twenty (20) portholes, ten on either side. The clear plastic “panes” for each are a bit thick, as expected, but retain a nice lucidity when polished and dipped in Future (or painted with it using a brush, like I did). However, they are a bit too large for the corresponding portholes. Or maybe they’re just right, and the portholes are too small. Doesn’t matter, because you face the same choice; Either widen 20 portholes using your #11 hobby knife blade (i.e., Exacto!) or individually sanding 20 round, tiny clear pieces while maintaining their inherent shapes. I opted to widen the portholes, and ran out of patience after exactly two holes. Although unusual, I hit upon a really good idea; Microscale “Micro Krystal Klear”. Thick and white like PVA glue (or, Elmer’s Glue-All here in the States), it dries clear, and wipes up easily with a dampened cotton swab. I dipped a toothpick into the stuff, and quickly traced the outline of each porthole, working inwards as I went. I found that each “window” took two passes; the first pass would set up a continuous bead around the perimeter, and the second would span the open window, clinging to itself due to the high surface tension provided by it’s own inherent compositions. A quick swipe or two around the outside of each to get rid of the excess, and viola! 18 more windows done in about an hour.

  • The fuselage cabin roof. Two pieces, which fit nicely together, and not to anything else. I melded mine into the rest of the fuselage with stock styrene sheet, putty, sanding, and; Say it with me…Cy-Ano-Acrly-Late! The main support pylon, which sits atop this section, fit pretty well on it’s own.


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  • The gunwale. The fuselage has a nicely rendered gunwale, which is sort of like a bumper, or an old-school bug-deflector shield you see on trucks today. OK, not really, but you get the idea. Attached at the tip of the bow, the ends can be cemented to the hull as well, but everything else in between the apex and the ends won’t hold water. (I’m on a roll, now!). Again, it was filled, sanded, filled, sanded, superglued, sanded, superglued, sanded numerous times, then finally smoothed out with various grades of Micromesh polishing pads/cloths.

  • The astern, topside access hatch. This probably fits OK, but I destroyed mine trying to cut it so it could be opened, so I never got that far. Go figure. The one I made from sheet styrene fits pretty good, though, too.

  • The engine cowlings. As mentioned previously, they just don’t go all the way around. It was easier to fill in the gaps with plastic stock and sand it flush than to sand down all of the cylinder heads to the point where everything would fit. Besides, the engines were really nice pieces, and I wanted them as intact as possible.

  • The undercarriage. There weren’t any real “fit issues” here, per se; it’s just that the assembly is a bit complex, and a lot “fiddly”. A lot of care and patience is required here. There is a large pin-ejector mark smack in the middle of each wheel well. The wells are narrow and deep, and these scars are difficult to remove. I tried with several files, and different grades of sandpaper rolled up tightly, all with very limited success. Ultimately, a small rectangle of sheet styrene went into each wheel well, providing a “false wall” and a scar-free wheel well, which is a prominent feature on the kit.



Painting and Markings

The color callouts provided by Special Hobby seem to be fairly accurate, based on what I can tell from black & white archival photos. I used Vallejo Model Air acrylics on all non-natural metal finish *(NMF) areas. The majority of the interior was airbrushed Interior Green (010). The high-backed, leather seats were brushed with Cam. Medium Brown (038) with seat frames done in Light Grey (050). The seat belts were brushed in Khaki Brown (024).

The exterior was primed with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer in a rattle can. After I polished the surfaces with Micromesh pads, a thin coating of Future was airbrushed overall to fill in any tiny flaws that were missed. An overall coating of SnJ “Platinum” was then applied over several, thin coats. All of this was done with an Iwata HP-C airbrush, with a variable-control pressure setting of 20 psi. A light coating of “Platinum” polishing powder, also from SnJ, was applied and buffed out to a light sheen. Another light coating of Future sealed all of this in.


The hull beneath the waterline was masked off and airbrushed with Tamiya Black (X-1). The bright, pre-war colors the U.S. Navy painted their aircraft with were replicated with Tamiya Yellow (XF-3) on the wing’s upper surfaces, and Testor’s Model Master Acryl Gloss Green (4669.)

The kit provides, as earlier described, the options for six different aircraft (Three of which comprised VJ-1). I chose the Number Two aircraft of VJ-1, which had three aircraft at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Although the actual squadron aircraft that participated in the post-sneak attack search for the Japanese forces was “IJ-1”, I thought that the large “2” on the port and starboard bow had more visual appeal. The decals went down without drama, and their fate was secured with Gunze-Sangyo “Mr. Mark Softer” (GUNMS 231). After a final light coating of Future, the model was polished with some spray-on automobile wax.



This 1/72 kit, which sports an average MSRP of $50.00, is more of an investment in your aircraft collection than a model airplane kit, and is not for beginning or novice modelers. In fact, I’d recommend it only to those modelers with advanced skills, or at least a couple of other multimedia projects completed first. It’s a kit that although it may not appear to be a difficult build, certainly has it’s stages of difficulty. And, those stages are additive; get one wrong, and the ones that follow will also be wrong.


Having said that, I recommend this kit without reservation to those modelers who have worked in multimedia or limited-run kits before, or the experienced modeler with advanced skills.

My thanks to Special Hobby for the opportunity to review this kit.



Additional Images


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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2007 by James Kelly
Page Created 16 February, 2007
Last Updated 24 December, 2007

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