Retired In Kalifornia's 1960s Italian Aircraft Subject Scale Model Kit Build Retrospectives

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Retired In Kalifornia's 1960s Italian Aircraft Subject Scale Model Kit Build Retrospectives

Post by RetiredInKalifornia » Wed Oct 11, 2023 9:32 pm

This discussion thread concerns 1/72nd Scale Italian military aircraft model kits released before 1970 & my builds of them. Prior to 1962 there were no known Italian military aircraft subject model assembly kits in this scale, Italstamp of Italy under the Aliplast brand the first with their flagship FIAT G.55 kit it near continuously in production decades thereafter by Italstamp’s named corporate successors Italaerei & Italeri, latter acquiring SUPERMODEL c.1972 & marketing it under this brand name in 1973, successively followed by these new subject kit releases:

  • 1963 Macchi C.202 Folgore FROG (i.e. International Model Aircraft Ltd. acquired post WWII by Lines Brothers Ltd. of the United Kingdom (UK) marketing under the Tri-ang Toys brand, 1964 under the AIRLINES (i.e. Air Lines with FROG logo in between words) USA-only brand each sporting different kit aircraft subject art & box graphics.
  • 1965 FIAT CR.42 Revell Great Britain & 1965-66 Revell USA each sporting different aircraft subject art & box graphics.
  • 1966 Macchi C.200 Revell Great Britain single box, c.1966 Revell USA single box, 1967 Revell USA 3 Pioneer Fighters Of WWII set with Boeing P.26 & Curtiss P.36 all in one box, all those mentioned sporting different aircraft subject art & box graphics.
  • 1967 Airfix UK & MPC (Model Plastics Corporation) USA brand distribution Savoia Marchetti S.79, same aircraft subject art sporting different box graphics.
  • 1967 Airfix UK & MPC FIAT G.50, same aircraft subject art sporting different box graphics.


Aside from the arguably better tooled & proportionally more accurate 1/50th scale Artiplast FIAT CR.42 & G.55, Macchi C.202 & C.202, Reggiane Re.2000 kits which like the Aliplast FIAT G.55 generally weren’t available other than at hobby stores as imports subject to protective tariffs these were the only Italian military aircraft model assembly kits for sale in the USA prior to c.1968. Around that year USA tariffs were lifted releasing tsunamis of new international model kit imports of all kinds several directly competing with USA-manufactured model subjects just as plastic scale modelers were becoming more discriminating well as practiced in kit building thanks to modeling clubs such as the International Plastic Modelers Society (founded 1964), Scale Modeler Magazine (published 1965 onwards) et.al. scale model hobbyist periodicals. Fortunately for Airfix & Revell their FIAT, Macchi & Savoia Marchetti kits would remain in production for decades to come FROG however ceasing production of their Macchi C.202 kit before going out of business altogether in 1977 well as Artiplast going out of business before then as well.

Except for the Aliplast G.55 I’d “built” all of the above USA-issue 1/72nd model kit subjects very soon after their original 1960s releases & all repeatedly so 1978 up till 1990. Polaroid photos I’d taken of the 1960s kit builds long ago were tossed out well as print duplicate & negative of a single professional studio photo of eight FROG Macchi C.202 kits built during the 1980s for publication in Fine Scale Modeler Magazine, fortunately digital photos of these 1960s model subjects built & preserved between 2006 & July 16, 2021 have been saved, best builds ever of them as well! Subsequent posts of mine will feature the 21st Century builds of these 1960s classics with remanences of past builds commencing with the 1964 AIRLINES Macchi C.202 it my most favorite scale model kit of all time of any modeling subject though far from the best kit I’d built of the Folgore.

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The FROG/AIRLINES Aeronautica Macchi C.202 Folgore Model Kit

Post by RetiredInKalifornia » Fri Oct 13, 2023 12:00 am

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The 1963 1/72nd scale FROG Aeronautica Macchi C.202 Folgore (Lighting) besides being the first assembly model kit of this famous WWII fighter in any scale it also as such was the first post-WWII Italian military aviation subject produced & commercially marketed by a non-Italian model maker. The least accurately rendered scale model of the Folgore in any scale for a decade it was the only 1/72nd model of it till Italeri released its far better rendered though inaccurately proportioned model under the SUPERMODEL label in 1973.

Relatively cheap to buy as were most plastic model kits of the early 1960s FROG United Kingdom’s (UKs) 1963 Macchi C.202 Kit No.158P & its 1964 USA counterpart AIRLINES Kit No.3903 price points were near bottom of the maker’s range. According to Frog Model Aircraft 1932-1976 The Complete History of the Flying Aircraft & the Plastic Kits (Richard Lines & Lief Hellstrom, New Cavendish Books First Edition January 1, 1989 ISBN-10 ‏:‎ 0904568636 & ISBN-13 :‎ 978-0904568639) their Folgore kit was a good seller throughout its decade-long production run it as well the sole 1/72 scale Italian military aviation modeling subject by a non-Italian kit maker till Revell Great Britain & USA released their FIAT CR.42 & Macchi C.200 kits in 1965 & 1966 respectively, Aliplast’s FIAT G.55 the sole one by an Italian maker in this scale as well till 1970.

Sixty years on several FROG & AIRLINES kits are still selling on secondary markets all having passed through one original owner some many times over as were all kits I’d on-off purchased between 1978 till sometime before 2015. Few of these kits actually are being built these days I arguing having built the most during the 21st Century prior to 2020, my favorite plastic model kit of all time it wasn’t the easiest to build but certainly amongst the most enjoyable whilst doing so having built dozens of them.

The Kit Described

This French-language URL: Macchi MC.202 Folgore Réf F225 succinctly illustrates near all of the FROG & AIRLINES Macchi C.202 kit releases, including that of the short-lived Matchbox issue. Model parts & display stand, water decal & assembly instructions shown for the 1963 FROG & 1964 AIRLINES releases remained standard for all issues. The display stand was discontinued in subsequent releases well as the rudimentary black-white decals they replaced with optional modeling subject ones in subsequent FROG UK releases.

Most FROG UK Macchi C.202 model parts were molded in white, grey, blue etc. colored plastics most as well prone to softening in ambient temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, AIRLINES USA’s molded by Pyro Plastics Corporation Union Township New Jersey in hard & brittle aluminum-colored plastic highly prone to flaking & cracking apart hot, warm, cool or cold! All Folgores I’d built during the 1960s were AIRLINES issues with Testors et.al. brand styrene tube glues, thick & difficult to apply not till resuming the hobby in 1977 after “quitting for the first time” in 1969 would I start using liquid styrene glues well as other kinds.

The assembly instructions sheet for the 1963 FROG UK & 1964 AIRLINES USA kits were the same, latter’s modified to display the AIRLINES logo (i.e. FROG logo in between AIR and LINES) on top, New York City USA corporate office address & “Printed In USA” statement elsewhere on it satisfying US Government regulations that kits be “Made In The USA” though with UK-produced water decals presumably imported tariff-free as an integral kit part. Uniquely all AIRLINES kits came with a full color illustrative guide published by Testors Corporation Rockford, Illinois USA of several AIRLINE models, including the Folgore, for painting with their PLA enamels, more later about that next.

The 1960s Kit Builds

The first AIRLINES Macchi C.202 kit had bought & assembled sometime during 1964 was slapped together & wheels down without sanding off spew spurs, later builds had used Mom’s fingernail emery boards for doing so do she not at all happy about my doing that! In 1965 I began painting models initially with Testors PLA then Pactra paints, former’s just with brushes latter’s brushes & commencing late 1966 airbrushing straight from bottles & “brew mixed” to approximate colors shown on Profile Publications Ltd. No.28 Aeronautica Macchi C.202 (1965) illustrations. In addition to these paints I’d employed a Testors “Battleship Gray” enamel long-off approximating Grigio Azzurro Chiaro 1 first described in VITO Charts during the 1970s for model undersides based on Peter Endsleigh Castle’s (1918-2008) five-view of 51 Stormo, 21 Gruppo, 382 Squadriglia Aircraft 3 in publication No.28.

Six remembered Folgore models were built during the 1960s, painted ones based on Profile 28:

  • 1964 unpainted wheels down as mentioned.
  • 1965 wheels up bedroom ceiling hanging hand painted roughly approximating CMPR Schema D1 Macchie rade Nocciola su fondo Verde.
  • 1965 ditto CMPR Schema D2 Macchie Verde su fondo Nocciola.
  • 1967 wheels up bedroom ceiling hanging spray painted roughly approximating CMPR Schema D2A Variante di D2.
  • 1967 ditto CMPR Schema D3 Anelli irregolare Verdi su fondo Nocciola.
  • 1968 last build wheels down spray painted roughly approximating CMPR Schema D2B Variante di D2.


The 1968 build specifically was for taking black & white Polaroids for publication in Scale Modeler Magazine sporting an aircraft ID (“Black 8”) over the white belly band it excised from a first release 1/72 scale Microscale Decals sheet of WWII Luftwaffe letters & numbers. Photographed on my late Dad’s WWII US Navy wool blanket currently in the custody of his only grandchild & my niece dotted by gobs of crinkled up sewing thread crudely replicating desert scrub, Mom’s hairdryer was used for spinning the propeller. Five photos were taken & mailed to Scale Modeler, four returned weeks later they keeping the best one: left side 1/3rd view with propeller in full spin, it unfortunately not making publication.

Build Lessons Learned

  • Full accounting of model kits parts must be done prior to the build. Pyro Plastics-molded AIRLINES kits always had loose parts hanging up in folds inside kit boxes & buried within kit documents, don’t remember loosing any for the 1960s builds though did lose some in later ones.
  • Engine sand filter is molded on port fuselage half, front end on AIRLINE kits was open necessitating having to plug it with a formed bit of scrap plastic glued on from inside the half.
  • Propeller shaft kept in place on fuselage implied gluing on a plastic cylinder part before fuselage assembly & spinner over the propeller afterwards, best alternative was beforehand reaming the cylinder & fuselage halves then testing for free shaft turning afterwards carefully gluing the cylinder on inside the left fuselage half as shown below with slow-setting glues & aligning it with toothpicks, test fitting it again afterwards for free turning (i.e. NOT gluing it inside the cylinder) making adjustments with round files:


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  • Fuselage halves though well-fitting needed to be taped together & test-fitted over the clunky three unit five piece main wing assembly it as well taped together prior to test fitting. No photos were ever taken of the test fittings though that below taken in 2020 during my final set of “what-if” Folgore builds shows the assembled main wing assembly with fuselage halves in middle prior to test fittings:


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  • The FROG Macchi C.202 was bare-bones model; no fuselage interior other than a seat part for pilot figure to be glued onto, last builds in 21st Century went all out fabricating interior parts, wing landing flaps, sawing the one-piece canopy into two parts for open positioning as seen above & below for the final “what-if” builds:


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  • Hardest lesson learned of all and then not completely was test fitting ailerons, elevators & rudders after assembling wings, tailplanes, fuselages, gluing them on AFTER building the model to avoid breaking off their retaining pins:


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Highly Detailed Recreations Of AIRLINES Models Built During 1960s In 2006, Photos Taken June 12, 2021

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Re: Retired In Kalifornia's 1960s Italian Aircraft Subject Scale Model Kit Build Retrospectives

Post by Editor » Fri Oct 13, 2023 9:31 am

Richard you make a magazine out of Stormo Magazine! Great write up. I might turn some of these posts into articles, there's just too much good information/review material that people can use when purchasing the kit. These kits are fairly expensive on ebay considering their age but are now collectibles more than they are kits to build.

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Thank You Vince!

Post by RetiredInKalifornia » Fri Oct 13, 2023 10:50 am

Editor wrote:
Fri Oct 13, 2023 9:31 am
Richard you make a magazine out of Stormo Magazine! Great write up. I might turn some of these posts into articles, there's just too much good information/review material that people can use when purchasing the kit. These kits are fairly expensive on ebay considering their age but are now collectibles more than they are kits to build.
Decades on I've very carefully preserved memories buying & buiding "these old Italians" well as builds of dozens of other aviation subjects et.al. commencing 1961 when had "built" my first plastic model till "quit the hobby" for the first time right after prepping several models for painting & assembly unceremoniously tossing them c. summer 1969 in favor of being a shamelessly devoted public transportation "groupie" discussion of which totally outside the scope of STORMO Magazine's reader interests! In 1977 however I'd somewhat resumed building plastic models, including a few early Star Trek & Star Wars ones, then from fall 1978 till c. December 1992 flat-out non-stop hundreds & hundreds "99 & 44/100ths percent" of which speaking in Ivory soap parlance having been given away.

Memories of near all of the 20th Century "Italian" builds are still there but must "Deep Thought" chronologies doing so, those from 2006 to 2020 are especially good but must get the chronology right given most were "batch builds" (ex. all Revell FIAT CR.42s in 2010). There absolutely is no way I can write all these memories down nor be 100% sure none are misplaced in linear time, if am physically up to doing so will try relating those best preserved ones after 1978 till 2020.

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Re: Retired In Kalifornia's 1960s Italian Aircraft Subject Scale Model Kit Build Retrospectives

Post by Editor » Sat Oct 14, 2023 10:49 am

I'll turn your Frog/Airlines post into a product review since the kits are actively sold on ebay and I'm sure someone has googled the kits for a review.

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Thanks...

Post by RetiredInKalifornia » Sat Oct 14, 2023 3:15 pm

Editor wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2023 10:49 am
I'll turn your Frog/Airlines post into a product review since the kits are actively sold on ebay and I'm sure someone has googled the kits for a review.
...Now composing 1960s Revell FIAT CR.42 Kit Builds Retrospective, should have it up soon. Scalemates godsend for conducting hobby research though caught some kit release year errors based on living memory. Wikipedia good as well looking up info on long-gone model makers, e.g. SUPERMODEL (more correctly Supermodel me spelling it ala kit box logo), decades thought Italeri ginned up name for marketing old & new model kit releases but really was a hobby brand they'd bought along with Protar sometime early 1970s, currently can't find anything more about either. There are YouTubers who've produced excellent corporate history videos of long-gone model makers, L & S of Japan for example they late 1960s releasing intriguing line of 1/72 WWII Japanese airplane kits, would build most of them in mid-1980s.

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The Revell FIAT CR.42 Falco Model Kit

Post by RetiredInKalifornia » Sun Oct 15, 2023 1:59 pm

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Prior to during & early post-WWII solid wood shaped & roughcut blocks for hobbyist shaping scale models of the FIAT CR.42 Falco (Falcon) were marketed by Megow’s Models (Scalemates listed Kit No.S11) & Chingford Model Airdrome Ltd. d.b.a. C.M.A. (Scalemates lists the kit as "Caproni Falcho" sans images of it), oddly considering their ubiquity serving in near every Regia Aeronautica Italiana operational theatre during the war no known plastic scale model of the Falco had been produced & marketed till 1965! Possibly out of industry competitiveness in filling a long-standing model subject marketing void, probably out of requests from hobbyists & organizations notably the International Plastic Modelers Society United Kingdom founded in 1963 & USA Branch in 1964, during that year Revell Great Britain via its parent Revell USA founded 1943 by Louis H. Glaser based out of Venice, California where model tooling was done marketed their 1/72nd scale model kit of the Falco. Other kit makers soon would produce model kits of Falco in different scales though Revell’s was only one in 1/72nd till MisterKIt of Italy marketed there far & away superior Falco model tooled by MPM of the Czech Republic in 1999.

The Kit Described

Tooled at a time when scale model kit makers were mass-marketing wears aimed at young post-WWII Baby Boomer Boys not yet finicky over the authenticity & accuracy of kits they were buying, the Revell FIAT CR.42 in company with other early & mid-1960s scale models was a generic representation of the aircraft optimized for mass production over accuracy & fidelity ala the FROG Aeronautica Macchi C.202 Folgore. Ill proportioned as in appearing too small overall compared to other Falco models of varying scales the engine cowing was too long well as inaccurate, spindly propeller prone to breaking apart. pilot seat part too wide necessitating having to trim it to fit within the fuselage, Warren truss parts though sturdy difficult to glue-seat on fuselage attachment points, fixed landing gear fuselage struts highly prone to breaking apart well as poor wheel spat fits, not a particularly good model for decades it was the only one available in 1/72 scale seeing many re-releases.

The 1960s Kit Builds & Lessons Learned

Available in the USA c. spring-summer 1966 I’d purchased a single-kit version then featuring Jack Leynnwood (1921-1999) box art of two Falcos in CMPR Scheme C2 Macchie Rade Verdi su Fondo Giallo Mimetico very likely based on Lynd Kendall Ward’s (1905-1985) Profile Publications Limited No.16 The FIAT CR.42 Falco illustration of Corpo Aero Italino (CAI) 56 Stormo, 18 Gruppo, 95 Squadriglia Aircraft 13 based at Maldegen, Belgium in 1940 though that of 85 Squadriglia Aircraft 13 instead in the foreground, “84 13” in the background made up ad hoc by Ward he likely not knowing 84 Squadriglia in 1940 was assigned to 10 Gruppo Caccia Autonomo operating out of Tobruk, Libya flying Falcos as well. Just four Revell Falcos were “built” during the 1960s: two each 1966 & 1968, all hung from my bedroom ceiling.

Fuselage assembly was straightforward except for the horrendously bad pilot seat part that should had been cut-trimmed to fit well within it, didn’t do that for the 1960s builds just jammed It in, did do cut-trimming for 1980s & 21st Century builds resulting in good fuselage halve joins. The generically molded 14-cylinder FIAT A.74 radial engine part was seated on a mount integrally molded with the fuselage halves. Cut-trimming & shape-sanding the mount would had made for good engine seating, didn’t do that for the 1960s builds, did so for the 1980s & 21st Century builds resulting in tight seatings. The engine cowling was molded to slide on the fuselage which theoretically could be removed to expose the engine, 1960s builds just jammed them on they repeatedly popping off till gluing them in place all of the 21st Century builds shown below cut-trimmed & shape-sanded to be slid in.

The most difficult assembly phase was aligning & gluing Warren truss parts on one-piece top wing, fuselage & lower wings, all of the 1960s builds were disastrous trial & error exercises in force-jamming them on & gluing in place with slow-acting styrene tube glues. The 1980s builds went better insofar as gluing all Warren truss parts on the one-piece top wing in stages with slow-acting liquid glues doing repeated dry test fits on fuselage & lower wings though still had problems attaching the trusses on them with these liquid glues, 21st Century builds used cyanoacrylate glues for attaching them along with masking tape to maintain wing alignments & pressure on the joins.

Fixed landing gear assembly went relatively well though as mentioned earlier fuselage struts & wheel spats were problem points, proper tailplane lateral alignments with fuselage not satisfactory worked out until conducting my 21st Century builds. The propeller as mentioned was prone to breaking apart, gluing spinner on it over blade housings problematic not properly seated they'd drop off!


“Painting” & Decaling The 1960s Models

The 1966 builds were badly hand painted with brew mixed Testors PLA enamels, 1968 ones somewhat better airbrushed with Pactra flat enamels then coming on the market. Based on good photos I’d see decades later of 1940 Belgium airfield 18 Gruppo FIAT CR.42s most of them were camouflaged in CMPR Schemi C1, C1A, C1B Macchie Rade Verdi e Marrone Mimetico su fondo Giallo Mimetico instead of C2 Macchie Rade Verdi su Fondo Giallo Mimetico suggesting Lynd Ward either hadn’t verified camouflage schemes with the Profile author Gianni Cattaneo or jointly couldn’t conclude from then available photos were three-color camouflaged, regardless I’d ended up painting all my 1960s & 1980s Falcos in Schema C2, good perhaps insofar as not having to “brew mix” Marrone Mimetico as done for some 21st Century Revell et.al. maker builds.

Water decals for the Revell kit came with white tail crosses sporting simplified black-blue House of Savoy crests, black-white wing tri-fasci, black-white-blue fuselage fasci, black-white-yellow 85 Squadriglia insignia, unit & individual aircraft numbers the 1963 FROG Aeronautica Macchi C.202 Folgore decals by contrast simple outline wing tri-fasci, white tail crosses, rudimentary black Savoy crests & no fuselage fasci. Knowing fasci rods were brownish color I’d brush-filled in light brown enamel paint directly over the decals were the rods were supposed to be doing so prompting me to fabricate silkscreen stencils to print my own fuselage fascio decals whilst taking a high school industrial graphics arts class some years later, unable to fabricate them gave up on the project.


The 2010 Revell FIAT CR.42 Falco Builds
Photos Taken Sepember 20, 2017:

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The 1960s 1/72nd Scale Historic Aircraft Decals FIAT CR.42 & Aeronautica Macchi C.202 Sets

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“His Air Dec Inc.” Labeled 1/72nd Scale RAF Roundel Composition Set
Saw it et.al. His-Air-Dec decals for sale in Sacramento, California hobby stores c. late 1965 for sale long before Microscale Decals produced & marketed their far superior RAF composition sets.

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His Air Dec News June/July 1965 Volume IV No.6 Italian Aces
Till October 15, 2023 was TOTALLY unaware this publication & decals even existed, Robert J. Kaye producing & marketing them scant weeks or months after Profile Publications released their Aeronautica Macchi C.202 No.28 monograph!

A few years after graduating from high school in 1969 Microscale Decals released their first runs of generic WWII & post-war Italian aircraft national insignia decal sheets, these & ETRL-ESCI’s I’d employ for future Falco et.al. Italian military subject builds. Very sadly forgotten in scale model decal fabrication & sales history except by a rapidly dwindling number of 1960s scale plastic airplane model hobbyists of a certain age, myself included, is Historic Aircraft Decals (“His Air Dec” alternatively “HISAIRDEC”) of Minneapolis, Minnesota USA founded by Robert J. Kaye in 1963. Meticulously researched, well scaled & competently printed sheets of his aviation decals were included with every issue of his His-Air-Dec News monthlies they showing up in Sacramento, California book & some hobby stores over ensuing months & years myself unaware they’d contained decal sheets till a friend of mine now 60 years on told me they did and in so doing missing out buying that monthly on Regia Aeronautica Italiana FIAT CR.42s featuring a sheet of 1/72nd scale decal sheets for the Revell Falco kit WITH Fuselage Falcos – oh damn darn! Decades later I’d buy a sheet off eBay but wouldn’t use it, early in 2021 it & all my other decal sheets would mail to a French scale modeler.
Last edited by RetiredInKalifornia on Sun Oct 15, 2023 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Retired In Kalifornia's 1960s Italian Aircraft Subject Scale Model Kit Build Retrospectives

Post by Editor » Sun Oct 15, 2023 3:02 pm

Too cool, I love it!

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Thanks Vince!

Post by RetiredInKalifornia » Sun Oct 15, 2023 3:56 pm

Editor wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2023 3:02 pm
Too cool, I love it!
Thought it be simpler write-up, absolutely flabbergasted finding that His Air Dec "Italian Aces" publication & decal up years ago on eBay! Dear GOD if I'd had it for my 1960s FROG builds, but maybe not! Was decades away having necessary craft skills building them, c.1980 earliest I'd have enough to do a "acceptable" one employing them but most certainly not before! Robert Kay was magician-maestro water decal maker, easily explains why I'd seen so many models displaying them at Sacramento hobby stores during 1960s, Highlands Hobbies North Highlands, California in particular, built by skilled hobbyists half & decades older than I then most now deceased alas! Knowing just a handful of 1/72nd "Italians" were on the market during the 1960s Kay likely had produced decals for all of them, too bad I as yet have no way of knowing how many kinds of decails he'd produced & marketed during that decade, know for sure he'd released 1/48th & 1/72nd ones, will do bio research on him perhaps later today.

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The Revell Aeronautica Macchi C.200 Saetta Model Kit

Post by RetiredInKalifornia » Tue Oct 17, 2023 9:55 am

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First flown on Christmas Eve 1937 at Lonate Pozzolo, Varese Italy by Aeronautica Macchi’s chief test pilot Giuseppe Bure the FIAT A.74 radial engine-powered C.200 Saetta (Arrow, Dart, Lightning depending on spoken vernacular) was Italy’s second modern all-metal interceptor fighter after the similarly powered FIAT G.50 Freccia (Arrow) it more produced than either the Saetta’s 12-cylinder liquid cooled inline engine derivative the C.202 Folgore (Lightning) or G.50. Good handling. pleasant to fly well as possessing outstanding diving performance by time Italy had entered WWII on June 10, 1940 it and the G.50 were obsolescent they & FIAT CR.42 Falco (Falcon) biplane fighter-bombers nevertheless useful as faster somewhat better performing fighter-bombers in combat theatres Axis air forces (i.e. the German Luftwaffe) maintained air supremacy.

The Kit Described

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A well-known WWII military aircraft seeing action over the central Mediterranean, North Africa, Yugoslavia, Russia, & Ukraine other than wood & rubber Allied air forces ID aids no scale models of the Macchi C.200 no known model kits of it were produced till 1966 when Revell Great Britain released their single-box 1/72 scale offering months after their CR.42 in 1965 they being tooled in Venice, California by Revell USA. In 1967 Revell USA released the Saetta, Boeing P.26 Peashooter & Curtiss P-36 Hawk as a 3 Pioneer Fighters boxed set to American retailers forcing me to buy all of them, months later in 1968 I had to do so again, Saetta kits not available as a single box issues till after the US Government lifted tariffs on most foreign-produced scale model kits later in 1968 and then as Revell Great Britain imports!

The 1960s Kit Builds & Lessons Learned

As seen from above Revell Aeronautica Macchi C.200 Saetta kit parts generally are well molded, relatively few in number (note the Pilot Seat is glued on the starboard fuselage half) some are very prone to breaking whilst cutting off from sprues landing gear struts & actuator rods most especially. In dubious league with their FIAT CR.42 kit Revell’s Saetta is ill proportioned & undersized main wings especially, i.e. way too tapered outwards from fuselage roots, molded on pitot tubes highly prone to breaking off, one saving grace however are sharp leading edges roughly approximating those of the Real McCoys those on the Italeri C.200 kit released decades later better still though still not accurate.

The engine hot air exhaust louvers immediately aft of the molded-on engine mounting posts of the attractively scribed though miss-scaled fuselage halves are incorrectly molded as air intakes, aware of this issue after reading a recent Scale Modeler Magazine review of the kit I’d knifed-shaved them off doing so as well with all future kit builds. Before the fuselage halves could be joined the grossly off-scale miniscule pilot figure had to be painted & glued on the pilot seat part first, did that for the 1960s & near all later builds.

A far more troubling “fuselage issue” is the misshaped & tight main wing join area, for the 1960s builds ram-jammed them on center sections of previously glued together main wing assemblies very carefully bending wings either side whilst doing so. In future kit builds would first form-fit & glue on the lower main wing half onto the fuselage’s main wing join area then glue on port & starboard top wing parts afterwards, putty filling wing root gaps & smooth sanding them over afterwards whenever
necessary.


Mounting the FIAT A.74 radial engine on the fuselage was a multistep assembly process:

  • Sprue cutting off & spot sanding a ring part with molded on engine cowling hot air & engine exhaust flaps & pipes, sliding it over the forward fuselage engine mounting post & gluing it on the fuselage.
  • Sprue cutting off, trimming & sanding the engine & cowling, test fitting them for clearances followed by gluing the engine on the fuselage engine mounting post.
  • The aforementioned ring part has a molded on raised retaining lip for mounting the engine cowling it – the cowling - too narrow for sliding it over the lip, 1960s builds ram-jammed cowlings over it they tending to pop off, future builds would sand-shape cowling insides in doing insuring good & secure cowling-ring parts fits.
  • Sprue cutting off, trimming & sanding the engine carburetor air intake part, glue-mounting it on a short & slightly raised rail molded underneath the engine cowling, 1960s builds glue ram-jammed the part over the rail future builds would trim insides of the air intake part doing so insuring secure cowling-air intake parts fits.


Other than difficulties with sliding wheels inside oleo strut yokes landing gear assembly was pretty much straightforward annoying however was off-angle vertical alignment of oleo struts & one-piece gear door parts latter’s incorrectly scaled & not two-piece. A typical generically designed & tooled 1960s Revell model fabricating door parts for the Macchi C.200 frankly wasn’t worth the effort, what had to be was fabricating replacements for the incorrectly designed & scaled one-piece molded propeller-spinner part!

For reasons unknown Revell didn’t mold them separately for alternative spinner-less Macchi C.200 modeling versions, for the 1960s builds used the kit’s propeller-spinner parts. One Saetta had built in 1980s exerted considerable effort cutting the spinner off & round-file shaping the remaining propeller part to roughly approximate the Real McCoy, would do so again with most of the 21st Century Saetta builds well as employ nylon washers as blade yoke backplates.


Somewhat Painting & Decaling The 1960s Saettas

Largely because of being forced to by the aforementioned 3 Pioneer Fighters boxed set just to get the Revell Aeronautica Macchi C.200 Saetta kit I’d only built two models of it during the 1960s.

The first “out of box” build in 1967 was spray & hand painted in a scheme roughly approximating CMPR Schema D2A utilizing kit water decals of a supposed black-red unit insignia & black numbered 385 Squadriglia, 157 Gruppo Automono aircraft, black-white wing tri-fasci, black-white-blue & reddish-colored staff rod Fuselage Fasci, white rudder crosses with simplified black-white-red House of Savoy crests.

The second build in 1968 painted in Scheme D1 Macchie rade Nocciola su fondo Verde approximating that of the five-view Profile Publications No.64 The Macchi C.200 Saetta (1966) rendering by Peter Endsleigh Castle (q.v. above FROG/AIRLINES Macchi C.202 kit builds) of a 362 Squadriglia, 22 Gruppo “Russian Front” aircraft employing the aforementioned kit national insignia decals sans the 22 Gruppo’s famous Spauracchio (Scarecrow) insignia then unavailable with recently obtained solid black screened 1/72nd scale Microscale Decals Luftwaffe number sets. The white triangular tactical markings over main wing leading edges were spray painted on though wrongly proportioned well as blue tinged then believing Castle’s art rendering was gospel, future “Russian Front” kit build colors & markings would be in line with updated information & photos regarding Regia Aeronautica Italiana aircraft.


The 2009 Revell Aeronautica Macchi C.200 Saetta Builds
Photos Taken September 24, 2017

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Cameo Example & Builds Favorite

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RetiredInKalifornia
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The Airfix Savoia-Marchetti S.79 II Sparviero & FIAT G.50 Freccia Model Kits

Post by RetiredInKalifornia » Sat Oct 21, 2023 8:44 am

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Internationally renound as a land-based maritime torpedo bomber during WWII the 1936-vintage Società Idrovolanti Alta Italia Savoia-Marchetti S.79 (SM.79 alternatively) Sparviero (Sparrowhawk) began operational life as a record-breaking civilian transport the Italian government contemporaneously drafting it for use as a military bomber. Seeing combat during the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War with the Aviazione Legionaria, WWII with the Regia Aeronautica Italiania & Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (latter principally as a day & nighttime torpedo bomber), it arguably was the only Italian military combat aircraft in production before, during & shortly after WWII the Lebanese Air Force ordering four SM.79L (for Lebanese) bombers in 1946 though delivered as transports they in service till 1959, 1,240 aircraft of all types being built.

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The 1/50 Scale Artiplast Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 plastic model kit released before the 1/72nd Scale Airfix SM.79 II

A well-known pre & WWII military aircraft seeing action over Spain, Mediterranean, North Africa, Italian East Africa, Greece, Yugoslavia et.al theatres other than wood & rubber Allied air forces ID aids no assembly kit scale models are known to been commercially produced & marketed of the S.79 before, during & after WWII up till the 1960s though wood et.al. construction media tabletop display scale ones quite possibly had been. The first confirmed plastic scale model kit of the S.79 was the c.1966 1/50 scale Artiplast Kit No.106 SM.79 II Aerosilurante (Aerial Torpedo Bomber) it for decades to come the best molded & proportioned Sparviero model in any scale followed by Airfix’s inaccurate 1/72nd Scale Kit No.487 SM.79 II in 1967 it the only one in this scale till Italeri released their very good Kit No.1225 SM.79 Aerosilurante in 2003.

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2020 Vintage Classics Reissue Kit No.A04007V (Vintage)

The Airfix UK & MPC USA SM.79 II Model Kits

The 1/72nd scale Airfix Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 II United Kingdom (UK) Kit No.487 (incorrectly labeled as the “MK.11”) released in 1967, Model Products Corporation (MPC Mount Clemens, Michigan USA in business 1963-2011) Kit.No.1101-100 (for US $1.00) as the “MK II” c. winter-spring 1968 possibly earlier (Scalemates incorrectly listing it issued in 1970) is amongst the few original mold Airfix models in regular re-release still sporting its original Roy Cross (born April 23, 1924 & believed still living) kit box top art.

In league with many if not most all plastic models molds tooled for production by non-USA companies Airfix kit imports were subjected to onerous post-WWII USA Government domestic toy industry-protective import tariffs on top of those droit ordinaire till c.1968. Getting around them entailing having to form partnerships with USA hobby products companies to produced them with loaned or rented molds (e.g. Pyro Plastics Corporation molding FROG models under the AIRLINES Label 1964-66). In 1963 Airfix created Airfix Of America to produce & box theirs by USA plastics molding companies (i.e. MPC, Craft Master Toledo, Ohio USA et.al. possibly) in 1966 with Craft Master as Airfix-Craft Master and in 1968 MPC under its brand label long after the protective tariffs were lifted.

Amongst the first MPC-branded issues of new Airfix kit releases early in 1968 was the S.79 II it et.al. MPC kit releases then featuring separate decal sheets for “customizing” akin to scale model automobiles clearly aimed at pre & early teen baby boomers boys rather than discriminating older age plastic scale hobbyists more interested in buying better subject researched & tooled models & decals. Fully expecting the Sparviero model to be gem-quality it & the FIAT G.50bis Freccia (Arrow) I’d buy not long afterwards (q.v. below) the worst of all my 1960s Italian military aircraft subject builds & just once at that!


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(Some fuselage interior parts have been assembled)

Amongst a handful of 1960s Italian military aircraft modeling subjects in 1/72nd scale The Airfix Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 II model isn’t particularly distinguished. Inaccurately proportioned (fuselage too long, spindly & narrow compared to the far superior Italeri Sparviero model appearing decades later) extensive use was made of standardized parts in common with other Airfix aircraft models released since the late 1950s, engines & propeller retaining rings, aircrew figures, seats, control columns, main landing gear retaining attachments & armament parts (fuselage beam Lewis guns instead of Breda 12.7mms for Aerosiluranti) in particular so as to minimize tooling costs though at the expense of authenticity. No optional version parts for open-closed dorsal & ventral fuselage gun stations well as bomb bay (model engineered as an Aerosiluranti) are provided, very odd considering near all of the fuselage interior can be viewed in from several angles (clear plastic windows, portside crew entrance, removeable door part being provided sans stepladder, ventral & dorsal gunner stations) skilled modelers in time scratch building their own interior parts for super-detailing, deeming it not worth the time & effort I’d passed on doing so for all future kit builds.

The Kit “Build” & Lessons Learned

From late 1963 till c. fall-1965 “sample building” plastic model kits of many kinds & scales was an all-absorbing passion of mine afterwards 1/72nd scale military aircraft most new subject releases then in that scale for reasons of affordability; “two 72s for a 48 (scale kit)” a popular phrase amongst Sacramento plastic scale modelers at the time. From fall-1965 onwards painting models had also become a passion, laboriously brushing on Testors PLA enamels straight out of bottles at first (Pactra enamels too thin for hand brushing) followed by spray can painting-on PLA enamel aircraft undersides (Luftwaffe & RAF bombers in particular) till c. fall-1966 when purchased a single-action Binks Wren airbrush & hose, Thompson 2/3rds hp tankless diaphragm air compressor for airbrush painting.

Excitedly buying a first release MPC Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 II kit at a local drug store one day in spring 1968 I’d hurried home to commence building it right away. During the 1960s I’d sparingly painted model interior parts, Airfix’s Sparviero molded in light blue plastic was the exception because most of the fuselage interior could be seen (q.v.) it the first I’d fully spray paint all fuselage, engine cowling, main wing landing gear wheel well & door interiors etc. with a Pactra enamel grey color, fully painting model interior parts in all future model kit builds henceforth routine. After painting the interior parts I’d glued them inside the port fuselage half gluing fuselage halves together afterwards followed by ram-jamming in the undersized one-piece fuselage cockpit canopy not yet knowing how to fill in gaps between the canopy & fuselage with plastic seam filling putties then coming on the market! In future Airfix Sparivero kit builds I’d continue ram-jamming in canopies till the 2010s went switched to using Scotch Magic Mending Taping & cutting out canopy pane frames for spray painting with X-Acto blades, gluing it on the port fuselage half with interior parts, putty filling fuselage-canopy gaps & sanding them over afterwards, gluing fuselage halves together, putty filling & sanding gaps on the starboard side.

After covering the cockpit canopy & fuselage windows with masking tape I’d spray painted the model & associated engine cowling, aileron mass-balances, pitot tube et.al. parts in a scheme approximating CMPR C2 Macchie Rade Verdi su Fondo Giallo Mimetico with “brew mix” Pactra paints with white fuselage band & afterwards brush painting the canopy pane frames not knowing for decades to come it should had been C1 Macchie Rade Verdi e Marrone Mimetico su fondo Giallo Mimetico or C2A Variante di C2!

Around 1965 matt decal transfer films came into production Microscale Decals amongst the first aftermarket brands employing them, by the late 1960s Airfix began including them in with their MPC SM.79 II, FIAT G.50 et.al. kit releases unaware whomever they’d contracted with to produce decals had failed to conduct quality checks whether they’d even been silk screened on matt film paper! After painting the Sparviero model I’d readied for applying a set of these decals, dipping one of them in water it began disintegrating, bewildered I’d dipped another it disintegrating as well, shocked & angry I’d wanted to fire off a complaint letter to MPC but finished “building” the model without decals angrily tossing it out some days later. Airfix in time would produce decals with matt film paper but it not be till c.1979 I’d again build other Sparviero kits and then with ETRL-ESCI aftermarket ones.


The 2006 Airfix Savoia-Marchetti S.79 II Sparviero Model Builds
Photos taken September 28, 2017

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These were the first Airfix Savoia-Marchehetti SM.79 II model builds since c.1980, first as well uitilizing CMPR camouflage schemes & colors. The Aerosilurante model is homage to the Sparviero had built c.1980 itself homage to the aformentioned failed 1968 build.

Sample Photos Of Side-By-Side Airfix & Italeri Kit Builds Of Same Modeling Subject
Photos Taken May 30, 2021

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The Airfix UK & MPC USA FIAT G.50bis Freccia Model Kit

The 1937-vintage FIAT G.50 Freccia (Arrow) was Italy’s first single-seat, all-metal monoplane with enclosed cockpit & retractable landing gear it seeing combat during the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War with the Aviazione Legionaria, the G.50bis with an open pilot cockpit & increased fuel capacity during WWII with the Regia Aeronautica Italiania in Northern Europe, North Africa, the Balkans & Italian mainland as day fighters & fighter-bombers. Small numbers were exported to several overseas customers, including the Croatian & Finnish Air Forces, 35 shipped to the later they serving with distinction during the 1939–1940 Winter War & 1941–1944 Continuation War against the Soviet Union.

Outclassed by near all Western Allied Powers fighters Freccias soldiered on as fighter-bombers where & whenever modern Axis fighters maintained tactical air superiority, severely reduced in numbers by time of the September 8, 1943 Italian Armistice only 48 remained, 19 with 50 Stormo Assalto at Lonate Pozzolo, Varese, 1 in Corsica with 160 Gruppo Caccia Terrestre, 17 of the 48 serviceable with these & various other flying units the newly formed post-war Yugoslav Air Force flying wartime partisan-captured Croatian aircraft till withdrawn from service in 1946.


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2022 Vintage Classics Reissue Kit No.A04046V (Vintage)

The 1967 Airfix UK FIAT G.50bis Kit No.126 in league with the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 II is amongst the few original mold Airfix models in regular re-release still sporting its original Roy Cross kit box top art. Coming on the market same time as their SM.79 II kit in 1968 I wasn’t particularly anxious to “build” MPC USA G.50bis Kit No.5006 (Scalemates incorrectly listing it issued in 1970) though Roy Cross’s near head on subject view perspective kit box top art grabbed my attention purchasing one some weeks after their Sparviero kit in 1968 at the same local South Sacramento drug store*. Inspecting the model parts I was appalled how crudely they’d been molded, cruder than any of the toy-like 1965-66 AIRLINES (FROG) kit releases they all reissues of 1950s & early 1960s model subjects I’d also build during the 1960s, undersized, badly scaled & grotesquely disproportioned the Airfix model is absolutely the very worst rendering of the Freccia in any scale!

The Kit “Build” & Lessons Learned

Assembling & painting the Airfix model was an exercise in frustration:

  • Pilot figure on rudimentary seat part took some doing to “glue seat” on molded-on fuselage interior holding pins it - the seat part - repeatedly slipping off whist gluing fuselage halves together!
  • Molded in blue ala the SM.79 II model I’d not bothered painting the fuselage interior as couldn’t be clearly seen between the pilot figure did however spray paint the grossly long & misshaped engine cowling interior a grey shade of enamel paint.
  • Unevenly molded one-piece main wing & upper wing parts made for poor fits between them well as on the fuselage it ram-jammed in the center of the assembled three-piece main wing assembly.
  • The fuselage underside area where the main wing assembly sat over doubled as the main landing gear wheel well, forgetting to grey spray paint it beforehand did so afterwards but with difficulty (paint runs could be seen) the area sprayed painted immediately after assembling the fuselage in all future kit builds.
  • Because of unevenly molded main wing parts the one-piece underside one was best cut trimmed, shape-sanded & glued on the underneath fuselage first followed by puttying in & sanding over the aft fuselage-main wing seam, cut trimming & shape-sanding the top wing parts to insure good wing-fuselage root fits, gluing them afterwards onto the lower main wing, no putty filling required were properly done.
  • Main landing gear painting & assembly for the 1968 model “build” was nightmarish attaching oleo struts on main wing undersides & properly aligning them with slow-acting Testors styrene glue especially, future model builds would employ fast-acting liquid styrene then cyanoacrylates glues they insuring good joins & alignments without having to wait so long before “tweezering” on the oleo retraction arms.
  • Grossly out of scale & misshaped engine, engine cowling, carburetor intake pipe, propeller & spinner parts painting & assembly was complicated by engine exhaust pipes being molded as a single part properly aligning it along two deep slots underneath the cowling taking some doing.
  • Gluing these aforementioned parts together as an assembled unit & slipping it on the forward fuselage recessed rim mounting was difficult the unit (i.e. engine cowling) dropping off were not firmly glued on.
  • For the 1960s model “build” used slow-acting Testors styrene tube glue the cowling repeatedly dropping off, in future builds liquid styrene then cyanoacrylates glues were employed firmly glue on the cowling usually on the first joining attempt.
  • Painting the Airfix FIAT G.50bis model was straightforward; the Roy Cross kit box top “combat” art featuring a 352 Squadriglia Freccia in CMPR D1 Macchie rade Nocciola su fondo Verde contradicting kit painting instructions specifying C2 Macchie Rade Verdi su Fondo Giallo Mimetico, going with them had spray painted on “brew mix” Pactra enamels & white fuselage belly band.


Inspecting the model kit decal sheet I’d dreaded they like the SM.79 II decals were defective, sure enough after dipping the first black-white wing tri-fasci cut out from it the decal in water it promptly disintegrating, furious I then-there wanted to smash the model into a bazillion pieces but held onto it for some weeks till tossing it away in disgust.

* Anderson Brothers Drug Stores of Sacramento during the 1960s were renowned for vending off-beat merchandise (bimonthly issues of Soviet Life magazine for example), stocking more brands of plastic scale model kits than most Sacramento area hobby stores the majority of my model kits were bought at their South Sacramento store. During the 1960s as well Highlands Hobbies in North Highlands, California was a Scale Modeler’s Mecca, only one then vending Italian Aliplast & Artiplast kits, BUZCO-Heller USA-partnered line of French pre & WWII military & civilian aviation well as imported Japanese Hasegawa, L&S et.al. model kits, from them I'd buy these et.al imports they as well sponsoring early IPMS-Silver Wings Sacramento scale modeling contests I participating at one held in 1968 at a nearby Happy Steak restaurant it & Highlands Hobbies sadly long gone.

The 2009 Airfix FIAT G.50bis Freccia Builds
Photos Taken August 7, 2017

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Build Samples

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Photos Taken June 9, 2021

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RetiredInKalifornia
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Finito..

Post by RetiredInKalifornia » Sat Oct 21, 2023 5:03 pm

...This concludes the build retrospectives, thanks for viewing. Richard

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Eratta

Post by RetiredInKalifornia » Sun Dec 03, 2023 3:09 pm

RetiredInKalifornia wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2023 9:32 pm
...Aside from the arguably better tooled & proportionally more accurate 1/50th scale Artiplast FIAT CR.42 & G.55, Macchi C.202 C.200 & C.202, Reggiane Re.2000 kits which like the Aliplast FIAT G.55 generally weren’t available other than at hobby stores as imports subject to protective tariffs these were the only Italian military aircraft model assembly kits for sale in the USA prior to c.1968...
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Much modified SMER ex Artiplast 1/50th Scale Macchi C.200 Saetta model November 2019. Despite that stated above Revell's 1/72nd Scale Saetta might not had been the first injected plastic kit on the market, Artiplast's clearly superior one likely was, too bad I'd not built it despite its larger scale, never built any Regia Aeronautica Italiana kit larger than 1/72nd BTW.

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