Czech Model 1/48 JRF Goose Kit Build Review
|Date of Review||February 2004||Manufacturer||Czech Model|
|Kit Number||4812||Primary Media||Styrene, Resin|
|Pros||Excellent side window fit, nice details||Cons||Windscreen fit, troublesome wheel wells, overall fit|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The Czech Model 1/48 JRF Goose is a nice looking kit. Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is provided on three parts trees and features nicely scribed details on the exterior surfaces. An additional assortment of resin parts are also provided to round out the kit with interior seating, engines, exhaust manifolds, carburetor intakes, cockpit rear bulkhead and sidewalls, wheels and other miscellaneous details. One small tree of clear styrene parts provides the cabin windows and cockpit overhead enclosure.
Straight out of the box, this is a limited run kit and as such, will require the usual amount of dry fitting and sanding/filing to get all of the parts to come together. There are the usual ejector pin marks and stubs in places that will require attention before assembly. The worst of these were located inside the main wheel wells which are quite visible and mar the otherwise nice detail molded into these parts.
I haven’t seen a full-scale Goose on the ramp in years and I had lost perspective on just how large this aircraft really is until I parked the completed model on my shelf. The assembled aircraft is roughly the size of the de Havilland Mosquito in length and width, though quite a bit taller to accommodate the boat hull.
I reviewed the kit’s instructions and decided to follow a different assembly path based on experience. After airbrushing all of the interior parts with Model Master Zinc Chromate Green, I decided to dry-fit the main wheel wells (parts 30 & 33) into the fuselage halves along with the main cabin floor, which has notches molded to fit around the wheel wells. I found that if the wheel wells are not properly aligned and cemented into place first, the fuselage halves will not align properly once the interior is installed.
I cemented one wheel well into place, centering the well over the corresponding hole in the fuselage. This turned out to be a slight error as this partially hid the forward holes for the lower landing gear arms inside the fuselage. More on this later. Even with a good solid fit in the fuselage, there was still daylight visible between the bottom of the wheel well and the bottom of the fuselage hole. I blocked this off by enclosing this gap with strips of Evergreen plastic strips.
With the first wheel well in place, I reinstalled the cabin floor, closed up the fuselage halves with the other wheel well loosely in place. After aligning and taping the fuselage halves together, I could cement the other wheel well into place as this will now ensure that we’ll have good alignment later. I completed this step by enclosing the base of the second wheel well with Evergreen strips.
I cemented aft bulkhead (part 10) into the right fuselage half. This part serves as the mount for the tailwheel well which, contrary to the instructions, will get installed later. After the cement dried, I dry-fit the fuselage halves together and found that the bulkhead is a bit too wide.
I applied gap-filling cyano to reinforce the bulkhead/fuselage joint, and then attached a cutting/grinding disk to the end of my Dremel Flexi-Shaft rotary tool. With the fuselage halves together, I could see the parts of the bulkhead that needed to be trimmed, which happened swiftly thanks to my trusty Dremel. Trimming a fraction of an inch at a time, I’d trim and dry-fit the fuselage together again until the fuselage halves joined solidly.
Next up was the top of the tailwheel well which attaches to the rear bulkhead we just finished. I cemented this into place, then repeated the fit-grind-fit process until everything came together. Being a cynic at heart, I knew that this part would eventually come loose and take the tailwheel with it, giving the Goose an even more awkward stance. As a precaution, I installed a sheet styrene wedge to reinforce that joint.
The rear cabin bulkhead was next. There is a door molded into this bulkhead, but right over where the door handle would be was an ejector pin stub. Since I doubted that any of this detail would be visible from the outside, I just turned the bulkhead around and cemented it into place. After reinforcing the bulkhead with gap-filling cyano, I repeated the fit-grind-fit process.
The forward cockpit bulkhead was the third and final step in this process, repeating the steps above to get a good fit. To put this into temporal perspective, the entire bulkhead installation and trimming process took all of about 15-20 minutes to complete, including a few pauses to sip my coffee.
The last bit of trimming would be the cockpit floor. I installed the floor into the fuselage with the bulkheads in place and had to remove a fraction of an inch from both ends to get a good fit. I could see that the width of the floor extended beyond the trimmed forward and rear bulkheads, so I narrowed the width of the entire floor a fraction of an inch from both sides so as not to adversely affect the fit of the floor over the wheel wells. With the trimmed floor back in the fuselage, the fuselage halves now fit nicely together.
With all of the grinding done, it was time to install the side windows into the fuselage halves. I had to file a little flash out of a few window openings, but otherwise the windows when in place with no problems. As I suspected, the windows are not perfectly clear as anything molded thinner than these would be difficult to manipulate. The combination of thickness and small size don’t allow for much visibility of the main cabin interior. While I did spend some time painting and detailing the passenger seats, don’t worry about this as you can barely see these seats from outside the completed model.
There is some nice detail in the cockpit, but about all you’ll see from outside the completed model will be the rear cockpit bulkhead (which is a resin part we haven’t installed yet) and the pilot/copilot seats. I painted, weathered and detailed the instrument panel, resin cockpit sidewalls and seat frames, but these details are not visible after the model is completed.
With the cockpit and main cabin seats installed on the floor and the various cockpit details completed, it was time to install the floor once and for all. After one last safety dry-fit of the fuselage halves, I cemented the floor into place.
It was time to cement the fuselage halves together. I used liquid cement for the job to get a strong joint and clamped the halves together. While I waited for the fuselage to dry, I trimmed and dry-fit the rear cockpit bulkhead and glued this part into place.
Setting the fuselage aside, I removed the wing components from their trees, cleaned up the edges and cemented the subassembly together. This was also clamped and set aside.
The first modification I wanted to do was to droop the elevators. I removed the parts from the trees, then using a sharp X-Acto knife, I scribed the stabilizer/elevator recessed line and separated these parts. After assembling the elevators and stabilizers, I used the cutting disc to cut out the notches on the leading edge of the elevators that represent the hinges/attachments to the horizontal stabilizers. I cemented strips of Evergreen into the hinge openings angled at the angle that I wanted to droop the elevators. Once dry, I cemented the elevator/hinge assembly back onto the horizontal stab at the new droop angle. The new hinge detail looks great from above.
The mounting points for the horizontal stabs on the rear fuselage have slight dimples molded in place to correspond with small bumps on the edge of the stabilizer to align the assembly. I didn’t like the apparent lack of strength of this joint, so I used a pin vise to drill holes through the dimples. The good news is that the holes align perfectly on both sides of the tail. I drilled corresponding holes into the ends of the horizontal stabs and used small lengths of steel rods (trimmed clothing pins) to act as main spars to connect the two horizontal stabs together through the corresponding holes in the tail. The resulting joint is strong and didn’t require much cyano to finish the assembly after painting was completed.
Though the rudder is molded separately from the fuselage, I cemented the rudder halves together and used the cutting disc to open up the rudder hinges and repeated the process above for the rudder and vertical stabilizer. I decided not to install the rudder or horizontal stabs until after the painting was completed to simplify the masking process.
I applied Mr Surfacer 500 to all of the fuselage and wing seams to address any gaps and any other imperfections. Once dry, I used wet/dry sanding sticks to dress the seams and edges.
When I dry-fit the wing onto the fuselage, I found that the wing didn’t align quite right with the lower wing fairings molded on the fuselage sides. This turned out to be an edge on the fuselage that wasn’t quite square and was holding the wing off slightly. I quick trim with the disk and the wings were snug in place. Once again I used liquid cement to achieve a solid joint.
One of the more challenging parts of the model was the transparent cockpit enclosure. To Czech Model’s credit, they didn’t force you to try to install the windscreen and cockpit side windows in the same manner as the cabin windows. Instead, Czech Model molded the entire cockpit enclosure as two halves so that we’d have some real estate to sand/fill/cement. I dry-fit the right half of the enclosure into the fuselage and found that the side window didn’t fit into the corresponding opening in the fuselage. A quick trim with the cutting disk solved this problem, but even trimmed, the fit of this part was not great around the bottom of the wind screen nor did the side window reach all the way to the rear of the opening. To assess the challenge, I installed the left half of the enclosure after a similar fit and trim session and then cemented the enclosure halves together and to the fuselage.
The good news was that the halves aligned together fine and the joint with wing was great. The bad news was that there were carnivorous gaps between the windscreen and the nose as well as the previous gaps in the rear of the side windows. The good news is that an old trick quickly conquered the gaps – I applied white glue to the gaps with a toothpick and set aside the model to dry. The gaps were gone and the white glue was painted over. I masked the windscreen and side windows with MicroMask.
It was almost time to paint the aircraft. There are six dimples molded under each wing to locate the mounting points for the wing floats and the anti-sway wires. I opened these up with the pin vice, but waited on installation of the floats until after painting.
Painting and Finishing
I decided to finish my aircraft as an early war example with the tri-colored camouflage and the red surrounds on the national markings. There is a color photo of a pair of JRFs in the book WW2 in Color, one aircraft equipped with prop spinners and the other without. The photo captured the look that I wanted on this model.
I applied two coats of Tamiya Flat White to all of the lower surfaces of the model, buffing the surface with an old t-shirt after each coat. I masked the lower hull and lower wing/fuselage joint to protect the white, then applied Tamiya Medium Blue to the fuselage and floats. After buffing this coat, I applied Tamiya Dark Blue to the upper wing/fuselage/horizontal stab surfaces. To replicate some fading in the Dark Blue, I applied a thinned mist of Medium Blue inside the panel lines of the upper surfaces.
I masked the leading edges of the wings and vertical/horizontal stabs to add the black anti-icing boots using Tamiya Black. While I had a little black left in the airbrush, I sprayed a fine mist along the undersides of the wing from the engine nacelle to the trailing edge of the wing to replicate smoke and oil over time. A corresponding trail was left on the upper surface of the wing using a mist of Tamiya Medium Gray. Once the model was dry, I buffed all of the surfaces once more with the old t-shirt to attain a smooth finish. To this I sprayed a clear coat of thinned Future acrylic wax to the model.
I sprayed the resin engines with a coat of Alclad II Aluminum, then applied a wash of Lamp Black oil thinned in Mineral Spirits to the cylinders to bring out the details. The prop hubs were also painted with Alclad II Aluminum, the blades with Tamiya Black, and the tips with Tamiya Yellow.
The kit decals provide markings for four aircraft, one with a tri-colored camouflage with the early war (red surround) markings, one also tri-colored without the red surrounds, one in the late-war overall Dark Blue, and a British example. I opted for the first example. The kit decals are thin and nicely in register, yet the white is opaque. Nicely done Czech Model! A few words of caution – these decals don’t ‘float’ very well. Wherever you put them, they are going to want to stay there and are difficult to maneuver. They also react very quickly to Solvaset, so after watching my test decal scrunch up, I opted for MicroSol instead. The national markings needed two applications of MicroSol to settle into the surface of the model, but the final result was very nice.
Since the color photo of the JRFs showed the aircraft with a semi-gloss (leaning toward glossy) finish, I applied another coat of Future over the decals, then buffed the dry surface to the sheen I desired.
It was time to finish assembly. The tail feathers and engines were installed. The rigged the floats with nylon thread to represent the cross-strut wire braces using holes in the struts that I drilled with the pin vise. I was going to use the nylon thread for the anti-sway braces as well, but I wound up having a bad thread day and I’ll add the braces using brass wire at a later date.
The next challenge was the main landing gear. As I mentioned earlier, I centered the wheel wells over the fuselage openings, but this ends up partially obstructing the mounting holes for the landing gear support arms. On closer inspection, the fuselage is very thick around the wheel well openings. I used an X-Acto knife and the cutting disk to thin the walls from the outside, being careful not to mar the paint! With a little work, I was able to install the landing gear per the kit instructions.
In the final steps, first was to add all of the delicate parts, the elevator mass balances, exhaust manifolds, DF loop, etc., to the model. The astute modeler will notice that the kit does not include the prominent pitot tube for the starboard wing, this was replicated with a trimmed clothing pin. There are also no navigation lights on the wings, these being made from clear scrap painted with Tamiya Clear Red/Green.
In the interest of getting this article done for this issue, I stopped the model at this point. You’ll want to locate the landing light, the signal lights that are molded into the lower left wingtip, and if you’re doing a US Navy aircraft, add the HF antenna mast that sits over the cockpit and rig the wire to the vertical stab. Check your references to see if your bird was so-equipped.
This was a fun build that didn’t take very long to finish. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the project without the Dremel handy unless you are looking for an upper body workout with manual files (biceps by Czech Model!). The project dusted off some modeling skills as well as created some new approaches to limited run models. As you can see by the final result, there were no serious problems.
I’d recommend this project to the intermediate modeler (or better) who has the right combination of tools and experience to exercise a little engineering on the fly (so to speak). A basic modeler can also tackle this project as long as you’re comfortable working with resin parts and can exercise patience as you follow the footsteps outlined above.
My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!