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JN-4N

Olimp Models 1/72 JN-4N Jenny

By Michael Taylor

Date of Review April 2008 Manufacturer Olimp Models
Subject JN-4N Jenny Scale 1/72
Kit Number 7202 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $16.95

Background

The Curtiss JN-4 is possibly North America’s most famous World War I aircraft. It was widely used during World War I to train beginning pilots. The Canadian version was the JN-4(Can), also known as the “Canuck”, and was built with a control stick instead of the Deperdussin control wheel used in the regular JN-4 model, as well as usually having a somewhat more rounded rudder outline than the American version. The U.S. version was called “Jenny”. It was a twin-seat (student in front of instructor) dual control biplane. Its tractor prop and maneuverability made it ideal for initial pilot training with a 90 hp (67 kW) Curtiss OX-5 V8 engine giving a top speed of 75 mph (121 km/h) and a service ceiling of 6,500 ft (1980 m).

The British used the JN-4 (along with the Avro 504) for their primary World War I trainer; Canadian Aeroplanes Ltd produced them in Canada. Many Royal Flying Corps pilots earned their wings on the JN-4, both in Ontario and in Texas.

Most of the 6,813 built were unarmed, although some had machine guns and bomb racks for advanced training. None saw active service. After World War I, hundreds were sold on the civilian market, one to Charles Lindbergh as his first aircraft. The plane’s slow speed and stability made it ideal for stunt flying and aerobatic displays. Some were still flying into the 1930s.

The Build

JN-4N If you'd like to see the kit as it comes out of the box, check our review here.

The first thing I decided to do was to search the internet to find reference photos to work from. There are quite a few good sites to work with plenty of photos. I determined that a ton of teenee tiny holes needed to be drilled in the wings around the strut locations. As many as five around a strut! So off I go to the hardware store praying they have a micro drill bit set. It took me three stores but I finally found a set at a Rural King store and it was the only one they had.

JN-4N During the build I went through about three of the smallest bits. Bits so small I had to wrap a piece of tape around them to get my pin - vise to lock them down. Then I drilled the holes in the fuselage for the control wires (aileron, rudder and elevators) and the tail planes for their cables. I had to saw off the molded - on forward fuselage as the JN - 4N nose was cast as two separate pieces. Once the cut area was filed and lightly sanded the optional parts fit like a charm.

I gave the interior area and parts a quick paint job of various shades of tan/brown including the instrument panel faces. The interior is sparse but adequate for the scale. The instruments are represented with decals - this should have clued me in - they came off the backing sheet as individual dials and needed to be chased into place and laid down with a Q - Tip before a light coat of Solv - a - set was applied to keep them in place.

JN-4N With the seats and floor assembled I could join the fuselage halves with liquid cement. The instrument panels are glued to the bottom of the upper cockpit combing prior to its being attached to close up the cockpit area. The wings are molded in three pieces each - you can imagine - a center, right and left part. Once removed from the sprue and with the mating areas filed a bit the fit was pretty good but could use a bit of filler in my build. I re drilled the strut locating holes slightly deeper to make sure there was a good seat for the struts.

The strut locations around the cockpit and forward fuselage were drilled out as well to make sure the struts for the center upper wing had somewhere to go as well as locating holes for the landing gear struts. The rear gear holes are easy to see in the bottom center section of the lower wing but the forward holes go under the nose and there were no holes in that location.

I removed the struts from the sprue and dipped the forward strut in the cap of a bottle of paint to get some color on the locating pin. Then I set the rear strut in its hole and let the forward strut touch the fuselage so I could see where to place the forward locating holes. The strut/axle that goes between the gear on my kit was a short shot so I made one up from my handy dandy Contrail strut stock. A bit of sanding on the lower center wing section was needed to get a good fit between the lower wing and fuselage but it was no big deal. So with the struts in front of the cockpit in place, the bottom wing and landing gear on I gave it a coat of Model Master gloss Gull Gray. I also painted the underside of the top wing and horizontal tail and the vertical tail Gull Gray at this time as well.

JN-4N When that was dry I began the process of placing the top wing. The struts on the wings of this plane set pretty much straight up and down when viewed from the front with a slight tilt forward as viewed from the side. Using regular modeling cement I lightly glued the struts to their lower wing positions and got then set up fairly well. The four struts in front of the cockpit make for a stable base to set the wing in place so I put some zap in the holes for the struts in the upper wing and set it down on the struts. While holding them in place I was able to maneuver the struts - first one side, then the other - in place and set them using a 000 brush and liquid cement. We don’t really need a strong join here as the rigging will bind everything together.

First I rigged the “X” between the front/rear sets of struts - two to each side. You can see in the photos the .005 nylon thread crossing over the top of the wing where it was sewed through the holes. The other rigging was done in two lengths. One was for the double wires - threaded from one side through to the other in one continuous strand then the single rigged line was done the same way. Zap applied as you go to the top of the upper wing and bottom of the lower wing locks the thread in place and you can get it tight.

JN-4N When done you have the wings rigged but you have a bunch of thread super-glued to the top and bottom of the plane. This needs to be cut off with a blade and sanded smooth. Then the lower wing was painted gull gray and the upper was painted white in preparation for the chrome yellow paint that will be the finished color. The upper horizontal tail plane was painted white for the same reason and the rudder was painted white in preparation for the blue and red stripes which I chose to paint rather that use the decal provided. I managed to get between the struts to paint the cockpit combings burnt umber and assembled the five piece engine and painted it Model Master Metalizer exhaust. The radiator was first painted non buffing aluminum, the painted Tamiya Titanium Gold simply because I had no brass paint laying around.

JN-4N The upper wing was sprayed chrome yellow and the plane was protected from overspray with blue tape and paper. The insignias were applied to the upper wings with no problem and when dry the control horns were placed. I did move them about 2 mm outboard on the ailerons as then lined up with the strut locations which the photos told me was incorrect. I had made a small loop of .005 nylon in the under side of the upper wing in front of the control horn locations about halfway between the fore and aft struts by drilling a hole during the pre - rigging hole drilling session and putting the ends of the thread in the same hole and pulling ‘till I had a loop the size I wanted. This loop is for the aileron control line that exits the fuselage in the front cockpit area, travels up and out to these loops and finally to the control horns.

JN-4N The cables that run from the front lower and rear upper inner struts to the radiator were placed before the radiator was glued in place and run from one side to the other. The cables that run from the control horns back to the trailing edges of the ailerons, elevators and rudder are .004 carbon fiber as are the landing gear cables. This was just an easier option for these applications.

The “Marine Flying Field Miami Florida” decal that was the first I was going to apply disintegrated into individual letters. Fortuitous for me that I didn’t cut and soak multiple decals as I usually do as this allowed me to put some Future over the remaining decals though one coat apparently wasn’t enough as the second one still gave me some trouble. My sample also had no tail strut so I made one from stretched sprue.

Conclusion

I had no trouble at all with the kit but the decals need to be treated to keep them together. I enjoyed the challenge of all the rigging on this Jenny but if you’re a more relaxed builder this kits a lot of fun.

My sincere thanks to Olimp Models for this review sample!

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