SMER 1/50 Macchi MC-72 Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||July 2009||Manufacturer||SMER|
|Kit Number||112||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice kit of famous racing seaplane; Engraved panel lines||Cons||Rigging wire not included. Next to nil interior detail|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The Macchi M.C. 72 was one of a series of seaplanes developed by Macchi Aeronautica. An earlier model, the M.24 was a twin-engine flying boat armed with machine guns and capable of carrying a torpedo. Later in the 1920s, Macchi focused on speed and on winning the Schneider Trophy. In 1922, the company hired aircraft designer Mario Castoldi to design high-speed aircraft.
In 1926, the company won the trophy with the M.39 which attained a top speed of 396 km/h (246 mph). Further planes (the M.52, M.52R, and the M.67) were designed and built but victory in the Schneider races kept eluding the Italians. Castoldi then designed the ultimate racing seaplane, the M.C. 72, a single seater aircraft with two floats.
The design of the Macchi M.C. 72 was unique with a fuselage partly metal to the cockpit and wood monocoque bolted to the front tubular portion by four bolts. The streamlined nose contours enclosed an oil tank with its outside wall exposed to the airstream. The wing was all metal with flat tubular water radiators smoothly faired into the wings. The twin pontoons had three smoothly-faired radiators on the outer surfaces, the forward radiator for water and the centre and rear radiators for oil cooling. The float struts also featured water radiators and another radiator was fitted during hot conditions under the fuselage running from cockpit to tail.
It was built in 1931 with the idea of competing for what turned out to be the final Schneider Trophy race, but due to engine problems, the plane was unable to compete. Instead of halting development, Macchi continued work on the M.C. 72 Benito Mussolini personally took an interest in seeing development of the M.C. 72 continue and directed state funds to the company.
For two years, the plane suffered from many mechanical defects, as well as the loss of two test pilots who died trying to coax world class speed out of the M.C. 72 (first Monti and then Bellini). The final design of M.C. 72 used a double, contra-rotating propellers powered by a modified FIAT AS-6 engine V24 engine) generating some 1,900-2,300 kW (2,500-3,100 hp) (thanks to supercharging).
After 35 flights, the engines were overhauled in preparation for a record attempt. The aircraft finally lived up to expectations when it set a new world speed record (over water) on 10 April 1933, with a speed of 682 km/h (424 mph). It was piloted by Warrant Officer Francesco Agello (the last qualified test pilot). Not satisfied, development continued as the aircraft's designers thought they could break 700 km/h (430 mph) with the M.C. 72. This feat was in fact achieved on 23 October 1934, when Agello piloted the plane for an average speed of 709 km/h (440 mph) over three passes. This record remains (as of 2008) the fastest speed ever attained by a piston-engine seaplane. After this success, the M.C.72 was never flown again.
SMER is a model company based in Prague, Czech Republic. The kit is ex-Artiplast and Merit. It is to 1/50th scale. Which although it is not the popular 1/48th scale, is darn close.
The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows the Macchi MC-72 overflying a bay area. It is overall red, with the underpanel of its nose in bare metal. The rudder has the Italian tri-color (red, white and green) vertical stripes on it. There are brass panels under the wings and on the floats. These are outlined with white strips. The propeller spinner is bare metal also. The bottoms of the twin floats are a dark gray. Small black letters MC 72 over 181 are low on the fuselage just in front of the tail.
Inside the box are 3 milky white trees of parts, 2 milky white fuselage halves and a clear desk stand inside of a sealed cello bag. A small stapled shut cello holds a die cut windshield cut from a sheet of thin clear plastic sheet. The decal sheet and the instructions complete the kit’s contents.
The instructions consist of a single sheet, folded in the center to create 4 pages in 11 5/8” x 8” format.
Page one begins with a color repeat of the box art, followed by the history of the Macchi MC-72 in Czech only.
Page two begins with a black and white photo of the actual MC-72 on a beaching dolly and with it’s cowling removed. A figure is standing in front of it with his right arm raised. He may be the pilot? Below this is more of the aircraft’s history, again only in Czech. The page also holds the first assembly step drawing.
Page three gives a second assembly step drawing, next to a profile illustration of the MC-72. More history appears below these in Czech. This profile is the best illustration of how the wire bracing was arranged on the aircraft to go by. No wire is provided in the kit to do this however.
Page four has technical information about the plane, in Czech, and a 4-view of the painting and marking scheme (already described above).
There are no parts tree illustrations in the instructions. Parts are numbered in the assembly steps, but I think these are indicators of the sequence to glue them in. This is because there are no part numbers on the parts trees. This is not too terribly a problem, as the kit only contains 23 parts total for the aircraft and 2 parts for the desk stand.
The first milky white parts tree holds the halves of one pontoon and the wings. (3 parts)
The second milky white parts tree holds: the horizontal tail surfaces, pontoon struts, contra-rotating propellers with their retainer washer, and the other 2 halves of the second pontoon (10 parts)
The third milky white parts tree holds: a couple of underwing pipes and pontoon horizontal bracing struts (6 parts)
The two milky white fuselage halves are loose.
The final parts are the two parts to the desk stand (should a modeler chose to use it). The die cut clear windshield completes the kit’s parts. The desk stand is nowhere shown in the instructions. This is a feature that was popular with other companies, particularly Airfix back in the 60’s and for the most part has been dropped from kits since.
The decal sheet holds just the rudder tri-colors and the MC-72 over 181.
There is next to nil cockpit interior detail. Halves of a seat are molded into the walls of the inside of the cockpit area of the fuselage halves. This seat is a stiff letter L shape and looks more like a park bench than a pilot seat. There is no pilot figure. Those of us with AMS will want to detail out this area more, as it is an open-cockpit aircraft and inside is very visible. Panel lines are all, thankfully, engraved and the fabric covered areas are nicely done. With a little extra work this kit can become an acceptable replica of this famous raceplane.