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C-46 Commando Kit

Williams Brothers 1/72 C-46 Commando Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2017 Manufacturer Williams Brothers
Subject C-46 Commando Scale 1/72
Kit Number 72346 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Unique subject Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

C-46 Commando Kit
C-46 Commando Kit
C-46 Commando Kit

In the late 1930s, Curtiss-Wright designed the CW-20 as a low-wing, twin-engined, pressurized airliner to rival the four-engine designs coming from Douglas and Boeing. Powered by the Wright Twin Cyclone engines, the CW-20 met with limited success in the commercial world. The US Army Air Corps would adopt the aircraft with a number of modifications to become the C-46. Among the changes were the replacement of the Twin Cyclones with the R-2800 Double Wasp rated at 2000 horsepower, elimination of the pressurized cabin, and the addition of large cargo doors. The C-46 offered double the cargo volume and three times the cargo weight of the C-47. In addition, the Double Wasps provided sufficient power to climb with an engine out with cargo aboard, and its long range made it ideal for the distances in the CBI (China-Burma-India) theater. C-46s were used extensively to fly the 'Hump', the long and high-altitude path over the Himalayas between India and China.

It is rather surprising that in all of these decades after World War II, the only kit of the C-46 larger than 1/144 scale is the Williams Brothers 1/72 kit. First released in the late 1970s, this kit is a simple build with a few options and the entire build is documented on a single page. The kit has been reissued a few times over the years but is out of production. Given that over 3,000 of these aircraft saw service in World War II, with some still flying today, it is unfortunate that this heavy lifter is otherwise overlooked.

This kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on two parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. The surface details feature fine raised panel lines and no rivets which will make this kit easy to clean up for bare metal painting, should you opt for that option. Among the features and options in this kit:

Reasonable flight deck for this scale

  • All flight control surfaces and flaps are molded up/neutral
  • Choice of three or four-bladed propellers
  • Instructions provide 1/72 scale diagrams to modify the wingtips and elevators found on later versions

Marking options in this kit include:

  • C-46, 41-5159, USAAC, 1942
  • C-46, 42-96803, USAAF, 1944
  • C-46, C-46289, Chinese AF, 1946/47
  • C-46, N67981, Flying Tiger Line, 1950s

The blue used on the decals is good for the Chinese AF roundels and Flying Tiger stripes, but is too light for either US WWII option. You'll find alternatives from the various generic national marking sets out there.

This kit provides the basics for the C-46 and will look nice straight out of the box. The AMS modeler can take this model to the next level using one of the various titles on the C-46 or the Hump for reference, as well as photo walk arounds available online. Among the enhancements you will wish to consider:

  • Details in the wheel wells
  • Details for one of the several cargo door configurations
  • Addition of specific details (wingtips, elevators, propellers) for the specific version you're modeling

Since you cannot see much through the cockpit transparencies or main cabin windows, there isn't much you need to do inside the airframe beyond what is in the box. Of course the real AMS modeler will actually open the cargo doors which will require airframe structural frames inside the fuselage, but that is one step beyond where I'll be taking this model.

While the average price of this kit seems to be around $40 USD on eBay, I found this one at a recent IPMS show, still in its shrinkwrap, for $15. If you shop around, you'll find gems like this one at reasonable prices.

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