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R5D Kit

Minicraft 1/144 R5D-3 'Operation Deep Freeze' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2009 Manufacturer Minicraft
Subject R5D-3 'Operation Deep Freeze' Scale 1/144
Kit Number 14561 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Best styrene DC-4 'out there' in 1/144 scale Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $27.95

First Look

R5D Kit
R5D Kit
R5D Kit
R5D Kit
R5D Kit

Building on the success of the DC-3, Douglas looked to a larger platform to carry more passengers greater distances. This design would be the first (and definately not last) four-engined design. Designated DC-4, the aircraft was designed to meet United Airlines' long range passenger requirement, but the initial examples proved more difficult to operate and maintain.

With the outbreak of World War II, the DC-3 was pressed into service with the USAAC as the C-47, likewise the DC-4 fulfilled an instant need for long-range cargo and passenger hauling and would become the C-54 Skymaster.

After World War II, the United States resumed exploration of Antarctica along with a number of other nations. Operation Deep Freeze was a follow-on series of operations and the start of support for a permanent presence on the southern continent. The US Navy operated the R5D (Navy designator for the DC-4) in the airlift operations into Antarctica during the early operations starting in 1955.

Minicraft tooled up a very nice looking DC-4 kit several years ago which has been re-released in the 'Candy Bomber' Berlin Airlift C-54 scheme and now this US Navy Antarctic operator. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts.

Assembly is straightforward, though the instructions advise that .75 ounces of ballast will be required in the nose to keep the completed model from becoming a tail-sitter. As with many airliner kits in this scale, the R5D does not have an interior, so you can simply assemble the fuselage and add the cockpit enclosure. The enclosure is clear and you can mask the windows prior to painting, or you can paint over the windows and use one of the two styles of window decals provided in the kit.

The kit does provide some nice landing gear and wheel well details for this scale and these can be added after painting to make the job a little easier.

Decals are provided for one R5D-3, BuNo 56528, JO/5, wearing the colors for Antarctic operations. The all-important de-icing boots for this aircraft are also provided as decals.

This is a nice looking kit that will look very eye-catching in the color scheme of Seaplane Gray, International Orange, and bare metal.

My sincere thanks to Minicraft Models for this review sample!