Minicraft 1/144 C-54 Skymaster Kit First Look
|Date of Review||March 2010||Manufacturer||Minicraft|
|Kit Number||14614||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Beautiful kit||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$27.95|
The Douglas Aircraft Company ruled the airliner market until the advent of the jet age, and even then Douglas would still keep a share of the market with its DC-8, DC-9 and DC-10. But rewinding to the beginning of the story, Douglas developed a new design that was one of the first all-metal airliners after the Civil Aeronautics Board (precursor to the FAA) ruled that airliners could no longer have wings or structural members made of wood.
Competing with the new Boeing Model 247, Douglas used their one and only prototype, the DC-1, to demonstrate the innovative capabilities of this next-generation aircraft. Douglas received orders for the design with its launch customer, TWA, though they wanted more seats and more powerful engines. The result was the DC-2. That led to further interest, greather capabilities, and the DC-3 was born.
Recognizing that greater range and payload was being sought by the growing airline industry, Douglas set out to create a four-engine workhorse to capture the longer-range market. While the first prototype flew in 1938, the design had a few bugs to work out and war broke out before the aircraft could enter the civil market. Like its brother, the DC-3, the DC-4 would enter military service, designated as the C-54. After the war, the DC-4 would enter airlines as well as a number of surplus C-54s.
Minicraft has been producing a nice variety of 1/144 scale aircraft subjects and this one was very much anticipated by modelers. This kit follows up earlier releases in DC-4 colors with markings reflecting its military service.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus a single tree in clear styrene with the cockpit 'cap'.
Out of the box, the kit looks as good as the test shots did several years ago at one of the hobby shows. If I recall correctly, this was one of Minicraft's first kits produced using three-dimensional CAD drawings to create the tooling more precisely and the kit more accurately.
Assembly of the kit is straightforward as the fuselage halves simply go together, as do the wing halves. The engines are nicely represented in this scale as are the landing gear. Even though the propellers are designed to move (with a hub backplate), you might consider leaving these off as well as the landing gear until you've finished with the bare metal paint and decal application.
Markings are provided two examples:
- C-54G, 45-0553, USAFE, Germany, 1960s
- C-54A, 42-72488, MATS, USAF, 1960s
This is a nice kit that will go together quickly and provide a colorful addition to your scale flightline. This is another nice installment in Minicraft's growing line of 1/144 scale aircraft.
My sincere thanks to Minicraft Models for this review sample!