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Roden 1/48 UC-43 Staggerwing Kit First Look

By Kelly Jamison

Date of Review May 2011 Manufacturer Roden
Subject UC-43 Staggerwing Scale 1/48
Kit Number 0442 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Great details Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $52.98

First Look


Few planes can look so wrong and so right at the same time. The Beechcraft Staggerwing is one of those aircraft. Even more stunning is the fact that the Staggerwing was first flown in 1932! Starting life as an executive transport, it was also popular with air racers for its lightning fast speed for its time. A few were used as light bombers By the Second Spanish Republic and as an air ambulance by the Chinese.

The US Army Air Corps used it as an attaché aircraft calling it the YC-43 The Royal Air Force used them and called them Traveller Mk ones.. After the war they were still in very high demand and were sold on the open market. It wasn't until the Beechcraft Bonanza replaced it that the Staggerwing started finding its way into the hands of collectors. It is considered one of the most beautiful airplanes ever produced.

Roden certainly needs to be congratulated on taking on this project. The old AMT was a good kit that needed a lot of work. It seemed like a natural to be reproduced by a company like Roden. It comes in their standard heavy bottom cardboard box with a light cardboard top that seems a bit susceptible to crushing if you stack too many un-built kits on it. So keep your stack low!

It is packaged nicely with all six trees being in one bag. I do wish that the clear parts would be individually packaged to keep scratches down. The glass is a bit on the rough side needing a bit of polishing and a few dips in Future to get it crystal clear. The rest of the kit is cast in a medium grey plastic. I saw very little flash and no mold alignment problems. The surface is a bit rough too but is should smooth out after the first coat of paint. The fabric is well depicted on the fuselage and wings.

Some for thought went into the “C” tree which repeats the wheels, wing struts, seats and landing gear. There are large ejection port lugs on the wheels that will need to be razor sawed off and sanded down a bit. The landing gear is nicely detailed. The “D” tree has a very nice engine that can be detailed out to your heart’s satisfaction. The “Wing” tree has both sets of wings. They molded the whole aileron on the top panels of the wing which makes it nice in alignment of the wing halves and gives that area good depth. Then the fuselage tree has, of course, the fuselage halves and tail planes, two piece engine cowls, door and interior with the prop and other small pieces. The interior looks a little sparse but can be spruced up with just a little scratch-building. I bet the aftermarket guys are going to be on this one soon.

The instruction sheet is an exploded 30 degree view with a simple paint code and arrows showing where each component should be located. A few steps have an enlarged view so you can understand how the part lines up better. It is only four pages thick. The simple color grid on the back corresponds with Model Master paint codes.

The decals look very nice with three different options. The most colorful is the yellow wing, light blue fuselage assigned to the US Air Attaches at the American Embassy in London in 1939. Another option is the all Olive Drab version of the Eighth Air Force in England 1943, depicted on the box lid. And finally, an all silver version of the US Army Communication Unit in late 1944 completes the options offered. You could easily build a civilian version in red or yellow trim.

My impression of the kit is it is a good kit that will need some careful preparation and fitting before gluing the parts together. I can see the clear parts giving you some grief and there are ejector pin markings on some unusual places like the inside of the cabin door, the inside of the landing gear covers and the inside of the engine cowls. The rough surface doesn’t bother me at all. I have seen this surface before and it disappears under a coat of paint. I salute Roden for making this kit and look forward to putting this thing together with a full build article to follow.