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Roden 1/48 D17S Staggerwing Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2012 Manufacturer Roden
Subject D17S Staggerwing Scale 1/48
Kit Number 0446 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Great details Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $52.98

First Look


Beechcraft took the bold move of developing a new executive transport, the Model 17, which was the business jet of the 1930s. The Model 17 was also called 'Staggerwing' for its unusual wing layout. While biplanes were still common in the 1930s, the lower wing was usually mounted aft of the upper wing but not so with the Staggerwing. With the upper wing aft of the lower wing, the Model 17 provided better forward and upward visibility without sacrificing downward visibility, all important factors for pilot visibility (since air traffic control in those days was up to the pilots themselves).

The D17S was an advanced version of the Model 17 with a lengthened tail for better pitch stability and the ailerons moved to the upper wing to remain clear of flap turbulance. With the addition of retractable landing gear and attention to clean airflow, Beech was able to make the aircraft cruise at over 200 mph while still able to land at a modest 45 mph.

The aircraft's utility as a courier or liaison aircraft quickly became apparent to the US Army Air Force as well as to the British as the type was quickly procured for service and the demand was so high that numerous privately-owned Staggerwings were leased for military service as well. The D17S would be produced in the largest numbers of all of the Staggerwing family with 67 civilian and 412 military (UC-43) examples.

Last year, we had the opportunity to look at one of the early releases of Roden's Staggerwing series ( look here) and the kit was clearly a vast improvement over the only other option produced in this scale, the venerable AMT kit. Here we have the civilian version of the Staggerwing and it is every bit as nice as the original UC-43 kit. Molded in gray styrene, the kit is presented on five parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts.

The cabin interior is nicely replicated with detailed seats (no seatbelts though), Beech 'throw-over' control yoke, brake/rudder pedals for the left seat and rudder pedals for the right seat, and an instrument panel with decals provided for the instrument faces.

The R985 Wasp Junior engine is nicely done and will look magnificent with some good painting of the details.

The landing gear is nicely done and even the twin venturi tubes are provided next to the port wheel well. (Anybody remember venturi tubes?)

The wings go together next and soon you're ready to put all of the subassemblies together and head to the paint rack.

Markings are provided for three examples:

  • D17S, N241K, UK, 2010
  • D17S, N52962, USA, 2001
  • D17S, VH-FNS, Australia, 2010

Note the dates of these three examples? You'll also see modern antennas provided for some of the aircraft while two retains the HF long wire antennas. These are contemporary examples of these 70+ year old aircraft.

Once again, this looks like a beautiful kit and with these three examples being contemporary aircraft that are seen at airshows and special events, you can correctly assume that the engine and every other detail will be pristine and well-maintained.

This kit is definitely recommended.

My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!