Saturday, 28 January 2017

28mm Pulp Aircraft: the Beech Model 18

Introduction

Last week, I showed a small, 2-seater aircraft in 1:48th scale that I intend to use for Pulp wargaming: the Avia BH-11.  Whilst this will be useful, I really need an airliner for my next intended scenario.  However, an iconic 1930s plane such as the DC-3 has a wingspan of 95 feet.  At 1:48 scale, that's very close to 2 feet (60cm) across!  A German Ju-52 trimotor has almost exactly the same dimensions, so that's no better.

On a 3' gaming table, a 2' wide model would dominate, leaving little room for anything else.  Equally, the cost of such a large kit and the storage requirements of the completed model are offputting.  So, what to do?

Instead of looking for a medium-sized airliner such as the DC-3, I decided to search for much smaller twin-motor craft.  Here's one that I found...

The Beech Model 18


The Beech Model 18 (also known as the "Twin Beech", or "C-45 Expeditor" when in USAAF service) was a small transport aircraft that was produced in surprisingly large numbers.  It typically carried about 7 passengers (compared to the DC-3's capacity of 30 or so).  The Model 18 first flew in 1937, so it just about fits in the Interwar period that I desire for Pulp adventures.



Because the original is a relatively small craft, the 1:48th scale model has a wingspan of marginally under 1 foot (30cm).  That's much more manageable on a wargames table!  I've included a 28mm figure for comparison purposes, as well as a home made set of steps.



So, what can I tell you about this model?

  • It's built from a kit by ICM, though I believe that Revell have also released a kit from the same tooling.
  • The kit is fairly easy to find online; there are a number of sellers who offer it.  I paid around £20 for mine, which is significant but not prohibitive.  Your circumstances may differ, of course.
  • The interior is fully detailed, with instrument panels, controls and seats.  Normally, I would assemble a model fully before undercoating, painting and sealing it.  In this case, I had to paint the sections separately before final assembly - and then fill & touch up the paint around the joints.



  • No crew figures come with the ICM kit (& probably not with the Revell one either, I imagine).  However, I added a pilot from another kit.  He's just about visible in the left hand, front seat.  Apparently it's convention for the pilot to sit in the left seat for a fixed wing aircraft, but the right seat in a helicopter!
  • I've cut down the propellers and added "spinning disks" instead, as I want my model to be preparing for take-off.  Opinions in the scale modeller world on the effectiveness of this technique seem to be fairly negative, but it works for me.


  • For the most part, the pieces fitted together well.  However, two area were problematic.
    Firstly, the seats had some very thin and brittle parts (the frames/legs).  I broke quite a few of these when trying to cut them from the sprue and even had to replace one shattered seat frame completely with wire.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, considering the amount of effort I put into these), the passenger seats can't really be seen inside the completed model.
    Secondly, the undercarriage is composed of a large number of spindly struts.  Assembly of this was complex and I think that these are easily the most fragile part of the plane.
  • I haven't fitted radio aerials to the model; these would probably be in the way when wargaming and don't add hugely to the overall appearance.
  • The colour scheme and markings are entirely fictitious and my own work, though I did take inspiration from some real life airlines.

Conclusion

The ICM Beech 18 kit makes a nice model that is a very good size for 28mm figures and not hugely expensive either.  However, it is primarily intended as a scale modeller's kit rather than for wargaming.  Consequently it was a bit more intricate to build than I might have desired.  The big concern I have is how fragile it will be, though as a static centrepiece for a game it shouldn't have a lot of handling.

33 comments:

  1. It certainly looks the part and as you say, it's a nice size.

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    1. Thanks, Bryan. I'm looking forward to using it in "The Last Flight" scenario :-) .

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    1. Thanks, Dave. This model took a surprising amount of time and effort, so I'm glad you like it :-) .

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  3. Are you sure you are not going "Diesel Punk" Skypirates?
    An excellent plane it does look just the job.

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  4. Another fantastic looking model.
    I think the propeller disks look great, I can imagine the hum of the engines as the craft waits for "Chocks away" and begins to taxi.

    7 passengers is an excelent choice.
    Room for a pulp league and a couple of guests.

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    1. Of course, the zones around the spinning propellers will be "extremely hazardous" areas in Pulp Alley, won't they :-) ?

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  5. I like the disc props C6, size wise it's perfect

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    1. Thanks, dGG. I think it'll work pretty well, as long as it's not too fragile :-) .

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  6. Sweet, that is a great find. It should work perfectly for any number of scenarios.

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    1. It does look good, doesn't it? Would work for Casablanca, Indiana Jones or any number of similar settings.

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  7. Superb aircraft, good size too.(nice job in the stairs btw)

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    1. Thanks, Joe. The steps were almost an afterthought, but they're a very necessary part of the scene.

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  8. Very nice looking plane. Well done on painting it up and assembling it without to much trouble. I am in the process of building a model kit from a movie and its 1/76 or something like that and has very delicate pieces for the stairs etc.

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    1. This kit took me most of the Christmas holidays to build (though admittedly my hobby time seems less when the family are all around than at a regular weekend), so it wasn't trivial. The undercarriage and the seats were especially fiddly...

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  9. Very cool mate! I like it a lot. Really useable in Post apoc (or near) settings too. Loads of missions could be done with this piece.

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    1. Yes, I suppose that this mode could be used for anything up to the jet age. I'm looking forward to my 1930s scenario, though :-) !

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    1. Thanks, Michael. I am rather pleased with this one :-) .

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  11. Fantastic looking plane. I agree with the others, the disks look fantastic

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    1. Thanks, Phil. I'm quite pleased with it myself :-) .

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  12. Great find! Though a DC3 or Junker would be awesome, your correct about having to store them when not in use. Looking forward to seeing them in the game.

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    1. If I could fins a 1:56th DC-3 or similar then I might use it, but I think the chances of that are pretty much nil. At 1:48, the DC-3 is really too big...

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  13. Very nice aircraft and just the right size. Obviously using model kits does leave you open to potential damage, due to fragile undercarriage, etc. I seem to remember seeing someone using a teansport plane for Disney's "Cars 2" range which, when suitably repainted, did look very nice. The advantage of 'toys' is that built for robust play, even if the detailing isn't 100% accurate.

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    1. Thanks, CC. I might just go and look up those Disney ranges now; I think I've heard from somewhere that some of their automobiles also work quite nicely with 28mm figures?

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    2. I think the officisl scale of the Cars range is 1:56, so they might be a little small, but they are readily available and do have some reasonably inexpensive and nice models. I've also seen the original Cars movie playsets used for 28mm with no issues scale-wise, but they tend to go for silly prices on eBay now unfortunately.

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  14. Those spinning propellers really look the part. Realistic too.

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    1. Well, those are very kind words - but I think I went a bit heavy on the yellow at the edge of the disks :-) .

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  15. I just ordered one of these from Amazon the other day, it's great to know that it works well with 28mm models.

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    1. I hope we'll get to hear about your experiences of building and painting it, in due course :-) .

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  16. Nicely done! The spinning propeller discs are great!

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    1. Thanks, AJ! They're not quite as subtle as I had hoped, but they'll work well enough.

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