For my next build I am building the 1/48 Trumpeter HU-16A Albatross. I should note that I have been working on this in the background for a while I was working on the commission builds. The HU-16A is a twin-engine seaplane (originally designated SA-16A) mostly used as a search and rescue aircraft for the United States Coast Guard and United States Air Force. I will be using Caracal decals # CD48047 and using the scheme for U.S. Coast Guard in 1956.
I will also be super-detailing the interior. I was able to locate some reference photos of this aircraft from a fellow modeler. One of the first things I needed to do was to add the door from the cockpit to the crew area. I used some sheet styrene and made the window from clear acetate film. The door handles are extras from my photo etch bin. There are two bays on each side of the cockpit bulkhead that have avionics gear. I used more extras from my photo etch extras to detail the equipment and 30 awg wire to cable them. The instrument panel and center console were all hand painted. The flight control wheels had a sinkhole in the middle so I filled them with putty and the made decals of the 1950’s Grumman logo for the center caps. The pilot and co-pilot seats were assembled and detailed with photo etch seat belts. The landing gear bays were assembled extra details were added with 30 awg wire. The floor of the crew area has a path of non-skid as well and tie-down pads for various configurations. I represented the pads with spare photo etch pieces. There are three cots in the mid-section. The kit supplied photo etch pieces but they are flat and difficult to shape to make them look like the real cots. I decided to use some thin cloth which gives them a much better look. I detailed the crew seats with photo etch seat belts and mounted the main landing gear bays. I am starting on the fuselage now. The interior has numerous ejection marks. I filled these with putty so that I have a smooth surface to begin the interior wall detailing.
This week I will cover the detailing of the interior of the HU-16A Albatross. The first thing I did was scratch built the doors for the aft bulkhead. I then used styrene square rods and began lying in the internal framework. Once the framework was installed I painted it with interior green and added some scratch built equipment with wire for cables. Near the entry door on the reference photos there was a yellow safety strap. I used some cloth tape and scratch built one. I then assembled the entry door parts and added hinges (photo etch extras) so the door can be mounted in the open position. I then fitted the interior assembly inside and assembled the fuselage.
To complete the fuselage, I started working on the canopy section. I masked off the windows with kapton tape and installed the escape hatches. (see Masking with Kapton Tape ) The kit overhead console has no details at all. I then dug through my photo etch extras and found some detailed panels, knobs, switches, and levers. Using the reference photos I matched up the panels. I set the canopy onto the fuselage and the fit was not very good. The width was too thin and it was too tall. I heated up some water to almost boiling (around 180*) and soaked the canopy in it for a few minutes to soften it a little. I then took a toothpick and cut the length to match the width of the cockpit area. I picked up the canopy and placed the toothpick to widen the rear area and then soaked it back in the hot water for a couple of minutes. I pulled it out then placed it in a bowl of ice water to cool it off. Once cool the toothpick was removed and I test fit it on the fuselage. The fit was much better. The top was now even with the top of the fuselage and the width was very close and only required a little putty to even them out. I am now working on detailing the engines so I can put the wing assembly together.
As work continues on the Albatross I am getting closer to finishing this build. The kit engines have very good details. They only lack the ignition wires. I drilled holes in the cylinders and ran 30AWG wire to run from the cylinders to the ignition ring. With a little detail painting I was pleased with the engines. With the fuselage and wings completed, I masked off the landing gear bays, side windows and the crew door and painted the aircraft with Vallejo Duroaluminum metal paint. The wingtips and the fuselage stripe were then painted with Tamiya yellow. Reference photos show two antennas on top of the tail, one mid fuselage, and three on the underside of each wingtip. I used some spare photo etch pieces to replicate these. I then started applying the Caracal decals. The decals are very thin. It was a very tedious task to do especially the long stripes and the large walkway decal on the top of the fuselage. They are very delicate and craked easily. Eventually I was able to get the decals placed correctly. After the decals dried the entire aircraft was sprayed with a clear gloss to seal everything. Once dry all the masking was removed.
The kit comes with both plastic and metal landing gear. I opted to use the metal version. Everything fit very well together. I then painted the wheel hubs and put them into the rubber tires that were supplied with the kit. With the landing gear all installed, I found that I had used the correct amount of weight in the nose to keep it from tail dragging. All that is left to do is some detail painting, painting the de-icer boots, adding the antenna lines and all the clear lenses for the wingtip and fuselage lights.
The 1/48 Trumpeter HU-16A Albatross is now finished! I painted the de-icing boots and added some EZ-line for the antenna. For the wingtip lights, the kit just had the clear lenses. I used a clear sprue and made small lamp bulbs that mounted to the lens and painted them using clear red and green for the bulbs. I added some exhaust staining to the top of the wings and this completed the aircraft.
This aircraft is a nice kit to build. The fit was very good and so are most of the details. While the kit gives you details for the crew area, the numerous ejection marks require lots of work to remove/cover them up. The instructions are laid out well so the build process flows well. The kit does not account for the wingtip and top of the tail antenna’s so these had to be scratch built. I did not used the kit decals, however, comparing them to the Caracal decals the kit decals seem a little on the large size and the walkway is the wrong color. All reference photos show them as grey but the kit walkway is yellow. The Caracal decals look great and are the correct sizes. They are very thin so the conform to the surface well. The only down side is the larger decals like the walkway can tear/crack easily so extreme care when placing them is required. Overall the kit is fun to build and looks great when finished.