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Williams Bros. BOEING 247 - Early-Style Conversion --COMPLETED--

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  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Williams Bros. BOEING 247 - Early-Style Conversion --COMPLETED--
Posted by gregbale on Friday, February 02, 2018 1:00 PM

I mentioned in passing in another post that I'm working on the old Williams Brothers 1/72 Boeing 247---a venerable (but still quite nice) kit of what has been called 'the first truly modern airliner.'

One of the challenges (and attractions) of the project for me was the idea of trying to replicate the early models' peculiar finish: unpainted Duraluminum panels. Period photos of the real aircraft---naturally, in black and white only---show these panels, when new, displayed an amazing variety of tones and gradations, varying considerably even from airframe to airframe. Anything from dull silver to shades of grey---with slight color-tints of bronze or green. (That's an interpolation from more contemporary real-life observation, not simply 'guessing' from the B&W shots.) As the finish weathered, these tones became even more varied.

I chose to model an aircraft that had been in service for a while. As my main guide, I had a serendipitous 'bird's eye view' photo---showing virtually the entire rarely-seen upper surfaces---coincidentally taken over my home-town of Chicago as part of the 1933 World's Fair 'A Century of Progress.' Boeing's brand-new airliner was a featured exhibit there, demonstrating the then-cutting edge technology of an airliner with all-metal semi-monocoque construction, retractable landing gear, autopilot...and on-board lavatory. (New York to Los Angeles in a 'blistering' 20 hours...with only seven stops!)

The photo in question:



Surprisingly 'un-subtle,' and anything but pristine: a real patchwork of tones, along with visible 'weathering.' Using that and a plethora of other photos, I roughly 'mapped' the tonal differences I recognized:



For my base-coat, I tinted Tamiya Aluminum with a little dark grey and a few drops of dark green. Once it was dried/cured, I polished it with an old tee-shirt to get a hard smooth surface overall.

For the panels themselves, I chose to go with mainly thin glazes of artist's oils. They're easy to work with...can be applied 'dry' to give a uniform color, or thinned and brushed out to near-transparency...and can easily be wiped away if something goes pear-shaped. The palette was mainly white and black, for a range of greys; and bits of green and umber for more  'titanium' and 'bronze' shades.

A couple of afternoons of randomly masking panels with short lengths of Tamiya tape, and oils applied with one fine-tip brush for close areas, and one 1/4-inch soft wide brush to 'work it' over broader areas. Typically when I had an area to my liking, I'd take off the masking...then go over it again with a 'clean' brush in a kind of feathery stroke to mute the intensity and make it even more transparent. My goal was basically to have the silver base coat always 'shining through' to at least some degree, with the oils adding 'ambiance.'

Enough chat. Here are the 'close-to-finished' results...with only a few 'adjustments' (and corrections) left to be made...and before any washes, panel lines, etc.:



And as my 'control'...the original shot, with my crude simulation alongside:



That's it so far. Comments, questions, or accuasations of diminished capacity as always welcome. (The down-side of oils is that I'll have to give it at least a good week before any more useful finishing can proceed. That'll give me time to scratchbuild the exhausts for the modified early-style engines....)

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Northern California
Posted by jeaton01 on Friday, February 02, 2018 9:27 PM

I like that representation.  Very nice.  Going to steal the idea.

John

To see build logs of my models, go here: http://goldeneramodel.com/mymodels/mymodels.htm

  

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Saturday, February 03, 2018 7:37 AM

Thank you, John.

Lord knows, I've 'cobbed' enough tips & tricks from you over the years...it's a pleasure to be able to offer up something useful in return!

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    November, 2003
  • From: State of Mississippi. State motto: Virtute et armis (By valor and arms)
Posted by mississippivol on Saturday, February 03, 2018 8:02 AM
I think you nailed it! You out of tape yet?
  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Saturday, February 03, 2018 9:16 AM

mississippivol
I think you nailed it! You out of tape yet?

The wide stuff.

But I've got plenty of the skinny kind left!  Big Smile

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Saturday, February 03, 2018 9:49 AM

Looks like a 247.

i remember how small that model is.

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Saturday, February 03, 2018 12:34 PM

AHA ! 

 Like it has been said . I am going to steal that idea for mine ( If I ever get to build it )

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Sunday, February 04, 2018 11:11 AM

I built that kit about twenty years ago, and used a uniform coat of Testors Steel. It looked okay, but not great. The model got smashed a couple of years ago. I managed to find a replacement kit recently.  Got started, but just barely, then set it up on my shelf of doom recently.  I love that effect you got- I will use it as guidance when I get to the finishing of mine.

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Ridott, Illinois
Posted by Banshee1000 on Saturday, February 10, 2018 7:58 PM
Wow, that looks great! Thank you for posting this. I'm close to starting the 247Y build and thinking of how to approach the finish.
  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Saturday, February 10, 2018 9:43 PM

Thanks, guys.

It's pretty close to finished---a final finish coat and a few more details and it will be ready to post.

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Monday, February 12, 2018 6:06 PM

 

Here she is: Williams Brothers classic 1/72 Boeing 247D airliner, modified to the original 247 (no 'D') configuration.

That conversion included modifying the kit's 'straight-line' fin/rudder to the earlier 'notched' style, and detailing the hinges; cutting off the kit engine nacelles and scratchbuilding new smaller-diameter ones (from Monogram 1/48 F4U-4 drop tanks); and using the engines and speed-ring cowlings from an Airfix 1/72 Ford Trimotor to replace the kit's late-style NACA-design fully-enclosed engine cowlings. (Both real aircraft utilized the same Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp engines, so it was an easy swap...just requiring new scratchbuilt exhaust collectors.)

The kit includes the early-style 'forward slant' canopy as an option; though I had to cut out the centerline pilot's hatch and replace it with an acetate piece, since the kit canopy is a two-piece affair with the seam running right down the center. I added the early-style tall aerial mast forward of the canopy from a shaped section of bamboo barbecue skewer, to give it enough strength and rigidity to stand up to the tightly-stretched EZ-Line aerial.

Decals were all made up on my PC and printed on my faithful HP inkjet, using Testors decal paper and their Decal-Bonder spray to seal. The decals included something I tried for the first time: 'printed' panel lines. Uncertain of how visible my usual 'pencil' technique would be against assorted shades of silver, I made up a bunch of straight and curved lines in various thicknesses and colors, to apply as decals.

I used the charcoal-grey versions exclusively---the black were much too high-contrast---and it worked fairly well, particularly on the 247's complex curved nose panels. There were two main drawbacks: homemade decals tend to want to curl, and with tiny strips of panel lines this became an exercise in patience in some areas. The other drawback comes from putting mainly clear-film decals over a silver finish: even with a Future undercoat and liberal use of Solvaset, there were some 'silvering' areas that remained invisible until the final finish-coat was applied. Most could be dealt with, but a few rough areas frustratingly remained.

The aircraft I chose to depict---NC13304---was the fourth production machine of the total 75 built, and is the same one shown in the overhead photo already posted above. It went into service in April 1933; the World's Fair photo was taken during the summer only a few months later.



Here's the same aircraft as it might have looked on the evening 0f 10 October, 1933: United Airlines' regularly-scheduled 'Trip 23'---they didn't yet refer to them as 'Flights'---preparing to depart following a twenty-minute refueling stop at Ohio's Cleveland Hopkins Airport, on the next leg of her trans-continental route from Newark, New Jersey to Oakland, California. Now headed for Chicago, the ill-fated airliner was about to enter the annals of aviation history...but for all the wrong reasons.

 

 At approximately 8:49 PM, the pilot radioed his regular position report, with all normal and the aircraft on-course for the Windy City. When the next scheduled communication---twenty minutes later---wasn't made, it raised no particular alarm, since radio communication was still highly subject to weather and/or occasional technical difficulties. Alarms were raised a short time later, as confused reports started to come in from ground witnesses: an explosion had been heard in the night skies over the rural farm area near Chesterton, Indiana. A short time later, wreckage was found: the aircraft had been torn apart in mid-air---by what authorities later determined was most likely a nitroglycerin bomb planted in a lavatory storage cabinet---with the loss of all aboard: four passengers (the aircraft could have carried as many as ten) and three crew, including pilot, co-pilot and stewardess.

This first-ever bombing of a commercial passenger aircraft---an act of what we would now call 'terrorism,' though then it was merely referred to as 'sabotage'---was extensively investigated by the FBI and civil aviation authorities. Despite pursuing numerous seemingly-promising leads and an ever-widening list of possible suspects who had any potential connection with the airline, the flight, or its passengers or crew, no credible motive for the act was ever determined...no probable suspect(s) firmly identified...and no credit claimed by any individual or organization, for having brought the airliner down. The puzzle of the ill-fated United Air Lines 'Trip 23' remains the oldest 'cold case' in commercial aviation---and one of the most frustrating and elusive 'unsolved' cases in the entire history of aviation.

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 6:35 AM

Love it!  It is an inspiration to get back to work on mine.

Where did you get the photo of the Hopkins Terminal?

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 7:21 AM

Don Stauffer

Love it!  It is an inspiration to get back to work on mine.

Where did you get the photo of the Hopkins Terminal?

 

Just 'Googling' on the Interweb!
It's actually, if I recall accurately, a 1950s-era photo...but it looked 'period' enough to me to 'stand in.' (If you study the architecture of the right side of the facade, you'll see I had to 'stretch' the building a bit to get sufficient width...nearly...to use as a backdrop. Much easier to do with grainy b&w shots, than bright clear color ones!)
I appreciate the comment!

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    September, 2017
  • From: western North Carolina
Posted by kensar on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 11:17 AM

The model looks great!  I was a little doubtful about the panel colors as they looked as if there was too much contrast between some of them, but the final result looks like a very well weathered finish.  I guess the final clear coats toned them down some?

Kensar

 

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 11:41 AM

kensar

The model looks great!  I was a little doubtful about the panel colors as they looked as if there was too much contrast between some of them, but the final result looks like a very well weathered finish.  I guess the final clear coats toned them down some?

Thanks.

My final clear coat was roughly four parts Future acrylic to one part Vallejo acrylic matt, basically just to even out the reflectance a bit between earlier gloss applications.

I don't think it toned anything down as such: instead, I think I unwittingly stumbled onto a neat (and very lucky) simulation of a 'real' metal effect.

I think that by keeping my oil glazes transparent enough to let the underlying silver shine through, it mimics real metal in the sense that the contrast between panels---and even their relative colors---seem to vary and shift depending on lighting conditions and angle of view. (It's an effect I could probably never have accomplished in a million years, if I'd actually set out to try to do it! But I have 'filed it away' for future reference....)

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 12:57 PM

That's a beautiful build!  Inspiration to break mine out of the stash some day.  I want to finish it in the livery of a ficticious airline flying out of Allentown, PA, to Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre.  "Keystone Airlines", maybe, or "Queen City Airlines" or "Transit", something like that.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v233/HansvonHammer/Humor/th_MonogramMafia.jpg?t=1296972087~original

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 9:08 AM

Hi ;

    I gotta say .That bird looks great . It reminds me of the D.C.-3s that Capitol Airlines flew out of Buffalo N.Y. in the fifties .Granted an older plane but a great build . Huzzah !  T.B.

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 11:13 AM

Thanks, guys!

(I must say...it's been quite a while since I've gotten a good 'Huzzah!'....)

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

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