by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
I always feel a sense of excitement when Silver Wings announce a new kit, particularly so in the case of this, their latest release, because it was one of my choices in their recent poll to select upcoming subjects. The Boeing Stearman must rate among the most iconic trainers of all time, a true classic if ever there was one. Built in large numbers, it was the mount of countless Allied WW2 pilots as they began their aviation careers.
Silver Wing’s Stearman arrives in a compact and sturdy top-opening box, with all the parts and accessories packed in zip-lock bags. The kit comprises:
207 x grey resin parts
2 x clear resin parts
33 x etched brass parts, plus a printed film
Decals for 2x colour schemes
The casting looks to be basically faultless in my kit, with no signs of bubbles or other blemishes, and just a thin film of flash to clean up here and there. Casting blocks are kept small in most cases - and the fuselage and flying surfaces arrive ready-separated and needing little preparation before assembly. However, beginners should be aware that there are many extremely tiny detail parts, and these will require the utmost care in removing them from their pour stubs.
The surface finish consists of a beautifully rendered taught fabric effect on the rear fuselage and flying surfaces, with neatly engraved panel lines and embossed fasteners for the metal parts of the airframes. There are no rib-tapes depicted on the wings and tail, so purists may wish to add them with strips of decal sealed under a coat of paint.
There's not a lot you can dry-assemble in a kit like this, but the fuselage arrives with the two halves already taped together, promising an excellent fit and a sound basis for the rest of the construction. The tailplanes fit perfectly and have short locating stubs. The wing panels have short projecting locating stubs, and are cast around strong metal cores, ensuring they are dead straight. The metal cores protrude, although there are no matching holes. However, the wings are quite heavy, so it will be a good idea to drill holes carefully and use the projecting metal rods as “spars” for extra support. All the interplane struts are cast with metal cores.
A few detailsThe dual cockpits are very well detailed, with over 70 parts devoted to the interior. The instrument panels are multi-layered with film backings, and the rear panel features the backs of the instruments ready for wiring (not included). The seats are moulded nice and thin, with etched harnesses and brackets. The Stearman’s interior is a veritable cat’s cradle of struts and frames so, although the instructions depict fitting the internal equipment before closing the frame around it all,
I’m tempted to build the empty frame first, like its full-sized counterpart, to make sure everything is straight and true before adding the details. There should be space in this scale to squeeze things in...
Silver Wings’ engines are always a high point of their kits and the new Lycoming lives up to expectations with 9 separate beautifully cast cylinders to attach to the crankcase before adding pushrods, exhausts and wiring. In total, there 70 parts. There’s a choice of wooden or metal propellers.
The undercarriage legs are multi-part affairs, with the lower parts cast around metal cores to provide strength. There are separate torque scissors and even towing rings. The wheels show crisp detail on the hubs. The tyres are modelled "unweighted".
Lastly, a pair of crystal clear resin windscreens is provided.
Instructions and decalsThe assembly guide is printed in colour on high quality glossy stock as a 16-page booklet. Construction is broken down into quite manageable stages and the simple drawings are pretty straightforward to follow. A nice touch is that items such as control cables and rigging are highlighted in colour. A diagram helps set the correct dihedral and a full page rigging chart is provided. Colours are keyed to most details and FS matches are provided for each of them.
Decals are included for a pair of schemes:
1. N2S-2 s/n 3553 “401”, US Navy
2. PT-13D s/n N1714M “14”, US Army
The decals look to be excellent quality - thin, glossy and with minimal carrier film.
ConclusionIt amazes me that it's taken so long for a largescale Stearman to be available. Happily, the wait has been more than worth it, because this looks to be another superb kit from Silver Wings and deserves to be a great success. Highly recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.