by: Stephen T. Lawson [ ]
In 1959 the Swiss firm Pilatus developed a simple multi-purpose aircraft, with the formal name of PC-6 Porter. The early machines were piston engined and built in a short series; and two years later appeared the more modern PC-6 Turbo Porter, powered by the French Turbomeca Astazou II turboprop engine. The airplane proved to be quite successful and displayed highly capable characteristics; especially impressive was its capacity for short take-off and landing on the smallest and most poorly prepared air strips. In 1964 the construction of the airplane was further modernised. The more advanced PT6A-6A engine was installed, the tail fin was enlarged, the construction of the undercarriage was improved, and so on. This version was the B2-H4. In the following years the type gained great popularity. Apart from Switzerland, it was purchased for the needs of air arms in Austria, Argentina, Australia, and various countries in the Far East and Africa. The American aircraft manufacturer Fairchild was also interested in this aircraft and purchased a license in Switzerland for its production.
At this time the military of the United States of America, which was involved in its protracted war in Vietnam, announced a competition for a basic airplane whose primary function had to be supporting operations against the Northern invasions. . . Under the provisions of the military tests for the Credible program two types were chosen - the Fairchild Porter and the Helio Stallion. Comparative tests of the two types took place in 1971 at the Eglin Air Base after which the proposal of the Fairchild firm was chosen for further development.
An airline was founded in the U.S.A. in 1946, under the name "Air America". At first sight, it was an entirely ordinary event, as private air transport had been practiced for a long time in this country, and so the appearance of yet another airline was unexceptional.
However, this new company actually belonged to the Central Intelligence Agency, with the primary purpose of reconnaissance activity beyond its own borders, which is why Air America's activities in that period were always concerned with out of the ordinary air transportation.
The headquarters of the airline were in Washington, D.C., but this was an elaborate and fictitious front, as in a democratic society like this the politicians strictly supervised the activities of the C.I.A. and other such agencies. The primary purpose of Air America on its foundation, and in future, was to support the covert operations of the C.I.A. in the planet's 'hot spots'. . ." from Roden Website.
It is a typically solid Roden boxing with 177 plastic pieces and a sheet of decals for the Air America versions. The 12 page instructions have the usual information, parts map exploded view format layouts. A template is provided for the specific locations for the identity lights, communications arrays and cabin air intake and exhaust ports. These are not molded into the cabin turtledeck for two reasons.
1. When uniting the fuselage halves you won't have to worry about erasing the details when blending the seam.
2. Roden has already punched out a military version,( Kit # 439 released in March 2010). This method allows for both kits with only a few sprue differences.
The fuselage and wing components were test fitted and go together nicely. There is also an correction that Roden posted on their web site. http://www.roden.eu/HTML/framemodels.htm - dated 30 June 2010.
1. Pilatus PC-6C/H-2 Turbo Porter, 238, aircraft from the Air America movie with inspired a/c number.
2. Pilatus PC-6C/H-2 Turbo Porter, Air America, N365F, Udorn, August 1971 May 1974, based at miscellaneous airfields in Viet Nam, Laos, and Thailand.
3. Pilatus PC-6C/H-2 Turbo Porter, Air America, N3612R, June 1971 July 1974, based at miscellaneous airfields in Viet Nam, Laos, and Thailand.
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