by: Tim Hatton [ ]
BackgroundExperience during the Berlin Airlift demonstrated that the United States Air Force needed a heavy lift strategic transporter. Douglas Aircraft obliged by creating the C-124 Globemaster II. The C-124 was designed utilising the parts from the earlier Douglas C-74 Globemaster. The C-124 featured two large clamshell doors and a hydraulically-actuated ramp in the nose as well as a cargo elevator under the aft fuselage. To increase its flexibility an Auxiliary Power Unit [APU] was fitted, the first time one had been incorporated into an aircraft. The C-124 nicknamed "Old Shaky" was capable of carrying 68,500 lb (31,100 kg) of cargo, and the 77 ft (23 m) cargo bay featured two overhead hoists, each capable of lifting 8,000 lbs. (3,600 kg). As a cargo hauler, it could carry tanks, guns, trucks and other heavy equipment. In its passenger role it could carry 200 fully equipped troops on its double decks or 127 littered patients and their attendants. It was the only aircraft of its time capable of transporting disassembled aircraft and helicopters as well as heavy items such as bulldozers which could be driven into the cavernous hold. The SM - 75 Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile [IRBM] destined for RAF bases in the UK were transported by the C-124.
The C-124 first flew on 27 November 1949, with the C-124A being delivered from May 1950. The C-124C had a greater capability to the earlier C-124A. The four 3,800 hp R-4360-63A engines of the “C” version replaced the 3,500 hp R-4360-20WA engines of the “A” version. The APS-42 radar fitted in the nose provided increased all weather capability. The wingtip combustion heaters provided greater comfort for the crew and passengers as well as keeping the wing ice free. The increased fuel capacity of “the old shaky Mk C” meant an increase of range of 2,175 miles.
Box ContentsThe kit arrives in a surprisingly small top opening box with an excellent illustration of the “Old Shaky” parked on the apron. All the sprues are contained in a single bag and the one clear part is wrapped separately. The decal sheet is bagged with the instructions. There are ten various sized sprues and the fuselage halves are sprueless. It’s possible to build both “A” and “C” versions from this kit although there is only one set of markings for a “C”.
The cockpit is a simple affair comprising of a floor, rear wall, two seats and a blank instrument panel. I will be surprised if any cockpit detail will be easily seen through the rather thick one piece cockpit glazing. There is a faint hint of the framework on the cockpit glazing; just enough to help you cut out some masks or to carefully paint with a brush.
The fuselage comes minus the vertical tail surface and has some fine if slightly inconsistent recessed detail. The outlines of the fuselage windows are recessed although there are a number of decals to represent them. There are a few scratches on the plastic probably from a less than pristine mould. The wing root appears a little odd in shape, but once the wing is offered up to it, it looks fine. The small stumps that are an aid to joining the wing and fuselage look very inadequate for the job. Oddly there are a couple of wing spars included for the wings, but they are marked as not to be used in the instructions. Spanning the fuselage and going into the wing root, the spars would make for a much improved join. The fuselage mating surfaces will need some cleaning up before the fuselage halves can be joined. A trial fit of the fuselage suggests that the halves don’t quite match up. The plastic is pretty thick so there will be no problems sanding the join for a better look. There are no locating pegs to help lining them up, but it’s easy enough to fabricate some plastic tabs to place along the join line to aid lining up the halves. The radome attached to the nose is one piece. Roden suggest using 30 grams of ballast in the nose to prevent tail sitting. Roden has included a one piece part representing the front cargo doors, but it’s not used in the build. But if you fancy taking the build a stage further by opening up and detailing the cargo hold then this will be a very useful part.
The main wings have some fine recessed detail. The wing tips will need to be removed to fit the wing tip heating unit pods. Roden has included the two different engine nacelles with this kit. So you could model the C-124A with the 3,500 hp R-4360-20WA or the C-124C 3,800 hp R-4360-63A engines. The detail on the engines is rather good, although you will need to drill out the holes to fit the props. The props also look very good particularly after they are cleaned up. The spacing of the undercarriage on the “Old Shaky” is very interesting. The wheelbase on the real thing is very short. The model shows this very well, I worked out the wheelbase length from the model and it measure just 30 scale feet. The nose gear bay is made up from three parts; the walls have good ribbed detail. Roden has made a fair bit of effort to create some detail in the main gear bays. The inside of the engine fairings and the partial wing spar have ribbed detail. The wheels and legs of the undercarriage look very good. The detail on the hubs is pretty subtle.
Roden has chosen just the one set of markings for this release. Not surprisingly it’s a MATS aircraft [28th Military Airlift Squadron?] finished overall in natural metal. The choice is not the most eye catching really considering some of the more interesting examples seen in the past. The decals are disappointing in quality. The registration is out on some of the national insignia, the US flag on the tail and the Blackjack badge on the fuselage. Also Blackjack has been misspelt, although it’s so small the casual observer will not notice. The decal guide shows 4 decals that represent the oval windows behind the cockpit: the decal sheet has only two. The individual windows for the side of the fuselage are not nearly dark enough.
The black line drawings of the instructions are generally a great aid to construction. The coloured painting and decal application guide is very good. But an image of the fuselage sans the wings would have been useful as the two windows just forward of the wing leading edge is not shown.
the buildThe first thing I tried was fitting the wing spars that are included in the kit. I drilled and trimmed holes so I could slide the spars into position. The spars are a little deep for the wing so a bit of trimming is required. It is well worth the effort and a much better solution than just butt joining the wing to the fuselage. The spars do help to position the wings with an acceptable dihedral. I also used a spar to fit the horizontal stabilisers. A lot of dry fitting, trimming and filling is required for all the parts. The fiddliest part of the build is creating the three part nacelles. I filled most of the gaps with stretched sprue and liquid paper. Every seam requires a fair bit of attention particularly the fuselage seam and the engine nacelles. The plastic responds really well to liquid glue. One thing that is noticeable is the weakness of the main gear. It may be accurately re produced but it flexes significantly with the weight that is in the nose. The leg of the nose undercarriage is way too short, which means that the tail sits up a fair bit.
After priming the model I brush painted a couple coats of Pledge multi surface wax. I planned to use Alclad II and this works much better with a gloss base coat. I sprayed Alclad II duralium first, then masked off some of the panels. Then Alclad II aluminium was applied. The wing walkways, the black painted areas behind the nacelles and the cockpit windows were masked and painted black. I applied a light wash of thinned down Payne’s grey oil paint for a more used look.
The decals I have to say are poor. They tear very easily, don’t have much adhesive quality and are prone to silvering. The silvering occurred despite the three coats of Pledge Finish and applying Microsol and Microset.
Overall shape of the finished kit looks very good compared to photographs, though I have not compared it to any plans.
ConclusionsParts of the kit and fit may look a bit primitive, but with a little TLC this kit will surely shine. I hope Roden go on to produce the YC-124B which was powered by four Pratt & Whitney YT34-P-6 turboprops. Highly recommended
Many thanks to Stephen Lawson [Jackflash] for passing on this kit.