N.A. / Sud Aviation T-28S 'Fennec', 1/48th scale.

Discussion in 'Start to Finish Builds' started by Airframes, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    #1 Airframes, Oct 30, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
    North American / Sud Aviation T-28S 'Fennec' of E.A.L.A. 3/5, Armee de l'Air, Mecheria, Algeria, 1962.


    As many of you know, I haven't done any modelling for some time, due to 'flare up' of the arthritis (in my hands and wrists this time), plus various other ailments. This has been more than frustrating, as I have some long overdue commissions to attend to, as well as a longer list of projects I want to complete before I become totally knackered!
    So, in an effort to get 'back in the swing', and rather than possibly ruin a model intended for someone else, I thought I'd have a bash at this one.
    The T-28 is a type I've wanted to model for some time, and I've been contemplating various colour schemes, but after seeing two 'Fennecs' at the Duxford air show in September, I felt I'd finally found something a little different, compared to most 'Trojan' models, more of which later.

    The Kit.

    Rather than fork out for the relatively new Roden kit, at an average price of £28 ($45 US) plus delivery, I decided to pay the princely sum of £8 (about $12 US) for the old Revell/Monogram T-28B kit, on 'special offer', and once again released in yet another guise as the 'Red Bull' example, and also purchase the reasonably-priced 'True Details' resin cockpit set, and the 'Aires' resin wheels set, both designed for the Roden kits. (Pics 1 and 2)
    The total cost of this 'package' is still considerably less than the aforementioned Roden kit, but, of course, it will mean quite a lot of extra work. But then, if I wanted 'Instant Trojan', I'd buy a bl**dy die-cast!!!
    The Revell kit dates back to 1956, and this shows in the surface detail, the toy-like retractable landing gear, and a few other areas which will be shown as the build progresses, but, with the addition of the detail parts, some scratch-building and a few modifications, I believe it will produce a nice replica of the 'Frenchified' T-28, and, when first released 57 years ago this was, for the time, a very advanced and detailed kit.
    I had intended to completely scratch-build the cockpit area, using the kit parts as a basis, but, as will be shown later, not much could be used convincingly and, considering the relatively low cost of the resin cockpit set at less than £7 (about $10 US), I thought it easier to use this, and add some extra scratch-built bits and pieces instead.

    Background.

    During the Algerian war of 1954 to 1962, the French Armee de l'Air were heavily committed, mainly with transport, recce, and in support of ground forces. The latter role, particularly COIN operations, was undertaken originally by the armed AT-6 aircraft of the 13 Escadrilles d'Aviation Legere d'Appui (light attack squadrons), or E.A.L.A., stationed at various bases across the north of the country. By the end of the 1950's, these converted trainers were supplemented by four squadrons equipped with the T-28S, a 're-built' and modified version of the original North American T-28A 'Trojan'.
    The French government of the day, realising the need for a more capable counter-insurgency aircraft, looked to N.A. with a view to purchasing the T-28B, to be equipped for ground-attack duties. However, due to the needs of the US Navy, and the required production facilities, and time, to meet those needs, the 'B' version was not available at that time. Consequently, the French purchased 128 surplus T-28A airframes, at a unit cost of $4,000 US each, with the intention of fitting up-rated engines, armament hard-points and systems, and other modifications needed to meet the French service requirements.
    The initial conversion work was carried out on the first airframe by Pacific Automotive, of Burbank, California, who designed the installation and conversion kits to enable the fitting of the more powerful Wright Cyclone R-1820-76A engine, producing 1,425 hp, via a Hamilton Standard 3 blade prop. Engine cores were sourced from former B-17 power plants, as were all subsequent installations, which were undertaken by Sud Aviation at their St. Nazaire plant in France. The conversion work also included the fitting of French avionics and instrumentation, armour, weapons hard points and control systems, the distinctive cockpit cooling air scoop ahead of the windscreen, and the reversal of throttle and engine controls to match French standards and practice. It is believed that the unit cost of each conversion was $100,000 - for an aircraft originally costing $4,000 !!
    The aircraft were given the designation T-28S, and named 'Fennec', after a type of desert fox (appropriate for me!!), and were deployed to bases in Algeria by 1960, where they operated in the ground support role, armed with a variety of weapons, ranging from twin 12.7mm machine gun pods, of French design, to HVAR-type rockets, bombs, and SNEB rocket pods. Although heavily involved in the conflict, the operational service of Fennec units was relatively brief as, with the end of the war in Algeria, they returned to mainland France at the end of 1962.
    The 'Fennecs' serving in Algeria were all in bare metal finish, and carried French roundels on the wings, with the unit badge on the fuselage, and the French tricolour on the fin, along with the individual serial number and the build number (example - Fennec 57). The Duxford-based example in Photo 3 is typical of the appearance of these aircraft whilst in Algeria, although somewhat cleaner and more shiny than the desert-based Fennecs!
    This information was a slight disappointment for me, as I had intended to finish my model in the colour scheme shown in Photo 4, which turns out to be a representative scheme, a composite of all units using the type in mainland France, and not a finish seen in Algeria during the conflict.
    But, no problem, as it will allow me to attempt to replicate the worn, faded-metal look of the originals which, with the application of some home-made decals and decals from the spares file will (hopefully) provide something different for the display cabinets, portraying an aircraft based at the airfield at Mecheria, on the edge of the Algerian desert, at the base of the Atlas mountains. (Google Mecheria, and the current civil airport is clearly visible, south of the now much larger city, surrounded by an apparently barren landscape.)

    The Build.

    As seems the norm with most of my builds, it's a case of 'destruction before construction', with what is going to be a lengthy process of preparation before any meaningful construction can begin.
    As with any build, the first stage involves research and thorough checking of details and what will be required. This not only includes the specific details needed for the 'Fennec', but close study of the kit instruction sheet, how and where the kit parts fit, and, more importantly, what will need to be modified/altered/butchered to allow the fitment of the resin parts, whilst maintaining the integrity of the kit parts and allowing for the requirements of construction and painting stages further down the line. Consequently, considerable time has been spent, so far, on planning the build sequence, test fitting and initial preparation. (novice modellers note this - it saves a lot of heartache in the long term!).
    The first thing to establish was whether or not the resin cockpit tub would actually fit, and much juggling and fumbling showed that it would, although this involves the removal of substantial amounts of plastic on the fuselage interior.
    Photo 5 shows the internal locating ribs for the kit cockpit tub, and the 'runners' for the rear, sliding canopy section, as well as the front 'instrument panel' (arrows, A and B), onto which a decal should be placed, if building as per instructions.
    All of these have to be removed, along with the lower section of the front canopy, moulded as part of the fuselage, and this was achieved with the aid of a modelling chisel, a scalpel, razor saw, and lots of filing.
    Photos 6 and 7 show the result, ready for sanding down.
    Having established, by test-fitting, that the resin parts will now fit properly, and the fuselage halves will join properly, the next step is to prepare the exterior of the fuselage, by 'toning down' the 1950's style rivet detail, and adding panel lines, hatches, and new rivet detail. This task is undertaken before any interior construction, as it allows for easier working, and avoids the possibility/probability of damage to delicate interior fittings.
    So, after this relatively long initial post, this will be shown in the next 'installment' - once my hands have recovered from the effort of shaving plastic !!

    My thanks to Geo (Fubar 57) for providing the extremely useful T-28 manuals, and to Wojtek, for the links to additional detail photos.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    Welcome back to modeling Terry and hoping all for the best for you. Build on, good sir.

    Geo
     
  3. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Nice beginning Terry. Glad to see you modelling again. Is the burr you used for working on the cockpit walls, made from scratch or you had bought it?
     
  4. woody

    woody Active Member

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    Looking forward to your build Terry glad to see you back at the bench.
     
  5. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Thanks Geo and Wojtek.
    The chisel was bought from Model Hobbies. They are available in various sizes, this one having a 3mm blade width, and they work very well indeed. Ideal for removing heavy areas, where a rotary tool would melt the plastic, resulting in harder work, and good for delicate shaving too. If you would like one my friend, let me know what size, and I'll send one - I need to order some stuff anyway, so one more item won't hurt!
     
  6. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Thank you for the info and the offer. Usually I use a scalpe blade of a couple different shapes. But I have seen a such tool here in Poland and was curious about the source. Anyway I thank you again. :D
     
  7. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    No problem my friend. I also use a scalpel with chisel blade for shaving plastic, but I thought I'd try the proper chisel for the heavy work, and it certainly makes a difference.
     
  8. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Understood. :D
     
  9. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    A little more preparation work has been done, with not a lot to show for the hours spent, but all necessary.
    Each fuselage half has a curved line engraved into the surface, below the cockpit, which is a legacy from the original, first issue of this kit back in 1956. This was a guide for painting the green band on the yellow fuselage of the original kit's colour scheme, and follows the approximate area of exhaust staining on the real aircraft.
    This was filled with CA glue, and then filed and sanded flush, with the dome-head rivets also being reduced, as shown in Photo 1.
    As the real aircraft is covered in prominent rivet heads, both dome and flush, a 'ghost' of the rivet mouldings has been retained, with extra rivet and panel lines added, and the radio and battery compartment hatches engraved, along with hand holds and steps etc.
    Photo 2 shows this underway, and yet to be polished, with the horrible, dark blue plastic making things look messy, and worse than they are in reality.
    The moulded exhaust stubs have also been removed, and the exhaust apertures opened, ready for the fitting of aluminium tubes, to replicate the three exhaust pipes on each side, which will be done later.
    With that tedious job out of the way, the cockpit work has been commenced, with the resin side walls trimmed and fitted, after careful test fitting of the cockpit tub, in order to mark the exact locations for the side panels - Photos 3 and 4.
    The next step is to temporarily attach the front instrument panel to the cockpit tub, and test-fit this assembly to ensure the panel will fit without interference. Once that's achieved, the panel will be painted gloss white and allowed to dry for a day or two, before getting a coat of semi-matt black. The instrument markings will then be scratched into the black paint once set, to reveal the white underneath, before the detail painting is completed and the cockpit proper is assembled and painted.
    Thanks for your interest so far, and I'll post more soon.
     

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  10. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    A true joy to see you back at it Terry. Nice work to date and I'll be watching with interest.
     
  11. aviatik

    aviatik Member

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    You were out of the hobby..??
     
  12. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Thanks Andy, it's good to be back at the bench at last, even though it's bl**dy painful.
    Aviatik, I suffer from severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is spreading throughout my body, and over the last few months it's been impossible to do any modelling, due to stiff hands and wrists, pain, and lack of articulation and control.
    I guess I need to drink more beer and 'T Stoff' !!!
     
  13. aviatik

    aviatik Member

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    Auch, I was not aware of that..!! Are there no pharmaceuticals to relieve the pain and make your movements more beareable...??
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Oh, yes. I have a very expensive injection every two weeks, and a control drug every week. But, these seem to keep things stable, and help to slow down the development of the disease, but can't cure it. The pain and discomfort varies in intensity, but is constant, although I sort of get used to it. The worst thing is the frustration at not being able to do things, especially as I used to be extremely fit and healthy.
    If I was a horse, I would have been shot by now !!!
    But, there are a lot of people a lot worse off than I am, so I have to keep smiling !
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Hang in there Terry. you are one brave individual and a real inspiration for some of us lesser mortals.
     
  16. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Terry, when the T-Stoff isn't quite enough, chase it with some C-Stoff!
     
  17. woody

    woody Active Member

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    Off to a great start Terry.
     
  18. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  19. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    With all here.:thumbright:
     
  20. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Chanks thaps ... er, I mean .... ah, b*ll*cks, that darned T Stoff + C Stoff cocktail is working !!
     
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