For those of us who've learned to fly, there's nothing like the first time you line up with the runway and apply full take off power. You race down the runway till you feel the wing start to do its magic. With a slight backward pull of the wheel, your flying! Likewise, the aircraft you learn to fly in stays with you the rest of your life. The Cessna 150 has filled that place for thousands of fledgling pilots since its introduction in 1959. When production ended in 1985, 23,948 Cessna 150s had been built. A simple two place design that includes a small back seat (for very small children) the 150 can haul a useful load of 500 pounds at 108 Kts with the Continental O-200s, 100 HP pulling it along. Design changes over the years included a redesigned rear fuselage incorporating a rear window and modifying the vertical tail from straight to raked back. This kit represents a later model 150. Remarkably, over 2/3 of all Cessna 150s built are still flying. While flight training is largely done by the 150s big brother the Cessna 172, there are still plenty of 150s out there and a club that helps keep them going.
In the box, the kit looks great. There are three sprues in white, one in clear and a stand molded in black. There is also a multipage instruction sheet and the highlight of the kit, the decals sheet. Panel lines are recessed and done to a level reasonable for the scale. The clear part attachment points are disappointing, especially the windscreen which is attached to the sprue on its sides. There is a complete interior and an engine with mount and removable cowling. One of the wing struts on my sample had broken in half.
As is standard practice, the interior was built first, There are front and rear seats and an instrument panel with two control wheels, The rudder pedals and central pillar are a single unit that mounts on the floor. Having flown in lots of small aircraft, I just couldn’t leave the cockpit as it came. I built some new rudder pedals with the ridge that allows you to hook your heal to push the top of the pedal for braking. I drilled out two small holes in the instrument panel and inserted guitar string shafts topped with white glue tips painted red and black for throttle and mixture controls. I dressed up the seats with some PE seatbelts from the spares box.There are no alignment pins on this kit. That did present a problem when trying to line up the interior floor. Next up was the engine which is a nice little representation of the Continental O-200. It includes a mount and the magnetos and starter on the engines rear. I drilled out the exhaust pipes that exit the bottom of the cowling. The kit is designed to have a removable cowling however its fit was not that great and I wanted to really showcase the decals so I glued the cowling in place. I started this kit with the intention of weighting the nose enough to set it on its gear. As it turned out, I didn't for two reasons. First, short of leaving out the engine there's no room for it and second I don’t think the landing gear would support it very long. The wings go together quickly but I would suggest installing the landing light so you can flush it with the wings leading edge while you sand the seams. Do not mount the horizontal stabilizers until the fuselage decals are applied. I needed putty to fix some fit issues around the cowling, near the rudder and on top of the wing over the rear window.
Paint wise, this ones pretty simple because it all gloss white. I used trusty ole Tamiya Pure White from a spray can. After which I got to the reason I wanted to build the kit, the decals. They are from Cartograf and beautifully rendered, There are four different options, U.S registration, German or U.K. and a Canadian version. I chose the Canadian version as I thought the red color would make the model pop. The decals are designed such that you wont need to touch up paint if you're careful in applying them. There are decals provided if you wish to model your 150 with correct registration numbers (hopefully your paint schemes the same). I was really pleased with the result. I did need a little touch up around the tail and found a perfect match in my wife's nail polish collection. Since one of the wing struts was damaged and both not well formed, I elected to make my own. I took some hollow aluminum rod and compressed it in a bench vice to create a flat profile. After sanding and painting. I had some nice rigid struts. Using the kit part as a pattern for length, I noticed the wings wouldn’t have any dihedral so I extended them a little. In retrospect, I would leave them short as it caused some fit issues with the windscreen. If there is a downside to this kit, the fit of the glazing is it. The windscreen in particular was a poor fit. After sanding, polishing and dipping in future it looked reasonable. However, that didn't fix the fit problem. The part seems too small for the opening and you're forced to decide where to leave the gap. I left mine at the bottom and filled it with Micro Kristal Klear. I couldn't have an aircraft without working VHF radios or a transponder so I added antennas from scrap wire. Also put a little square stock on top of the instrument panel coming to represent the spirit compass. Since I gave up on weighting the nose I used the stand provided in the kit. I also used the nice little sign with the Cessna Logo and plane type for those who might not know what they looking at.
This is not an easy build if you want to do it right. The alignment issues require some modeling skills to correct the flaws. If you prep the airframe correctly, the decals save the day. I've often bought small civil aircraft kits only to open the box and find the paint detail has been left to your masking skills. Any of the decal options provided in this kit will result in an eye catching model. As for ratings, I give this one a 7 out of ten 10 for construction ease but the decals get a perfect score. If you want to build a Cessna 150, Minicraft is the only game in town. They have also produced several variants including one on floats. As always, thank you to IPMS for the opportunity to build this kit and to Minicraft for providing the sample kit.