J-3 'Cub Goes to War'

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Company: Special Hobby - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Special Hobby - Website: Visit Site
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Anyone who has spent time at an airport is familiar with the ubiquitous Piper J-3 Cub. Having flown in a few models of this aircraft, I have a special affinity for the type and have built several of Mr. Piper’s Cubs. (Those who remember our late Treasurer, Ed Kinney, may have hear his comment about Cubs – “they have just enough power to get you to the scene of the crash”).

Anyway, I digress. Well packaged in a sturdy box, the kit includes 2 gray plastic trees, a separately packaged clear parts group, small PE fret, and one 3-D printed part. Note that Special Hobby offers a series of separately sold aftermarket details – a 3D printed engine, wheel set, and masking set – should you choose to use these.

The instruction manual uses CAD drawings of the model and three separate color and marking schemes are shown. The manual includes parts tree images that include parts marked out as not used in this variant, but there are a number of parts not used that are not crossed off. This can add to some confusion. Attachment points for a number of the smaller details are, in some cases, challenging to determine. I found that going to the Special Hobby website and downloading the PDF instructions allowed me to correctly locate some parts that were difficult to orient using the smaller, printed booklet.

Extra care is warranted when assembling the windscreen, upper fuselage, and side window components. These control the correct location and orientation of the wings and if you choose to deviate from the recommended sequence (ahem….) getting everything to line up later can be challenging. This came back to bite me on several occasions including my decision to assemble the upper and lower wing halves before attaching them to the fuselage. Special Hobby provides a spar that mounts each wing; my decision to pre-assemble the wings meant that some very careful shaving and sanding of the spar was required to slide the wings onto the fuselage. I also waited to install the windscreen until later in the assembly. The windscreen incorporates a small section of the inboard leading edge, and I had to do some surgery to get this last piece of the puzzle in place. I had to persuade the two fuselage halves to come together over the assembled engine even after shaving away some of the offending material.

The wing struts and supports are very finely molded and despite my best efforts I sacrificed part of one strut to the black hole under my bench, so I used sprue and Contrail strut material to replace it. The very delicate boarding step and lift handles, intended to be butt-joined to the model, also took the early train to carpet heaven and these were replicated by fine solder.

I drilled small lead holes in the vertical stabilizer, horizontals, and fuselage for the tail bracing wires. I used stretched sprue to create these (the instructions call for 3mm diameter material for these along with the aileron cables; I made those with old guitar strings).

After assembly, I had to fair in the clear fuselage/window components. Several coats of primer were applied and sanded until these joints blended in.

Painting was accomplished with Tamiya Gray primer, followed by coats of Vallejo Air Olive Drab and Neutral Gray shot at 10 psi and mixed 80/20 with Future. Vallejo gloss was applied, the decals added (a few areas of silvering but these were addressed with Solvaset) and finally, Alclad Clear Flat as a topcoat.

There are some finicky bits associated with building this kit that could be eliminated by positive locating pins and a clearer printing of the instructions but with care, a nice wartime Cub can be created. Thiis model is going to a pilot friend who owns the real thing and I hope he enjoys it. My thanks to IPMS/USA and to Special Hobby for the review sample!


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