Northrop Delta Mk. I/II/III
The kit instructions are printed on 8 half-sized sheets, including the aircraft’s history, a sprue diagram and color guide, 3 sheets of exploded assembly drawings, 3 sets of color four views showing two Mk. III’s and one Mk. I.
Decals are provided for the three aircraft represented in the drawings. When I obtained the review kit at the Phoenix IPMS Convention, there were no decals with the kit. I contacted Special Hobby and they promised to send a set of decals. I waited a couple of months and finally just used decals from my spares box, printing the numbers on my computer. Naturally, I had just installed the decals when an envelope came, from all places Malta, containing the kit decals. I used a few of them and the results were most satisfying.
The kit consists of five light grey styrene sprues and one clear unit. Many parts, especially on Sprue D, are listed as not to be used. Some bombs and racks are also provided on Sprue G, but there is no reference in the instructions as to which variants carried them. More good fodder for the spares box.
The parts are well molded with very little flash, although the window openings required a little bit of trimming. Concerning the window arrangement, there is apparently another version of this kit with a straight row of rectangular windows, but this one had four square and four round windows, plus some oddly shaped windows by the cockpit, and, of course, the pilot’s windshield. There is adequate interior detail, including a complete cockpit, some rear cargo compartment detail, including radios, a seat, and several cameras. There is even a machine gun mounted in a ventral position. I can’t imagine why this was installed, but I included it in my model
The main problem with assembly was the fuselage. The interior parts seemed to mount OK in their appointed positions in the fuselage, but when I tried to attach the other fuselage half, I discovered that the halves did not line up properly, probably because the interior sections were slightly too big. I compensated by using heavy clamps, and somehow got the fuselage assembled. I used quite a bit of filler, but was not completely satisfied with the top fuselage seam, even though I filled and sanded it several times.
The windows were also a problem. The instructions show the rectangular and round windows with small mountings behind them, but the actual windows are exactly the same size at the holes in the fuselage. I managed to mount the rectangular windows, but gave up on the others, using Chrystal Clear, which seemed to work OK. However, you can’t see anything through them, so all of that excellent interior detail is essentially wasted. The cockpit details are visible, but that’s all.
The rest of the kit went together very smoothly. The two-piece wing was easy to assemble and install, and the tailplane was simple to line up. The engine was very nicely done, with a one-piece cowling and a nicely detailed radial engine. The prop was just glued into position, and does not spin. No problem here. This is a model, not a toy.
The wheel pants were a small problem. Three different sets are provided, with the wheels fitting inside. I used the largest set, and had some problem mounting the wheels, as they were slightly too wide for the enclosure. I finally trimmed the wheels down to size, and used putty to fill in the cracks.
Painting and Finishing
Once the airframe was complete, I masked off the windows. The airplane is entirely silver, so I used Model Master flat aluminum. The rear faces of the prop were black, and I used Luftwaffe RLM 66 grey for the tires. After a coat of Micro-Gloss, I installed the decals I dredged up from the spares box and printed on my computer. The overall result looked pretty good. I later installed a couple of decals from the set I received.
This kit fills a gap in the coverage of early American commercial aircraft, and I intend to build another one, although I’ll do the one with the row of rectangular windows, as this one will represent an American version. It is an excellent kit for a modeler with good modeling skills, and trimming down the interior parts would probably make fuselage assembly a lot easier. All in all, it is an excellent kit. I will highly recommend it.
Designed in 1932, the Northrop Delta appeared just as the American airlines were replacing their older types with more modern all metal airplanes with enclosed cockpits, cantilever wings, retractable landing gear, and more powerful engines with constant speed props. Unfortunately, as the Northrop Delta began production, several crashes of single engine airliners related to engine failure resulted in the CAA mandating that American commercial airlines use multi-engine airplanes. They didn’t heed the old pilots’ theory that the function of the second engine in a twin engine airplane is to carry you to the scene of the crash.
The Delta didn’t sell too well, but they became popular as executive transports for major corporations. The Canadians obtained a license to produce the airplane as a military type, and built a small number, modifying them from Mk. I form to Mk. II and Mk. III, mainly featuring a different fin and rudder. They served throughout World War II in the RCAF as trainers and coastal patrol types, and several others were used into the postwar period. Most RCAF aircraft wound up in mechanics’ schools. I recall seeing one at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in the sixties, and this one currently survives in an American museum.
Thanks to Phil Peterson of IPMS and Petr Herrmann of Special Hobby for the review sample.