The HpH 1:32 scale C-47 Skytrain kit represents the –D model variant. It is a very complex kit intended for advanced scale modelers. By my count, it contains no less than 1,838 parts (853 cast resin parts, 766 photoetched metal parts, 180 laser-cut microfiber parts, 35 clear cast resin parts, three hardware parts, and one sheet of printed instrument panel and cockpit detail parts). The full-color instruction booklet guides the build over 59 steps. Two decal sheets provide the markings and airframe maintenance stencils for two C-47s:
- C-47D 42-100521, “Kilroy is Here,” 92nd Troop Carrier Squadron, 439th Troop Carrier Group, Upottery, Devon, United Kingdom, 06 June 1944 (Operation OVERLORD)
- C-47D 42-93087, “Camel Caravan to Berlin,” 86th Fighter Wing, USAFE, Neubiberg AB, West Germany, October 1948 (Berlin Air Lift)
Strengths: The HpH 1:32 scale C-47D kit is stunning, and its size is just one component of that impression. Most HpH kits evoke such a reaction and this one is no different. The kit possesses a remarkable combination of detail, accuracy, and high-quality manufacturing. You get what you pay for. When you order your HpH C-47, the 1-3 week shipping time reflects the fact that much of your kit will be made by hand, specifically for you.
The HpH C-47 appears to be just about perfectly shaped and sized. Casting is virtually flawless and free of defects. Parts breakdown is fairly conventional with left and right fuselage halves and upper and lower wing halves. There is an overall level of detail here that is unrivalled (except by other similar high-end kits by HpH). It’s a little overwhelming and hard to figure out where to start, so let’s begin with the cockpit and work our way aft and then to the exterior.
The kit features an entire (and virtually complete) interior. About the only things missing to my knowledge are a few wiring bundles in the ceiling of the troop/cargo compartment. The flight deck provides a gorgeous representation of the real thing. It builds up as a shell that is placed into the fuselage halves. The detail is awesome and complex. The instrument panel is built up in layers – starting with a really nice color printed decal of instrumental panel dial faces, a photoetched (PE) metal instrument panel, and then topped with individual photoetched bezels. The cast resin seats, seat frames, quilted sidewalls, throttles, rudder pedals, control columns, and everything else in there is eye-poppingly great. Many of these parts are cast with only a minimal casting block attached, and the small parts are cast on thin sheets of resin. I think there’s some sundry wiring here that you could add as additional detail but there’s really not very much. HGW Models, another high-end manufacturer from the Czech Republic, contributed the printed instrument panel details and the laser cut microfiber seatbelt and harness details.
Further aft, the navigator and radio operator positions are reproduced in exacting detail, from the super detailed cast resin bulkhead, storage closet, fire extinguisher, seats, and radios. The navigator’s station is particularly well done with his desk, lamp, and a photoetched metal analog flight computer, navigational plotter, and a stopwatch. Such a nice set of subtle touches! Other nice little items here include headsets and PE metal doorknobs.
The troop/cargo compartment comes with all the seat buckets for a full compliment of paratroopers, but before you assemble that, several hundred cast resin and PE metal parts will be used together to create the ribs, stringers, and spars on the inside of the fuselage. I would rate this part of the kit as the most complex part of the build. The primary photoetched metal fret (measuring in at a foot wide – it’s HUGE!) contains 550 parts, and more than half of those are the fine PE metal stringers for this part of the airplane’s interior. Fortunately, the inside of the fuselage has all the location guides for these stringers and ribs represented as lightly engraved lines that show you where everything goes and how everything aligns. All you have to do is competently superglue the parts in place. Troop seats can be positioned as folded (stowed) or extended. The majority of the microfiber seatbelt parts are used here and their pre-painted detail is something to behold: stenciling and stitching details abound. To the rear of the interior, the lavatory is included with all the fixtures including the urinal and the latrine. You might not see some of those details in the completed model, but at least you’ll know it’s in there! Overall, the interior is complex, but not daunting. It will keep you busy for at least a few nights at your bench.
The exterior of the model is just as breathtaking. The exterior surface of the wings and fuselage feature many thousands of raised rivets. This IS correct. The surfaces of the C-47 featured raised, round-head rivets that protruded above the skin. Readers may be familiar with the Trumpeter C-47 in 1:48 scale. That kit incorrectly features recessed rivets, so it’s not a good reference in that sense.
Other notable features of the exterior are the separate and positionable control surfaces – ailerons, rudder, and elevators (but see below). The main gear wells are as detailed as the aircraft’s interior. There are spars and stingers again represented as PE metal parts to be fitted to the roof of the gear well. Other items include the prominent engine oil tanks, bulkhead, and aft engine firewall details. There are, however, a good number of hoses, pipes, and wiring bundles that you can add to bring further, accurate details to these wheel wells. The main landing gear, tailwheel assembly, and tires appear to be very accurate and well detailed right down to the Goodyear Silvertown imprimatur on the tire sidewalls. Inside the cast main gear parts are are small steel rods, so you know that the gear will support the weight of the completed model. All you can do is add a few wires and lines, such as the hydraulic line to the brakes. Some other parts that need to be rigid, such as the pitot tubes, also have metal rod cores inside their casting.
The Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder radial engines are both represented in the kit in complete detail. They are knockouts – models in and of themselves. Again, there are a lot of parts here. You’ll build each cylinder from a cast resin cylinder body and head assembly. The accessory gear (carburetor, pumps, etc.) at the back of the engine are not provided, since the engines here are deigned to be mounted to the firewall making such details truly impossible to see. You’ll need to dip into your stores of plastic stock, and, as directed by the instructions, add the engine pushrods. Engine ignition wires will also need to be added by the builder. The exhaust pipes and single piece engine cowlings look great, and you can position the PE metal cowl flaps in the open position. Overall, the completed engines will be something to really admire.
You’ll note the box top calls this a laminate and resin kit, and the big fuselage and wing halves are the laminate parts. They feature a layer of fiberglass sandwiched between a cast resin interior and exterior surface that all becomes a single integrated piece. This eliminates issues such as warping of large parts. It is also quite strong and lightweight. Just remember – if you start sanding into the fiberglass layer during parts prep or seam work, take precautions as fiberglass is famous as a skin, eye, nose, throat, and lung irritant.
The joining of the fuselage halves is interesting. The centerline panels are added atop the laminate fuselage halves as thin PE metal parts. It’s accurate and it works. It also reduces the amount of seam filling and smoothing work. Clear parts are also cast resin and are very well done.
The decals were printed by HGW for this HpH kit and overall look quite good (but see below). The stencils are also quite complete and thorough. It looks like there’s one single piece of carrier film atop all the markings on both decal sheets, so you’ll need to cut out all the individual decals before applying. Most of us already trim our decals down anyway, so it’s not too daunting or unusual a task.
Weaknesses: There are very few things that one could critique this kit for. I think it is evident that this is a very complex kit and meant for specialized and experienced scale modelers. Its very steep price tag reinforces that notion as well. Some of those thin resin carrier sheets broke up and fractured and some parts were loose (but otherwise undamaged). The big photoetched fret had some of the fine stringer detail parts slightly bent, but any such bent parts will be easily worked straight during assembly.
As noted, the clear parts are all quite nice, except for one of the wing landing light covers that seems to have a blemish in the clear cast resin (air bubble?). There’s no guide for radio antenna placements, but that’s easy enough to research on your own. I would also place a thin clear acetate sheet between the printed instrument panel dials and the PE panel to simulate glass. The blues in the decal sheet as seen on the national insignias are a too light for my tastes. Sure, paint fades, but I stand by this critique. My biggest gripe is that the guide for assembly of those great microfiber lap belts and harnesses are not well illustrated in the instruction manual. You can figure them out, but it could have been done with greater visual clarity.