avatar_John Howling Mouse

JHM's Polair DC-3 on Skis

Started by John Howling Mouse, April 20, 2010, 08:04:53 PM

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John Howling Mouse

You may recall a certain famous American WWII fighter pilot named Paul Laird and his unique bare metal finish F-6F.

After distinguished service during the Second World War, Lt. Paul "Chilly" Laird put his name to a fledgling northern air charter/cargo airline called "Polair Aviation."  Based in Paul's hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, among their growing fleet of surplus but lovingly maintained aircraft were a few DC-3's converted to operate the harsh arctic routes on snowskis designed and built by Paul's father, Robert.  The entire fleet was painted in a scheme derived from Paul's original F-6F Hellcat, right down to the "Chilly" polar bear noseart.

Later, in the Korean War, Major Paul "Polair" Laird would fly an F-86 with the same markings as his beloved F-6F Hellcat, but that is to be the subject of another thread to come...


We begin with the scratchbuilt skis:

And the skis in situ:

Styrene in my blood and an impressive void in my cranium.

John Howling Mouse

The kit itself is the rather unremarkable yet somehow lovable Airfix C-47 in 1:72.  I made up the decal sheet based on the same markings for the earlier F-6F Hellcat and added some leading edge wing boots I drew in a graphics program.  Again, the Polar Bear cartoon is someone else's (clip art) that I simply modified and came up with the fonts for the rest, including the nickname "Chilly."

Had some serious problems with the fit of the wings to the wingroot/chord on the fuselage, so I built up some styrene strips to serve as filler (since dummy-O here had already painted all the component parts of the model with SNJ polished bare metal BEFORE assembly!).

Those of you who have already read my "Gallery Of Errors" thread know what happened as a result:  I turned the natural dihedral Airfix intended into a dead-straight wing like a modern fighter jet.  It wound up looking really dumb.  I did not realize how integral a DC-3's pronounced wing dihedral attributes to its character.  Oh well.  Live and curse---I mean learn, I suppose.

Styrene in my blood and an impressive void in my cranium.

John Howling Mouse

Some close-ups of the various scratchbuilt antennae:

And a teasing test-shot of the skis:

Styrene in my blood and an impressive void in my cranium.

John Howling Mouse

Somewhere in the far north, a lone DC-3 sits on a frozen airfield, awaiting her next flight to another remote destination.

And, yes, some joker "spelled" his name in the snow:

Styrene in my blood and an impressive void in my cranium.

Captain Canada

Haha ! That's a beauty, Baz ! Love the markings and the dio. Too funny....What kit is that ? Saw a ski from a Dak at Buffalo, and couldn't believe how big that thing actually was !

CANADA KICKS arse !!!!

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Vive les Canadiens !
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Ed S

Excellent model.  As usual.  Well done BAZ.   The snow is very convincing as well.  

We don't just embrace insanity here.  We feel it up, french kiss it and then buy it a drink.


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As ever, I am in awe of your masterpieces Baz. Thought the yellow snow signature was brilliant attention to detail
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Excellent  :o love the markings too
"Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality." -Jules de Gaultier

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An armor guy, who builds airplanes almost exclusively, that he converts to space fighters-- all while admiring ship models.


Snowbase looks terrific - how did you do it?
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John Howling Mouse

Thanks for your kind words, gents.
Cap'n: the kit was the old Airfix C-47 in 1:72.

Nev, the snowbase was actually quite complicated.  Started with 1/2 good-one-side plywood, drilled about 2029 1/4" holes partially through (anchors the goop).  First layer was a roughly sculpted base of drywall mud (don't know what they call it in UK but it's the wet, pre-mixed Synko gypsum paste used to hide seams in drywall/gypsum sheets for homebuilding).  I then used fantastic paper mache mix called Celluclay (the white kind; it comes in grey, too).  This I sculpted up in layers, sinking bits and pieces of various "rocks" and tiny chunks of concrete left over from our house build.  Painted white, these nicely replicate the massive slabs of snow one sees after a front-end loader clears a packed down area of snow like this.  I then made various concoctions of pastes for different textures out of PVA "white" glue, baby powder, icing sugar, etc. for some of the different surface looks I wanted to achieve.  Letting the dissimilar materials set at their own rates, I ended up with all sorts of extremely scale-realistic cracks just like you see in real ice-packs.  Once fully cured, I etched many surface details with a Dremel. In some pics, you'll see where I added loose icing ("confectioner's") sugar to give the skis something to sink into.  Hope that helps!
Styrene in my blood and an impressive void in my cranium.


Lovely looking model and dio JHM - very evocative, somehow!  :thumbsup: :bow:

I did the base for the Trackrover much the same way, but with DAS Pronto (a modelling clay which I suspect has papier mache in it). Once it was dry, I carved off the excess from the sides of the base and used that for slabs and chunks. The whole thing was then coated in PVA and drowned in baking soda. More baking soda went on the models, stuck on with either PVA or varnish. I like the idea of drilling the base to anchor the clay: I'll remember that one!  :thumbsup:
"Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."
 - Morpheus in Sandman: A Midsummer Night's Dream, by Neil Gaiman

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 - Indiana Jones '

John Howling Mouse

Oh yeah, that reminds me: I used DAS Pronto (white, self-air-hardening clay), too.  Some of the "drifts" were sculpted in that.  Great stuff, comes in a red clay, which I'll be using for a tropical mud dio soon, too.
Styrene in my blood and an impressive void in my cranium.

Brian da Basher

Simply stunning, Mr Howling Mouse! A most impressive bit of snowy whiffery!

That PolAir livery is superb!
:bow: :bow:
Brian da Basher


Brilliant. :bow: :bow:
I have my knitting needles out.
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