Author Topic: 1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39R “Airacobra”) of the VVS, Ukraine, early 1944  (Read 491 times)

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Offline Dizzyfugu

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Well, I had to postpone the pictures for this one because of the One Week GB that interrupted the "normal" workflow, and I have lent the Gorbunov designation from TomZ and his recent Airocobra conversion with a nose-mounted engine. Here's another take of the subject - inspired by a profile drawing (see below).


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr



Some background:
The Bell P-39 Airacobra was one of the principal American fighter aircraft in service when the United States entered World War II. Designed by Bell Aircraft, it had an unusual layout, with the engine installed in the center fuselage, behind the pilot, and driving a tractor propeller in the nose with a long shaft. It was also the first fighter fitted with a tricycle undercarriage. Major users of the type included the Free French, the Royal Air Force, the United States Army Air Forces, and the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force.

The most successful and numerous use of the P-39 was by the Red Air Force (Военно-воздушные силы, Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily, VVS). The tactical environment of the Eastern Front did not demand the high-altitude performance the RAF and AAF did. The comparatively low-speed, low-altitude nature of most air combat on the Eastern Front suited the P-39's strengths: sturdy construction, reliable radio gear, and adequate firepower. The usual nickname for the Airacobra in the VVS was Kobrushka ("little cobra") or Kobrastochka, a blend of Kobra and Lastochka (swallow), "dear little cobra".


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


The first Soviet Cobras were P-400, originally produced for the RAF, which had a 20 mm Hispano-Suiza cannon and two heavy Browning machine guns, synchronized and mounted in the nose. At the same time, to speed equipment transfer under the Lend/Lease Agreement up, the Soviet Union agreed to receive new P-39 airframes without engines, weapons or instruments, for local assembly, too. Later, the VVS received the considerably improved N and Q models via the Alaska-Siberia ferry route. These Cobras arrived with the M4 37 mm cannon and four machine guns, two synchronized in the nose, firing through the propeller disc, and two wing-mounted. That modification improved roll rate by reducing rotational inertia. Soviet airmen appreciated the M4 cannon with its powerful rounds and the reliable action but complained about the low rate of fire (three rounds per second) and inadequate ammunition storage (only 30 rounds).

However, in the meantime, the P-39 kits had been piling up, and under the lead of OKB 301 (what would in 1945 become the Lavochkin design bureau) chief engineer Vladimir P. Gorbunov, a conversion kit for these bare airframes to Soviet equipment had been devised in a hurry. Since the desired liquid-cooled Klimov Klimov M-105 V-12 piston engine was in short supply due to massive LaGG-3, Yak-1 and -3 production, Gorbunov decided to adapt the P-39 airframe to the new Shvetsov M-82FN 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, which was readily available and even promised a higher power output and performance.
For the radial engine, the original engine bay had to be modified and a massive engine mount, which also acted as an integral fuselage spar, was devised. The engine itself was placed in kind of barrel-shaped aerodynamic fairing, with open ends to allow sufficient air flow for cooling. A cooling fan with eleven short blades, driven by a gear attached to the propeller shaft, supported temperature management. To make better use of the engine’s output and compensate for a reduced number of rotations per minute, the aircraft – christened Go-1 to honor its constructor’s efforts and achievement – received a new four-blade propeller.


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


The cockpit received instruments of Soviet origin and the armament consisted of indigenous weapons. Several configurations were considered and tested, including a 37 mm (1.5 in) Nudelman-Suranov NS-37 cannon with 30 rounds, but this was rejected due to the pilots’ complaints about a slow rate of fire and low ammunition supply. Eventually, the standard armament consisted of a single 23 mm (0.91 in) VYa cannon with 60 rounds, firing through the propeller hub, and a pair of 20 mm (0.79 in) Berezin B-20 cannons in the fuselage with 120 rounds each. Additionally, a pair of 0.5 in (12.7 mm) Browning M2 machine guns in external pods could be mounted, one under each outer wing, but this was almost never fitted to save weight and improve roll rate as well as overall performance. However, a 300 l drop tank was frequently carried, since the M-82FN was relatively thirsty and the Go-1’s range was somewhat limited - even though partial space from the P-39’s original radiator bath under the cockpit was used for two additional fuel and lubrication tanks.


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


The Go-1 showed satisfactory flight characteristics, with a performance on par with the P-39Q, and it was - for obvious reasons - quickly nicknamed "бочонок" (bochonok = keg) by its crerws. The stronger engine compensated for the slightly higher AUW and the increased drag through the engine fairing, and esp. during the wintertime the air-cooled engine was much easier to operate and maintain than the AiraCobra’s original liquid-cooled powerplant. On the other side, the drive shaft arrangement with an additional gearbox and the hastily constructed new engine mount were fragile and complicated, and they turned out to be Gorbunov's fighter’s weak point: from the 113 aircraft that were constructed from P-39 kits between late 1942 and mid-1943, almost one half was lost due to mechanical failures, frequently with fatal results. As a consequence, and because the number of complete aircraft under the Lend/Lease Agreement steadily grew, Go-1 production was stopped in November 1943 and remaining P-39 kits were cannibalized for spares. Nevertheless, Go-1s remained in active service within P-39 VVS units until early 1945, primarily in the Ukraine and Balkan region.

During the Great Patriotic War the Soviets used the AiraCobra and its derivatives primarily for air-to-air combat against a variety of German aircraft, including Bf 109s, Focke-Wulf Fw 190s, Ju 87s, and Ju 88s. The VVS did not use the P-39 for tank-busting duties, a myth attributed to the aircraft’s heavy 37 mm cannon.

A total of 4,719 P-39s were sent to the Soviet Union, accounting for more than one-third of all U.S. and UK-supplied fighter aircraft in the VVS, and nearly half of all P-39 production. Soviet AiraCobra losses totaled 1,030 aircraft (49 in 1942, 305 in 1943, 486 in 1944 and 190 in 1945). AiraCobras served with the Soviet Air Forces as late as 1949, when two regiments were operating as part of the 16th Guards Fighter Aviation Division in the Belomorsky Military District.


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr




General characteristics:
    Crew: One
    Length: 30 ft 2 in (9.19 m)
    Wingspan: 34 ft 0 in (10.36 m)
    Height: 12 ft 5 in (3.78 m)
    Wing area: 213 sq ft (19.8 m2)
    Empty weight: 7,060 lb (3,205 kg)
    Gross weight: 8,092 lb (3,674 kg)
    Max takeoff weight: 9,053 lb (4,110 kg)

Powerplant:
    1× Shvetsov M-82FN 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine,
        delivering 1,460 kW (1,960 hp) emergency power and driving a four-blade propeller

Performance:
    Maximum speed: 395 mph (636 km/h, 343 kn)
    Stall speed: 95 mph (153 km/h, 83 kn) power off, flaps and undercarriage down
    Never exceed speed: 525 mph (845 km/h, 456 kn)
    Range: 496 mi (800 km, 432 nmi) on internal fuel
    Service ceiling: 35,000 ft (11,000 m)
    Rate of climb: 4,225 ft/min (21,5 m/s) at 7,400 ft (2,300 m) (using emergency power)
    Time to altitude: 15,000 ft (4,600 m) in 4 minutes 30 seconds, at 160 mph (260 km/h)
    Wing loading: 34.6 lb/sq ft (169 kg/m²)
    Power/mass: 0.16 hp/lb (0.26 kW/kg)

Armament:
    1× 23 mm (0.91 in) VYa cannon with 60 rounds, firing through the propeller hub,
    2× 20 mm (0.79 in) Berezin B-20 cannons in the fuselage with 120 RPG
    Provisions for 2× 0.5 in (12.7 mm) Browning M2 machine guns in external pods,
    one under each outer wing, but rarely fitted
    Up to 500 lb (230 kg) of bombs under wings and belly, or a ventral 300 l drop tank



The kit and its assembly:
This fever-dream conversion of an innocent Bell P-39 was inspired by a profile drawing of this fictional conversion by fellow modeler and illustrator FrancLab at FlickR, even though it carried typical American markings, called the "P-39R":


From: https://www.flickr.com/photos/franclab/51073633507/in/faves-14802581@N07/


An AiraCobra with a radial engine in the place of the original V12 inline powerplant looked so weird and ugly – it had to be built some day. The idea lingered for some months, and when I recently got hands on a cheap Heller P-39 I eventually tackled this stunt. Due to the conversions weirdness I rather decided to change this aircraft’s origins to the Soviet Union – where, in real life, some very AiraCobra-esque projects (e. g. the Gudkov Gu-1, which was a straightforward P-39 clone, or the Belyayev OI-2, a kind of twin-P-39!) appeared on the drawing board. On the other side, there actually was an Italian fighter prototype in WWII with a similar layout, the Piaggio P.119 from 1942, even though it was a tail-sitter

It was soon clear that the profile layout could not be exactly realized, but I stayed true to the concept. The P-39 was basically built OOB, just the area behind the cockpit saw considerable modifications. The original engine bay was cut open and the carburetor intake disappeared. Since the water cooler was not necessary anymore the outer pair of intakes in the wing roots as well as the outer outlets under the wings’ trailing edge disappeared. The intakes and duct in the middle were retained, though, for an oil cooler.


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


The engine cover consists of a pair of annular radiators from 2 different Fw 190D kits (IIRC, one from Academy and the other from Intech), one of them was reduced in depth. The cooling fan came from a, Italeri BMW 801 engine. At the rear the engine pod is held by a nose fairing from a KP biplane, nicely blended into the fuselage with some PSR- The area behind the cockpit was trimmed down to form intake slits for the radial engine, and also blended with PSR. A new spine fairing behind the cockpit replaced the original clear part.

The only other mods are a better seat in the cockpit, a styrene tube adapter inside the nose (plus lots of lead beads) for the propeller, which was mounted onto a metal axis, and a different drop tank that replaced the teardrop-shaped original, for a different look. The flaps were lowered, too.


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


Painting and markings:
This was not easy. The real VVS AiraCobras were delivered as complete aircraft from the USA and carried standard olive drab/neutral grey colors, just some early P-400 for/from UK came with RAF colors. Since the fictional Go-1 would be based on aircraft kits imported from the USA, these would probably have just been primed or left in bare aluminum, to be painted in local colors when finished. With this in mind I settled for a typical early WWII VVS scheme in light green and black (the ‘tractor scheme’), even though I rather used a dark olive drab for the latter, and blue-grey undersides. The pattern was based on a standard La-5 scheme, found on many specimen of this fighter type.

The light green became a mix of FS 34227 (ModelMaster) and Humbrol 159 in a 3:1 ratio, Humbrol 66 and 87 for the undersides. As colorful unit markings I gave the aircraft a light blue spinner and rudder. After basic painting I gave the kit a washing with thinned black ink and some panel post-shading.


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


The decals and markings come from various sources, including a sheet for Soviet P-40s from PrintScale for the tagline on the nose. Once these were in place, I added a coat of weathered whitewash as worn winter camouflage to the upper surfaces, around the markings. This was created with thinned acrylic matt white (Revell 5), applied with a flat, soft brush and then treated with a soft piece of cloth, alcohol and a hard, flat brush as well as wet sanding after drying. Additionally, soot stains were created with graphite and some detail dry-brushing with light grey and aluminum was added. Finally, the model was sealed with matt acrylic varnish.




1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Gorbunov Go-1 (Bell P-39 “Airacobra”); ‘38’ of the Soviet Air Forces (Военно-воздушные силы, Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily/VVS) 129th GvAIP; Kremenchuk (Poltawa Oblast, Central Ukraine), Spring 1944 (What-if/modified Heller kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr

Offline Doug K

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Wow! It took a few moments to realise what had been done (joy of a phone screen) but plausibly, insanely, Soviet. Love it!

Offline PR19_Kit

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That's about the craziest Whiff of yours I've ever seen Thomas, but it sure looks the part.  :thumbsup:

And the backstory makes LOTS of sense too.  ;D
Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)

Regards
Kit

Offline TomZ

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Absolutely crazy. I love it.

TomZ
Reality is an illusion caused by an alcohol deficiency

Offline Tophe

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Weird and great model! :wub:

The usual nickname for the Airacobra in the VVS was Kobrushka ("little cobra") or Kobrastochka, a blend of Kobra and Lastochka (swallow), "dear little cobra".
Cute nicknames too! :wub:
[the word "realistic" hurts my heart...]

Offline JayBee

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wierd and wonderfull ! Then you get to the actual model, even better.
I love it.  :thumbsup: :wub:
Alle kunst ist umsunst wenn ein engel auf das zundloch brunzt!!

Sic biscuitus disintegratum!

Cats are not real. 
They are just physical manifestations of collisions between enigma & conundrum particles.

Any aircraft can be improved by giving it a SHARKMOUTH!

Offline Dizzyfugu

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Glad you (all) like it - and the credits have to go to Franclab at Flickr who came up with this sick idea. However, it looks pretty good in hardware form - and IMHO only a Soviet design bureau could have come up with this idea (even though I considered Australia for some time, too). It's so odd that it's cool again.  :mellow:

Offline ChernayaAkula

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 :thumbsup: Wicked!  :mellow: Cool build. Love the in-flight photos, especially the first air-to-air shot.
Cheers,
Moritz


Must, then, my projects bend to the iron yoke of a mechanical system? Is my soaring spirit to be chained down to the snail's pace of matter?

Offline comrade harps

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Wow! It took a few moments to realise what had been done (joy of a phone screen) but plausibly, insanely, Soviet. Love it!

Me too.

 :thumbsup:
Whatever.

Offline Tophe

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IMHO only a Soviet design bureau could have come up with this idea. It's so odd that it's cool again.  :mellow:
In Italy, the Piaggio P.119 had such a radial central engine, not as derivative of P-39 but as similar project
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piaggio_P.119
 <_<
[the word "realistic" hurts my heart...]

Offline Dizzyfugu

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:thumbsup: Wicked!  :mellow: Cool build. Love the in-flight photos, especially the first air-to-air shot.

Thank you. This was actually an experiment with light, an attempt to match the reflections in the background on the water, so that the aircraft appears in a similar/plausible light. The perspective is also quite dynamic.  :lol:

Offline Tophe

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IMHO only a Soviet design bureau could have come up with this idea. It's so odd that it's cool again.  :mellow:
In the whif world, here is a similar Mustang: <_<

= link http://www.kristofmeunier.fr/P-51_profil09_af.jpg
Thanks!
[the word "realistic" hurts my heart...]

Offline NARSES2

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That really does look good  :bow:
Decals my @r$e!

Offline Dizzyfugu

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IMHO only a Soviet design bureau could have come up with this idea. It's so odd that it's cool again.  :mellow:
In the whif world, here is a similar Mustang: <_<

= link http://www.kristofmeunier.fr/P-51_profil09_af.jpg
Thanks!

Oh, I feel honored! :cheers:

Offline Tophe

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Thanks to YOU Dizzy! ;D
[the word "realistic" hurts my heart...]