Hit Kit 1/72 Schreck FBA-17 Floatplane

KIT #: HMT-2
PRICE: $Out of production, on evilbay for about 15-30 USD.
DECALS: options
REVIEWER: Greg Ewald
NOTES: Short run kit, be prepared for psr up the whazoo, as well as some scratchbuilding.

HISTORY

The plane was an interesting concept, but of mediocre value. Short range and limited crew space meant that the Schreck was unable to carry many of the newer weapons that the navies of the world wanted to use.  It did , however, manage to help usher in a new stage in seaplane development that lead to more successful designs.

The best use of the 17 was probably as a trainer for the more sophisticated floatplanes that were being produced in the 30ís. Some of the FBA-17ís  were also modified for use as passenger planes, but the cabin would have been rather cramped, and the noise from the pusher engine above could not have been pleasant.

Several were purchased by the United States and tested out, becoming spotting planes for use by the Coast Guard.  By the outbreak of WW2, they were obsolete.

THE KIT

Mostly molded in flash, the semi-rigid styrene is quite tough to cut and sand. The white plastic is extremely thick. The photo etch is very thin and brittle, and will need to be annealed to keep it from breaking. Decals are all in register, and look quite nice.

There are markings for six aircraft, five Polish and one Chinese. It is interesting to note that the Polish markings are in reverse, but this is because the airplanes were painted in France, and they got the squares backwards. Go figure.

The instructions are sort of puzzling. Photocopied onto white paper, there are a number of steps that are hard to make out. Test fitting absolutely everything is a must.

CONSTRUCTION

You start right off with the photo-etch fret, building the sidewalls of the cockpit tub. I heavily recommend annealing the fret before you start to try to bend the small (read: microscopic) bits and pieces. Frank may be able to manipulate these dinky things, but my ham hands have a hard time with this sort of thing. While there are seats included in the kit, they arenít mentioned in the instructions, you have to love a model that requires so much free thought ! I scratchbuilt mine, as the kit versions were short shot.

With the interior of the tub finished and painted, it is time to insert the cockpit floor, and glue the two fuselage halves together. No, they donít match up too well. Break out the putty and a lot of sandpaper, grit your teeth (pardon the pun), and begin the laborious psr process.

Part of the instructions call out for you to make a jig for the lower wing, which is attached directly to the fuselage. I used a piece of pvc core board that I had laying around, you could also use heavy cardboard or foamcore. Let this assembly completely cure before you proceed to the next step. I let mine cure for over a year, mostly due to frustration.

The engine is a complete nightmare. I didnít care for the exhaust vents, and put on headers instead, as it would have fit better with the USN version (fictional). You will need to scratch build the vents if you want to stick to the kit version, out of wire or rod. The front intake vent area needs a massive amount of cleanup, prior to attaching the pristine PE grill. Use a spare bit of rod for the crank starter handle attachment point.

The propeller will need to be sanded down quite a lot, and has to have a scratched up main hub. I didnít attach mine until the plane was almost finished. The engine also required a rod to attach the propeller to the block.

The wing struts were so malformed that I used styrene stock to make new ones, as well as the ďNĒ braces on each side of the fuselage.  In the directions, they want to have the builder glue a number of photo-etch pieces together to form each brace, like building a sandwich. Sorry, but I donít have the time for this nonsense, and just used styrene rod.

After looking at that nightmare, I also decided to repeat the same process when it came time to attach the floats to the bottom wing.  Oddly enough, the upper wing fits into place rather easily !

Since I was building this plane for use in a water diorama, I did not add on the removable wheels , tail skid, or hull strakes. I did have to scratch up the struts for the tail, as they are not included with the kit. The PE windscreen goes into place easily after being bent according to the fold lines. The photo etched control rods for the stabilizer and aleorons went on without a hitch. If you are going to install the wheel carriage, you may need to do some cutting and filling, completely rebuilding it would probably be the best way to go.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 I did a fair amount of research on this plane over the years, and ran across a photo of one in Coast Guard service, and decided that an easy leap of faith would be that it might have been tested by the Navy also. Iíve always loved those old aluminium doped airframes, anyway.

The instructions call for a gray plane, with olive green upper surfaces and blue float areas. It appears that no matter what the service in the Polish Air Force, they were all finished in the same way.

After all of the sanding, I primed the whole kit with Krylon automotive spray primer and set it aside to cure. It cured for another six months.

Alclad aluminium and Testorís Model Master paints rounded out the rest of the finish. I like using both, as the tints of aluminium are somewhat different and lend a bit more depth to such a small project.

Decals came from an ancient MPC F4U Corsair, and settled down well with some razor work and Micro-sol/set.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

Once the main parts of the plane were in place, I hollowed out a small diorama base enough to hold the hull as if it was waterborne. The plane was affixed to the base with epoxy and set aside to dry.

The water was made from my standard white glue and tissue paper. Once this was dry, I painted it blue using Winsor/Newton Cobalt acrylic. The white crests were sculpted on with acrylic gel medium (heavy).

For the rigging, I used 30 gauge steel memory wire, available at most craft stores, near where they sell beading supplies. Using a set of draftsmenís calipers, it is easy enough to measure the length of wire you need, and cut them to fit. For this small of a plane, I think this is easier than doing the ďthrough the wingĒ rigging method.

CONCLUSIONS

This is an interesting little plane, but hardly worth all of the effort that the kit requires.  It would be just as easy to scratchbuild a 1/48th version, honestly. A year and a half of time?  Ridiculous, mostly due to my working on other kits that were actually fun to make.

Unless you really, really, really want to have a 72nd Schreck, I would avoid this like the plague, or H1N1.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FBA_17

Greg Ewald

December 2009

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