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A Layman's Guide to Building Regia Aeronautica Resin Kits

By Chris Busbridge

Some R.A. enthusiasts probably wonder why some aircraft are only available in resin and have put off placing an order because of that (apart from the prices). You might hope that one day it will be available as an injection moulded kit. It could be a long wait. I believe major manufacturers will treat all Italian R.A. subject matter as unprofitable. The only truly exceptional injection kit by a major company I can think of is the Hasegawa C.202/205 series (now OOP). Therefore we have to rely on the "cottage" industry to deliver the type of kits we want, using the cheaper resin (or the limited-run injection) process.

I say cheaper even though the resin kits themselves are more expensive to buy. Having had some experience with the resin moulding process, I can tell you that it is a labour-intensive and time-consuming one which helps to explain the higher prices.

I would advise you buy them while you can. EP Originals is a good example. EP Originals made excellent resin kits, but they were only available for a short time before production ceased. RCR Models made good resin kits also, but they ceased production as well! The RCR G.55 kit has since been resurrected by Vintage Models, as well as the EP Originals S.79.

Apart from the price, maybe you are unsure of the medium itself. Don't be! Is it the resin dust? Kit manufacturers may state in their instructions that resin dust is harmful to health if inhaled. Wear a mask if you are doing a lot of dry sanding. If you wet sand with water, this will keep the dust levels to a minimum. Do a fair amount of clean-up by "shaving" with a sharp blade and leave the sanding to smoothing only.

The most important aspect of resin kit construction is the preparation of the parts before you start gluing, as the majority of resin kits come with the parts still attached to their moulding blocks. Careful separation is the order of the day. Use a sharp blade, or scribe repeatedly with an Olfa cutter or even use a saw if the block is too thick. Any mistakes made here can make or break the rest of the process, so be patient. Parts can be pre-painted before separation, but remember to first wash them with luke warm water and liquid dish soap. You can use a soft bristle tooth brush and gently scrub the pieces (careful with the fragile pieces). Also remember that, just like plastic, resin surfaces need to be paint free before gluing.

Once the parts are separated, they need to be cleaned up, test fitted and trimmed as necessary to ensure a good fit. Test fitting, test fitting and more test fitting before gluing minimizes gap filling. Three good items to have are a sanding stick (4 different grit surfaces on it), a 6 inch thin metal ruler and some wooden dowel rods of various thicknesses. You can wrap sandpaper around the file and get into those hard to get places. Same with the dowel rods for wing roots and rounded areas.

The rest of the process is just the same as building a plastic kit with the only difference being the type of glue you use, namely superglue (or epoxy) as opposed to liquid cement. A word of warning though as superglue will dry very quickly, it is a good idea to make sure you have aligned the parts accurately first! Also work with good ventilation!

One positive aspect of resin kits is their weight, especially on larger scales such as the 1:32 scale Craftworks Macchi kits. It helps to give a sense of solidity that plastics kits simply do not have. Another plus point is that the trailing edges of wings and tail surfaces tend to have a scale thickness, so there is none of the labourious thinning down you need to do on some plastic kits.

All resin kits will invariably come with vacuformed canopies. I know that some people dislike vacuformed canopies intensely (according to some kit reviewers), but again patience is the key. They are quite flexible and can take a fair amount of handling whilst they are trimmed to fit (always using the sharpest blade you can find). I personally prefer vacformed canopies simply because they are more accurate in scale thickness (except for armoured glass, of course) and only the likes of Tamiya, Hasegawa etc. seem to be able to produce good quality injection canopies. Falcon Industries produces very good canopy sets for a wide range of R.A. aircraft.

I hope that many of you who read this article may be encouraged to go out and buy that resin kit you've been thinking about. It may be the only opportunity you'll have to build that G.55, S.79, C.200 or Ro.57. Give it a try and have fun!

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