|Hasegawa 1/48 Macchi C. 202 Folgore
by Mike Grant
The inspiration for my Hasegawa 1/48 Macchi MC.202 Folgore came from a friend's build of the same kit. It wasn't the aircraft itself that caught my imagination as much as the camouflage scheme- that uniquely Italian (uniquely Macchi, actually) 'smoke-ring' pattern. Peter actually airbrushed his and did a great job of it, but having watched him struggle with various airbrush/paint/thinner combinations to achieve it I began to wonder- could the same thing be achieved by those with lesser airbrush skills (myself included) or by modellers who didn't own an airbrush? I knew Sweet had included smoke-ring decals with their 1/144 Macchi kit, and Fine Molds had included camo decals in their 1/72 Bf109F and Ki-61 kits, but I'd never seen such decals in 1/48 scale. After much experimentation and studying the shapes of those smoke-rings I developed a set of decals for the scheme.
Having done so I knew I had to prove the feasibility of covering an entire model with them, so I bought the Hasegawa kit and began to build. Right from the start this was to be purely a vehicle for the camo decals, so out-of-box would be fine. The kit itself is superb. The cockpit is very well detailed although as always more could be added, but it looked suitably cramped and busy, needing only careful painting and highlighting. My first deviation from the OOB intention came with the addition of an Eduard pre-painted seat harness. I also thinned the edges of the kit seat and added a couple of small details to the sidewalls. Hasegawa supplied a clear gunsight (Part M1) and compass (B17) but I'd advise leaving them off the instrument panel until the model's almost complete, as they can be easy to break off and lose.
Having completed the cockpit tub the fuselage halves were ready to go together, except they wouldn't. I guess I must have misaligned the sidewalls so it took some manipulation before I got the fuselage together, and then only after clamping and lots of Pro-Weld.
The wings are straightforward enough, but I was fortunate to be able to benefit from my friend's earlier build as he warned me that the main spar (C17) must be glued absolutely perpendicular to the wing or it would cause problems later. I'm glad he warned me, as the part naturally wants to lean forward slightly. In the real Macchis a lot of the engine plumbing/wiring was visible in the forward part of the wheel wells but nothing is supplied in Hasegawa's kit. A resin update set is available (or was) from Jaguar which includes this, but I didn't have one and anyway, this was supposed to be a quick, easy build... However I read in a reference book that the exposed plumbing was originally protected by a removable cover, which in service often got left off. I fashioned the cover from plastic card and moved on.
Everything else was straightforward, although the undercarriage is fiddly. However once it's all put together it's quite sturdy and aligns correctly. I drilled some holes in the oleos and added brake lines.
Because of the way the upper colours wrap around the underside I left the main underside intake (B7) off until it had been painted. I sprayed and masked off the white fuselage band then the aircraft uppersides were painted with Polly-Scale Italian Hazel Tan, and the undersides with the same brand Italian Light Blue Gray. The top colour wraps around the leading edges and the rear fuselage so there's some careful masking required. Also the canopy is open at the rear, so I stuffed wet tissue inside the cockpit to prevent overspray from creeping inside- the canopy itself was masked with my favourite Parafilm.
Decal Application & Final Details:
After several coats of Future I highlighted the panel lines and then it was the moment of truth - the application of the smoke-ring decals. I had several photos to refer to and gradually worked my way across the model, visually judging the spacing of each ring and trying to match sizes (roughly) to the photos. MicroSol/MicroSet were used where the decals had to conform to tight curves. I screwed up a few of the rings through my own carelessness but there are plenty of spares on the sheet, and in fact after completing the model I added even more to the decal sheet artwork.
Although Hasegawa supplies a decal option for a smoke-ringed scheme I discarded them in favour of another scheme, that of 356a Squadriglia, 21š Gruppo Atonomo CT. I made all the markings, including national insignia, on my ALPS printer. A coat of Polly-scale flat later, the final details were ready to add.
The exhausts (I used the kit parts although Ultracast make a superb replacement set), propellor, aerial wires etc. were carefully attached. The completed model had taken me a week from start to finish, as opposed to the usual 5 or 6 weeks it normally would take me to build a comparable sized model, which speaks volumes about the quality of this kit.
Conclusion & Reference:
I'd like to thank Peter Gilding not only for the impetus to build the kit, but also for supplying me with a jar of his own mix of Italian interior green, and for the loan of several reference books which I can highly recommend:-).
ALI E COLORI 4: Macchi C.202
ALI E COLORI 5: Macchi C.202-205
AVIOLIBRI Pt. 1a and Pt. 2a: Macchi Mc 202 Folgore REGIA AERONAUTICA CACCIA & ASSALTO Parte I & II: Fighter and Ground Attack units
Aircraft: Macchi MC.202
Manufacturer: Aeronautica Macchi S.p.A.
Engine: Daimler Benz DB 601A-1, 12-cylinder V, liquid-cooled, 1,175hp
Wingspan: 34 ft 8 1/2 in (10.57m)
Length: 29 ft 1 in (8.85 m)
Height: 9 ft 11 1/2 in (3.02 m)
Weight: 6,480 lb (2,937 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 372 mph (600 km/h) at 18,050 ft (5,500 m)
Ceiling: 37,700 ft (11,500 m)
Range: 475 miles (765 km)
Armament: 2 x 12.7 mm SAFATs (0.5 in)
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