Special Hobby + Cunarmodel 1/72 Piaggio P.108T
Trasporto (Wide-body Transport)
by Richard Mendes


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As a result of the extremely original and advanced development work carried on by Piaggio under Ing. Casiraghi during the 1930's, the company had the distinction of building the only four-engined heavy bomber to be employed by the Regia Aeronautica during the Second World War. In fact, with the exception of the far-from-successful Heinkel He.177-Greif, the Piaggio P.108B was the only machine of the category to see service with any of the Air Forces of the Axis. Although production figures were insignificant compared to the number of heavy bombers built by the Allies, in particular the United States, the P.108B was nonetheless an excellent machine.

The Piaggio P.108B (Bombardieri) was wartime Italy's only operational strategic four-engine bomber, 23 were constructed including one prototype (M.M.22001) as well as one P.108A Artigliere (Anti-shipping) variant (M.M.24318) armed with a nose-mounted 102mm cannon in two production series. The P.108C (Civle) passenger transport M.M. 496 first flew on July 16, 1942 the militarized passenger and cargo transport P.108T (Trasporto) M.M.24673 on September 7th both powered by 1,350-plus horsepower Piaggio P.XII RC.35 eighteen cylinder engine radials.

The P.108C was intended for Linee Aeree Transcontinentali Italiane trans-Atlantic service, 12 were ordered subsequently reduced to 6, only M.M.496 having been built. The P.108T was intended for the Regia Aeronautica, 15 were ordered subsequently reduced to 9, three plus M.M.27673 having been built. All were seized by the Luftwaffe following the September 8, 1943 Italian Armistice. Following the armistice 5 more P.108Ts were built as part of 9 ordered by the Regia Aeronautica, 11 aircraft - one P.108C, ten P.108Ts - serving with the Luftwaffe.












Construction

The 1/72 scale Cunarmodel P.108T resin kit with clear vacuform window parts is the only one available of this Italian transport in any scale, requiring a Special Hobby P.108B or a Special Hobby P.108A injection molded kit as a parts donor.



The kit fuselage halves are thinly cast, whilst separating them from the resin sprues parts of the keels broke off necessitating my having to quickly glue them back on - tedious work! The fuselage interior has a large resin flight and cargo deck part that snugly sat within the fuselage halves, test fittings of them revealed numerous gaps, would have to putty fill them later, kit also included a large rectangular part presumably for tying down cargo that snugly sat in the aft flight and cargo deck.

The kit included cockpit crew seats, aileron steering yokes and column parts well as instrument panels but no rudder controls, kit didn't include rear fuselage beam and ventral mounts for Maschinengewehr 15 and 131 guns either, I fabricated them from styrene sheet plastic. The kit also had clear vacuform styrene plastic window parts though most were too small, fabricated them from clear styrene sheet plastic.



The fuselage halve interiors as well as associated interior parts were base painted Humbrol 78 Matt Cockpit Green + Testors Flat White 50/50 mix + 36% Flat White shading enamels replicating Verde Anticorrosine. Fuselage window frames spray painted Testors Flat Black and White "special mix" for aesthetics; flight deck, beam and ventral gun parts spray and hand painted an assortment of Testors enamel colors.



Joining the thin resin fuselage halves was the most difficult part of the entire model build, straightforward gluing them together was out of the question, workable solution was gluing cut styrene sheet plastic tabs along opposite sides of halve inside edges, gluing them together afterwards. All the fuselage tabs glued together OK though two along the keel broke off, many gaps along the joins though all small enough to be puttied in and smooth sanded over afterwards.



The Cunardmodel kit came with a large rudder sail part seen only on Luftwaffe P.108Ts logical considering the ventral Maschinengewehr 131 gun mount seen only on Luftwaffe P.108Ts was molded in with the fuselage halves, gluing it as well as the Special Hobby injected styrene plastic tailplanes on the fuselage was straightforward. Assembling the Special Hobby P.108A Mainwings also was straightforward; Luftwaffe P.108T Piaggio engine cowlings were unique to the type the Cunarmodel kit didn’t come with engine nacelle mounts for them, styrene sheet plastic ones had to be fabricated. The kit lacked pitot tube mast, emergency under mainwing fuel dump chutes, radio and D/F loop et. al. exterior parts, these had to be fabricated from sheet plastic as well.

All model exteriors were spray painted Humbrol 91 Matt Black Green + 36% Testors Flat White enamels replicating Verde Oliva Scuro 2, Testors Model Master 1726 Light Gull Grey + 36% Testors Flat White enamels replicating Grigio Azzurro Chiaro 1 "weathering" with the out-of-bottle 91 and 1726 colors. Landing gear, propellers et. al. exterior kit parts well as a yellow "Eastern Front" fuselage identification band were spray and hand painted with an assortment of Testors enamel colors the entire model over sprayed with Testors Clear Semi-Gloss Lacquer.



The Cunarmodel kit came with water decals for Lufttransportstaffel 5 "J4+AH" and "J4+HH" aircraft based at Mühldorf in Barvaria c. early 1944 Special Hobby P.108A Luftwaffe Balkenkreuz and Swastika decals being employed as well for modeling the latter. Placement of the fuselage "J4+HH" codes was extremely difficult, three of the four letters cut apart to fit on the beam gun port covers well as cutting decals off clear window parts, bizarre considering the codes could had been painted on in full elsewhere on the fuselage!





Technical Data

Aircraft: Piaggio P.108B
Manufacturer: S.A. Piaggio & Co.
Type: Bomber
Year: 1942
Engine: Four Piaggio P.XII RC 35, 18-cylinder radial, air-cooled, 1,350 hp each
Wingspan: 105 ft (32 m)
Length: 75 ft 2in (22.92 m)
Height: 17 ft (5.18 m)
Weight: 65,970 lb (29,855 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 261 mph (420 km/h) at 12.800 ft (3,900 m)
Ceiling: 26,400 ft (8,050 m)
Range: 2,190 miles (3,520 km)
Armament: 8 machine guns; 7,700 lb (3,500 kg) of bombs
Crew: 6

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October, 2019
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