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LTD 1/48 CA-13 Boomerang

One of the great things about modeling is discovering new techniques, methods, and building up your skill in the hobby. It lets you see progress, and shows you where you need to improve. Each kit can be a new adventure in learning.

And bless its little heart, this LTD CA-13 Boomerang was about a PhD level class in modeling for me.

Now let me say right off the bat, this was not a bad kit. Yes, it is “short run” in every sense of the word. Lots of flash, thick sprues and connectors, blobbish and oddly shaped smaller parts. Everything required a fair degree of cleanup. (You can read my previously published kit preview here.)

But, despite all of that, it went together well once cleaned up. Sure, there were some gaps, and it needed sanding…. a lot in fact. Yet from start to finish, this little kit was fun. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

The first piece of the fun was the cockpit. My research quickly showed the real Boomerang had a tubular, steel cage cockpit. The kit supplied parts gave a solid floor, a seat, armor panel, IP, rudder pedals and stick. Now, it would have looked fine OOB. But something kept pushing me to scratchbuild a cockpit. Which is something I normally don’t do. In the end, I decided “what the heck?”

While I had lots of reference pics of the real aircraft, none were so clear as to give me a clear picture of what the “cage” looked like. So I found some build reports of other Boomerang kits that quite clearly showed the layout. I know, I know, rivet counters are pulling their hair out saying “You NEVER use a kit as reference.”

Phooey, I say. It’s a toy airplane, I have high blood pressure, I’m fat, forty and have a lot of stress at work. The last thing I need is to sweat how accurate the cockpit is. I wanted to build it for the fun and experience. And I figured once it’s all buttoned up, all you really see is a couple of pieces of the tubing.

My plan of attack was simple. Utilize as much of the kit parts as I could, and just keep cutting pieces of styrene tubing and gluing them together long as I could stand, and when it was no longer fun, call it done. In the end, I was pretty happy with it.

The IP is actually from Academy’s I-16. I used it because the kit IP didn’t look good, and the I-16 one was sitting on the workbench when I thought “I wonder if I have a spare IP?” The kit seat and armor needed a little sanding, and I used the rudder pedals. Some Eduard belts rounded out the whole thing.

I acheived exactly what I was going for- you see some tubes in the cockpit when you look in.

The fuselage went together without much fuss. Some careful sanding and test fitting made sure the gaps were minimal. The cockpit dropped right in place and just sorta clicked. A little Mr. Surfacer, a little Mr. Sandpaper, and Mr. Boomerang Fuselage looked mighty happy.

The wings were an exercise in test fitting and planning. There were 5 pieces- a single lower wing piece that spanned the fuselage, two lower pieces for the outer wings, and two upper pieces that stretched from the fuselage to the tips. I taped all those together, and saw that there would be a 1/4″ gap at the wing roots if I did things that way. So I had to find another strategy.

I noticed that with only a small amount of sanding, the upper wings fit nicely to the fuselage. And the lower center piece fit very well also. I realized that if I glued ont he lower center piece, thent he upper wings to the fuselage, joining it to the center piece, the result would be the lower wing pieces would stick out the 1/4″. And if I sanded them down on the inner edge where the mated with the lower center piece, I’d pretty much have a perfect fit.

And it worked perfect. In fact, it’s probably the best wing fit I’ve had on any model I’ve built when it was all done. So I certainly learned something there.

There was a fair amount of gap filling and sanding at the lower wing join fore and aft on the fuselage. Some sheet styrene filling the gap, and some Mr. Surfacer, and lots of sanding took care of that.

I rescribed the panel lines, as they were a bit shallow for my preferences.

Painting was fun. The RAAF colors were quite unique- a very palish blue on the underside, and foilage green and a dark, almost chocolate brown on the top. The best part is, Pollyscale makes the colors! At this point, I should probably mention the exact PS color names, but since I am in the recliner, and those bottles are waaaaay across the room, and I need to get this posted for tomorrow, I’ll simply say get the Pollyscale paints that begin with RAAF and you should be OK. 😀

Painting done, I added the decals. Since this kit was a bit old, they looked somewhat cracked. Being the optimist I am, I tried to put them on anyway. And they cracked, especially the ones on the left fuselage half. (Which is why most of the pics are of the right fuselage….) I sprayed the sheet down with Testors Decal…. er…. uh…. stuff…. (it’s over there, across the room, too…..) Problem solved.

Oh yes, the kit markings are for an aircraft from No. 5 Squadron, flown by Pilot Officer Rasmussen. At least that is what the instructions say. (For some reason they are here next to the recliner…. go figure.)

I added the final bits- cannon tubes, landing gear and doors, tailwheel, etc. Which finally left only one thing. The canopy.

Enter my arch enemy and nemesis, Mr. Vacform Canopy.

I hate vacform canopies. I am sure they are the spawn of some demonic thing that is very demonic.

I do not like them on a plane, I do not like them on a cane. I do not like them on some Spam, I do not like them, Sam I Am.

Yet, oddly, and mildly comically, I quite enjoy short run kits. Which almost always have the cruel little parts inside the box.

So me and Mr. Vacform had a long talk. We discussed our goals for the build, the part each of us played in completing the model, and what our common interests were vis-a-vis the model aircraft. ( I believe that is the first time I have actually used vis-a-vis in a sentence… I hope I did so correctly…)

So I masked it off, painted it, and carefully and gently cut it out.

And the darn thing pretty much fit. I glued it on, it held in place, and I did the Church Lady Dance of Superiority for a few minutes.

All in all, this was a very satisfying build. I ended up with a nice, slightly oddball aircraft on my shelf. I learned a lot about scratch-building, problem solving ill-fitting parts, and actually coming to an odd detente (another grammar first for me!) with Mr. Vacform Canopy.

Off course, just to remind me God really does have a sense of humor, I discovered after I was mostly done with the kit that Special Hobby released a Boomerang that had all the parts I scratch build, plus a few more, nicely cast in resin.

Oh well- I’m glad I had the experience.