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Readers’ Gallery: The Rebuild of an Old Glencoe Grumman J2F-2 Duck in 1/48 scale

PHOTOS  Aug. 23, 2012 015

Scott Des Planques sent in this very interesting look at how his love of history led to restoring an older build to a more modern standard. It looks great Scott- thanks for sharing this!

This brief article touches on an often overlooked modeling procedure, rebuilding an old finished kit. A bit over 20 years ago I purchased the Glencoe Grumman J2F-2 Duck to supplement the late 1930s/Pre-WW II yellow wing aircraft in my 1/48 scale collection. This kit can still be found for around $15.00 on eBay. It has been years, but I seem to remember this kit went together quite well. Some of the parts are what can be expected in an old kit, a thick canopy and simplified landing gear that could be moved up or down. Initially I built the kit straight from the box and used stretched sprue for the guide wires, but my heart just wasn’t in it and I was never happy with the results; nonetheless this yellow winged Duck has nested on my built shelves for over two decades.

I have recently started going through my built shelves and picking kits that I felt could be improved upon with the techniques picked up over the years from Fine Scale Modeler Magazine and other sources. Rebuilding kits can be quite fulfilling and a very cost effective way to continue model building when the unbuilt shelves house only dust bunnies in this tight economy.

In the last year I have read at least a dozen books on the Guadalcanal Campaign in the Southwest Pacific which lasted from 7 August 1942 through 9 February 1943. Men like Joe Foss, C. O. VMF-121 and Lt. Col. Harold “Indian Joe” W. Bauer, C. O. VMF-212, both men were Medal of Honor Recipients and served our country with undaunted gallantry during that campaign. Joe Foss was credited with downing 26 Japanese aircraft and was later elected as the Governor of his home state of South Dakota where he served from 1954 to 1958. Guadalcanal legend has it that during the sea battle where the Japanese battleship Hiei was sank, just before she went down, Foss did a high speed pylon turn around the pagoda superstructure/bridge and flipped the Japanese Vice Admiral Abe Hiroaki a single finger salute. Perhaps his other fingers were too busy flying the aircraft.

Lt. Col. Harold W. Bauer was supposed to stay on the ground and direct air operations on Henderson Field, code named Cactus Field. On four occasions Bauer got ants in his pants and took to the air with his boys in their Grumman F4F-4 Wildcats and in those four missions he is credited with 11 Japanese aircraft destroyed; a truly remarkable feat. On 14 November 1942 Bauer took to the air for the last time with Joe Foss and VMF-121 to provide air cover for bombers attacking an approaching Japanese convoy. During the ensuing dogfight, after downing another Japanese Zero, Bauer was shot down, but parachuted to safety and was spotted by Foss alive and well in a life raft. Foss high-tailed it back to Cactus Field where he commandeered a Grumman J2F Duck and took off to save Bauer, but night fell and he had to return to the airfield. The first thing next morning Foss took off in the Duck to search for Bauer, but Indian Joe was never seen again.

This story made me look at the ageing old Glencoe Grumman J2F-2 Duck in a whole new light; I wanted to turn this yellow wing into a Cactus Duck. The Cactus Ducks were most likely the Grumman J2F-5 model with a longer engine cowl which I couldn’t replicate. I researched photos on the web and only found a few blurry examples so I did the best I could with what was available.

I started by removing the guide wires and the simplified foreword landing gear. Then the canopy was carefully removed and the rear section of it was cut off with an Exacto saw to match the Guadalcanal photos. The old decals were removed and the model was lightly sanded and cleaned. I used Tamiya tape to mask the top and sprayed Tamiya AS-16 Light Gray on the bottom; reversed the process and sprayed the top with Tamiya AS-8 Sea Blue. The varied weathering techniques of applying thinned paint and blotting with moist blue paper shop towels and dry-brushing with Model Master Acrylics were used to give the model a flown hard and put away wet look. Model Master Aluminum was used with a very fine brush to chip the paint in areas.

Next it was off to the spares box to cobble the new landing gear using leftover parts from three different kits; Monogram P-47 landing gear and Accurate Miniatures P-400 Airacobra wheels along with a few unidentifiable parts. A .30 cal machine gun from a Tamiya 1/48 scale jeep was cannibalized for the rear defense mount. Beading wire, available from most hobby stores, Hobby Lobby to be specific, makes nice guide wires in 1/48 scale. The decals came from numerous kits, most were from Tamiya F4U-1D Corsairs.