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Readers’ Gallery: Michael Grosbach’s 1/48 Classic Airframes Fiat CR.42 (Swedish J11)


Agape forum member Michael Grosbach (Michael G) shared these photos of his awesome conversion build of Classic Airframes CR.42 into a Swedish J11 floatplane. Great work Michael!

The Kit

Had this snazzy old kit for a couple of years, and I recall the resin and photoetch was a bit daunting to me back then; it was also a bi-plane which set it on burners further back in build-order…so I saved it. I have put together a set of 3 kits to represent Sweden’s ‘interim’ solutions, consisting of (in a time sequence of use) a Gloster Gladiator, this CR.42 kit, and a Seversky P-35. This is the first kit of the set I have worked on.

Historically, the Swedes received 72 CR.42 aircraft, redesignating them as J11 for their hastily constructed air force, from 1940 to 1941. Apparently, no countries would provide aircraft to the small, mostly neutral Swedes in those onset days of WW2, other than the Italians. Volunteering soldierly help to the Finns in the Winter War with the Soviets in ‘39, it would seem their soon-to-be air efforts were mostly resisitance-based, being a country somewhat sandwiched between the great forces, and blockaded – fuel supply shortage being a significant hindrance.

Having built one other Classic Airframes kit (a BP Defiant,) this CR.42 kit shows similar characteristics in sprue parts with much flash to clean up; 2 vacu-canopies (in the likely case you split one while trimming); good decals (though I did not use them here); a few well assigned resin parts; and a nice photoetch set for both interior and exterior features. The instructions are well arranged, but may leave you questioning how some of the crudely formed pieces are supposed to align with each other – that is, once the flash is cleaned off so you can see what you are actually working with. But with care, the pieces do clean up pretty well, just know that the connection points from the sprue often ‘bleed’ over well onto the piece in an intrusive manner so care is needed in fine trimming to get a good part result.

The Build

As a J11, I will render this aircraft in 3-part (Italian) camo, and have after-market decals for markings
for the Swedish version.

(At this stage of the build, Michael started on the cockpit, which had a considerable amount of photoetch. ~Ed,)

At this point, I was all photo-etched out, as we are inclined to get (though more PE remained,) so I turned my attention
to resin engine. The kit prop was broken, and I had a better substitute anyways, so used it – with the kit spinner. This done, I went back to the cockpit finish, and a few more PE parts.

After some key assembly, with cockpit in and well covered, time to prime. To begin, I had a rattle can of a Krylon satin color (Brown Boots) on hand that would work well for the ‘ochre’ base for the camo pattern. Once applied, it helped me see that my camo tones would go slightly darker instead of brighter, and I could plan to mistcoat a lighter mud color (tinting the dullcoat) at the very end. This would also help to soften the very bright roundel emblem decals. Chose also to keep the whole cowling the darker red of the camo pattern, for distinction-so it was primed rust color. At this point, I also primed all lower surfaces with Testors ultra-fine white primer as a basecoat.

Now, did I mention I am building this kit as a FLOATPLANE? This will all but make this Swedish J11 a fictitious craft, though the Italian version had a prototype – and Sweden does have plenty of coastline. I just wanted to do it because: I had a leftover pontoon set from a Ryan PT-20 and though just a bit small, will work out to be OK; and this variation also helped motivate me to build this kit!

Now the PT-20 bracing frames are just too short to get the floats to look right when added to plane, so I cut them apart and
replaced with aluminum tube as slightly taller vertical struts.

Next, I built up the pontoons and frames to their completion, and to help get the right angle/height adjustments, I would add needed mounts to the underside of the plane.

To prep for the camo paint scheme, I first acrylic clearcoated the whole enamel-primed craft, for adhesion. Finishing
the undersides first with PollyScale acrylic French Beige – done as a number of washes on the basecoat of white, the
upper scheme is ready to airbrush (at this point, floats are still detached.)

For camo paint scheme, the dark red used was PollyScale acrylic Italian Camo Red, and the green used was a Heinz-57
hybrid of Lifecolor FS34092 acrylic+others. GREEN first then RED last. This took an infinite while, but I was happy with results.

Final Assembly

Wing struts were installed center outward, with trimming and slight position adjustments along the way. I removed all positioning pins as the end strut positions were not ever destined to align with small indents in wings. No serious problems. I then applied a brushcoat of future to all camo areas, in prep for the decals and to even out the new camo paint finish (flat) with the clearcoated enamel base color they were added to.

Lastly, as discussed earlier, a tinted acrylic dullcoat was made to airbrush over all camo areas and decals. It was a warm mud color, somewhat lighter than the darker camo colors and not too thick. It softened the white numbers as well as the roundel emblems nicely.

Thanks for looking, and Cheers! MG