Snake from Buffalo
This airplane is described in many known publications
therefore I would not discuss it here. Let’s move to the making of the
model. I would recommend “The Bells of the Kremlin” that could be found at
Ëåâàÿ ñòîðîíà êàáèíû
I was pleasantly surprised by the Academy kit. Clean mold,
crisp recessed panel lines, excellent thin and clear canopies, and well-done
wheel wells generate an urge to build it right out of the box. Well, not bad
at all. However, there are some deficiencies. The door is opened from the port
side while it was typically unused on the ground. The reason for that was the
throttle control that sticks in the doorway and makes an entrance to the
cockpit a challenge.
some unknown reason this unit is shown right on the middle of the door. The
same unit is also shown on the opposite door. Other problem areas would be
Well, it’s time to start the model.
First of all I decided to superdetail the cockpit and to
open the door from the correct side. Just at that time a wonderful resin set
from Neomega became available. Prior to that I was planning to use Eduard
photoetched set. When I received the Neomega masterpiece I checked for the
fit of the cockpit tub and nose gear wheel well. The set was originally
designed for Heller kit, consequently some adjustment are necessary due to
the different plastic thickness of these kits. The plastic of Academy
offering is thicker. It took me a little while to find the correct
positioning of the resin details for this subassembly.
After that I opened the air intakes on the front sides of
the fuselage halves. These scoops were used deflecting gasses from the gun.
Then I took care of the doors. I removed the ridiculous throttle control
from the left door using the Dremel tool. After thorough dry fitting the
door was glued to the fuselage halve. From the starboard I cut the opening
for the new door, which is supplied in the Neomega set.
During this stage I visited the local Aviation Museum,
which has a beautiful P-39Q on display. I was kindly allowed to get inside
the cockpit. This experience greatly assisted me on the further work on the
Looking at the photos from various publications and seeing
the engine in the museum, I decided to open engine access panel on the
starboard and put an engine there.
Ôîòî èç àðõèâà àâòîðà, ïîëó÷åíî îò À.Ðó÷êîâñêîãî
Said – done. It was not a problem to cut the access panel.
I also made the edges around the engine compartment thinner and framed them
with thin stripes of a plastic card. I made an engine from a piece of
plastic and painted it appropriately. At that time I was able to buy Moskit
hollow exhaust pipes for this kit. I had to drill and scribe pretty deep
trench in the engine block to accommodate the exhaust stack on the
starboard. On the port side removing the wall on the fuselage behind the
stack opening solved the problem.
OK, the engine is installed. I placed the pilot’s seat from
the Neomega set and painted the cockpit in interior green. The instrument
panel and the side panels were painted black. There are many different
opinions how the Cobra’s interior was painted. There are museum photographs
showing the entire cockpit in interior green or “Bell green”, the
photographs from the US Air Force museum show the cockpit painted in black,
some photographs display “bronze green” livery.
available photographs and the machine in the local museum, I decided on
the following scheme: the walls, the floor, and the pilot’s seat being
interior green, the instrument panel and the side panels – black, and
the doors olive drab from both sides. The black and white photographs on
which one can clearly see the difference between black stencil plates
and the color of the door itself support this fact.
I added machine guns recharging handles from the Eduard PE set on the
instrument panel. The handles were painted red.
After that I put plenty of led balls into the nose part of
the fuselage. Here the rule “The more – the better” should be followed.
kit features early variant of the nose machine guns openings, typical to
P-400 and P-39-D1. Later versions were equipped with “brows”. I used thin
brass tubing to cut appropriate details and superglued them to the fuselage.
Even thinner tubes were installed inside to replicate barrels.
The fuselage halves were glued together. The fit here was pretty good, only
few places were touched with the superglue used as putty. The air separator
was installed inside the carburator air scoop on the upper part of the
fuselage behind the cockpit.
I experienced no problems with wings. I thinned the plastic of the radiators
and cut the intakes in the wing roots. The N-version should feature wing
machine guns positioned so that the outward barrels are higher than inward.
The kit offering shows the on the same line.
I glued the lower wing to the fuselage and than attached
the upper wings. This sequence assures better fit. All seams were treated
with superglue. Since the Neomega’s nose wheel well resin detail was
initially designed for the Heller kit, an unavoidable gap between this part
and the fuselage was treated with putty.
Then the horizontal stabilizer was attached and the seams
were covered with the superglue.
next step was to install the canopy glazing. Prior to this operation I cut
the side window from the right side of the canopy to make room for the door
in the open position (on the starboard side!). Care should be taken here
since the canopy is thin and delicate. Clear parts received a bath of
Despite rather good fit of the canopy details to the
fuselage, I applied a bit of putty to eliminate the seam at the windscreen.
(I hate seams!)
Now the model was ready for painting. Usually I clean
plastic with the isopropyl alcohol. The model was painted by Polyscale
acrylics: Neutral Gray underneath and Olive Drab elsewhere. Olive drab
straight from the jar appeared to be too dark and I added about 30% of white
to achieve the satisfactory color. The wheel wells and landing gear were
painted in “Bell Green” color. The closest match for it appears to be Green
Zinc Chromate from the Model Master acrylic line.
You could check this color on the photographs of the
meticulously restored Airacobras of the
Finnish museum in Tikkakoski.
Then I installed the wheel well doors from the Eduard’s PE
set, as well as the elements of the landing gear from the same set.
The model was covered by several thin layers of Future.
When everything was completely dry, I applied wash to all recessed lines.
This operation was repeated to insure uniform feeling in the lines. After
this operation the model was sealed with additional layer of Future.
superdetailing, and final assembly
I decided on the Aircobra flown by the third top-ranking
allied ace Nikolay Dmitrievich Gulaev. I used Aeromaster decal set “Stalin’s
Cobras”. Gulaev’s machine sported white numeral “2” on the fin along with
red stars, three kill marks on the nose part of the fuselage, fifty kill
marks on the port side door, and the inscription “53 Victories” on the nose
from the starboard. On the port side the slogan “Za rodinu” (For Motherland)
was placed aft the cockpit.
The decals adhered very well. The only problem was with the
stars on both sides of the fin. The problem here is in the little bulges
that replicate navigation lights. The decals refused to conform to these
elements without extra help. Solvaset saved the situation with flying
Then I placed the rows of kill marks on the door. To avoid
silvering, I cut and applied each row separately. The inscription “Za
rodinu”, that has to be on the port side of the fuselage, was not included
in the decal sheet. It was custom-made for me on the ALPS printer by Erik
The model was covered by flat finish (I used Model Master
acrylic). The canopy framing was made from the stripes of decal paper
painted in Olive Drab.
The landing gear was installed. I modified the nose gear by
drilling and cutting plastic right above the wheel thus making the “fork”
more convincing. The resin door was installed in the opened position on the
“correct” side of the fuselage.
The inner side of the door with a wonderfully represented
map holder was dry-brushed prior to installation.
The spinner was assembled with the propeller. I removed
plastic imitation of the protruding cannon and substituted it with brass
tubing. I used two tubes, one representing a cover, and the second one, of
smaller diameter, the barrel itself.
After that I imitated chipped paint on the wing roots along the path to the
cockpit. The wire antenna was installed. And finally, the door handles from
the Eduard’s PE set (really small ones!) were installed.