SCALE MODEL AIRCRAFT

Independent thinking and cultural diversity in scale modelling

BEECHCRAFT V35A BONANZA (Arii - 1/72 - Injected) by Alexandre Bigey

The very popular V-tail GA aircraft has been declined in many variants since 1947 (including classic tail versions) and has been in continuous production longer than any other airplane in history.

The challenge here is to represent the 1969 model V35A using the Arii 1/72 kit from Japan, a kit first released in the eighties which has known several re-releases in different boxings until now. Here is the most recent boxart at the time this construction had started:

Such an attractive boxart suggesting the 1970 Model V35B version is unfortunately hiding the poor quality of this kit in terms of shape accuracy, and building it straight from the box will result into something having few things in common with a Beechcraft Bonanza no matter what your skills are...

Basically you start with a too curvy fuselage with an oversized engine section and too small windows and windshield. The wings are way too thick and their surface detail of the flight controls has nothing to do with the real thing, the landing gear is oversized. I'm afraid that the decals provided aren't very useful either, except the door access black panel on the starboard wing side.

DSCN3702.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    dec.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

Reference material: Thousands of pictures of Bonanzas in all sorts of variants and liveries are available on the web.

I started construction by widening the side window area in a single bay each side, replacing the provided clear parts by items cut in a colored plastic bottle matching the tinted windows of late bonanzas. To proceed I grossly cut the bottle parts from a contour printed masking tape piece previously applied on the window area, then sanded their edges until they perfectly match the openings, coated the inner sides with Future Floor Polish to avoid superglue fogging, then superglued them in place then sanded and polished them flush. Later I proceeded the same way for the windshield, but picking up the part from the bottom instead of a higher location of the bottle

DSCN3701.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN3704.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN3705.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN3706.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN3708.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

The interior parts are rather nicely moulded but the seats are too tall and needed to be trimmed down to properly fit the cabin. Seatbelts were cut from thin stripes of masking tape.

Before joining the fuselage halves, downsizing work of the engine section started by trimming the mating edges in order to get a narrower front end.

DSCN3710.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN3711.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN3712.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN3713.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN3715.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN3714.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN3717.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN3718.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN8544.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

Once fuselage halves were glued together, the one piece nose gear bay and doors of the Arii kit was inserted higher using the doors as sidewalls of the bay, then inserted as much lead as I could.

The front cowling and engine intake part was replaced by that from the Hasegawa Beechcraft T-34 Mentor (The T-34 and its later variants are basically Bonanzas for military training..) on which intake lips were reworked to match the late Bonanza versions, then a lot of plastic was sanded off the fuselage to become flush with the front end, using a good deal of surfacer to refine the job.

DSCN8564.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN8565.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN8567.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN8570.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN8573.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN8575.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

By doing such surgery the nicely engraved side cowling louvers were sanded off, which Arii had ommited to represent on the starboard side anyway.. The front end (carburetor?) intake has a grid not present on the T-34 Mentor so it also need some work to be done. To carry out the grid and louvers job, I removed some plastic at the relevant areas and inserted some milliput which was imprinted using "correctly" shaped plastic bits, then sanded flush when completely cured.

DSCN8589.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN8590.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN8591.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN8592.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN8593.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN8594.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN8596.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN8595.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9816.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

More plastic, milliput, and lead for the nose wheel bay, cowl flaps, and exhaust areas.

DSCN9820.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9822.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9824.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

Wings: 

You may elect to use the Arii wings but a tremendous job will be needed for a correct thickness and surface detail. The "easy way" would be to fit a wing from a T-34 variant kit. The Hasegawa T-34 or Fuji T-3 have a perfect thickness but the wingtips need to be squared up and the recessed surface detail implies the tough job of reproducing that of the flight controls. The perfect match for a V35 variant is actually the Turbo Mentor wing. But there is another problem...  A very nice Turbo Mentor kit was released some years ago by Sword but is very hard to find nowadays. The only Turbo Mentor kit available at the time I started that project was the Sky High kit....but the moulding quality is far from being as good as that of the Sword kit, and its surface detail is a disaster especially on the wing area...

After my unsuccessful quest for a Sword Turbo Mentor kit, I finally posted an ad at the Hyperscale Forum. Within minutes I received a proposition from Mark Davies who accepted to sell me one for a very decent price, my sincere thanks to him!

DSCN8576.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN8577.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

Sanstitre1.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    Sanstitre2.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

Here is shown the process of fitting the Turbo Mentor bottom wing to the Bonanza fuselage. Rather straightforward in fact!

DSCN9821.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9813.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9815.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

    More plastic removed...

    DSCN9825.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9826.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9827.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

Final dry fitting and navigation light job before gluing wings to fuselage. On earlier Bonanza versions nav lights are simple bulbs protruding from the wingtip. The V35B and subsequent versions have a larger blended navlight area including a strobe light and a fence which is also present on the Turbo Mentor.

DSCN9829.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9828.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9830.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

    DSCN9831.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9833.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

The cowl flaps are made from an old photoetched sprue, and exhausts from brass tubing. The main gear inner doors bulges are much bigger on the Turbo Mentor, so plastic was removed again from the concerned areas.

DSCN9836.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9839.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9842.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

The fuselage top and bottom aft were reshaped a closer look to the real aircraft, and the tail air scoop was sanded off during the process, an opportunity to rebuild a better one at the correct location as I discovered it located slightly offset to the left.

A quick test was then performed to check if enough lead in front.

For the small vent door on the port side, a hole was made in the fuselage using a hot metal rod rather than drilling it to prevent debris and dust from entering the interior, then a "H" column Evergreen strip section was inserted then covered with plastic and milliput.

DSCN9838.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9811.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9834.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN9835.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey   DSCN9844.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9845.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN9846.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9847.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9848.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

Tail surfaces:

The Arii kit parts were acceptable, but the location holes are too low and forward. As a result some more surgery was needed to position them correctly, and at a 120░ angle.

DSCN9850.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9852.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9851.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN9853.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9854.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9859.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

The access and baggage door were re-engraved at correct sizes and location, and the VOR antenna mast glued on. Then masking could begin.

DSCN9856.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9860.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9861.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

While browsing on the web in the quest of a nice and not too difficult livery to represent, I finally found quite attracive the 1969 V35A registered N9012V as shown on some 1970 magazine adverts:

books2.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    pub2.jpg 
image by Alexandre Bigey

After a coat of Tamiya "Insigna White" as primer, the model received successive coats of Tamiya TS-27 "Flat White", Humbrol "Steel Grey" and Tamiya AS-8 "Navy Blue".

The slanted reg letters come from a DRAW Decal sheet, the Stars and stripes from Archer transfers, "Bonanza" logo from the 1/48 Academy kit (of course out of register in 1/72 but that's all I have..), the "V35A" letters aft of cabin windows is home made using an inkjet printer, and the white line accross the registration is made from a 0.3 mm decal stripe.

DSCN9862.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9863.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    slant.jpg 

image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN9866.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9869.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    archer.jpg 

image by Alexandre Bigey

I wasn't very happy using the starboard wing walkway decal as the rough surface underneath was showing through even after some sanding, so I found another way to do it by using spares for an electric sanding tool. It is a bit thick but nothing ugly is showing through.

Most Bonanzas are today equipped with 3-blade propellers, not for performance but for noise abatment considerations. However in 1969, who cared making noise? The Arii 2-blade prop with its ugly moulded in spinner was left aside for the Hasegawa T-34 nicely moulded and spinner free prop. For the spinner I used a Kotobukiya cone set from Japan, from which I selected the closest in size and sanded to desired shape. I couldn't identify the exact color of the propeller on N9012V, black or grey, and there are many blade tip patterns. The black one is the asy way as it is black both sides. The prop logos come from a 1/144 B-17 sheet and they are Hamilton standard logos but at this scale look close to the Bonanza's Hartzell logos.

The Hasegawa T-34 landing gear was used on this model. Typically, two landing/taxi lights are fitted on late Bonanzas: One is embedded between the engine and carburetor intakes, which I represented drilling a shallow cavity, adding a dot of chrome silver and covered by a piece of clear acetate cut round by punch and die tool, then masked. The other one is added to the nose gear leg and I just superglued a small railroad MV lens on it.

DSCN9870.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9879.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9878.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN9881.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9871.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9873.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN9876.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9883.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9884.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

As one can see, a lot of work is necessary to get a more accurate 1/72 Bonanza model from the Arii kit. Mine is far from perfect but I am rather happy with the result, believing it was worth the effort.

Cheers!

DSCN9885.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9933.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9931.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN9943.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9930.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9927.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN9923.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9921.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9920.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN9919.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9913.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9912.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN9905.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9904.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9902.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN9899.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9897.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9894.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey

DSCN9891.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9890.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey    DSCN9887.jpg image by Alexandre Bigey