This work in progress will follow the contruction / covnersion of the venerable Hasegawa 1/48 Lear Jet to show one flown by the Argentinian Air Force during the Falklands War. It will be T-24, flown by Grupo 1 de Aerofotografico. Needless to say this was a reconnaissance aircraft, fitted with cameras / sensors in the ‘gondola’ fairing under the mid-fuselage. This particular aircraft was shot down on 7th June 1982 after being struck by a Sea Dart SAM launched by HMS Exeter. The aircraft came down on Pebble Island, killing pilot Vice Comodoro Rodolfa de la Colina and his crew.
The aircraft differs from the standard Lear Jet presented in the box in three areas. Hasegawa, understandably, don’t provide the sensor fairing. The aircraft I want to show was also fitted with thrust reversers on the engine. resulting in the need to lengthen the nacelles, and add a little surface detail. Finally, there are too few windows on each side of the cabin, necessitating the addition of a fifth to the port side, and a sixth to the starboard. Easy!
The first job is to tackle the raised panel lines of the kit. It’s not a huge job as there isn’t a lot of surface detail, which is just as well as I am very poor at scribing panel lines. Fortunately I’m not starting from scratch and can follow the lines already on the parts.
With a coat of grey primer the lines in the white plastic are more apparent. (As are the places I’ve slipped and made a mess.) With this done it was time to set to adding the two rear windows. This was easy enough to do by using masking tape to copy the shape of the existing windows and marking it out in the right place. The transparencies in the kit are mildly tinted and come in one piece, with handy material between that can be cut out and used for new windows. Once cut out the glazing was cut to shape and put in place with super glue. After drying the plastic was sanded back to match the fuselage curve and then polished to restore the clarity. (Top tip – super glue sands and polishes very much like clear polystyrene, making it vary handy for jobs like this.) Below you can see the starboard side in the process of being cut out and the port before polishing.
The engines were relatively easy to modify. I started by cutting a piece of plastic tube to the correct length and gluing to the end of the jet pipe. After that I added four slivers of plastic card to ‘North, East, South and West’ of the outside of the nacelle and sanded each to the correct profile. After this the areas in between the card were filled Isopon P38 car filler and allowed to dry. This material sands really nicely, and so you just sand back to a smooth finish, reaching the correct shape using the emergence of the plastic card as a guide. The three bumps that house part of the reverser mechanism were added by attaching some scrap of plastic and sanding to shape. Add a panel line near the rear and they are done.
The third hurdle to jump was to add the camera gondola from plastic card and filler. Having no dimensions and only some poor quality photos to go by this is the least satisfactory area of the model so far. I’ve made it just that little bit too deep and it looks a little clumsy and over sized. It’s on the bottom though, so doesn’t stand out too much.