Dear fellow DAC members: I would like to introduce you to my current project, which is now in its final stage of construction. C-FAVO: the mighty Curtiss C-46 Commando of the legendary Buffalo Airways. One of the few Commandos’ still going strong as we speak!
This is not a built log, but a description of the work I have done to the model. It's a summary of my log at Modelbrouwers.nl for the one who is not proficient in the Dutch language. I will post it over the next few weeks. I hope you like it.
Or, to say so with the legendary words of Ice Pilot Arnie Schreder: "Hold on your hats, boys!"
C-46 by Williams Brothers is not a "shake and bake" kit. But it is the only 1/72 C-46 kit available. Grainger and Larry Williams made the molds for this model in the 1970s and continued to produce these in small editions until 1988.
Both brothers have passed away since and the family did not want to take over the business. Since August 2005 the models are produced in limited edition by Brett Industries, Inc Texas. Distributor is Mel Bromley of S&M models. The kit has been improved on a few points compared to its original edition, but it remains a model that requires many adjustments and scratch work to create something nice.
The C-46 is a transport aircraft derived from the Curtiss CW-20 Condor pressurised high-altitude airliner design. During WW2 the C-46 served in a similar role to its Douglas-built counterpart C-47 Skytrain, although the latter was considerably smaller.
According Curtiss-Wright chief constructor George A. Page Jr.: ”Let’s haul the maximum weight, to a maximum altitude with a minimum number of engines”.
Of the 3.181 aircraft built there are still about 70 airframes left. This year only 6 were active: N78774 “Tinker Belle” museum aircraft and 5 in commercial service. With Everts Air in Alaska: N54514, N8748B, N1822M and N1837M. Buffalo Airways of the Northwest Territories in Canada uses their sole Commando C-FAVO for freight runs. Currently C-GTPO is under restoration (after the loss of C-GTXW) and soon we might see a ‘new’ C-46 up in the sky.
The C-46 had a lot of nicknames: ‘Flying Whale’, ‘The Dumbo-Jumbo’ and ‘Curtiss Calamity’, to name a few. They were based on the difficult handling of the aircraft (especially in cross wind conditions) and its “double-bubble” shaped fuselage. This shape was originally designed to withstand the forces of a pressurised cabin, although the C-46 never flew under pressurised conditions. Nevertheless: the unique ‘8’ shape of the fuselage was the basis for other legendary aircraft designs like the Boeing model 377 Stratocruiser, 707, 727 and 737 and the DC-8 and DC-9 series.
The C-46 has only two R2800 radial engines, which in 1938 was noticeable for such a large aircraft. In fact: it was the second largest two-engine airplane in the world, after the Martin PBM Mariner. Her dimensions exceed even those of the B-17 or the B-24.
The powerful engines provided sufficient performance in the thin air at high altitudes. Therefore, during the war the C46 was used for flights over the Himalaya (‘The Hump’) and it was the standard Sky truck from La Paz, Bolivia (the highest airport in the world) far into the 80's. Today it provides far-reaching areas of essential needs. It can take a large amount of freight into short gravel strips and is able to operate from improvised runways on frozen lakes.