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Northrop Grumman JRF Goose – huge model airplanes

25 Apr
2012

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The basic aircraft was painted Spray-n-Plate Silver overall, with Humbrol Satin Black used for the undersides of the hull, and with Floquil Grimy Black for the anti-dazzle panel. Testors Italian Red was used for the engine cowlings, although it could not be confirmed that these were red on the original RCAF Goose. (all David H. Minton)

Czech Model’s Grumman JRF Goose is made primarily of injection-moulded plastic, with a single clear sprue and 31 resin detail components (although a couple of resin parts were missing from my kit). The plastic is of the soft, grey type associated with low-pressure, limited-run

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Above: Two of the horizontal tail components reveal some of the fit problems encountered throughout the kit. The ejection pins have to be removed, the mating surfaces evened and the edges dressed before the parts can be glued.

Above: Throughout the assembly of the model, the fit quality was found to be generally poor. After the wing leading and trailing edges had been firmly glued together, the engine mounts were clamped and glued. Significant time and glue were required during this process to ensure very strong, smooth joints.

injection-moulded kits. The injection gates are generally quite large, and there is a tendency for the plastic to shatter when cutting or drilling. Many of the detail

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Above: Having glued the two rudder halves together, the process of cleaning out the hinge locations and adding the pivot arm can begin.

Left: Czech Model’s propellers can be used as a basis, but the flash will have to be removed, the edges thinned and the blades filled where the injection-moulded plastic is incomplete. There is also a problem with the propeller hubs, which are inaccurate. The modeller will either have to scratch build new propeller hubs, or cover them with the spinners.

Above: In addition to the problems with the injection-moulded plastic, there were also missing and malformed resin parts on David’s model. The interior cabin door was incompletely moulded and required cleaning up and rebuilding.

parts are provided only in plastic, and some of these parts, I felt, were much too large for the scale. Parts provided in both plastic and resin include the engines, wheels, and some exhaust fittings. In each case, I felt the resin parts were better and I used them instead where possible. A parts map is supplied with the instructions, but in my case it did not always match with the parts supplied in the kit. The kit decal sheet provides for four schemes: three US Navy and one RAF.

Construction must be approached in three major subassemblies: the interior,

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Above: The upper and lower wing halves had very think edges, which required sanding on a flat surface to ensure a true mating surface for glueing. Considerable time was spent thinning the trailing edges with a knife before sanding smooth.

the flying surfaces, and the engines and nacelles. The rest of the parts can be attached later. I started with the engines and nacelles. The nacelle halves are provided as tops and bottoms. They are quite thick and have significant fit problems along the seam line, both inside and out. First, I recommend sanding them along the mating seam with 400-grit wet and dry. This smoothes down the seam so that the parts will align flat and glue well against each other. Don’t sand too much, however, or you will lose the round nacelle shape. Once the join is smooth, cement the halves together and immediately you face the problem of dressing the joint. I focused on getting a good fit at the front and then dressed the rest of the joint

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Above: Once the wing is attached to the fuselage, the problems of attaching the windscreen become readily apparent. There is no easy solution here, just a lot of fitting, filling and sanding.

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Above: Ordinarily, David compensates for a poor fit by attaching the components from top to bottom or from front to back. In this case, the fit was so bad that he elected to fit the wing from back to front. A great deal of cutting, sawing, filling and sanding were needed to get a good fit. Once the wing had been fitted correctly, the panel lines had to be rescribed.

Above: The cockpit was painted Testors Interior Green, with highlighting and shading as usual. Details where picked out using Humbrol Black and Testors Silver. The seat belts for the pilot and copilot were added from a third-party source as none were provided in the kit.

as necessary. This entailed a programme of careful sanding and filling.

There are four choices when it comes to the engines. First, you can use the poor kit-provided, injection-moulded engines. Second, you can use the kit-provided resin engines; these are fairly inaccurate, but at least look like engines. Third, you can obtain aftermarket nine-cylinder R-985 Wasp Junior engines (for example, from Engines and Things or Aeroclub). Fourth, you can scratch build the engines. Since my available third-party engines didn’t fit very well into the existing nacelles, I elected to use the resin parts. These fit well and looked the part after some wiring and painting.

Interior painting

Above: Whenever parts assembly required the application of a right angle, David used a steel square as a jig to ensure that the angle was correct as the glue dried.

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Planning on building a military version of the Goose, I painted the interior of the engine nacelles zinc chromate. I painted the engines Spray-n-Plate aluminium, an airbrush metallic paint, and then washed them with Humbrol flat Black. I painted the gear reduction housing engine grey. The copper ignition wiring that I added remained in copper colour. Satisfied that I could fit the nacelle subassemblies to the

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Above: Finally, the two front windscreen components are in place. Since most of this component does not remain clear on the final model, a lot of time can be spent filling and sanding, as long as care is taken to protect the clear (window) areas.

Above: The cabin interior was painted in much the same manner as the cockpit, with Interior Green used as the basic colour and Testors Leather used for the seat cushions and arm rests. The seat belts were moulded into the kit’s resin seats and were painted with Humbrol Linen and detailed with Testors Silver.

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Above: The control yokes attach to resin arms that project out from the respective sides of the instrument panel. This is an accurate representation of the primary flight controls on the actual aircraft. The area was painted in various shades of Humbrol black. However, it is virtually invisible when the model is completed.

wing, I moved on to the interior. In doing this, I may have made a mistake in the construction sequence, since I hadn’t yet dealt with the propellers, thinking that they could be treated after the basic model had been constructed. In retrospect, it may have been easier to deal with them at this point. The kit provides two-bladed propellers, but, as with the engines, they are virtually unusable. Unfortunately, there are

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Above: Once the basic airframe has been assembled, it is time to tackle the problem of the landing gear. A small square fitting was made for the top of the gear, to replace the hole in the gear well which did not seem to align with any of the kit parts. Wheel shapes were made from 40-thou plastic, which were used to set the gear heights and check the alignment for the front and rear components.

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Above: Using just the main gear parts, the size and alignment was established against the outside of the aircraft.

no resin detail parts. The kit provides the propeller, the spinner, and a shaft on which to mount the propeller. I could not determine a way to use the mounting shaft. In any event, the shaft was not entirely round and nor was it the right size. To get around this, I used copper tube and brass rod. I drilled out the propeller to accept the tube and then inserted a small section of brass rod inside the tube to fill it and provide for the cap on the end of the propeller shaft. Then I made the counterbalances from scrap plastic, using a small rectangle as the link arm, and punched out discs for the weights. In the end I think it looks fine, but I did have a problem in that the second propeller broke after I successfully drilled out the first one. All of this work was a bit of a nuisance as I was now working on the completed subassembly, and I think it would have been much easier if I had done the propeller work before I attached the engine parts to the wings.

Having successfully got this much done, I moved on to the interior. Although quite straightforward, there are still several factors to consider, especially regarding the fit of the parts. The entire interior is made up of a combination of resin and plastic. I used superglue for the resin-to-plastic joints and liquid plastic cement for the plastic-to-plastic joints. I first mounted the wheel-well assemblies to the interior of the wheel openings. The fit here is important for two reasons. First, you will soon have to fit the rest of the cockpit around it. Second, the main gear will eventually fit into the top of the interior of the wells and will need to be aligned. I found that I was able to get a strong bond by cleaning up the joints carefully and using a lot of liquid cement – remember that eventually this will be one of the main joints holding up the entire weight of the model.

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A large spray deflector provided in the kit is intended to go on the hull chine. Although some commercial aircraft were apparently fitted with this large deflector – especially those flown in the Long Beach, California, area – most aircraft encountered in the author’s references did not have such a device. It was therefore replaced with stretched sprue.

Next the instructions suggest assembling the tailwheel parts and cementing them to the interior. I did not complete the steps in this sequence because there are no good locating references for the tailwheel height at this stage. Instead I completely drilled out the hole for the tailwheel location, which I then planned to add later. I used Tamiya tape to locate the tailwheel assembly where I thought it should go, then test fitted it with the two fuselage halves held together. By using this method, I was able to move it until I found a location that closed all of the gaps and at the same time provided a reasonably accurate tailwheel location. Then I continued with the fore and aft interior bulkheads and, after cleaning up, these were glued inside the model. Although the forward part fits well, the aft part caused the fuselage to bulge, and a lot of filing and sanding was necessary in order to provide a good fit.

Cockpit details

During the interior assembly process I used a small stainless steel square as a jig when I needed a 90° angle. You could do the same thing with a piece of scrap plastic, but be sure to attend to getting a good right angle. Next was the instrument panel, which attaches directly to the front of the fuselage. I painted this Humbrol Flat Black. The yokes fit on resin arms that fit directly into holes in the panel, which is accurate for the aircraft, but you will have to clean things up. I painted the yoke assemblies Humbrol satin Black. I made the individual instruments using Reheat instrument decals placed on white discs that I punched out with a Waldron punch and die tool. There is a wide variety of instrument decal choices that would work equally well. The decals were settled down using Micro setting solution. When dry, I added a drop of Future to each instrument face to simulate the glass. On the completed model, the instrument panel is not really visible.

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Above: The main gear strut was cut to remove excess length. By slowly and carefully fitting the parts inside the gear well, the length was adjusted through the square fitting made at the top. This was achieved by cutting off small lengths of excess until everything was even.

Above: The main gear is glued together, adding both the upper and lower struts. After cleaning up and resizing all the fittings, liquid glue was used to attach all the components. After the glue had dried, another coat was applied and it was left to dry again over a period of a couple of days. The result was an adequately strong joint, although the plastic itself is not very resilient and the wheel attachment arm was replaced with metal rod.

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Above: The hull drainage component to be glued under the hull step was inaccurate. A new item was therefore fabricated using scrap 20-thou plastic.

On this aircraft, the ‘heads up’ flying instruments are in front of the pilot on the left side of the panel. There is a gyrocompass and an artificial horizon in the centre. On the co-pilot’s side there are some switches, levers and indicators, but no instruments. The engine instruments and controls, including the throttles, fire extinguishers, mixture controls and temperature gauges are located overhead, between the pilot and co-pilot, as is often the case on Grumman seaplanes. These are not provided in the kit and since they wouldn’t be visible in the model unless you turned it upside down and put a spotlight on it, I did not model them.

The rest of the interior is made up of mostly resin parts with plastic parts at the front and rear. On the whole, the parts

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Propeller counterbalances were scratch built using a Waldron punch set and scrap plastic. Even if spinners are used, this part of the propeller assembly can still be seen on most examples of the Goose.

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Above: The bow cleat as provided in the kit was much too thick, so a new scratch-built example was produced from lengths of stretched sprue.

went together fairly easily. I first fitted the sidewall parts to the cockpit, and then glued the resin parts to the floor. One cabin bulkhead in my kit wasn’t fully moulded, so I filled and sanded it.

The cabin seats are resin and come with the seat belts already moulded on them. The pilot and co-pilot have separate seats that mount on small frames and there are no seat belts provided. One of the missing resin parts was the mounting for one of these seats, so I made a replacement from scrap to match the other. I sourced the seat belts from my spares box, using a dry transfer Mylar type of belt, but there are again a variety of solutions available. Following my military theme, I painted the interior Model Master Interior Green, with the seats in the cabin in leather and the various details in silver and black. The cockpit seats were sometimes padded and sometimes not. It looked to me as if these examples were padded, so I painted them leather, rather than interior green.

Once all of the interior had been completed, I sealed up the entire fuselage assembly. According to the instructions, before doing this you should add the interior windows. I didn’t think the clear parts were quite clear enough, so I used Micro Kristal Klear to make replacements. This meant that I first put the glazing in the model after I had glued it all together, but before I started filling and sanding. Later, after painting, I took the windows out with tweezers and replaced them with new Kristal Klear examples. I generally find this a more satisfactory way to replicate the windows when the kit-supplied clear parts aren’t very satisfactory.

Scratch-built additions to airplane

At this point in the instructions (step 5) it is recommended that you attach the bow chock and the bow spray shield. I did not use the bow chock because it was much too large, so I fabricated a replacement from stretched sprue. I did not attach it until the end, although now is a good time to drill some holes for it. It is installed in the centre of the fuselage, just forward of the bow hatch, under which are the mooring lines and anchor if you decide to open it up. The spray shield in the kit doesn’t resemble anything like the very fine line at the chine of the actual aircraft, so I again replaced this part with stretched sprue. I have seen photographs of some experimental and commercial aircraft with fairly large spray shields, but the only production aircraft that had anything resembling it were the various Catalina Island aircraft. The more common configuration runs from nearly the tip of the bow to the wheel well, and I glued it in place and then feathered it lightly to the fuselage using 1200-grit wet and dry.

With the fuselage basically complete, except for filling and sanding in various places, it was time to begin assembling the wings, tail components, and floats. Basically, these are made up of top and bottom halves, except for the rudder and floats, which are provided as left and right

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Above: The kit decal sheet (right) provides for both US Navy and RAF Coastal Command aircraft. However, David chose to use a Rareplanes sheet, seen here on the left, which also provided for RAF Coastal Command, as well as US Coast Guard, Japanese and Canadian aircraft.

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Left: Without a doubt one of the finest references for the Grumman Goose is Steve Ginter’s book. Although it has a very nice collection of detail photographs, the selection of general aircraft studies is not especially large, and only a handful of Canadian and RAF aircraft are included.

components. I spent some time sanding the mating surfaces and thinning the trailing edges of the flying surfaces. However, since the horizontal tail surfaces are basically just slabs of plastic, it probably didn’t help much. But with the other parts, it did succeed in thinning the trailing edges a little. The fit of the wing parts to one another is very poor, so I first lined up the wing leading edges and glued them firmly together with little regard for the engine mounts, in a similar manner as I had with the nacelles. Next I did the same with the trailing edges. Once the entire interior had been completed, I sealed up the whole fuselage assembly. According to the instructions, before doing this you should add the interior windows. When everything was dry, I filled in the several gaps with scrap styrene sheet. Then I cleaned everything up, filled, sanded, and re-scribed where necessary. Following the kit assembly plans, I then attached the wings and tail assembly to the model. Except for some cutting and filing to get the back of the wing assembly to mate smoothly to the upper fuselage deck, these parts all attached fairly well. As usual, make sure that everything is aligned. I also fabricated a mounting post for the rudder from scrap plastic rod and assembled it in the slots, which I sawed out. In truth, however, this is barely visible on the completed model and you might achieve similar results by painting the rudder slots black. After setting everything aside to dry, this is probably where I made my second mistake. Upon returning I noted that I still had the floats and horizontal tail braces to add, but the next step was to add the windscreen and engine nacelles. The engine nacelles were no problem, as I’d completed them first, but the windscreen would be difficult. Before attaching the wing, there hadn’t really been anywhere to put it, but now there was and it didn’t look good.

Cockpit glazing

On my kit the windscreen was provided as two halves split down the centre. In itself, this isn’t a particular problem because a large brace exists where the seam is – so as long as you are fairly neat there shouldn’t be a problem. I lightly tacked the windscreen together and fitted it in place. The fit of this part was by far the worst so far. The general approach I always use is to fit it from front to back or top to bottom. Since the clear parts aren’t all that clear, the first thing I did was polish and then treat the front and side window areas with Future. Making sure no Future was on any of the joints, I then applied glue down the entire centre seam of the windscreen. Before it was dry, I located it in the correct position on the fuselage. When I had achieved the best fit I could, I glued the front of the windscreen to the fuselage. While still movable, I next spread the parts a bit to align the outside of the rear of the windscreen part to the outside of the fuselage. Then I glued it to the rear of the fuselage.

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Although the painting guide provided with the decals indicated that the float bottoms were not painted with anti-fouling, most references indicate that when the hull was painted with anti-fouling the floats were treated accordingly. The rigging was completed using steel wire.

It was a mess. I let it dry and put more glue on the existing joints. When all of the joints were strong, I slowly but surely filled in all the gaps with styrene scrap. Although it was a slow and tedious process, it was made more difficult by the fact that the engine mounts were in the way. When it was almost finished, I puttied, sanded and finished it and the final result was acceptable. In retrospect, an alternative might be to fit things together and then build up the forward part of the fuselage where it fits to the windscreen, and only then glue the wings in place.

I next attached the horizontal tail braces, the floats, engine nacelles and the elevator horns. Except for the engine nacelles, which I had previously fabricated, nothing fitted as provided. The tail braces were too short, so I made new items from Evergreen strip. The mounts for the floats were not very strong, so I cut them off, drilled out holes and used small sections of brass rod. There were no mounting locations on the wing, so these had to be drilled out as well. Finally, the elevator counterbalances were much too large and had to be scraped and sanded down to something more resembling the scale. Thinking I was nearly done with the assembly and about to begin painting, I attached the counterbalances at this point. It was my third mistake. You should mount them later. The engine nacelles glued in place with no problems. I recommend completing this step before glueing the resin cooler intakes in place. This is because the cooler intakes are too large and will have to be cut down, and they also stand proud of the engine nacelles. They are located just in front of and almost centred in respect to the access panel on the engine mounts. Because I built a post-war search and rescue version, I did not mount the bombs, but the resin parts look good. Following the instructions, at this point I would have added the rigging for the floats, the ADF ‘football’ antenna, the propellers and the exhaust. However, I chose to move on and completed the next steps instead, painting the model before adding the finished smaller parts. Depending on the version you model, the rigging may actually pass through the national insignia, so this should be added after the decals. Some aircraft have an ADF loop instead of the ‘football’, or neither, so pay attention to your references.

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Undercarriage

The landing gear doesn’t fit, to put it simply. The mounting hole at the top of the wheel-well assembly is in the wrong location and is far too big. The first step is to just clean everything up and get rid of all the moulding marks and seam lines. Next, thin the bracing struts somewhat, since they are much too heavy. I couldn’t find a way to use any of the mounting holes provided, so I drilled my own. There is also an observation window so that the occupants can look out and observe the condition of the gear; I drilled this out at the same time. When correctly mounted, the main gear is angled slightly away from the vertical reference line through the centre of the fuselage. However, the locating hole for the main strut in the wheel well will not permit this, so I didn’t use it. What I did was to make a fitting out of a scrap of 10-thou sheet plastic. I drilled a hole in it that was slightly smaller than the size of the main gear strut at the top and then cut out a small square around the whole, somewhat as you might make a scratch-built instrument bezel. Then I fitted the main strut through it and also positioned the lower three-armed brace at the bottom of the main strut. Fitting everything together on the outside of the gear well first, I cut off the excess end of the main strut. Then I slowly pushed a bit of the main strut through the square fitting and cut it off while I fitted the assembly into the main wheel well. By using this approach, I was able to slowly bring it into alignment. I test fitted each time I did this, cutting off perhaps a tenth of an inch each time until

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the pieces fitted together correctly in the wheel well. It is a bit fiddly, but it only took about 15 minutes. Then I repeated the process for the other side of the aircraft, making sure they both lined up, and finally glued it all together with liquid glue. Next I tended to the tailwheel. As I planned to use the flattened resin wheels from the kit, I made flattened discs from scrap sheet styrene for the main gear. After creating a brace for the tailwheel similar to the ones I used for the main gear, I fitted it in the hole until the aircraft stood correctly on its gear, and then glued it in place. Although I didn’t attach the main gear until after I’d painted the model, I replaced the mounts due to the brittleness of the plastic. I cut off the plastic items and drilled out both the wheels and the strut and replaced them with metal rod. Step 10 is the final stage and it did not disappoint – nothing worked according to the drawing for this phase either! One of the resin parts was missing from my kit, so I scratch built one from sheet plastic. However, the main problem was the injection-moulded part for the drainage holes, which did not match any photographs that I’ve seen. As provided with the kit, there are eight relatively large holes on each section or half. From the photographs I’ve seen, there should be 10 smaller holes on each half. To remedy this, I scratch built replacements using 20-thou sheet plastic. Now the basic model was complete and I was finally ready to start painting.

Decals and painting

By now I had long since determined that I was going to build the RCAF option for which I had bought the decal sheet form Rareplanes. This provides for five different markings. As well as the Canadian machine I built, there are also options for a light grey Japan Maritime Self Defence Force aircraft, a Gloss Sea Blue US Navy scheme, Royal Navy Dark Slate Grey and

Overall, the Grumman JRF Goose offers a pleasing example of the transition of aircraft to more modern structures, although it still retains ‘archaic’ external bracing for the floats. Some later aircraft were modified with folding floats.

A good view of the completed main landing gear showing the three-armed assembly at the lower joint and the two-armed assembly at the upper joint.

Extra Dark Sea Grey examples, and a US Coast Guard machine in silver with red, white, and blue rudder stripes. The Canadian Goose is overall doped silver with black anti-fouling on the undersides. I was unable to find a photograph of this particular aircraft, or indeed, of this particular scheme. However, I have no trouble trusting the Rareplanes decals, so I followed the painting guide that was provided. The first thing I did was paint the bottom of the hull black. Although the drawing provided with the decal indicates that the floats are silver on the bottom, study of photographs of the Goose and other seaplanes led me to conclude it is likely that the bottoms of the floats were painted with the same anti-fouling compound as the hull. After the undersides were painted, I masked them off and proceeded to paint the rest of the model. The aircraft seems to have been primarily painted silver and I represented this using Spray-n-Plate. There are a variety of other metallic airbrush paints available and I’m sure any one of them would work. After all of the basic airframe was painted, I masked and sprayed the anti-glare panel. This I did in Floquil Grimy Black, which seems to me to be just the right level of flat. I used Humbrol Satin Black with some flat black added for the bottoms of the anti-fouling components. Once the basic painting was done, I masked the engine nacelles and added the red. To make this area stand out, I used Testors Italian Red. The end result is quite pleasing.

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The primary reference I used for building this model was Steve Ginter’s book, The Grumman Goose. As is common with Ginter’s other books, there is a colour cover with a couple of photographs and a fairly nice collection of black and white imagery within the book. Many of the photographs are detail shots showing various antenna and ADF arrangements and there are several depicting the cabin interior, including the toilet and camera locations for the reconnaissance version. There are several commercial and US government schemes illustrated, but very few RAF or Canadian machines. These days, if you are connected to the internet, you are likely to find very useful information here as well, and for the Goose this is no exception. The site www. grumman-goose. com has an excellent collection of photographs and listings of many of the individual aircraft. Altogether, the Czech Model Goose was a satisfying build, resulting in a very pleasing model.

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