Fiat CR 42 FALCO
Make: Pavla Models
Kit No: 72048
Type: Injection molded with resin detail parts and 4 decal options.
The popularity of the Fiat CR 42 made it seem by some as the symbol of the Regia Aeronautica in the Second World War. It was designed at a time when the Air Forces were converting to retractable undercarriage monoplanes. Its performance limits became apparent and any successes during the early stages of the conflict were entirely the result of skill more than courage of its pilots. The CR 42 project focused on two attributes, high performance and a high rate of climb, which were guaranteed by a new engine, the radial, air-cooled 14-cylinder Fiat A74RIC 38 that provided over 800 HP.
Construction of the CR 42 prototype began in 1937 at the Aeritalia works, with the maiden flight in May 1938 and the first 200 production aircraft were manufactured in the autumn of 1939. The CR 42 was an elegant bi-plane, which had a fully metal frame and a fixed landing gear, an open cockpit and was armed with two synchronsed SEFAT 0.50 machine guns mounted on the forward fuselage. Two bomb racks were added under the lower wings at the start of the war and there were already five Sturmos equipped with the type totaling 330 CR 42s. It was a popular fighter aircraft and was also sought after by foreign air forces. Hungary that bought 18 Cr 42s in the autumn of 1939 followed by 50 more. 34 Fiats were delivered to Belgium and 72 to Sweden. In due course several versions evolved from the basic design. These included: CR 42 AS which had an air filter and bomb racks mounted on it; the CR 42 CN night fighter with exhaust baffles and reflectors; the CR 42 Egeo with bigger fuel tanks and the CR 42 CB fighter bomber with under wing racks for two 100 kg bombs. In 1944 a further batch of 50 aircraft designated CR 42 LW were built for the Luftwaffe. A number of CR 42 B two-seat tandem trainers were built as well as modification made to the prototype CR 42 with floats added to and CR 42 DB with German DB 601 in line engine. A total of 1,782 CR 42 aircraft were built when production ceased in 1944.
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The kit of the CR 42 comes in a standard Pavla box containing kit parts on a well-moulded sprue of grey styrene that is contained in a sealed bag; another bag has detail parts in cream-colored resin and there is a vacform windshield and another spare one. A generous decal sheet caters for no less than four aircraft, three being Regia Aernautica and one is a Hungarian aircraft. Instructions come in a typical 16-page, A5 size instructions booklet, with line drawings of kit parts and assembly process. All views depict spatted undercarriage but there is in the kit box also parts for an unspotted undercarriage possibly a clue for some version in future re-release. Kit parts show a good representation of fabric surfaces to main planes and fuselage. The Pavla style of paint details of sprue and resin parts thoughtfully indicating paint details in numbered form. A colour paint reference chart is displayed in Czech, Italian, FS and Humbrol equivalents.
The first 6 stages deal with assembly of the cockpit office and also the radial engine. There is an offer to choose between an instrument panel having raised details or one with printed instruments decal to fit on instrument
panel. At this scale the offer is appreciable. Cockpit interior parts are colour indicated so that this is completed and individual parts painted while the assembly process proceeded. There are pronounced ejector knobs on the inner surface of the fuselage halves and it is imperative to file these down since these can interfere with the cockpit sub assembly when it comes to fit inside. I also found out to file off 1/16” from the cockpit floor width in order to allow the fuselage to close. The radial engine is in 2 -part resin and is well detailed. Heavy feeder resins from the parts were carefully parted using a X-acto saw. The assembly goes as per instructions and the engine is attached to a circular firewall. The cowling looks very convincing and accurate and is also in resin. To achieve correct placement of cowling to forward fuselage assembly it is best to assemble the cowling complete with engine and firewall, try dry fitting to front fuselage and sand down as required so that the distance of the cowling front to the leading edge of lower wing is 18mm. I added two machine guns made out of short length of hollow metal tubes, cut to size and glued in front of cockpit in their respective place parallel to each other.. The separate propeller blades are injected and fit on a short resin spinner. It is best to drill a small depression at the locating spot of each blade so that these are secured in place with a tiny spot of super glue.
Coming to the wing assembly stage, fixing the struts could develop into a temporary setback and these are fixed in a sequence whereby the central fuselage struts are attached to the upper wing first since their position is assured at the wing spot area. At this point the mid fuselage area and the under of upper wing were painted in the respective colors indicated later in text. The assembly is then brought to the fuselage and once aligned and it is permanently fixed. The mid wing struts are then fixed in place followed by the inner ones. This may give an indication that the lower wing may require a very slight upward tilt in order that the outer struts reach both wings. These were then glued together and the inner struts added. With the upper wing in place, the horizontal tail planes, oil cooler outlets, air intake fairings were attached, and the spatted wheels fixed in place. A long exhaust pipe is also issued that to my knowledge is associated with the night intruder version, as indicated in the side view shown on P8 of the instructions for a version CR42CN, and this may indicate that another version or decal option may come out someday. Cross rigging to the outer wing struts were made from measured cut metal thin wire strips.
Color details and decals
The CR 42 carried very interesting camouflage, which varied from one unit to another. Also there was variation within the same unit. Basically the camouflage consisted of sand background with blotches of green and red brown while the lower surfaces were light grey. I used Humbrol paint and first airbrushed the light grey undersides. The first coat revealed some imperfections during constructions that were attended to and the lower surfaces were airbrushed once more in light grey. After drying these were masked and the upper areas airbrushed in sand to match the upper fuselage pre painted area, which was painted during the setting of the upper wing. After drying, while the cockpit was still masked the airbrushed was primed with green and using the XF nozzle applied small blotches at irregular areas. This I used light pressure with 40% thinner mix. The same method was used this time using red brown for more irregular blotches. With masking removed, I applied an overall coat of Klear. Time to apply decals for which I have used a selection of Pavla kit decals and ESCI, 1/72 scale decals. The kit represents a CR 42 Falco of 97 Squadrilia C.T 10 Gruppo CT, 4 Stormo CT Libya 1940. The type was also involved in operations over the island of Malta during the early stages of the war and experienced its baptism of fire when it faced the Sea Gladiators and Hurricanes based at Hal-Luqa, Ta’Qali and Hal Far airfields.
This was my fourth CR 42 Falco built and the variation of the type and kit make made it all the more interesting in building different liveries of the same type. The Pavla kit brings another variety of markings and worth considering when going for a CR 42 to add to one’s collection of Second World War combat aircraft.
Ref: Pavla Kit instructions.
Carmel J Attard
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