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Modified Italeri 1/72 Cant Z.501

Gallery Article by Gabriel Stern on Nov 23 2010

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   It is fortunate be able to find a good livery for a plane that you like but don’t want to model as it is conventionally represented.

   The Cant Z.501 is one of such planes, in the form of the record-braking prototype, I-AGIL. "Cant" stands for Cantieri Rinuiti dell’ Adriatico, "Z" stands for Zappata, its designer, “500 series” because it was a seaplane, opposite to the “1000 series” which were land planes.

   With help from Fabrizio D’Isanto (a very knowledgeable fellow enthusiast) I was able to round-up some missing data and be able to begin the project.

   Paolo Miana, the author of a book on the Savoia S.64 I reviewed in ARC http://www.arcair.com/Rev3/2001-2100/rev2083-book-Stern/00.shtm
also helped.

   To get the Italeri Cant Z.501 old kit wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be; the few I found were running for pretty stiff prices. Finally fellow modeler Christos P. from Alabama, helped me to get a kit at a fair price.  My thanks go to all these friends.

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   I-AGIL was powered by an Isotta Fraschini ASSO 750 with an almost circular radiator front.  It established two straight distance non-stop records, once flying from Monfalcone to Massawa and later from Monfalcone to Berbera.  Some differences in appearance can be spotted along its life in the available photos.  The Italeri kit would need some adaptations; the most conspicuous differences being the canopy and front engine areas.  The fore and aft openings on the hull and engine gondola were apparently faired over for the first record flight but the aft fuselage position can be seen open and with a windscreen for the second flight.

    Italeri’s model has fine raised panel lines, few of them because the plane was made of wood.  They were sanded and replaced by engraved lines.  The “fabric” detail in the control surfaces definitely needs to be toned down.  The general feeling, being this a very old mold, is on the slightly chunky side, but is a nice base upon which the modeler can exercise some...well....modeling.

    Some struts were supplemented or replaced by Contrail and Strutz streamlined stock. The front of the engine gondola was replaced by scratched parts.  The record version had a different instrument panel and control wheel arrangement which I made and substituted for the kit parts.  Regarding the canopy, Italeri offers a transparency that bridges a large gap of the fuselage and gives support to some of the wing struts. I-AGIL had two side-by-side independent canopies.  That area therefore was re-constructed with styrene sheet and a master was created to vacuform the separate canopies.  The interior was kept simple since almost nothing can be seen –as it is often the case- through the exiguous canopy openings.  Parts 50/51 are depicted in the instructions without a pair of knobs that are supposedly used to hold parts 52/53.  The latter will only mess the assembly, since they are bigger than they should and will open the struts’ angle too much, preventing them to rest in their marked position on the fuselage.  Radio masts should go, not needed for I-AGIL.  The hatches are not a good fit, so be warned.  Struts 38 and 39 need their “handles” removed, but there was a probe on the original on the left side strut (as the pilot seats).  There was a navigation light at the tip of the fin.  The ailerons in the kit have a line that divides them in two surfaces.  Those dividing lines were filled and control horns were glued there and to the rudder.  A wind-driven generator was fashioned and glued to the fuselage spine. Painting ensued and the subassemblies were kept separate to facilitate this stage and later decaling.

   Once the main components were ready the wing struts were glued to the fuselage. Beware that those struts are sided, and that there is one (slightly shorter) that goes forward. Floats were then added to provide rigidity and the right geometry. After decaling the vertical stabilizer the horizontal stabilizer halves were glued, and then their supports. I opted to glue real short tubes to the upper exhaust rows and to drill the ones one the sides of the engine gondola. Parts (2) 32 are diagonal strut cross members -kind of hidden in the instructions- and they are absent in most of the models I have seen.

    The wing was then glued to the fuselage and struts, and I have to say that it was a good fit.

Minor details, about thirty lengths of rigging wire and decals were added and the record-braking plane was ready to cruise on the skies.

   With a little work you can convert your “all-look-the-same-to-me” model into something different and more stimulating meaning-wise.
    Give it a try.

Gabriel Stern

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Photos and text © by Gabriel Stern

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