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1/72 Execuform T-29A/B Convair 240, C131A &600

Gallery Article by Carmel J Attard on Jan 25 2012

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Convair T-29b - 240 series

History
Convair built a total of 508 military versions of its 204/340/440 commercial transport series for the USAF and USN. First military model was the T-29A, an unpressurized navigation, and bombardment and radar trainer. The first flight took place on 22nd September 1949 and of which 49 were built. The T-29B was a pressurized version, which flew 3 years later, and 105 of the type were built. The T-29Chas 2,500hp –99W engines in place of 2400hp –77 or –99 0f which 119 were built, some later becoming ET-29C with special equipment. Another version T-29D was developed for advanced navigation/bombardment training and has no astrodomes, 93 were built. Conversion for staff transport use serve as the VT-29A, B, C and D. C-131A Samaritans (26 built) were air evacuation transports based on the Convair 240; some became VC-131As with plush interiors. The C-131B 48 –seat transport/ electronic test-bed (36 built) and C-131D transport (33 built) were based on model 340, as were the two YC-131C turboprop test beds. Ten C-131Es were built as electronic countermeasure trainers, but six were converted subsequently into RC-131F photo-survey and charting aircraft and one to RC-131G standard for checking airways aids for M.A.T.S. The Navy received 36 C-131F cargo, personnel and evacuation transport, and two C-131G (Model 440) transport/research aircraft; it also operated about 10 T-29Bs transferred from the U.S.A.F. Four VC-131Hs were re-engined with Allison 501D-13 turboprops for VIP use and the Canadian Armed Forces had eight similarly engined CC-109 Cosmopolitans.

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THE KIT

Kit: T-29A/B Convair 240, C131A &600
Make: Execuform
Scale: 1/72
Cost: $25 plus postage
Type: Vac form kit with white metal undercarriage legs and 3-bladed propellers. Wheels and radial engines in resin included. A comprehensive set of scale and assembly drawings and instructions.

The kit
Molded in soft white vac form acetate comprising fuselage, wings, tail planes, engine cowlings. Vac form clear parts for cockpit canopy and four astrodomes are also provided. Four large A3 size scale drawings to 1/72 come with the kit. These were very comprehensive. There was one limitation. In the event you select to build a T-29 (which was my case) the side view shows the Radome shape but this alone was insufficient and a plan view from the underside or at least a scrap front view of the radome area would have been very helpful. To my surprise there was no acetate part for the radome. I had to study a number of photos of the T-29 showing the belly radome taken from different angles so that I could make my own drawing for the item. Among the instructions are drawings to make internal stiffening parts such as cabin bulkheads, fuselage stub parts, wing spars and cabin floor. A template drawing to help marking the fuselage rectangular windows is also provided. I noticed that there were many variations between one T-29 and another and this is besides the changes that occur on a particular aircraft during its lifetime in form of external detail and color scheme. My plan was to study the book: “T-29 Flying Classroom (Naval Fighters series No 14)” by Steve Ginter which I had and also other material on internet and my fancy fell on T-29B serial number 0-015122. This was a navigational trainer in Military Air Transport Service livery. The kit has optional parts or drawings to make other derivatives of the Convair including those with ‘Pug’ nose radome retrofitted to many 240 series E.g. USCG type, as well as variations in the exhaust area and different engines of some other types like series 300.

Construction
As from an early stage one needs to decide which of all the derivatives of Convair one opts to build. In my case my priority falls on a color scheme particularly if it fits the one I have spotted at some time flying in Maltese skies. In fact we had both T-29s and C-131s landing at Hal-Luqa airfield. Ones I spotted were MATS T-29s, and RCAF C-131s as well as Convair 340 in Martinair Holland livery all of which takes me back to the early and mid 60s era.

The T-29B (240-27 series) had three astrodomes instead of four the forward one being modified to house a sextant periscope in place of the astrodome as normally found on T-29A. 105 T-29Bs were built. These had provisions for 10 navigator and 4 radio operator students. T-29B 0-15122 falls in the second batch of T-29bs delivered (51-5114-5172).

The method of building the T-29 is the same as with any vac form kit. Mainly consists of scoring around the bare edges of all moulded parts and break away from carrier sheet. Contact edges are then sanded on all mating parts to achieve correct width and even surfaces for assembly. The fuselage halves then had the correct number of square windows drawn using a tracing paper and fixed reference lines drawn in pencil. Each window was drilled and shaped with rectangular smooth files and then checked against cabin windows template. At this stage the entire essential panel lines, entry door and compartment doors and cargo hatches doors outlines were marked with a scribing tool (a blunt blade), nose wheel wells marked. The same went for the main wings and tail planes, fin and rudders.

The cockpit office and wheel compartment were then detailed. First add forward and cabin bulkhead, floor and to these adding seating arrangement for a pilot, co-pilot, and the observer’s seat. Control wheels, crew cabin lockers, radio and electronic equipment compartment, instruments coaming, side and central consoles were all added at their respective place. Crew figures were also added inside the cabin. All these items were fixed to one half of fuselage section. Lead weight was encased in a forward nose compartment. Intermittent plastic tabs were then added to both halves of fuselage. Astrodomes positions were then marked along the length of the roof. These were drilled through and shaped using a smooth round file. Rings of plastic made from same acetate backing sheet was made to all four virtual dome positions and only the rear three were in fact used for the astrodomes while the forward one had sextant detail added within the ring instead. The three astrodomes and instrument detail were added at a later stage when the fuselage halves were bonded together.

Cockpit interior was painted in greys and touches of black on instruments and central console. Central fuselage had two fuselage stab bars added. These were of ‘Vee’ shape and fixed across and will house and secure the dihedral wing positions. All four bulkheads were then secured in place to give strength to the fuselage and the fuselage halves glued together. A wooden radome was curved from scale plans that I prepared. Wheel wells were cut and detail added to the inside. Wheel well roofs were also added from rectangular piece of plastic and these were to secure the wheel oleos when fixed in place. Tail plane that also had integral part of the lower fuselage was cut, matched, merged and fixed in place. Engine exhausts area at trailing edge of wings close to roots had two oblong openings cut, repeating sequence to both wings. In each were fitted exhaust tubes shaped out of plastic ‘sipping straws’ that matched the outlet diameter. Each of these was ½ inches long. The engine cowlings were cut and the front carefully shaped open using a sharp pointed blade and a half round file. The halve cowlings glued together and a pre painted resin Pratt and Whitney R-2800 radial fitted at the forward end.. The cowling also had inspection light added and engine accessories air exit, oil cooling air exit and oil cooling air intake curved or shaped accordingly. Both wings had the landing lights openings drilled and shaped by filing. Slot fitting the wing spar in between the fuselage strut spars was an easier task than I have thought. This gave the correct wing dihedral angle that was checked with a cardboard jig I prepared.

Metal landing gear parts were cleaned from fins and more detail added to the oleo legs and wheel well doors. The correct landing gear height checked to ensure exact height of fuselage to ground level when the T-29 is parked. With the fuselage set firm, exterior details as aerials, antennae, small fairings on fuselage, pitot static tubes at nose area, rain gutter over entry door at starboard side, door hinges, elevator and ailerons actuators, taxi lights to nose wheel etc were all detail that was added at this stage. Three bladed metal props were sanded smooth and the outside diameter of propeller reduced by 3 mm, which means removing 1.5 mm from each blade tip by filing and reshaping. Thermal de-icing air exit were engraved in form of short length louvers at tail end areas. Areas at wing roots, tail to fuselage joining line and radome root area were all treated with a small amount of Revell Plasto filler followed by fine wet and dry sanding. During fine sanding operation the fuselage side windows were blanked with masking tape to prevent any fine particles lodging inside which will come up after Kristal Kleer is added. In the end the three astrodomes were added to the roof. These were fixed with a small amount of Kristal Kleer on top of three shallow rings added previously and were masked in white glue.

Painting and markings.
Preliminary coat using light grey airbrushing revealed any surface imperfections, which were attended to. The T-29B represents a type that was in service in MATS colors having upper fuselage white and the rest including wings were silver. Day glow red/orange appear on nose, wing tips and rear fuselage. Wheel wells were also silver. I used Model Master white and day-glow. For metal areas I used a local brand of commercial silver. Micro Scale decal sheets provided all the markings with the exception of the long legend over the fuselage carried by MATS transport types. This was a decal which I reserved from a Monogram Constellation kit that I built in USN markings instead. Decals sealed in a coat of Johnson’s Klear. Weathering in form of exhaust markings were airbrushed at areas.

Conclusion
This is a prelude to another build of a C-131C, next time it will be in USN markings. The T-29 made a nice addition and looked so complete parked next to my C-124 Globemaster, C-54 Skymaster and T-39 Sabreliner. I highly recommend this model to all trainer and transport type aircraft enthusiasts.

Ref: 

  • 1) T-29 Flying Classroom. Naval fighters No14.

  • 2) Military aircraft of the world by John Taylor and Gordon Swanborough

Carmel J Attard

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Photos and text © by Carmel J Attard

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