Khee-Kha 1/72 Bellanca Skyrocket

by Gabriel Stern



   For some obscure reason, some airplanes like to keep their feet wet and, occasionally, even cold. They are piloted and revered by some strange creatures that live in the wilderness up there, where the ice age seems to be in the process of receding or advancing, depending upon which season of the year you are, or if your own feet are wet or freezing.
   Anyway, these planes are known as bush planes, and thanks to some enthusiasts they are being produced in kit form.
   When I received my 1/72 vacuformed Bellanca Skyrocket from Khee Kha Art Products  I was impressed by the degree of care and engineering that was involved in the kit. The resin casts for the detail parts –like engine, exhausts, propeller, etc- are some of the best I have seen around; clean, sharp and well detailed.  No bubbles or blemishes here.  To give you an idea of the thought put here: the exhaust pipes are handed, and a tiny sub-pipe –slightly different on each side- branches out to reach the cylinder head matching to perfection the mark in its position.  The resin parts and the clear windshield were lodged in recesses of the styrene sheet that carried the main parts. The instructions are very good, but bear in mind that they are there to be read! And also, as designer/owner Lars Opland states: “A weekender this is not”.
This means: take your time and you will be rewarded.

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    I also acquired from Khee Kha the EDO floats kit to make my Skyrocket as a seaplane. Those resin floats confirmed the high standards of molding, care and detail than the kit parts hinted about. They even come with a few cleats to detail them; very tiny parts in 1/72 mind you, but again, flawlessly executed.
A review of the kit was published here:
    During the construction I altered a few parts and replaced some others in order to suit my own preferences. The styrene sheet is a tad thick, which allows for mistakes and confers extra rigidity, but at the price of some exercise during the sanding process.
    The in-progress photos, as usual, will give you a better idea of what I am talking about.  As you all well know, everything seems to go more or less smoothly during construction.  Then the moment arrives when you just want to be done with it.  Mistake.  It is at this stage where I commit most of my boo-boos.  In this case I forgot to clean the drilling scraps from the interior.  Then I placed all the transparencies, gave them a coat of Future and left the model.  Next day all the white burrs were stuck inside the windows.  Lovely.  Another problem arose when I tried to glue the tail feathers –painted separately- to the fuselage.  Since I didn’t dry-fit them before, I had to make all sorts of adjustments, touch-ups, etc.  The self-inflicted decals are a bit oversize, a fact I realized as I was laying them down on the model.  Time ago I discovered the Jorge Luis Borges’ “Garden of the Forking Paths- rule” which states that for every mistake you try to correct you make two more.  So I wisely left all those boo-boos for the amusement of scholars and enthusiasts.  Oh well. Don’t tell anybody.

   Thanks to Lars Opland (a.k.a. the Alaskan Abominable StyreneMan) we have three or so bush plane types to cater for some diversity on our shelves.
He is now working patiently, surrounded by snow, on the next surprise.


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Photos and text © by Gabriel Stern