Stiles Skystreak
Airfix 1/72 Scale Modified Chipmunk
August 2021~
This model started out as a Chipmunk, built by me around 1983, following a flight in a real Chipmunk from RAF Leeming with the Air Cadets. It sat in a box in the loft for many years and was discovered recently when moving house.

Looking back, the build was quite crude, but I couldn't throw it out. I then remembered the film " The Great Waldo Pepper", which featured a modified Chipmunk starring as one of the planes in the film ( see left ). The idea of converting the model to the film aircraft was born!


It had been painted in gloss Airfix or Humbrol enamels, which after almost 40 years, was as hard as diamond! My normal use of brake fluid to remove the paint didn't touch it, so I ended up wet sanding it with 400grit wet & dry paper first, then scrubbing it with wire wool and brake fluid. Eventually, all the paint was removed, along with the canopy, wheels, and prop which weren't needed. One pilot would be retained and refitted. All the heavy 1970's Airfix rivet detail was sanded off.
The elevators were cut to allow them to be displayed drooped, in the parked position. There was quite a bit of filling to do on poorly fitting joints and where parts were removed. There would be some scratch building needed to replicate the changes made to the aircraft for the film. 
 The filler was all sanded smooth before moving on to the new cockpit fairing. A piece of styrene was heated and folded around some dowel to form a curved piece. It was then slowly trimmed to fit the recess where the canopy formerly fitted.
Once the fairing was a good fit, it was clamped front and rear and then a combination of liquid solvent and tube cement were used to attach it. This glue was left to set for a while before sanding and then further glue and filler were applied over the joints and then left to dry. This fairing needs to blend smoothly before opening up one cockpit for the pilot.
The fairing was sanded slowly and carefully to blend the new plastic into the old fuselage. Pencil guidelines on the fuselage showed where the original cockpit was located. After the fairing was fully blended, a small hole was cut for the cockpit using the tip of a scalpel. The hole was slowly carved out using further pencil lines as guides to the shape and how far down the fuselage the opening should be. The opening is smaller than the original cockpit opening, so the pilot's arms also needed slimming down to allow him to be slotted in later. The tailplane halves were glued next, then left to harden overnight.
The tailplane joints were filled, left to dry and sanded, followed by drooping the elevators that had already been pre-scored while the tailplanes were separated from the model.
   
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