Fly Models 1/48 Macchi M.5

Kit #48002                            MSRP $54.95                  $49.45 from Great Models Web Store
Images and text Copyright © 2009 by Matt Swan

Developmental Background
        “Single-seat fast fighter seaplane” That was the title of the original drawing laid down in 1916 by Carlo Felice Buzio and Luigi Calzavara. This small single engine seaplane was designed in response to a growing aerial threat along the coast of the Adriatic. The Macchi M.5 became the first seaplane that was capable of besting its land-based counter parts and became the most produced seaplane fighter of its time. The small size of the aircraft was primarily dictated by the limited output of contemporary engine designs. By 1917 the type was undergoing flight testing and the 1917-1918 fiscal year had a budget in place for nearly two hundred aircraft to be produced. The basic airframe was produced in two versions, a photo recon version and a fighter version. The fighter type was armed with a wide variety of weapons ranging from twin Vickers machine guns to 25mm center line mounted cannons. Total production numbers reached about 380 total units. For further reading I suggest checking out the very comprehensive Windsock Datafile #86.

The Kit
        While the box says Fly Models truth be told it is really the 2001 Flashback injection molded kit with some resin goodies added to the package and new decals. The injection molded pieces are of good quality with very little flash, no sink marks and complete molding. The general fit of the primary parts looks good but problems do crop up later on in construction. The single clear windshield part is adequate for the job at hand. The resin parts look very nice and include some finely cast exhaust stacks and two beautiful seats.
        All the problems that this kit have are the same as found with the original Flashback kit. The cockpit is a disaster, the shape of the opening is too narrow, the IP sits so far forward that the control column hides behind it. If you plan on building this for competition then your first accessory should be the Windsock Datafile so you can rebuild the pit. The mounting points for the engine mounting struts are not consistent in position and the four struts that run from fuselage to the engine then to upper wing are too long. Replacing these with some Aeroclub strut stock would be a good idea.

You may click on these small images to view larger pictures

Decals and Instructions
        Instructions are brief to say the least. We get a single A4 sheet printed front and back that contains a simple parts map and very limited paint chart. There are seven small exploded view panels that walk you through the assembly of the model and the rigging pattern. It does take some time to carefully study each step and to reference your data file before proceeding.
        Fly Models has released this kit in two versions, one with ‘regular’ markings and one with ‘Special Markings’. Here I am looking at the ‘Special Markings’ version. The decal artwork looks good for the most part but there are some issues with the teeth and ear decals. It is obvious that Fly Models released this and provided replacements however the ear decals are all too large for the kit and the few scale decals provided for the Dragon Head version are too dark and too solid. I used the replacement teeth and the eyes then hand painted all the other head markings to achieve a better result. A decal placement guide is provided in color on the outside box bottom and a more comprehensive color chart can be found there as well.

        When I started construction of this kit I was blissfully ignorant of the kit shortcoming and as a result of this was not able to correct all the issues. Fortunately I have two copies of the kit so on the second build will be able to better deal with these things. Beginning with the engine I quickly found that the engine will not drop into the lower pan until the pan is hogged out with a Dremel and the bottom of the engine is sanded down a bit. Next I found that the side panels do not fit properly and you would be better off just leaving them off. This is also accurate as many if not most of these flew without the side panels to increase engine cooling. Also the nice resin exhausts don’t fit with the engine panel in place and I slotted mine with a Dremel. After finishing the engine I had to put things aside for a week just to get my head back on straight.
        Next I went for the cockpit. The interior surfaces were painted wood using a combination of oil paints and the various interior parts were installed. While I did test fit the floor pan to the fuselage I failed to test fit it with the instrument panel in place and this was a mistake as the panel sits so far forward the column sits behind the panel and is not visible. If I was paying attention I would have opened up the cockpit opening in front a little and moved the IP forward to provide better clearance but no, totally missed on that and charged ahead. Only had a wing mounting point on one side of the model so measured off the second one and drilled it out. I also drilled out the two clear ports on the top of the fuselage nose and punched circles from clear plastic to insert there with masking tape masks. Once the fuselage was together and the seams dressed I proceeded with the basic paint job using a blended yellow/orange for the nose and beret green on the rear with flat white underneath.

        The jig you are seeing here is the second generation biplane jig from Aeroclub and let me tell you, this thing makes building a biplane much easier than it would be without. This allows me to set the wing angle and dihedral plus securely holds everything in place so I can move the model around or even flip it upside down without ever actually touching the model. As construction proceeds I have used the lower engine struts (have not figured out yet that they are too long) and am using Easyline to run all my rigging with.

        Once I got to the upper engine struts I found I was in trouble but resolved the issue by making a new set of struts from Aeroclub strut stock. Almost all the rigging was installed with the model in the jig. The only pieces I did out of the jig were the two sets of upper wires running from the top strut joint on the wing to the engine mounts. The kit offers two versions of wingtip floats and I elected to use the early version with the tubular steel mounts. The other option is somewhat easier to install and is made from resin. Now I have to Future the model, add the decals and paint the Dragon Head markings.

        The logo that runs down the side is incorrect. I don’t read Italian but I looked at pictures of the actual aircraft and verses what the decal says these are not the same so once again, if this is being built for competition pay attention to your reference material. The Dragon Head scales were all done by hand using Delta Cermacoat translucent paint thinned with some water. The end result was much better and more complete than the few markings provided with the decal sheet. All decals were placed using Micro-Sol and once dry the model was treated with Micro-flat. The last thing was to attach the windscreen and finish the tips of the ears which run up onto the windscreen frame.

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