Amodel 1/72 Shavrov Sh-2

Kit #7216                                            MSRP $6.95
Images and text Copyright © 2007 by Matt Swan

       Recently I’ve been doing a lot of builds that involve heavy duty photo etched cockpits and parts counts reaching deep into three digits which has been creating a bit of modelers burn-out. I need to do something quick and simple to refresh myself, something with only a few parts and not too complex. You know what I mean, relaxing. Well, I had picked up this Amodel 1/72 kit of the Shavrov Sh-2 from Hobby Terra more as an afterthought than anything else and the model elf has been whispering sweet nothings in my ear about if for several weeks now so I figured ‘what the heck’. Now any of you guys that have experienced Amodel kits before may be wondering just what the hell I was thinking taking this on as a ‘relaxing’ build but in my own defense I have never built an Amodel kit before and just didn’t know better.
       I find the Shavrov kit interesting on two levels, first the aircraft is just so cool to look at with its sleek hull and sesquiplane design simply looked like it was begging to leap into the air. Second is the individual background of Vadim B Shavrov who authored 'The History of the Aircraft Design in the USSR' which became an aircraft history classic work. Developmentally the Sh-2 was first put in the air on 11 November 1930 and met all the requirements for operations from both land and sea. It was built primarily from wood with a Shvetsov M-11L 5-cylinder air-cooled radial engine with a 2-bladed propeller capable of producing 100 hp. The wheels were retracted manually by means of a crank on the dashboard. During the winter months it could be equipped with skis and was found to be not only of simple construction but very reliable. The lower wing had twelve sealed sections, providing enough volume to keep the aircraft afloat in case of crash landing.
       The Sh-2 served throughout the Soviet Union as a utility transport, for liaison, and as a trainer, and for many years was used on fishery protection duties and frontier patrol work. 16 were built under the designation Sh-2S as air ambulances carrying one or two stretcher patients. In this configuration a medical officer would sit next to the pilot and the patient would be slid on a stretcher into the aft area of the fuselage. Series production began in 1934 and was terminated two years later in 1936 but the story did not end there. The aircraft was so popular with pilots that in 1939 production was resumed and over 700 examples were ultimately manufactured. In 1942, Finns captured two aircraft and pressed them into their own service as liaison aircraft for the Commander of the Finnish Air Force until 1944. The type stayed in service general active service until 1964 and even today at least one example remains airworthy and has been shown at air shows in recent years. During the construction of the model I could not help but daydream about taking one of these on fishing trips into lakes around Canada and Northern United States.
      Now remember, I opened this box with the intent to have a nice, quick relaxing build. After all, the kit only has three small sprues of plastic parts and a single sprue of clear parts. How tough can it be? Famous last words. The kit parts look like something I would expect to see on a short run kit with very heavy mold separation lines and lots of rough edges. Nothing a little trimming and sanding shouldn’t take care of. Sprue gates are heavy and to avoid damaging the small pieces I used a JCL razor saw to remove the parts from the sprue. None of the pieces had alignment holes as is common with most European manufacture kits and this is no big deal for me. Surface texture was good on most parts like the wing and fuslelage areas however there were a couple sink marks along the wing leading edge, at the lower side of the floats and on the folding panel in the center of the wing. Most of these were easily dealt with using some Mr. Surfacer 500.
       As with most aircraft builds I started with the cockpit. The kit doesn’t give much here but then it is 1/72 scale and I was not expecting much. There are two basic seats, a blob that seems to be the control stick, a set of rudder peddles and a stretcher for the aft compartment. The instrument panel has some really soft detail with inconsistent instrument recesses. I’m looking at this stuff when the model elf starts whispering in my ear ‘you can do better’. Damn model elf. One of my recent builds was a He-59 where I made new seats by mastering one and making an RTV mold to make the other three needed for that build. Since the mold was right there, of the same general area and similar in design to what should be in the Sh-2 I decided to cast a couple more seats. It always starts simple and grows from there. Since I was doing the seats it seemed a shame to put that nasty ass dash in there so I filled all the detail, sanded it smooth and placed Mike Grant instrument decals on it in the correct placement for the aircraft. Since the landing gear crank is such a large and obvious piece on the dash I fashioned one from spare photo etched material and put that in. Since I’ve gone this far I might as well take care of some other details after all, this is an open cockpit and you can actually see this stuff. I made a new control stick from Evergreen plastic rod, salvaged the kit rudder pedals and laid magnet wire into the floor of the cockpit for the cable guides. See, things get out of hand real quick and I think I hear the model elf sitting over in the corner giggling. During assembly of the fuselage upper and lower halves and with the pontoons on their winglets I did have to use liberal amounts of Mr. Surfacer 500 to fill seams and sink holes but since there are not any panel lines in these areas it was not a big deal.
       Moving right along I started the six piece wing assembly. I had to thin the lower wing panel quite a bit before it would settle into place properly and had to fill three or four pronounced sink holes in the wing leading edge but none of the issues were where engraved panel lines existed so again, no big deal. The outside edges of the wing needed special attention to clean up all the rough spots which was done with some 400 grit wet sand paper. The wing does have a little bit of a dihedral and a slight sweep back which needs to be paid attention to. Also, this aircraft featured folding wings where the aft center section of the wing was hinged to lift up then the wing could be folded back along the fuselage. If you wanted to make this conversion it would probably not take too much additional work. I think the model elf was on break at this time so I got away with a straight, fixed wing. Next I took a look at the engine and the model elf came off his coffee break.
       The kit engine is just plain sad, there is no other way to describe it. The cylinder heads which will be right out front in plain view have no definition and are too small. I took a Vector Gnome Rhone engine and borrowed five cylinder heads which are pretty close to the M11 cylinder heads. The original cylinder heads were shaved off and the new ones superglued in place. I’m thinking ‘hey, these things look pretty good’ and the model elf is whispering ‘you can do better’. I bought my Vector engine from Buffies Best and he always throws in a small coil of fine soldering wire so I went ahead and installed push rods on the engine and thought ‘hey, this looks pretty good’ and the model elf whispers ‘you can do better’. All right, fine! Next I installed pieces of invisible thread as ignition harnesses and said ‘hey, this looks pretty good’ and the model elf said ‘ACK!’ as I throttled him into submission.

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       With a little careful sanding of the engine mounting area in the wing the new and improved M-11 is test fitted then heads for paint. It is first airbrushed with Model Master Burnt Iron then the crank case is done with a medium green, the ignition wires are medium gray, the push rods are black with silver fittings. And the model elf gasps weakly from the corner ‘you … can do … better’ grrrrr. As a last detail I stripped some black insulation from some electrical wire, cut one end of each piece at an angle and attached them to the cylinder heads as exhaust stacks. I think this is enough work on a piece that is barely the size of a dime, on to larger assemblies.
       The winglets are attached, the elevators are attached and at this point I run into another little issue. That roughness that I spoke of earlier is really a problem with the thin struts that support both the wing and elevators. It would take hours to clean all these things up so I elected to replace as many struts as possible with Contrail struts from Roll Models. Using the rough kit pieces for sizing I installed new struts on the elevators. I did use the large Z struts for the main wing but replaced the outer struts with more Contrail material. Getting that main wing in place and straight was a very fiddly process but I finally got there. I swear I’m going to buy a jig for these bi-plane and sesquiplane builds. It’s around this time that I am doing a little net surfing looking for information on the Sh-2 when the evil model elf points out that there are visible external control cables for the tail surface. Back at the modeling bench I drill holes in the elevators and rudder, install short pieces of medium magnet wire as control horns and attach piece of invisible thread with spots of superglue. A little damp tissue paper is stuffed into the cockpit and this is ready for some paint.
       I wanted to do the air ambulance version of this aircraft so Polly Scale acrylic linen paint is used overall. The exterior cables are done with steel and the tissue is carefully removed from the cockpit. The landing gear struts are cleaned up and painted separately. Once again the engine is test fitted to the wing and now the kit is ready for some Future. Once the Future has cured I start placing decals. The Amodel decals are not the best in the world. They look okay on the sheet but are very brittle and delicate. The lightest touch with tweezers results in a cracked or holed decal. I ended up positioning each one with a soft bristle brush and lots of water. Fortunately they reacted fairly well to Micro Sol setting solution. The small decals on the elevators did not want to snuggle down until I resorted to using Future as a setting solution there. While the decals were drying I cleaned up the mold seams on the clear parts and dipped them in Future. Once the decals were dry I could seal them with another coat of Future and prepare my sludge wash.

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        I used a standard sludge wash made with Payne’s Gray and applied it to all the recessed panel lines. The propeller was painted and attached to the engine which was then glued to the engine nacelle. The landing gear struts and wheels were attached in the down position. While this was drying the clear parts were masked and airbrushed with a medium gray being used first for interior frame coloring followed by some linen. These were set aside and the model itself was coated with a 50% solution of Polly Scale clear flat and Windex. Using a women’s’ eyeliner cotton swab I applied brown and gray ground pastel chalks for engine exhaust stains on the wing and water level marks on the hull and pontoons. Probably the most delicate piece of assembly is getting the two clear parts properly located within the maze of struts and secured with spots of clear parts cement. I think I can call this build complete and it only took about two weeks of evening modeling sessions. Really this was not a bad build, sure there was lots of clean-up work required and some of the finer detail was on the poor side and the decals had to be handled with extreme care but with just a little work the end result looks pretty impressive. There are two historical errors on this build that I did not address; the wheels should have spoke rims rather than solid which could be handled with Tom’ Model Works PE rims and the propeller should not have the conical spinner but simply be a large mounting nut. It’s close enough for me and had I not mentioned those two items most modelers would have never guessed, I glad to have it done and setting on the display shelf. I think I got it done just in time too because I can hear the model elf rattling around in the stash with a new project. I wonder what he has this time?

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