Building the Maintrack / Project-X Saunders-Roe SR.177 1/72 vacuform / white metal kit
The SR.177 was to be the production version of the, mixed-power research aircraft SR.53, that first flew in 1957.
This is the second Project-X kit I’ve built, the first being the HS.1156 supersonic Harrier, and consistant with HS.1156, the white metal parts are beautiful, and the vacuform has relatively fine surface detail, but is thin.
Parts were removed from the single vacuformed sheet and sanded. As the plastic of the Project-X kitsis thin, take care removing parts.
I glued the fuel tanks together, and tail plane surfaces before commencing surgery.
The kit is designed to have the wings glued against the fuselage sides, with a single wing spar, to set the wings at the correct anhedral.
I decided to cut out a hole in the fuselage, so the wing could be passed through it, and glued inside for easier positioning and a stronger wing sturcture. Using a new sharp blade, I scored carefully around the raised fuselage wing locators, and the plastic came out cleanly on both sides.
On the wing, I left the carrier sheet plastic that would be normally be removed if following the kits instructions, and glued the upper and lower wing halves together.
When the wing is pushed through the fuselage hole from the inside, the fit is snug at the front and back, but the center of the wing needs strips of scrap card inserted between the upper and lower wing, to help it hold it’s shape.
The kit supplies two bulkheads to strengthen the fuselage interior. Using the kits bulkheads as a template, I created an extra four. These extras needed lots of careful shaving, sanding and fitting to allow the fuselage sections to come together, while keeping the bulkhead surfaces in contact with the interior.
I had to cut notches in the center two bulkheads, to allow for the extra plastic on the wings.
The nose got a small circle, with a strip of spare plastic glued perpendicular to it, before it was shaved down to the contour of the nose. This not only helped strengthen the nose, but helps line it up.
Dry fitting, and everything lines up pretty well and feels reasonably strong.
Next, attention will turn to the cockpit and nose intake.
It is not clear from the instructions, but it looks like the cockpit floor is made from the plastic that is part of the air-intake shock cone. I found that making the floor level, made it impossible to line up the shock cone. Making a small ledge on the lower section of the bulkhead, I created a new floor from plastic card, and a smaller piece to glue into the nosecone. When I was happy with the floor alignment and depth, lots of testing with the white metal ejection seat to make sure the pilot would be able to see over the instrument panel.
To achieve the correct anhedral of the wings, I wanted a metal wingspar that was flexible enough to bend while the glue set, but strong enough to hold the wings in position. As I could not find any suitable wire, I carefully remove the thin cylinder of metal from a pop (soda) can.
The wing spar was then created by carefully folding the metal a few times, using pliers. Then a wider section was folded over this so the ends thin towards the wingtips. If you try this, get an adult to do it. If you are the adult, use heavy leather gloves and pliers, as the aluminium is very sharp, jagged and tensile enough to make some ugly wounds in fingers and hands, adversely effecting model aircraft manufacture.
With all the bulkheads wings, cockpit floor and air intake shock cone in place, the fuselage was glued and held with bands. The hardest part of this stage is getting the shock cone in the right position. In the end I removed a lot of the plastic behind the shock cone and then glued it to the left fuselage side, let it sit for five minutes, before gluing the kit together. This enable a little movement of the shock cone, as the glue was not fully set, so I could align it centrally in the intake.
Using the scale drawings provided with the kit, it was easy to adjust the wings to the correct anhedral before the glue between the wings and fuselage had set. The fit of parts were very good for a limited run vacuform kit, with the only area needing attention being the “upper spine”, where one side of the fuselage was higher than the other, but pushing down on one side, I was able to make a reasonable level fit even here.
The next day, filler was added along the fuselage joins and wing roots.
Again, for a limited run vacuform kit, very little filler was needed. Maintrack Project-X kits provide surface detail which was unavoidably lost while sanding theseams, so next step is to sand away all but the most prominent access panels.
The cockpit was painted light grey, with black for the instrument panels, dials picked out with light grey. The kit supplied ejector seat frame was painted black with green for the seat. Once dry this was super glued in place. Not a lot can be seen with the heavily framed canopy, so I opted not to add any more detail.
I decided to go for the RAF ‘The Firebirds’ overall natural metal finish, with a red tail. In the past, I’ve usually avoided both natural metal or red finishes, but thought I’d giver it a go.
I painted different panels using Testors silver enamel with very small amounts of other colours mixed in. For example, for the rear section I mixed in a little copper to try and give the impression of a different alloy, often seen on natural metal aircraft where the alloys needs to withstand high temperatures for engine and friction heating.
I’m reasonably pleased with my efforts, but doing this again, I would first have coated the whole aircraft in a base of sprayed on silver.
I noticed the paint was easily removed from the edges where I was handling the model, so I sprayed on a coat of clear enamel varnish which helped. Once the varnish was full dried, I applied the Clear-Fix kits decals. These look great on, but they are not as easy to use as water slide decals. You cut out the decal, place it, then use water to soak off the paper backing, but you only get one chance at placing it. Once on the kit, I found trying to lift the decal would cause it to tear, so I have some decals that are a little off as far as placement.
I sealed the decals in place with more gloss varnish, then finished with a matt (flat) varnish.
Next I masked the canopy, and painted the frame. The brand name masking tape I used left a lot of glue behind, and it took a lot of work to scrape it off with tooth picks.
For the SR.177, the adjustable air intake had to be fully forward when the undercarriage nose wheel was deployed. I intended to add the undercarriage, so I removed this carefully using a very fine razor saw.
The jet exhaust took a single coat of dark grey, the Redtop missiles were painted with four coats of white, then varnished before painting the fins medium grey. These parts were then super glued in place.