Khee-Kha Art Products 1/48 McKinnon Conversion for the Classic Airframes/AZ Widgeon Kit First Look
By Bill Bailey
|Date of Review||June 2011||Manufacturer||Khee-Kha Art Products|
|Pros||Beautiful detail update for the Classic Airframes/AZ Widgeon Kit kits||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$35.00 + Shipping|
While not as widely known as other WW II aircraft, the Grumman Widgeon has outlasted most of them.
Whether known as the Widgeon, J4F-1, J4F-2 or Gosling the Grumman Model G-44 and post war G-44A has persevered long past the end of the war and continues to be very popular with over 100 still flying.
The last of 317 Widgeons was built in the early 1950s, but from the outset the airplane with its 200 hp Ranger engines and fixed pitch wooden propellers was a little underpowered and was really lacking in single engine performance.
Post war usage showed a definite need for more power and attempts to increase speed and overcome the engine out performance were made with new lighter fixed pitch and adjustable pitch propellers. But these were all in vain, the airplane really needed larger more reliable engines to really make full use of it's potential.
Several companies began experimenting with different engine conversions using Continental and Lycoming engines ranging between 220 and 270 horsepower. The most successful of these was the McKinnon conversion using 260 and 270 hp Lycoming engines, a later conversion used the 295 hp Lycoming. Over 70 airplanes have undergone the conversion and it was until recently the most desired of all the Widgeon conversions done.
Lars Opland, owner/pattern/mold & parts maker of Khee-Kha Art Products has finally released for sale a resin conversion of the McKinnon Super Widgeon for the 1/48th scale Classic Airframes/AZ Models J4F-1/-2 Widgeon kit.
The conversion consists of 10 parts per side, each side has:
- 1 Replacement upper nacelle/cowling
- 1 Engine face/carburetor intake
- 1 Cowling nose bowl
- 2 Types of prop spinner (the early rounded type & the current more pointed style)
- 2 Exhaust augmenter tubes/exhaust pipes
- 3 Prop blades
The complete kit includes 2 sets of the above parts, enough to finish one Super Widgeon model.
All parts are cleanly cast in a light cream colored resin and are finely detailed with recessed panel lines, access covers and Dzus fasteners.
Clean up of the resin parts is minimal, with only the attachment stubs to trim/remove.
The replacement upper nacelle/cowling is hollow cast in one piece and has the augmenter tubes and prop shaft hole already opened, no drilling required.
The augmenter tubes are handed and will require some study to get them in the correct sides and orientation, they have some exhaust pipe detail in the slightly recessed ends.
The spinners have the prop shafts molded on, are also hollow cast, but will need to be drilled out to fit the prop blades.
This is an asset, by having to drill them out yourself, you can make any of the McKinnon conversions.
Since all 3 conversions used the same cowling by using only 2 blades you have the 260 hp conversion and if you use 3 blades you can get a 270 or 295 hp conversion.
Also included are instructions and drawings needed to modify the kit wing for the conversion along with some other helpful tips.
This is not a conversion for beginners (neither is the kit for that matter), but it's not very complicated either.
The biggest hurdles will be the removal of the kits upper nacelles and making the cuts in the wing leading edge needed for the conversions wider engine cowlings. Suggestions on how to do both are in the instruction sheet.
Due to molding limitations some light sanding may needed on the joint between the cowling and the nose bowl, but if you align on the top all the sanding will be on the lower less detailed part of the nose bowl.
Since all McKinnon Super Widgeons are highly individualized careful study of photos of the airplane you're modeling will be needed for antennas and engine accessory vents.
Lars also does a nice selection of vac. & resin bush planes & accessories in 72nd scale.
Information regarding pricing, ordering and other Khee-Kha products is available here: http://www.mtaonline.net/~zdk/index.htm