Modified Eastern Express 1/72 Hansa Brandenburg W.29
-and Rising Decals "J-BIRDS" sheet review-

Gallery Article by Gabriel Stern on Nov 19 2010


   It is an uncommon occurrence that decal makers will release options for civil machines.

When I saw the (made in Czech Republic) Rising Decals “J-Birds” sheet and a related article in the ARAWASI magazine #7 on Japanese Hansa Brandenburg W.29, I was all for it. I wish Arawasi would include more civil golden era plane content.

   The acquisition of a W.29 kit proved difficult, though. The MPM, TOKO, and Eastern Express kits were not as easy to obtain as I thought. The available resin kits were not an option for my modeling budget.

   Finally Steve K. from Aridzone kindly sent me the Eastern Express release from his stash and Christos P. from Malabama helped me to get another for a future “limousine” version (this one not included in the decal sheet).  When the decals (printed by Aviprint) arrived from ‘Run For Cover” in NY I was delighted. They came in a very sturdy cardboard envelope, further protected by another piece of card stock and a re-sealable pouch. Accompanying the decals was a full-color mini-brochure printed on illustration paper. Four civil subjects are covered. Besides the Hansa you get decals to dress a Ki-9, a Ki-27 and a Beechcraft Staggerwing (man that one looks good).

   The Eastern Express (ex TOKO) kit has a reasonable level of detail. It offers two different stabilizers and two rudders. As a bonus you get a dolly and a couple of supports to prop the model “on land”. The wing-fuselage joint needs a certain amount of shaving and sanding to get it to fit, but I won’t go on describing the kit since it was already reviewed on the Net. Its nose is not applicable to the Japanese versions (which were powered by a geared Hispano Suiza) thence some nose cosmetic surgery was in order. A new radiator, firewal, support pieces and a metal cover were made. An engine was scratchbuilt too as per images. The interior was enhanced a tad adding bulkheads and some other detail parts. The kit two-blade prop was replaced by a touched-up four-blade prop from Aeroclub. Windshields, control horns and control cables were added later.

   Since Aeroclub was mentioned, I used to get a number of my scratchbuilding supplies from them, but now, due to some circumstances beyond their control, the online store is closed. I encourage Aeroclub to re-open that online store, and I think I am not alone here. Some of their items are carried by other vendors but some items are just not available anywhere else. Please, Aeroclub....??

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   After all building was done and accessories were made, the model was painted with a whitish aluminum acrylic and Future applied in preparation for the decals.

   Rising Decals J-BIRDS:
   The decals are wonderful, but bear in mind that they are thin, as good decals should be. Handle them with care and patience. I used Micro Sol and Set, but my impression is that they may not need setting solution if you apply them to a gloss surface and take care of eliminating water and bubbles. Their color is dense and not translucent at all and they are sharply defined. Two decals folded on themselves as I was trying to apply them (again, they are thin) but adding water and carefully prodding them with a toothpick straighten them out.

    Be aware of the direction of the Japanese lettering, you may not notice if you put them upside-down if you don’t speak Japanese. In this case (one of the four machines you can dress with the decals) you have a couple of options regarding some small lettering. Study the provided leaflet beforehand.

    After decaling assembly of the main parts ensued and details were added.

    There were a number of Japanese Hansas on the civil register (J-BASL, J-BAAI, J-BAFI, etc.) and if you are interested on the type a little research will be in order.

    The Hansa has indeed “character”, further enhanced by a civil registration and livery it really stands out.

    Stay tuned for the “limousine” version.

Gabriel Stern

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Photos and text © by Gabriel Stern