1/72 Aifix Hercules JC-130A

Gallery Article by Carmel J Attard on Nov 5 2012



Lockheed C-130A


The Hercules was conceived in 1951 when the USAF took a policy decision to re-equip with turboprop-powered transports. First flight of the YC-130 prototype was made on August 23, 1954 and delivery of the C-130A tactical transport began in December 1956, and production being complete in February 1959 with the 231st machine. Twelve were delivered to the R.A.A.F., two more modified as GC-130A drone launcher graphic aircraft, sixteen were completed as RC-130A photographic aircraft, and twelve were fitted with JATO, wheel/ski undercarriages and under wing fuel tanks as C-130Ds.

The A variant was the first of a long line of transport serving aircraft and were extensively used during the Vietnam era and in surrounding South East Asia. Manned spacecraft tracking JC-130A were assigned to Patrick AFB, FL., attached to Air Force Systems Command. The C-130A with roman nose (APS42 radar) versus Pinocchio nose (APN-59 radar) also varied in other respects. The 53- and 54-year models had the clamshell nose gear doors. Later single door retrofitted to most but not early C-130As. The forward cargo had extra window. There were lack of wing tanks or retrofitted smaller 450-gallon outer wing tank (C-130A) versus (C-130B) which had no outer wing tanks but larger 1350-gallon centre wing tank (C-130E or later models). The C-130A T-57-A9 engines set further into wings with Aero Products three bladed propellers and the engine fairings extended up to the flaps (inner engines) and into the flaps (outer engines) The C-130B and later have fairings well before the flaps. C-130A, C-130Bs and 61-year C-130Es all had forward cargo door. There were serious accidents where the door opened in flight caused the doors to be permanently closed.


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The kit.
Kit: Hercules JC-130A
Price: 30Euro + AM-59 at 9.90 sterling
Make: Aifix kit with Airmodel conversion kit AM-59
Decal: Super scale assortment
Notes: Conversion using Vac-form parts.

Building a JC-130A to a scale of 1/72 involved making use of the old Airfix kit in combination with vac-form parts from the variety offered in the Airmodel kit AM-59. Little can be said on the Airfix kit as it is now out of production and more improved C-130 kits have emerged since. This had raised panel lines which all needed to be accurately re-scribed apart from the modifications required to convert the kit into a JC-130A. The Airmodel parts issued for this conversion are namely a roman nose that comes in two halves and the roof radome, which also is a two-part item. Airmodel kit AM-59 also has part items to make any of the following Hercules versions: C-130A; JC-130A; C-130B; KC-130F; HC-130H; WC-130H; HC-130P; MC-130E; L-100-20; L-100-30 and the RAF C Mk3 and C-130H-30. There are line drawings side views to indicate principal shape of each version. The Airfix kit in spite of its age is basically of an acceptable standard. A little extra work was required to improve on the lower engine air intake fronts and reshape the lower air intakes. Additional work made on the kit was as follows.

Front fuselage halves had an extra window drilled of same diameter and in same line with existing ones. Cockpit office was assembled as per instructions and more detail added to the nose wheel well. This also had modified clamshell type doors, which were common with the earlier C-130As. Lead weight added to an enclosed compartment and having painted all interior colours, main wheel well and legs added to fuselage and the main halves were then glued together allowing time for the now complete fuselage to set. The next step was to figure out the sawing of the standard Pinocchio nose and bring the assembled roman nose to the best fit, making adjustment as required using smooth filing. This should form a near straight line when viewed from side elevation with the Perspex cabin canopy. The joint resulted in a negligible overlap but I did not like the lower side windows kit fit and in the end this also resulted into an acceptable appearance after smoothening and adding filler to obtain the correct shape at the side of the nose area. The hump radome fairing was then added to top of fuselage giving the Hercules the main salient feature of a JC-130A. The hump joining face was of correct shape to match the upper curvature of the fuselage. The fuselage was set aside and the attention was drawn towards the wing panel lines which had to be scribed. The wing parts were then assembled and engines added leaving the propellers aside to fix during the final stage. Wing ailerons were also permanently fixed. A new placement for the wing pylon was measured to fit on the outer part of the wings. The fuel tank were also shortened and modified. The T-57-A9 engines set further into wings, adding putty filler to the rear of engines to take the form described earlier and which differed from the later versions that had shorter nacelles in appearance. A set of three bladed props replaced the 4-blade ones that came from spares box.

Painting and decal application.
The sand colour plastic of the Airfix kit required liberal coats of Model Master semi gloss white spraying to the upper fuselage which was then masked with Tamiya masking tape and paper. The black underside of fuselage along with the black front of nose and dorsal radomes were then air brushed in gloss black Humbrol paint. This was again masked and the kit was ready to receive the grey applied to the wings and rest of fuselage. I noticed that the wings and fuselage colour demarcation varied between one C-130 and another and exact reference to photos of the particular one being built was necessary. Some even had white wings while others had metal finish wings with grey top walkways.

Decals came from different sheet sources. All USAF legends came from Scale Master sheet SM-32B, and the USAF insignias came from Super Scale No72-83. From Aeromaster decal sheet I found the right size of 45 degrees ID letters and numbers in black. The black trim was picked from Micro scale decal sheet No 72-195 and the Air Force Systems Command crest was picked from Super Scale sheet No 72-190, which contained a variety of crest sizes.

Once you do one C-130 you start to plan the next one since there are so many attractive colorschemes, different shapes and missions for the type. I always wanted to build an A version as the development of the C-130 brought about such a variety of different fuselage shapes. This is what modelling is all about; doing things out of the ordinary that in the end makes them look a showstopper among other C-130s. This was a fairly difficult conversion but definitely within reach of the above average modeller who is looking for a kit conversion adventure. 

Carmel J Attard

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Photos and text by Carmel J Attard