Conceived as a sleeper version of the DC-2, the DC-3 began life as the Douglas Sleeper Transport for American Airlines equipped with Pullman-style berths to allow transcontinental flights to continue non-stop throughout the night. Almost immediately, the DC-3 was equipped with another row of seats in the wider fuselage, allowing 21 daytime passengers to be carried 3 abreast as compared to 14 two abreast in the DC-2. This change allowed the DC-3 to become the first airliner in history to turn a profit from passenger fares alone. This fact gave the DC-3 such popularity that it quickly became the premiere airliner in the world.
The DC-3's legendary toughness and adaptability found a ready market in the world's armed forces when war broke out but it was its remarkable ability to be converted back into civilian service which cemented the DC-3's legend. Since its first flight in 1935, not a day has gone past without a DC-3 somewhere in the world busy earning its living. It is very likely that a DC-3 will be flying on its 100th birthday, still earning a profit for its owners.
This kit is very nicely moulded in Roden's familiar slightly brownish plastic. The fuselage halves are correct for a DC-3, without the C-47's large cargo door, so Roden are to be commended for getting that correct. On the sprues, the dihedral looks correct and the panel lines are very fine engravings. The outer surfaces are finished in Roden's characteristic slightly pebbly texture. Since the kit subject is in bare metal it would definitely benefit from a polishing.
The fuselage is two pieces nose to tail with a separate baggage door. It is unclear why Roden moulded the door separately since it's hugely thick, must be glued from the inside and there's no baggage compartment behind it. There is a little flash to clean up before the fuselage halves may be joined together. The windows are separate clear strips, and the cockpit cab cover is also clear. The windscreen looks as though it may be slightly narrow from top to bottom but Roden did capture the DC-3's characteristic “eyebrow” shape above the cockpit windows, a first in this scale. There is no interior. The upper fuselage antenna and under-nose pitot tube mountings must be drilled out before closing the fuselage halves. The instructions are adequate for pointing out their locations, but care should be taken to ensure that you drill out the correct apertures from the options provided. The passenger door is engraved on the port fuselage half, so this kit as moulded will not be accurate for an American Airlines aircraft, which had the door on the starboard side. Filling and engraving a new door outline would not be difficult. A cargo door left over from the C-47 kit is on the sprues, and marked “do not use” on the instructions.
The wing lower is one piece from tip to tip. This greatly simplifies maintaining the correct dihedral. Each upper half is complete from root to tip. The trailing edges look as though they'll be nicely thin, so care should be taken when using liquid cement not to melt the plastic. The flaps are missing outboard of the dihedral break and under the fuselage. It is a simple task to scribe in the missing lines
The tailplanes are one piece mouldings. Given the construction, then may be left off until after painting and decalling although the kit scheme will not require it.
The engines and cowlings are moulded separately, as are the exhausts. Very nice Hamilton Standard 3 blade propellers are provided. There is good detail in the engine fronts, which will benefit from careful painting. In a first for any DC-3 kit, the cabin air heater intake tubes on the sides of the cowlings are provided. If your subject did not have these, they can easily be clipped off the exhaust pipes. The C-47's characteristic large filtered carburettor intake fairings are marked “do not use” on the instructions. The much smaller DC-3 style inlets are to be used.
The landing gear struts and wheels have adequate detail for the scale. They will need only a good painting before they can be glued in place. The tail wheel is another nice little one piece moulding. The wheels are in correct proportion compared to the tires, contrasting sharply with the Minicraft kit.
I don't compare models to drawings or published measurements. When assembled it looks like a DC-3.
Decals and markings
The decal sheet has markings for NC34062 of TWA in the late 1930s. De-icing boots and anti-glare panel are not provided. The decal instructions (on the back of the box) mis-identify the registration number decal for the tail. Decal 3 is called for, which is actually the wing registration. It should be decal 5. Figuring this out only takes a second given that the wing registrations would never be able to fit on the tail.
No window decals are provided. Windows from any aftermarket DC-3 sheet can be used if desired. There are countless DC-3 aftermarket sheets available if this option does not appeal.
This kit is now the definitive 1/144 DC-3.
The real thingNC34062
in its heyday, somewhere on the TWA route network. Note that this photo shows a loop antenna mounted below the nose which is not provided in the kit. Scratch building one will not be very difficult.
There is also an ARN7 loop further back which is in the kit but not called for in the instructions. In contrast, the upper fuselage antennae are not mounted. It is possible that this picture was taken at a different time from the period the kit is intended to portray although Roden's chosen antenna fit is more often seen post-war. The de-icing boots are not fitted in the photo.
Roden kit No. 308 C-47 in-box
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