'Ventura' 1/72 CAC Wirraway

Ventura 1/72 CAC Wirraway

by David Thompson


Popondetta , Papua New Guinea , 1942-12-12. Two RAAF Wirraway aircraft stand on the grass shortly after landing close together at Popondetta airstrip. Before Wirraway A2-103 had come to a complete stop, its pilot, Pilot Officer (PO) J. S. Archer, had leapt from the aircraft and run across to the Control Tent where he had found the Control Officer talking to NX34655 Captain Alan Oliver Watson, Dental Officer with the 2/4th Field Ambulance. Puffing hard, PO Archer exclaimed excitedly, 'Sir, sir, I think I've shot down a Zero!' To this the Control Officer replied, 'Don't be silly, Archer, Wirraways can't shoot down Zeros.' 'Well, sir,' continued Archer, 'I went in to look at the wreck off Gona and I saw this thing in front of me and it had red spots on it, so I gave it a burst and it appeared to fall into the sea.' Within a few minutes, a dozen telephone calls from observers all around the Gona area confirmed Archer's story.  While on a tactical reconnaissance mission over the Japanese ship wrecked in the sea off Gona, Archer and his observer, Sergeant J.F. Coulston, had sighted the Zero 1,000 feet below. After diving on the Japanese aircraft, they had fired a long burst into it with the Wirraway's two Vickers .303 machine guns, causing the Zero to crash into the sea. Archer was later awarded the DFC for his exploit. (extract from www.diggerhistory.info).

The kit

My second venture into limited run kit Hell and not nearly so scary as my first (a 1/48 High Planes Boomerang) as I’d learned a few tricks.  e.g. scratch build the cockpit tub INSIDE one fuselage half, rather than building it all outside and expecting to retrofit it – like that’s gonna work!  Even so, I still did not twig that the tub diagrams in the instructions are to scale and an exact template of what I was supposed to build, so all that tedious minute measuring was not needed – DUH!

The Wirraway was an Australian built trainer (Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation) - which also saw active service in WW2, mainly in a recon. role, but did shoot down a Japanese Zero as explained above.  The Wirraway that bagged the Zero is now housed in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra , our national capital.  According to information on the Web, the aircraft I have modeled (A20-681) was purchased by the RAAF in the 1940’s and sold to the R. H. Grant Trading Company in Feb 1960, along with several others.  Some were used as crop dusters after the war and the Ventura kit provided decals for this option, as well as a rare U.S. Navy version.

The following additions were made to the kit:

·      Cockpit tub scratched from brass wire, styrene sheet and soda can metal, all CAed together

·      Seatbelts made from soda can metal

·      Wheel covers are not provided, so were cut from styrene sheet

·      Exhausts from metal tube

·      Pitot tube from fuse wire

·      Tubing in wheel wells from stretched sprue

·      Landing lights in wings from clear styrene scrap (nightmare – don’t ask!)

·   Being a trainer, I puttied over the machine guns in front of the windshield.

Plenty of Tamiya putty was needed to fill in numerous flaws in the original molds (the instructions actually state that careful parts preparation is the key to these models, not lots of putty but for my kit, there was no option – it simply had great divots missing from the mold).

The canopy is a one-piece vac-formed job.  I carefully cut it into onto sections to display in an open position.  Significant amounts of putty were needed to blend the windshield in (yeah, yeah, I know – careful parts preparation….).  Several pieces are molded in metal (prop, control columns, and a very nice rear machine gun for the armed version).

Painting and Finishing

The model was primed with Tamiya spraycan primer, then finished with Tamiya spraycan AS-12.  Fabric covered areas were masked and airbrushed with a mixture of Tamiya acrylic titanium with a little flat white added to make things more interesting.  The yellow stripe and black anti-glare panel are Tamiya acrylics.

A coat of Future, the kit decals were applied after the area was further brushed with Future.  The decals were very nice, but did not pull down into the panel lines.  This was rectified by tracing the panel lines with a sharp pencil over the decal – a very effective cheat. 

Another coat of Future, then a pastel sludge wash in the main control surface joints only, as reference pics did not show highly visible or dirty panel lines elsewhere.

Finally, a coat of the bullet-proof Pollyscale flat clear was airbrushed to dull it all down.

After an extremely shakey and putty-infested start, this tiny little model turned out just as I hoped.  Gotta love that big Skippy on the fuselage roundel !


Photos and text © by David Thompson

This site is owned by David Harvey

All material is Copyright © 2003-2020 and may only be reproduced for personal use.
Please contact the Editor for permission to use any material on this site for any purpose other than private use.

Contact: Editor - Aussie Modeller