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Fiat on the Lake

Italeri 1/48 Fiat CR.42 in a Wintry Setting

n model by Anders Johansson


An overview of the fighter base at lake Loussajärvi with my grandfather's boat house in the foreground.

The Fiat CR.42 Falco was a popular if somewhat outdated aircraft in the Swedish inventory during World War II. My diorama presents the new Italeri 1/48 kit of this nimble Italian fighter in a wintry setting.

When Lars at my local hobby shop Lekbiten in Umeå asked me to build a 1/48 scale diorama for display in the shop my first thought was something featuring a fishing scene - Lars is an avid angler. At about the same time, the Italeri Fiat CR 42 LW was released and I recalled seeing a photo of a Swedish CR.42 at the frozen lake of Luossajärvi close to Kiruna in northern Sweden. Having lived in Kiruna myself, this really gave me a feel for the project.

Setting Up the Stage

I started by converting two ICM figures to interact with each other at a fishing hole drilled through the ice. I scratchbuilt the fishing rod, the reindeer skin that the figure is kneeling on and the ice drill. The boat house was built using my grandfather's full-size building from 1910 as a pattern. Fuel drums and cans are Tamiya items while the wooden chest on the pier was scratchbuilt. The trees in the rather battered forest forming the diorama background were made of some kind of weed I found outside my workplace.

Snow and ice were produced with baking soda, white glue and water. When the base was finished I felt confident that the fishing idea was a good one and continued with the aircraft.

Ice fishing gives the diorama its focal point

Building Italeri's Fiat CR.42

Mikael Forslund has written a very good book about the Fiat CR.42 in Swedish service as the J 11. In this I found that the 1st squadron of F9 wing was based at lake Luossajärvi betwen March and April 1942 to protect the iron ore railway between Kiruna and Riksgränsen. In this part of Sweden the winters are long and April is usually a snowy month with sub-zero temperatures. The original Italian camouflage of the Fiats was overpainted using white washable distemper, on some aircraft partially and on some fully.

The aircraft I decided to model was painted white overall, with red numerals on the fin (against the regulations), the colour of the 1st squadron. At the end of April 1942 the squadron moved to Kallax airport at Luleå. A runway was ploughed on the ice of lake Luossajärvi. My diorama depicts the aircraft just before the move to Luleå when the skis were exchanged for wheels. The reason for the move at the time were the German aircraft repeatedly crossing the Swedish border at Tornedalen.

Building the Italeri CR.42 is easy even if the mould quality isn't really up to Tamiya or Hasegawa. The main trouble was with the upper wing which I had intended to paint separately and attach when everything else was finished. When dry-fitting the kit I realised that this was impossible as the wing struts didn't fit that well with some of them being a bit short. I ended up carefully pressing the wing in place and attaching it using glue and putty. Sanding and painting thus became a bit more troublesome and this work actually was the most time-consuming during the project. The tropical filter came from a Classic Airframes' CR.42 and the wheel struts were scratchbuilt.

A close-up of the CR 42 showing the temporary winter camouflage with the original Italian style camouflage showing through around the serial and wing number.

For painting, I used a combination of Tamiya, Humbrol and Aeromaster paints. Special thanks go to our local decal producer BenMik who custom-made the red numerals for me.

Additional images, click to enlarge

   

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