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H for Hughes

Czech Master Resin 1:72 Hughes Racers

n by Mark Davies

The Hughes H-1 racer may be familiar to many as a result of the movie The Aviator where Leonardo de Caprio played Howard Hughes, and crashed an H-1 into a beet field. This sleek-looking aircraft was very advanced for 1935 with its highly streamlined shape, close-cowled radial engine, flush-riveting, closely sealed retractable undercarriage, enclosed cockpit, flaps and drooping ailerons amongst its modern features. The plane had two sets of wings during its lifetime; the short span wings to set the air-speed record, and the long span for transcontinental Los Angeles to Newark record.

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I was very pleased when I got my Czech Master Resin (CMR) kit of the Hughes H-1 to find it included two kits enabling both versions of the plane to be built. Despite initial appearances only the engine, cowling, cockpit, canopy, wheels and tail-skid are common parts to both versions. The two sets of wings have different main undercarriage wells and doors which dictate different fuselage mouldings, and the horizontal stabilizer differs as the long span version has trim tabs on the elevators.  Suffice to say that the kit comes with good instructions, a comprehensive walkaround of the preserved original aircraft, and clear colour scheme guides.

I decided that building the two versions side by side was the obvious way to go. CMR has done a great job in minimising the amount of mounting block attached to the parts leaving very thin residual resin waste to be removed. As a result I quickly had all parts removed and cleaned up ready for painting and assembly, being careful to keep the two versionsí parts separated. I added some simple lap belts and painted sub assemblies before tacking assembly.

The very detailed engine deserves mention as the originalís complex exhaust system is provided. This is the most challenging part of the kit, and in truth one that would be best appreciated if you choose to model with a cowl panel removed. Possibly this is one area where the kit could be simplified. The cockpit includes good detail for the scale, including what I understand to be large stall-warning horn behind the pilotís head. The wheel wells in both wings have a lot of internal detailing, and the instructions provide clear guidance on painting these. The basic airframes were quickly assembled, and the first two vac-form canopies were easy to trim and fitted Ok without further practice, although four are provided with the kit. The cowl braces are provided in resin, but are probably pushing the limits of resin in this situation a little for scale finesse. Whilst definitely quite useable, I chose to replace mine with fine plastic rod. I also added a small circular plate to one cowl brace which was apparent in the kitís photo walkaround (Iíve no idea as to its purpose).

The resin mouldings are quite smooth and generally extremely blemish and pin-hole free, requiring only the most cursory remedying. I think I over-trimmed the fuselage when sanding for 100% flat mating surfaces, and as a result had to fill a slight gap between the fuselage halves.

Painting was very straightforward. My aluminium base was an aluminium car lacquer, and this was then ďdressed upĒ with Alclad II. I find this is a cheap and effective way to provide an adequate base to spray Alclad II over, and so economise on this relatively expensive product. The blue wings used a mix of Humbrol paints, and these were then glossed up with brush-applied future (to avoid the aluminium fuselages) in preparation for decaling.

The decals are very thin with excellent opacity; the yellow codes showing no blue through them. They were easy to apply and presented no problems at all. I should point out that I photographed my models before applying the propeller logo decals to the props.

I feel that CMR have done very thorough job with the Hughes H-1. It is particularly pleasing that both versions of the aircraft can be built for the price of one kit, rather than simply being presented with having to choose an option. The relative complexity of the engine exhausts aside, these are very simple resin kits to build, and have added a very interesting and attractive aircraft to my collection. I highly recommend the kit to anyone with one or two resin kits under their belts.

Additional images, click to enlarge

© Mark J Davies, 2006


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