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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 1:32 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 05, 2009 11:47 pm
Posts: 72
Fast Armored Air Boat FA-32 - Kit-Bash Updated From The Fertile Imagination of My Youth


I must admit that I was a more fearless modeler when I was young. I would try any technique; build any type of model in any type of scheme. Coupled with a child's more fertile imagination, inspired especially by the gadgets I saw in James Bond movies (queue up “Thunderball” and “You Only Live Twice”) and Sci-Fi films, provided plenty of opportunities for off-the-grid gonzo modeling projects. One of the maxims I have followed regarding my hobby is, "Never throw anything out". My spare parts box was first established in 1962 and, to the chagrin of my wife, has been growing along with my kit collection steadily ever since. I often raid my box of spares, the oldest pieces of which I keep in my father's WWII US Army footlocker - a more fitting place, I could not think of, but what to do with the rest? That is a question that has both vexed me and inspired me from time to time.

How about making a model from just the spare parts?

Where to start, though? When I was in my almost-teens and early teen years I would rummage through my spares box like the proto human in 2001 A Space Odyssey - playing with the animal bones in the prehistoric graveyard. Guns, drop tanks, pilot figures, engines, chassis parts, flying surfaces and a bazillion shapes of all types filled the footlocker and a dozen other boxes. I noticed that I had a hell of a lot of plastic bases for aircraft and space models from Aurora, Revell, MPC and Airfix kits. I almost always built my planes with the gear down. Hmmmmn, I may have something here. Flipping the base upside down and Voila! - a shape - a space ship section, a hull for a small boat. Yeah, that's the ticket. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that that's the same stream of consciousness that led the Hollywood model builders to use parts from model kits to detail the Star Wars movies' vehicles. I used to kit-bash all kinds of vehicles when I was a kid and make up scenarios and battles related to the designs.

This model is a refinement of one these models I built when I was younger. Back in the late 1960s I was into the Desert War in North Africa (thanks to the Humphrey Bogart movie, "Sahara", and the TV series, "The Rat Patrol") with the other influence being the aircraft, boats and vehicles being used in Vietnam. Both my brothers served in Vietnam both are modelers, too. Fast forward to circa 1985-86 and IPMS Region I decided to have a Sci-Fi Special Award as part of the shows theme and that immediately clicked in my memory banks. Going through my boxes I rediscovered my ragged half-broken collection of kit-bash vehicles and found the one I wanted to build again this time with my improved modeling skills. Most of these models were small one or two-man attack boats and hovering flying machines. The background story I developed as a kid envisaged a post-apocalyptic world where the earth suffered the classic two-punch cataclysm started by man and finished by a vengeful Mother Earth. What was left was a world made up mostly of water with island archipelagos, marsh land and small continents interlaced with river systems with the remaining forces of good and evil duking it out for civilization.

The name I came up with back in the late 1960's...ready...? - "River World".

I’m pretty sure someone sneaked into my bedroom, stole my concepts and designs and 30 years later came up with the Kevin Costner epic - Waterworld. Bastards! Someone sure as hell owes me a pile of dough!!


The Model

The concept for my FA-32 Fast Armored Air Boat is squarely based on the small craft fighting the riverine war of the Brown Water Navy in Vietnam, with a little James Bond thrown in for good measure. The FA-32 is a one-man attack craft armed with a turret-mounted short barreled 30mm Gatling gun and rocket pods. Powered by a radial engine it was capable of high speeds (130 knots!) and incredible maneuverability. The materials used were space-age, light-weight (and, thus, by definition, not top-heavy), but incredibly strong. Likewise, the 30mm rounds and tiny fire-and-forget precision guided rockets packed concentrated explosives. The fuel was also a concentrate, imparting great range to the boat, so necessary given the distances involved between the land masses. Equipped with radar, sonar and a complete package of miniaturized electronics for navigation, attack and counter-measures, this pugnacious little boat was a force to be reckoned with. The parts used are a virtual cavalcade of 1960s-1970s model kits.


The Hull
An Aurora model display base turned over with the interior sheeted in planked styrene. The deck is a made from another sheet of styrene (believe it, or not, I used cardboard on the original FA-32 I built when I was 12). Oxygen tanks from a long forgotten aircraft model are fitted with the hull aft of the turret as fuel tanks. A radar tit from a 1/72nd scale Airfix F4B Phantom is installed on the underside of the prow as a sonar pod. A slice of Contrail heavy strut stock was glued atop an unknown spares box bit to make up the rotating radar blade, which is mounted on a stainless steel tubing mast, suitably conduited for power and signal. Various bits from plastic sheet are installed on the hull as ship fittings. A whip antenna was added from stretched sprue mounted in a stainless steel tubing base.


The Turret
A trusty Revell 1/32nd scale AH-1G Cobra Copter Mini-gun chin turret is mounted on a tower base made from ring guards snapped out of old hobby paint spray cans. These rings had a wonderful complex shape to them and the mini-gun turret was a drop fit. I cut a semi-circular opening into the top of the turret and installed a hatch from sheet styrene on working hinges made from stainless steel tube, plastic sheet and piano wire. The turret incorporates a turret basket (made up of plastic sheet and rod), like that seen on tank turrets; and has a seat, instrument panel and large ammo drum installed on it. In place of the Cobra kit's original molded weaponry, I made up a five-barreled 30mm Gatling gun from stainless steel tubing mounted in pre-drilled rings. I decided to drop the 40mm grenade launcher in favor of an infrared sight (a red bullet tail light from a car model) and topped it off with a searchlight robbed from a 1/72nd scale Revell PT-109. An instrument panel was scrounged from a Monogram 1/48th scale jet kit, possibly an F-5E.


The Radial Engine
Powered by an R-4440 Pratt and Whitney 700hp engine, the FA-32 could really move. The engine came from the Revell 1/48th scale B-25B Doolittle bomber, the rear engine bullet fairing from a Hawk 1/48th scale P-51D kit drop tank with stainless steel tubing exhausts. The whole shebang is mounted on Contrail struts. The prop (reversible, of course) was borrowed from an MPC 1/72 C-130 Hercules. I always thought the spinner and prop of the Hercs were wicked looking, and before some wise guy posts that I have it facing the wrong way - remember - it's reversible and I'm controlling the reality in River World!


Rocket Pods
Monogram 1/72nd scale AH-1G Cobra Copter 2.75" rocket pods mounted on the truncated triangular wing inserts from the wingtip floats of a Revell 1/72nd scale PBY-5A

Vertical Fins
Monogram 1/72nd scale P-51B Mustang Stabilizers with railroad modeler jewels for lights atop the fins - red for port, green for starboard (they nicely catch the light, due to the facets on the jewels).

Paint Scheme
Appropriate Riverine Drab Green with red fin tips. Prop is the classic black with yellow tips. The rocket pods are Olive Drab with silver ends and red rocket tips. The sonar & radar pods are gray. Red is used for the fin tips and the spinner to add a bit of color. The mantlet trunnion is graphite and green. The engine is steel. The hull interior is gray and the turret interior is a dirty white. The FA-32 finish has a suitable oil paint wash and dry-brush application to impart a well-used dirty streaky appearance that would be common to these rough and tumble fighting boats.


The Base

The FA-32 is mounted on keel blocks atop a wood display base stained and sealed with a clear coat. A brass nameplate explains the model.


All of my models have a story to them and this story did not end with completion of the model. My FA-32 won the Special Sci-Fi Award at the mid 1980's Region 1 Show in Binghampton, NY. My wife and I were newlyweds and this show was the first IPMS show I ever took her too. I pulled an all-nighter to finish it, then made her drive us all the way up to Binghamton. I woke up every 15 minutes, or so, to make sure she was going the right way (She just brought me a gin and tonic and I told about this post and she got a chuckle out of it). After being married to her for 24 wonderful years, all I can say is that I am one lucky modeler.

After the show, we took a ride to Oxford, NY to visit her brother and he wanted to see the model. I went into my back seat of my Celica to get it, but my sunglasses in my shirt pocket launched themselves in a perfect arc into the model box wiping out the engine/struts assembly - damn! Just goes to show you - disaster often comes with triumph. I repaired the damage improving some aspects in the process and the model went on to win several awards at other shows after that.

So, what’s in your spares box; and more to the point, what are you going to do about it?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:09 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:58 pm
Posts: 479
Location: Idaho, United States
That is a neat little thing.

Thanks for sharing the output of your imagination. :thumbs_up_1:

Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit.
- Consul Marcus Tullius Cicero

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