Special Hobby 1/72 Lockheed Model 10 Electra
By Chris Banyai-Riepl
3 July 1937 0844 hours, USCGC Itasca.
"We are on the line of position 157-337 . . . running north and south . . ."
With that final transmission, two people and one plane disappeared from the physical world and entered into the world of legends. Amelia Earhart, Fred Noonan, and the Lockheed Model 10 Electra disappeared on its way to Howland Island from Lae, Papua New Guinea, giving rise to many theories and discussions for decades since. While the true answer of Earhart’s disappearance will probably never be answered, it did put the Lockheed Electra on the front page of many a paper, overshadowing other aspects of its life.
Designed to compete with the Boeing 247 and the Douglas DC-2, the Lockheed Model 10 Electra was a twin-engined, low wing, twin tail design, outfitted with Pratt & Whitney radial engines and featuring seating for up to 10 passengers. The plane came out at just the right time, and many were purchased by the airlines. The plane also attracted the attentions of private owners due to its high performance. This performance also caught the attention of military buyers, with examples ending up in many air forces, either as light cargo planes or executive transports. One recipient of the Electra for military use was Spain, and several aircraft saw service in the Spanish Civil War in 1938.
It is surprising that there has not been an injection-molded kit of this famous plane done to a constant scale until now. William Bros. did a 1/53 scale kit, but other than that, the only options out there are some 1/72 vacuform kits. Special Hobby has ended this oversight by releasing this 1/72 kit of the Model 10 Electra. A quick look reveals some light gray plastic parts, finely molded with little flash, some resin detail parts, a vacuform canopy, and injection-molded side windows. Decal options are for two Spanish Electras, a Romanian example, and Amelia Earhart’s NR16020.
The interior is made up of a combination of resin cockpit parts and injection plastic parts. The interior floor and bulkheads are plastic, while the cockpit seats, control columns, and instrument panel are resin. There is nothing provided for the passenger area, so some scratchbuilding will be needed here if you decide to do an airliner version or Earhart’s.
The wings are made up of three pieces, with a one-piece lower wing and separate uppers. The engine cowlings are in two pieces, with an upper and lower half wrapping around a resin representation of the Wasp radial engine. Exhaust stubs are not provided, and notations suggest that they be made out of hollowed out sprue. The landing gear is somewhat basic, with a main strut, retracting strut, mudflap, and a two-piece mainwheel. The horizontal tail is one piece, with the vertical tailplanes split into upper and lower pieces to be placed above and below the stabilizer. There are no locating pegs or markings for these parts, so some great care will be needed here to make sure all four pieces line up properly.
The decals are very well done, being thin and in perfect register. Amelia Earhart’s machine is natural metal overall, with black codes on the wings and tailplanes, and the Lockheed star logo also on the tail. While the decals look to be accurate, to build Earhart’s Electra you will have to make some changes to the kit. Earhart’s Electra had different engines than the standard Electra design, and the cabin area was filled with fuel tanks instead of seats. Filler caps for these extra tanks were located on the fuselage roughly where the regular cabin windows are. Only two cabin windows were left clear on this machine, so the others will have to be filled in and smoothed over. While Amelia Earhart only had one Electra, it was rebuilt after her first around-the-world attempt. In the first attempt, the rudder markings had the ‘N’ number on the rudder and the Lockheed logo was in front of that on the tail itself. For the second attempt, these two markings were reversed, with the logo on the rudder and the ‘N’ number was on the tailplane. Other than that, the markings are very accurate.
The other options are all military versions. The Romanian one is camouflaged forest green over pale blue, with the paint roughly applied over the original natural metal finish. A yellow band is around the rear fuselage, and the Romanian crosses are in all six positions. The first Spanish option is RLM63 gray over RLM65 blue gray, with black stripes under the wings. The second Spanish option is finished in the typical 61/62/63 over 65 splinter camouflage. Both Spanish choices are for the same plane, 42 · 2. The second option is from later in the Spanish Civil War, and the camouflage pattern will make this one a very colorful Electra indeed.
The legend of Amelia Earhart is, well, legendary, and many modelers have been itching to build a model of her famous Electra. Now, thanks to Special Hobby, this plane can grace the shelves of many a modeler. With a little bit of research and detail work, an accurate model of Amelia Earhart’s Electra can be made, and with the subtle change in tail markings either around-the-world attempts. For those who want to build between-the-wars airliners, this kit fills an empty niche as well. While this kit is a short run kit, it is done well enough to be simple enough for the novice builder, while providing ample meat for the super-detailer.
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