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Broplan's 1:72 Piper PA-31-310 Navajo and PA-31-350 Chieftain

 

By Chris Bucholtz

 

Background

The successor to the PA-30 Twin Comanche, the Piper PA-31 first flew in 1964 as the Inca, but by the time it hit the market in 1967 it had been re-christened the Navajo. A six/eight seat corporate craft or commuter transport, the Navajo had two Lycoming IO-540-K flat six engines, producing a healthy 600 horsepower between them. In 1970, the Navajo was upgraded with new 425-hp engines and a pressurized cabin, and a number of other variants were introduced to fill out the line, including the Chieftan, which was two feet longer and had two 350-hp TIO-540-J2BD turbocharged engines driving counter-rotating propellers. When production of the Navajo line ended in 1982, 1317 had been built.

The Kit


Piper PA-31-310 Navajo

General Aviation aircraft are few and far between for modelers, who tend to thrive on a steady diet of warplanes, airliners and the occasional air racer. That's one of the things that make Broplan's PA-31s such welcome arrivals; the other is that these vacuforms are so well done. As one might expect, the kits share many common parts, including wings and two sprues each of injected parts. The fuselage halves, engine nacelles and transparent parts are unique to each kit. The shapes and surface details are very well rendered, with recessed panel lines and a logical construction sequence. There are some small pits and blemishes in places, but none that anyone whoís built an older injection-molded kit couldn't handle.


Piper PA-31-350 Chieftan

For those of you whose biggest gripe with vacuform kits is the lack of interior, set your gripes aside. These kits have interior floorboards, injection-molded seats, control wheels and even serviceable control panels. With a bit of scratchbuilding one could have a very nice interior. The clear parts would allow you to see that interior; they include a windscreen/cockpit roof piece and strips for the side windows. Cutting these side windows out might be the most difficult part of the entire model.

The landing gear, propellers and spinners, engine faces and gear doors are also provided on the injection-molded trees. There is some flash on these parts, but nothing that cannot be cleaned up, and cleaning up these parts will be much easier than scrounging up replacements on one's own! If you're building the Chieftain, don't forget to reverse the right propeller - it had counter-rotating props, remember?

There are no decals, but the kits include paint schemes that will keep even the military modelers interested. The -310 includes schematics for a Swedish Commercial Pilot School aircraft and a very classy French Aeronaval aircraft, while the -350 has diagrams for a white Swedish Navy aircraft and a spectacularly camouflaged Finnish Air Force plane.

With 17 vacuformed parts and more than 30 injection-molded parts, these are not simple kits. However, they are very complete and very well detailed for vacuform kits, and it shouldn't take much more effort to assemble them than it would for a short-run injection kit. I see Navajos buzzing around my house all the time; now, I'm looking forward to seeing more general aviation subjects in my modeling airspace!




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Air Intelligence
1999 Modelers'
Reference Guides

1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00

Please add $3.20 Postage in the US.

TacAir Publications

PO Box 90933
Albuquerque NM
87199-0933
USA

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