1/72 Scratchbuilt Pensuti-Caproni Triplane

By Gabriel Stern

 

The Pensuti-Caproni was a very small triplane, an Italian winged Vespa scooter if you wish, with a wingspan of a mere 4 meters (a bit more than 13 feet). The sole association with the name Caproni should give you a clue that you are about to deal with something here. There were apparently two configurations of the same plane, the first one represented here with a three cylinder "Y" Anzani engine and a revised version with a different tail and a more powerful 6 cylinder engine. Not much is around in terms of information or images, but enough to produce a fair model.

This is my 3rd scratch project after the Caproni Stipa and the AVRO "F", all in 1/72.

The same materials were used, namely Plastruct and Evergreen rods and sheets, wire, stretched sprue, struts from Strutz and a few pieces from the spares bin.

I found certain discrepancies (really? can't believe it!) between plans and photos. In the images I have the three wings have ailerons, but in the plan I was using the middle one doesn't. The plan also shows a spinner that I liked, but is not present in the photos.

For the front fuselage I used a leftover spinner from the AMT/ERTL B-35, which I drilled for the Anzani cylinders, shortened a bit and glued to the firewall. The transition was smoothed with 10 min. epoxy. The interior got a seat made of plasticard with the bottom drilled with many perforations as per references. The dashboard was also made from plastic sheet, drilled and backed with black paper. Rudder bar, stick and fuel hand pump were also simulated. Nothing fancy, just a suggestion. The cockpit coaming was made bending stretched sprue and painting it leather, gluing it later.

The engine cowl was painted Testors aluminum while the airframe was airbrushed with acrylic paint. The cylinder heads were fabricated chucking a piece of plastic tube in the dremmel and scoring it with the Olfa P cutter. Then stretched sprue was added on the cylinder sides, brass rod as the intake and bent solder as the exhaust. They are tiny, but they were not really difficult to make.

For the wings I tried something that may work better for another projects: I used corrugated plastic sheet, sanded down. Since the Pensuti didn't have that many ribs, it looks a little weird.

Fortunately this time just one decal has to be sourced: the Italian tricolore on both sides of the rudder. I found a donor decal sheet and cut it to shape.

Rigging was done with stretched sprue, instead of my usual method of monofilament. Both looked a bit out of scale, but in this particular case, given the minute size of the model, I found the sprue easier to deal with than the fishing line.

Also in this size all the glue boo-boos and paint blotches are really visible under the implacable eye of the digital camera, but the results are convincing enough for the naked eye (mine, that's it).

This little piece of three-layer flying lasagna is made out of more than 70 individual pieces. If you count the sections of plastic for rigging, the count runs higher. The building process was an enjoyable one, in spite of the small size of both, the parts and my patience.

Isn't it a nice tiny piece from the past?

(Please, don't sneeze!)

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