Thursday, August 13, 2020

Heller 1/72 PZL P11c Polish Fighter

another one of those dusty models I re-found during the lockdown

       This is hardly a review (although I understand that this kit is still in production). This model has been around since the late 70s/early 80s. It is an excellent kit and is of an aircraft that I have always liked. This is pretty much just a walk-through of the build. This would be an excellent subject for an early-war air combat game like Check Your Six.

box with contents, even after forty years the decals look pretty good

the instructions border on terrible making assembling the cockpit details a bit dodgy
but the parts fit of the fuselage and engine was very good

the cowling on the engine was another matter.....

....there was no way that the parts were going to line up

after a while I just gave up and accepted that there would be filler involved

the wings on the other hand fit beautifully

the surface detail was top-notch

much putty and even more sanding

at first I thought that the fuselage shape was off, but I checked photos and it is good,
 the whole design idea of this aircraft was provide the pilot with the best overall vision,
 that is why the  gull-wing was used, the pilot saw the wing edge-on
 thus obscuring less of the sky around him

the landing gear are accurately in-scale and terrifyingly fragile
the wing struts are equally thin but the wing is very sturdy
 so there is little to worry about there

the only real issue with the fuselage fit was the lower seam, it was recessed below 
the rest of the surface and needed sanding to bring it back to round

the landing gear struts are less than 1/32" thick!!!

once the glue had dried I added the wheels and gave it a try

the model captures the original very well

from checking photos I discovered that there were wire supports to the landing gear,
I will be adding them  just to ease my mind

all that is left is to paint it, sadly the color scheme is overall olive 
with light blue on the bottoms of the wings and control surfaces

a neat little model of an underrated aircraft

trying to nail down the colors was a difficult matter, 
photos are black and white and illustrations show the upper surfaces
 everything from bright green to a very brown olive....... the end I went with the easy option; Testors spray Olive Drab

the underside got a coat of white to kill the olive and then a coat of Americana Sky Blue

it seemed a good match, after all was dry I gave the entire model a coat of Future floor wax 
to get a gloss surface for the decals

the decals worked fine despite being thirty-five plus years old

but then I put Solvaset on top of them .....

....and suddenly they all looked like a ninety-year-old prune!

edges began to curl

the center of one underwing decal developed these cracks

only constant coaxing with a damp brush kept the edges from curling right up

unfortunately I ended up with some silvering on the edges 

after almost an hour's worth of remedial care the decals almost were back to normal 
and I could shoot the model with Vallejo flat

it turned out OK, but I won't be using the Solvaset on any thin decals in the future

yes, the upper wing markings were offset to the left like that

I always liked this plane for its cool shape

I am really unhappy about the decal problems,
 fortunately I have another copy of this kit and I can try again

the decals slid off the backer without any hint of trouble, 
I can't account for the cracking after the Solvaset was applied


  1. Always loved both that kit and the plane. Such a cool looking plane. Had a few of them at one time, along with a pair of PZL23. Not really sure where they had made off to.

    1. I have a PZL 23 Karas that will be getting built soon and I have a line on a PZL P7 and a PZL 37 Los, with them I should have the Polish air-force pretty well covered. I particularly like the huge spats on the Karas.

    2. I always thought the PZL 23 was a fine looking aircraft, and enjoyed building the Heller kit. I used to have a PZL 37 in a vacu-form kit, but never got around to finishing it, as it was going to turn into a lot of scratch-building. I think it didn't make my last move. I've never even seen a P7 kit, that would be very cool.

    3. PZW did P7 a while back and Mastercraft released one in 2007, they have been reissued with different decals and box-art several times over the years. The PZL 37 Los has been issued by three different manufacturers; the vacform kit you had from KPL (I avoid vacform like the plague, I'd rather scratchbuild!) and three different molds; one from ZTS plastic that has passed through many hands (and appears to still be in production), and a newer one from Fly followed by a 2018 release by IBG