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Welsh Models 1/144 scale KC-135A/Q Stratotanker

Kit: No. MT 1
Scale: 1/144
Manufacturer: Welsh Models, 93 Fonmon Park Rd., Rhoose, Barry, South Glamorgan CF62 3BG, United Kingdom, &44-1446-710113. Available from Precision Enterprises Unlimited, P.O. Box 97, Springfield, VT 05156, &802-885-3094.
Price: $33.50
Comments: Vacuum-formed styrene, 40 parts (4 resin, 16 white metal), decals.

The classic KC-135A is the subject of Welsh Models' first kit in its new Military Transport Series. It has a minimum number of well-molded vacuum-formed main components, along with resin engines and white-metal detail parts. A sheet of beautifully printed decals is included, allowing a choice of seven tankers. Separate large stabilizers are included, hinting at later versions to come.

Read the single sheet of instructions carefully. As with all vacuum-formed kits, construction begins with preparing the parts. I traced around the parts using a Testor gray paint pen. This leaves a line of gray paint right at the edge of the parts, allowing the builder to differentiate between the kit part and the thickness of the plastic sheet.

After a lot of sanding, the major airframe components were ready to build. Use the small stabilizers on a KC-135A. All the airframe components fit well and all engraved panel lines matched, though I did fill a panel line that cut through the freight door.

I used the kit bulkheads to reinforce the fuselage. Welsh also includes a vacuum-formed wing spar, and after trimming, it provided enough strength to support the wings. Bend the two ends of the spar to correspond to the angle of the wings for a better fit.

Don't forget to add weight to the nose. Pay particular attention to the dihedral when sanding the mating surfaces of the wings and stabilizers.

The engines are molded in a soft resin - handy when adjusting the fit of each two-part assembly. Filing and sanding were required to fair the engine pylons to the wings. Be careful here, as it is easy to have an engine or two mounted with too much angle of attack!

The white-metal landing gear is well detailed, but the wheels show sinkholes. The metal refueling boom required a light sanding, but the boom wings had deep sinkholes; I shaped plastic strut stock for substitutes. You must make gear doors from thin sheet styrene; Bert Kinzey's KC-135 in Detail & Scale (my main reference) shows the required shapes. I left all the details except the boom off while painting and decaling.

All the decal options given by Welsh Models are for overall gray aircraft. I painted my KC with Testor aircraft gray (FS 16473). The decals went on without any trouble, and responded well to setting solution.

The model measures a couple of scale feet too great in span but it's right on in length.

After about 50 hours, I had a fine representation of the KC-135 for my display case. Welsh Models did an excellent job capturing the lines of Boeing's gas station in the sky. I recommend this kit to anyone who has a vacuum-formed model or two to his credit.

- Chuck Davis


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