The First Dragon: 1/48th Revell Monogram AC-47D
Originally released as a standard C-47 (by Monogram) in 1978, the AC-47 version was released in the 80s by Revell (and re-released in 2015). These kits were highly detailed by the standards of the day and are still respectable kits that can be used to produce a nice model aircraft.
Notable Kit Features:
Good cockpit with raised detail instruments (little of which will be seen)
Radio / Navigators section with good detail (none of which will be seen)
Reasonably detailed mini-guns, flare storage bins, seating & protective blankets provided for rear section
Toilet facilities provided
Wing spar provided
Flooring and raised rib sidewall detail
Good landing gear details (but no brake lines, which you can easily add)
Respectable overall dimensions
Raised panel lines (typical for the age of the kit)
During the Vietnam war various configurations were experimented with to provide high-rate gun suppression fire. In September 1964, under the program Project Gunship I (following Project Tailchaser) development was done on one of the early successful contenders, the WWII era C-47. Conversions were eventually completed on 53 AC-47 gunships (15 of which were lost in combat during the war). The successor to the AC-47 would be the AC-130... more on that one later ;)
The build was relatively straight-forward without any memorable issues as far as fit was concerned with the exception of a minor issue on the cockpit glass
Side windows provided in a linked strip (you may want to separate them)
Radial engines detail provided by a single bank only (no ignition wiring - which you can add if desired)
All control surfaces molded attached to mains in neutral position
Main gear tires not "weighted" (simple to remedy if you want)
Raised panel details
Use the broad propellers (WWII era props are also provided)
The 4th Special Operations Squadron version has the tail code as "EI" however my research shows that it should be "EN" (these were based at Nha Trang)
Kit Additions / Modifications:
Weighted the tires by sanding slightly flat
Modified front nose antenna to single pole and moved forward for this aircraft
I built my version in the markings of the 432nd Spooky Detachment based at Udorn, RTAFB (former 4th Special Operations Squadron aircraft). Paint camouflage was heavily weathered by spraying variations of paint tone (typically darker along the panel lines and 'patched areas'). Gloss coat was then sprayed using Pledge /Future floor finish and the decals were applied. Dark washes were used to highlight the controls. Final matt coat was sprayed, using Model Master, to complete the finish. To me the raised panel lines are not a detractor on this kit and I left them in place (I will on occasion decide to sand them off). The weathered look blends them in and the finish is quite acceptable for my purposes.
The After-Build Report:
Considering the relatively reasonable price of this kit, it falls in my recommended build list for the level of detail, buildability and end result. Model makers now have the option of the 1/48th Trumpeter kit to use as a base for the AC-47 although you'll have to source the weapons. Neither the Trumpeter nor Monogram kits are correct for surface details. C-47s had raised rivets and the sheet metal was lapped, with one sheet overlapping the next. With the large price differential you will have to decide which option works best for you based on what is important for your build. The later Trumpeter release does have very nice detail in the interior and engine areas.
Completed build #207 - September 2017 using the 1/48th scale Revell #85-5615 kit.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers