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The C-133 provided the US Air Force with airlift between 1957 and the early 1970s. About 60 aircraft were built in two variants that served both MATS and MAC. Structural problems and lack of spares for the engines cut short the aircraft’s career, but the USAF probably needed an excuse to justify the C-5, but that is another story. A few aircraft of this type soldiered on in semi private ownership ferrying supplies to bases in Alaska until the mid 1980s.

The Hooker vacuform model is actually very accurate. It is made from very thin, but strong plasticard. The producer did cut a few corners in order to keep things simple, but this would make sense for most modellers not bent on super detailing. Landing gears were kept vestigial and none of the insides were meant to be opened up. The kit is also rather large, so any thoughts of transporting it requires one to make the wings and tail plane removable.

Follow the official Hooker instructions in regards to engine pods and cockpit, where this does not conflict with pictures. Disregard any mention of Balsa Wood. We are plastic modellers not RC modellers! For spars on wings use the thick gray slightly rubbery plastic used by Aircraft In Miniatures, instead of the wooden yardstick provided.

After cutting out the wings from the backing, measure them and cut a tapered spar from the dark gray Aircraft In Miniatures plastic to the approximate shape of the inside area of the wing leaving about 5cm extra length protruding into what will be the centre wing box area. Improve this by sanding until you are happy with the results. Be sure to Use nice long straight piece of sprue, with branches cut off, for strengthening the wing leading edge and to give more positive bonding area between lower and top wing surface. Glue spars on bottom wing half. Place stringers chord wise at regular intervals, say 5 cm, for extra structural integrity on bottom wing half. Glue long thin strips of plasticard, slightly tapered at one edge, 8 mm on inside of trailing edge, to help adhesion, on bottom wing half. Build up until it feels real solid. Sand all internal structural parts till top surface give nice smooth curvature chord wise and tapered toward wing tip leaving no clearance and no protrusions when top wing half dry fitted. When completely satisfied, glue top wing half to bottom. Use masking tape to hold leading edge together. Use Bulldog clips to hold trailing edge together. Seal inside off wing with plasticard. Repeat process on other wing.

When wing is dry and trailing edges and leading edges properly sanded, carve panel lines on wing. Sand flap track units to shape and glue onto wings. Glue engine pods onto wing. For engines, I recommend you drill the large exhaust holes into engines and then use rolled up paper glued together with Elmer's glue. Superglue exhaust pipes into place fill all gaps and sand when dry. Coat with white Halfords undercoat and fix all blemishes. Cut out wing centre section halves. Dry fit and check they are identical to both wing halves. Glue sprue on leading edge and thin strips on back to aide adhesion. Delineate area of wing enter section with biggest area. This should hopefully match the area where the spar roots extend from wing halves. Build box like structure entire width of centre section into which spars can slide. Thin spars a little, top and bottom, so that box can be slid into centre section. Wrap wing box with 5mm areas of sewing thread. Coat thread with super glue. You have now invented the poor man’s carbon fiber! Add fillets between string areas to fit onto aerodynamic centre section snugly. Glue into place. Put aside. It is now two weeks later, but you now have the two complete wings and probably need a little Prozac.

For tail plane, cut all components of backing. You are provided with complete stabilizer (top and bottom) and elevators (one piece top and bottom). I build my C-133B so that in can be taken apart for transport and storage. Cut elevator unit into left, right and centre section. Hooker plans have one longer than other, so check. Beef up trailing edge with extra tapered strip of plasticard. Take longish thin rod of sprue for hinge shaft. Drill hole in diameter of rod 3, for each elevator, thin strips of plasticard about 3 cm long . These are you elevator hinges. Insert rod through hinges. Measure placing of elevator hinges on plans and cut slots in, so called, leading edge of elevators. Place rod and hinges inside of leading edge with about 1cm protruding into tail plane centre section. Do not get glue on hinges. Use small bits of plasticard to glue everything into place and construct stringers. Sand internal structure so it's nice and smooth. Cut matching slots into top half of elevator, glue into place. Build up inside section of elevator with stringers at either end. Repeat other side. Drill holes for Elevator hinge rod at appropriate place. Put aside for now.

Take bottom half of tail-plane. Glue small rod of sprue into leading edge for extra surface are for adhesion. Glue thickish spar like strip of plasticard standing on its side about 5 to 8 mm from trailing edge. This will accommodate hinge rod area. Cut slots into this strip to accommodate elevator hinges strips. You now have to decide if you want to make tail plane removable. If not, make just one simple spar through middle of tailplane, solidify with some stringers. Do not forget to glue elevator centre section to tail-plane leaving elevator to flap around in the desired fashion! Fix centre section up with extra strips of plasticard and filler till it looks like an airfoil.

If you want tail-plane removable, cut tail-plane into three components where the elevator starts. Make two tapered spars out of thick rubbery plasticard. Make 4, for each tail-plane halve, similar spar like strips to make two parallel tracks to slide spars in and out of. Make identical tracks on tail-plane centre section. Glue tail-plane halves together holding leading edge together with masking tape and centre section held together by bulldog clips from tips and centre held together by really large clamp. Build up centre section and elevator centre section into one unit that looks like airfoil with two slots for spar and an orifice for elevator hinge. Fill and sand all tail-plane components. Carve panel lines. Spray with primer and clean up any messy areas.

Start similar process with stabilizer and rudder. Glue sprue rod into leading edge of stabilizer to aide adhesion. Place nice big spar at 1/3 mark from leading edge, extending bellow stabilizer area. Glue tapered spar like strip about 8mm to 5mm form back edge of tail-plane. Cut slots for hinges as appropriate by calculating spacing from plans. Add more stringers between spars for structural integrity to maintain shape of stabilizer. Construct Rudder like elevators with rod sticking out the bottom and hinge strips extending from leading edges as per plans. There is a small area of stabilizer beneath rudder area. Leave hole for hinge rod, fix this to stabilizer, and fill gaps. There is a small kink in leading edge of stabilizer, get rid of this as it doesn't match fillet. Clean cosmetics up later. Glue left and right halves of stabilizer together, in usual method. Fill, sand, carve panel lines, and coat with white primer. Repair all messy areas etc. Assemble stabilizer fillet. Strengthen with a few strips of plasticard in appropriate place. You have now spent about 2 or 3 weeks and are now ready for electroshock therapy and a nice long vacation watching edelweiss grow in the Alps. Nice hot cocoa optional.

You are now ready for fuselage. Remove fuselage from backing. Cut round sections from plasticard for cockpit area bulkheads and flat plates for cockpit, crew rest area floors. Measure and glue into place, add a few fillets for extra structural integrity. Measure and cut nose landing gears doors and main landing gear out of half shells. Ignore most Hooker instructions in regards to landing gear; otherwise you end up having silly looking fake landing gear. Build wing box/landing gear bay bulkheads using reference material as a basis. This area will not only provide proper landing gear bays but also add structural integrity where fuselage meets wing. Cut out cargo doors out (A or B version) as per Hooker instructions. These will not be perfect due to error in plans or due to compound curvature transferred to two dimensions, but you can always fix later. Glue into place. Add shelf/roof at appropriate height with a few fillets to hold in place. Add sidewall to landing gear bays. Add strengthening fillets to inside of landing gear pods fore and aft of bulkheads. Bend plasticard into curve and cut into approximate shape of pod recess. Glue into place in same curve as rest of fuselage. This should strengthen area for landing gear and wing box. Cut about dozen small arc shape sub cargo floor bulkhead frames.

This will hold up the cargo floor and give fuselage further structural integrity. Glue into place about every 5 cm as well as at hinge line for cargo bay ramp. Glue thin, slightly bent strips of plasticard between frames at the edge of the fuselage halves to help adhesion between each fuselage halves. Cut longish strip for top area between crew rest area bulkhead and front of wing box and area between rear of wing box and tail cone of aircraft.

Measure and cut cargo floor, leaving recessed area for landing gear bays. Glue into place with many nice little fillets to keep everything nice and sturdy.

Glue rear cargo bay bulkhead in place after cargo ramp area. This apparently opened up for maintenance on the real aircraft, but wont be visible on a scale model. Drill holes for cargo door hinge rods. Attach air-conditioning and electrical duct to right hand side of fuselage using long straight sprue sanded to half circle. Attach seat/walkways to both side of fuselage. This does help structural integrity! Measure and cut out cargo door on left side of fuselage. This should just reach cargo floor at bottom. Use straightened and then bent paperclip for hinge. Attach with plasticard strips with slots cut into them.

Attach 20 ribs first on right fuselage half in cargo ramp area. Make 20 identical ribs for left side. Do not attach left ribs until you gave glued both fuselage halves together so they will match. Build up frame for cargo door using thin strips of plasticard glued together with holes drilled into them. Paint cargo area silver, floor wood colour (like parquet gym floor, but scuffed), and paint four black non-slip tracks on them.

Paint rear framed area interior green. Detail crew rest area as to you heart's content. At least add some detail for doors/frames and a small ladder from spares box to connect crew rest area to cargo floor.

I did not forget the cockpit. Mark side of forward fuselage approximately where cockpit bulkhead and floor are. Place lead weight in cheek areas between nose wheel well and side of fuselage (You can always put more in thimble nose or on roof of nose wheel well). Dry fit all your wing and tail components, use your judgment on weight and add an extra 50% weight to cover paint, filler and errors and omissions. Now glue both fuselage halves together. Fill joint lines and sand. In the meantime, attach left rear fuselage ribs, matching right side.

Detail interior of landing gear areas to taste. Cut cockpit area/roof off from rest of fuselage leaving 1 cm lip for attaching thin strip for eventual re-attachment.

You can now detail the cockpit, see Hooker plans and cutaway. Use old ejection seats from spare parts box to make four seats for two pilots, engineer and navigator. Add pedestals, headrests and arm rests. Think of large-ish office chairs. Use plasticard sandwich to make instrument panels. Drill holes for instruments; use bent stretched sprue for yokes. Paint inside and cockpit roof.

Being really careful, draw cockpit panel lines on cockpit roof using Hooker canopies as reference template, cut out glass areas mega carefully using the newest possible Exacto blade, leaving frames intact. Think of this as brain surgery. Slice into your own finger if you have to, but do not break the frames! Re-attach cockpit roof using lips and plasticard strips in place. Fill and sand. Use vacuum cleaner to suck out any dust from flight deck via open frames, then tape orifice shut using gentle Tamiya masking tape. You now have spent another 2 or 3 weeks and probably need cataract surgery, arthritis treatments and serious counseling. Now attach wing box centre section.

Then attach tail-plane centre section to rear fuselage, making sure all areas have been strengthened to take stress and are nice and level with floor and with each other. Take mild tranquillizer if necessary. Now make slots for stabilizer and slide into place. Glue stabilizer fillet into place. Use small strip of plasticard to blend all areas, and then use massive amounts of filler to smooth
out the entire area. This will take several days, and then you will need many more days of sanding until it actually looks right. Slot in cargo bay doors. Now spray entire fuselage and tail are with White primer and fix all the imperfect areas, particularly tail plane/stabilizer joint areas, which are imperfect. Repeat....

Stomp on Hooker's half assed main landing gear components with your foot and then throw away. Now use thick stretched sprue or other rod material to make landing gear as per Hooker plans. Use wheels from B-52 or some such sized animal. Cut locating tabs in landing gear bay in roof as well as front bulkhead. Build divider between front and rear bay section and add locators. Do not attach gear until C-133 is completely painted. Use W.W.II medium bomber or heavy fighter sized wheel for nose gear. Use stretched sprue for nose gear and follow diagrams in the Hooker instructions.

Use Aeroclub ABP094 3 bladed Hamilton Standard propellers with cuffs meant for a KLM Constellation. They are a little short, but the only game in town. Attach C-133 spinners with super glue, fill and sand.

Now paint your favourite scheme. Spray smooth light gray primer on any areas meant to be “Day-Glo” orange. It helps bring out the colour. Glue on Canopy using white glue. Gently pre bend canopy at frames with 2 pairs of pliers. Cut out decals from backing and attach, remove some excess glue. Coat with gloss varnish and attach landing gears and props. The Hooker decals are actually very good. They give you some of the panel lines for the engine pods.

Voila, you have now spent about 2-3 month and are now certifiably insane! Go to IPMS event to display the model and then go on very long holiday!

Model, article and photographs by Alex Hunger