It was instead used as a military transport during World War II by the United States Army Air Forces as well as the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps under the designation R5C. Known to the men who flew them as “The Whale,” the “Curtiss Calamity,” the “plumber’s nightmare”, and among ATC crews, the “flying coffin,” the C-46 served a similar role as its counterpart, the Douglas C-47 Skytrain, but was not as extensively produced. At the time of its production, the C-46 was the largest twin-engine aircraft in the world, and the largest and heaviest twin-engine aircraft to see service in World War II.
After World War II, a few surplus C-46 aircraft were briefly used in their original role as passenger airliners, but the glut of surplus C-47s dominated the marketplace with the C-46 soon relegated to primarily cargo duty. The type continued in U.S. Air Force service in a secondary role until 1968. However, the C-46 continues in operation as a rugged cargo transport for Arctic and remote locations with its service life extended into the 21st century.The final large production run C-46D arrived in 1944–45, and featured single doors to facilitate paratroop drops; production totaled 1,430 aircraft.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force took delivery of 48 C-46Ds starting in 1954 and used the Commando until 1978.
This 1/144 kit from Platz comes in a standard top opening cardboard box. There is a nice image on the box bottom of 4 views of the aircraft, an image of the decal sheet and images of the also available, but not in the box, PE upgrade set. The PE upgrade set is reviewed on the site here. Inside the box are 2 sprues in grey plastic that are both inside a single bag, containing a total of 52 parts. In a separate small bag is a sprue with 2 clear parts. In yet another sealed bag is the large decal sheet. Finally we have the 6 pages of instructions.The sprues have fine recessed detail and some raised detail where appropriate. Overall the sprues look very nice and I anticipate a nice model can be built with subtle surface details.
Working our way through the instructions, my first question arises from the instructions saying the JASDF took delivery of 36 C-46Ds from January 1955 to 1957. My references both state 48 were delivered.
The build is divided into 7 steps.
This is the cockpit; quite basic, but then again not much of anything will be seen. Simple add the 2 control sticks to the cockpit floor and you’re done. The seats are moulded as part of the floor.
Join the 2 fuselage halves together trapping the cockpit inside. Add the nose cone, cockpit glazing and elevators. The main recognition factor for a C-46D is a paratrooper door in the large cargo door on the port side, and I’m glad to say the door is present on the kit. The 4 windows on each side of the fuselage are represented by decals.
Wings & Engines. Join top and bottoms of the wings and then add the engines. Each engine is made up of a central ‘cylinder’ with nice engine detail at one end. The sides of the ‘cylinder’ are covered by a 2 piece cowling with an exhaust to be added to each. Finally add a circular cowling ring to the front and a 4 bladed propeller Four blades is the correct number of blades for the C-46D, very early C-46s had a 3 bladed propeller.
Step 4 & 5
Main undercarriage. The main gear consists of a pair of undercarriage doors with nice subtle detail on the inside. There’s a single main strut and a separate part to represent the retraction jacks. The wheels are in 2 parts, hub and tyre, which makes for easy painting.
Wings – mostly. Add the built wings to the fuselage. Install the tail wheel and 2 tail wheel doors. Now drill some holes for aerials, so you will need to look at some references or photos to make sure you have things in exactly the right place. There’s plenty of photographs of C-46s on the internet, so you should find one that helps out. Now comes the first time you have to choose which of the 4 options you’re going to build so you choose the right aerial for the front underside of the fuselage.
More aerials. Drill more holes to install 6 aerials on the top of the fuselage.
The decal sheet is very large and has markings for 41 different aircraft, yes 41. There are decals for 40 JASDF aircraft and a USAF aircraft. The USAF aircraft is silver with black undersides and operated during the Korean war. All the other aircraft are silver overall, but with 3 slightly different looks to them as described in the instructions. The orange areas of the aircraft on the box top are supplied as decals. The colours are described using Testors and Mr Color numbers.
This is a very nice kit and will build into an accurate and detailed model. I can highly recommend this kit and watch out for a build review on this site in the near future.
Many thanks to Platz for the review sample.
Squadron 188 C-46 Commando in Action
Paul Tosney – Model Builder International – www.modelbuilderinternational.com