Planet Model's 1/72nd full resin

During browsing through piles of kits on 2007 GMM, something caught my eye. On the first glance, I thought it's a spoof, or one of the goofy cartoon revivals when Disney meets Batman. Then - no, this was real, a prototype of an imperial Austro- Hungarian (K.u.K.) biplane, the Lloyd FJ 40.05 Versce (Kestrel).

- I had to have it!


The odd shape did have an explanation too: before synchronized guns shooting through the prop were invented, many concepts were investigated in order to solve this problem.

One of them was to have a gunner post, and shooting above the propeller area. This provides for an excellent field of fire. Mind you, this concept worked nicely for many bombers. Unfortunately, the 1915 Lloyd FJ 40.05 design proved to significantly restrict the pilot's field of view. While this did not bother Lindbergh, and was no show- stopper in crossing the Atlantic, it led to a quick demise of the FJ40.05. In January 1916 some flight testing was performed with the prototype, which reconfirmed the concerns. Yet even a modified single - seater version of the plane with a pod mounted machine guns didn't attract the K.u.K. Air-force's attention, so no mass production was ever commenced.

The Lloyd FJ 40.05 was build to a then new process with a monocoque-like style. The technique was patented by the inventor eng. Melczer, who was the technical director of Budapest's technical university. In this concept, the skin consisted of thin wooden veneer, rather than the so far common ribs and canvass. The effect was an increased strength and actually a reduced weight of the structure, since the shell was partially load-carrying, too. The “FJ” actually stands for ”Fournier- Jaeger” (=veneer fighter). The disadvantage of this design was a strange and eerie noise which came up when the structure was stressed, and the wooden elements rubbed against each other. It awarded the aircraft the nickname “cock-a-doodle-doo” fighter. (I personally prefer to call it the winged piano).

The kit

A multi-media kit, consisting of some 30 resin parts cast in ivory-colored plastic (except for the gray engine cover), a small PE-fret, two vacu-formed canopies (yes, one spare!) and a sheet of decals. All come packed neatly in their own compartments of the plastic bag. The model is supposed to have a wingspan of some 16cm (6.5") The description is in Czech and English. There are no text instructions, everything is explained based on photographs of an partially assembled kit. The working steps are not called out sequentially, so even though the plane's simple, you better know what you're doing. The complex rigging is not sufficiently explained on the instruction, so additional source of information (or at least the box top) are required.

The parts look well designed, with a nicely shaped airfoil-profiles of the wings. The Daimler engine and the cooler have good detail, but they look a little washed out - maybe the molds start showing some wear. Still, with some wire and some sanding the parts can be brought to the desired condition. The parts show no bubbles, of other casting defects what so ever, the trailing edges are razor-thin. If I could wish for something, then maybe for some faint wood grain. On the other hand - in this scale, maybe not.

While not cheap (I paid 27 Euro at Premodels - and that's practically directly from Czech republic). I think it's worth it, just for the sake of it's originality.


My love for the exotic - this little kit managed to work itself up the way on my priority list, and there it goes, finished at last, after some six months.


The work started - as so often - with a web search session. No much there, yet actually a link to the Austrian Aviation Archive (Österreichisches Luftfahrtarchiv). After contacting this organization, I was kindly provided with a publication containing a description, plans and a photograph. In this context I’d like to express my thanks to Eng. Reinhard Keimel for provided support, which inspired me to carry on.

The first step was comparing the resin chunks to what is seen on the plans and pictures. On the first glance the biggest difference was a mismatch of the large hunch (which contained the gunner’s post) to the plans. The position and angle were quite far off. Another bit was that the part of the fuselage above the engine, and between the wings was made solid in the kit, but looked open on the picture and in the plan. A comparison of the wings also showed a deviation.

Plastic Surgery

Since I had more trust in the plans than in the kit, I started re-shaping the parts. What looked like a minor facelift at the beginning, ended as a major plastic surgery in the end:

The hunch was not only wrong in the angle - it was also off in the position. The geometry was partially re-built using several layers of Mr. Surfacer 1000 to create the additional volume. Even though this liquid putty had to be applied in many layers, it’s stronger than usual putties when dry, and the adhesion is better (on resin), too.

The resulting wall partially consisted of the base material, and partially of Mr. Surfacer. On top of that, it was undercut and thinned to a reasonable thickness, so a strong bond between old and new material was mandatory. I corrected the angle, but did not re-set the hunch itself, accepting a small difference to the plan - it looked good enough to me. The fuselage was hollowed-out around the pilot’s and gunner’s cockpits with a ball-tip milling cutter, and some structure details added with bits of tape. The engine compartment roof was removed and replaced with a small bridge, which was reinforced with metal pins. The shape of the wings was also somewhat off, but to my eye, still to an acceptable degree. A re-shaping here would mean also adding material in tricky areas, with little visible effect, so I’ve just let it be.

Starting the assembly

The first step was to install the walls of the engine “cage” on the fuselage, and then the top wing. For this purpose the wings and the walls received small holes, and therein metal pins installed. Tricky part was not to collide with other pins, which were holding the bridge between the walls in place, and at the same time prevent the drill from drifting off, and coming out on the outside of the thin wall. A deep hole was drilled into the front end of the massive resin hull, to later contain the rotor bearing.

The bottom wing was attached also with metal pins to a box which was supposed to position the lower wing closer to the ground, and further away from the fuselage. The tail assembly was simple, with no complications. At this time, it was time for first painting.


In order to prevent having to paint between the wings, when the tensioning cables were applied, I had to paint the space between the wings first. To get into this space without bigger problem, I attached only the top wing in the initial step. At the outset, the area between to be painted received a Mr. Surfacer priming, and then a coat of Tamiya buff XF-57. Then the wood pattern had to be applied: the process was beforehand experimentally tested on my old trusty F-15. After having the cabin-look perfect on the jet's wing, on it went to the biplane. I used Schmincke Mussini artists oils thinned only a little, put on with a rough bristle brush, wet in wet. After a little drying, the wood grain was streaked with the help of a tooth-brush. The main color was raw Sienna. To make it livelier I added streaks of light raw umber, natural burnt Sienna and attish light ochre.

In the first painting step, the projected bottom side of the assembly so far was colored, and the upper side of the lower wings. The coating took about two weeks to dry through, which slowed down the building progress considerably, because all in all, I had to repeat this process four times for different areas. The aluminum parts received a quick black priming, then an Alclad coat, and after the attachment of the lower wing assembly to the fuselage, the bird was ready for rigging!


The rigging was a little complex, and only with the instruction really hard to apply. Looking at the plans and picture at the same time allowed me to get an impression as how the cables are supposed to run. I drilled the wings through with a short 0,25mm drill, top and bottom, and fed thin nylon mono-filament through the whole contraption. The fibers were attached on the top with superglue. At this point the somewhat softish wing struts were added. On the bottom of each thread I clipped on cloth pins, and let them hang overnight. That way the threads adapted to the sharp deflection angles.

The pins were removed, the plane turned upside-down, and tensioning each thread with one hand, I fixed it with superglue. The holes were then filled up with Surfacer, and sanded flat. The rest of the wooden pattern was then painted on. I decided that the rudders and ailerons should be made of different wood, so I mixed the artists oils with some white, to get a brighter shade.

Engine cowling assembly

The cowling was a big chunk of gray resin. For photographic reasons, the prop has to rotate, so I attached a tube to the back of the cowling as a the prop shaft bearing, and a pin to the prop, so it would run smoothly, when assembled. In order to make the engine fit, I had to mill-out nearly all of the material on the back, to form only a thin shell. Then the cowling got a coat of Alclad. The cooler was painted with Revell copper (92) and Alclad, equipped with a syringe needle, and glued on the cowling. A piece of thick syringe was added as the first exhaust pipe, and the prop installed.

Engine assembly

Initially I wanted to keep the original resin engine, but decided, that is has too much visibility to have half-cylinders front and rear. So I scratch-built a new one. Chunks of 2mm brass tubing made the Daimler's six cylinders, pieces of wire sticking out on top the valve shafts. Crank case was made from pieces of a 72nd scale bomb from the scrap box. The cam shaft was made out of a simple pin, and the rockers symbolized by bent pieces of brass sheet. Exhaust tubes were cut from 0,8mm syringe, and the intake manifold was done from soft wire, covered in Surfacer 500. Cooling lines from hair-thin copper wire, and there goes my engine! Painting was fixed by Tamiya black, Alclad and Humbrol metal (53).

Landing gear assembly

The tires got a paint of Tamiya black, the spokes of the wheels came from the PE fret. The provided bits of the axle were quite gross, so I decided to make my own. A piece of syringe served as the hollow axle, two pins as spacers, and a several windings of nylon filament to bind them in place. The loose ends were used as tensioning lines for the landing gear assembly. The alignment of the subassembly was quite tricky, in particular the V-struts. I used calipers and tape to get the positions of the parts right, but after some superglue, it didn't look bad at all.

Bits and pieces

I glued small bits of PE on the tensioning strings, which are supposed to pass for pre- loading devices. A generator was made of bits of plastic, and a piece of brass sheet. The plastic for the generator body was coated with Surfacer to form an 8-shape , the brass cut to roughly resemble a small prop, and then its blades twisted. It was painted black, the tiny rotor glued on top, the part then attached to the strut with two thin coils of wire. The levers of the rudders made from folded bits of sheet were added, as well as control cables for the rudders. I added hinges to the rudders and ailerons, and the skid below the rear end.


At first I applied a coat of future, in the areas where decals were supposed to go. The kit's decals by "Dead Design" were already hinting at what was coming up: While rather thin, they were completely impervious to any softener, and started cracking on the edges. On top, they were somewhat transparent, and the wood grain showed through. I sanded the fractures out, and prepared simple masks from post-it notes, to spray white around the black crosses. The decals on the fuselage were put on with a lot of care, and went OK. On the upside, the decals did not silver.


For the gunner's cockpit I had to scratch-build a new seat, which was then equipped with simple hip safety belt from a small PE fret I've found in the bits-and-pieces box. The instruments came in the kits. The seat for the pilot was in the kit (again PE belts added), as well as the steering column. The steering wheel and the instrument panel came also from the PE-set. The panel was underlain with a clear foil, which was painted white on the rear side. I scratched in the scales and needles of the instruments, and then painted also the back side black. The borders of the cockpit sides were padded up with Surfacer 500. The masking in this area was tricky, so I took pieces of old decal, and applied them on the padding with a lot of softener - to a nice effect.


The gunner's wind shield was also part of the kit's PE offering. Glued on a piece of clear foil, I cut it out, glued on the plane. The pilot's canopy was provided in the kit, as a vacu-formed part. I cut it out with small scissors, and superglued it in front of the pilot’s carrel. The frame was fixed from a strip of thin aluminum foil.


The engine was set into the fuselage, and the cowling glued on.


Pre-shading was not an option with the used technique, so I tried something different: thin coat of Tamiya smoke was applied to give the wing some plasticity. On top I masked the ribs, and sprayed only on their outside. This generates the impression of additional depth. Between the wings, where I could not really mask, I applied this shading free hand, with acceptable effects. The smoke traces from the exhausts were sprayed on behind the pipes and behind the crank case venting. Some traces inside the cockpits, on the landing gear and in joints were accentuated with thinned black and burnt umber artist oils. The cowling had initially an accident: I tried to clean some fluff from the surface with alcohol, during which the paint was stained. I thought about re-painting it, but then decided that it's convincing enough as old metal. The tires were brightened up with some pastels. Initially I wanted to keep the plane glossy, but then decided to give it at least partially a flat finish. In the end, I applied different gradients of "flatness" in different areas, to achieve the optimal effect.


The little winged piano asked for a lot of work, but resulted in a real eye-catcher. While I'm not too deep into WWI material, this little biplane was fun to build, and is even more fun to behold.

FLUG-Informationen IV/1991 WIEN
(publication of the Austrian Aviation Archive)

all photographs copyright J.Kierat
except photograph of original aircraft and plans which are copyright of Austrian Aviation Archive. no use without authors permission