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 Williams Bros. 1/48 Pitcairn Autogiro #48-161

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Posts : 273
Join date : 2017-02-18
Location : California

PostSubject: Williams Bros. 1/48 Pitcairn Autogiro #48-161   Thu Feb 23 2017, 00:29

Well, this is the model that nearly gave me an aneurism. Shocked If you have ever felt the need to make an airplane model, using plans that seem are from the 1930's then, then look no further! This was my first, and probably last, Williams Bros. kit.

The Pitcairn Autogiro

In 1923 the first Autogiro was invented, and flown, in Spain by Juan de Cierva. Unlike a helicopter that creates lift and forward thrust through its main rotor, an autogiro depends on a conventional propeller engine in the front of the machine for forward momentum. Lift is generated by the rotors which are only marginally powered by the engine.

In 1929, the Pitcairn Aircraft Company purchased the rights to manufacture Autogiros in the United States. In 1931 the US Navy purchased three Autogiros and designated them as the XOP-1. In 1932 an XOP-1 became the first rotary-wing aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier, the USS Langley.

Only one Autogiro saw active service and that was with the US Marines in Nicaragua in 1932. The aircraft proved unsatisfactory in it role as a reconnaissance aircraft due to its range and load carrying capacity. the Autogiro in US military service went no further.

The Kit

The Williams Bros kit was both frustrating and interesting to build. The kit allows you to build one of two Autogiros. The first is a civilian version flown for the Champion Spark Plug Company in the 1930s. The second, which is the one I chose to build, is of one of the Autogiros tested by the US Navy and designated an XOP-1.

Clearly the kit is intended to favor someone who is building the civilian version as almost anything having to do with the Navy version will need to be scratch-built. The interior lacks a lot of detail too which is going to be needed since it is so visible. The instructions are "interesting" in that the instructions (vague at best) for assembly are on one side of the sheet, while the pics are on the other. Most of the pics for the model have to do with rigging and only a small afterthought of the parts assembly are shown. Have a computer around to use for reference!


Be prepared for lots of flash on the parts. Once cleaned though the parts fit together pretty well. You will need to add filler where the wings join the fuselage as it is really gappy.

Because the interior is so visible I decided to make the interior frame using paper-clips that I cut and shaped accordingly. I added some flight controls and painted the front cockpit instruments (the civilian version doesn't have these). I then added all the rigging which required LOTS of drilling (many of the hole positions were not quite clear on the instructions). The fuselage came out rather well, but the real migraine headache was yet to come. That was the assembly of the rotors! unbelievable

The rotors were, quite frankly, a HUGE pain in the backside. So much has to be crafted by the builder and the parts were just not thought-out very well (imo). I had to go online to get ideas how to build this from other builders than adapt them to my build. The rotor hub is really badly made and I don't know how well my efforts will be to hold it together in the long-run.

There are also two gaffes I made, intentionally I'm afraid. The civilian version of the Autogiro did not have a windshield for the front cockpit while the military version did. Unfortunately the Williams Bros. kit does not provide a template to make one and the front cockpit is an entirely different shape. So I left it off (my patience had run out to try and make one free hand). I also left off some small "bungee cords" on the rotor head for the same reason. You can only do so much!

I have to say I think the fuselage is rather awesome and it is ruined by the flipping rotor! Rolling Eyes


I originally bought this kit for the first group build. However, once I got a look at what was involved I decided to wait until I felt a little more confident in my skill set. Because of all the "custom" work you may wish to do this isn't a kit I would recommend for a beginner. I am NOT saying I am a great modeler, far from it, but I have gotten a little better and it was the most challenging model I have done yet. It was, in a word, a real bugger.

But now I have a USN Autogiro in my collection and it was almost worth the cussing and mental anguish it caused me. Wink

I hope you like the pics. Please feel free to let me know if there is anything you think I can improve upon.

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