by: Tim Hatton [ ]
During and after World War II, over 4,500 Beech 18s were used in military service—as light transport, light bomber (for China), aircrew trainer (for bombing, navigation, and gunnery), photo-reconnaissance, and "mother ship" for target drones—including United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) C-45 Expeditor, AT-7 Navigator, and AT-11 Kansan; and United States Navy (USN) UC-45J Navigator, SNB-1 Kansan, and others. In World War II, over 90% of USAAF bombardiers and navigators trained in these aircraft.
In the early postwar era, the Beech 18 was the pre-eminent "business aircraft" and "feeder airliner". Besides carrying passengers, its civilian uses have included aerial spraying, sterile insect release, fish seeding, dry-ice cloud seeding, aerial firefighting, air-mail delivery, ambulance service, numerous movie productions, skydiving, freight, weapon- and drug-smuggling, engine testbed, skywriting, banner towing, and stunt aircraft. Many are now privately owned, around the world, with 240 in the U.S. still on the FAA Aircraft Registry in August 2017.
Magic by Moonlight is owned by Younkin Airshows and has been adapted over the years to provide a spectacular night time aerobatic display. The owners sum up its display:” Imagine the airshow circuit’s largest, noisiest, and smokiest airplane lit up like a Christmas tree and performing aerobatics at night! Imagination has become reality!”
There are seven grey plastic sprues of various sizes contained in one bag. The single clear plastic sprue is separately bagged. Just be aware the tiny decal sheet is inside the instructions manual and could easily be lost if you are not careful. The quality and consistency of the recessed panel lines is very good. But there is not a rivet to be seen and looking at close ups of the real thing, there are quite a few Sprue attachment points are quite fine. There is a nice feel to the look of the contents, quarter scale suites the dimensions of this aircraft.
The cockpit area has a couple of ejection marks you might want to get rid of. The instrument panel incorporates the foot wells and there are four separate rudder pedals. The windscreen is made up from three clear parts. There are a couple of eye brow windows to fit. The cockpit is finished off with a couple of control sticks and an overhead panel.
Two clear strips contain the rectangular windows; this is fitted into a recess to avoid any part being proud of the cabin walls. It’s also easier to attach the three windows together rather than individually. There are three small circular windows to add: one on the cabin door, one by the single seat to the rear and another on the left hand side just behind the rear cabin bulkhead. An open bulkhead fits between the cockpit and cabin. There is also a bulkhead to the rear with a door moulded on it. The bulkhead prevents anyone seeing down the fuselage. There are noticeable grooves at the location points for the bulkheads, so there is no doubt where they go. There are seven seats altogether; each is made up from four parts. One seat sits on the fuselage floor just in front of the rear cabin bulkhead. The rest are attached to the floor area between the upper wings. Interior colour throughout is flat green. ICM has provided basic but nicely detailed parts for the cockpit and cabin, but it goes without saying that the modeller could incorporate much more detail.
The fuselage has the two radio masts and directional antennae moulded on. These are removed for this particular aircraft. The attached pitot tube is left on, though you might want to remove it anyway and re-attach it near the end of the build. There are some sink marks on the exterior skin where the location points are. If you want an authentic looking ‘magic by Moonlight’ then you must cut off the forward part of the nose and replace it with a separate nose containing a couple of lights.
The upper and lower wing are each one piece, the upper wing actually has the cabin floor moulded onto it. There is a separate section of the wing spar to attach and this divides the cockpit from the cabin. The join on the underneath of the wings falls right through the flap area, leaving a noticeable line where there should not be one. But if you want more realistic looking flaps, then the raised stretched canvas over rib detail need to be removed. So the joint line can be filled and there’s no problem. The way ICM has designed this area does result in a nice sharp trailing edge though. The ailerons are separate.
There is plenty of detail to add between the nacelle firewall and wing spar. The tubular framework that forms the engine mount for the engines is included. There is a small spar that the main undercarriage is fitted to. The bulk of the undercarriage needs to be assembled and fitted into the nacelle before the wing halves and nacelles are joined. They way its joined provides a strong joint so hopefully that will reduce the chances of it being knocked accidently during the rest of the construction and painting. There is a second spar to add to the inside of the wheel bay.
The two radial engines are well moulded, but lack any real detail; there are no cooling fins on the cylinders. The engines are fitted to a second firewall and the deep groove in the lower nacelle indicates where this is fitted. The nacelles are finished with a four breather tubes, two vent doors and a couple of exhaust pipes. There seems to be a number of vents missing just behind the cowl on the upper part of the nacelles. These are very obvious in the photographs of ‘Magic by Moonlight’. The two, two bladed props look good and they have separate spinners.
The main wheels are one piece and have good hub detail on them. The main wheel doors lack detail and there are some deep ejector marks to eradicate. There are good locating points to attach the door, no butt joins here. The tail wheel is made up from five parts. This retracts so there are doors to add as well. The roof of the tail wheel well is included. If you want to display this model wheels up, then good news, there are one piece doors to fit the main and tail wheel bays.
The tail flying surfaces feature one piece vertical stabilisers and the horizontal tail is made up from two pieces. The control surfaces feature the same raised areas as the flaps and elevator and you could reduce these right down to achieve a more realistic look.
One thing that is obviously lacking are the numerous lights that are fitted during the display season. But equally there are plenty of images with the aircraft devoid of the lights.
There is just the one set of markings for this release and that you won’t be too surprised to learn is for ‘Magic by Moonlight’ It will be an interesting scheme to reproduce, but you will have to produce your own masks for the scalloped look on the wings and fins. So it might be a case of playing around enlarging the upper plan view in the painting guide on your printer. The aircraft is painted overall gloss red and black. Annoyingly there is no underneath view in the paint guide. But a quick Google reveals that the scalloped paint effect is repeated underneath the wing.
There is the tiniest of decal sheets included providing the registration number, art work, pilot and owners name as well as the crew chief and the badges for the props.
The sixteen page A4 glossy instructions booklet has superb clear diagrams to help you with the building. Language is Russian and English. The painting guide is in colour and colour references provided are for Revell and Tamiya paints.
This is a really pleasing and welcome release from ICM. It’s great to see this sort of subject in 1/48 scale and well done to ICM for releasing it.