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  1. Good evening all, Time to start a new WIP, and to (at last) live by my chosen monicker and deal with a ... racer ! The Travel Air Mystery Ship created created quite a stir when it was unveiled in 1929. Developed in great secret with the support of the CEO of Travel air Walter Beech, it was built to win the National Air Races, which up to then had been dominated by the fast Army and Navy Curtiss thoroughbreds.` It featured two characteristics that were to mark durably the design of racers and, beyond that, that of American fighters : a big powerful radial engine (the Wright J6-9 Whirlwind) and the then newly developed NACA cowling, which had demonstrated its tremendous aerodynamic benefits. The Travel Air type R, dubbed "Mystery Ship" by the Press wondering what was being secretly "cooked" behind veils by the firm, sporting a gleaming beautiful red color with black scalops edged by a green trim line, went on to win the 1929 Thompson trophy, at an average speed above 200 Mph. I have always loved the stubby little racer, and always wondered why Williams Bros had never released an IM kit of it. I was tempted to scratchbuild one in 1/32, but was held up by the color scheme: not sure if I could manage the green trim line along the black scalops. Needless to say I was overjoyed when I learnt that Lone Star Models had planned one in 1/32 resin. The waiting lasted somewhat, as the kit was announced in 2013, to be released for the Nats in 2014, when it was not really ready, Mike West, LSM's owner, struggling with the decals apparently. I placed my order as soon as it was available, in October 2014, together with the then forthcoming Bugatti racer. LSM is a one-man operation, typical old style "cottage industry", and my order lingered on for some time - but no worry. I was regularly in touch with Mike, and given my kit ouput and the size of my stash, I could wait and knew it would come. The box finally arrived this week. And, pronto, rather than store in the stash, I have decided to tackle it immediately. This fist post will constitute a review of what you get. The review The kit is a fairly simple one : two fuselage halves, two plain wings, two stabilators, a one-pîece fin and rudder, two plain wheel spats and wheels, a two-part cowling, 4 parts for the cockpit (floor, dashboard, seat and rear bulkhead), 11 parts for the engine (crankcase, and 10 - one extra - cylinder) a vac-form windshield, a propeller, and 7 white metal parts, 6 for the landing gear structure and one for the tail skid. The instructions mention a piece of Plastruct streamlined rod to cut the 4 wing to fuselage struts. Mine did not have any, but this is a porduct I have plenty of in my set of modeling aids. So no problem here, for me at least. Add to that 6 pages of instructions and pictures, and a magnificent decal sheet, incorporating all the black scalops, with the green trim line. This decal sheet is the highlight of the kit, and alone justifies buying it IMHO. Btw, I had a double decal sheet in my box. I think it's not wanted, but it means I can make mistakes with little consequences . The resin is typical LSM beige, bubble-free, with little flash and significant pour stubs. The surface detail is restraint and rather fine. The Mystery ship was a very smooth airframe, the wings and fuselage being plywood-covered, with just the cowling, psts, and fuselage from the engine mount to the instrumenrt panle metal covered. The kit should present no problem reproducing this smooth glinting surface. The fin and stabilators display a nice rendering of the fabric-covered surfaces The shape appears good overall, with some caveats described below. The dimensions are good, without any impact of potential resin shrinkage. the wingspan is spot-on for the "long" wing which was brought the wingspan to 29'2", i.e. 27.8 cms. The Travel Air in the 1929 Thompson had a short wing (27'8") which should not be a problem to carve out of the one-piece outer wings. The adjustments of the two fuselage halves are OK, and again, whilst not up to the latest Sliver Wings or Fisher products are a fair effort. TBC next post ...
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