General aviation subjects are a minority of kits released in the scale marketing market. Think how many variants of say there are of the Bf/Me 109, yet we don’t see much in the way of those aircraft which fill the skies every day. I know the reason given by kit manufacturers, they won’t sell or so we’re told. Yet every once in a while our patience does get rewarded!
Roden released the Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter, a utility workhorse of an aircraft that is used for just about everything. They sport various paint schemes that range from blah to bizarre.
From the time I saw the PC-6 perform I began to wonder, can it be made to perform even better? Having seen aircraft such as the Piper Cub evolve into new designs such as the Sherpa I thought I could tweak the basic PC-6 into something that Alaskan Bush Pilots could make other stock PC-6 owners jealous.
One of the first modifications that Alaskan bush planes receive is larger high floatation tires that allow them to land on rough rock strewn mountain slopes and river shores and sandbars. When you add more drag, well you need to add more power. I’ll give that some thought, possibly I might have a spare propeller that will give some indication there is more horsepower under the cowl.
The first of the two modifications I am making is bigger tires. I selected a pair from my spares stash that were slightly bigger. Remember subtle sometimes says enough. The tires I selected had a cross hatch tread pattern, something tundra tires don’t have.
In fact, the first tires of this type were made using large diameter pickup truck tires, their tread shaved off leaving just enough rubber on the carcass so as not to expose the reenforcing chord. Mounted to custom made wheels which took the aircraft’s center wheel section and welded it into the center of a pickup truck rim.
I’m not going to that extreme, though I could if I wanted to put in the effort. Instead, I’ll just remove the tread pattern from the tire by chucking it in my Dremel cordless rotary tool and sanding it smooth. Keep the tools rpm low! I like using a sanding pad…foam backed sandpaper, which prevents a squared edge from forming. These I have are from Alpha Abrasives and are available at craft and hobby stores. Tundra tires are very round and balloon like so no shoulders.
Secondly, I sifted through my spares and found some leading edge flaps and their accompanying actuator linkage from an abandoned Trumpeter TU-22 build. I will mount these on the leading edges of the wings which will increase wing area during takeoffs, landings and slow flight, reducing the aircraft’s stall speed. Stall speed isn’t related to the engine running, it is when the wing is no long producing significant lift to overcome gravity.
The PC-6 already has great performance attributes in these areas, but hey a bush plane needs MORE! In fact, it is one of the preferred modifications for those hybrid bush aircraft that compete in the annual Short Takeoff and Landing Competition held in Valdez, Alaska. Just Google it and you’ll find a number of awesome videos of the competition.
As I make progress on this build maybe I’ll add a pair of kayaks slung under each wing? Possibly a cargo pod under the fuselage? Ski rack? Since this kit is 1:48 scale, anything I do make I probably should make a silicone mold so they can be later cast in resin. This aircraft would be also welcomed in 1:32 scale! I’m already thinking paint scheme, wing tip mods, skis and possibly a small diorama base to place it on. Possibly a gravel stream bed?