With the exception of the CL-215 and CL-415, which were created as water bombers from the start, the history of firefighting aircraft is a history of modification and adaptation.
This fact is reflected in the model making and the 1/600th scale is no different : if you want to have the most similar aircraft you will have to sand some metal and sometimes sculpt a little. Sometimes it’s small things, like just filling in the back of the TBM’s canopy, but sometimes it can be a bit more important, like creating a tank when it’s extremely visible and characteristic of the firefighting version, like the one on the F-7 Tigercat (I’ll talk about that soon!).
Pico Armor and Tumbling Dice have a wide range of aircraft that have been used to fight forest fires. A-26, TBM, F-7, Catalina, B-25, B-17, Privateer, etc… Even some fighters were used as Lead Plane. To this we can add some aircraft from the cold war like the S-2, C-130 and a large part of the available helicopters and we have a good choice of models, liveries and more or less important modifications to make (reassure you sometimes there is nothing to do ^^!)
The worst part is when you start looking at the civilian aircraft. Indeed DC-4, DC-6, CL-215, 415, Electra, etc… are aircraft that were extremely used. If we go up to our days, we can add the Erickson Aero Tanker type MD-87 liner, BAe146, DC-10 and even 747 as well as a wide range of general lead plane aircraft. These models are not offered by the usual 1/600th scale model dealers for the wargame as they are not of interest in the other games.
For those, and some aircrafts that do not yet have a reference like the P2v7 Neptune or the P3 Orion, you will have to look around !
The Schabak brand produced metal liners in 1/600 scale and it is easy to find some devices for a few euros on a well known internet auction site:
Some aircraft will require more work than others again and I’m not necessarily a fan of modifying a collector’s item like this one but after removing the wheels (except for the MD87 which jettisons the outgoing landing gear 😉 ) and applying an adapted livery maybe that can be an option…
The second option that I found, and that I prefer for the moment, is via the site https://www.shapeways.com/ which proposes to print 3D models from files proposed by contributors. And one thing is impressive with this site is that you can find an astronomical quantity of devices at 1/600 scale (and many others)! The prices are quite high compared to metal but on the references where there is no competition it is an interesting option! I can now seriously consider having a Martin Mars on my table one day!
For land vehicles it is also interesting because there are fire engines and construction machines, very useful in forest fires!
After hesitating for several months, I decided to take the plunge and test this option for certain aircrafts that I love and that are cruelly lacking:
The prices are not given but at least I will know what it is worth! It looks like it’s from the US (my carbon footprint will take a hit!) but it should arrive in my house within three weeks. There is also a 15% discount code for first time buyers!
I hope that the result will be good and if not, I will have to continue to evaluate the available options like making them myself!
Do any of you know or have tried this service?