Once upon a time in the modelling world, some aircraft that you quite liked but were not mainstream subjects such as the Me109 or Spitfire were only available as a vac-form (vacuum-formed). Basically the aircraft shape was made from scratch, split into various bits then a sheet of thick plastic sheet was placed over the top. Using heat and a vacuum source the plastic was pulled down over the shapes and ‘hey presto’ you got a vac-form. If you were really lucky some bits such as the undercarriage, props etc were cast in metal with a canopy formed the same way but with clear plastic (obviously). Most vac-forms though didn’t have the luxury of cast metal bits so everything came on the plastic sheet.
I had tackled a couple of these types of kits back in the 80’s with the only really successful one being a Rareplanes 1/72 U-2R/ TR-1 that I actually finished, previously I attempted a Rareplanes 1/72 Seafire Mk.46/47 and a Formaplane 1/72 Hawker Nimrod (which was awful), both of which were eventually scrapped some years later.
While perusing Ebay for a 1/72 Pucara and laughing at some of the ridiculous prices that the Special Hobby and Airfix (reboxed Special Hobby) kits were fetching I came across a Rareplanes vac-form that was listed for the outrageous price of £2.50 (plus p&p) so just for the hell of it I put a bid on the model and won.
It was probably going so cheap because the canopy was missing but I’m looking at this model as a stretch of my modelling skills, including making a mould for the canopy and crash-forming it plus making the undercarriage from scratch. I believe Special Hobby are re-tooling their Pucara soon-ish so really that would be the sane option but where’s the fun in that? Mind you there would be different decal options in the SH kit which would be useful as this kit has none so I *may* end up getting one anyway.
I’m currently looking for the pictures I took of one of the Pucaras that were captured during the Falklands War in 1982, shipped back to the UK for evaluation at RAE Boscombe Down then placed on public display at the RAF Museum Cosford as that’s likely going to be the one I will model. Either way it will be an interesting project and for £2.50 it doesn’t matter if it gets scrapped, I just fancied doing a vac-form after all these years.