Author Topic: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane  (Read 2796 times)

Offline Brian da Basher

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1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« on: October 03, 2015, 09:31:09 PM »


Jack Northrop is legendary in the annals of aviation history. Less known is that he was an avid outdoorsman and loved trout fishing.



in 1930, on one of his trips to catch the ever elusive Maine lake trout, he realized an untapped and wholly non-existent market for a sports float plane. Upon returning from his vacation, he hit the drafting table and designed a cantilever-winged monoplane with an enclosed cabin for the pilot and four passengers. Powered by the new Pratt & Whitney R-2345-28R twin-row radial engine and featuring a large, central float and two wingtip outrigger floats, the prototype took flight in 1932.



Christened the Nor'easter after the well-known New England storms, the float plane entered production shortly after testing. That summer, Jack Northrop was spotted flying to his favorite secret fishing hole by the chairman of the U.S. Coast Guard's BurProcure or Bureau of Procurement who was also vacationing in Maine. BurProcure bought one Nor'easter off the shelf for testing and was impressed by its flight characteristics.



After getting Northrop to make some modifications such as adding a large RDF loop antenna, the Coast Guard ordered a service-test squadron, seeing the new float plane as ideal for the search and rescue role.





U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was also a frequent visitor to Maine, having a retreat on the island of Campobello. Hoping to impress the Commander-in-Chief, Coast Guard Nor'easters flew over FDR's vacation home every morning, dropping copies of newspapers hot off the presses. No doubt awed by the fine journalism of such local dailies as the Addison Argus, Roque Bluffs Record, and Howland Herald, FDR ordered the U.S. Navy to trial the Nor'easter.



However, the U.S. Navy was too hide-bound in the early 1930s to consider something as radical as a cantilever-winged monoplane for service. Northrop saw no orders for the Nor'easter besides those from the Coast Guard and one purchased by the owner of Marshall Field's department stores.



Still, for a couple of years, the Nor'easter became the highlight of newsreels every summer, filmed while dropping FDR's morning newspapers over Campobello. This would be its only claim to fame.



Hamstrung by tight Depression-era budgets, The U.S. Coast Guard's BurProcure couldn't afford to procure more Nor'easters. The float plane went out of production in 1934 and the entire service-test squadron was wiped out in the terrible 1937 Nor'easter that devastated the Maine coast.



The photos you see here are from the sole survivor, the one purchased by the Marshall-Field's scion which was restored to Coast Guard specs in the 1960s. This aircraft was unfortunately destroyed by a horde of indignant modelers over its inaccurate paint scheme while on display at the Maine Museum of Industry in September, 1977. Entirely forgotten today, for a few brief moments, the Northrop Nor'easter lit up newsreel screens nationwide and only lives on the fading memories of a few very old people.



Brian da Basher
« Last Edit: October 03, 2015, 10:24:37 PM by Brian da Basher »

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2015, 09:56:32 PM »
This all began with a dive into a neglected spares box of old 1/144 scale parts. In that box were the fuselage and one float from a 1/144 Aichi M6A Seiran Japanese float plane. I was on my own for the rest. Fortunately, I found replacement wings (1/144 B-29 horiz. stabs.) and tail feathers (alternate 1/72 Heinkel He 100 parts). You could say I was inspired...



I added a canopy made from a 1/72 drop-tank half and a rudder cut from card stock. The wing-tip outrigger floats were the noses of 1/144 cruise missiles for a B-52 cut precisely (hahahaha) and stuck on pylons made from the fin halves from a 1/144 Avenger. The engine is left over from a 1/144 P-47 and the 4-bladed prop is from sources unknown. Here's how it all looked after a lot of PSR around the canopy and before painting.













And there it sat for a while until I could find time to paint it. I decided this one would look best in a yellow-wing 1930s U.S. Coast Guard scheme. I recently acquired a 1/48 sheet of Grumman Widgeon markings which included that very cool U.S.C.G. logo.









The fuselage and nose codes were also from that 1/48 Widgeon sheet, but the U.S. star-and-meatball markings are from a dwindling sheet by Eagle Strike.





The model was brush-painted by hand in acrylics using Model Masters Primer Gray and Insignia Yellow for the wings and fuselage. I used Model Masters Insignia Red and Blue and Polly Scale Reefer White on those tricky rudder stripes. The canopy was painted with some esoteric shade of Testor's called "Blue" and then an acrylic gloss coat was added on top to make it shine. The canopy frame was painted over it all and I hope it gives off the illusion at least a little bit.



This took me a week and change to put together, longer than I'd have liked but things have been hectic lately.



Here's a bonus pic I like to call the money shot because of the U.S. penny (1.9 cm across) I added for scale.



I hope you enjoyed the Nor'easter and reading a forgotten chapter of the great Northrop story.

Brian da Basher

« Last Edit: October 03, 2015, 10:09:58 PM by Brian da Basher »

Offline elmayerle

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Re: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2015, 12:25:00 AM »
*sniff* Dear ghod, that's beautiful in both execution and back story.

Offline Tophe

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Re: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2015, 01:27:34 AM »
I like it!

Offline jcf

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Re: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2015, 02:25:34 AM »
Jack did like a good seaplane.  ;)


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Must leave successors more corrupted still."
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2015, 05:27:52 AM »
Hmmm...interested to do a CAC counterpart for this given that Sir Lawrence Wackett was also a keen angler.  In fact, he wrote two books on the subject:

  • My Hobby is Trout Fishing
  • Studies of an Angler

He is also mentioned here:  http://www.affm.net.au/index.php/l-j-wackett/  How many aircraft designers have a mention in a Fly Fishing Museum?

Oh, BTW - great model!
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Online FAAMAN

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Re: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2015, 06:19:00 AM »
Mmmm . . . . trout . . . .  :P
Oh yeah!! Umm, great Whiff  ;) ;)
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Offline The Big Gimper

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Re: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2015, 07:39:01 AM »
This is a fabulous finish of a flotilla of fragments federated into a feast of fashionable flying airfoils.

My heart flutters when I feast my eyes on your flirtatious floats.
Work in progress ::

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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2015, 07:45:06 AM »
This is a fabulous finish of a flotilla of fragments federated into a feast of fashionable flying airfoils.

My heart flutters when I feast my eyes on your flirtatious floats.

Oh, for F's sake...
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

Offline The Big Gimper

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Re: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2015, 07:52:39 AM »
This is a fabulous finish of a flotilla of fragments federated into a feast of fashionable flying airfoils.

My heart flutters when I feast my eyes on your flirtatious floats.

Oh, for F's sake...

Sorry? I did not get that last flury of flavorful flow of prose.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2015, 09:18:59 AM by The Big Gimper »
Work in progress ::

I am giving up listing them. They all end up on the shelf of procrastination anyways.

User and abuser of Bothans...

Offline Frank3k

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Re: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2015, 12:10:17 AM »
Great looking plane, Brian! The canopy gives it a Douglas Skyraider look to it.

That plane will never get lost with that DF loop!

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Re: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2015, 12:31:54 AM »
long live floatplanes !

and a lovely muse too  :)

Offline elmayerle

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Re: 1/144 Northrop Nor'easter float plane
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2015, 06:39:32 AM »
You can definitely see a resemblance to it's younger sibling, the Northrop N-3PB.