This Short C-23 Sherpa is an Army surplus cargo plane that has been converted for use by the US Forest Service as a “smokejumper” plane – firefighters jump out of a perfectly good airplane into a burning forest! I built this model as a commissioned kit for one of the USFS pilots, including instructions.
This is the first one in this series that comes in numbered bags. First we build the airplane, which is a really sweet design, very swooshable. It uses the new style handlebars first seen in Stephanie’s Pet Patrol, which are similar to the ones minifigs have been griping for years but with the ends upturned for minidoll compatibility. Here it works really well as the yoke of an airplane, flown by … Stephanie! The color scheme of the plane, with white wings and an aqua and dark aqua body, is really nice and I’m looking forward to the day when I have enough of these colors to do more MOCs with. This set comes with no fewer than six 1×4 curved slopes in light aqua, which is sure to be good for something. In addition to the plane we also get a cute yellow duckie, a dock with a cute crab and a fairly basic parts assortment, and the clubhouse for the flying club with life ring and some signs (stickers, sadly).
Since you build the plane first, it’s kind of a gradual process in disappointment – the plane has a lot of cool parts and is really swooshable, but the rest of the set is pretty forgettable in terms of parts or building techniques.
One of the first LEGO sets I ever owned was the Spirit of St Louis, a little yellow and black (the original one was silver – see pictures on Wikipedia) airplane set that represented Charles Lindbergh’s plane from the first trans-Atlantic solo flight. It was sold as set # 456 or 661, depending on where in the world you bought it. I was six years old in 1977 when this set came out, and my parents bought it for me. I still have at least some of the parts – all mixed into my LEGO collection, of course…
One of the unique bits from this set is this special 2×3 brick with stickers. I was very young when I got this, so I don’t remember if I put the sticker on or my parents did – I assume the latter. But 30 years later they still are in great shape! In fact, I had thought the bricks were printed until I saw the Eurobricks review that mentioned they were stickers, and then found my brick and realized that they are in fact stickers. I took pictures of my brick for this blog post:
I think this set stands up pretty well today. Though the color scheme is bogus, as was often the case with LEGO sets from that era, the proportions are about right and it’s quite swooshable. It doesn’t use the fancy curvy pieces that modern sets have, but it doesn’t really need them.
When my father left the Navy and joined United Air Lines in the late 1950’s, he flew this plane, the DC-3.
Like my Lunar Mobile Lounge, this has been at several BayLUG meetings, and now I am finally posting about it here.
Also like that model, it is motorized. There are two motors, located in the fuselage: one which powers the propellers and the other which makes the landing gear go up and down. There is a battery box in the fuselage that powers the propellers, and a wire coming out of the entry door leading to a battery box that controls the landing gear. In both cases, a Technic axle passes through the fuselage and the base of each wing. For the props, there are bevel gears in each engine which drive the propshafts. For the landing gear, the axle is mounted directly to the mechanism. A roof panel is removable to view the mechanism inside. Here’s a video I made to illustrate how it works (it’s also available as a QuickTime movie on Brickshelf):
There are other parts that move as well: the ailerons, elevators, and rudder are all freely hinged. Oh, and the wheels rotate :-) The wings and vertical tail can be removed easily for storage and transportation.
The fuselage is designed using half-stud offsets to achieve the desired shape. This means the walls are very fragile as they cannot be properly interconnected.
On the leading edge of each wing are “de-icing boots” which are made of rubber in the real plane. These are modeled using a curved brick that I got at LEGOLAND California in their “build it and buy it” area in 2003. I don’t know if they were ever part of an official LEGO set, but I never saw them anywhere else. It’s the same shape as the trans-light-blue spotlights in the Soccer sets. These “boots” are attached at an angle using plate hinges and plates, and have half-stud offsets to follow the desired wing angle.
Overall this was an interesting experiment in half-stud offsets and integrating a Technic mechanism into a realistic looking model. I learned a lot making this and hope you enjoy it.