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Old 08-04-2023, 11:00 PM
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theOshkoshModeler theOshkoshModeler is offline
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USAF Boeing 747 Recolor Megaproject (Canon)

Hello all!

Apologies for the long read, this initial post is very informational for the purpose of introducing the project.


Two days ago I began what will most likely become a several year project.
The inspiration came after stumbling upon military variants/concepts of the Boeing 747 operated by the USAF. Four of these aircraft caught my eye (one of which was a recolor I've wanted to do for a little while now, for obvious reasons) as good candidates.

Unwarranted rant ahead, feel free to skip this section.

While Kouichi Kiyonaga's Boeing 747 is quite possibly my favorite airliner paper model of all time, the current amount of recolors available by the community are few and far between (except for Papercraft Nony, he's done a great job with recoloring several different liveries. However, none of them interest me enough to consider building them).
The (strictly) repaints I currently know of include BA OneWorld, BA Landor, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, ANA (2 versions), Air France, Lufthansa, United, Wamos, Delta, Phillipines, and Korean Air.
Yes, the amount of repaints contradicts my previous statement (in fact most of these were done by Nony), however I don't really care for most of these liveries for the 747.
Almost every single Canon 747 model is a -400 (to be expected). Only two models of the other variants exist (NASA SCA and N601BN) and both happen to be -100s.

Unwarranted rant over; let's get to the details of the project.
To sum it up if you skipped, I believe that these recolors will add more variety to modelers who want to tackle Canon's 747.

I will be recoloring/modifying Canon's BA Boeing 747-400 into four different 747s that are, were, and would have been operated by the United States Air Force.

First up is the Boeing E-4 Advanced Airborne Command Post (AACP), a modified 747-200 which acts as the 'doomsday plane' for the POTUS, designed to survive a nuclear fallout:


Followed by 'Air Force One' Boeing VC-25A herself:


Third is the Boeing YAL-1, a 'failed' testbed based on the 747-400F for (by then) obsolete COIL-based airborne infrared laser ICBM defense systems.
Although it was able to successfully intercept and destroy two missiles, both were in the 'boost' phase of launch; as a result the YAL-1 would have to be in hostile territory in order to be effective.
Funding for the program was cut in late 2010 and the aircraft was soon retired to be completely scrapped in 2014. Methinks there was some highly classified laser technology sitting in that airframe to make them scrap it so quickly.
This one is going to require some custom-designed elements for the laser and whatever that thing on the top is:


The final subject of this project is an aircraft that never actually existed but made for a very interesting concept.
In the 1970s the USAF was looking for an aircraft suitable for an airborne aircraft carrier similar to the USS Akron and USS Macon airships of the 1930s. The obvious candidates were the new (at the time) Boeing 747 and Lockheed C-5 Galaxy due to their large size.
This proposed carrier variant would strip down and refit the entire aircraft to carry, deploy, retrieve, refuel, and rearm up to 10 Boeing Model 985-121 'microfighters' which would have been custom-built for the 747 AAC (no matter how large the Queen of the Skies claims to be, no fighter jet in history would have been able to fit inside the 20ft wide fuselage).
This would have allowed the USAF to deploy carrier-based fighters in a matter of hours rather than a couple days.
The concept, for obvious reasons, never saw the light of day, however the absurdity of it still leave people wondering if a 747 aircraft carrier would have worked under the right circumstances.

Since the 747 AAC never left the drawing board, it's nigh impossible to find good reference material. Fortunately, citizenship over at cgtrader designed an excellent 3D model inspired by the AAC, which I'll be using as a reference:


Boeing 747 Airborne Aircraft Carrier 3D model | CGTrader

This one will require the most work, as I want to not only eviscerate the original model to include the forward and aft hangar bays, fuel boom, and deployment arms(?), but I'll be designing at least two matching 'microfighters' to display alongside or underneath the AAC as well.

Due to the copyright of the original model, I'm not able to sell any of the recolors (believe me, I would if I could; I know there's a lot of modelers who would pay a pretty penny for that AAC) so they will be available here and elsewhere once finished and determined error-free.

Can't wait to see how this project develops!


P. S. Any information or advice that would help in design/recoloring of these aircraft would be highly appreciated. Always helps to have some outside sources and constructive criticism.
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Old 08-05-2023, 10:03 PM
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Exclamation Major error in the original kit- repainters beware!

The first stage of this project is the easiest, but is an extremely tedious and time-consuming task: preparing the original kit for the recolors.
This means taking the entire PDF of the original kit into a graphics editor (I use Inkscape, thankfully all Canon kits come in SVG-based graphics), completely removing all color from the kit and ironing out imperfections (a sample 'A' page is provided in the attachments).

I say 'ironing out' because like the other Canon kits this 747 has a LOT of misshapen/asymmetrical elements and errors at the sub-millimeter level. It's not really enough to affect the building experience but it is annoying to be repainting and have to completely redo the original kit to make everything symmetrical and clean.
I'm not sure if it was the limitations of whatever 3D modeling/graphics editing program Kiyonaga was using in 2006 (the Canon BA 747 is basically just a free recolor of his 2006 Japanese Air Force One with the only changes being the RB211s and a correction to the placement of the nose gear) or if he just rushed his way through drawing the parts, who knows

One error in particular sticks out to me (thanks to Edison's Big Orange N601BN modification) that could completely ruin some repaints. The largest part that makes up the second deck (A12) is too short by the factor of a single window.
If you look at photos of any 747 (besides 8 and 8i), between the first and second doors on the lower deck there is always fourteen windows (unless they've been covered post-manufacturing). On the kit, part A11 includes the first window and A13 includes the last two. That means there should be a total of eleven windows on part A12. The original kit only includes ten.
Edison spotted the error while designing his -100 modification (which I used as a reference) and lengthened part A12 to include that extra window.
The missing window reduces the length of the model by half a centimeter, which not only prevents it from being truly 1:144 scale but could also cause issues with compact liveries if the repainter forgets to include the extra window; especially if they're using the windows as a tool.

Errors aside, in the next few days I'll complete and upload a test build up to the fifth former (basically the entire A page with a few extra parts), with and without internal glue tabs, to test the fit and look of the pre-300 'hump' which all of the USAF 747s include.
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Old 08-05-2023, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theOshkoshModeler View Post
(a sample 'A' page is provided in the attachments).
Forgot to add attachments before hitting submit, whoops!
Attached Thumbnails
USAF Boeing 747 Recolor Megaproject (Canon)-screenshot-2023-08-05-22-20-33-test_a.pdf.jpg   USAF Boeing 747 Recolor Megaproject (Canon)-screenshot-2023-08-05-222022.jpg   USAF Boeing 747 Recolor Megaproject (Canon)-screenshot-2023-08-05-222006.jpg  
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Old 08-06-2023, 01:08 PM
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theOshkoshModeler theOshkoshModeler is offline
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Parts have been printed, cut, and are ready for assembly. For this first 'stock fit' test, glue tabs for parts and formers are the same as the original kit.
Attached Thumbnails
USAF Boeing 747 Recolor Megaproject (Canon)-20230805_203408.jpg   USAF Boeing 747 Recolor Megaproject (Canon)-20230806_134206.jpg  
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Old 08-06-2023, 03:25 PM
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Here is a YouTube video on the aircraft carrier version.
What ever happened to Flying Aircraft Carriers? - YouTube
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Old 08-06-2023, 05:56 PM
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theOshkoshModeler theOshkoshModeler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yeager View Post
Here is a YouTube video on the aircraft carrier version.
What ever happened to Flying Aircraft Carriers? - YouTube
Thanks for finding this!

I've watched Mustard's video on the AAC (which is how I found out about it, by the way), but skimming through the chapters and the video length it looks to be a much more in-depth resource. Definitely will help designing the 'carrier' portion of the model.
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Old 08-06-2023, 07:56 PM
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After a full day's work the 'alpha' test is complete.
The shortening of the second deck looks promising; however the absence of inner glue tabs and unnecessary bulkhead tabs lead to a very rough construction (which is extremely obvious looking at the photos).
Tomorrow I'll do some more editing in Inkscape to add inner glue tabs and remove the tabs from the bulkheads. Not only will it facilitate construction but I'll be able to see the contour of the nose and second deck easier.
(Bonus detail- since I'm working with the E-4B first I decided to test out how the four antennae atop the second deck would look in model form. They look great but I had to cut off half a millimeter on each to obtain the correct height.)
Attached Thumbnails
USAF Boeing 747 Recolor Megaproject (Canon)-20230806_203640.jpg   USAF Boeing 747 Recolor Megaproject (Canon)-20230806_203651.jpg   USAF Boeing 747 Recolor Megaproject (Canon)-20230806_203658.jpg   USAF Boeing 747 Recolor Megaproject (Canon)-20230806_203709.jpg   USAF Boeing 747 Recolor Megaproject (Canon)-20230806_203715.jpg  

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