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Argentine Navy MB-326

Low Viz

1/48 scale

by Mike Parr

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The Aermacchi MB-326 entered Navy service in 1969, as an advanced trainer and light attack aircraft. The aircraft were ordered new from Italy and were assigned to the First Fighter and Attack Squadron of C.A.N.A.
In 1983 eleven used Brazilian built MB's known under the name Xavante were purchased to replace those lost in service and because of the premature retirement of the newer Aermacchi MB-339.
The MB's continue in service today still providing advanced training and ground attack support for Argentina's Marine force and naval units.


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The MB's have seen at least three different paint schemes in their service with the Navy; the original delivery scheme was light gray over white. Just before the Malvinas conflict of 1982 the MB's were repainted in a tan/green over white scheme and finally after the war and in keeping with the general navy theme of low viz paint jobs the MB's were repainted like the Skyhawks, T-34 Turbo Mentors, etc, in a dark gray over light gray. The MB's continue with this gray on gray to this day.

The kit

The MB-326 was released by ESCI and I got mine second hand on EBAY ,but Italeri recently added it to its catalog for reissue, so it should be available again soon. The kit comes as a trainer only with no under wing stores. I really wanted to have my MB armed so I went on the Internet with a call to purchase the old ESCI Impala, which was the single seat MB. The kit included full armament options. Although I wasn't able to get the full impala kit I found an owner that planed to build his Impala "clean" and was willing to part with the entire armament sprue! So I acquired the weapons and now had my armed MB! The MB kit was one of, if not the last releases from ESCI and as such has finely engraved panel lines and some cockpit detail although not a lot. The kit doesn't provide the panel that separates front from real cockpit so that was added from plastic sheet.


The now defunct ESCI was a company that really excelled at releasing some unusual subjects. My kit was molded in orange plastic and has finely scribed panel lines unlike the earlier raised lines on most ESCI kits. The level of detail is adequate but basic. The cockpit is very basic with instrument panel decals for the front and side panels. The seats are very basic and were replaced with two resin seats by Airwaves. 

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I had decided to have the canopy closed so I didn't spend a huge amount of time on the cockpit interior, as once the seats were in and with the usual dry-brushing accomplished the interior looked okay with the canopy down.


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As there is very little area in the nose available for weight I cut up some small pieces of lead and fit them into every space I could. I always jam my noses with weight and with only one exception (T-34C) I have never had a problem with the kit not sitting on the nose gear.
Basic construction went smoothly with the only problem areas being the wing center section, which needed filler and the air intakes, which needed a lot of trimming to get the proper fit. Overall fit is good for an old kit. I had decided to have my flaps down so these were cut out of the wings and cleaned up, more work than I had bargained on as I had to insert plastic shims to hide the large gap between the wing halves.
Most seams were dealt with using files and sandpaper only, and fairly quickly I was ready to paint.



As is my usual practice with Navy aircraft I paint the white and blue tails surfaces before the rest of the model. With that in mind I masked off the tail and the landing gear wells, which are also white, (Note- On the Xavantes acquired from Brazil in 1983, the gear and wells are silver) At the same time I did the gear doors, wheel hubs etc.

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I had decided to arm my MB with Zuni rocket pods on the outboard pylons so I painted them at the same time. I used my usual method of drilling small holes into the pods and using fine wire, make a loop to hold the parts. The loop is inserted into some old Styrofoam (see photo). This method is useful for holding drop tanks, bombs, etc and I use it often. 

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Once the tail is dry I mask off the white leaving the area exposed for the sky blue, once this is sprayed and dry I mask the tail off and get ready for the major colors.


The two colors on the MB are, underside gull gray fs#16440 (Gloss) and for the upper surfaces Intermediate Blue fs#35164. If you study the photos of the MB you will see quite a bit of blue in the color so I went with that. The color went on pretty well and looked a bit too blue until I did the final flat coat, which I think left the plane looking about right color wise. While on the subject of colors, I depend on photos for all my Navy kits and one of the best resources for me is the Navy Museum site on the web, which has all kinds of excellent information and can be found at 


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Decals and Weathering

Once the paint was dry I sprayed micro-satin to seal and prepare the kit for decaling.
There is no commercial set available of decals to do this kit, but I used spare ones from Aerocalcas. Decaling went smoothly and I proceeded to the weathering stage. I used my usual mix of black watercolor with a drop of dish liquid added to make it flow more smoothly, put on with a fine paintbrush.
All the panel lines on the plane were covered with this mixture and allowed to dry. Then any excess was removed with cotton swabs and a soft lint free cloth. As I removed too much in some areas I had to reapply the mixture again. With watercolor this is no problem and you simply work with it till you are happy. I do all my final touch-ups with paint etc now before the final flat coat is sprayed so everything will have the same look.


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Final Assembly

With the weathering done, all the landing gear, pylons, weapons etc were added, I always suspend my models on a rod or wire, in this case wire inserted into the air-intakes, this keeps my hands off the model as much as possible. Construction went smoothly with speed brake left open, and all the little antennas etc added now. Finally I sprayed the whole model with model master flat. Then I added the seats to the cockpit, installed two mirrors on the front canopy frame, and unmasked the canopy. I left the main part of the canopy loose so I can display the cockpit better.


This was a fun little plane to build and is the ninth in my 1-48 Navy collection, next up will be the T-28 Fennec done from the old Monogram kit with the addition of a black box cockpit set. I would like to take time to thank all my friends in Argentina that provide me with the necessary references, photos, and decals that allow me to build this collection of kits and to Modeler Site for providing a place to display them.


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