Indiana Joes “Lao Che” Ford Tri-Motor


Revell 1:77 Ford Tri-Motor – Indiana Jones Inspired
2004 re-release of a 1956 kit

This is the plane that Indy, Willie, and Short Round use to escape Shanghai at the beginning of Temple of Doom before the pilots bail over the Himalayas. I picked up this kit several years ago, knowing I’d want to try a “Lao Che Air Freight” paint scheme at some point.

Let’s talk about the model: This was a beast to complete, for two main reasons. First, the mold is not accurate to the actual plane, and I had to decide what was worth modifying and what features I’d accept as-is. Second, the real plane is made of corrugated metal, so painting shapes on the exterior was no simple task. No matter how flexible your masking tape is, or how well it may adhere, it still requires a good amount of touch-up paint work.

The dark smudge under the fuselage is what remains of some paint that was on my thumb when I picked it up. Not a mistake, just a “happy accident.”

The model also comes with landing skids and a dog sled (pictured here), in case you want to build an Arctic version.

Additional note: As I was taking pictures of the completed model, my light ring fell over, knocking one of the front wheels loose. Fortunately, it was an easy fix.

Major modifications:
Engines – The mold doesn’t really capture the look of the engines very well. To enhance them a bit, I added thin wire around the circumference.

Tail – The rudder and rear landing wheel are molded as one piece, with a triangle-shaped section of plastic that had to be removed for accuracy’s sake.

Bulkheads – There is no interior detail, but you can still see through the windows. Therefore, I painted the interior flat black and inserted two styrene partitions where the bulkheads would be (at the front and back of the cargo area).

Side windows – The port side should have a round window behind the main hold, so I drilled a hole there. All side windows were filled with Micro Krystal Klear since the kit’s plastic windows would not fit around the new bulkheads.

Landing lights – I sanded notches into the wings, painted them black, inserted a metal fabric pin into each notch, and covered them with Micro Krystal Klear.

Decals: The “Lao Che Air Freight” (side door) and “IJ 1984” (tail) decals are custom. The others came from the kit.

Cables and guides: I made guides along the fuselage (cut from wire staples), and added EZ Line for the control cables.

Miscellaneous: The red fins under the wings are made from styrene, the control cable connectors on the vertical rudder are made from stretched sprue, and a plastic tube was added to reinforce the rear landing gear.

Base: This was made from a wooden plaque, along with an old map of Asia I found online. The map was updated in Photoshop to include the Indiana Jones “red line” route from Shanghai. After staining the plaque, and printing and aging the map, I secured the map to the plaque and coated it with polyurethane.

What I learned: This was my first experience using Micro Krystal Klear, EZ Line, and polyurethane.

I learned that using a toothpick or paintbrush handle to apply the Micro Krystal Klear is a better option than using a Q-Tip (fewer bubbles to deal with when using something solid).

If I accidentally fray the EZ-Line, I can use a brush dipped in decanted Dullcote, and brush the line in the correct direction to bring the frayed ends back together.


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