As we speak, I’m building this kit for an upcoming article in our monthly flyer and to be posted on our website. Not necessarily because I want to build a 1/144 scale airplane but because I want to build a Flying Boxcar and my association with the plane. This goes way back in time when I was a little kid and every day I saw these, to me, gigantic airplanes with a double tail, flying in final approach over our home with a heavy droning noise to disappear behind a block of houses. I was fascinated by them. I don’t recall exactly how many times I’d run outside the house whenever they flew over. 5-10 times a day at least.
No matter what I was doing, in the middle of a meal, watching a TV show or pulling up my pants, I’d be outside with my binoculars. Then one day my parents took me to a local airshow and I witnessed a mass drop of parachutists from the Boxcar. Now I was really hooked. Because of the military draft system, there was an open door for me to do this if I volunteered for the airborne. From that moment on, I couldn’t wait to grow up!
Years passed and after a 4 month rigorous and grueling training I found myself with 35 others sitting in a grassy field, parachute strapped on, looking up at an old English barrage balloon suspended by a 300’ cable hooked to a heavy truck. Soon it would be my first parachute jump from its gondola and one step closer to get my first ride in an airplane. More important the Flying Boxcar!
When that moment arrived and I entered the bus shaped fuselage, it was surreal. There was a waft of oil and kerosene and the interior was very Spartan. The seats were made out of webbing and it was very dark. C-119’s have tiny porthole windows. We had a stick, if I remember correctly, of 36 troopers of which one had to sit on the toilet. Since I was the lightweight of the Battalion, that honor was bestowed on me! After about 30 minutes or so and everyone got situated, the dispatcher yelled some last minute instructions and the doors closed. Than a loud bang and with lots of smoke the left engine started to roar. Same scenario for the right one a minute later. Minutes went by and it started to get warm and uncomfortable.
The fuel smell worsened and some other “organic” odors started to get into the mix. Since my seat was blocked off from any view by a partition, I felt isolated and there was nothing else to do than to think about the jump. With trembling hands I touched all the hardware of my parachute, making sure everything was still connected and in place. Then the Boxcar started to move. Creaking, shaking, vibrating and with a painful metallic noise, the C-119 started to roll. Again, I could not see anything, only the feel of movement. It took forever and I was wondering if we would ride to the drop zone instead of flying.
Then a stop and a half turn. 30 seconds went by and suddenly all hell broke loose! Engines roared as if there was no tomorrow and slowly the Boxcar moved forward, picking up speed. Everything shook heavily and I expected that at any minute, every rivet would come undone and the plane would disintegrate. For what seemed to be an eternity, the C-119 Flying Boxcar suddenly became airborne and most of the vibrating stopped. There I sat in the dark, strapped to a parachute on a toilet, with a wide grin on my face. I was flying! Couldn’t see a darn thing but my childhood fantasy was in the middle of fulfillment! I was airlifted in the airplane of my dreams!
Roden’s release of the C-119 Flying Boxcar is a direct follow up after their C-123 Provider. Although in a smaller scale, the boxcar is very well rendered. Construction seems straight forward with not too many pieces. As I mentioned at the top of this blog, I’m doing an out of the box build for an upcoming article that will be published on our website soon. There I will elaborate more in depth about the contents of the kit and how to build it. So get your hands on one while you can!