Aircraft model, partial, Catalina, PB2B-2, "Frigate Bird II", VH-ASA, 1:20 scale, cut away to show internal detail, polystyrene / Perspex / Jelutong / paper, made by Iain Scott-Stevenson for the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 
This model is significant as an important addition to the Museum's collection of sectioned and cutaway objects that reveal internal detail. The technique of sectioning (cutting through) or of "cutting away" surfaces to provide visual access assists in understanding how a complex structure or system is configured and how it operates. It is therefore a valuable educational tool.
Another aspect of the significance of the model lies in the history of the Catalina aircraft "Frigate Bird II" on which the model is based. In 1951, Sir P G Taylor flew "Frigate Bird II" from Australia to South America to demonstrate the feasibility of a commercial air route between the two continents.
This model is a significant example of the skills of one of the Museum's most experienced display preparators, Iain Scott-Stevenson. The cutaways that reveal the interior fittings of the hull illustrate his attention to detail, the high quality of finish of his models and his abilities in working with a variety of modelling materials.
Andrew Grant, Curator, January 2012
Iain Scott-Stevenson described his approach to making this model by firstly explaining that vacuum forming was selected because it suited the use of polystyrene sheet as a very workable material from which to make the two halves of the hull which is the basis of the model.
The process of making the model was as follows:
1. Using drawings from the Catalina parts manual supplied by the curator, the scale was selected at 1:20 and moulds were carved from timber (a hardwood called Jelutong used by pattern makers because of its softness and good working properties). Eight moulds were made: for the hull (port and starboard sides), the cockpit windows, the wing pylon (two halves), the forward turret and the two aft gun blisters.
2. Deliver moulds to vacuum formers (a company in Brookvale) to use in vacuum forming process. Flat sheets of polystyrene were heated until floppy and then sucked under vacuum pressure over each mould. Sheets of the untrimmed, formed styrene sheets were then returned to the Museum where the excess polystyrene was trimmed.
3. The starboard side of the hull was almost completely fitted out with internal components including the bulkheads. The complete starboard side of the hull was then masked and spray painted green. Some small components such as seats and the map table were then individually made, painted and glued into position.
4. The port side of the hull was cut away so that it would reveal internal detail when glued into place. It was then glued to the sub-assembly.
5. The wing pylon was fitted out and then glued to the top of the hull. The Perspex components were then glued into position.
6. The top of the tail fin and the leading edges of the tailplane were carved in Jelutong and glued into position.
7. The tailplane elevators and rudder were then made with reference to drawings in the parts manual, painted green and then glued into position.
8. The Perspex gun blisters were masked and painted silver; the other Perspex components were glued into position before being masked and painted silver with the rest of the hull. The gun blisters were then glued into position.
9. Final stages of the work included the preparation of computer-cut vinyl lettering (by the Museum's graphic production section) of the registration letters VH-ASA and sticking them on the lower aft fuselage and sticking the words "FRIGATE BIRD II" (that portion remaining intact after the cutaway section had been removed) and a frigate bird symbol on the port side below the pilot's side window. Iain did the artwork for the Australian flag and fitted it in place at the top of the tail fin.
10. The crossed Australian and Chilean flags that should have been fitted forward of the "FRIGATE BIRD II" wording were never made and applied.
This model depicts the hull of tailplane section of the Museum's Catalina PB2B-2, named Frigate Bird II" by its owner Sir P G Taylor, who flew the aircraft on a survey flight in 1951 to establish the viability of an air route between Australia and South America.
The aircraft was later donated to the Museum, restored for static display and suspended in the Transport gallery for the opening of the Powerhouse Museum in 1988. In order to minimise the weight of the suspended Catalina, the hull (as the fuselage is called in flying boats) was stripped of its interior fittings. Thus the interior of the aircraft lacked all the physical context of the survey flight, so that even if visitors had been able to see inside the hull, they would not gain a realistic impression of how it had appeared during Taylor's flight.
The model was devised to address this issue. It was designed and built in 1996 by Museum preparator Iain Scott-Stevenson and with curatorial advice from Curator of Transport Ian Debenham for eventual display within view of the full size aircraft to provide visitors with a form of visual access to the interior of the aircraft's hull.