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Top Notch Products Models Cessna 195: Scale buildalong, part 1

Top Notch Products Models Cessna 195: Scale buildalong, part 1

The Scale Squadron of Southern California, a club devoted to scale modeling and RC airplane fun have embarked on a new product review, the Cessna 195 from Top Notch Kits. The review is a group effort of several club members and is built, finished, and flown as a group. So the ideas expressed here are from the input of several modelers, not just one. The model is a laser-cut kit (yes you build this one yourself!) with plans, instructions, and several accessories included like a fiberglass cowl, wheel pants, windows, and some hardware. Most items for this plane from tools to glue, covering to the power system, must be purchased separately. This kit can be built with some nice scale realism, yet is not too big. The wingspan is only 48 inches.

Let’s get started with some highlights and tips along the way.

Before getting started: For those of you who might not have built a plane before from a kit, the starting place is a little boring but will save a LOT of time later. The starting place for any kit is to identify EVERY part and read the plans and directions. Make notes, mark parts, etc so that you can ensure you use the right part in the right place.

The fuselage went together with little effort. The main structure interlocks. It’s hard to tell in the picture but the bulkheads key into the fuselage sides. They then require filling. We asked the kit maker why we need filler? Why not make the notches longer so that they fill completely. He said this was a customer request. Customers asked him to NOT have the bulkhead heads stick out.

The Cessna 195 fuselage is very round and this scale model is no exception. You can see this properly carried out even in the nose.

Note that the sub-firewall parts are optional and allow for several engine and motor types.

The wing spar system is a typical D-tube with shear webs and sheeting.

The “sub-spar” that also creates the indented structure for the aileron interlocks into the ribs. We did find a problem with this in that there was no easy way to build this wing flat on a table and it was difficult to keep this part aligned. Alignment of the wing parts is important so that the wing is straight without unintended washout.

Up close, you can see the interlocking parts, the way the sub-spar works, and the extra gussets included to help keep this structure strong. Note the string. This is to help run the servo wires during radio installation.

The entire tail section is a true-ribbed, airfoiled surface. In this rough (before we sanded it to shape) condition, you can see the elaborate interlocking parts. It’s a lot of parts but it the assembly is amazingly easy, quick, and accurate. In our opinion, this was actually the most impressive and innovative portion of the assembly.

From a scale modeling point of view, it was great to see this detail on a model of this size. This was a low-effort, high-reward way of getting a great looking tail section.

The elevator assembly is shown here. again, you can see the detail in the design. Note the sub-rib on the counterbalance section that works like a sanding template to make it easy to get the shape right!

 One of the most iconic design shapes on the Cessna 195 is the wheel pants. Their art-deco feel makes them look truly “golden age”. They are formed from layering lasercut pieces of wood. The mounting plates are hardwood and built into the structure making them easy to build yet strong. They will require sanding!


The cowling is fiberglass and molded for you. It is a little heavy from a model this size in my opinion, but the work is nice and it fits the fuselage nicely. It does, however, require these little bumps!

These are formed from ABS. The customer cuts them and “adjusts” them to fit the cowl. The factory includes a nice “ring” to help align the bumps. This was the most tedious part of assembly, but it makes the model look great when done. Why not in the mold? The bumps get in the way of releasing the part from mold. This was the easiest solution!

Top Notch Products, P.O. Box 1051, Goodlettsville, TN 37070; phone 615-866-4327

Don’t miss the second part of the buildalong here!


Updated: August 17, 2011 — 9:00 AM


Add a Comment
  1. Too fiddley! I find bulkheads, especially from F4 or F5 forward. should be at least 3/32 thick and firewall 1/8. 1/16 too wobbly while trying to glue everything tegether. Too many parts in tail, hor and vert.

    Everything is nicely cut but too labour intensive. I would prefer a little it bigger too.

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