Azur 1/72 Arsenal VG-33/39
Another French “wanna-be” fighter that was completed too late to see service in World War II, the VG-33 was ordered by the Armee de l’Aire as a replacement for the aging Morane MS-406C which bore the brunt of the action against the Luftwaffe in 1939-1940. The prototype VG-33 was first flown in the spring of 1939. Powered by an 860 hp. Hispano Suiza HS-12&-31 V-12 liquid cooled engine driving a three bladed propeller, the aircraft achieved a maximum speed of 555 kph. Armament was one 20 mm HSD cannon firing through the propeller hub, and four 7.5 mm MAC 34 guns in the outer wing panels. Two hundred were ordered, of which 160 were completed before France folded and capitulated to the Germans. Most VG-33’s had been delivered to storage depots and none had been issued to an operational squadron at the time of the Armistice. Ten aircraft were flown to unoccupied France, while the remainder were either destroyed or captured by the Germans. At least one aircraft was tested carrying Luftwaffe markings.
Before the surrender, an improved version, designated VG-39, was completed and flown. Powered by a 1280 hp. Hispano Suiza HS 89 TER engine, its speed was increased to 620 kph.
Specifications included a span of 10.8 meters, a length of 8.72 meters, and a height of 3.3 meters. Gross weight was 2900 kg. Range was 1760 km, while service ceiling was 11,000 meters.
Prior to the introduction of this kit, a French resin kit was manufactured in very small numbers. This kit is infinitely superior to the resin offering. The kit consists of 47 light grey plastic parts, 9 photo etched parts, one clear plastic vacuformed canopy, and an instrument panel printed on the instruction sheet, if you feel included to use this in preference to the photo etched instrument panel. Parts are well molded, although some flash needs to be trimmed off, an accepted fact in short run kits.
References are definitely required for this kit. I found the Squadron “French Fighters of World War II In Action (That’s two words, folks) to be quite helpful, while some of my other fighter reference books also were helpful. A three-view is essential.
Two different aircraft can be built from this kit, the VG-33 production model and the VG-39 prototype. The VG-33 is built straight from the box, while the VG-39 requires a new nose assembly. The entire nose section must be removed and replaced by the extra nose section provided in the kit. I took the coward’s way out and modeled the VG-33.
The cockpit interior is rather basic, although the vacuform canopy is clear enough that you can see all of the interior detail. A floor, seat, rear bulkhead, stick, and seat belts are provided, and these should be assembled and painted before the fuselage halves are joined together. Light grey is suggested for the interior, which seems to be the standard for French aircraft interiors. The panel is flat black, as would be some of the details if they are added to the fuselage sides. Once the cockpit is assembled, it can be glued to the interior of the fuselage. It will work out correctly if you glue the rear bulkhead to the rear of the cockpit so that it lines up perfectly. Then glue the two fuselage halves together. Some filling is required, but don’t worry too much about panel lines, as the airplane was all wood and had an extremely smooth finish. The wings are molded in two pieces, tops and bottoms, although there is no wheel well detail, and this must be scratchbuilt if desired. The wings butt-fit into the wing roots, and this is easy to do, with the right dihedral angle coming almost automatically.
The belly radiator unit is fairly complicated, considering its size, and is made up of five parts. This needs to be painted before assembly. It also requires some filling when it is attached to the fuselage, but be sure to fill in the bottom of the fuselage before attaching the radiator.
The elevators and horizontal stabilizers are one piece units, and can be attached directly to the butt joints without difficulty. Just be sure that they are lined up properly. Afterwards, install the small oil cooler intake under the front cowling. Do not forget the photo-etched facing that is provided.
The vacuformed canopy can then be attached to the cockpit top. It fits very nicely, and you have some room to work with, since the rear section is painted, covering the glue used to attach is to the fuselage. I used superglue, and masked off the frames for later painting.
Detail paint such items as the landing gear struts, doors, wheels, tailskid, and propellers.
Gear struts should be silver, and the gear door interiors should be light grey.
|COLORS AND MARKINGS|
I started with the usual French underside blue on the undersides. Then I masked that off, and painted the top French medium grey. This serves as the base coat for the camouflage.
The French apparently did not follow a definite pattern, just spraying blotches of medium green and medium brown in a random pattern on the upper surfaces to provide the camouflage effect. Little or no weathering effect is required, as the aircraft never served with an operational unit and were rarely, if ever, flown.
I used the kit decals, since they were on register and were the right colors. The Luftwaffe example appears to have approximately the same camouflage pattern, although the kit instructions show it to be somewhat darker. The only difference would obviously be the markings. The VG-39 uses a different spinner, but the colors are apparently similar.
Details are clearly marked on the instruction sheet. The prop and spinner go together nicely, and the tailskid (yes, tailskid) is a snap. Gun location holes should be drilled out, preferably before painting, and the plastic sticks should be replaced with tubing. The landing gear should be installed last. Attachment holes will have to be drilled, as there are none included in the kit. Be sure to use a three-view to get the angles right, as the inner bracing could cause some problems. Attach the gear doors last. Then add the radio antenna masts and the pitot tube.
Not much is required, as these aircraft were not used on operations.
This is a good little kit of an exotic subject. It is simple, petite, straightforward, and should offer no surprises for the experienced modeler. I would recommend getting at least one, and three if you are a serious modeler of French and German aircraft of the World War II period.
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