|KIT:||Pavla 1/72 Airspeed Oxford|
|REVIEWER:||Carmel J. Attard|
|NOTES:||Short run kit|
The Oxford is a military development of the 1934 Airspeed Envoy feeder liner. It was the first twin-engined monoplane advance trainer to enter RAF service. It first went into service in January 1939 and at the outbreak of war there were nearly 400 of the type in service.
The Oxford was a low wing monoplane of full wooden structure with a semi monocoque fuselage, linen covered control surfaces and hydraulically retracted undercarriage. The aircraft was powered by the Armstrong–Siddeley Cheetah IX radial engine with the Fairey Reed 2-bladed metal propellers. Later, the Oxford Mk 1s and with three crew members were powered by Cheetah X engine and wooden propellers. An Armstrong Whitworth gun turret was mounted on the fuselage. This had a 7.69 mm Lewis machine gun and a bombsight in a glazed nose. These were used as trainers for bomb aimers and gunners. The Oxford Mk2 version had double controls and carried no gun turret and were used to train pilots, navigators and wireless operators.
The Oxford was also built by the De-Havilland Aircraft Company Ltd; Percival Aircraft Ltd; and the Standard Motor Co. Ltd. It served primarily as an aircrew trainer, others in communications anti aircraft co-operation duties whereas those in the Middle East were used as ambulances. As aircrew trainer it served with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Southern Rhodesia besides in the UK. The various marks differed very little externally. The variety concerned internal equipment and in power plant. The Oxford Mk V was another type that was powered by two-455HP Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior and was mainly used in Rhodesia and Canada. The Oxford was also used as a light transport and on communication duties. The Oxford Mk 2 had a span of 53’4”, length of 34’6” and a maximum speed of 188 MPH.
The Airspeed AS 10 Oxford Mk1 and Mk2 kit comes in a soft cardboard box with two large colour side views depicting a Mk 1 and a Mk 2 in two tone green/tan camouflage and trainer yellow underside. These are in fact two of the four liveries that comes with the kit. Upon opening the box there are 55 cleanly injection moulded parts in grey plastic, 15 other items in light tan resin and these include air scoops, detail engines, cockpit interior, two wing landing lights, wheels and oleos and other small items. Then there are a cockpit canopy, nose glazing, and turret set all of which come in duplicate in case the second one is needed. There is also an elongated roof blister, which is in teardrop shape. Apparently this was carried by later version and is suitable for post war Oxford such as the type that operated with the Turkish A.F and the Portuguese A.F. The resin parts in particular have the refinement normally expected out of short run kits apart from the usual flash but again this was minimal.
The landing gear differed between this and the Frog kit. Two types that are on offer as also is the position of the radio antenna location on the fuselage rooftop. The propellers are two single whole pieces of injection moulded plastic. The 16 pages instruction booklet is well represented and have all the details and easy to follow stages of construction. Since the Oxford can be built with or without dorsal turret, a three-piece blank item is supplied to cover the opening of turret if a straight roof version is preferred. Some care is needed when cutting and fitting the clear parts since these are vacform otherwise this kit proved to be the best 1/72 scale model of the Oxford that I came across so far. Another point of note is that there are the air scoops and undercarriage struts variations among the versions that one can build from this kit. Three schemes are closely related in camouflage and markings but the fourth on offer is for one of four Oxfords operated by the Israeli Air Force used for advanced training of pilots and navigators of the 114th Tagaset, based at Kfar Sirkin circa 1950. This is finished in silver overall with yellow trainer stripes and a solid blue star of David in all six positions, complete with decals for wing walk ways. So the markings cater for WWII RAF and Australian versions or a post war one.
The Pavla Oxford release also brings out the correct nose shape, fuselage curved roof and shape of cowling, cockpit canopy, ventral shape so that this is the better of the two kits on review. One or two small items that needs to be added to the Pavla kit but which are of a minimal nature are small sink marks located at rear of under wing nacelles, adding small vents under the wing roots and adding aileron actuators made from shaped stretch sprue that is bent and cut to size. Two in number of 1mm diameter hemispherical pieces are added under the rear fuselage to both kits. These represent flare chutes and flare cover.. Also added some interior structural brackets, made from stretch sprue and is bent to ‘U’ shape fixed inverted and at an inclined angle to the cockpit area. One of the propellers was 2mm longer than the other, and luckily the smaller of the two was of the correct size and were reshaped identical.. The door on the port side of the fuselage comes as a separate item. This has a window and in my example the window was blanked. I drilled through and shaped the window with a needle file. One final observation is that one of the box art work is misleading because the Australian AF Oxford carries the smaller intake fitted under the cowling whereas the instruction on pages 7, 13 and 14 correctly shows the resin items part R8 that should be fitted in place of the smaller intakes. Reference also to SAM Vol 15 issue 9/10.
Careful study of drawings and multiple photos of the real aircraft confirms that the Pavla Oxford brings out the correct overall shape including the extreme nose which in reality this was contoured out of a single aluminium sheet worked to an excellent toe-cap shape on the real Oxford and which is well represented on the kit. I completed my Pavla kit to represent an Oxford Mk II. This is in markings of the Royal Australian AF No 1 Service Flying Training School based at Point Cook. The air base is not far from Melbourne and is nowadays closed down but accommodates one of the best aviation museums in Australia that I was able to visit it exactly 10 years ago which left me a good impression with all the exhibits inside.
SAM Vol 15 No 9/10 ‘Inside Story’ and ‘Aircraft in Detail’
Aircraft Profile No 227
The Aeroplane July 28 1937.
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