3/ L7114, An albacore damaged in a fight
with an ME109 over the English Channel in 1940.
Panel lines are recessed and surface detail
looks good, particularly the fabric covered wings.
The supplied instructions are a bit hit and
miss, its not always clear exactly where parts should go. A good example is
the etched metal torpedo aiming ring that is mounted on the nose ! or as I
found out later, how the rear canopy should be mounted when open. The rear
opening canopy should in fact have hinged at the elbow and slid back at 45’
partially under the main canopy!
The first step in the construction sequence is the cockpit interior which is nicely detailed with a
mixture of photo etch seat belts, instrument panels and various internal parts
such as a map table and radio equip. Although the cockpit and observer/radio
operator compartment is nicely detailed, time spent here adding extra detail
would not be time wasted as the finished model has a large clear canopy that can
be left open at the rear if you wish to have the machine gun in its “raised”
ready to use position. The machine gun and its mount are nicely moulded in
The various sub
assemblies, cockpit, fuel tank, radio opps compartment, machine gun and its
mounting are assembled into the right hand side of the fuselage giving the
builder the opportunity to test fit the left hand side to the right to make sure
everything fits nicely….and by in large, it does although slight trimming of the
bulk head and floor may be necessary..
A certain degree of
test fitting is inevitable if you want a successful build as this is a limited
run kit but, while not up to Tamiya Swordfish standards, a little time with a
sanding stick and patience when lining up parts( that have no locating pins)
will pay dividends in the end. A trick I use when gluing large parts like
fuselage halves together with no locating pins is to do it in several stages.
Apply a bead of glue from the cockpit rear, along the upper spine and round the
tail fin and line up the two halves and let them dry. Then do the same from tail
fin to wing root, wing root to nose and nose back to cockpit front. This gives
you a much better chance of ligning up top and bottom surfaces individually and
will reduce your sanding down later.
By normal biplane
standards, this is probably the easiest wing assembly you will come across
because of the original design where the upper wing is held in place by a frame
work in the top of the canopy. This means that both upper and lower wings can be
fitted before the interplane struts are fitted. The rest of the construction is
straight forward comprising mainly of undercarriage, engine and tail plane
No ordinance is supplied with this kit
which I find a little strange but a torpedo mount and bomb racks are included.
The later are resin parts and in my kit, were so badly moulded I elected not
to use them. Those of you who build FAA kits might consider that as the
Westland ( as Fairey was to become) Wyvern never fired a torpedo in anger you
could fit it too your Albacore instead using the Wyvern mountings ?
Finally a little filler around the wing
root and undercarriage mountings will help you get a good finish around this
complicated area of angles and joins.
First step is to mask the canopy….groan! Sorry but it has to be done and this
canopy is very prominent. Time spent here is time well spent. I used Tamiya
6mm masking tape and a very sharp Swan/Morton surgical scalpel. Try to keep
the framework as thin as you can. Manufacturers seem to pick out their canopy
frames on the thick side in my opinion.
Painting is often
the downfall of a project for those like me who are still finding their way. For
this model I sprayed the basic colours prior to fitting the top wing using
Tamiya sky on the under surfaces and a combination of Tamiya Ocean Grey and
Tamiya RLM grey (Actually a sort of green) for the camouflage pattern.
Those of you who
do not have an airbrush might consider using the Tamiya Ocean grey (AS10) and
Tamiya RAF dark Green (AS9) as they are available in rattle cans and are a
better option than brush painting. The AS range of colours are an eggshell
finish and you can get away with not glossing before placing the decals if
necessary. For this model I gave it a quick brush of Future (Johnson’s Klear in
the UK) and seated the decals using Micro sol/set.
At this stage I
gave it a wash with a dark enamel wash (which does not attack the Tamiya acrylic
paints) to pick out the panel lines and then a bit of artistic flare using a
Tamiya weathering pastel set (set B) to add soot ect around the engine exhaust
and blow back around the engine cowling. I used a silver roller ball gel pen to
pick out a few areas of wear along the odd panel line and prop blade and then
gave the whole thing a coat of Humbrol Flat clear.
A word of warning!
The instructions for the version that I built (X9053) show the areas that should
be Sky as being Black. Use the box art as a colour guide for this version and
you will be fine.
This kit offers
the opportunity for the FAA fan to build an injection-moulded version of a Mk1
Albacore, something that has not been available up to now. That in its self is
enough to justify the £32 expense (about $60) to most modellers.
This kit does not
fall together like some of the Japanese offerings that “spoil us” but the
average modeller should be able to come up with a presentable model and because
of the wing mounts, it would make a good first Biplane.
The pros for this
kit are many not least the fact that with a little patience it builds into a
very nice model that will sit along side the Tamiya Swordfish and hold its head
high. It is a limited run kit and so has the usual shortcomings but if seen as
challenges, rather than failings of the kit, there are no real problems that
cant be overcome with a little ingenuity.