Magna 1/48 Miles Master

KIT #: 0548
PRICE: $54.00
DECALS: Several options
REVIEWER: Pat Earing
NOTES: Resin and white metal kit with vacuformed canopy.


The Miles Master was a two seat advanced trainer used by the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm during World War II.
  The Master was employed to meet the need of training pilots for the then new Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire fighters.

The Irish Air Corps fist acquired a Miles Master in 1940 when an RAF pilot was forced to land in
Ireland due weather.  Although undamaged upon landing, when the pilot elected to continue the aircraft was nearly destroyed and eventually delivered to Baldonnel airfield where it was purchased with three other aircraft that had force-landed in neutral Ireland.  Although damaged beyond repair for flight duty, aircraft #96 was used in the capacity of an instructional airframe.  A further six Masters were purchased in 1942, with an additional six more purchased in 1945.  Through attrition and difficulty obtaining replacement parts, the remaining four Masters were retired from IAC service in 1949. 

I have owned numerous Magna Model kits over the years, yet I have never undertaken to build one.  One of the reasons is that upon opening the box I have been consistently struck by the sheer number of pin holes visible in the resin castings.  However, overcoming my initial misgivings I dove into the Miles Master for my continuing build of IAC aircraft. 


Beginning with the inevitable wash to remove release agents construction started with the cockpit.  Magna provides adequate resin seats with seat belts represented and the cast details are excellent when they are not destroyed by pin holes.  I could have spent hours fixing items in the cockpit, but really, most of the flaws will not be seen and a coat of paint makes it look okay.  Use caution when installing the instrument panels that they are aligned with the axis of the cockpit.  I used Model master RAF interior green with Floquil Engine Black and Grimy Black for details.  

Once happy with the cockpit I lightly block sanded the two fuselage halves and joined them with CA glue.  Overall, the fit was excellent.  Next I cleaned up the large wing castings and attached them to the fuselage.  These fit very tightly with a positive locking system that is ‘new’ for Magna kits.  With very little in the way of clean up an excellent alignment and gluing surface is achieved.  Finally, I attached the tail planes and rudder. 

Now for the real work… dealing with pin holes.  Magna’s resin is ‘different’ than others that I have worked with; being almost soft and compliant like plastic.  Unfortunately, whatever system they use to pour it creates lots of pin holes in the exterior surface.  This is relatively easy to fix on the big open areas, but is a bearcat in tight detail ridden areas such as around the landing gear openings and the cowling.  I lightly sanded the whole thing with 400 grit sand paper and primed heavily with automotive lacquer primer.  I then sanded the whole thing with 400 grit paper, and re-primed where necessary.  In some spots due to the size of the holes I filled them with CA glue and re-primed.

Happy with the body work I then attacked the vacuformed parts.  Before cutting a vacuformed canopy free I use a fine point sharpie and outline the canopy; and in this case the landing light cover as well, so I can see the exact extent of the cutting necessary.  I begin cutting with small, sharp scissors, leaving about 1 mm of extra material so I can trim for best fit.  In this case, the canopy was excellent and fit exactly to the framing as cast.  As such I trimmed until my pen lines were gone and it fit the opening perfectly.  For this final fit trimming I use a new #11 blade freehand without a holder to get everything fitted just so.  Unfortunately, the wing light cover did not fit so well, and I had to fill some sizable gaps.  Using the packing tape cover method I recently learned about on a modeling website might have resulted in a better looking outcome.  In any case, I then dipped both clear parts in a liberal coat of Future floor wax, and when dry attached carefully with CA glue making sure that that any gaps are filled and the canopy is firmly attached.

At this point I masked to the lower canopy rail with thick masking tape and primed the glue edge.  When dry, I carefully sand until the canopy has no visible gaps or holes at the glue edge-in this case it took only two applications of primer and sanding to get an acceptable finish.  For the landing lights I used two 2mm MV lenses and glued on the cover.  Unfortunately, because of the poor fit it took four applications of primer, and I still ended up with some visible swelling at the edges on top as well as dust inside.  Wing tip formation light were also cut out at this time and shaped from a clear toothbrush handle with appropriately drilled and colored light bulbs.

The final exterior assembly before paint was to prepare and install the large resin cowling.  Magna casts a reasonable representation of the Bristol Mercury engine, but with the inevitable pin holes everywhere.  Some I filled, and others I just left as it wasn’t in my best interest to go crazy trying to get them all.  I painted the engine black, and top coated with a clear gloss coat.  For the exhaust ring I used Testors Metalizer Burnt Metal non-buffing and before it completely dried, dry brushed with a mixture of grey and white pastels to tone it down and age the color some.  I attached the entire assembly with CA glue and accelerator making sure of proper alignment.


Now for the paint shop.  I masked the canopy with Tamiya Kabuki tape, using a sharp #11 blade to carefully cut away the canopy lines.  When the IAC acquired their Masters from the RAF they repainted the bottom in a light blue color, for which none of my references offered anything in the way of an FS number; other than to make mention that the color appeared to be a light blue color-very helpful.  I mixed a best guess starting with MM Bright Blue and cutting it 8:1 with flat white.  Satisfied with the tint, I sprayed the bottom with my trusty Iwata TR-1 and let it dry overnight.

Once I had the bottom masked up, I sprayed MM RAF Interior Green over the canopy (for the visible interior color when viewed though the canopy) and then top coated the upper surfaces with MM Dark Earth.  Using frisket paper I cut masks for an A camouflage pattern and when satisfied that all was covered adequately I top coated with MM Dark Green.  Removing all but the canopy masking I gave the entire model a gloss coat of MM rattle can Glosscoat lacquer clear.

I sourced decals from spares from Max Decals.  The call number is fictious as it was the only option I had in the correct font, size and color (and I have been thoroughly chastised as these numbers were worn by a Fairy Battle-Oops.)  These decals are easy to use, although they tend to stick where initially placed so it is important to use liberal amounts of water or setting solution as you apply them.  Alter everything had set and dried, I wiped the model down to remove excess Micro Sol stains and top coated with MM Dullcoat.

I applied a light wash with artist acrylic black and burnt umber as well as some further highlighting using pastels.  Final assembly was commenced by looking through the spares box for new wheels as the ones provided in the kit had extensive pin-hole damage.  New propeller blades due to the extensive white metal flash, and exhaust pipes.  I installed the landing gear legs after judicious clean up and replaced most of the smaller rods with round plastruct as trying to clean up the metal parts was proving to be overly tedious.  These assemblies were brush painted with floquil bright silver.  I chose not to paint the wheel wells interior green as the blue looked good and worn-maybe not accurate, but possible during a wartime repaint?  The exhaust pipes were cast slightly out of round, and rather than try and sand them back and drill the white metal out I used Albion brass tubing and made new ones.  In order to bend the tubing without distorting it, I inserted the next size down tubing and made my bends over an appropriate sized round object.  Once cut apart at the center of the bend, I used a vice and pliers to remove the now trapped inner tube.  The funky bends to the cowling I kept by cutting the forward part of the white metal parts off and gluing to the newly formed back halves.  These were then given a coat of MM Metalizer titanium and weather as per the cowl ring.


 As resin kits go the Magna Models Miles Master is a relatively easy build.  Unfortunately, what makes it challenging is the proliferation of pinholes in all of the cast resin parts.  Modeling can be frustrating, and trying to overcome the astounding number of pin holes provided here is a serious challenge to ones sanity.  I did not get them all-not even close, and it is okay.  As a result, this is a nice build, but certainly far from competition worthy.  Modelers with experience working with mixed media should have no trouble getting good results from this kit, just be prepared to do a lot of extra work.


 Google Images

Maxwell, Joe and Patrick J. Cummins   The Irish Air Corps: An Illustrated Guide.  W &G Baird, Ireland.  2009

Pat Earing

May 2012

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