Dekno 1/72 Mew Gull E.3H

KIT #: 720300
PRICE: 24 Euro direct
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Peter Burstow
NOTES: Resin kit with vac canopy


Designed by Captain Edgar Percival for racing, 6 Mew Gulls were built from 1934 to 1937. All the Mew Gulls were custom built for different customers, so had a variety of engines including Napier Javelin, Regneir, de Havilland Gypsy Six, and Gypsy Six series 2. There were also differences in structure and wing span between the models.  They had a family resemblance to the Vega Gull and Proctor, but were much smaller single seat racing aircraft.

 Mew Gull model E2H, registered G-AEXF, was flown by Alex Henshaw from England to Cape Town and return in 1939, averaging 209 mph, and setting a class record not beaten until 2009. This aircraft, much repaired, restored and somewhat modified is still flying today. 

The subject of the kit, Mew Gull E3H G-AFAA, was Captain Edgar Percival's personal “Super” Mew Gull. Built in 1937 at the Percival works in Luton, it had a superficial resemblance to the earlier Mew Gulls but was substantially different. It had a more powerful engine and smaller wing span, altogether faster with a higher climb rate and longer range. It was written off when on loan to de Havilland for propeller trials during the Second World War. The remains were burnt at a garden fete after the war.


For a look at what comes in the box please see the preview.


First of all the resin parts were all washed in warm soapy water to remove any mould release oil. Due to the alleged toxicity of resin dust, all sanding, cutting and filing operations were done wet, in the sink in my work room. The seat was removed from the pouring stub and the back, which had broken off, was reattached. The fuselage halves were cleaned up and given a light sand on the mating surfaces. The seat, control stick and instrument panel were installed. I painted the cockpit floor and sidewalls light grey, the seat and instrument panel brown, and picked out details in black and silver. I added straps made from masking tape, with dots of silver paint to represent buckles.

I then joined up the fuselage halves and added the engine cowling front and the one piece wing. The wing roots needed a little sanding to get it to fit properly, and set the dihedral angle. I probably should have done a little more sanding as the dihedral was a little low, and it all looks a bit flat. There was small gaps at the front of the cowling and where the wing leading edge meets the wing roots. These were filled with Tamiya putty. I put a thin bead of Mr Surfacer around the fuselage main joint, and needed a little more filling around the fin leading edge. When it was all dry and hard, I sanded all the joints lightly, and touched up a few spots. The fin leading edge looked a little blunt, so I sanded it to a more curved profile.

While the filler on the main parts was drying I got on with preparing the rest of the parts. Using a scalpel, I removed the tailplane and wheel spat castings from the pouring stubs, and cleaned them and the rudder up. Cutting instead of sawing reduces the amount of dust generated. I also took the opportunity to dip the vac-formed canopy in floor polish and set it aside. The tail plane and rudder were added after a light sand on the mating surfaces, they are butt joined with no location tabs, the joints may need reinforcing with some wire, but I just ran a fillet of superglue over the tailplane joints to add a little strength.

The wheel spats were added to the lower wing. The legs needed a little sanding to get them to fit into the moulded cut-outs on the lower wing surface. At this point I drilled out the exhaust ports on the lower surface of the cowling. A check of photographs showed prominent external exhaust pipes on G-AEXF, but flush exhausts on G-AFAA. I then masked, cut out and added the vac-formed canopy. Much easier to mask before cutting out as the whole thing is much more rigid and easier to handle. The canopy was reasonable but could have been clearer, a few coats of floor polish improved it a lot.


I gave the model a good wash with warm soapy water to remove any dust and remaining mould release oil. The instructions specified overall “broken white”. I wasn't sure what this was so used gloss white. I did a check after 4 coats, did some dust removal and filled a couple of spots. It needed about 8 coats altogether, white does not cover well, especially when thinned for spraying. I then removed the canopy mask, and brush fixed a number of glitches on the frame.

The kit decals were a bit of a problem. There was a minor registration problem between the blue and gold inks used, I could live with that. But, there was a major registration problem between the inks and the carrier film. About 1 mm of the marking was not on the carrier. I coated the whole decal sheet with Microscale liquid decal film to keep it all together. The decals then worked OK using micro set, they wouldn't budge after applying which is why there is some misalignment of the fuselage flashes. I then gave them a coat of micro sol, to help that double thick carrier conform. A coat of floor polish protected them and hid the carrier film. I did not apply the race numbers to the tail. 

The last few bits, the tiny mass balances, the tail skid and the prop were added. I then did a little touch up painting. I did not do any weathering except for a little grey exhaust staining at the exhaust ports.


A very different type of aircraft from what I am used to doing. Same goes for the medium of the build. It makes a very small kit which can easily find a home at the front of the display case, it's about the size of a Sopwith Pup. The only problem I had was the decal registration, but that was easily overcome. I should have done a better job framing the cockpit. A very enjoyable build, probably a good first resin kit for those hesitant to try their hand at them.


Kit Instructions. 

A.J. Jackson, British Civil Aircraft 1919-1972: Volume III. Putnam, London, 1974. - Has photographs of three of the Mew Gulls.

Alex Henshaw, The Flight of the Mew Gull. Hamlyn, London 1980 - Has a number of photographs of G-AEXF including cockpit close ups.

Peter Burstow 

March 2013

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