Heller 1/72 NiD 42 Sesquiplane

KIT #: 244
REVIEWER: Chris Peachment




The Nieuport Delage NiD 42 Sesquiplan was the last of a line of racing sesquiplanes, developed from the Nieuport 31 fighter of the 1920s, all of which were fast racers with a shoulder-mounted main wing, an axle which doubled as a small lower wing, and powerful engines. This version was fitted with a 12 cylinder, 600 hp Hispano 12Hb engine. In June 1924 it won the Coupe Beaumont at an average  speed of 193 mph over a 300 km course. The early models had flush mounted wing radiators, but this version reverted to the Lamblin barrel shaped radiators mounted on the undercarriage struts.



 I had an old Heller Nieuport Delage NiD 622 hanging around on the shelf of doom, looking a broken and dusty and sad, which had anyway been superseded by the new Azur kit, which only served underline the Heller's faults. It was a nice little kit in its time, but a shade off here and there and not very detailed. And then I chanced upon this version while internet surfing and realised that it would be possible to use the old kit as a basis for something different. This is the sort of conversion which might suit the experienced modeler taking his first steps into scratch building work, as it involves mostly converting existing arts with just a few simple scratch parts such as the tailplanes.


Scale plans in 1/72 can be found on a couple of sites listed below. I printed out three copies so that I could cut them out and use as templates.




I dismantled the main parts as best I could, by brute strength and ignorance, discarding the tailplanes, struts and lower stub wings into the spares box. Old modeler's maxim: never throw anything away. If you have an old and unwanted kit, then think of ways of recycling it. The French khaki green paint had to come off, but alas this was just before Xtracolour brought out their excellent Purisol pain remover,  which you just brush on a few coats of, then scrape off, and the old paint comes away with it. Instead I had to do it the hard way by sanding, which added a good few hours to the conversion.


The wings received attention first, sanding away the scalloped rear edge and reducing it to scale size. Also the tips need reshaping, and the trailing edges made sharper. If you are using the Heller kit, there is a trench along the underside which will need filling. No need if you are using the Azur kit. The wing roots will then need some cunning sanding and scraping to make them fit at shoulder level on the fuselage. Constant dry fitting is the secret here.


Then you must attend to the nose which is rather thicker and fuller in the Sesquiplan, to accommodate a larger engine. This was laboriously built up from layers of filler. If you are handy at making your own by plunge moulding or one of those old toy vacuum forming machines, which crop up on ebay from time to time, then that might better. I went 'old school'.


Give the fuselage a good rub down with finer and finer wet and dry paper. The small headrest fairing was carved from a chunk of old sprue, and a cushion made from a blob of filler. The wings can now be glued in position.


Undercarriage struts are easily made from plastic card, and glued in place using the plans as guide. So too with the lower axle which doubles as a small wing, so it will need sanding to aerofoil shape.  And also the same for the struts, which attach to the lower axle-wing and under the main wings. Refer constantly to the plans, which you can find on a couple of the websites listed below.



Once that is all set, the tailplanes are cut from thin plastic card, the control surfaces delineated by scoring. They were painted Tamiya X-4 Blue and set aside to dry. The fuselage-wing and undercarriage unit can now be sprayed white. I used Humbrol's excellent primer white from a rattle can, which is self levelling and dries to a pleasing, even matt white. Once dried, the nose and wing root area can be masked off and sprayed silver, using your paint of choice. I think mine was Humbrol 11. The wheels came from the spares box, and the hubs painted the same Tamiya Blue.



 The large propeller was also from the spares box, suitable trimmed and sanded, and painted brown with a top coat of Tamiya Clear Orange, and a small metal boss from an old etched fret. The tail planes can be carefully glued in place.


Then I turned attention to the two odd Lamblin 'lobster pot' radiator barrels which I fashioned from thick sprue, heavily scored with an new scalpel blade initially and then an old one to increase the trenches.  The tiny mounting plates can be cut from thin plastic card and are an exercise in micro working. I used two pairs of my usual  reading glasses, both on my nose at once. Plus a bright light and a steady hand. You soon develop a steady hand when you realise that you will slice off a finger tip if you don't.


A couple of them inevitably pinged off the tweezers and were lost to the 'carpet monster'. Even though I don't have carpets, but varnished bare wood, it still manages to swallow small kit parts.  I don't know how it does it. Incidentally, if you look on French modeling sites, you will find that they refer to the beast as 'le carpet-monster'. Which won't please the Academie Francaise, their learned body which lays down the law on matters of the French language. The two number sevens were found on an old decal sheet in the decal box.


The long tailskid was a length of plastic rod, bevelled at the ground end, painted a dark brown with no varnish as I reasoned it would soon wear off with all those high speed landings on rough turf. Finally the headrest was painted a fetching shade of leather, the old windscreen re-fixed and...



Voila. One elegant 1920s French racer for no money and a bit of elbow grease and ingenuity. My eye has now turned on an old decaying Heller Morane 230, which their chief test pilot turned into his own mount, in a dashing red and black scheme. Onward to that, with Purisol to hand.












(You'll have to copy and paste the URLs for the references as I couldn't get any of them to activate on the page. Ed)

 Chris Peachment

September 2013

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