Airfix 1/72 Tiger Moth (2013 tooling)
KIT #: A01024
PRICE: 5 in the UK
DECALS: One civilian option
REVIEWER: Chris Peachment
NOTES:  

HISTORY

The Tiger Moth has to be the friendliest aircraft ever made. It came about to fulfil a request from the RAF for an ab initio trainer. They had looked at the DH 60 Gypsy Moth, but specified that the pilot in the front seat needed to have a clear exit in case it was parachute time. So De Havilland's response was to take the Gypsy Moth, move the aircraft's fuel tank on the upper wing forward, and then sweep back the wings slightly to keep the same centre of lift. This was all achieved in their workshop using a hammer and saw.  At the same time, they strengthened the frame, put fold down doors on each side of the cockpits, and revised the exhaust.

The result was an ideal trainer. Robust, cheap and simple, and, once anti-spin strakes had been added, vice-free. It had perfect handling for a pupil, being easy to fly well enough. And it was perfect for the instructor, because it was harder to fly it very well, requiring skill and concentration, and so he could weed out those who were too inept to continue. A necessary factor for saving future lives.

Seventy five of them entered service in 1932, and by the end of WWII, their numbers had swelled to 500. Many more were pressed into service from civil operators, and it reached a final production run of over 7,000.

In August 1940, fearing German invasion, 350 Tiger Moths were fitted with bomb racks to serve as light bombers. There were flight tests done with a "paraslasher," a blade intended to cut a parachutist's canopies, which proved feasible though was never used. And it was even fitted with dispensers of rat poison to be used against ground troops. A quaint notion. Thanks to the outcome of the Battle of Britain they were never used.  

Postwar they continued in private hands and clubs, and as crop dusters and  ambulances. There are at least 500 still in use around the world.

One became the last biplane to land on an aircraft carrier, HMS Eagle, in the Channel in 1967. Once airborne, its ground speed was actually slower than the carrier, which had to turn hard to starboard to avoid a collision between the backward flying Moth and the bridge.

Thousands of pilots must have had their first taste of flying in the Tiger Moth. Probably more than in any other kind of aircraft. Thanks to my father being in the RAF, I had my first flight in one at the age of eight. And I have never forgotten the thrill of looking over the side of the open cockpit and seeing the ground so far below. Very little since has come close.

THE KIT

No information provided on the kit contents.

CONSTRUCTION

This is one of the few kits that really does fall together with only one or two problems. Construction began as usual with the interior, which has more than enough detail for two small open cockpits.  And it is good to report that the fuselage halves closed over the floor without any need for trimming. Everything got a coat of British Interior Green, with some leather for the seat cushions. And it is best to add the decal instrument panels at this stage. Getting them in later is tricky.

Painting was done at this stage, with the fuselage getting a blast of Ferrari red from Revell, and everything else a coat of silver, Humbrol 11 from a rattle can. Once all dry, construction continued.

I mentioned a couple of problems. I did my usual biplane method of mounting the upper wing on the cabane struts first, and then offering up the main plane struts. The main struts proved too short. So I tore off the cabanes and began again with the main struts. Then offered up the cabanes, and lo, they fitted perfectly. I cannot explain it. I can only say that it worked that way around.

The second problem is that Airfix supply the main struts with some X-shaped supports joining them. The idea is to make alignment and mounting much easier, especially for the younger modeller. I tried this method, and once dried, tried to cut off the X-struts with a new scalpel blade. Alas, the main struts are very narrow, and they started to bend. Only by gripping fearlessly with finger and thumb could I hack the X-struts off.  And then that left two tiny stubs on each strut, which proved impossible to trim with the same scalpel. So, after cursing a lot, and shutting it away in its box for a while to teach it a lesson, I started all over again, trimming the main struts, then aligning them by eye. I would advise this method to one and all. Otherwise tiny broken struts are going to be flying round the room and vexing the cat. 

After that it was a milk run. Rigging is easy, with silver coloured elastic thread secured by tiny drops of superglue gel, applied with a sharpened toothpick. And there is a good rigging diagram to help you. One final word of warning here. The chart does indeed show twin rudder lines each side, emerging from an opening by the front cockpit, and sloping up to the rudder control horn. If you study the pictures below, you will see that in fact it is a single line which emerges, which then is connected to a solid Y-shaped yoke, which in turn allows the double rudder wire. It then returns to a single line near the rudder. I tried that, and it looked hopelessly over-scale. So contented myself with a single line each side.

The curious omission from the diagram is the elevator lines. These emerge from staggered openings at the rear of the fuselage. And if you check the pictures again, you will see that the line for the upper elevator control horn emerges considerable lower than the horizontal tailplane. In fact it passes over a tiny wheel mounted on the leading edge. Again it was too small to replicate, and so I just have it rubbing over the leading edge. Modellers with the visual acuity of a sparrow-hawk, fingers the size of a 6 year old, and a vow of abstinence from espresso, might well do better than my efforts. But I am damned if I will give up decent coffee just for a model.

CONCLUSIONS

There is something ineffably charming about this little kit. I don't normally build the same aircraft twice, but I have another in RAF markings which I am looking forward to greatly sometime. I also have the old Airfix Tiger Moth which dates from sometime in the mid 1950s. I always looked on it fondly, as a decent little kit for its age. But I am afraid that it just won't do if posed near this latest example. So I did the kind thing and relocated it to the upper shelf of doom, where it can live out its years in decent retirement.

The look and the stance of the Tiger Moth is in fact a complex affair of angled lines and curves.  I see from various blogs that the 'experten' in their white overalls and their narrow minds have been all over the kit with their micrometers. And good luck to them. I don't care what they find by way of several millimeters of inaccuracy.  Actually I don't wish them good luck at all. A plague on them and their kind.  Airfix have got this one just right. 

REFERENCES

 http://www.planespotters.net/Aviation_Photos/search.php?tag=De+Havilland+DH.82+Tiger+Moth

http://www.airliners.net/photo/De-Havilland-DH-82/1883030/L/

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dehavilland_DH_82-C_Tiger_Moth_CF-DHQ_01.JPG

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8b/Military_Air_Museum%27s_de_Havilland_DH_82_Tiger_Moth.JPG

http://www.wingsovereurope.com/tiger_moth_dh_82_gal_2.html

 Chris Peachment

July 2014

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