|NOTES:||Good quality short run kit|
The Dassault Flamant ( Flamingo) is a typical European military light transport of the 1950s, built in three versions as the MD-311 trainer, MD-312 6-passenger liaison and transport version and MD-315 general purpose variant for use in France’s overseas territories. It was the first product of the newly named Dassault Aviation factory and flew in July 1946, being one of the first new types to come from a resurgent French aircraft industry that was recovering from World War 2. Of the 318 Flamants built, 39 were the MD-311 crew trainer variant, ten of which were converted to a counter insurgency role, fitted with six underwing SS-11 wire guided air to ground missiles. Production Flamants were powered by versions of the Renault/SNECMA 12S 580hp engine – a variant of the German Argus AS410 engines that had been built in France during Nazi occupation
The primary users of the Flamants were France’s Armee de l’Air and l’Aeronavale and small numbers were supplied to air arms within the French sphere of influence in Vietnam, Cambodia, Tunisia, Madagascar and Cameroon. They gave long and useful service in support roles and the last examples were retired from French service in 1982.
Contained in a stout tray type box, there are three frames of parts in a slightly soft medium grey plastic. These provide the main airframe components in 80 parts. Parts marked not for use include two alternative solid noses relevant to other boxings of this kit. The parts are neatly moulded with no obvious flash, although, as with most short run kits, the joining faces benefit from light attention with as sanding stick.
There is a bag of crisply cast cream resin parts, forming the engine fronts, exhausts and optional underwing pylons and missiles. One frame of clear parts provides the nose and cockpit transparencies and round cabin windows. A small etched fret and film provides the cockpit instrument panel.
All of the parts and accessories are separately bagged to keep the contents safe. The box proclaims that the kit has “Design and conception in France. Tooling and molding in Czech Republic” and bears the name and address of MPM Models of Prague. So it has the general air of a Special Hobby/MPM kit and is none the worse for that.
The instructions consist of simple exploded views in grey scale. They are rather vague in some areas particularly in regard to the location of internal parts such as bulkheads and undercarriage legs, so a careful study, much dry fitting and double checking is advisable before committing glue to the parts.
This begins with the cockpit, that consists of two side by side pilots’ seats separated by a central console and a large bulkhead that closes off the rear fuselage. I picked out the seat cushions in dark green and small details in black. A full instrument panel is provided in unpainted etch metal.
The rear cabin is bare, except for a long flat floor and since little is likely to be seen through the windows I omitted this part so as to reduce weight behind the pivot point of the main undercarriage. The interior was painted in Tamiya XF-82 Ocean Grey. The plastic parts of the kit seem to cover all versions of the Flamant and the characteristic glazed nose of the MD-311 is built up by a series of add-ons and inserts, a method that challenges the tool making skills of the likes of Hasegawa and Tamiya and no less the toolmakers in this case. A plastic instrument panel and coaming close off the front of the cockpit, but the angled sections to the front edges of the windscreen are formed from a resin section. Forward of this the lower nose is filled with a projecting box that also forms the nose wheel bay. This is surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped plastic section that extends the nose forward, finished off with a clear plastic nose cone. So including the canopy there are five add on sections to form the nose area.
I found it best to extend the nose forward in progressive sections, each being carefully aligned and left to set hard before proceeding with the next. As with many short run kits there are no locating pins on any of the parts so very careful alignment is needed. I find that slower setting glues, both cyano and polystyrene, to be useful in this case, allowing some time to adjust parts before the glue grabs. In spite of this, I ended up with some misalignment of the forward fuselage structure and some filler was needed around the joints. The clear parts were left until late in the build, permitting some nose weight (shot gun pellets) to be slipped into the small underfloor spaces either side of the nose wheel bay.
The wing assembly is conventionally split onto upper and lower sections, left and right wing halves and the slim engine nacelles formed as two vertically split halves. Separate engine fronts are delicately cast in cream resin and this provided the opportunity to pack the front of the nacelles with even more weight before the fronts were secured with cyano glue.
The tail section consists of upper and lower halves that fit securely onto the rear fuselage and the prominent end plate fins are each moulded in one piece.
I found this to be a reasonably well engineered kit with a generally good fit of parts, aside from the touches of filler needed around the various nose panels.
The weakest feature is the undercarriage. The parts are reasonably well defined but potentially fragile. The nose leg has a separately moulded wheel fork that is joined to the leg above by a small butt joint that has to bear the considerable pressure of the weighted nose. The parts were left to harden over a couple of days before the joint was strengthened with a smear of epoxy resin.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
All four choices were of silver painted airframes, so the whole aircraft was sprayed in Tamiya XF-16 Flat Aluminium and the wing leading edges picked out in X-18 Semi Gloss Black.
Left to settle overnight the whole airframe was then rubbed down with an ultra fine sanding stick and then brush finished with two coats of Future/Klear.
The simple decal sheet has little in the way of airframe stencilling, but provides national insignia, rudder striping and unit code letters for a choice of three aircraft, two of which carry Orange trainer bands to wings and fuselage. First is the COIN version, based at El Ablod, Algiers in 1959; the second is from Dijon, 1963-4; the third based in Toulouse 1969-70.
The decals went on with little fuss and responded well to Micro Sol and Set. When the decals had dried out the airframe was then finished with a sprayed coat of Xtracrylic Semi-Gloss varnish.
The undercarriage legs fit into defined recesses in the wheel wells and are straightforward to fix. Then it was just a case of adding the wheel doors and aerials. With the nose area and engine nacelles packed with shot weights, the Flamant balanced on its nosewheel – but only just, and at the slightest touch it will tip over into a tail sitter.
Once again Azur provides a reasonable package. Since some of the airframe parts are cast in resin, the Flamant is a good second or third attempt at a short run kit, requiring more than just routine assembly, but not hopelessly complicated. It is an unusual subject not readily available elsewhere.
The kit instruction sheet.
Air Enthusiast Quarterly No. 49, Key Publishing, February 1993
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