Pro-Resin 1/72 Folland Gnat FO-141
KIT #: R72-039
PRICE: $
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Randy Smith
NOTES: Resin kit

HISTORY

The Gnat was the creation of W.E.W. "Teddy" Petter, a British aircraft designer formerly of Westland Aircraft and English electric. Petter believed that a small, simple fighter would offer the advantages of low purchase and operational costs. New lightweight turbo-jet engines that were being developed enabled the concept to take shape. One of the hallmarks of the Gnat's design was its compact size. However, to achieve such a size, its systems were closely packed, making maintenance more difficult. Some of its systems were not noted for their reliability and the aircraft suffered from high operating costs. There were also issues that its cockpit was cramped and obstructed the instructor's forward visibility. Furthermore, the limited weapons load and reduced fuel capacity both designed to reduce overall kerb-weight  meant that it could not operate for protracted periods. Despite the shortcomings, the Gnat and its predecessor the Folland Midge were praised by the RAF evaluation and the test pilots. The lower cost of the Gnat, its compact dimensions, as well as "good press" for the aircraft in air shows, were among the factors that prompted a spurt in its export sales.

 
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Serving primarily with the Indian Air Force, the Gnat is credited by many independent and Indian sources to have shot down seven Pakistan Canadair license built F-86 Sabres in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) claims only three Gnat victories over F-86s in air to air combat. Pakistan Air Force war claims two Gnats were downed by PAF fighters. During the initial phase of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965|, an Indian Air Force Gnat, piloted by Squadron Leader Brij Pal Singh Sikand, landed at an abandoned Pakistani airstrip at Pasrur and was captured by the PAF who first claimed that two Pakistani F-104 Starfighters forced the Gnat down, however, the Indians claimed the pilot landed by mistake. Later, a retired PAF historian, Air Cmde Kaiser Tufail, determined that the Gnat actually landed before the F-104s arrived on the scene, giving credibility to the Indian version  This Gnat is displayed as a war trophy in the PAF Museum, Karachi Pakistan Air Force Museum, Karachi. After the ceasefire, one Pakistani Cessna O-1 was shot down on 16 December 1965 by a Gnat.
 
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
 
The Gnats were used again by India in the Bangladesh Liberation War against Pakistan. The most notable action was the Battle of Boyra where the first dogfights over East Pakistan took place. The Indian Air Force Gnats downed two Pakistan Air Force[Canadair Sabres in minutes and badly damaged one. The Pakistan Air Force claims that one Gnat was shot down, which was proved incorrect. Brij Pal Singh Sikand, the Gnat squadron commander had been a POW in the 1965 war. Another notable dogfight involving a Gnat was over Srinagar airfield where a lone Indian aviator|pilot held out against six Sabres, PAF scoring hits on two of the Sabres in the process. Official Citation of the PVC to NIrmal Jit Singh Sekhon before being overwhelmed. Gnat pilot, Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon was posthumous recognition honoured with Param Vir Chakra (India's highest gallantry award) becoming the only IAF personnel to be given the award.
 
"Sabre Slayer"
By the end of 1971, the  Gnat proved to be a frustrating opponent for the technically superior Sabres, and had lived up to its Indian Air Force nickname of "Sabre Slayers" since all its combat "kills" during the two wars were against Sabres. The Canadair Sabre Mk 6 was widely regarded as the best "dogfighter" of its era. Tactics called for Gnats taking on the Sabres in the vertical where they were at a disadvantage. Moreover, because the Gnat was lightweight and compact in shape, it was hard to see, especially at low levels where  most of the dogfights took place. Apart from Air force air defence operations, the aircraft performed multiple roles in the Bangladesh Liberation War being used in anti-shipping operations, ground attack, bomber/transport escort and close air support with "devastating effects" on the PAF. The success of the indigenously produced Gnats against the more sophisticated Pakistani-flown planes was viewed as a significant achievement.
 
The Indian Air Force were impressed by the Gnat's performance in the two wars, but the aircraft had problems including[hydraulics and unreliable control systems. To address these issues, the IAF issued a requirement for an improved "Gnat II" in 1972, at first specifying that the new version was to be optimized as an interceptor, but then expanding the specification to include the ground-attack role. Over 175 of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-built licensed version, the HAL Ajeet|Ajeet ("Unconquerable"), were produced in Bangalore, while about 40 were purchased directly from Folland.
 
Gnats served in India from 1958-1978, and several remain in use in private hands. Some IAF Gnats, one of which had participated in the 1971 war in East Pakistan present day Bangladesh were presented to the Bangladesh Air Force
THE KIT

See Scott's in box review on the Pro-Resin's 1/72 Gnat.

CONSTRUCTION

Construction was pretty well straightforward for a Pro-Resin kit after the small amount of flash sanded off and the resin pour tabs was razor sawed off, as always when working with resin remember to wash all parts to remove all the mold release agents so paint and glue with stick. I sanded all mating surfaces with a sanding block to assure a straight gluing surface. Interior was painted and all the great detail molded into the kit cockpit sidewalls was highlighted the ejection set has a lot of detail to it and looked good when painted. I drilled out the solid resin nose cone before attaching it to add the weight into that area so the plane would sit on the gear properly. The wings and tail planes was molded solid and was really thin and was also straight so there was no need to repair any warped parts. Light detailed panel lines and rivet detail was present on the resin surface with only one chipped resin part to repair. 

Little putty was used around the intakes, front of cockpit and by the wing root front on one side...just a dab, rest of the seems filled themselves with the super glue when gluing half's together.   I did have a little trouble with the landing gear trying to figure out which way and what went where, pretty sure it was all me, in the end it did sit level without having to tweak anything which is a plus when working with resin kits.  The vac-u-formed canopies was a ease to mask as you could see the frame work outline quite well when masking, I always mask my canopies off first before removing then from the sheet. Pro-Resin kits come with 2 canopies incase you mess one up. Attached the canopy with white glue then let dry before painting the interior frame work color first then after that mask the whole canopy off and prime the rest of the resin kit so there is no major paint build up near the canopy framework. I use alcohol prep pads always for a final wipe down of resin kits to remove any residue that is on the resin before I prime, the primer I used is lacquer spray can from the auto parts store as it dries fast and with very little shrinkage then sanded when dry with a 1000 grit paper wiped back down with paper towels airbrushed off with just the air then the overall canopy mask removed then tacked wipe off the entire model then painted. While the primer was drying it was time to paint the tires and the other little add on's. I did replace the two probes with metal pieces instead of the thin resin parts as they tend to break off when moving the kit around.  

COLORS & MARKINGS

I chose to do the Indian Air Force version as their Gnat's have a little history  behind them being known as "Saber Slayer's" .  Paint used was the old Humbrol enamel line of paint, British Sea Gray thinned with lacquer thinner. Always seems to go over the primer I use nicely. When dry a coat of Testors Model Masters gloss clear, then next day applied the decals which are well registered and seems to go down nicely with a little help of the blue bottled Micro-Set, when that dried a couple coats of MM flat clear coat and was sitting pretty.  I had trouble with the painting guide trying to figure out what was what on there gray scale as there was no color letter pointing at the airframe like on the RAF version so I painted it the Sea Gray and hope that was right, or at least close.

CONCLUSIONS

This is my second Pro-resin kit that I have built, first being the Curtiss XF-15C-1 early  "Stingaree" which also was a pleasure to build. I have a few other Pro-Resin kits in the to do pile. And looking forward to getting  there Bristol T.188 and the Fairy Delta 1, I am sure they will be up to there usual good standards. Highly recommended to the Folland Gnat, British jets, or if you like the fact that they slayed a few Saber  fans. Making a great addition to your 1/72 scale collection.   

REFERENCE

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folland_Gnat

Randy Smith

December 2008

Modeling Madness thanks www.olimpmodels.com for the review kit. Ask your local store to order one for you.

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