Pegasus 1/72 Gloster Gamecock

KIT #: 007
PRICE: £3.45 about 25 years back
DECALS: No options
REVIEWER: Brian Baker
NOTES: Short run limited production kit. Not for beginners

HISTORY

The Gloster Gamecock was an outgrowth of the 1923 Gloster Grebe, an all wood, single seat biplane fighter intended to replace the Great War vintage Sopwith Snipe, which was still in service at that time.  The Grebe’s origins lay with the S.E.5 fighter, as both were designed by H.P. Folland.  However, the Grebe’s powerplant,  the 14 cylinder Jaguar engine, was its undoing, and a redesign led to a Bristol Jupiter VI powered version, which was originally called the Grebe II, but which was eventually built in small numbers as the Gamecock. 

Around 1925, the Gamecock was placed in production,  and three batches of 30, 42, and 18 were ordered for the RAF, along with several pattern aircraft for Finland, who later produced several as Gamecock Mk. II in 1929.  These aircraft served with 19, 23, 32, 43, 3, and 17 Squadrons starting in 1926.  The biplanes had some unresolved problems, including the tendency to spin with the least provocation, and spin recovery was not always successful.  Thus, the accident rate was relatively high, and the plane required a very  experienced pilot. Lack of wheel brakes didn’t help ground handling, although the tailskid was a very effective brake once the airplane was on the ground.  Gamecocks, being of all-wood construction, were the end of an era, and with the introduction of the all-metal Bristol Bulldog and Hawker Fury, the Gamecock was obsolete, and they were gone from the RAF inventory by 1933.  A few were license built in Japan as the Nakajima A1N1.

THE KIT

Pegasus kits are very basic, with essentially the airframe and engine parts with little else.  This kit comes with a set of three view drawings as well as a set of instructions telling the assembly steps.  Much of the instructions say to make a certain part from strip or card plastic, and there are no measurements or drawings telling exactly how long any of these struts are supposed to be, or the angles at which they should be installed.  Molding is very basic, and a lot of trimming is required.  The interior consists of a very thick seat and nothing else, so here, you are on your own.

In Pegasus' defense, this is a very early kit and so did not come with the details and extras that were part and parcel of later releases. I know that much of the same could be said about many short run companies when they started production. Ed

CONSTRUCTION

Cockpit walls are very thick, although the seat does fit in between them.  I added some sidewall detail, a floor, and an instrument panel, and painted the whole interior a wood color.  When the fuselage was assembled and dried, I used Bondo to fill in the seams, sanding this down to achieve a smooth finish.  I then made a jig to set the lower wings with the right amount of dihedral, and after making sure that the butt joints were perfectly flat, I installed the lower wing panels.  There were no markings for the strut location holes, so I drilled them out in the appropriate locations.   The tail units butt joion into place, and are easy to line up. I used an extra set of struts from an Olimp Curtiss Jenny kit, which fitted perfectly, for the outer wing struts.  The cabanes I made from round rod, and I wasn’t really satisfied with these, although they look OK from a distance.  I used some kit scrap “V” strut for the main structures, and glued these in position after painting and mounting the upper wing on the main struts only. By the way, I painted the entire airplane before mounting the upper wing, including the NIVO green around the cockpit. I then installed the wing struts at the proper angles, and  mounted the upper wing in place. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.

For the landing gear, I had a set of gear struts from a modified Matchbox Hawker Fury kit, and these were just right once the rear struts were shortened somewhat.  The spreader bar was the correct length, although I used the kit wheels.  I should mention that all of the major parts of this kit required a bit of trimming to get them to acceptable form. But this is part of building this kind of kit.

COLORS & MARKINGS

By this time, I had decided on what aircraft I was modeling, Gamecock I, J7919, of RAF No. 43 Squadron operating out of RAF Tangmere in about 1926.  At this time, the wing fluttering problem had not become acute, so the extra struts seen on later Gamecocks were not on this aircraft.  The black and white checkerboard squadron markings were not a problem, since the Matchbox Fury has a set of these in its kit decals, although my old decals had somewhat deteriorated, and it took several tries to get the decals to adhere properly.  With enough Micro-Sol and Solvaset, the decals finally surrendered, and sat down on the surface.  Roundels were taken from the same Hawker Fury sheets, and some of these were also aged to point of uselessness.  Fortunately, the serial numbers came from Micro-Scale sheets, and they went on effortlessly.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

There were a lot of details to add, including windscreen, pitot tube, running lights, and a wind driven generator mounted on the top wing. I used the engine from the kit, but added some parts from the Airfix Bristol Bulldog. The prop was useable with some trimming, and the wheels were OK once I sanded the surfaces smooth.  The tailskid was scratch built, as were the fuel lines that run from the bottoms of the wing tanks into the forward fuselage.  The exhaust stacks were entirely Bulldog, with a couple of bracing struts built from scratch. I added aileron and rudder horns. There were none visible on the elevators, leading me to believe that they were located inside of the rear portion of the fuselage.

I used the usual electronic wire rigging, after stripping off the insulation, cutting the wire into short lengths, rolling it flat, and cutting individual pieces to the proper length. It is tedious, but the result is worth it. A little dab of white glue holds it in place, and from a short distance, it looks like rigging wire. I used the same method for bracing struts on the tailplane, between the rear gear struts, and between the outboard wing struts.  There are no wires in the cabane structure, which is helpful, as this part would have been the hardest part to get to.  Once rigged, with small details added, the model is finished.

CONCLUSIONS

This is NOT a kit for beginners, or for someone without a pretty good stash of spare parts and reference materials.  But it was fun, and that was the point.  That gap in my model collection is now filled with a  bright silver Gloster Gamecock.  If you can find one, and want to devote the time and effort, you can build it into a fine model.  I haven’t a clue as to where you would find one, but Pegasus has produced a number of unusual aircraft kits over the years, and I have several others I can’t wait to build.  Now on to my Fairey Fox…….

Brian Baker

January 2009

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