Revell 1/72 Morane-Saulnier Type N
|NOTES:||A basic, but buildable kit|
Early in WWI, aircraft were used to spy on the enemy - reconnaissance. Opposing pilots would carry a pistol or rifle to discourage reconnaissance flights. Soon, they tried to mount a machinegun in an aeroplane. But pilots knew that machinegun bullets fired through an aircraft’s propeller would eventually strike and damage a propeller blade, which would soon cause the aircraft to crash. The pilot would have essentially shot himself down. So machineguns were mounted to be fired sideways by the pilot, or in other directions by a second crewman. Still, pilots quickly learnt that the place to be safest from an enemy machinegun was directly in front of the enemy aircraft's propeller.
But this all changed when French pilot Roland Garros fitted armoured-steel wedges to the back of his propeller blades. These protected the propeller blades by deflected the bullets that would have struck them. Now, he could attack an enemy aircraft by flying straight at it. Garros’ aircraft of choice was a parasol-type Morane-Saulnier Type L.
The later Morane Saulnier Type N was a French-built single-seat monoplane designed around a machinegun and deflector plates, so it was one of the first purpose-designed fighter-planes (or scout). The Type N was a small, but streamlined (for its day) aircraft that was nimble, but difficult to fly because it was controlled in-flight by changing the position of the wing-tip trailing edges – a method known as wing warping. Yet it was sensitive because of its whole tail-plane moved (called a flying tail today), and had a high (for its day) landing speed. It was known as the ‘Bullet’ in RFC service because of a huge ‘casserole’-type spinner that streamlined it, but impeded cooling air from getting to the engine. It was quickly removed without hurting the aircraft’s performance.
In 1915, it was flown by the French, the British RFC and the Imperial Russian Air Force. Only 49 were built, because it was soon rendered obsolete by better technology. Wing warping gave way to ailerons, and deflector wedges gave way to interrupter gear that stopped the machinegun from firing when a propeller blade was just entering the line of fire.
This is an ancient mould that has been released in at least two iterations – French and Russian. I built the boxed French version (in cream plastic) some time ago 'cos I liked the red front. Then recently, I re-discovered this header-and-bag Russian version (in silver/grey plastic), in my stash. I bought it way back when (because I thought that the fin-and-rudder markings looked cool) and built it in five days. So now I’ve built both iterations and present both here.
Of the 24 parts, many of the parts showed mould slip and/or flash. Though the plane should have a windscreen, the kit provides only an ill-fitting frame. The kit provides a spinner (though not the large casserole-type one) for the French version, but only the painting guide indicates that it is not required on the Russian version. For the rest, the fit of the parts was pretty good. I started the Russian version of this model because I was catching my breath after a 3-day model show and then a Club kit-sale. I knew that it’d be a quick, relaxing build (experience, you know), so why not.
On both models, the first step was to paint the insides with a light yellowish-brown. Next, I joined the fuselage halves then added the single-piece wing to its front while the paint on the seat dried. I forgot to add seatbelts in the Russian version – Rats!! Care was taken with the wings because, on the French one, the starboard wing drooped noticeably. On the Russian version, I carefully rechecked that the wing roots were correctly lined-up with the sides of the fuselage to get the wings straight. Throw-in the seat, then position the cockpit deck and cowling, and the airframe was pretty complete. To make painting easier, I left-off the engine. Instead, I positioned the engine-retaining ring behind the cowling to provide a deep foundation for the engine’s mounting pin. Positioning the tail planes at right-angles to the fixed tail skid revealed that, like on the French version, the wings were out of kilter. When I tried to bend the offending wing into its correct position, it cracked at the wing-root. I hastily slathered Tamiya quick-setting glue over the cracked area and within a minute, it had solidified into the correct position. Yay me!!
The top and underside king posts were correctly identified (both are similar in shape, but not in size) and positioned, then the undercarriage was assembled in-situ. One of the Russian plane’s undercarriage hanger struts was warped, but by gluing it in-place last, it straightened-up because the others held firm. Yay me, again! It is quite sturdy for a bunch of thin plastic sticks.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Before painting the French version, the rudder was painted white. This was then masked down the centre to allow me to brush-paint the red and blue stripes. The rest of the airframe was brush-painted with Citadel Miniatures (CM) bleached bone that is my stand-in for a linen colour, then the front portions were painted with CM blood red. For the Russian version, the instructions called for an overall coat of silver on the airframe (I assume that the aircraft was silver-doped), so I squirted it with Tamiya silver. The single-piece tailfin-and-rudder was brush-painted with CM chaos black. As usual, Future was applied to the airframes in preparation for the decals.
Both engines were painted CM chaos black, then the cylinder pots were drybrushed with silver. Their exhaust pipes were brush-painted with a brick red then drybrushed with bronze. Detail-wise, the propellers were brush-painted a brown leather colour with the French one receiving its red spinner, and the Russian one receiving some tiny plastic dots in-lieu of the hub nuts, and a bronze hub plate. The wheels were brushed CM shadow grey. I can't remember which CM dark brown was used on the padded-leather cockpit rim and the tail skid (apart from the metal retaining bands).
On the both models there were four identical roundels for the wings and the Russian one had the two skull-and-cross-bone decals for the rudder. All decals went down onto the dry Future, and were settled with a liberal application of Microsol. A little care is needed to ensure that the roundels don’t cover the pre-drilled rigging holes, and the death-heads should be trimmed of their carrier film so that it doesn’t extend over the trailing edge of the rudder.
Before fitting into place, the machinegun was painted black then rubbed all-over with an HB lead pencil. On the French model, I tried to replicate the wind screen by dumping the empty frame and using a piece of vacform packaging. It was not very successful in my opinion (FAIL!! Double Rats!!). Having learnt THAT lesson, I took another track with the Russian model. I painted the thick windscreen frame black, then I superglued it to a curved piece of vacformed packaging (from a small battery) to replicate the glass. When all was dry, I trimmed the packaging and superglued it into place under the top king post. Fit is iffy and I needed a (24th-scale?) shoe-horn to get it in to place.
On both models, I did only half of the rigging with fine black EZ-Line by trying to follow the vague rigging diagram. My method was to anchor the ends of the EZ-Line to the bottom king post or undercarriage struts, winding it around the model by passing it through the pre-drilled holes in the wings, and then attaching the loose end to the other side of the anchor point. Tension was provided by stretching it when I lifted the strand onto the dot of superglue atop the upper kingpost. The wing holes were eventually filled with Krystal Kleer, but they are still visible (Rats and double rats!!). Because I judged it too small and fussy to do, I left-off the rudder and tail plane control wires - besides, control horns were absent and they would have been too small to add.
The last bits to be attached were the propeller to the engine, to press-fit this assembly into the cowling, and then to glue the wheels & outer covers to the axle. This completed the model. Nope – paint the deflector wedges with CM boltgun metal. To hide the drooping wing of the French version, I mounted it obliquely on a base. It’s nothing fancy – just a sheet of railway grass. But digging a slight depression under the correct wheel seems to have tilted the model slightly and levelled the wings (to some degree).
This is a simple little kit of a frail-looking butterfly of an aircraft (when put next to, say, an F.15 Eagle). There are other kits of this aircraft in other scales, but I like 72-scale. To my mind, it would look incomplete without its rigging, so to help older modellers (like me), I would have liked a better rigging diagram. But, in the end, the Russian build was the quick (4-day) yet relaxing build that I sought because there were no show-stopper problems encountered. Additionally, it looks like a Type N, so I’m happy to recommend it to other modellers.
Just the instructions and the boxart.
The upar of the cockpit that was fashioned from an offcut of plastic card.
21 December 2017
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