AZ Models 1/72 Morane-Saulnier type WR

KIT #: AZ 7376
PRICE: About 10 here in the UK, or approx $20
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Chris Peachment
NOTES: Short Run

HISTORY

The WR follows Morane Saulnier's great family of pre-WWI monoplanes in having a boxy fuselage and shoulder mounted wings employing wing warping for lateral control. Jules Vedrines won the Paris-Madrid race in May, 1911 in one.

Their first commercially successful design was the G which was very successful in racing, and setting records. The WR was a variant of this using floats and a more powerful engine for the Schneider Trophy races. Of course after WWI the Schneider Trophy continued, leading up to the final victories by the Supermarine S.6B, which was the progenitor of the Spitfire and the rest is history.

So what you have here is the grandaddy, the fons et origo, the first faltering step in the long march towards the aircraft which won the Battle of Britain and saved the free world.

It is sobering to re-read that last sentence and realise that the final part is no exaggeration. (I think that perhaps you'd get some discussion on that from those who don't live in the UK. ;) Ed)

THE KIT

The kit is typical of AZ models now. They are short run, with no locating lugs. I have come to prefer this kind of construction, since it makes alignment much easier. In fact I frequently remove lugs from other kits, when it becomes clear that they are preventing good alignment. The mouldings are good, with minimal flash and only the usual seams to remove. And the fit of parts is also very good. Some short run kits have become nearly as good as conventional ones.

The kit comes with wheels and conventional undercarriage and also struts and floats in polyurethane for the WR version.

There are three decal options including the one below as flown by Roland Garros at the 1914 Schneider trophy, which was unplaced. Secondly, No 2, which the box art proclaims was flown by Lord John Carbery.  Although some records state that he flew in a Deperdussin and was also unplaced. The evidence seems to vary. He may well have practised in the Morane. The winner in 1914 was the British Sopwith Tabloid and  most of the competitors withdrew when they saw how fast it was.  The third option, a Morane Saulnier type 3G (Thulin B), from 1915 of the Swedish Air Force. These last two were finished in clear doped linen. The Roland Garros aircraft was in white.

CONSTRUCTION

I used the standard cockpit, and for once with a short run kit, it fit very well, with no need to trim the floor width. There is a nice bucket seat, control column, rudder bar and primitive panel with one instrument on it, which I would guess would be an airspeed indicator. Since the Schneider trophy race was over a low level course in clear weather around markers, there would be no need for any others.

The interior was sprayed white, with some wood detailing on the frames and a wood panel, aluminium stick and rudder bar. All the pieces go together with no trouble at all, and there is nothing to take extra care over. The fuselage needed a little sanding on the seams but no filler. The wings need to be shortened by cutting off one rib's width inboard, which is in the instructions. Only the Thulin B had full span wings.

Wings fuselage and tailplane were sprayed white separately, and then the long business of masking off the edging all the way round, and painting them black. Well worth doing however, and the finished paint scheme is cool and elegant. Remember the horse racing  scene at Ascot in My Fair Lady? That too was costumed all in black and white.

Engine cowl and forward fuselage were also black, although the edge of the firewall needs to be silver, as in the pictures. Struts too are black and it is worth doing them at this stage after removing seams.

 The floats are polyurethane, which were given a coat of mid-stone from the Lifecolor range, then streaked with a stiff brush using dark earth for some wood grain effect. A coat of clear orange from Vallejo finished them off. Curiously the plastic struts seemed to be quite happy to be glued to the floats using ordinary polystyrene cement. Which is a great advantage over resin, which needs superglue, something I never like to use because it gives you very little time for alignment before setting. And also because it always follows the law of unintended consequences, and you end up with fingers glued together, which then need separation with a hammer and chisel. Like all separations it is painful. Freud thought that separation was at the root of human unhappiness. History does not record that he was an aircraft modeller. Which is a shame because if ever a man needed a hobby, it was Sigmund.

PAINTING AND THE REST

  As mentioned above, it is best done before the major assembly. Because of the vagaries of masking however,  a lot of touching up is required and this is best left until last. The decals are simple, though you will find that the figure one for the fuselage sides is too tall. I cut across the figure at the base, then simply realigned it on the kit. Do this before getting the decal wet.

Final construction put it all together in the usual fashion. Note that no forward struts are included for the tail float and some plastic rod will have to be cut to length. The horizontal tails are flimsy and need time and support to set. The engine is black, dry brushed with gunmetal. When fitting the cowl, there is always the possibility of spreading glue over the pre-painted mounts and so I used Humbril Clearfix for this. Any PVA glue would do. If you make a mess then you can rub it off and it won't scar the plastic.

Rigging is straightforward and there is a good diagram in the instructions. I used my usual method of elastic mending thread, coloured silver, and held in place with small drops of superglue gel, applied with a toothpick. The gel can be placed much more precisely than ordinary superglue which is malicious stuff, runs all over the place and then attacks your fingers, as mentioned above.

The rear float needs a rudder, which is thin plastic card painted silver. The kit provides no windscreen, so I made one from the huge pile of discarded plastic packaging which I keep in one corner of the study. I have enough there to re-create the old Phantom Mustang of Monogram renown. The prop is wood, with clear orange on top, a silver hub. Finally there is a neat yellow MS logo for the cowl front which sets it all off to a T.

CONCLUSIONS

It only took a day's modelling and you have a nice little replica of an important pre-WWI racer. And a good tribute to the great Roland Garros who went on to distinguish himself as a French ace in WWI. And incidentally, was the first to use a machine gun firing through the propeller, in a Morane.

REFERENCES

http://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/100-years-of-airplanes.html

http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/camouflage-markings/40690-morane-soulnier-g.html

http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/morane-saulnier.html

http://flyingmachines.ru/Site2/Crafts/Craft25737.htm

Chris Peachment

July 2014 

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