Azur 1/32 Caudron C.714C.1
|PRICE:||$62.05 from www.greatmodels.com|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||'Finnish Service' boxing|
The original specification that led to the C.710 series was offered in 1936 in order to quickly raise the number of modern aircraft in French service, by supplying a "light fighter" of wooden construction that could be built rapidly in large numbers without upsetting the production of existing types. The contract resulted in three designs, the Arsenal VG-30, the Bloch MB-700, and the C.710. Prototypes of all three were ordered.
The original C.710 model was an angular looking design developed from an earlier racing design series. One common feature to all of the Caudron line was an extremely long nose that set the cockpit far back on the aircraft. The profile was the result of using the 450 hp (336 kW) Renault 12R-01 12-cylinder inline engine, which had a small cross section and was fairly easy to streamline, but very long. The gear were fixed and spatted, and the vertical stabilizer was a seemingly WWI-era semi-circle instead of a more common triangular design. Armament consisted of a Hispano-Suiza 20 mm HS-9 cannon under each wing in a small pod, with an option for a third firing through the propeller spinner.
The C.710 prototype first flew on July 18th, 1936. Despite its small size, it showed great potential and was able to reach 470 km/h in testing. Further development continued with the C.711 and C.712 with more powerful engines, while the C.713 which flew in December 1937 introduced retractable landing gear and a more conventional triangular vertical stabilizer.
The final evolution of the 710 series was the C.714 Cyclone, a variation on the C.713 which first flew in April 1938. The primary changes were a new wing airfoil profile, a strengthened fuselage, and instead of two cannons the fighter had four 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine guns in the wing gondolas. It was powered by the newer 12R-03 version of the engine, which introduced a new carburetor that could operate in negative gee.
The Armee de l'Air ordered 20 C.714s on November 5, 1938, with options for a further 180. Deliveries did not start until January of 1940. After a series of tests with the first planes it became apparent that the plane was seriously outdated. Although light and fast, its wooden construction did not permit for a better engine to be mounted, which seriously limited its vertical speed and maneuverability. Because of that the following month the Caudron was withdrawn from active service in February of 1940. In March the order was reduced to 90, as the performance wasn't considered great enough to continue production. Fifty were diverted to Finland to fight in the Winter War. Six were on their way and a further ten on the docks when the war ended and further shipments were halted. While six aircraft were delivered and assembled, they were soon found to be unreliable and dangerous to use in Finnish conditions, and were never used in combat.
On May 18 35 Caudrons were handed over to the Polish Warsaw Squadron - the Groupe de Chasse polonaise I/145, stationed at the Mions airfield. After 23 sorties the bad opinion of the plane was confirmed by the front-line pilots. It was seriously underpowered and was no match for the enemy fighters of the epoch. Because of that, on May 25, only a week after it was introduced in active service, French minister of war Guy la Chambre ordered all of C.710's to be withdrawn from active service. However, since the French authorities had no other planes to offer, the Polish pilots ignored the order and continued to use the planes. Although the plane was hopelessly outdated compared to the Messerschmitt Me 109E's it faced, the Polish pilots nevertheless scored 12 confirmed and 3 unconfirmed kills in three battles between June 8 and June 11, losing 9 in the air and 9 more on the ground. Interestingly, among the planes shot down were four Dornier Do 17 bombers, but also three Messerschmitt Bf 109 and five Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighters.
The plane was also used by the Polish training squadron based in Bron near Lyon. Although the pilots managed to disperse several bombing raids, they did not score any kills nor did they loose any machines. By the end of June when France fell, only 53 production machines had been delivered (although the number varies, 98 is another common figure).
Other projected versions were the C.720 trainer with a 100 or 220 (75 or 164 kW) engine, the C.760 fighter with a 750 hp Isotta-Faschini inline engine, and the C.770 fighter with an 800 hp (597 kW) Renault V-engine.
First off, though it is 1/32, it is not a large aircraft so there is a great deal of space in the box. Four grey and one clear sprue are in there along with a small bag of resin and a photo etch fret. The decal sheet has the swastikas in sections and covers three planes that are pretty much the same other than serial number. As a note, no two French planes were painted the same so you have a lot of leeway when it comes to camo.
Anyway, typical MPM/Special hobby plastic with ejector towers on some of the larger pieces. I do like the fabric representation as they get away from the 'China Syndrome' of basically showing all the underlying rib and stringer detail. Some like it, some don't. The rudder and elevators are separate, though the ailerons are not. The kit has the large gun pods molded to the lower wing and thankfully, the wheel wells are also molded in place.
A most complete cockpit is provided with the majority of resin and photo etch bits being used there. The instrument panel has nicely done instrument detail. Having a decal as an option would have been nice two. There are two sidewalls on which one can put a number of components as well. There is a photo etch harness set to add to the seat. For the engine, we have a resin engine face and resin exhaust to put on the inside of the cowling.
The landing gear on the C.714 were somewhat complex and this is well represented with the kit. Clear parts are clear enough to see all the detail you put into the cockpit and a canopy open option is provided. On this plane, the canopy sections slid down into the side of the aircraft. The windscreen looks odd at first, but appears to be a good representation. I like that for this and the rear quarter windows, they have included sections of airframe to make it easier to blend in. Some drilling is needed for a few pieces, but the instructions show exactly where to do so.
Instructions are quite large so the construction drawings are able to be quite unambiguous as to what goes where. As mentioned, three Finnish options are provided in this boxing and the decals are superbly printed by Aviprint. For those (like me) who wanted to do a French plane but found the French boxing sold out, there is an aftermarket sheet by Camouflage and Decals that I will be using on mine.
Those of you who have build recent MPM/Special Hobby/Azur kits have come to realize that they are not only nicely molded, but generally well engineered. However, they are still what I'd call short run kits, as much due to the use of resin and photo etch parts in place of bits that other companies would do in plastic.
With this one, I started by removing the ejector towers with cutters and grinding the remnants down to base level. Then the rudder, horizontal stabs and wheel halves were cemented together. These all had gaps of varying sized on the join lines and so I used super glue to fill these. This is to not have to worry about shrinking filler or ghost seams after painting.
I also started building up the interior. Most of the photo etch goes in here and one does have to take one's time. I found the rudder bar to be particularly difficult to properly get in place. I almost forgot to install a few bits prior to closing the fuselage so one has to be very careful in this regard. I found the fit of the two inner side panels to be very good. Each one of those gets a piece or two added to it. It really is not very cluttered as one often finds in other aircraft of this vintage.
For those who do not have access to the Gunze paints listed, the interior color H337 is FS 35237, a paint available in a number of lines, including Testors Model Master enamel line. While painting the interior bits, I went ahead and painted the inner gear doors, struts, wheels and a bunch of other bits and pieces.
The resin guns were installed in the wings (not a very positive fit), and the wings assembled. This had some gaps in the front that you'll have to deal with. You will also need to fill in the small gaps on the little tabs at the trailing edge of the wing. Photos in the decal set showed no seam on these.
Back at the fuselage, I glued the front bulkhead, instrument panel, and rear bulkhead to the interior floor and test fit it into a fuselage half. Fit is not the greatest. Both the instrument panel and rear bulkhead have to fit properly or it will be a bit of a mess. Rather than fuss with things, I removed the front and rear bulkhead before the cement dried and glued those in place separately in one fuselage half. Test fitting the rest of the interior showed that to be a better way to do things.
In the front, the resin exhaust were cut from their pour stubs and cemented in place. These are properly curved like the cowling so fit superbly. Now, you have to either grind or sand all remnants of the pour block on the back or the engine front piece won't fit properly. Once that was done, the engine front section was glued in place and trapped between fuselage halves to let it dry properly. Later it will be painted and some detail stuff done to it.
I then started cleaning up the landing gear bits. This plane really did have a complex gear system.
The engine front and inside area of the nose was then painted. This was followed by the installation of the interior and the little stop plate for the lower fuselage radio mast. I then glued the fuselage halves together, taping things as I went. All fit well though there was a gap at the lower cowling I just couldn't close so I used gap filling superglue for that. I am very glad I decided to mount the bulkheads separately. Once the halves were together and the gaps filled, I attached the nose section. As I thought, it was a bit too small, but that was due to not having the lower cowling closed all the way. Guess I should have ground away at more of the engine insert or something. Anyway, it was easy to sand down to shape.
The tail planes were next. Fit here is good once you do a bit of carving so they will fit into the slots in the tail. The wing, however, needed some sanding done on the fillets on the fuselage. I glued one side first and then glued on the second side when that had dried. The fit at the rear wing/fuselage join is not very good as the there is a step down from the fuselage to the wing. No worries at the front as there is a gap that is supposed to be there. This aft wing thing will take quite a bit of filler to smooth out just due to the area that needs to be addressed.
With that underway, I attended to a few other parts of the airframe. The elevators were glued in place. I drooped these a bit as I had the control stick glued in a forward position to match. The little bump on the engine cover was attached and the gun sight? was glued to a curved piece and readied to be attached to the instrument panel. As mentioned, the myriad landing gear bits were sanded and painted, ready to install once the overall camo was done.
I test fit all the clear bits after removing them from the sprues. The center section didn't fit very well as it was too long. A bit of trimming on all three parts was needed to get them all to fit properly. I then masked them off and glued the front and aft sections in place with clear paint and standard cement after masking them. I should mention that the ejector tower in the aft clear section needs to be ground down flush or it won't fit.
With all the bits masked, it was time for the paint shop.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
For this one, I used Testors Model Master enamels as they have all the proper shades for French planes. I started with the Light Blue Grey on the underside, followed by masking and the Dark Blue Grey on the upper surface. This pointed out the need to add filler to the line of the aft and front clear pieces and fuselage. That done, the various other shades (Khaki and Chestnut Brown) were sprayed on, approximating the scheme in the decal sheet I was using. As you can imagine, this was time consuming and required a lot of back and forth work, but it was eventually done. The rudder was painted white, masked off, then the red sprayed on using Testors Guards Red. For the blue, I mixed some French Blue with the Dark Blue Grey to get a color that more closely matched the blue in the roundel. It still may be too blue, but looks fine to me.
More construction was needed prior to applying decals. Basically, I had to glue in the tail skid, then assemble the landing gear. First of course, I brush painted the wheel wells with FS 35237. The landing gear are a rather complex construct, so I took my time, giving each joint plenty of time to dry and in some cases using super glue. Both the retraction strut and oleo were wrapped with Bare Metal Foil Chrome. Wheels needed to have the axle hole drilled out more as they are too small. Then with the wheels in place, the gear doors were attached.
During this time, the pitot tube was glued on and the hole drilled in the upper fuselage for the upper radio mast. There is a lower mast as well and Azur provides a placement hole. However, the kit would have you mount it extended as it would be in flight. Of course, the model won't sit on its gear if you do this. The lower mast was normally folded against the lower fuselage on the ground. To duplicate this, I took a section of plastic card and shaped a stub for the lower hole. After it was glued in place and dry, I used sandpaper to form it up to a more convincing shape with a curved forward section and a flat rear one. The lower antenna mast was then glued in place. It looks pretty good.
Next, the areas for decals were sprayed with a gloss clear and the Camouflage and Decals markings were applied. These decals are very thin, in fact they require care in applying. I got one folded up on itself and was never able to straighten it back out, even after dropping it in a bowl of water. Fortunately, it wasn't too horrible so was used as it was. There are not a ton of decals for this one, which is fine with me. They are quite opaque so no worries on bleed through.
Markings in place I realized that I'd forgotten to paint the wing walk. The sheet instructions don't specify the color, but it sure looks white to me. Some careful masking as the area was painted. Then a coat of matte clear was applied using Polly Scale's clear matte.
Still a few bits to work on. One was the gun sight. There is a single hole already drilled and you have to measure and drill the other. I simply laid the sight tube down with one peg over the already done hole and drilled the other next to the rear peg. It worked fine. There is a ring and a bead in photo etch that have to be bent and glued on. That done, the assembly was painted matte black.
When it came to the prop, I found that the rear of the spinner had disappeared. I know I had it as I test fit it, but searching came up with nothing. The prop was tacked in place in hopes that the part will show in the future. Pitot tube and guns were painted, then the masking removed from the clear bits. The kit gives a 'canopy down' option and I installed that part. The fully closed one was just used for painting to keep paint out of the interior. On the Caudron and other French planes, the canopy section slid down either outside the fuselage or into the fuselage. Sort of like a segmented garage door operates. The clear piece behind the sight tube and the clear rudder lens were attached with clear paint and that was it.
I really enjoyed building this one. I've always liked the C.714 and have built one in every scale in which a kit has been made. It isn't so huge as to take up a ton of shelf space and looks sleek and fast. There are a few things to puzzle out, but overall, it is a pretty well designed kit. It is one that I liked and I'm sure you will as well.
Mushroom Model Publications GC 1/145 in 1940
I got this at www.greatmodels.com where you can find this and many other neat kits and accessories. Thanks to Mushroom Model Publications for the superb Camouflage and Decals set.
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