Frog/Novo 1/72 Fairey Gannet AS.1
Probably one of the most un-lovely aircraft to take to theskies, the Fairey Gannet had a long service life, mostly thanks to theadaptability of the airframe and the fact that there was no other aircraftaround to perform its functions. Developed in the late 1940s as a strikeaircraft capable of carrying a variety of bombs, rockets and torpedoes, the onlycompetitor to the Gannet was the Blackburn Y.B.1. Both were of a similar sizeand both were powered by a Double Mamba turboprop. This engine was actually a'two in one', each able to operate independently of each other in case offailure. It also allowed one of the engines to be shut down to improve range andloiter time. In addition, the engine was designed to be able to run on a varietyof fuels including kerosene, turbine fuel or naval diesel fuel. By having both propellers in the nose of theaircraft also made the aircraft a breeze to fly in case of a single enginefailure as there would be no need to trim the aircraft.
This rather unique aircraft entered service in 1955 and wascontinually modified over its life-time. The final Gannet, a much modified AEW.3was phased out of service in 1978 when the RN phased out its last non VTOLcarrier, the Ark Royal. The Gannet was also sold to a number of foreigncountries including Germany and Indonesia. These countries had no aircraftcarriers, but appreciated the superb ASW platform that was provided by theGannet. In addition to the ASW and AEW versions mentioned , there were trainersand COD versions developed.
This has to be one of the earliest Frog kits ever done. It hasall the markings of a late 50's early '60s kit. There are no wheel wells and nointerior at all. The heads of the crew members are molded as part of thefuselage halves. Transparencies are very thick and surface detailing is all ofthe raised panel line variety. Intakes and exhaust areas are very shallow.
There are decals for a British and German version. The unit forthe RN Gannet escapes me at the moment, but the decals were quite useable.Instructions are typical of Frog sheets of the time giving drawings for theconstruction steps and little else. Color information was only given on the boxalong with decal placement.
Parts were relatively flash-free with large locating holes.Detailing on the bits was adequate, but not at all up to current standards. Ofcourse, they were up to the standards of the time when the kit was designed andinitially molded!
Buildingthis kit was not a long-term prospect. Fit of the parts was generally good andnot that much filler was needed. The first thing done was to put a bunch ofweight in the nose. This aircraft is a dedicated tail-sitter unless something isdone about it. I have come to the conclusion that I wasn't going to get theprops to rotate, mostly because the spinner was so tight and any attempt atfreeing things up was unsuccessful. Today, I would have installed brass tubingfor a bearing, but this was 15 or so years ago.
Once the weight was in the fuselage was glued together. Then theseam was filled and the exhaust was drilled out. IIRC, the tailplane and wingswere a single piece and so were glued to the fuselage. Almost no fillerwas used. Same with the finlets on the tailplanes. That gave me a basicallycomplete airframe. The next step was to do some painting.
PAINT & DECALS
All RN aircraftof the 50s were in Extra Dark Sea Grey (EDSG) and Sky. The EDSG quicklyweathered to a lighter Dark Sea Grey so often that is used. Back in themid-1980's, I was very big into Gunze acrylics. They are still super paints, butI have grown to prefer enamels. Gunze was used for the colors on this aircraft.First, the model was sprayed Sky and when dry, masked off for the EDSG. Asusual, I needed to do some back and forth painting and masking to catch all theglitches. The prop and spinner was painted black. For the interior, such as itwas, that was painted black and the crew helmets painted yellow.
Thenit was back to doing some construction. This meant gluing on the transparencies,which required some trimming to fit properly. Then they were masked off andpainted EDSG to match the upper colors. The landing gear doors were painted theunderside colors and the gear struts were done in aluminum. The landing gearlook to be properly spindly as on the real aircraft. These items were just gluedinto the holes on the underside of the fuselage. As you can see from the image,there were no gear wells! What you probably can't see is that the main geardoors are molded along with the struts.
Then the bottom of theradome was painted flat black using a nice, wide brush.
Thedecals themselves fit very well with no real problem. Actually the only hasslewas the finlet decals. They practically disappeared once they were applied andthough you can see them in the images, the light has to be just right.
Thelast thing done was to do a bit of detail painting for the intake and exhaust aswell as to paint the exhaust stain on the aft of the aircraft. I used no cleargloss on this as the paints are semi-glossy already. You can also see that Ineglected to do the wrap-around of the upper surface colors. I'll claimignorance as I was unaware of this phenomena at the time I built the kit.
It ishard to know if this kit will interest today's modeler. Certainly the collectorwill have one, but the crudity of the kit compared to what is out there todaywill not make it a big seller. However, it does have the benefit of being theonly injected Gannet in 1/72. In 1/48 there is the superb Dynavector multimediakit.
I can really recommend this kit to any who are interested in thetype. It would be a good one for the beginner as there are really few parts andit will make a good introduction to using filler as it needs only a bit.
I was contacted by Sten Ekedahl who pointed out a number ofaftermarket goodies for this kit. I'll let him tell you about them. "...itis worth pointing out that Aeroclub makes a very good set of details - landing
gear, wheels, gear doors, new engine front, spinner, propellers and someinterior parts - in white metal for this kit which almost brings it up to"today's standards". If you want to go even further, Airwaves makes acouple of photo-etched sets, one for the interior, one for the wheel wells andrecently one for the wing folds, and Falcon does some wonderful vac formed
canopies (as does Aeroclub as well) and Model Art has released very good decalsfor FAA Gannets. So all in all, with these additions it is possible today tomake a very good and detailed model out of this basic kit. BTW Aeroclub alsomakes a very good conversion set for the AEW version with a completely newvacformed fuselage."
Late note: Of course, all this is now made moot by the new Trumpeter kit (2006), and by the Revell offering (2010)
Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!
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