MPM 1/72 Meteor F.4 'Fuerza Aerea Argentina'
KIT #: 72554
PRICE: $22.99 on sale
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run with resin and photo etch parts

HISTORY

The
Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' first operational jet. Designed by George Carter, it first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with 616 Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF). The Gloster Meteor was not an aerodynamically advanced aircraft but the Gloster design team succeeded in producing an effective jet fighter that served the RAF and other air forces for decades. Meteors saw action with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in the Korean War and remained in service with numerous air forces until the 1970s. Two Meteors, WL419 and WA638, remain in service with the Martin-Baker company as ejection seat testbeds.

The Meteor F 4, and subject of this kit, went into production in 1946, by which time there were 16 RAF squadrons equipped with Meteors. The first F 4 prototype flew on 17 May 1945. The F 4 had the Rolls-Royce Derwent 5 engines (a smaller version of the famous Nene), the wings were 86.4 cm shorter than the F 3 and had blunter tips (derived from the world speed record prototypes), a stronger airframe, fully pressurized cockpit, lighter ailerons (to improve maneuverability) and rudder trim adjustments to reduce snaking. The F 4 could also be fitted with a drop tank under each wing while experiments were performed with carriage of underwing stores and also in lengthened fuselage models. The F 4 was 170 mph faster than the F 1 at sea level (585 against 415), although the reduced wings impaired its rate of climb.

Because of the increased demand, F 4 production was divided between Gloster and the Armstrong Whitworth factory at Bagington. The majority of early F 4s did not go directly to the RAF: 100 were exported to Argentina (and saw action in the 1955 revolution, one being shot down on 16 September 1955 near Rio de Santiago) while in 1947, only RAF Nos. 74 and 222 Squadrons were fully equipped with the F 4. Nine further RAF squadrons were upgraded over 1948. From 1948, 38 F 4s were exported to the Dutch, equipping four squadrons (322, 323, 326 and 327) split between bases in Soesterberg and Leeuwarden until the mid-1950s. In 1949, only two RAF squadrons were converted to the F 4, Belgium was sold 48 aircraft in the same year (going to 349 and 350 Squadrons at Beauvechain) and Denmark received 20 over 194950. In 1950, three more RAF squadrons were upgraded, including No. 616 and, in 1951, six more. In 1950, a single order of 20 F 4s was delivered to Egypt.

A modified two-seater F 4 for jet-conversion and advanced training was tested in 1949 as the T 7. It was accepted by the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm and became a common addition to the various export packages (for example 43 to Belgium 1948-57, a similar number to the Netherlands over the same period, two to Syria in 1952, six to Israel in 1953, etc.). Despite its limitations - unpressurized cockpit, no armament, limited instructor instrumentation - over 650 T 7s were manufactured.

THE KIT

The MPM kit of the Meteor F.4 now effectively relegates the old Frog kit to the 'easy build' pile. I have to admit being a real fan of stock # F200 and have built many of these kits, in both Frog and Novo releases. I was used to lack of cockpit, the thick gear doors and general heavy handed detail, but now, that is a thing of the past for most of us. The MPM kit of the Meteor F.4 has come at last, bringing with it a full cockpit, some detail when one looks into the intakes, nicely done landing gear and full wheel wells, both wing and belly fuel tanks, and a nice, clear canopy.

Resin is used for the instrument panel backing and an antenna used for one of the markings options. There is a full photo etch fret that is in color and includes the instrument panel, most of the cockpit detailing including a new grip for the control stick, wheel wells, speed brakes and a number of other smaller bits and pieces.

The plastic itself is fully up to MPM's current standards. Detail is crisply engraved and I only found a bit of flash on some of the parts. It is obvious that the wing sprue is also used for the F.8 version as there are larger intake openings (not used on the F.4). Couple of things I'd like to have seen. One is a separate, sliding canopy to show off the interior. The other is that I'm less than jazzed about the outer wings being separate moldings. I would have thought that they could have been done with the engine and inner section. It sure would have taken the worry out of getting the outer dihedral correct. But then, it would have limited the outer wing panel options so that is probably why it was done.

Instructions are well done with Gunze paint references. There are four markings options, the first three in overall 'High Speed Silver' lacquer, while the fourth is camouflaged in dark green and grey over sky. The first is the box art plane with the blue fin and the blue and yellow wing stripes. This is from 1959. The second is from 1955 and has what appears to be a number of zaps on the fuselage along with a big red dot on the fin/rudder. Next is a version from 1958 with black and white checks on the tail and the engine cowlings with a black nose. The camouflaged version is from the last years of the aircraft's service in 1970. This one has a shark mouth on orange wing tanks. I have to confess that I needed to visit the CMK e-store to see color versions of the markings guide to get some of these shades as they are not posted well in the instructions. The decals are very nicely printed with no registration errors that I could find.

CONCLUSIONS

There are probably six different boxings of Meteors of various types produced by the MPM family of kits. They are all nicely detailed and easily move the Frog kits to the 'also ran' category. They will be somewhat complex builds thanks to all the photo etch, but the end result will be a superb model.

REFERENCES

Wikipedia for the historical background.

January 2013 

Thanks to me for spotting this one on sale. 

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