Pro Resin 1/72 Folland Gnat F.1

KIT: Pro Resin 1/72 Folland Gnat F.1
KIT #: R72-039
PRICE: $
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Resin kit with vacuformed canopies

HISTORY

The Gnat was the creation of W.E.W. "Teddy" Petter, a renowned British aircraft designer, who believed a small, simple fighter would offer the advantages of low purchase and operational costs. New lightweight turbojet engines that were being developed at the time enabled the concept to take shape. One of the hallmarks of the Gnat's design was its compact size. However, to achieve such a small size, its systems were quite closely-packed, making maintenance more difficult. Some of its systems were not noted for their reliability and the aircraft suffered from high operating costs. There were also issues that its cockpit was cramped and obstructed the instructor's forward visibility. Furthermore, the limited weapons load and reduced fuel capacity both designed to reduce overall kerb weight meant that it could not operate for protracted periods. Despite the shortcomings, the Gnat and its predecessor the Folland Midge were praised by the RAF evaluation and the test pilots. The lower cost of the Gnat, its compact dimensions, as well as "good press" for the aircraft in air shows, were among the factors that prompted a spurt in its export sales.

Gnat F.Mk 1 and the subject of this kit was the initial, single-seat lightweight fighter version. Only test aircraft were flown by the RAF as they found that the aircraft did not meet their needs. However, Finland and India found the design to meet their requirements and ordered the type for their air forces. It was built in India under license as the HAL Gnat.

THE KIT

ProResin kits have always been superbly molded. the parts are free from most resin glitches like air pockets and slag, though I did find a couple of areas that had been slightly chipped during shipment. As superbly as ProResin packages their stuff to keep down damage, it is pretty much inevitable that some of the finer bits will break away from the pour stubs. This may be due to no protective barriers on the ends of these stubs to keep other bits from directly contacting the fragile parts. Something ProResin might want to look into adding to these bits.

Anyway, the detailing is superb with crisply molded panel lines and there is even some fine interior sidewall detailing. Probably due to the admittedly cramped quarters in there. There is some resin flash over things like cockpit and wheel well openings, but is easily removed. The cockpit is not the usual tub, but a floor with rear bulkhead onto which the finely molded and rather unusual bang seat, control stick and instrument panel are attached. All the wheel wells are separate and to my eyes, have the proper well detailing in there. Since the main fuselage is used for several variants, the nose is a separate and solid piece. Not sure how this will affect adding nose weight or even if any is needed, though there will be some room under the cockpit floor.

The canopy is vacuformed and two of each are supplied in case the second is needed. A second canopy type is provided for the RAF plane as it had an additional clear window behind the main canopy section. For this, some surgery will be needed on the fuselage halves and that is shown in the instructions. There is a platform that fits under this rear section included. There are 'things under wings' provided for the RAF version in terms of outer fuel tanks and inner bombs, which look decidedly odd to me. The Indian variant is shown without these items, though I'm sure they were capable of carrying them.

Instructions are well done, consisting of seven well drawn construction diagrams, a separate cockpit painting section and color chart providing Humbrol, Model Master and Revell paint references. Markings are given for two aircraft. One is an RAF aircraft, XK741, used for tests and carrying no unit markings. It is in Dark Sea Grey/Dark Green over what seems to be Aluminum. The other is the IAF's first Gnat in what seems to be overall gloss light blue. I say "seems to be" as there is no definitive icon pointing to the various overall airframe colors; just a greyshade chart off to the side. I'd recommend to ProResin that they definitively indicate the overall airframe colors for those who have trouble figuring out these charts. The decals themselves are just outstanding. Well printed with no apparent registration issues and in the proper colors by Begemot Decals in Russia.

CONCLUSIONS

So there you have it. A fine start to a series of kits of one of the world's smallest jet fighter aircraft and one that has been sorely needed for many years. As these kits tend to sell out rather quickly, I'd highly recommend grabbing one while the grabbing is good. Check your local retailer for availability.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org

February 2008

My thanks to www.olimpmodels.com for the review kit. Ask your local store to order one for you.

 If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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