Frog 1/72 Meteor F.4
|PRICE:||about $3.00 at the time|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Britain's first operational jet fighter was the Gloster Meteor, a twin engine fighter with four 20mm cannon as the main armament. Though it only saw brief action in the last months of the war, and never scored an air to air victory against German aircraft, it went on to a wide range of variants and many years of service.
The first post-war variant was the Meteor F.4, a version that saw quite a bit of export success and was the first jet of a number of air forces. To many, it was one of the most appealing looking of the Meteor family, though I'm sure the F.8 crowd will not totally agree.
Frog's kit of the Meteor F.4 has been a favorite of fans for many years, even past the demise of Frog in 1976. Fortunately for us all, Novo of the then Soviet Union bought all the non-German aircraft molds and so the kit was still regularly available for those who had to have it. The decals in those Novo kits were either quite poor or non-existent, but the aftermarket decal crowd was able to provide a number of options to keep us happy.
The kit itself is quite basic, but also quite nicely molded with raised detailing. Mine is molded in a very dark blue plastic and the previous owner had already pared away a number of parts from the sprues, but the kit is complete (aside from the stand which, when this was boxed, was available separately).
The cockpit consists of a floor, seat, stick and pilot. At the time, the detail level of the pilot's office was not considered a priority so most kits had quite Spartan interiors. Wheel wells are not boxed in for the main gear and quite shallow for the nose gear. No indication of weight is given but you will need to pack in a considerable amount to keep it on its nose. A blanking plate is provided for the engine fronts with the exhaust remaining open. The only real options are fuel tanks. One for the lower fuselage and a pair for beneath the wings. Holes for the latter are already drilled out on the lower wings. A once piece canopy that is rather thick is provided.
Despite the age of the kit, mine is in very good condition. I did find sink areas on the wheels and opposite alignment pins on the lower wings. The latter will be easy to fix, but not so the ones on the wheels. I'd recommend some Aeroclub replacement gear (assuming you can find them) to take care of the latter situation. Your editor has built probably a half dozen or more of these over the years. Some of them were used as the basis for conversions (also by Aeroclub).
Instructions are typical Frog in that they are well done and provide no interior or well color information. In fact, no color information is given at all aside from the overall aluminum recommendation of the decal placement guide on the bottom of the box. Markings are given for two aircraft. One is a Dutch aircraft from 323 squadron as shown on the box art. The other is from 263 squadron, RAF, both in overall aluminum. This color was lacquer paint and not unpainted metal. This kit is an original Frog boxing in a very dark plastic.
This it is being built right out of the box, though I'll probably use replacement decals as the kit ones are well over 40 years in age. Despite having more modern kits of this variant in this scale, there is something appealing about the relatively basic Frog kits, and they always end up making very nice shelf models.
My first task was to assemble the basic interior and paint it, along with the inside of the fuselage and the areas around the intake splitter with flat black. The external tanks were also assembled at this time. There are seams in most joins to fill and for these I used super glue. I found that I needed about 15 grams of nose weight to keep it from tail sitting. This had to be crammed into the space in front of the cockpit, under the floor and behind the seat. 2mm tape was used for a harness. I then closed up the fuselage and dealt with the seams.
During this time, the wings were assembled after the intakes were painted. I used Tamiya titanium silver for this and found that the paint did not want to stick to the plastic so be sure to wash the bits in soapy water to remove oils. There is a major gap at the underside wing tips and I noticed that the ailerons has sink areas on them. I filled the gaps but left the sink areas alone.
Next, the wings were attached. I tried to get the best fit on the top and left the underside to have the gaps, which were significant. After sanding away any trace of detailing, including parts of the lower speed brakes, everything was smoothed up and the tailplanes were installed. These got a bit of Mr. Surfacer to take care of the gaps. The airframe was then thoroughly washed, and when dry, the canopy, which had been masked, was glued in place. I also glued on the assembled landing gear since it was all going to be painted silver anyway. After building the main landing gear and taking care of the seams, it and the nose gear were glued in place. I also glued on the small nose gear doors. I left the rest of the doors off as I'd be painting the tires in place and they'd just get in the way.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
First step was to a coat of primer, for which I used Tamiya extra-fine. To duplicate the High Speed Silver I used Tamiya AS-17 from a spray can. When done, I realized I'd left off the belly tank so glued that on (fit is only fair) and repainted that area. When dry I painted the tires using XF-69 NATO black. The decals went on without any real trauma. As I mentioned in the decal review, the reds are washed out compared to the kit decals. The tail stripes do not meet so those had to have a bit of paint to complete. I also needed to trim many of the decal numbers as there were small slivers of clear decal attaching them to the various markings. Microsol was enough to get them to settle down over what little detail the kit has. It was obvious that the decal instructions were designed for the MPM kit as there was a paucity of proper panel lines on the Frog kit to help place many of these.
The last thing I added were the main and forward nose gear door and the pitot tube. I removed the masking from the clear bits, gave a sigh as there was some paint seepage, scraped off as much as I could from the stress fractured clear bits and it was done.
I know you are not going to rush out to look for this one, but it is around if you want a relatively quick build or a trip down memory lane. Those wanting more accuracy and detail will gravitate towards the MPM/Special Hobby versions (also boxed by Revell), but if you simply want a nice Meteor for the shelf, this one will do.
29 July 2016
Thanks to me for both the kit and the decals.
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