Aeroclub 1/48 DHC-1 Chipmunk




$15.00, in the mid-1980s; now $30.25 (!)


One aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Kit vacuform with white metal


The Chipmunk was the first complete design for DeHavilland ofCanada. Ithad to be of modern construction, easy to fly, fully aerobatic, and without vices.The aircraft was designed by W.Jakimiuk who also designed the advanced PZL P.50monoplane fighter of 1939.

157 were produced in Canada from 1946 to 1952, with delivery tothe RCAF and a number of other air forces and flying schools. In 1955, anadditional 60 were produced, these having larger one-piece clear view canopies.

Production lines for the Chipmunk were set up in the UK where anadditional 1,000 were produced, most of them for various British armed forces,though many were exported, the last being to Saudi Arabia in 1956. 

In addition to the UK, there was a production line opened byOGMA in Portugal where a number were produced for that country. The Chipmunk wasfinally retired from RAF service in the 1990s. Many are still flying in thehands of civilian operators and a few armed forces even today.


This kit was one of Aeroclub's first forays into what we now call a multi-mediakit. While the majority of it was on a single vacuformed sheet, there was asmall bag containing some metal parts and there was a decal sheet. The decalsheet is for a generic Chipmunk and like many decals of the time seems to havebeen made pre-yellowed! The metal bits were the wheels, landing gear legs,propeller, exhaust, tail wheel and pitot tube. 

The instructions were typical of almost all vacuform kits of the day in thatthere was an exploded view of the kit and some color information. That was aboutit. It took me almost two years from the time I got the kit until I actuallystarted building it. Not a bad wait when you consider that it took well over 10years for me to get around to the other Aeroclub kit I bought about the sametime! 

TheDHC-1 was my first multimedia kit and while it seems quite simple today, itwasn't the case back in late 1986 when I started work on the kit. However, thekit really did go together well. It was perfect for an initiation into the genre. 


It is fortunate that I can not only remember so much aboutbuilding the kit, but that I actually took a few notes on it (for the next timeI was to build a similar kit). As with all vacuformed kits, the first step is toremove the vac parts from the backing sheet. This is done by first drawing allaround the part with a soft lead pencil Then I scribed around all the parts witha sharp Xacto blade, holding the blade at about a 45 degree angle. When done, Isimply flexed the parts and the backing sheet snapped clean. This left me with apencil line showing where the plastic I don't want to remove is separated fromthe clean plastic that I DO want to remove. 

Next, I put a fullsheet of 220 grit sandpaper on a piece of Plexiglas and then took it to the sinkto start sanding. By gently running water over the sheet, it not only helps thesheet stick to the Plexiglas, but also the running water washes away plasticdust that would otherwise clog the paper.  The trick is not to take toomuch off. Naturally, I messed up a few bits. 

Once the bits are all sanded down, regular construction can commence. The first part was,of course, the interior. This was made of a form fitted cockpit molding andseats. There was no instrument panel or control sticks. No sidewall detail atall and the other pieces were a bit light on detailing as well. Fortunately, theinterior is a nicely molded piece so sticking on the white metal parts wasn't ahassle. What was a hassle was getting the seats properly shaped as they werevacuformed and bit weak on the bottom. Because of the lack of instrument panelsand sticks, I painted the interior flat black and the seats aluminum. Theinterior fit very well into the fuselage halves and the fuselage was thencemented together.

The tailplane installation was next and thatwent without trauma. It simply slid into the slot at the rear. A slathering offiller for this gap and a few on the fuselage were all that was needed. To addstrength to the fuselage, the separate nose cap was then glued on and smoothedout with filler and sandpaper.

To ease construction, the wing wasjust two pieces, an upper and lower section. After this was glued together, itwas then cenmented to the underside of the fuselage. Like I said, a perfectbeginner's kit. The vacuformed canopy was then cut out and glued onto thefuselage. Then it was masked off with Scotch Tape (a BIG mistake). Now it was onto the paint shop. Installation of the metal bits would wait until afterpainting. 


Standardtraining scheme for Chipmunks was red, white and aircraft grey. The upperfuselage was white, the aft section of the wings and tailplane were aircraftgrey and the rest was red. I started by painting the kit white. Then the whitewas masked off and the red was painted on. I used Testors Model Master paintsfor these colors. Then the red was masked and the aircraft grey was painted on.Again, I used a Model Master paint that was close. This was a matte color, but Iwas ignorant of the fact that it should have been gloss so let it go. At thistime, the gear legs were also painted aircraft grey. I was going to paint theanti-glare shield black, but for some reason, never got around to it.

Then, for some inexplicable reason, the kit sat for a few months.

When interest returned, I applied the decals. They are fine on a whitebackground. However, the white in the roundel is a bit transparent. To makematters worse, for some reason, when a couple of roundels were taken off thebacking sheet, some of the white stayed there!! I used the Microscale system toapply the decals with no problems. I did not overcoat them as I didn't do such athing back then. I also didn't apply a gloss to the aircraft before applyingthem. Hey, we all learn, you know!


Now that all the decals were on it, it was time to take off the tape. Man, wasthis a real chore! The tape had just about cemented itself to the canopy in themonths it sat. I had to chip the stuff off and did dirty to the canopy in theprocess. Not much to do about it now as there was no second canopy in the box.The prop was painted black with yellow tips (it should be black and whitebands). The exhaust and wheels were glued in as were the tail wheel and thepitot tube.  That's it!


Despite the self-generated glitch with the tape, this was reallya very nice kit to build. It was perfect for me as I was a bit hesitant aboutdoing such a model. My understanding is that Aeroclub has issued this model infull styrene. If so, I'd suggest putting the grabs on it as it really is a superkit.


Planemakers 3: De Havilland, by Philip J Birtles, 1984

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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