Airfix 1/72 Folland Gnat T.1
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
The Gnat was the creation of W.E.W. "Teddy" Petter, a British aircraft designer formerly of Westland Aircraft and English Electric. Petter believed that a small, simple fighter would offer the advantages of low purchase and operational costs. New lightweight turbojet engines that were being developed enabled the concept to take shape. One of the hallmarks of the Gnat's design was its compact size. However, to achieve such a size, its systems were 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. Aircraft were sold to Finland, India and Yugoslavia with India having much success with their locally built 'Ajeet' aircraft. Many survive in museums and several are still airworthy.
Hornby continues to upgrade the Airfix catalogue by issuing new tool kits of old favorites. The latest is the Gnat T.1. The old Gnat was a nice kit for its time, but sorely lacking in what modern modelers expect from a kit. If you have been OK with the detailing of recent Airfix new tool kits, then you will be pleased with this one. If you have fussed about the engraving being too deep then you'll fuss about this one as well. The detailing of the kit is pretty good and while a tad basic for some, provides a ton more than what was available on the earlier Gnat.
The cockpit is fairly well appointed with detailing on the inside of the fuselage halves. Two nicely done, but basic bang seats are provided and decals are used for instrument faces. Intakes are properly blanked off and the kit has separate wheel wells that will need installed before gluing the fuselage halves together. The instructions give no indication of weight being needed.
Like most new Airfix kits, this one can be built in flight, though one has to order a stand separately. Wings are three piece with the upper section being a single molding. Holes will need to be drilled in the two lower sections if one wishes to use the wing tanks. These are three pieces with a solid nose section. The kit includes two crew figuresto help hide the lack of seat harnesses. This is all topped by a one-piece canopy. This is not super parts intensive with just under 50 parts total.
Instructions are nicely drawn and provide paint references from Humbrol. As usual, during the build stage, none of the paints are identified as to what they are save from a Humbrol number. The lone markings option is the box art plane in silver and daglo, assigned to the Central Flying School in 1964. According to the box, these decals are printed by Cartograf and look to be great. There have been aftermarket markings done for the Gnat in the past and I would bet that new ones are in the works.
I am sure that there are many of you out there who are very pleased to see this particular kit. I have always liked the Gnat and am glad to see it added to the new tool listing. This one very much fits into today's 'pocket change' category and will make in to a pleasing model.
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