Eastern Express 1/72 Gloster E.28/39






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Mark Fordham


Old Frog/Novo kit


The first Allied jet aircraft, the Gloster-Whittle E.28/39 first flew briefly on 8 May 1941 while on taxiing trials, although the first official flight took place on 15 May. The airframe of the E.28/39 was built by the Gloster aircraft company and proved the turbojet concept which had been under development by Frank Whittle and his company since 1936.

The E.28/39 was the forebear of the Gloster Meteor, which, unlike the experimental Gloster-Whittle, saw active service during the Second World War against the V-1 flying bombs.

The E.28/39 was surprisingly successful, considering the novelty of the technology it used, and was the first real proof that jet propulsion was a viable alternative to the propeller.


The Eastern Express E28 is the re-boxed Frog one dating from when Adam was a boy. No attempt has been made to update the mould or fix the major inaccuracies that the Frog kit suffered from, The most noticeable of these is the over scale fuselage as can be seen in the plans, the wings are about right apart from being a little too rounded at the tips but the fuselage as you can see is around 25 mm too long, way too fat and the nose is well, just wrong. After much measuring, head scratching and discussions with online experts I concluded that it just wasn’t worth modifying the E28 to be accurate as it entailed basically scratch building a new fuselage and I couldn’t be bothered doing that.

The box is typical Eastern Express in the fact that it barely can hold itself together let alone protect the contents of the kit. The instructions are printed on cheap A5 sheet of newsprint paper smelling faintly of tomcat. A small but nicely printed decal sheet with marking for two prototypes are included along with a very thick and cloudy canopy that doesn’t “do” future terribly well.


Construction started with scratch building the nose vanes around the cockpit tub so there was a little more detail in there than a shapeless blob of plastic, the vanes were cut from 5 thou plastic card and trimmed to the curve of the inner fuselage. A couple of scraps of lead were then superglued to the underside of the tub so the E28 wouldn’t be a tail sitter.

The tub details consist of a very basic seat and little else, so a control panel was cut out from my laser printed stock and glued to a piece of 5 thou card, seatbelts added from masking tape and a couple of my home cast side panels completed the detailing in the cockpit. The fit of the tub  is a little sloppy so make sure you have got it lined up for “best fit” around the lip and fill the gaps with superglue as the last thing you want is it breaking free after the fuselage is glued together.

As you can see in the photo the basic fit is still pretty good even after all these years and what? At least three owners. Most of the joins just needed a light sanding and a dab of filler on the wing joins, in case your wondering what the red is in the photo, I use a MEK based plumbers PVC piping  etching  fluid for modelling glue, have done for years and in fact the 500 ml bottle I bought 5 years ago is still over half full. To combat the smell of MEK I decanter a little off into an empty Tamiya paint bottle and leave the lid off for 10 minutes, that gets rid of the powerful fumes and gives me a couple of months worth of glue on my desk.

 With so many errors with the kit I half-heartily made an effort to fix the curve of the wing tips, not that it was worth doing as I decided to tackle this one as a purely “fun” build, I did however add the little tail fins that the instructions give you details on how to scratchbuild. I rescribed the panel details and added rivet details using a star wheel from my wife’s sewing kit. The rear jet pipe supplied by EE was pitifully undersize given the overly porky nature of the fuselage so I replaced it with a section of plastic pipe that came from one of the kids balloon stands.

The undercarriage as supplied is very basic so stretched sprue was used to build up the front wheel guard and oleo struts. The main wheel well doors were thinned  down as they would be about a scale foot thick and the front ones replaced by 5 tho plastic card.


With the major assemblies done it was off to the paint shop with the Eastern express paint guide in hand. All single side view of it. With that wealth of information I laid down a couple of coats of white on the undersides as a base coat for the prototype yellow. Once dry 5 or 6 thin coats of Tamiya yellow was sprayed on to give the underside a nice bright yellow without too many patches.

After the underside was masked off the Dark earth was applied and left to dry, the camo pattern was masked off with masking tape as it was hard edged on the Prototype. The green was then gunned on and that concluded the major paint work. Once the masking tape came off and the paint rubbed over with a soft nylon pot scrubber to remove the orange peel and smooth down the matt paint.

I differed from the norm on this model with the gloss coat for the decals as I’m always happy to try a new technique, so instead of the normal coat of Future I sprayed a couple of thin coats of ModelMaster Gloss acrylic that I picked up in a trade, god know how old the bottle was because I haven’t seen MM paints up this way in years, but it sprayed nicely and left a high gloss surface ready  for the decals.

 Eastern Express decals are very thin and prone to tearing at the slightest provocation but snuggled down nicely without any slivering. The roundels on the fuselage were a little thin and the green camo bled through the yellow but as they are the same diameter as the P symbols I didn’t replace them with ones out of the spares box.  


Old?, yes….Inaccurate?, yes….. Not worth doing?, No. For most of us who have grown up on a steady diet of Airfix and frog Kits this is like coming home to your favourite old slippers, old, misshapen, smelly, well maybe not smelly  but as soon as you slip into this kit the troubles of the modern world disappear and you are transported back in time to when it didn’t matter about total accuracies, your sitting in you room on a rainy Saturday afternoon slapping together the latest pocket money purchase so you can play dogfights with your best mate.

Grab one of these old beasties, forget about it’s accuracies, don’t look through tons of research tell the experts to go to h*ll, just crack the kit and build it, thinking all the time BACK to the days when you would have built this kit in total happy oblivion to it’s errors. Go on I dare you.

My thanks to MM/FBN for the chance to revisit my childhood. One of these days I’m going to build a model again in one afternoon, brush paint it, add the decal while the paints still tacky and then spend the rest of the afternoon battling my kids in mock dogfights just for the fun of it!


In the spirit of my conclusion no references were harmed in the making of this kit.

Mark Fordham

October, 2003

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