Novo 1/72 Miles Magister
KIT #: F-153
PRICE: $1.00
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Torben Plesberg
NOTES: Includes conversion to SAI KZ IIT


The Magister was built as a replacement for older biplane trainers and went into RAF service in 1937. Since the biplane fighters were going to be replaced by modern monoplane fighters, there was a need for a monoplane trainer. The Magister was constructed from wood, a sprue structure covered in plywood, everything glued together. The initial construction had some accidents, because the aircraft could not be recovered from a spin. To deal with this problem, the tail plane was raised by 15 cm, anti spin strakes were fitted for the rear fuselage in front of the tail plane, and the rudder was made taller. These modifications made the Magister safe to fly. The student and the instructor were sitting in tandem in open cockpits. The Magister was very popular with the pilots and earned the nick name “Maggie”.

The weak point of a wooden aircraft is the glue. Many wooden aircraft had a relatively short service life, because the glue used at that time gradually lost its bonding power. During the war, this might be less important, because the average service life of a combat aircraft was only a few months. However, the glue problem appears if the aircraft survives the war and continues as a veteran war bird. This is probably why a wooden plane is a rare warbird.

The RAF had 700 + Magisters in service with the flying schools at the outbreak of WWII. The production continued until 1941, when 1200 had been built. At the time, when a German attack on the UK was considered a possibility, a small number of Magisters were fitted with eight bomb racks for 25 lbs. bombs to be used against an invasion force. However, there was no need for the “Maggie bomber”, as the Germans lost the Battle of Britain. This idea was later in the war taken up by the Luftwaffe, arming Bestmann trainers with four “Panzerfaust” rockets to be used against enemy tanks.

After the war, many surplus stock Magisters were sold abroad to private owners and flying clubs, and even to foreign air forces. A few survives to this day, mostly in museums. The subject of my model is exhibited in the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, the G-AFBS in RAF colors. A few Magisters on the civil register are still airworthy in Britain.


The kit comes in a plastic bag with a cardboard closure and a drawing of a Magister as seen from above on the front side, and a four-view drawing, showing the color scheme and the decaling on the back side. The instructions is a small folded sheet showing the assembly of the 21 parts to make the model. It is almost as simple as it could be, and no mistakes are possible, and certainly no major problems at all. The storage of the blind flying gear behind the rear cockpit is far too clumsy, it needs to be sanded down to a more reasonable size. The exhaust rack is not with the kit, and this is the second flaw of the kit. Otherwise, the kit will produce a nice small model, which definitely looks like a Magister.


I had bought two kits – they were cheap! I had considered if it was possible to build a Danish KZ II T trainer from one of the kits. The dimensions of the Magister and the KZ II are the same, and both aircraft are powered by the same engine: the Gipsy Major. There can be no doubt, that the Danish designers had the Magister in mind, when designing the KZ II T. However, apart from the engine and propeller, everything else had to be changed, to create the Danish aircraft. A genuine challenge that was!

The fuselage had to be sanded down for a more rounded and smaller profile, especially the rear part. I sanded as much as possible, without making holes in the plastic, to achieve the look of the KZ II T. The wings had to be modified. They are broader at the roots and narrower at the tips. A photo of a KZ II T wing taken in a hangar in 1962 was very useful during the shaping process. A new fin and rudder was made, as well as new tail planes . The undercarriage legs were scratch built, the wheels of the kit would do. The two cockpits for the instructor and the student were modified for a KZ II look. The most difficult items were the two windscreens. They were cut from a small piece of clear packing for chocolate covered marshmallows! This packing material had a suitable thickness: 0.1 mm.

After the KZ II T was finished, I assembled the second kit as a Magister, just to compare the two contemporary trainers. I sanded the built-in part for the blinding of the aft seat down to a more realistic size, and I scribed three vertical lines in it to imitate the stringers of the blind. The Exhaust was made from a piece of sprue, and the Magister was finished.


The KZ II T is all over aluminum dope, Revell Aqua 99. There are some red bands around the wings, Revell Aqua fire red 31 with some 15 % Revell Aqua 30 orange added. The Danish national markings are from Stoppel Decals, and the “102” markings on the cowling were taken from the Stoppel decal sheet for a Danish Sea Otter. The numbers were just the right size, color and type.

The Magister is trainer yellow, Revell Aqua 15, on the under sides and a little more than half way up the fuselage. The upper sides are a camouflage pattern of matt dark green HB 30 and matt dark earth HB 29. The propeller and spinner are matt black, the propeller tips yellow. Undercarriage legs and wheel hubs are aluminum. If you want to use the decal sheet of NOVO, don’t forget to give the sheet three layers of clear gloss varnish (enamel!) before applying the decals. If you don’t do that, the decals will disintegrate as soon as they are soaked into water!


The Magister is a nice small kit, and makes an authentic model of the real thing. For some reason NOVO has forgotten the exhaust. However, this is easily made from a piece of sprue. The Magister kit has the extra quality, that it is possible to make a Danish KZ II T of it. This is a genuine challenge. The kit is recommendable to all modelers, who want to add a Magister to their collection – or a KZ II T (for the experienced modeler!).


Wikipedia: Miles Magister

My photos of the KZ II T and Danish articles on KZ aircraft on the internet.

A three view drawing of the KZ II T.July 2014

Torben Plesberg

9 December 2019


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