SMER 1/72 C.714 Cyclone
|NOTES:||Reboxed Heller kit|
The original specification that led to the C.710 series
was offered in 1936 in order to quickly raise the number of modern aircraft in
French service, by supplying a "light fighter" of wooden construction that could
be built rapidly in large numbers without upsetting the production of existing
The original C.710 model was an angular design developed from an earlier series of air racers. One common feature of the Caudron line was an extremely long nose that set the cockpit far back on the fuselage.
The C.710 prototype first flew on 18 July 1936. Despite its small size, it showed good potential and was able to reach a level speed of 470 km/h (292 mph) during flight testing. Further development continued with the C.711 and C.712 with more powerful engines, while the C.713 which flew on 15 December 1937 introduced retractable landing gear and a more conventional triangular vertical stabilizer.
The final evolution of the 710 series was the C.714 Cyclone, a variation on the C.713 which first flew in April 1938 as the C.714.01 prototype. The primary changes were a new wing airfoil profile, a strengthened fuselage, and instead of two cannons, the fighter had four 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine guns in the wing gondolas. It was powered by the newer 12R-03 version of the engine, which introduced a new carburettor that could operate in negative g.
The Arm馥 de l'Air ordered 20 C.714s on 5 November 1938, with options for a further 180. Production started at a Renault factory in the Paris suburbs in summer 1939.
Deliveries did not start until January 1940. After a series of tests with the first production examples, shortcomings were becoming apparent. Although light and fast, its wooden construction did not permit a more powerful engine to be fitted. The original engine seriously limited its climb rate and maneuverability with the result that the Caudron was withdrawn from active service in February 1940. In March, the initial production order was reduced to 90, as the performance was not considered good enough to warrant further production.
On 18 May 1940, 35 Caudrons were delivered to the Polish "Warsaw Squadron", the Groupe de Chasse polonais I/145, stationed at the Mions airfield. After just 23 sorties, adverse opinion of the fighter was confirmed by front line pilots who expressed concerns that it was seriously underpowered and was no match for contemporary German fighters. Then again, of all the French fighters available at the time, only perhaps the D520, of which there was comparitively few, was an approximately even match for the 109E.
On 25 May, only a week after it was introduced, French Minister of War Guy la Chambre ordered all C.714s to be withdrawn from active service. However, since the French authorities had no other aircraft to offer, the Polish pilots ignored the order and continued to fly the Caudrons. Despite flying a fighter "hopelessly outdated" compared to the Messerschmitt Bf 109E, the Polish pilots scored 12 confirmed and three unconfirmed victories in three battles between 8 June and 11 June, losing nine in the air and nine more on the ground. Interestingly, among the aircraft shot down were four Dornier Do 17 bombers, but also three Messerschmitt Bf 109 and five Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighters, suggesting that the C714 wasnt completely useless for combat operations in the absence of more modern types. Given the dire situation at the time, it was better than nothing at least.
The Caudron fighter was also used by the Polish training squadron based in Bron near Lyon. Although the pilots managed to disperse several bombing raids, and although they did not score any kills, they did not lose any machines. By the end of June when France fell, only 53 production machines had been delivered (although the number varies, 98 is another common figure quoted)
Eighty airframes were to be diverted to Finland to fight in the Winter War but only 6 were delivered after the fighting had ceased. They proved troublesome and unpopular and didn't see combat, being taken out of service in 1941.
kit is a re-boxed Heller kit which is common for SMER issues, "Heller" is
moulded on the inside of the port fuselage half. There is only 2 sprues of pale
grey plastic plus a clear piece for the canopy, making for a low parts count of
25. All sprues are bagged together.
Detail is mainly raised but with some recessed lines for the control surfaces. Cockpit detail is minimal, consisting of a just a seat, there appears to be no control column or instrument panel or sidewall detail which puts in on par with most older Airfix/Matchbox/Heller kits of its time. There is no pilot figure. There is little or no flash but a couple of ejector pin marks on the tail planes which will need cleaning up.
Two options are provided
1. C714 "White 2" of GC I/145 in May 1940 which though its not noted in the kit instructions , was flown by Czeslaw Glowczynski who scored 1 kill and 2 probables with the C714 out of a total of a final total of 6 kills.
2. C714 marked CA-553 of the Finnish Air force in 1940.
The decals are perhaps the most impressive part of the kit - they are printed by Propagteam and appear thin and in perfect register. Paint references list Humbrol paints.
All in all it appears to be a straightforward build and probably the only game in town for this obscure little fighter. ZTS Plastyk (Polish) also make a 1/72 C714 but this may just be another rebox of the Heller kit.
References Sources - Wikipaedia, Kit instructions
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