RS Models 1/72 Airspeed Envoy

KIT #: 92098
PRICE: $25.17  on sale ($39.95 SRP)
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run with photo etch and resin parts


The first production Envoy I, G-ACVH, flew in October 1934 and was used as a company demonstrator. The second, also a Series I but fitted with Wolseley Aries III radial engines, was delivered to Lord Nuffield. This aircraft was due to fly in the MacRobertson Air Race from England to Australia in 1934 but the aircraft was damaged and withdrawn from the race. Another aircraft, a specially modified version with long-range tanks (the AS 8 Viceroy) got as far as Athens before leaving the race due to damage. One Envoy took part in the Schlesinger Race to Johannesburg, but crashed, killing two of a crew.

Orders soon came from the whole Commonwealth. Two aircraft went to the Ansett Airlines in Australia. North Eastern Airways and Olley Air Service in the UK also used the AS.6. In Czechoslovakia, the CSA ordered four AS.6 Envoy JC in 1937.

In May 1937, the British King George VI traded the de Havilland Dragon Rapide of the King's Flight for an Airspeed AS.6J Envoy III. The AS.6's good stability and flaps, as well as its low landing speed (less than 100 km/h) was decisive. The aircraft received the registration G-AEXX and was painted in distinctive red and blue colours.

The Airspeed AS.6 Envoy also entered the Air Forces of different countries. The British Royal Air Force used a few AS.6 in a military configuration. The aircraft was used in the Air Forces of Spain, Japan, South Africa, Finland and China and some others. Seven machines were ordered for joint use by the South African Air Force and South African Airways, with three being delivered in military form and four delivered to South African Airways, where they were used on the air route between Johannesburg - Bloemfontein - Port Elizabeth on 12 October 1936. Each of these seven aircraft could be transformed by a work crew of four within four hours from the transport version into a light bomber or reconnaissance aircraft. In this configuration the crew consisted of four; pilot, navigator, radio operator and gunner.

In October 1936, the British Air Ministry ordered 136 Envoys for crew training. These further developed aircraft were given a new company designation as the AS.10 and entered RAF service as the Airspeed Oxford.

During the Spanish Civil War, ten AS.6 Envoys were obtained by the Spanish Republicans, with the Nationalist side using two, including one that defected from the Republicans, as transport, reconnaissance aircraft or light bombers.

During the Second World War, the German Luftwaffe captured some machines and used them as trainer aircraft. The Luftwaffe gave one aircraft to Finland on 22 January 1942, as reparation for the accidental shooting down of a Finnish de Havilland Dragon Rapide. This aircraft was used between 1942 and 1943. Likewise, one aircraft was used between 1941 to 1943 by the Slovaks.


This one from RS Models is a standard multi-media short run kit. You all know about the usual in terms of how nice the external detailing is and the need to clean up the big bits and test fit everything so I'll go right on to the features. First off, this one has a relatively extensive clear suite for a short run kit that includes a nicely molded but somewhat distorted cockpit transparency and a pair of cabin windows. This latter bit is a tad different than you might expect in that the cabin windows also include that part of the outer fuselage. You place these onto the fuselage and then attach the upper fuselage atop it. While it eliminates a clear strip on the inner fuselage, it makes it difficult to tackle any seams you may have as there is very little 'fuselage' around each window.

Backing up a bit, the cockpit has a single seat (no copilot on these) with an etched harness as well as an etched instrument panel and rudder pedals. Instruments are on an acetate sheet that fits behind the instrument panel. The seat sits right in the middle of the opening to the cabin which makes me wonder how the pilot got into it. There is also a control wheel and what looks like a landing gear lever and flap lever on the pilot's right. Both of these and the base into which they fit are p.e. The cabin has a pair of rear walls and seven airline style seats.

Back at the rest of the airframe, you have a single lower with with two upper wing halves; pretty standard stuff. The kit has a number of lower engine nacelles, but since this is the Castor engine powered plane, apparently only one set applies. The upper engine nacelle is resin as are the engines. In fact, this is one of the deals where you get a crankcase and have to attach each of the individual cylinders. The rocker arm pushrods are photo etch and the exhaust collector is resin. A resin engine ring and crankcase cover are supplied. The latter may be optional with some markings options, but again, none is specified.

Each of the main landing gear assemblies looks rather complex and consists of four pieces per side. Detail drawings are supplied. Each kit has four sets of prop blades. Two sets are different pitch from the other two and in this case, the instructions are specific on which markings option uses which blades.

Instructions are well drawn and provide generic color information. As these are basically airliners, there are no weapons options. Four markings options are provided with the painting and markings guide on the back of the box. One is an actual airliner with the CSA in 1938 with a blue fuselage and tailplane along with the leading edges of the wings and engine nacelles. The rest of the wings are in silver. One option is Finnish with yellow fuselage band and lower wing tips. This appears to be in silver as does the Luftwaffe option (which is listed as 1940-42, but has Eastern Front ID markings). Also in Eastern Front markings is a Croatian plane from 1943. This one appears to be in overall RLM 02. Decals are well printed and are very thin.


It is with a bit of trepidation that I start a multimedia short run kit like this, especially one with a fair amount of photo etch and resin. These are the sorts of kits that seem to end up on the shelf of doom more than any other type. But I like the look of the plane and having recently finished a non-multimedia twin without any trauma, I thought I'd give this one a go.

The first step was to go over the instructions and see what bits I might need on this one as you are provided a number of options in terms of props and lower engine nacelles. The latter had me scratching my head as the instructions did not provide conclusive information on which of the three sets I should use. I finally just removed a set that looked close and after removing one of the upper nacelles from its resin block, decided that it would work OK.

Then started the process of not only cleaning up parts, but also doing things like building the engines. I really do not like the separate cylinders and block style of engines. Much rather have a somewhat less detailed single piece engine. None of this was helped by having a short shot cylinder and a hole or two that needed opening up. Even less fun was that the engine block only had a vague resemblance to what was in the instructions.

While all the cylinders were being installed and drying, I started assembling the interior. The cabin has seven seats, which seem to be oversize as fitting them in place leaves pretty much zero room for anyone who is 3D to actually walk between them. I then assembled the pilot's seat, which has a trim wheel and seat harness to be glued on before painting. The bulkheads were next and not surprisingly, they were a bit wider than the floor piece.

Once all that was assembled, I glued in a couple of very fragile p.e. bits to the floor and sidewall. Then I installed the seat, glued the acetate instruments behind the etched instrument panel and attempted to attach it to the floor. There is no plastic backing to the panel, making getting it in place very difficult. With the interior done, I attached one side as best as I could to one fuselage half (no placement marks or tabs) using the aft bulkhead to position things. Then the other half was attached requiring the usual clamps and filler. The clear bits are next and this is a bit of a poser. One is that the clear is brittle and I cracked one removing it from the sprue. Secondly, the side windoe pieces are flat and the fuselage is curved front to rear. I used super glue for alignment, first getting the back piece in place, then the center section and finally the front. All the time using the roof piece to check alignment.

Eventually I got all the pieces in place and attached the roof. I was not surprised to find the need for filler and that was particularly true for the rear section of the roof. With that done, the tailplanes were attached. There are shallow receptacles for equally shallow tabs, but I simply sanded down the tabs and did a butt join. Then I assembled the wings and when dry started the process of sanding down both the wings and areas of the fuselage to get a decent fit. In addition to the wing roots, I found that sanding down the front of the lower wing piece was the best way to get the wing and fuselage root areas to match up.

Then a part I was not looking forward to; the engine nacelles. As mentioned earlier, you are provided resin upper nacelles and a choice of three lower sections, but are not told which of the lower ones to use. I did not choose wisely the first time, but the second choice seemed to fit fairly well. Of course it isn't perfect and I can see a fair amount of cutting, sanding and shaping in my future to get it all done. I had the expected trouble getting the exhaust to fit, breaking some of the small stacks in the process. Getting the engines to fit into the cowlings required me to sand away a small amount from the top of each of the rocker covers. I then took a brief hiatus from this kit to help recover my sanity.

Returning after a few weeks. I struggled with the resin exhaust. These are a bit too small for the engine and though I was careful when stretching it out, I managed to break a few of the stacks. These were then painted and the engines butt joined on the nacelles. Fit is fairly poor as the final exhaust pipes did not want to fit at all in the way I thought they should. I was getting fairly fed up with the kit by this time and so did not make any more heroic efforts to fix things. The prop attachment openings were opened up and I installed sections of bronze wire to replace the short shot plastic prop shafts (as in there were not any).

Of the four options, I was still somewhat undecided on exactly which ones I wanted to do, but did narrow it down to one of the two overall silver options. These had yellow lower wingtips and a yellow band around the fuselage which I had to paint so sprayed those areas white then yellow. I chose the Finnish markings for this one and the eight decals went on without any issue. They are also nice and thin but not so thin that they easily fold onto themselves.

With the painting done, the main wheels were glued in place and I drilled out the tail strut for a section of wire after having broken it several times. The props were then installed, a clear coat sprayed on the airframe, and the masking removed. Last step was the install the landing light covers, which took a bit of effort.

I like short run kits. I like that they are something different and that they can be a challenge. I don't like that my skills are not up to having them look as good as a standard injected kit when I'm done. But since few people will see them outside of MM, I can live with that. Recommended for experienced modelers only.


6 September 2019

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