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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Airfix Folland Gnat T1

And now for an official milestone. The 400th completed model in the 72 Land State Museum of Aircraft Design. It isn’t the best, nor was it the easiest, but it is the latest.

This is the new-tool Airfix Folland Gnat T1. I don’t have a copy of the original tooling, so I can’t give an opinion of where improvements were made, though I assume the old one had raised panel lines. Fit is a bit indifferent, especially around the cockpit and the piece that attaches the upper wings to the fuselage. In fact, if you aren’t scrupulous about dry-fitting the canopy while you are cement that seam, you are likely to end up in the same boat I found myself: with a canopy that resolutely would not fit snugly. In the end I got it attached as best I could and tried to make up the difference with a couple of coats of Mr Surfacer as putty. If, as some modellers have suggested, there is an A-team and a B-team designing Airfix kits, this has the hallmarks of the backup squad. Still, I do appreciate the opportunity to build a Gnat using recent kitmaking technology.

Decals were a mystery for a while. The kit decals didn’t do it for me, so I went looking for alternate schemes. There aren’t too many, but I decided early on that it would either be the Red Arrows or Yellowjacket version. And since I already have a finished Red Arrow Hawk, I decided that the Yellowjacket would do. I have an ancient – I mean, this must be 70s at least – Aerodecal sheet with serials for all the Yellowjackets. I wondered if their age would make them brittle, but they performed as well as any of the recent decals I’ve used lately. I did have some trouble finding the proper serial for the team leader (with the black tail), but a combination of a Google search and a query on 72nd Scale Aircraft gave me the info I needed. Thanks as always, gents.

400 may not put me in the league with Alan Hall’s Airpower Model Collection (a travelling exhibition of 1000+ in 1:72 that he used to show at different places back when he was editor of the original Airfix magazine). Or even in the 500+ collection of 1:72 WW2 models currently on exhibition at the Seattle Museum of Flight. But in a hobby where many participants haven’t actually completed a model in years, I can at least prove that I am a Profoundly Average Kit Assembler and not a Profoundly Average Model Collector.


  1. Congrats on your milestone - great job on this lovely looking Gnat! Personally I'm a big fan of the new look Airfix, they are at least releasing new kits on a regular basis, re-packaging if not re-tooling older ones, which makes them (along perhaps with Trumpeter..) the current standard bearers of the hobby ! And don't get started on builders vs. 'collectors' or even 'builders' vs. 'detractors'. I'm sure we all have much more time for real kit builders than some of the self-important Graham Boaks of this world - funny how the knockers (oo-errh!) and nit-pickers don't ever show any of their models - I suspect that their egos wouldn't stand it...

  2. We have a similar situation at IPMS-Seattle, which is a large club (120+ members). The noisiest detractors never seem to actually produce anything. If they did, everyone who has been the target of their sour comments would be salivating in anticipation!

    I'm a big Airfix/Hornby supporter too. Though their recent A-4, P-51, and 109E don't light me up (since I'm perfectly happy with the Fujimi and Tamiya versions) I do understand the rationale for producing them. And I love things like the Valiant, Gnat, and Swordfish.