Aeroclub's 1/48 scale
by David Valinsky
HyperScale is proudly supported by Squadron
Here is Aeroclub's very old 1/48 scale Gloster Gamecock, and yes, it's a vacform kit, picked up for a not inconsiderable price from ebay. My only other experience with vacform was an Aeroclub Sopwith Pup which was soon replaced with an Eduard offering and a Dynavector Gannet. The latter was much more successful and gave me the confidence to return to something smaller and a lot more flimsy.
The vacform parts come on one sheet and consist of two fuselage halves and nose piece, top and bottom of both sets of wings and tailplane, fronts and backs for the two wheels and a somewhat useless seat and instrument panel. Aeroclub provide the detail parts in white metal including the very exposed engine, the propeller, two misshapen guns, landing gear legs and tail skid, and a control column. There are some lengths of strut material as well.
The moulding of the vacform parts is good (although not as good as Dynavector's!) with acceptable fabric surfaces on the wings and rear fuselage. However, to get the wing trailing edges to an acceptable thickness I decided to sand off all the detail and replicate rib tapes with some bare-metal foil, a laborious process but worth it in the end. The only really major surgery was in the nose area. The nose piece provided by aeroclub consists of a ring of 'fingers' which are supposed to slot between the engine cylinders. Not only is this very difficult to remove from the backing sheet but it is not a good representation of the real thing. Instead I first attached the engine and then positioned nine plasticard plates between the cylinders, blending them into the fuselage with fine sandpaper.
The only other construction issue with this kit is the cabane struts. It is a matter of trial and error to decide what struts to use to position the wing and what ones to delicately tease in afterwards. This combined with the need to cut some pretty large holes in the fuselage decking to allow them all to sit comfortably makes for much cursing and and sticky tweezers.
Other than these problems construction went slowly but surely. Most of the cockpit was scratched, the frames from thin square sections of balsa and the instrument panel from three layers of plasticard. Instruments were painted and then filled with Krystal Klear. Guns were replaced with some resin examples from a Classic Airframes Blenheim (you'll only see the barrels anyway) and exhausts were scratched from some brass rod. The tiny landing lights on the top wing were also scratch-built, this time from some plastic rod provided by Aeroclub with a dab of Krystal Klear on the end.
The aluminium paint came out of a can of car paint with Misterkit Dark Sea grey for the fuselage decking. The propeller was striped with humbrol 'wood' and a dark brown before getting a thin reddish coat. The red on the prop. hub and wheel centres is humbrol scarlet.
Rigging was undertaken with elastic for the RAF wires and nylon thread for the radio wires to the wings and fuselage.
I used this model to test two products for future use on some inter-war RAF biplanes. the first was the Bare-Metal foil which I have already mentioned and of which I had heard mixed reviews. I have to say I had no problems at all covering the small area around the nose and the rib tapes went down well.
The other little experiment was printing my own decals. The aeroclub set were yellowed, thick, very matt, out of register and had the wrong style of serial codes. Not having a printer that can print white, I replaced the large wing roundels with some Model Alliance decals and printed everything else. Because the colours are printed onto a clear decal sheet I found it necessary to print two of everything and lay one decal on top of another to produce an acceptable result. Nevertheless, the decal paper from Experts Choice worked like a charm, settling down well under a coat of micro-set and -sol. Because the serials were hand-painted on the original aircraft, I used a selection of fonts on the fuselage and tail.
The only problem with the decals was the impossibility of matching the colours to the Model alliance roundels but I'll let this one go!
So there you have it, a 1/48 scale Gamecock. There aren't many of these around and you'll pay a high price on ebay if and when one turns up. It's a shame that with Classic Airframes producing a wide range of inter-war american and German aircraft, no one has yet turned their attention to British aircraft of the same period. Everything from the sublime (Hawker Hart) to the ridiculous (Blackburn Blackburn), all with a wonderful selection of garish colour schemes. Inpact provided us with some of the best and Aeroclub's vacforms have filled in some gaps but neither are up to the standard of modern kit production. Nevermind, I have an aeroclub vacformed Siskin and brand new injection-moulded Gauntlet in the stash to keep me busy. I can't afford to turn to Montex's beautiful but expensive 1:32 resin offerings, perhaps they will scale down in the future!
Model, Images and Text Copyright and 2008 by David Valisnky
Page Created 18 June, 2008
19 June, 2008
HyperScale Main Page