I normally don’t do biplane builds. My recent experience with the Eduard/Roden Stupid Gladiator only reinforced this. In fact, I almost passed on this build. But when you derive part of your income from commission builds, you take what comes along. And I was counting on the fact that this was a Tamiya kit to make the build far less dramatic.
To call this kit detailed is an understatement. It’s superbly detailed. The cockpit looks as if you could just get in the thing and fly away. Assembly is simple, even with all the parts. Basically just follow the instructions and it will just come together. I did choose to leave the rear machine gun off, figuring it would be best to install at the very end.
The engine is also very detailed, yet very simple. I built the engine and set it aside so that I could mate it with the cowl assembly after those parts were painted.
The fuselage join is perfect, with only the need to remove the glue seam. At first I had a few issues getting it altogether properly, but I was following the maxim “If it’s Tamiya and doesn’t fit, it’s you and not the kit”, and sure enough, I didn’t have things aligned properly. One minor adjustment and it all clicked in place- literally.
With the fuselage finished, I began to contemplate how to get the wings and struts together, and how to get it all rigged. I hoped the rigging would be simple. The customer had asked that I use Tamiya’s own metal etched rigging set. Again, I was counting on Tamiya being Tamiya and the whole thing being drama free.
After reading a few build reports, some thorough review of the instructions, and quite a bit of test fitting, I realized the simplest way would be to build the main wing “boxes” separately, including paint and rigging, and then join it all together at the end.
The fuselage has small lower wing stubs, and a small central upper wing section. The upper and lower outer wings build up into a single unit. All struts are very easy to locate as Tamiya decided to actually make the kit buildable, rather than provide tiny pin holes for struts and say “good luck.”
I added the small wing stubs and struts to the fuselage, and built up the center wing section, setting it aside for later. Next came the left and right outer wing structures. I added the Tamiya rigging that formed and “X” within the inner and outer struts. Tamiya engineered it to be drop dead simple. So far so good.
With the various wing components built, I did some additional test fitting, and all looked good. I then proceeded to paint the model’s component parts.
Tamiya paints were used for the build, though I opted for their bottled paints rather than the suggested rattle cans. Once the paint was on, I added some oils for staining, a gloss coat, decals, and some final shading and fading. All sub-assembles were then given a coat of Vallejo Sating Varnish.
I added the final rigging between the struts to the wing sections, and added the center upper wing section to the fuselage, and its rigging also. Again- the Tamiya rigging worked. If you don’t slide it in place securely, it will bow out a bit, but overall, it was no more difficult than building any other portion of the kit.
With all painting, decaling, and rigging in place, I joined all the subsections together- and they just worked. No fuss, no worry. To be honest, I was surprised at how well it went together. Even after all the test fitting and caution in assembly, I kept thinking “something is not going to work in this…” But it all worked, perfectly.
With all the final bits added, I was quite happy with the result. It builds into a very big model for being a 1/48 scale single engined aircraft. With it’s size and rigging and torpedo slung underneath, I think it makes for quite the impressive display.
If you like biplanes, Swordfish, or Fleet Air Arm subjects, don’t miss out on this kit.