Modeling Nostalgia: Aurora’s 1/48th scale de Havilland Tiger Moth

Don McIntyre takes us on a trip down memory lane as he looks at a very old Aurora Tiger Moth.

Recently while browsing through the scalemates.com site, for some odd reason, I decided to look  or Aurora’s Tiger Moth. I picked one of these up at a yard sale many years ago. I saw that scalemates.com didn’t have this kit listed, so I decided to add it to their database.

The box art is typical for it’s time and Aurora had some of the nicer artwork of that era. An interesting feature is that the box art wraps around the long sides of the box. That’s pretty cool!
The instructions tell you what a particular part is. For example, I didn’t realize that the center section where the two upper wings join is a fuel tank.

The copyright date on this example is 1958! Where the instructions were folded, some of the paper looks like it’s been eaten away. Paper mites, maybe?

Looking at the instructions, I’m struck about how far (in most ways) instructions have come since this kit was made. However, I will say that these instructions certainly fulfill their function. In each step of the instructions, there are written instructions to go along with the drawings. It looks almost like Aurora expected you to paint and then apply decals before assembly. The painting instructions are a bit lacking, you’re only directed to paint the main wing struts and undersides Yellow and the tires black. Other than that you’re left to your own devices.

My decals are completely unusable, not to be unexpected for a decal sheet that’s only a year younger than me, heck, I feel pretty much in the same condition on some days myself. Markings are provided for one aircraft, R5130 of the RAF in 1940. I did find one photo at the Imperial War Museum’s site depicting this very aircraft. It could be flying with the #3 Ferry Pilots Pool, the Air Transport Auxiliary or #3 Flying Instructors School. The decals also contain the diamond-shaped “gas detection” patch that was so prevalent on British aircraft during the early part of WW-2.

Before I go any further, I’ve got to say that I don’t know how accurate this kit is, and frankly I’m not really inclined to do a lot of research on the Tiger Moth to find out. In most cases I’m in the TLAR (The Looks About Right) camp. I really envy those of you who do all that research and then find ways to fix the problem. It looks like what I expect a Tiger Moth to look like, so I’ll just leave it pretty much as is.

An overall look of the kit shows 38 glossy, hard Olive Drab plastic parts. Strangely enough, the panel detail that is included is engraved. For the fuselage this is pretty much limited to the nose area and the cockpit hatches (fold down items as on the Spitfire cockpit “door.”) The engraving is more than a little soft in places.

The inside of the fuselage halves is pretty much blank. There’s no sidewall detail at all.
One odd thing I noticed there, though is the logo stamped on the inside of the right fuselage half.
It says “PLAYCRAFT TOYS LTD MADE IN GT BRITAIN.” It makes me wonder if Playcraft molded the kits for Aurora, or if this kit was actually a special release for the UK.

As you can see, there isn’t much to the cockpit, a couple of control sticks and what I assume is supposed to represent seats.

The instrument panels are very basic, which befits it’s mission and era of production.

The nose cap isn’t too bad, but the prop, however, looks pretty hopeless to me. I’m not sure yet, what I’ll replace it with. The exhaust pipes for the in-line air-cooled engine are pretty simple. I think they could stand to have the ends drilled out, or if my manual dexterity fails me, be replaced by metal tubing. The pilot  (only one is included) will more than likely not be used. He is pretty awful…

The landing gear legs look a little soft, but I think they’ll look ok after a little cleaning up of mold seams and under a coat or two of paint. The wheels are pretty hopeless,  but I’m sure I’ve got something in the resin aftermarket collection or in the spares stash.The tail skid, interning struts and “N” struts will all need a bit of cleaning up.

Looking at the tail surfaces, I think the fabric surface is pretty well done, no hills and valleys here, just nice, tight canvas with the rib tapes molded in. They’re a little exaggerated, but a little light wet sanding should take care of that. The wings are the same way, again, no hills and valleys. On the lower wing the wing walk area is molded onto the wing near the root. Also, note how fine those (what I assume are) aileron control rods.

One clever item (related to the wings) is an “assembly jig” to ensure that you get the lower wing dihedral set correctly. Some manufacturers of newer kits could take a cue from this.

Another unusual thing about this kit, especially for its time, is that the markings weren’t molded (raised and textured) onto the wings and fuselage. Check out images of other Aurora kits of the time (I can recall their F4B-4, P-12 and B-26 having that  “feature”).

The windscreens are very simple. The only other clear parts are the components of the two part stand. The base has the “world” molded on it’s face. This was pretty common for Aurora stands of the time, whether they used clear or opaque plastic.

This is one of those kits that I’m sure I won’t get to anytime soon, but it will sure make a nice nostalgia build. It will interesting to compare next to some other trainers of the period, a Monogram T-6/Harvard, and maybe the Revell Stearman PT-17…

One comment

  • Nothing like a stroll down memory lane. I can’t believe we once could get so excited overall that soft molded detail.

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