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A Fan fan

The Fantrainer is one of those intriguing little designs that never really found its market, although it did wear Thai roundels and German crosses; I've always thought it would have made a good mount for grading potential pilots, and a suitable canvas for some colourful "trainer" markings and when I saw the Lift Here resin kit on Glenn Ashley's Blackbird Models stand at the Brampton show last year I pounced, and gave it to CFS. Sadly, apart of course from the car, it was the only casualty of my unsuccessful half-roll last December - you may remember the photo of Tallulah guarding its red and white remains - and as I have this strange reluctance to perform other than minor repairs on damaged models I was delighted to find a replacement kit, or indeed two, on Glenn's table at Cosford. One of my oriFantrainer T.1, RAFC Poacjers 1989ginal options had been for a Cranwell scheme, and I found a JP5 decal sheet with "Poachers" markings on whch were adaptable. Although it's six months or more since I made the first, I remembered one or two little quirks of the kit which I think I've managed to solve this time, and which I may even remember if/when I get to the third (Candy Cane Air Force, perhaps, If I can find the Microscale sheet). This one's due to go on the SIG table at ModelKraft this weekend; I'll be interested to see if it picks up as much attention as its predecessor. 21.04.17...

Up, up and not too far away

Some time back in an attempt to put some form of constraint on my modelling I decided that I'd only build models with roundels; given that my primary interest - well, one of them anyway - is in RAF unit history and markings it seemed not unreasonable. It was not long of course before I worked out that with a little elasticity such red, white and blue roundels could include maple leaves, kiwis and kangaroos but I may have stretched it a bit far in translating my criteria in to bleu, blanc et rouge. The impetus for this was the appearance on the "Future Releases" page of the Modelsvit kit of the Mirage III V-02; I figured that I'd work out how to decorate it when it arrived on my doorstep. When that happened I consulted "X-Planes of Europe 2" and French Secret Projects 1 by the irrespressible Jean-Christophe Carbonel, both coming readily to hand, and realised that it could only be in French colours. I thought I could probably find some A de L'A Jaguar decals - I do like their unit markings, and my first thought was the Chant et Combat cockerel's head - and found a "desert" Mirage III V, 11 Escadre Red Flag 1990scheme set from Berna; asking the Right People at the Cosford show produced a small selection of Matra missiles, and while one of them was an air-to-ground device I thought that fitting it under the fuselage between the efflux doors for the eight lift engines would not be a Good Idea. With two Magic AAMs and a pair of Matra 530s it became a quick-response interceptor, if probably a trifle short on range, but it could be capable of a quick front-line response; the colour scheme was copied shamelessly from a Jaguar that went to Red Flag in 1990 where it could have been a sudden defence in "rat and terrier" combat. I do like the French unit markings, both naval and air force, with the latter generally going back to the first world war; those on the III V are like so many both colourful and ingenious, and I particularly like the cat's face on the red disc (sadly I can't at the moment find my book of Escadrille emblems from which to quote its origin).

Although there's no statement on the box top boasting about the number of parts, it did bring back to me the days when the kit manufacturers seemed to think that a multiplicity of bits was a selling point, although I don't think Modelsvit went out of their way to give me more than was really needed; the depiction of the eight lift engines was of course a necessity, and putting them together before closing the fuselage halves was both time and effort consuming (and there are one or two really small pieces that either fell on the floor or never got taken off their runners). I'm glad I persevered, though (not one of my notable qualities); like the Fantrainer it's due on the SIG table this weekend, and I'll be interested to see the reaction. 22.04.17 ...

Mirage III V, 11 Escadre Red Flag 1990

Back to the past future -or maybe future past?

You may recall that a little while ago I decided that I could at least try to simplify my modelling - and perhaps even reduce my stash without undue pain - by making only models wearing roundels, preferably red, white and blue; hurrah! This meant that unless the models wore AIR MIN numbers my many years' indulgence in Luftwaffe '46 was inevitably ended. However...

It's really RS Models' fault. It was their pair of kits of dissimilar Messerschmitt twins, the Me 309 and 509 that came back with me from Telford, that breached the resolution, though these two were at least cunningly disguised in Czech and Israeli markings. In spite of the increasing problems posed by Very Small Parts I have been further tempted by the promise - it is a promise if the box top apears on the Future Releases page, isn't it? - of the deck-landing variant of the Messerschmitt P.1106, from RS models and destined for the Graf Zeppelin/Peter Strasser, and put my mark upon it. Then of course a selection of land-based veriants appeared first, and with the photo of the mouldings showing radar aerials for the night-fighter, meaning that I wouldn't have to trust any etched brass to my increasingly uncertain touch, I found myself back in the dubious world of "German Paper Planes" (one of my children took the title of the book literally and thought that it was a sample of warfighting origami, but that must have been so long ago that it was before the WhatIf? SIG was hatched from its somewhat dubious egg).

One of the features of many of the current batch of What If? releases from RS is their provision of possible unit markings and finishes, with the evident application of a certain amount of research and of an informed approach to the possibilities. My initial thoughts for this night-fighter were to have it rushed from the factory to the front line in bare metal overall with some form of filler/sealant over the panel joins; I have a fairly distinct memory of one or more Me 262s looking like that. This morphed into RLM02 overall,Messerschmitt Me 610 B-2, 1946 with some hastily overpainted dirty black for its nocturnal task; it must have been the hasty application that was responsible for the slippage of the Staffelfuhrer symbol. I'm sure the V-tail influenced me in choosing this as a subject (I've never forgiven Beech for putting a "proper" fin on the Bonanza) and I plan to take up my option on the Me 610 T when it arrives; I think this is destined to come as a surprise to the Aeronavale. The hook's already on the mouldings, as were the wing tanks; these weren't suggested by the instructions, but I suspect that any extra fuel would have been welcome to the 1946 nachtflieger crews.

Good Morning, Admiral

Every so often I come across a kit which is too good and too unexpected to pass up, even if I don't know what I'm going to do with it when I'm handing over the used fivers (the new ones don't look quite so used, do they?). For those of us who are attracted by the less usual it's amazing what can now be found, usually by chance and with an unfamiliar provenance, in resin; the Short Sealand comes labelled Lift Here, like the Fantrainer, and comes from Slovakia through the welcome agency of Glenn Ashley's Blackbird Models. The decals include Yugoslav military markings but my thoughts were from the start towards a British user, and while it was in the Great Pending Tray awaiting its turn my thoughts were on the Metropolitan Communication Squadron, not least with the option of being able to moor it on the Thames near the Ministry of Defence (if you can get a Hunter under Tower Bridge....). But as so often it was a conversation with one of my fellow SIG members at Short Sealand C.20, Teovilton 1958 a weekend show that came up with the suddenly obvious solution; surely a semi-aquatic transport would be an ideal Captain's, or indeed Admiral's, Barge. Various white and "parrot green", or dark blue, de Havillands were a familiar sight in the 'fifties and 'sixties around Fleet Air Arm establishments, and the Hunters in particular have often appeared in model form, and even on decal sheets.

At the moment my inbuilt logic is having trouble matching that that I need for a radio player, but if you've been reading me from time to time you'll surely be familiar with how I work my way through my What If? planning sequences; and in this case, in the way that the RAF Pembrokes were reputed to enable Their Airships to board their aerial carriages in full dress, Their Lordships would surely have been able to embark on theirs when necessary in full ceremonial regalia. Given that Yeovilton has for many years been the hub of UK naval aviation I thought that their tail code would be relevant in the absence of any unit marking. By the time this appears in public - Coventry, probably - it'll probably sport a pair of admiral's flags, off a Hunter sheet of course!

Like almost all the windows that have been integral to an increasing number of my models recently, those on the Sealand have been fettled with Kristal Klear rather than trimmed acetate sheet reinforcing my claim to be an assembler of kits, even in resin, rather than a modeller. And as always my thanks are due to Kit for allowing me to believe that the Master Plans, when I decide on them, are mine! 23.05.17...

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