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  1. At the time of the Munich Crisis, the Morane-Saulnier MS406 was the pride of the Aviation Militaire of France. A pre-production batch had begun service trials several months earlier, and the production version reached first-line units in December, 1938. The MS406 was designed around the Hispano-Suiza moteur-canon, a twelve cylinder vee engine of 860hp, geared to accommodate a 20mm cannon firing through the propellor hub. This combination was already employed by the Dewoitine D.510, a fixed-gear open-cockpit low-wing cantilever monoplane of all-metal stressed skin construction, in wide service since 1936. The MS406 was of fully modern configuration, with a retracting undercarriage and an enclosed cockpit, but its fuselage aft of the cockpit was fabric covered, and the rest clad in hinged or screw-on panels. The wings were covered in a laminate of plywood between sheets of aluminum. The MS406 was appreciable faster than the earlier Dewoitine, reaching 300mph vs the 250mph of the latter, at roughly the same altitude. This was enough to match the early marques of the German Messerschmitt 109, but much slower than later models of the German fighter, which predominated by the time war broke out. In combat, the MS406 proved manouverable enough to defend itself, but suffered from lack of armor and armament that performed poorly. Its weapons were fired by a pneumatic system, which introduced a lag between triggering and shooting that badly affected accuracy, and the drum-fed cannon and machine guns (one in each wing) were prone to jams. Replacement of the MS406 was underway in the final weeks before Petain signed the armistice with Hitler. Some continued in service with the Vichy regime, a few pilots defected from Syria flying Moranes, and served with the English in the Middle East so long as they could be kept airworthy. Vichy machines engaged Allied aircraft in the Middle East, and Thai and Japanese aircraft in Indochina, where one escadrille was equipped with Moranes originally intended for delivery to Nationalist China. Finland received some examples of the MS406. These came to be fitted with more powerful Soviet engines of 1100hp, which put their best speed up to about 325mph. Similar results were obtained with a 1000hp motor employed by the Swiss, who built a good many on license. This model represents a Morane of 5th Escadrille, GC III/6, in the spring of 1939, when the unit was established on the type. Morane-Saulnier MS406 No163, military serial N483, was flown then by Pierre Le Gloan, a military pilot for six years already, who as Adjutant was commander of the escadrille. He swapped this machine for another MS406 in October. The unit was re-equipped with the new Dewoitine D529 in June. Before the armistice he was accorded ace status, credited with four German and seven Italian aeroplanes. Adj. Le Gloan remained with his unit under the Vichy regime, and engaging the English in Syria was credited with six RAF machines. When Vichy units in North Africa went over to the Allies, he led briefly a unit equipped with the P-39 Airacobra assigned to off-shore patrols. His engine broke down, he was forced to land, and when he did, he forgot to jettison a belly tank, which ignited a conflagration in which he perished. I do not know that the camouflage pattern is just right --- French camouflage was applied rather freestyle, and without several photographs of a machine to hand guesswork is all there is. Full size upper-surface roundels, and fuselage roundels, were not employed until early in 1940. The kit is the RS boxing of the MS406 in 1/72 scale. It's a good enough kit, but not an easy build. Canopy, however, fit extremely well, and fit of the big pieces was good. The troubles were little things with the interior, and radiator assembly, and landing gear door. All colors but the green are home mixes, the green is MM Green Drab. To get an over-spray effect, I mixed adjacent colors, brushed a thin line of this at the demarcations, then went back with washes of the base color on either side of the line. I used a Print Scale decal sheet, and cannot say I recommend them. They were extremely hard to handle, being quite prone to fold over on themselves. If the sheet had not contained some duplicates (for 'N' and '8' on the under-surface) I would have had to choose another subject. Their blue is too dark and pure, and I painted over that. Wife made the final serials for the rudder (the first off the sheet having balled up hopelessly), and a roundel center to touch-up one of the little ones. I supplied raised surface detail, by putting 0.01" strip in the recessed lines on the fuselage, sealing them down with Tamiya extra-thin, to represent the hinged fastenings. I got a little carried away, as the nose actually had seams, even gaps, between its screw-on panels. But many of the engraved lines on this kit really ought to be raised. Here is the WIP thread, from the 'French Fancy II' GB, for anyone interested in greater detail: https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235100066-cest-fini-morane-saulnier-ms406-rs-models-172/
  2. Dewoitine D.520C1 n° 277, GC III/6 5ème escadrille l'armée de l'Air, Rayack (Syria), June 1941, flown by Sous-lieutenant Pierre Le Gloan Kit: 1/72 Hasegawa Dewoitine D.520 "French Air Force" Afermarket parts : Eduard #72-254 photo-etched detail set (selected parts only) Falcon vac formed canopy (from the set #26 “France WWII”) Corrections & additions made on the kit: The nose air intakes were originally the wrong shape being too narrow at their forward end. This was corrected with plastic inserts and re-shaping. The louvers were added to the intakes as it can be seen on the photos. The under-belly cooler was too narrow and also not curved enough in outline. It was re-shaped by making two cuts in its rear part, repositioning the rear ends of the cooler sides outward and filling the gaps with Mr.Surfacer. The cooler interior (area covered by the cooler) was completely re-worked by cutting out the flat plastic fragment of the lower wing part and making an appropriate niche instead, as it was on the real thing. Therefore, the etched cooler grills by Eduard (designed to fit the kit parts) became just useless and the replacement parts were finally scratch built. The wing area where the cooler is attached was also modified according to the reference photos. The main wheel wells (too shallow and represented totally wrong on the kit) were completely re-worked, in particular, the niches for the landing gear legs. For the wheel well “ceilings” the Eduard parts were used, with some additions though. The kit parts for the landing gear covers were thinned down and modified for correct appearance. This way they still look much better than the flat etched pieces. The incorrect curved representation of the area under the rear view windows behind the cockpit (à la P-40) was removed and replaced by the flat panels at it was the case with the real thing. Some panel lines were added and some were corrected according to the reference photos. The rear view windows (unfortunately, not present with the Falcon set and too thick as kit parts) were therma-formed using the kit-parts as templates. The main wheels were flattened using the surface of the electric cooker. The etched parts for the gun sight were still too big and this one was eventually scratch built as well. I decided to add the ring gun sight as well, since it can be clearly seen on one of the photos showing this a/c. The kit decals were modified according to the reference photos.
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