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  1. I am still waiting for the canopy masks for the Vultee Valiant--we have had a national holiday which has slowed down the post. So I'll press on with this little monoplane, by coincidence, another green and orange paint job. This time from Sweden. I like the orange wings and the big yellow numbers... The sprue...not many pieces. --John
  2. Scottish Aviation Bulldog 1:48 Heritage Aviation Models Ltd. The Bulldog is best known as the RAF's basic trainer through the 70s and beyond, with the last of them being sold in 2001 to make way for the Grob Tutor. The aircraft began life as a product of Beagle Aircraft in the late 60s, which was taken over by Scottish Aviation when Beagle ceased trading, with the majority of the aircraft constructed at Prestwick Airport, where the prototype originally flew. Its only other operator from new was the Swedish Air Force, who were in fact the earliest user taking delivery of 58 aircraft in 1971, just before the RAF's order was placed. A number of the total production are still in service, as some Swedish airframes were sold as a block to a rental company, and the RAF sold theirs as general aviation aircraft just after the turn of the millennium. The aircraft is a low wing monoplane with fixed undercarriage, and seats two pilots side-by-side, with an optional single seat in the rear of the compartment. It is powered by a Lycoming piston engine, and unbelievably is capable of carrying a small bomb load! While the RAF never used this feature, the Swedes are thought to have used them for weapons training on occasion. RAF airframes had the hardpoints, but weren't "wired up" to launch. The Kit This kit isn't brand new, but could be seen as a minor re-tool, due to the fact that the canopy has been re-done to give it the more prototypical Bulldog look, which has much improved the look of the finished model. It arrives in Heritage's usual compact card box, with a printed cover that has a picture of a parked airframe on, as well as the details of the kit. It is a resin multi-media kit, consisting primarily of resin parts, but with a vacformed canopy. Inside the box is a heat sealed bag, partitioned to improve protection of the parts from damage during transit, which contains five separate large resin parts, plus 8 casting blocks containing the rest of the airframe parts in a creamy yellow resin. Another casting block is provided in a more rigid black resin, a small block of clear resin parts, and two vacform canopies are also supplied, as is a small sheet of decals and an instruction booklet. The first thing that is immediately apparent is that the Bulldog is not a large aircraft. That said, the amount of detail that has been included is very good, and casting is very nice, with no bubbles present on initial inspection (some may show up during construction, but that is always an issue with resin kits). The surface detail on the aircraft's skin is excellent, including very fine recessed panel lines, strengthening ribs on the main flying surfaces and deeper engraved lines where the flying surfaces hinge. Internal detail is also good, with a pair of crew seats, a very nice instrument panel with a delicately moulded coaming, a large centre console, rudder pedals, control column and the big rear bulkhead all crammed into the cockpit area. Construction should be fairly straight forward, as the part count is low, and the breakdown of parts is very similar to a comparable injection moulded kit, but without the alignment lugs that can cause as much consternation as assistance. The main fuselage is split in half vertically, with the engine cowling a single separate part. The cowling has some rather nice moulded intakes and exhausts fore and aft, that must have been tricky to cast so well, which will improve the detail at the front of the aircraft immensely. There is one solitary bubble in my copy at the top of the prop mounting point, but as this won't even be seen on the finished article, I'm not going to worry. The cockpit will need painting and assembly first, and due to the rudimentary nature of these simple trainers, the floor of the cockpit follows the shape of the fuselage interior. The centre console hides the seam from view, which is a boon, and the seats, rudders and control columns affix to the floor of the fuselage, so could be left off until after painting, simplifying the masking of the cockpit area, and reducing the chances of damaging the delicate parts. The instrument panel and coaming could also be left of until later, unless you plan on attaching the forward half of the canopy before painting, which would complicate matters. All you need to make a good cockpit is a set of seatbelts and some instrument panel decals from the Airscale range, plus a little care in the painting. Once the fuselage is complete and glued together with super glue or epoxy, the rest of construction should proceed quickly. The wings are each one piece, and have small pins to align them on the wing root, and all you need to do here is ensure the correct dihedral is maintained until the glue goes off. The painting diagram on the instructions will help with this, but do check your references for confirmation before proceeding. The horizontal tail also consists of two parts, with similar pegs to aid alignment, and they are perpendicular to the rudderline, so should be relatively easy to get lined up properly. A pair of strakes attach to the leading edge of the elevators, which will need careful alignment to get the right look. These are a simple butt-joint to the fuselage, so take care in lining them up both with the tail and eachother. The tail fin is moulded into the fuselage halves, with a separate rudder, which can be posed however you like within the constraints of the real thing, but don't forget to offset the control columns, or the purists will have you for breakfast! Under the fuselage is a fin that contains the tail skid, which protects the rear of the fuselage from over-exuberant take-offs and poor landings. This is supplied as a single part that is glued directly to the underside of the fuselage in line with the rudder's centre position. The landing gear is fixed, and the resin parts for this are cast in a harder black resin that should see off any worries about the legs bowing over time that are associated with softer resins when subject to heat. I would still keep this little model away from any heat sources though, including any incandescent bulbs that you may have in your display cabinet, as well as the sun when it pokes its head through the clouds on occasion. The tyres are cast with their hubs integrally, which is the only real option at this size, and a quick rub with a sanding stick will put a flat-spot into the tyres if you want to go for the more realistic weighted look to them. The clear parts consist of two side windows cast in resin, which must be added to the fuselage before it is closed up. These parts are suffering a little unevenness to their surfaces, so it would be advisable to polish them up to improve clarity before installing them in the fuselage. The inner surface can be smoothed off and re-polished whilst off the model, after which you could install the parts in the fuselage, filling the seamline as you go, then sanding the outside surface to match the lines of the fuselage to give a nice smooth overall finish. Once you're happy with the shape, polish up the area, which will return the windows to clear, leaving the windows flush and streamlined. The main canopy was originally cast from clear resin, but as it had shape issues it has been replaced by a more accurate vacformed part. An unspoken tradition in the multi-media world is that you get two canopies in case you ruin one, and this kit is no exception. The canopies are drawn from a female mould, and once cut from their protective "box" can be test fitted to the fuselage and adjusted to fit. Don't forget that the Bulldog's main canopy overlaps the sides of the fuselage so that it can be slid back over the spine for entry and egress. As such the canopy should hang free down the side of the fuselage, so don't trim it to fit the cockpit opening. Because of the depth of the "pull" (the term used by vacformers to describe the pulling of the soft styrene sheet over the mould), the side-sills are a little thin and indistinct, so take care when trimming them to ensure you don't go too far. If you plan on posing the canopy open, my recommendation would be to detach the windscreen section, fettle it and glue it on, then tackle the rear canopy. posing the canopy closed will require you to study your references very carefully whilst trimming the canopy to shape. The final part of construction will involve the prop, which is supplied as a central boss, to which the two blades are added. Take care in aligning the two blades fore and aft as well as so they line up from the front, or your Bulldog will look a bit funny! A small peg on the back of the boss lines up with the hole in the front of the cowling, and then it's just a case of adding the two clear beacons, two aerials on the spine and underside, and you'll be ready to go. The decals are kept in their own bag with a sheet of greaseproof paper protecting them. They are printed by Fantasy Printshop, and are well done, with good register and thin carrier film. Colour density appears good on the sheet, but check if applying them over darker colours, especially on the red wingtips. From the box you can portray one of two aircraft, XX206/04 University of Wales Air Squadron, and XX534/B University of Birmingham Air Squadron, both of which wear the familiar red/grey/white scheme that has adorned many a trainer over the years. There are a few choices of minor decals that you should check your references before applying, so a search of airliners.net using the aircraft's serial will be a wise decision. Conclusion Heritage are renowned for tackling little known and esoteric subjects, and also for filling gaps in the market that have long been lamented. The initial release of this appealing little kit was somewhat marred by the concerns over the canopy, but unlike a lot of manufacturers, Ian (the boss and bottle-washer combined) has listened and re-tooled the canopy. It's a nice kit, and as long as you're not phobic about vacformed canopies, it builds pretty much like an injection moulded kit once you've removed the casting block, which are all sensibly places and minimised. This is a kit that will require some modelling skill, and a little acquired experience before you tackle it. It's not suitable for the absolute novice, but anyone that has built a few kits, and maybe dealt with a vacform canopy before, should be capable of dealing with the challenges that a short-run resin kit present. Remember that you must also use super-glue (CA) and/or 2-part Epoxy glues to build resin kits, as plastic cement just doesn't work. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of Ian at
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