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Fiat G.91R Gina 1.72 Meng Models


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Fiat G.91 Gina

Meng - 1/72


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In 1953 NATO issued a specification for a new lightweight tactical support aircraft. This competition was designed to produce an aircraft that was light, small, and expendable (great term!). It was to be equipped with basic avionics and weapons systems.

The thinking at the time was that there was a threat to large airbases from Nuclear weapons, and that many more cheaper aircraft could be easily dispersed without a large support back up. NATO countries were also looking to counter the trend for larger and more expensive aircraft.

The technical requirements for the new aircraft were;
- 3610 foot Take off distance to clear a 49ft obstacle.
- Short and rough field operations including grass and highways.
- Max speed of 0.95 Mach.
- Max range of 170 miles with 10mins over target.
- Armour protection for the pilot and fuel tanks.
- 4 x 12.7mm machine guns, or 2 x 20mm/30mm cannons.
- A max 4850lb empty weight, and 10360lb max weight.

Designs were submitted from 8 projects. These were whittled down to Breguet 1001 Taon, Fiat G.91 & Dassault Mystere XXVI (later to become the Etendard IV). The G.91 first flew in 1956.

Trails took place in France in 1957, with the Fiat aircraft being declared the winner in 1958. Things did not go initially well for the G.91 as the prototype was destroyed in vibration testing. This resulted in a re-design comprising a larger tail, higher canopy and a ventral fin.

Originally using finance from the US; France, Italy, Germany & Turkey were to get 50 aircraft each. However given how these things usually go things did not go to plan. Following the loss of the prototype the French decided to pursue the Etendard. The Italians pre-ordered the G.91 even before the results of the competition were known, and the British simply ignored the whole thing as they were developing the Hunter!

In the end 174 aircraft ended up being built in Italy (including 50 aircraft ordered by Greece & Turkey, then cancelled), and 294 were built in Germany. The German aircraft we built by a consortium comprising Messerschmitt, Heinkel & Dornier called Flugzeug-Union Sud. These aircraft would be the first combat aircraft produced in Germany since the end of WWII.

The type was also evaluated by Austria, Norway, Switzerland and even the US Army. In the end none of these were successful.

In all nine versions of the G.91 were built;

1. G91R/1 - Basic Italian Version

2. G91R/1A - Modified R1 with improved navigation equipment.

3. G91R.1B - Modified R/1A with improved armament.

4. G91R/3 - Basic German Version.

5. G91R/4 - German version with 4 x 20mm cannon (Cancelled Greek/Turkish aircraft)

6. G91T/1 - Italian two seat Trainer

7. G91T/3 - German two seat trainer.

8. G91Y - Twin engine Italian aircraft.

9. G91 PAN - Special Italian version for their Aerobatic team. Armament & Cameras removed.


In the end the G91 served with the Italian, German & Portuguese Air Forces.

In Italian service it is no doubt most remembered for its service with the national Aerobatic Team flying all over the world. As well as the PAN version they used the more conventional aircraft as attrition replacements. The G91 was phased out of Italian service by 1995 being replaced by the MB-339.

In German service the G91 was not particularly liked, and plans to equip more of the Air Force with G91's were scrapped. The Germans were disappointed with aircraft's performance. It is said some machines had pig emblems on them as comments on its performance! The Germans also had the problem that the Greek & Turkish machines they had acquired differed from their own 91's and this created maintenance problems. The Germans retired the G91 in the early 1980's to be replaced by the more capable Dornier Built Alpha Jet.

The Germans solved their problem of the different G91's they had, by selling these aircraft to the Portuguese Air Force. The Portuguese were then the only country to use the G91 in anger as they were at the time fighting in Guinea and later in Mozambique and Angola. Portugal again purchased more G91’s from Germany as they were withdrawn from Luftwaffe service. Portugal finally retired its G91’s in 1993.

The Kit

Well again Meng have surprised us with a kit no one suspected they would make. This is a welcome addition as the only other G91 kits are now getting long in the tooth.

The first thing you notice is how small the airframe is on the G.91, its shorter and a much lesser wingspan than one of the F-86's on my bench at the moment.

The kit comes on one large sprue with the majority of the main parts. With three smaller sprue's and the clear sprue.

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The large sprue contains most of the parts. The fuselage is the traditional left/right split with large inserts either side of the cockpit for the two different version. The cockpit contains good basic detail for this scale, and the same can be said for the wheel wells. The ejection seat provided is a very basic affair, for a new kit I would really have expected better. In addition to the basic detail there is an ejection pin mark right in the middle of the seat which will be difficult to remove.

Overall the parts seem to be very well moulded. Panel lines are fine recessed ones, in some cases a little to fine for my eyes and I fear they will dissuader under paint.

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A second bag contains the wing pylons/fences. The wing fences are admirably thin and will need careful removal from the sprues.

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A third bag contains the under wing attire. Two sprues are included which feature the under-wing smoke pods (For the Frecce version), two MK 64 bombs, two drop tanks, two LAU-51 rocket launchers, two LAU-32 rocket launchers, and two LAU-3 rocket launchers. For some reason the main wheels are also on these sprues (probably because there are 2?)

Clear Parts.

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The clear sprue comes in its own bag which is good. Parts are the front and main canopies with a small gunsight glass. The parts look thin and clear to my eyes. Care will be needed removing them from the sprue.

Decals

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Meng have provided us with 3 decal options.

1. G.91R/1S - Frecce Tricolori, Italian Air Force Aerobatic Display Team.

Colour call outs here are given in FS numbers but Frecce Blue is not an FS colour. Also I would use standard red for the undersides as I am not sure of "Super Italian Red"

2. G.91R/3 - Luftwaffe LeKG 41, coded 31+43, this is a nice example with a shark mouth on the intake.

Again colour call outs here are suspect. Generic Dark Green and Dark Sea Green? Are mentioned. This would be Dark Sea Grey, however the German Aircraft would be in appropriate RAL colours I should think.

3. G.91R/1 US Army Evaluation Aircraft 1961.

As this aircraft was supplied from Luftwaffe stocks, again it would be painted in RAL colours.


The decals have minimal carrier film, all appear in register and the colours look good. The decals say printed in China, I am not sure if Meng do this in house or not, and have no experience of their decals.

It is worth pointing out that the instructions carry full colour diagrams for all schemes for painting & decal placement. In fact the instructions are very well printed and easy to understand.

Extra

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As an extra in this boxing Meng have included a full size replica Frecce Tricolori Flight Suit patch. This is not in cloth but some type of rubber/vinyl material, backed with Velcro so it could be worn on an appropriate flight suit or jacket. Another alternative would be to display it on a base with the finished model.

Conclusion

This is a welcome kit from Meng as there is no really good kit of this aircraft out there. Choice of decals is good with 3 options. For those wanting a Portuguese aircraft alternative decals are available. Although I cant help thinking an choice of an in service Portuguese aircraft on the decal sheet would have been better than a one off evaluation aircraft?

Overall a nice kit and well worth it.


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Review sample courtesy of

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Nice review, thanks for the info! The plastic looks lovely.

Any chance of a side-by-side comparison to the Revell AG kit?

I've heard that the Revell kit has "fatal flaws", and I wonder how the MENG kit stacks up against it.

Thanks!

Tony

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