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Viking

Bristol M1.C - 1:32 Alley Cat

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Bristol M1.C

1:32 Alley Cat

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I first remember becoming aware of this aircraft in the 1970's when Kelloggs were giving away little kits of First World War planes in their cereals, I think around 1/144 scale. I seem to recall an Albatros, Camel, SE5a, and Fokker Triplane, as well as this strange little monoplane I had never heard of. Well in those days my knowledge of aircraft was largely limited to what Airfix produced, and they never did a Bristol M1.C. That seems to sum up this nice little aircraft, few people have heard of it and it has largely become forgotten with the passage of time.

=It is a shame because it was by all accounts a very successful design, and something of a 'hot ship'. Designed by Frank Barnwell (F2.b, Bulldog, Blenheim), it made great use of streamlining to obtain maximum performance, most notably by eliminating the more usual biplane wing and all its associated strutting and rigging. The single shoulder mounted wing with minimal bracing, and neatly cowled Le Rhone 9J with its big spinner contributed to it being some 40 to 50 mph faster than similar German and French aircraft. Entering service with the Royal Flying Corps in 1917, the Air Ministry felt that it was unsuitable for service on the Western Front. This was largely due to a prejudice against monoplanes, part of the official reasoning being that it had too high a landing speed for the small French airfields.

Those that did serve in front line squadrons did so in the Middle East and Balkans, where Captain Frederick Travers of 150 Sqn. obtained five kills with his M1.C. Many others served in UK based training units and seem to have been quite highly prized as personal 'hacks' by senior officers, there being a number of highly colourful paint jobs applied to unarmed M1.C's.
There have been few kits of Bristols 'Bullet', CMR did one in 1/72 and Blue Max and Spin Models in 1/48, but now we have a 1/32 offering in resin from Alley Cat.

The Kit.
It is contained in a very sturdy cardboard box that should comfortably resist the worst that the postal services can throw at it. Inside are three bags of resin parts, one with white metal and brass rod, and one of photo etch, along with a sheet of decals and the instructions. What really drew my attention was the large casting for the fuselage.

Bristol1.jpg


This is beautifully done with not a sink or air bubble in it anywhere to be seen. The front half is hollow and features stringer work on the interior, whilst the exterior effect of fabric covering the stringers is first rate. All to often this can be overdone (think Hasegawa 1/48 Hurricane), but Alley Cat have got it looking most realistic, just like nice taut fabric doped over a framework should be As it comes, the forward section over the cockpit is covered by resin. It is a simple job to run a sharp No. 11 blade around it to open it up.

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The next largest pieces are the wings, cast as single units with restrained rib tape detail and nicely thin trailing edges. Both are warp free and will only require removal of casting tabs and minimal cleaning up of flash and seam lines.

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The other two resin bags contain a multitude of parts for the cockpit, engine, and remaining flying surfaces. Again all of them are beautifully cast and blemish and warp free. The side framework and cross pieces are all supplied on resin blocks so will require careful removal with a razor saw.

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Floor, rudder pedals, instrument panel and fuel tank are all provided, and should make up into a nice busy looking interior.

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A nice touch is the choice of two seats, with and without lap belts, so if you prefer you can use a set of aftermarket belts on one. Personally I usually favour the cast in ones as they often have a more natural look.

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A minor gripe is the lack of any instrument decals for the panel, the spares box or delicate hand painting will have to provide these. Separate coamings are provided for armed and unarmed versions, along with a nicely cast Vickers gun.

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The 'V' strutting over the cockpit opening is also in resin, and will need care in removing it from the casting blocks, although the webbing is commendably thin and should present no problems to a sharp blade. Two Coamings are provided, for the armed and unarmed versions.

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A nice little clear resin windshield for the unarmed version rounds off the cockpit fittings.

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The Le Rhone engine is made up of separate cylinders and induction pipes around a central carnkcase. All the detail is pin sharp and you will probably want to add your own stretched sprue push rods and ignition wires. Interestingly the prop hub is a separate part that fits inside a one piece spinner/prop unit. A very elegant solution to making this unit. A little bit of thin flash will need removing from the centre of the spinner, again a No.11 blade will make short work of this.

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Given then potential weight of the completed model, the undercarriage legs are sensibly cast in white metal, with brass rods for axles.

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Tailplanes, fin, rudder and ailerons all come as separate items with a nicely rendered fabric effect. Again all parts are pin hole and warp free.

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Rigging points are provided as small resin stubs that fit over etched brass reinforcement plates. Holes are recessed into the wing parts to accept them, so there should be no problems with setting it all up. I would recommend the use of 2lb Maxima Chameleon fishing line for the rigging itself, although doubtless everyone has their own preference.The etched sheet also has the control horns for the movable control surfaces.

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I must admit to being a little wary of resin kits, due to the perceived fragility of the parts and difficulty in getting them off their casting blocks without damage So although this is an 'in box' review, I thought it would be useful to get my razor saw out and see just how difficult, or not, it would be to prepare some of the components. Using the razor saw on the heavier blocks and a knife blade on the thinner parts, I am happy to report that it was stress and trouble free.

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The parts that most worried me were the large interior frameworks, but they were pretty straightforward. I used the razor saw on the shortest side, with the part on the workbench and sawed gently along the length of it in a horizontal plane, like filleting a fish! Both parts came away nicely and were smoothed off with a bit of wet and dry sandpaper.

The only part I broke was the 'L' shaped control column when cutting it out with a knife, but it was a simple job to cyano both parts back together. I found a pin hole on two of the fine cross braces, so put a dot of cyano on each using a pin. This fills & strengthens the part before cutting it from the casting block. It is remarkable that on a kit with this much resin, I was only able to find two tiny pin holes. All these parts were done in about an hour, and are proof that there is nothing to fear about preparing resin parts.

Marking options.

Given The M1.c's use as a 'hack' and at training schools, there are some quite colourful options to be found. Alley Cat offer a good representative selection of three front line and four School machines. They are;

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1. A 72 Squadron machine in PC.12 with grey panels and clear doped wing undersides. Featuring a red spinner and white zig zag motif on the fuselage.

2. A 150 Squadron machine, C4291, in PC.12 with grey panels. Undersides are light blue.

3. Another 150 Squadron machine, C4907, similar to C4291 above.

4. C4960 of No. 1 School of aerial Fighting. PC.12 with clear doped wing undersides. Tail, wheels, and spinner are all in roundel blue.

5. C5019. Overall silver with black front fuselage and a skull & crossbones motif.

6. C5001 No.4 Auxiliary School of Aerial Gunnery. Overall red with clear doped wing undersides. This aircraft still exists, being preserved in Minlaton, South Australia.

7. C4940. A PC.12 finished aircraft covered with white stripes, including the undersides. Served at Turnberry.

The decal sheet is A5 sized and contains a full set of roundels with separate red centre spots, plus all the individual markings and serial numbers required. They look nice and thin with good colour density, and thoughtfully include some extra strips of red, white, and blue in case you need to do any touch up patching.


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The instructions are a single exploded view with sub drawings for the cockpit, engine, decking, propeller, and rigging. It all looks perfectly clear what should go where, and it is a pretty simple aircraft anyway. No colour information is provided for the interior or engine, but this should not be too much of a problem as it will be a logical mix of natural wood, clear doped linen, natural metals etc.

Instructions.jpg

I don't have any 1/32 drawings of the M.1c, but for those who like a quick comparison with drawings, the Windsock Datafile 52 'Bristol M.1' 1/48 drawings enlarged to 1/32 shows the major parts have very close conformity, which is reassuring.

Conclusion.
It's good to see another manufacturer venturing into First World War aviation, and Alley Cat have made a very sensible choice for their first release. The M1.C is an attractive aircraft and the lack of complicated strutting and minimal rigging makes it suitable for all but the complete novice. The quality of the resin castings is extremely good, probably among the best I have seen. There is no warpage, I only found two tiny pin holes, and everything came through the post without breakage. Dry assembling the wings to the fuselage reveals a very tidy fit, which bodes well for the rest of the build. Add to the mix that the surface finish of the fabric areas looks most realistic, and I would think that Alley Cat have a winner on their hands.


(An 'out of the box' build thread will start very soon, this kit looks irresistible).
[EDIT]Resistance is futile! Build has started Here [/EDIT]

An excellent and most welcome entry into 1/32 WW1 aviation, highly recommended.



Kit Number ACRK32-10
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Review sample courtesy of logo.gif

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I'm with Iain on this one. A very nice looking kit in every way. Even picked a favourite decal option already :lol:

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Hi Viking

Thanks for a great little review, I look forward to seing you build the model as I have seen your other build and they are really fantastic, so I am sure you are going to do this little kit justice.

To all the other that want one they are available to purchase from the A2Zee Website http://www.a2zeemodels.co.uk

cheers Ali

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