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Armstrong Whitworth Argosy - 1:144 MikroMir


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Armstrong Whitworth Argosy

 

1:144 MikroMir

 

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The Armstrong Whitworth Argosy was designed in the mid 1950’s as a medium range freight transport. The pod and boom layout was chosen to give an unobstructed cargo bay. With the cockpit on top of the pod and large swing doors at the front and rear, loading and unloading was greatly eased. It was designed so that when the aircraft was parked, the floor was at the average height of flatbed trucks of the day. The civil versions were to be found working as far apart as the United States and Australia & New Zealand, with the last ones retiring in 1991.


The initial version was the civil AW650 series 100, later followed by the series 200. The main differences were internal, with the 200 having a stronger & lighter wing with integral fuel tanks, uprated engines, and modified undercarriage. This gave it an increased payload advantage over the 100, from 12,700 Kg to 14,000 Kg. All external dimensions such as length and wingspan remained unchanged.


A military version was developed as the AW660, with noticeable differences on the central pod. The front opening door was deleted to enable radar to be installed, and the rear sideways hinged rear door was replaced by an up & down opening ‘Beaver tail’ unit. This could be opened in flight to allow air dropping of cargo, whilst side doors were fitted for the use of paratroopers. They entered RAF service in the early 1960’s, and began to be replaced in the 1970’s by the Lockheed Hercules.

 

The Kit
The MikroMir kit is moulded in medium grey plastic with very fine recessed panel detail. There are eight sprues (or trees if you prefer) containing the majority of the parts, a sheet of etched brass details, a set of window masks, and two decal sheets.

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Construction begins with the cockpit area, which is very detailed for a 1:144 scale model. Instrument panel, pilot & co-pilot’s seats, and even the flight engineers stations are all provided.

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There is a cargo bay floor, and both the front and rear doors can be modeled open. All the windows are provided as clear parts, but it will be necessary to check which aircraft you are modeling, as not all of them had the full set of windows. They all need fitting but some may need to be filled and painted over.

 

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A distinctive feature if the Argosy is a series of little vanes running from one side to the other across the top of the pod. These could never be molded finely enough, so full marks to MikroMir for providing them as etched brass parts, with small incised lines marked on the pod to show where to place them.


The cargo bay floor is also provided  and I assume that some nose weight will be needed to prevent tail sitting, although no mention is made in the instructions. If building it with the doors closed it will be simple just to locate some weight at the front end. With open doors you could disguise the weight as a cargo load, perhaps covering it with tissue soaked in white glue to represent a tarpaulin. It may be worth checking the model railway section of various websites , as several small manufacturers offer N gauge ‘loads’ in white metal. There are also several die cast vehicles available.

 

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The main undercarriage legs are made up of several very detailed parts, and fitted into the main booms before joining them together. The inner engines are integral with the booms, whilst the outers are, naturally, separate units. Two complete sets of propellers are provided, one being the rounded type and the other the square tipped type.

 

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Note that the 'boom' sprues are not 2 copies of the same thing, but different.  See the parts with the rudders on.

 

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The wing, in upper and lower halves, is a fairly complex molding as it has to have recesses for the central pod, the two boom/engine units, and the two outer engines.  As a crucial part of the whole model, it is nice to see that it is cleanly molded and warp free. 

sprueb.jpg

 

(I also have the 200 series kit, that  uses the etched brass wing fences,  which is the ideal way of representing these as they are far closer to scale thickness than plastic moldings could ever be. They are on the etched fret in this kit but not required on the 100 series Argosy) . 

 

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A single piece tailplane locates between the booms to complete the major assembly.


As mentioned earlier, the front and rear doors can be modeled in the open or closed positions,  the open option being best left until all painting and decaling is complete. They’ll only get knocked off otherwise!


Finishing options & decals.
No less than six different liveries are offered, of varying complexity.

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All the logos, lettering, and door outlines are provided, but the cheat lines will require painting or cutting from solid decal sheet, of the type produced by Fantasy Printshop.

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For example the red trim on the BBA cargo could be cut as strips from red decal sheet, and applied to the model in sections. The Elan option could similarly be done by painting the lower fuselage red and adding the stripes from thin strips of red decal sheet. If this seems a bit daunting, some of the aftermarket decal producers have already released sheets for this aircraft, containing everything you need.  The main sheet has the BEA red square logos incorrectly printed with black lettering, but a supplementary sheet has been provided to correct this.


Conclusion.
Who would have ever dared hope that we would get a 1:144 scale injection molded Argosy? The plastic parts are very nicely molded, with beautifully restrained panel lines and some very fine work  on areas such as the undercarriage and propellers.  Some of the attachment points on the small parts will require care when cutting them away, and a little bit of delicate clean up.  But be assured, the moldings look very, very good.


It is probably one for the moderately experienced modeler, due partly to the construction of the pod & boom layout of the subject, and partly to the complex nature of some of the colour schemes.  However, it is also these very two things that will attract serious modelers in the first place.  
I have a growing collection of freighters, with a DC-6, Carvair, and Bristol Freighter already built. The Argosy is a most welcome addition to the fleet, all we need now is the military version with the ‘Beaver tail’ , which will make a perfect companion to the MikroMir Blackburn Beverley.


A lovely looking kit, highly recommended.

 

Review sample courtesy of
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Footnote.

An extra word is probably useful here, with regard to the other release of the 200 series version (with a BEA liveried Argosy on the box) which I purchased before the arrival of the review kit.

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It also contains the small BEA correction sheet, but this does not have all those BEA elements on the 100 series large sheet. Namely - the ‘Cargo’ titles for the booms, the wing registrations for G-ASXM, the union jacks for the nose, and the little script for ‘Rolls-Royce Dart powered’ that goes on the black cheat line. None of these are present on the 200 series main decal sheet, so it won't be possible to do the BEA scheme. It seems that a simple error has been made. 200 series decals;

decals2.jpg


However, there is a simple way to solve this. Both boxings have exactly the same contents, apart from the larger of the 2 decal sheets which are different. Everything else is the same. So to make a BEA machine the ‘Elan’ boxing has all the parts and decals needed to;

 

  1. Make a BEA 100 series machine (G-APRM) straight from the box. Use props 96 &97, and use the tiny wing fences Pe5.  OR
  2. Make a BEA 200 series machine (G-ASXM) straight from the box. Use props 94 & 95, and add the large etched brass wing fences Pe2.

 

Of course none of this is a problem if you do not intend making a BEA machine.  Having checked the other non-BEA liveries offered in each boxing, they all seem to have the correct decals. There are some very attractive options offered in this 200 series box;

 

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Better still, get both the 100 and 200 series boxings and make 2 Argosies!

 

 

 

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