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With all the interest in Tiger Moths recently (in both 1/72 and 1/48 scales), I thought I would post some WIP shots of my slowly-progressing multi-build project based around the 2014 Airfix kit in 1/72 scale. I've seen a fair few of these built now, but unsurprisingly most end up as WW2 trainers or post-War civil aircraft. But my interest is mainly in the original pre-War machines, of which I am building 4 examples.

 

 Two of these are being converted to the original DH 82 variant, of which around 150 were produced prior to the design changes which led to the mass-produced DH 82A. Don't think I can recall seeing any DH 82 models before, so should be an interesting exercise. Main characteristics of the DH82 vs 82A were a Gypsy III engine installation instead of Gypsy Major, a stringered, fabric-covered rear upper fuselage instead of the familiar moulded plywood 'canoe', different cockpit doors and instrument panels, along with a number of more minor differences. Most of the DH82s were military trainers for various countries and a few civil aircraft. Probably the most famous were the aircraft of the CFS aerobatic team, taken from the very first batch of RAF deliveries, so I will be building one of these along with one of the civil aircraft. The two DH 82As will also be early civil aircraft.  

 

As has been well-recorded, the Airfix kits are a very good basis, but with many fine details omitted, which is to be expected (some of which are rectified in the 1/48th kit.) One of the best features of the 1/72 kit is the correct shape of the upper surface of the wing tips, which are poorly rendered in 90% of injection moulded kits representing fabric-covered aircraft. On the other hand, there are some surprising omissions, which give the impression the CAD-designer got the job 95% done before being distracted prior to it being completed. The technology Airfix use for their mould-making also seems incapable of reproducing very fine details. Strangely, the parts fit on all 4 kits (purchased at different times) was different, with slightly warped or distorted components on some. The lower wing to fuselage fit on one of the kits was good, but the other 3 all required material removing in varying amounts to obtain a good fit.  On to the photos:

 

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The 4 fuselages, the 2 DH82s uppermost.  The rear upper fuselages of the latter were cut away and replaced by stringered inserts. The baggage compartment behind the cockpits on the '82 was also shorter than on the '82A. The oil tanks were removed and replaced by new, smaller ones appropriate to the smaller-capacity Gypsy III engines powering these early aircraft. Cockpit doors have been changed by filling and re-scribing, where appropriate. All 4 aircraft had the early 'rectangular' rear doors, rather than the angled rear edge, which was introduced to clear the blind-flying hood. RAF aircraft (2nd down) has the large, square forward doors only fitted to the first few aircraft to aid egress, but soon found to be unnecessary.  Early Tigers had a foot stirrup beneath the rear cockpit on the RHS, added here on all 4 aircraft. The stirrup positions were slightly different on the 82 and 82A, so meticulous study of photos pays dividends !  (The stirrup was deleted pre-WW2 and replaced with a pair of hand-holds in the the fwd cockpit bulkhead, so the Airfix omission of it is quite legitimate. )The 'trenches' for mounting the grossly-thick injection moulded windscreens have been filled. One of the surprising omissions in the Airfix kit is the rather prominent stiffeners along the top edges of the doors (which look like car bumpers), which were added from stretched sprue of the correct scale cross-section. Venturis for the suction-operated 'Turn & Bank' indicator,not on these early aircraft, were also carved off.

 

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The one-piece nose piece of the Airfix kit has been quite cleverly moulded, but there is considerable scope for improvement. There has been some discussion about the fitting of this piece, but it fits perfectly if small chamfers are added to the top edges of the 2 mounting  pips on the front of the fuselage halves.  There has also been discussion about the shape in profile. but superimposing it on a dead-on side view photo, the upper angles are fine. But I did find the lower panel is slightly too inclined upwards towards the front, so the resulting 'chin' isn't quite prominent enough. So I cut the lower panel away, to replace it with a shaped piece of thick plasticard. This also facilitated removing the moulded-in engine cylinder, which is sort of ok, but I prefer the better fidelity of making a new separate one. The various small intakes were also fully opened out, as was the hole behind the prop and the crankcase nose added. 

 

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Cowls from the RHS. 2x DH82 on the left have had new, more bulbous carburettor intakes added near the rear for the Gypsy III engine and the locating depressions for the kit part filled. 2x DH82A on the right have new intakes made as Airfix parts are too small and conical-shaped. 2 miniscule quarter-turn cowl fasteners have been added along with the tiny air scoops near the front. 

 

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Cowls from LHS. Again, 2 quarter-turn fasteners added, plus small air scoop ahead of oil tank position.  Piano-hinge was very softly-moulded compared with the RHS, so has been replaced with stretched sprue, matching the crisper definition of the RHS.

 

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Top of the cowls. One of the Airfix downsides is that they slavishly copy preserved aircraft without cross-checking against vintage photos. A case in point is the corrugated foot step  (for refuelling the wing tank) on top of the cowl.  This was originally to support

the right foot only, but on the aircraft Airfix copied (Shuttleworth, I think), this has been extended.  Scaling from vintage side view photos, it should be 4,5mm long vs around 8mm in the kit. So they were carefully cut bask by shaving with a new scalpel blade, quite a tricky operation.

 

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Cowls from beneath, showing removed lower panel and moulded-in front cylinder opened out.

 

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New cowl lower panels from shaped plasticard with new front cylinder mounted.

 

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3 of the 4 aircraft I'm building had no slats on the upper wing. These were an optional extra on the early civil aircraft, which could be had for the princely sum of £50, (£40 of which was a royalty payment to Handley-Page...)  The CFS aerobatic team also had the slats removed to prevent inadvertent actuation during vigorous flying. So the slats have been carved off and the nose riblets restored from small stretched sprue lengths blended with paint filler to match those on the inboard section. Painstaking work which took about a week to complete. (The slat control quadrant moulded on the RH wall of the rear cockpit also needs shaving off...)  I started this project in the expectation that it would be a straight-forward diversion from my more arduous projects, but I should know by now, there is no such thing ........

 

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Wow Roger, this is a comprehensive lesson! Fascinating insight into the type. I’ve also built four (one of each 1/72 boxing) but every time I build one I find a new detail that needs adding! Looking forward to this.

 

Regards,

Adrian

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As I am doing very similar conversion and detailing work right now on a pair of 1/48 biplanes I am painfully aware of what delicacy and precision it requires in 1/72. This is a demanding project and I applaud your effords

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2 hours ago, Work In Progress said:

I am painfully aware of what delicacy and precision it requires in 1/72. 

Amen brother !  Nearly everything is over scale in 1/72 biplane kits, so the amount of rework required to produce 'credible' models is rather frustrating... 

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59 minutes ago, John Aero said:

A Master class.

 

John

Thanks John !  I normally build models of more obscure aircraft, but it's nice to do some of the 'standards' occasionally.  And I know it's one of your favourites 🙂.   

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I'm doing something similar but on slow burner. All 1:48th and my old injected Moths, there are more and they range from a 60X , 60G via a Moth Major to a few Tigers. The jig along with two other similar ones is for marking and drilling all the strut and location holes.

 

John

 

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9 hours ago, John Aero said:

I'm doing something similar but on slow burner. All 1:48th and my old injected Moths, there are more and they range from a 60X , 60G via a Moth Major to a few Tigers. The jig along with two other similar ones is for marking and drilling all the strut and location holes.

 

John

 

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Good to see.  I spy a DH60G undergoing some surgery to produce a DH60X (Cirrus II).  I have a stockpile of the A Model 1/72 kits earmarked for a similar project, but I figured building some of the Airfix Tiger kits would be an easier place to start.

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On to some cockpit parts.....always a focal point, for me, on open-cockpit aircraft. 

 

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As with most 1/72 injection moulded kits, the cockpit parts are generally over scale and chunky-looking.  The rear cockpit seats have had the sides cut off and the remainder thinned down to about 10 thou thick and new sides added from 10 thou plasticard.  The central wooden structure which carries the flying controls has been greatly refined at the forward ends.  (2 of the models have the forward cockpits covered over, so no attempt to detail those cockpits has been attempted) . Airfix

omitted the rudder pedals, which aren't very visible, but of course I had to render them as faithfully as possible. For quite a simple plane, the Tiger Moth had relatively complicated parallel-motion rudder pedals which are fiddly in this small scale, not forgetting the link rod between the 2 cockpits.  Early Tiger Moths had compasses mounted on the cockpit floor, not hanging off the instrument panel as in the familiar WW2 arrangement, so mounting structures for these have been added..  I'm not sure exactly when the instrument panel-mounted compasses were introduced, but the latest of the 4 subject aircraft dates from 1937 and doesn't have them.  Another poorly-done feature are the bulkheads behind the seats, which are a poor fit difficult to rectify, so they have been removed.

 

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As related above, early Tiger Moths had different instrument panels, more like, but not the same as, the DH60, as might be expected. Instead of the turn and bank indicator which dominated the centre of the instrument panel on the later Tigers, these early aircraft had the rather primitive WW1-style ball-bank indicator (the curved thing at the bottom of the panel).  The DH82 panels are on the right and DH82A to the left. Mouthpieces for the Gosport Tube  communication device can be seen  above the panels, where they were stowed, as on the DH60 (on later Tigers they were clipped to the lower edge of the panel).  Simple panels, with only 4 or 5 dials, but they will come alive with careful painting.

 

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Some work on the LH cockpit sides. Push out marks have been filled along with depressions for mounting the cockpit doors in an open position and the tiny throttles have been added. Cockpit framework and quadrants for tailplane incidence

adjustment are correctly-rendered in the kit.

 

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At the top are new cockpit rear bulkheads to replace those kit parts removed earlier. These incorporate the distinctive 'letter box' pockets which carry the transverse cables to which the shoulder straps of the Sutton Harness are attached and are seldom rendered correctly in Tiger Moth models of any scale. The rebates on the sides allow for open cockpit doors on either sides, or not at all.  On the right are plugs for the faired over fwd cockpits on 2 of the planes. Lower down are the seat cushions for 2 of the civil aircraft, which were an optional extra, but not used where seat parachutes were worn.  At the very bottom are the new compasses.

 

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At the top are the control columns, which surprisingly were acceptably thin, but have had the fabric gaiters added at the lower ends, sculpted from filler. These were on the original aircraft, but are seldom seen fitted on restored machines.

A fairly important item, I would have thought , as they prevent FOD dropping down and jamming the controls. Below them are new open cockpit doors, rolled from thin aluminium of appropriate scale thickness. In the middle are the seat harness cables from copper wire.

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Cockpit parts finished and painted for all 4 aircraft.  I always enjoy detailing cockpits, which are a 'model within a model' :

 

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Early Tiger Moth cockpits were painted in both grey and green. The grey was quite a dark shade, which usually looks darker than the green in photos.  Based on the internal faces of the open doors, which appear a light colour on all

the subject aircraft, I assumed green.

 

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Sutton Harness belts from 5 thou plasticard, with the leather sections with grommets cut from p/e Spitfire belts and grafted on.  The transverse cable carrying the shoulder straps is clearly visible.

 

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Instrument panels painted.  I hand paint all my instruments, which calls for steady hands in 1/72, (good job I don't drink...), but is quite satisfying .  The cream-coloured placards ( a plastic-like material called 'Ivorine'), were a typical DH feature and their civil aircraft cockpits were plastered with them.

 

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Finished engine cylinders, with push-rod tubes and cylinder head hold-down bolts added. DH 82 exhausts to the left, which have a longer and more abrupt tail section. Next one has tail removed to mate with long extension under fuselage.

One on right is stock kit. All drilled out, of course.

 

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.......Result !

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2 hours ago, Courageous said:

Very impressive work Roger, can't believe that you painted those dials freehand.

 

Stuart

There's a fair bit of 'to-ing and fro-ing' between white and black paint, spread over about a week, to get the finished result. 'Right first time' doesn't apply.... infinite patience does.

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  • 4 months later...

Time for a rather belated update to this thread. All this work was done a few months ago, but I recently moved into the 21st century and acquired a smart phone, so maybe I'll be able to post more WIP updates than previously when I used to borrow my brother's camera.

 

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The single worst feature of the Airfix kit is the lack of details on the fuselage underside. Airfix missed a trick here and could have moulded the fuselage underside integrally with the wings to provide the details. As it is, you have to add the multitude of details yourself, if so inclined.  So, stringered rear lower skin, stiffeners, controls access panel, aileron actuation provision, jacking points, small fairleads for the aileron cables let into the wing roots....all are added,  29 pieces in total......  

 

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.........done 4 times.

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Details under wings: rotary actuators for ailerons, mountings for control horns, fishplates on the spars at the strut positions (all Tiger Moth models/kits omit these !), aileron gaps are sawed out with razor saw.

 

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Details under top wing:  larger sump on fuel tank, mounting for fuel balance pipe, cut outs in tank for 'X' wires, rear spar carry-through tube, etc

 

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Upper wing surface details: more strut fishplates, fuel gauge and vent pipe have been removed from fuel tank and holes drilled for replacements.

 

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DH82A had the familiar grit-covered wing walks (right), but original DH82 had metal-tread wing walks, as represented here on the left.

 

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While the horizontal tail on the Airfix kits is generally satisfactory, I didn't like the vertical tail parts, which are too thick, with a blunt trailing edge and very indistinct representation of the ribs. So I ground them down to about half the original thickness and covered them with scored plasticard for a much better fabric effect. Also, the fin was mounted via a thick tab which blocked out the gap under the fin which exists in reality. So this was removed and the fin attached via a separate metal fairing at the front, as can be seen by the modified slot in the fwd edge of the tailplane on the left.

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Some secondary parts:

 

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Props are one of the best features of the Airfix kit (and just about the only thing I haven't modified, apart from the mounting arrangement). Don't like the wheels, though. The outer face is too 'convex' and the DH monogram too prominent. In addition, Airfix copied a restored aircraft which had the covers missing from the inner face. Consequently, the wheel was bored out and new centres added from thick plastic rod, with the 5 retaining screw positions indicated on inner and outer covers.

 

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Difficult to see from this photo, but the landing gear has been quite extensively modified. The chord of the covers over the shock struts is too narrow and the aerodynamic fairing behind the axles is missing (again copied from a restored aircraft).

Both were fixed by grafting on scrap plastic and filing to shape. 'V' support struts in centre have been thinned down. Tiny Rotherham pumps for pressurising the fuel for inverted flying are added to 2 of the aircraft.

 

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Interplane struts on the Airfix kit are pretty much to scale (apart from the ridiculous over-sized square mounting sockets in the wing, which were plugged and then drilled out to accept the pins on the ends of the struts). But the cabane struts have been extensively refined, by removing approx. 70% of the struts' thickness. They are now just 0,25mm thick end on and absolutely to scale, but it remains to be seen whether they will be robust enough to support the wing.....fingers crossed !

New control horns on right, each shaped from plasticard.

 

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Minor details..... another Airfix 'goof' was missing the very prominent coil springs on the tailskids. It looks that they meant to include them...but then maybe the CAD guy got distracted and forgot.  Below; props for the Rotherham pumps, faired drains beneath the engine cowl, exhaust pipe extension for one of the aircraft.  On the right, the strut-mounted , DH air-pressure operated ASIs , pitots, fuel drain taps, aileron linkages, etc.

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Oh my word, what a fantastic thread.  You're doing absolutely fantastic work on these lovely little models. Your work is exquisite.   I have recently completed an extensively modified a 32nd scale Tiger moth and some of that was fiddly so can really appreciate the size of what you are doing in this scale.   I have a 72nd and 48th kit in the stash to do too.  I will watch with much interest and have added to favourites so I can use for future reference too .

Fantastic work 

All the best 

Chris 

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9 hours ago, bigbadbadge said:

Oh my word, what a fantastic thread.

Thanks, Chris. It's interesting to see how far you can go with a well-documented plane like the Tiger Moth. The 1/48 Airfix kit seems to be quite an improvement over the 1/72 and they fixed about half the things I changed.

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