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GAL.48 Hotspur Mk.II (211)

1:48 Planet Models by Special Hobby

 

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General Aircraft Limited were approached by the British government to create a new troop-carrying glider after the German Fallschirmjager’s successes with them in the early war.  The Hotspur was the result, but it was soon realised that its 8 troop limit was insufficient for their needs going forward, and the initial Mark.I suffered from some teething troubles that were addressed by the more competent Mk.II after only 18 Mk.Is were made.  Changes to the wing were made to improve flight characteristics, and the fuselage was stiffened to reduce the likelihood of it breaking up during a hard landing.  Other improvements included a braking ‘chute that prevented it from careening through field and glen after its 91mph landing (a terrifying prospect if landing downhill), a better canopy for visibility, and side doors to aid fast deployment of the troops.

 

Because of the type’s limitations however, the glider was generally used in training because of its forgiving handling characteristics that helped learner pilots, although it did have a high sink-rate that was either a boon or a curse, depending on whether anyone was shooting at you.  In the run-up to D-Day, it was suggested that the gliders could be used to carry crew and equipment over to the makeshift RAF airfields in France, and Spitfire Mk.IXs were considered for the towing task.  Experiments showed that it was just about practical, but the caveats were that the Spits had a habit of overheating due to the low speed, and would have been vulnerable to enemy fighters whilst towing at a stately 160mph maximum.  Some bright spark even thought of increasing the passenger numbers by creating a twin-fuselage “Zwilling” with a straight 12ft centre wing section between the two fuselages.  That one got as far as prototyping, but it would be an easy conversion if you had two kits to hand.

 

once hostilities ceased, the Hotspur was retired rapidly as the training need had evaporated overnight, but fortunately a few airframes found their way to museums, where they remain today.

 

 

The Kit

This is a new tool resin kit from Special Hobby’s resin division, Planet Models.  It has had a long gestation that has been further extended by the vagaries of the pandemic, but at last it is with us.  It arrives in a small white box with a large sticker on the lid to tell us what’s inside.  On opening the captive lid we find several heat-sealed and channelled bags within, containing all the resin parts, using trapped air to protect the parts, and the rest of the box filled with packing peanuts to further protect the contents.  The largest parts are the fuselage halves and the two wings, followed by the elevator fins, and twenty-two smaller parts in the same grey resin on twelve casting blocks.  Two vacform canopies, 13 clear resin window plugs, two white metal gear legs and a decal sheet round out the package, with the instruction booklet supplied on three sheets of A4 printed on both sides, and with colour profiles on the rear pages.

 

Resin usually comes still attached to its pour block, which is where the liquid resin is poured into the mould as well as acting as an overflow, and as bubble-catcher for more rustic manufacturers that don’t have access to pressure casting methods.  The blocks will have to be removed before you can assemble or paint the parts, so there will be a little extra time needed to prepare the model for construction.  With resin, you should take the precaution of wearing a mask when cutting or sanding it, as the tiny particles are harmful to your health if breathed in.  Washing the parts in warm water will also improve the adhesion of paint, as there may still be some moulding release agent on the parts when you receive them.  Take care not to use water that is too hot, as this may cause deformation to more delicate parts, but this technique can conversely be used to fix warped parts, using cold water to “freeze” the changes in the shape.

 

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Construction begins with cleaning up the parts, such as the fuselage, which has a few areas where casting blocks have been, and clearing away any flash from the windows and join lines.  After that, the cockpit is made up from a narrow floor with seats and twin control columns, the ribbed sides of the fuselages with additional bracing and equipment added, plus a twin frame that makes up the cockpit sills, to which two simple instrument panels are fitted, along with some dial decals to improve detail.  The fuselage has a number of windows dotted around, and these are all clear resin parts that are inserted from inside, so they need fitting and sanding flush if necessary before you join the fuselage halves around the cockpit floor, then you add the sills in the opening and the canopy over the top of that.  Many people are a bit phobic about vacform canopies, but with some blutak pushed inside it to hold it rigid and by using a sharp blade, they are relatively easy to cut out as long as you make regular light strokes.

 

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With the fuselage closed up, there is bound to be a little sanding and possibly some filling, so please remember the precautions mentioned above.  The white metal landing gear has a tiny “spat” cover that plugs up the socket for the strut when it isn’t in use, but when fitted, it hangs over the front of the leg, which is outfitted with a pair of small resin wheels, with four supplied in total.  The wings and elevators all fit using the traditional slot and tab method, and epoxy may be a slightly more forgiving option for these joints, as it gives you some curing time to ensure you get the correct dihedral on the main planes, and fit the elevators perpendicular to the tail fin.  Once all those parts are cured and made good, you can fit the long skids into the holes under the fuselage.  On my example those were a little obscured by flash and moulding debris, so if this happens to you, use the skid parts as a pattern if you’re having trouble finding some of them.  That’s it!  It was a simple glider, so it should be a simple kit.  Nice though.

 

Markings

You get two decal options in the box, both of which are for training units.  You can build one of the following from the box:

 

  • BT551/L No.2 Glider Training Unit, Weston-on-the-Green, Oxfordshire, England, 1942
  • BT744/B1 No.1 Service Flying Training School, RAF Netheravon, England, 1942

 

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The decals have good sharpness, register and colour density, although the yellow around the roundels do look like they could be a little translucent.  There has been a lot of speculation about the colour schemes around the web, and that includes Britmodeller, so have a look at the thread [url=

https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235019681-148-general-aircraft-gal-48-hotspur-mkii-gal-48b-twin-hotspur-mki-resin-kits-by-planet-models-hotspur-mkii-released/&do=findComment&comment=4108029]here[/url] to see what people have to say on the matter.

 

Conclusion

It’s been a long time coming, so troop glider fans will be very pleased that it has finally landed, and that it’s a 1:48 Hotspur.  Detail is good, the resin is well-crafted, and once clean-up is completed, it should go together much like an injection moulded kit.  Take care of the seams with super glue or epoxy, and make sure you have plenty of masking tape handy if you plan to depict the yellow/black striped decal option.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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Oooh I like that! Never heard of this plane but it's really interesting. I just saw a picture on wikipedia where the nose kinda reminded me of that weird Gloster Meteor with the prone pilot. 

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I just got my kit and I must say it's very good. There are some minor details that are incorrect but nothing you cant fix with a scalpel and plasticard. The Hotspur can be quite tricky to get completely correct due to the weird hybrid Mk.II/III phase where there's a lot of partial conversions.

 

The second paint scheme with the black underside is incorrect though - the Hotspur Mk.II/III only had the "target-tug" stripe scheme.  The photo they've used for reference look black because the entire underside of the glider is in shadow.

 

My only complaint would be the thickness of the walls of the fuselage which makes doing a full interior a bit tricky.

 

 

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