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Percival Vega Gull RAAF / Racer #49


greggles.w
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Manual-feeding a multi-page drawing set through a work-from-home bubble-jet printer ... loitering at the computer ... what better time to start a new thread!

 

All going to plan, this thread will lead to a two-part finish!

 

Finish 1

 

My local club is working towards an ambitious goal to mark the RAAF's 100th Anniversary; as part of the annual ScaleACT public show (for 2021, COVID delayed to February 2022) the club is preparing a display of one of every machine the RAAF has ever operated.  This has involved much effort by the subcommittee to collate & administer a master spreadsheet, collecting members builds & new-build commitments to account for all types.  I have found one of the dwindling final remaining machines which works for me, this Percival Vega Gull, as operated by RAAF No 1 Communications Unit & No 82 Wing Headquarters:

 

RAAF A32-1_1

 

RAAF A32-1_2

 

BM_1

 

This machine was 'impressed' into service in January 1940, retaining it's civil maroon & silver paint scheme, with registration replaced by roundels & RAAF serial no.  As shown here on DEKL'S II decals sheet;

RAAF A32-1 DEKL'S II

 

So my plan is to build and finish in this scheme, to contribute to the club display, but with decals not sealed in, so they can later be easily stripped off ...

 

Finish 2

 

Before stepping in for war service, this privately-owned machine was quite a competitor, being entered into at least two pre-war air races.  One of these was the 1936 South Australian Centenary Air Race, from Brisbane to Adelaide, and this machine was the winner of the Speed Section!  Despite the race being over 1,440 miles - via Coffs Harbour, Sydney & Cootamunda in NSW, then Melbourne & Nhill in Victoria, and on to Parafield South Australia - the Vega Gull beat the second-place Stinson Reliant by a mere 1½ sec!!

 

So after I peel off the RAAF decals, I will add VH-UVG registration & race number 49 in white circle like so, returning it to pre-war race livery to sit with my other air racers:

 

VH-UVG Race No 49_1

 

VH-UVG Race No 49_2

 

VH-UVG Race No 49_3

 

VH-UVG Race No 49_4

 

This is the kit, received in the post earlier this week:

 

The Kit

 

And this oh-so-beautiful sole surviving - airworthy - UK machine shall be my benchmark for the 'maroon & silver' base scheme common to this machine's RAAF & Racer finishes:

 

G-AEZJ

 

OK, printing nearly finished, time to sign-off.  February deadline requires rapid action, so I ought to have something to post of progress soon ...

Edited by greggles.w
+ one, + two, +three more images
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Found this in my late-night research trawling …

 

https://www.nfsa.gov.au/collection/curated/brisbane-adelaide-centenary-air-race

 

Fascinating, great footage of a variety of machines on grass airstrips, even if not directly useful to me as a reference.  There is - briefly - the nose of a Vega Gull, but the prop has a spinner, which identifies it as the one other Vega which was entered.  There is also - less briefly - the nose of one pilot proudly recalling the days of widespread use of the handkerchief!!

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Thanks for the enthusiasm all.  For those as interested in the history of the real machines as much as building the kits, here’s my latest discovery in the wee hours of the morning .. 

 

This is a photo of ‘competitors in Brisbane to Adelaide centenary air race’ c/o the State Library of NSW.  It’s dated the 17th December 1936, which makes it the 2nd day of the race, so taken at either Mascot Sydney, Cootamundra or Melbourne.  While the individuals are not identified, I am quite confident after triangulating several sources that this is our Vega Gull VH-UVG, and the two on the left are the husband & wife, owner & pilot team:

 

c/o State Library NSW


On the left, J.W.F.Collins, 30yrs. A most interesting - if sadly short - biography found here, c/o the Australian National Univeristy:

 

https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/collins-john-william-5740

 

In the middle, Margaret Eleanor Collins, as follows (published 1939, c/o State Library QLD):

 

c/o National Library Australia


It’s not clear if she shared the flying duties, even if the above caption shares the credit for the win.  Such a fuss is made of the other women pilot entrants in media of the time that I would have expected same for Mrs Collins if she too were flying .. but no, so probably not.

 

Nevertheless, this all just adds to the appeal of this as a subject to build at scale.  Speaking of which .. I have made a start .. will post progress soon!

 

Edited by greggles.w
Eternal battle against auto-correct!
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Greg, great research there, fascinating information. The race rules stated that flying duties could not be shared (from the AHSA Journal, March 1964, The 1936 Brisbane-Adelaide Air Race by Ian D. McArthur). 

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5 hours ago, Derek_B said:

Greg, great research there, fascinating information. The race rules stated that flying duties could not be shared (from the AHSA Journal, March 1964, The 1936 Brisbane-Adelaide Air Race by Ian D. McArthur). 

 

Thanks Derek & Chris - & I welcome your extra research there too!  I must see if I can source that article ...

 

But now, as promised, something tangible!

 

I’ve leapt out of the gate with this one - less than one calendar week from receipt of the kit in the post and I’ve completed the wing assemblies. I’m sure most of you knock that over in an afternoon, but for me that’s scorching progress!

Once again, as I step over the line, committing to building leads to learning so much about these interesting machines.  For instance I had not expected to find this one had folding wings.  A large section - with integral flaps - hinged up to allow the fold, as shown here plan & period photo demonstration (by Mr Percival I seem to recall .. but can't find my reference now to double-check!):

Wing Fold


The Dorawings kit breaks each wing into eight parts - excluding landing light parts - which articulate these folding panels & the ailerons, but not the flaps. Having said that, it’s not like it offers an ‘either / or’ option for display. To build with wings folded would require some sawing & significant supplementary scratch-building.

After some testing with the very snug-fitting parts I thought it wise to add a shelf of sorts to support the wing-fold panels, as butt-joints all round seemed too optimistic:

 

Wing_1



There’s quite a hierarchy of panel joints on the Vega wing; from quite substantial around the wing-fold panel to subtle & streamlined at the ailerons, as seen here …

 

Capture_5

 

This is nicely replicated with snug fit of the kit parts at upper surface with wider joints below. Seems appropriate? However I did think the flaps were relatively ill-defined (left below), so these were scribed a little deeper (right) …

 

Wing_2


A note for others building the kit: those little pieces boxing out the landing lights are handed! They are subtly tapered to match the wing. This is not some revelation on my part, as it’s shown as such in the instructions, just others may near-miss that as I did!

As plenty of others have noted, the Dorawings kit is configured for various Vega Gull & subsequent Proctor variants. As such there are tiny wedges to fill the space for the later Proctor wing-tip navigation lights. There’s also a ‘blanking’ piece - not acknowledged in the instructions - where the later Proctor has some bulbous appendage .. shown here on the Dorawings Proctor test build:

 

Dorawings Proctor_1


The blanking piece straddles the join line between wing & fuselage’n’wing root .. shown here on someone else's online build thread:

 

Blanking Piece


It just so happens that junction is the very same delineation between burgundy and silver. The opportunity to paint this two-tone scheme as sub-assemblies, rather than masking, is very appealing! So I fixed that piece to wing now .. the little tab seen far right ..

 

Wing_3

 

.. & then sliced off the projection ..

 

Wing_4


.. & promptly popped the little offcut into the bag before I loose it - I'm going to need that later!

So that's major wing assembly done, here showing the close fitting upper surfaces …

 

Wing_5


... & the more open-jointed lower surfaces ...

 

Wing_6


Now to fill, clean up seams & prep for fitting the landing lights ..

Edited by greggles.w
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Hi Greggles,

                               Nice research - the back story is great and I love that you're doing something of local interest rather than just what's in the box.

I have the same boxing and despite Dora's research  I'm sure the colour of Lady Sherborne's plane was blue, not red. I also know that when de Severne raced it, he painted a simplified CFS badge on the nose which isn't in with the decals. It's a pity because it's otherwise a good kit.

 

Looking at the plastic in the box, I'm inclined to think that the nose is a bit short too. I've compared it with drawings and photos and it always comes up short scaling off side views whichever medium is used.

I may be wrong but I think it's around 2 or 3mm which makes quite a difference to its appearance - much less pointy at the front end.

Whatever, it's still a nice kit and I can't see anyone else kitting it.

 

Dave

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