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Auster Antarctic (A01023V) 1:72


Mike

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Auster Antarctic (A01023V)

1:72 Airfix Vintage Classics

 

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Developed from the Auster AOP.6 that was a military observation aircraft, the Antarctic was an uprated design for a polar expedition that was strengthened to cope with the rigors of its proposed task, and took advantage of the more powerful engine to counter the increased weight that included additional radio gear.  The initial order for just under 300 of the AOP.6 was purchased by the RAF at the end of the 40s, with a new batch taking the total to around 400 aircraft, some of which were sold overseas to the Saudis, Belgium, Hong Kong and Canada, although not all of them saw snow.  In RAF service they were phased out by 1955 to be replaced by a more rugged Auster AOP.9 design, which was eventually itself replaced by the similar-looking Beagle Terrier over a decade later.

 

The trip that the Antarctic was developed for was the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1956, and the aircraft was converted from a dual control T.7, but given larger tail surfaces and the capability of landing on ice or water by fitting skis or floats in the field.  The additional radio gear was for safety, in case of failure of one set to maintain critical communications with the ground party, and with the added weight of the other equipment carried for the mission, the extra power of the engine and larger prop than earlier models gave it all the abilities needed by the support crews.

 

 

The Kit

This is a reissue by Airfix under their Vintage Classics label, and this one is a real blast from the past, with a copyright date of 1959, originally sold as a bagged kit with card header.  As you can probably imagine, this is a true vintage kit, and you shouldn’t expect the tooling to have miraculously transmogrified over the years into a modern model of the little Auster.  It arrives in an end-opening red-themed box with the old Roy Cross painting of the model on the front, and the decal option on the rear.  Inside are three frameless sprues in grey styrene, plus a separately bagged clear sprue, instruction booklet with coloured logo printed in the top corner, and the decal sheet to complete the package.  It is a tiny kit with a fuselage that is under 9cm long.  Detail is about what you would expect from the original era, with little mould damage, but occasional ejector-pin marks on the visible surfaces that will need some work to bring up to modern expectations.  Additionally, the fuselage halves have slight surface inconsistencies around the access door, although they won’t take too much effort to correct.

 

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Construction is straight-forward and extends to only six steps, starting with closure of the fuselage around the pilot, who sits on a bench moulded into the fuselage halves, as was common for the time.  The bench is hidden from behind by adding a stepped block that may be the radio gear, closing the fuselage halves, fitting the elevator and fin parts across the tail, closing the front of the fuselage with a Tiger-Moth style cowling into which the two-bladed prop is inserted.  The wings are fixed to the top of the canopy, which is first to be installed, adding a clear panel with a hump in the centre over the hole, which allows the wings to be fitted.  Each wing is made from top and bottom halves that are supported by V-struts that locate at the bottom of the fuselage under the cockpit, adding the non-retractable flaps under the trailing edges at the root.

 

You then have a choice of modelling your Antarctic with wheels, skis or floats, the first two using the same three core components to create a W-profile frame for the main gear, to which you add either wheels or skis at the ends of the axles.  The tail wheel is similarly fitted with either a wheel on a short strut, or a similar part that has a small ski moulded in.  The float option has a pair of N-shaped supports fitted instead of the standard legs, gluing a two-part float to the end of each one, and bracing the floats apart with two straight rods.  A smaller float is fitted under the tail, and a rudder vane is fixed to the rear of the starboard float for control in the water.

 

 

Markings

As a specific boxing, there is just one decal option for the brightly painted yellow aircraft that retained its RAF roundels and codes under the wings.  From the box you can build this:

 

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Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin satin carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

Conclusion

If you want an Auster Antarctic in 1:72, this is about the only game in town, apart from an antipodean resin kit that popped out at some point.  Cockpit detail is scant, and there are a few blemishes here and there, but as usual with vintage Airfix kits, the basics are there.

 

Recommended with the caveats inherent with any old tooling.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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I bought the original bagged kit in the 60's, it was molded in yellow plastic back then and cost 1/6d.  I built it as a float plane and was unhappy that it would not actually float on water.

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  • 4 weeks later...
1 hour ago, Meatbox8 said:

I think the yellow scheme might be wrong and it should, in reality, be all-over orange.

Airfix suggest Trainer Yellow on their site, so perhaps you need to have a word with them?  Some of the pictures of the original do look more orange in shade, some photos more so than others.  A non-expert like myself just does as he's told though :shrug:

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20 hours ago, Mike said:

Airfix suggest Trainer Yellow on their site, so perhaps you need to have a word with them?  Some of the pictures of the original do look more orange in shade, some photos more so than others.  A non-expert like myself just does as he's told though :shrug:

It's possibly false memory syndrome on my part but I could have sworn that the real thing at Duxford was in over all orange. In fact,  i was so sure that i went out and got a Humbrol orange with which to paint it (not that I've built it yet as its only been in the stash for about 10 years). Looking at pics though it seems to be yellow, although not as bright as trainer yellow, to my eyes. I think there was some debate about it somewhere, possibly on Britmodeller. Then again, that might be false memory syndrome kicking in as well.

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2 hours ago, Meatbox8 said:

It's possibly false memory syndrome on my part but I could have sworn that the real thing at Duxford was in over all orange. In fact,  i was so sure that i went out and got a Humbrol orange with which to paint it (not that I've built it yet as its only been in the stash for about 10 years). Looking at pics though it seems to be yellow, although not as bright as trainer yellow, to my eyes. I think there was some debate about it somewhere, possibly on Britmodeller. Then again, that might be false memory syndrome kicking in as well.

I sometimes have a disagreement with my other half over whether something is yellow or orange, as well as turquoise or green, and I'm not colour blind.  It's a perceptional thing, and I'd imagine it's not unusual TBH.  We don't really know whether what we're seeing as one colour isn't totally different from what another person sees, although if a scientist dismantled our eyes, they could probably tell us.  Might be a bit too extreme for even the most argumentative of people though ;)

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Orange was a common colour for Antarctic research aircraft.  However this seems to have been a pretty vivid orange, well away from the debatable yellow-orange region.  I can't say about this particular example, but perhaps it was in this colour band, however it may be painted now?

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Both appear to be correct

From the RAF Museum aircraft history

25 May 51 No.20 Maintenance Unit, RAF Aston Down, Glos (Aircraft Storage Unit). Delivered in glossy silver overall colour scheme with training yellow fuselage and wing bands, Matt black anti-glare top panel and black
lettering

8 Jul 55 To Auster Aircraft Co. for modifications - conversion to a C.4 (Auster Antarctic).......Painted overall bright orange for high visibility.

c. Oct 64 To RAF Colerne, Wilts by this date.
68 Repainted in trainer yellow, replacing the Antarctic orange colour scheme.

2007 Further refurbishment by RAFM technicians at the MBCC Cosford, including rear fuselage fabric and cockpit door repairs, and repaint into original overall yellow paint scheme, of which evidence was fund during the refurbishment.

 

The last statement doesn't tally with the earlier notes on the colour scheme as the original colour scheme wasn't overall yellow, and it's current colour scheme at Cosford is decidedly more orange than standard trainer yellow

https://www.jetphotos.com/registration/WE600

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On 9/2/2023 at 5:04 PM, Dave Swindell said:

The last statement doesn't tally with the earlier notes on the colour scheme as the original colour scheme wasn't overall yellow, and it's current colour scheme at Cosford is decidedly more orange than standard trainer yellow

I was at RAF Museum Midlands (!) recently and the Auster wasn't there - one of the volunteers there said they thought it had gone to the Midland Air Museum in Coventry, though not sure if that is correct.

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  • 1 month later...
On 03/08/2023 at 17:10, T-21 said:

Thanks Mike built a few of these in the mid 60s. The propellor is badly molded will replace from spares box. 

Yup, got mine last weekend, one very sad propellor with a distinct kink at its join with the spinner.  Contacted Airfix, they have no props left in their spares bin, luckily I think the prop from the ancient Airfix Tiger Moth that I use as a paint test dummy will be a good substitute.

The main transparency has a large air bubble in it, luckily Airfix do have still have these in stock.

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