During World War II, the ubiquitous de Havilland Tiger Moth was to Royal Air Force pilots what the Stearman PT-17 was to American airmen — almost all fledgling pilots flew it during their initial training.
Airfix has released a little gem of a model with its 1/72 scale Tiger Moth. Molded in Airfix's standard blue-gray plastic, the kit's 42 parts are in scale and, therefore, very delicate. The only marking option is for an elementary trainer circa 1940.
As you might expect, construction begins with the cockpits. They are adequately detailed for the scale; I added only seat belts and harnesses made from tape. Construction is straightforward and, with the low parts count, moves rapidly. Though I generally followed the instructions, I left off the engine cowling so I could insert an old paintbrush handle in the fuselage to hold the model during painting.
Just a tiny bit of filler was needed for the fuselage-to-lower wing joint. At this point I painted the model, substituting Gunze Sangyo and Tamiya paints for the recommended Humbrol colors.
I cannot overstate how delicate this model is. Be careful removing the masking after painting — hold the part in question and gently remove the mask.
The next steps were attaching the upper wing to the fuselage and lower wing. To obtain correct angles, the outboard (interplane) struts, fore and aft, are connected by sprue “crosses.” Instructions are to remove them from the struts once the wings are in place (more easily said than done). The interplane and cabane struts are delicate if not outright flimsy (in scale), so care must be exercised when removing these cross members to avoid breaking them. I used a combination of white and super glues to keep the wing in place. However, due to the thinness of the struts, the upper wing twists when handled. This comes into play while rigging the model.
Unlike Airfix’s earlier biplanes, there are no holes or dimples to use as rigging guides. I drilled my own holes at locations I determined from online pictures. My go-to rigging product, ceramic Wonder Wire, proved its usefulness and added rigidity.
The box art shows control cables attached to elevator horns. On the kit, these elevator horns are too small to attach cables without impinging on the front of the horizontal stabilizer. A fuel line from the upper wing fuel tank to the engine is not included, though it is shown in the box art.
One final note: Just as on the actual aircraft, there is a space between the vertical and horizontal stabilizers. The decals went on well, but I am still plagued by silvering under clear areas in numbers and stencils.
The finished model looks right and measures close to the real thing. My model took only 18 hours, mostly for masking and rigging. I would recommend it for anyone who has a couple of tiny biplanes to their credit. Airfix continues to give us great models at a very reasonable price.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2014 FineScale Modeler.