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Airfix Folland Gnat T.1


I didn't know much about the Gnat, a British fighter turned trainer, but I was expecting a model similar in size to the T-38 or Fouga Magister. Nope: This ornithological wonder is small, Cessna 182-size — actually the 182 is larger. I checked the scale twice. Yep, this is 1/48. I can't imagine how small this bird is in 1/72 scale.

The parts are superbly molded, crisp and clean with no flash.

The one-piece cockpit tub matches the fuselage halves flawlessly. Two seat options are available: One is smooth with no cushion or belt details if you choose to have the pilots; the other, without pilots, has all the detail molded on. The decals for the instrument panels look fantastic.

Airfix did a wonderful job of executing full intakes that extend to the compressor blades, although much of them won't be seen on the finished model.

The exterior of the intakes, which form part of the fuselage, are separate pieces. I thought this could be trouble, because the fuselage is weak without these parts. Turned out not to be the case, thanks to Airfix's great engineering. All of the wheel wells are detailed, separate, and fit perfectly.

There's an option to open holes for a stand, although one is not provided in the kit. Airfix sells one (No. AF 1006) separately.

The long forward-opening avionics bay cover in the nose is designed to be posed open. You'll need to remove two molded brackets to close it.

The final step before closing the fuselage is to assemble and install the jet pipe. This was the only trouble I had. First, the exhaust in my kit was disfigured; it's not a deal-breaker, but it required super glue and sanding to correct. Second, the two tines that hold the jet pipe are too small, making the assembly difficult to position. They broke during masking, so I cut them off and pushed the exhaust into place after painting. It's tight enough to stay without glue.

The wing's one-piece upper wing attaches to lower halves and features movable ailerons and separate flaps with the option to pose them up or down. The rudder is also movable, but the elevators are molded solid to the horizontal stabilizers. I chose the flaps-down option, and they popped into place with no glue required.

Part of the upper fuselage is incorporated in the wing assembly. I was impressed when it dropped into place with no fit issues, needing only a little sanding above the intakes.

Straightforward describes building the detailed landing gear. The main-gear tires are weighted, but the nose tires are not. A little sanding fixed that.

Optional parts supply open and closed canopies. Mine showed minor scuffs which Pledge FloorCare Multi-Surface Finish eliminated. The canopy fit perfectly with no further work.

The Cartograf decals laid down beautifully. This kit provides two marking options: No. 4 Flying Training School, Royal Air Force Valley, Anglesey, Wales, 1973, and one I chose because of the fluorescent orange and aluminum: Central Flying School, Royal Air Force, Little Rissington, Gloucestershire, England, 1964.

Color callouts refer to Humbrol paint numbers only. I like Humbrol, but the paints can be hard to find. I checked Humbrol's website for paint names and equivalents. I painted the scheme with Tamiya spray-can gloss aluminum and Testors fluorescent orange.

The Gnat is a great kit that I enjoyed building. It was well engineered, so I didn't have to shoehorn any parts into place, and the decals were awesome. Keep up the great work, Airfix!

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2015 FineScale Modeler.

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