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Airfix de Havilland D.H. 82a Tiger Moth

Build review of the 1/48 scale aircraft kit with a good, simple design
As seemingly delicate as a Piper Cub yet performing the same demanding role of the more brutish Stearman, the de Havilland Tiger Moth fulfilled the lion’s share of training for British and Commonwealth pilots during World War II. Designed and flown before the war, the Tiger Moth was an instant classic and many are still flying today. 

Airfix’s kit provides markings for two preserved examples, one in standard post-war silver with yellow training bands, and the other in a stunning checkered scheme from the Royal Air Force Central Flying School’s aerobatic team. No markings are supplied for early war or civilian schemes in this boxing, but I suspect future releases will address that.

Cockpit detail is minimal, just like the real thing. Instrument panel decals are included. Separate cockpit access doors allow a better view of the interior, although only the right side is catered for with this option. Most detail parts need mold seam cleanup before assembly, but the soft plastic makes it easy. A representative engine is molded to the fuselage along with the option of leaving a cowl panel open. 

After assembling the fuselage, the modeler is directed to use the included jig to cut away part of the rear fuselage, allowing attachment of the stabilizer with the integral anti-spin strakes. It worked like a charm. 

Since I had chosen the complicated checkerboard scheme, I decided not to mount the rudder until it and the stabilizer had been painted and decals applied. The one-piece lower wing fit well, needing just a swipe of filler underneath. 

Airfix molded a connecting rib between each strut that fits into slots in the one-piece upper wing. While this makes assembly and alignment easy, it can be difficult to clean up the gap around the rib without damaging the parts. 

I mounted all of the struts to the upper wing so I could fill and paint them in place. I broke the rear struts on each cabane, although it had no impact on assembly. 

The landing gear is robust and mounts easily. Airfix thoughtfully cautions against installing the aileron linkages prior to placing the underwing serial numbers for the checkerboard scheme.

I base-coated the model with Alclad II white primer, then applied Alclad RAF high-speed silver, which gives a good representation of silver-doped fabric. Tamiya flat red was a good match for the markings. 

The decals went down easily, except for one serial number that I wrinkled using too much heat to settle it.

Airfix includes rigging diagrams, but the position of the elevator control lines are vague as they pass through the fuselage and there are no corresponding marks or holes on the plastic parts. The other lines have a witness mark molded on the part or a reference point on the airframe to judge placement.

I found the build to be pleasant and the fits good. The decals for this complicated scheme worried me, but they performed perfectly. I spent just a bit over 17 hours on my Moth, much of it painting and applying decals. The build is simple and no modeler should be without at least one Tiger Moth hanging around their collection.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2020 issue.
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