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ICM DH.82A Tiger Moth

Build review of the 1/32 scale aircraft kit with good engineering

⬅️ Watch the unboxing video here!
Some aircraft earn the moniker icon and the De Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth falls into that category. Designed in the 1930s as a trainer for the Royal Air Force, the Tiggie as it is affectionately known, trained thousands of pilots through World War II and even after. It had a reputation for being easy to fly, but hard to fly well.

ICM answered a long-time request of modelers with this new-tool injection-molded plastic kit of the British classic in 1/32 scale. 

The kit may not have many parts — neither does the real thing — but those present are well molded. Options, include the strakes added in the early ’40s or the unmodified original tail, as well as a pull-over instrument hood for the camouflaged second option. All cowl panels are separate, so you can reveal the engine; purists may want to add more detail to the powerplant. Cockpit doors on both sides of the fuselage are separate, allowing a better view of the rather simple cockpit. While the original is simple as well, a set of harnesses for each seat would go a long way to making the cockpit look complete. Two decal options are included: A pre-war overall silver bird with the original tail, and a camouflaged instrument trainer from 1944 with strakes.

Intriguingly, the rigging is presented in an “as-you-go” method, allowing you to leave off the top of the upper wing and bottom of the lower wing until assembly and rigging are complete. After opening all the rigging holes as indicated in the comprehensive instructions, I passed nylon monofilament lines thru the rigging holes to use as “fish tapes” to pull the real rigging lines through after painting. The lines were tied off to prevent them backing out of the holes. (Guess how I figured that out?)

Assembly was simple, with all parts fitting well and no filler required. 

The cockpit bulkheads and instrument panels lack alignment keys, so use care when installing them. For some reason, ICM instructs you to add the compass decals in Step 7 after the fuselage is fully assembled. Instead, add them prior to installing the panels in Step 2 and, while you’re at it, make sure to cut the compass decals in half to fit the molded detail. 

The rest of the interior assembles to the lower wing center section. The lower wing then slots neatly into the fuselage. The instructions would have you next adding the struts and lower half of the upper wing, but I painted and applied the decals before this step.

The color callouts in the instructions are suspect. They list Tamiya flat green (No. XF-5) for the interior, but cockpit green (No. XF-71) would be more appropriate. I spryed the upper camouflage with a mix of 2 parts Tamiya khaki (No. XF-49) and 1 part flat eart (No. XF-52) for the brown, followed by RAF dark green (No. XF-81) sprayed over paper masks attached to the model with rolled up tape. Lightened mixes of each color were used to counter shade the lower wing. The undersides and trainer markings were sprayed with Tamiya flat yellow (No. XF-3) over a base of flat white (No. XF-2).

Take care applying the commendably thin decals. The backing can fold and wrinkle, so  use a lot of water directly under the decal to keep them movable until final placement is achieved. Setting solution wasn’t necessary, even on the large open areas of the lower wing serial numbers.

I installed the center cabane struts first to set the wing alignment, as they are vertical and the fore and aft alignment is fixed by the molding of the part. The upper wing was then mounted to the cabane struts only and allowed to dry. I installed the interplane struts next, which clicked into place. Nicely done ICM! Take care when handling the struts because they are all quite thin and very flexible.

After applying a final flat coat, I cut the monofilament “fish tape” lines, tied EZ Line – Heavy to the ends, and pulled the rigging through the holes. I also threaded EZ Line through the rigging holes in the wings. Once the lines were taught and secure, I glued the top of the upper wing and the bottom of the lower wings in place. I was pleasantly surprised with how well they blended in and the perfect fit meant no seam clean up and awkward repainting. 

I added the engine assembly and cowl panels next. Open side panels should have a brace at the aft end, but it is not included in the kit. 

The landing gear was attached using care, as the slight forward angle is only set by the front auxiliary struts and not the attachment points for the main gear legs. 

I spent a little more than 20 hours on my Tiggie, quick for a biplane in this scale. The detail is adequate given how simple the real thing is, and the engineering and fit of the kit is outstanding. ICM has figured out how to produce excellent biplanes that are easily constructed and well within the skill levels of most modelers. 

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