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Dora Wings 1/48 scale Vultee Vanguard Mk.I/J10 plastic model kit review

A nice, niche kit with good detail that’s not for the beginner
Kit:DW48050 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$67.99
Dora Wings (Sample courtesy of mfr.)
Nice tube framework; good engine detail; excellent surface detail
Difficult seams in the middle of detailed areas; thick and milky clear parts
Injection-molded plastic (light gray, clear); 153 parts (25 photo-etched metal); decals, masks
Dora Wings has carved out a niche by focusing on lesser-known aircraft like the P-43 Lancer and SNC Falcon. Their latest kit, the 1/48 scale Vultee Vanguard Mk.I/J10, takes another step into the obscure.

Unfamiliar with the Vanguard, I fired up the old search engine. According to Wikipedia and, Vultee used the same wings, aft fuselage, and tail for a series of four aircraft: basic, advanced, and combat trainers, along with a single-seat fighter. The trainers morphed into the BT-13, while the fighter was eventually named the Vanguard.

The plane was originally ordered by Sweden, but the production run was impounded by the U.S. after Europe had been overrun by the time the aircraft was ready for delivery. Designated “P-66” by the United States Army Air Corps, some aircraft were issued for continental defense, and the remainder were released for Lend/Lease. The British considered using the Vanguard for combat training in Canada, but eventually, most of the airframes were sent to China, where they were no match for their Japanese adversaries.

Before beginning construction, I suggest jumping ahead in the instructions. Examine the upper wing halves and the landing gear legs. The indents in the wings are not deep enough to provide the strength needed to secure the legs. I did not realize this until the final assembly and had to rebuild the gear more than once. Boxing in the gear leg attachment points early on will prevent major headaches later.

The multi-part gear doors are as complicated as the real ones. Late in the build, I realized how weak the landing gear strut to the wing joint would be. After the gear collapsed a few times, I added bracing, which provided the extra support needed.

The detail parts in the cockpit are extremely small. Take care when removing them from the parts trees or the carpet monster will eat well!

When installing the strut behind the seat (Part G50), angle it with the top of the rear bulkhead (Part D2), or it will interfere with the fit of the canopy. Much like other late 1930s aircraft, the details are somewhat sparse in the tube-frame cockpit; careful painting will make them pop.

Dora Wings has split the flying surfaces so that the thin trailing edges are molded with the upper halves, with the lowers as inserts. This creates a glue seam in the center of several panels and in the middle of the fabric-covered elevators and rudder. Careful cleanup and multiple passes with filler and primer were necessary to hide the seams. I wish the company had followed the actual panel lines when breaking down the parts.

I was able to construct the cowl without installing the engine. There is a small lip to attach the photo-etched metal (PE) cowl flaps, making this much easier than the same procedure on Dora Wings’ P-43. The attachment guides for the exhaust collector ring and pipe are on the fuselage side, so I left it off until final assembly. Careful painting will bring out the excellent engine detail.

Unfortunately, the clear parts are very thick. I had to use a ball-shaped cutting burr in a Dremel tool to carefully thin the sliding section until it fit over the top of the aft section. A vacuum-formed center section would have made things easier.

Vinyl canopy masks are provided in the kit. Most fit well, although the two for the top of the sliding section did not match, and I opted to use Tamiya masking tape instead. The windscreen and fixed aft canopy sections match the fuselage contours. From the photos that I could find, it looks like the center section closes flush to the windscreen but overlaps the aft section.

I used poster putty to attach the engine cowl for painting.

After painting, I added the exhaust pipe, then the engine and cowl. There are deep indents where the clear parts for the position lights attach.

Dora Wings has once again brought us a kit of an obscure and forgotten aircraft. I loved building the Dora Wings 1/48 scale Vultee Vanguard Mk.I/J10 kit, but it is not for the beginner. I hope to see another release with U.S. and Chinese markings. Could a BT-13 be in the works with the same wings and tail? I look forward to what Dora Wings will do next.
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