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Last Update: 1 Mar 2010

4 Frogs 4 Telford
John Ratzenberger

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I'm a member of the IPMS/UK Classic British Kits SIG and our own IPMS/USA SIG, CBK/USA. The IPMS/UK National Show is called Scale Model World and is held in Telford, to the northwest of Birmingham, about halfway between Birmingham and Shrewsbury. Our SIG display at the 2009 IPMS UK Nats tells the story of Frog kits; in previous years we did Airfix and Matchbox.

I did four kits, all 1/72, all OOB -- they are all in kit markings although some aftermarket decals were needed. Paints are White Ensign Colour Coats, except the Swordfish is Tamiya Gloss Aluminum.

Plan A was for me to mail the kits direct to a friend in the UK, but a mail strike intervened, so they were mailed to a friend in Arizona who was going to the contest. He carried them over and they arrived without damage.

After the contest, they were left there with the SIG to be displayed at other shows in the UK.

An article on our display appeared in the Feb 2010 (Vol 16, Nr 2) issue of Scale Aircraft Modeler International (SAMI) and there was also a one-page article featuring my Whitley build.

Anyway, now you should understand the title of this article.

Building the Frog 1/72 F207 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley VII.

When the CBK SIG listed the Whitley as a candidate build for this year's display, I jumped at the chance. I remembered reading about it in Peter Green's Famous Bombers decades ago and it's hard to forget with the barn door flying surfaces and chin scraping along the ground.

I got the kit off E-bay for a good price, packed in a freezer bag but other than a broken, but present, prop blade it seemed in good shape. The plane was generally well molded, but with numerous small sink marks on the fuselage, all of which cleaned up easily. Then there was the very large sink mark in the back of the Bomb-Aimer, elicting a few Clue-game comments. Panel lines are raised, but very finely; glass is thick and not very clear but that is OK as interior detail is minimal. The lower right wing half was badly warped and required some effort to glue both halves together straight. I glued and clamped in stages, with a bit of heat where needed. Some filler and then sanding on the seams at the nacelle made everything right.

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The kit goes together quite well but I had issues with the join at the left wing root which not only had gaps top and bottom but fore and aft -- the right wing fit perfectly. The tabs on the wings and the spar through the fuselage, while making for a strong join, complicate fixing up the root. Gear doors are quite thick and I thinned them down. The gear legs must be installed early on and are vulnerable to breaking, as is the fragile tail wheel.

The only shortcoming with the Mk.VII version is the antennas -- those on top are too thick and the four on each side are not provided. I was going to add them, but decided they would be vulnerable to packing and shipping. The two antenna sticking out under the wings are just waiting to be broken.

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The model is finished in kit markings, but not kit decals -- they disintegrated on contact with water. The paint is from the White Ensign Colour Coat range, the decals aftermarket.

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This is a unique kit (Frog is, to my knowledge, the only company to do it) and quite impressive when finished. Simple improvements such as thinning gear doors, opening intakes and exhausts, and correcting the antenna will really kick it up a notch.

Building the Frog 1/72 F258 Fairey Swordfish I

My fourth and last (as in the paint completely dried the day before I had to mail it) build for Telford -- this requested to be in the float version. I already had this kit in the stash because of my large 'silver wings' collection. The floats were dictated, I selected the 'tween war 'silver wings' scheme.

All in all, it is a nice kit. The raised panel lines are a bit much so I knocked them down slightly. The 3 crew members make/cover up for the lack of cockpit detail. It builds fairly nicely, with just two major problem areas. First, the outer wing panel tabs don't fit well into the center section slots. After opening the slots up a bit, then the tabs and slots had insufficient mating surface and were very weak. On the second try, I got everything aligned and then poured in superglue. Unfortunately the left lower wing slipped slightly.

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The second problem is the floats. The kit has you glue the strut assembly into the float then glue each to the fuselage and wings. The glue joint on the fuselage/wings isn't great, but worse than that the floats were canted outboard. I had to carefully saw/cut the struts where they joined to the floats and bend the floats inward, breaking a strut or two off the fuselage/wings. I needed four hands, but substituted tape and superglue and a long drying spell. Needless to say, they didn't dry exactly straight, so it looks as if they had a hard catapult or landing. Last step was the rigging with steel wire.

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Paint is Tamiya Gloss Aluminum rattle-can with Humbrol for details. The decals are right out of the kit box, went on like a charm, and settled nicely with MicroSol/Set. I finished it off with Mr SuperCoat Semi-Gloss, something that really makes 'silver wings' look good, in my opinion.

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With the crew hiding the empty cockpits, an in-flight display was a natural -- not to mention it's where a Stringbag belongs. The kit looks good and it's my favorite of the 4 builds.

Building the Frog 1/72 F241 Martin Maryland

Another build for the CBK Frog display at Telford -- this time in the options category where all color/marking options were built. For the Maryland, I drew the Free French marked bird (by virtue of being 2nd to volunteer) while another SIG member did the SAAF-marked plane. I knew little about the Maryland when I started and not much more when I finished.

Another find off E-bay. There were several issues with the kit -- one nacelle was poorly molded and I had to reshape it. One wing half was slightly warped, requiring straightening. The gear doors are very thick and I decided to do it in-flight to simply avoid the hassle of cleaning them up. As usual there is minimal interior, but the crew hides some of that. Fit was so-so but I worked through it. I am convinced there is a very slight warp in the rear fuselage -- the rudder appears offset.

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Anyway, it was painted in the kit color scheme using paints from the White Ensign Colour Coats range. The original kit decals were out of register and I got a second set from another CBK SIG member -- to find some of them were out of register. I dug a set of French insignia out of my stash and between the 3 managed to come up with a complete set of decals. You'll see the Lorraine Crosses are different than the rest of the decals. By the way, it is my habit to paint my stands using Tamiya Metal Black rattle-can -- I like it.

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All finished, at a nice angle on the stand, it looks quite good. I'm not aware of other Maryland kits to compare this to, although I understand there may be some coming out. Frog also does a Baltimore kit.

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Building the Frog 1/72 F174F Gloster Whittle E28/39 Pioneer

To support the SIG display at Telford, I signed on to do the Frog "Pioneer", a model of England's first jet aircraft. I knew little about it and shamefully can say I haven't improved much on that -- one reason being the builds were OOB so I didn't take off on one of my AMS fits.

I got the bagged kit from E-bay and it was in fine shape. I didn't know until then that Frog had royally botched the scale on the kit, with evidently the wings taken from 1/72nd scale drawings and the fuselage from a 1/64th scale drawing. Looking at any pictures of the real aircraft, the discrepancy is obvious. Frog provided two pilots -- one standing and one seated -- and it appears they got them from two different "scale drawings" as the seated one is very small and the standing one very large. Regardless, the seated pilot is needed to fill up the very empty bathtub cockpit. Continuing the criticisms, the gear doors are very, very thick and the interior of the intake wrong. One the other side, it goes together cleanly with little difficulty or fill. It does require nose weight to keep it from tail-sitting.

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I did nothing to the kit, building it right out-of-the-bag, so to speak. I painted it with appropriate colors from the White Ensign Colour Coat series. There is some "controversy" as to the exact configuration, as a prototype it was under continual modification, and the matching color schemes and markings at any one time. I chose to go strictly by the marking instructions provided by the kit.

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But not with the kit decals, at least not the second time. Giving the paint plenty of time to dry, I applied the kit decals using Micro-Sol/Set and let them dry over a day. It appeared I could get away with them, but when I then hit it with DullCoat they started rolling and peeling off. Unfortunately, I went off to do something else and didn't see this happen or I could have reduced the damage to the paint -- by the time I got back the DullCoat had glued the rolled up decals to the surface. After much work, I got them off but then had to repair some paint damage. I reapplied kit markings but using all aftermarket decals and all was well.

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I can't recommend the kit, given the major scale discrepancy -- I understand there are other, in scale, kits of this aircraft available.

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