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|Last Update: 06 Nov 2007|
Classic Airframes 1/48 Avro Anson Mk.I
Avro Anson Mk.I (Early Version), kit #4120
Avro Anson Mk.I (Early Export), kit #4122
Avro Anson Mk.I (Late Version), kit #4118
Avro Anson Mk.I (Late Export), kit #4119
I reviewed these kits for IPMS. As you will see, they are virtually identical except for decals and between the early/late kits, the long aileron modification. This is a consolidated, shortened review that focuses on building just one of these kits, the "early export" - but it is relevant to any of them.
I want to thank Classic Airframes and IPMS/USA for providing two of these for review and Great Models for selling me the others.
Bottom Line Up Front...
Classic Airframes has produced a good kit of a long-neglected subject. One big and a couple smaller issues have kept this from being a very good kit. I will discuss this more in the summary at the end.
The Avro 652 was developed as a civil airliner for Imperial Airways to handle six passengers at a decent speed over the England to Italy route. Only two were produced for the civil role but the Air Ministry saw the possibility of the aircraft as a general reconnaissance bomber and issued a specification and contract. As the Avro Anson, it became the first monoplane with retract gear in the RAF. It was fitted with a forward-firing .303 in the nose, another in a dorsal turret, and could carry 360 lb of bombs internally (2x100, 8x20). Production aircraft became operational with the RAF starting from March 1936, with 26 squadrons on strength in Coastal and Bomber Commands when the war started.
Although the Anson was a front-line aircraft early in the war, flying coastal recon, anti-submarine operations, and support over Dunkirk, it was soon obsolescent, if not obsolete, in those roles, not that many heroic actions weren't recorded in those desperate days. Slow, short-legged, and woefully underarmed, it was soon replaced by the Lockheed Hudson. However, the performance and configuration of the aircraft made it ideal for flight, navigation, gunnery, and wireless training, communications, air-sea rescue, and utility roles. In fact it was already a major component of the Empire Air Training Plan from 1939, and it is in these roles throughout the Commonwealth that she placed her claim to fame.
As a training aircraft the Anson was docile, forgiving, and easy to fly (although single engine performance, particularly on take-off, wasn't a long-life guarantee) -- and was beloved by its crews despite being slow, cold, and noisy. It developed such a reputation for reliability it was nicknamed "Faithful Annie", inspiring this poem snippet which lauds the Anson's superiority over other training aircraft like the Cessna Crane:
"Faithful Annie" went through many marks, with over 10,000 produced in England and Canada in a production span of 18 years and service life of over 32 years. More Mark Is were produced, some 6700, than any other variant. Nonetheless, it has been virtually ignored by the modeling industries, and online research pickings are correspondingly slim. The list of references I have below was painstakingly compiled and acquired.
Trivia note: pictures of the Anson in flight with gear down generally meant they were being flown solo -- it took 140-160 turns of the crank to raise/lower the gear & pilots weren't about to do that -- crews actually found that about 100 turns were close enough for government work ... or they just didn't bother.
Background and An Important Note.
Classic Airframes has announced they will do a family of Avro Anson aircraft, of which these four Mk.I kits are the first. I'm not sure what the market for the 'early' kits will be, but I can see most every Commonwealth fan/modeler, especially the Canadians, waiting to clear the shelves of later versions. The later Mk.I kits, with "upright" windscreen (discussed below), should be immensely popular, as will the other marks.
Before we get into the kit, a bit more on the aircraft. The early Ansons had two distinguishing features -- a "sloped" windscreen and "long" ailerons. The "sloped" windscreen tended to leak and had poor visibility when wet and so was replaced by a more "upright" windscreen. The "long" ailerons were replaced by "short" ailerons, and the flaps lengthened accordingly.
I cannot give you a specific break point for these changes. I think the first batches of aircraft (275 "K" serials and possibly all 106 "L" serials) had the "sloped" windscreen and all subsequent aircraft the "upright" windscreen. Note that many export aircraft were taken from these early aircraft and re-serialed so there are gaps in RAF serial usage. The "long" ailerons were on the initial production aircraft, but I cannot find a cut-over point to the "short" aileron -- I have seen a clear photo of Finnish export AN102, RAF K8739, with long ailerons (see decals below). While the windscreen is obvious in almost every photo, it seems that most photos of Ansons were taken at wing-level and the ailerons are not visible.
I will also note this -- be very careful of color profiles -- I have found too many examples of the marking/windscreen mismatches, even with correct photos nearby, and I'm not sure the aileron difference is even considered. Antenna configuration in color profiles is also questionable.
Opening the Box.
Let's get this out of the way up front -- the only differences between the two early kits are the box art, the decals, and the color guide -- the plastic is all the same, as are the instructions. As with the two "early" kits, the only difference between the two "late" kits are the box art, the decals, and the color guide. As for the difference between the "early" and "late" kits, there are just two -- the upright windscreen and the absence of the long-aileron option. The late version instruction sheet has been revised to eliminate the aileron option; the two long aileron parts are still on the trees but not X-d out.
You can see the box art above, and the decal sheets down below, so make your buying decision on the early or late version and the markings desired.
I blew up the 1/72 plans in the Warpaint volume to 1/48 and checked the major dimensions and also just looked at them to see if they "looked right" -- and they did. The kit lays down on those plans like a glove, so as best as I can tell, it is in scale.
The kits contain the usual high quality decals custom printed by Microscale. Color is outstanding, registration problems non-existent, etc ... The accompanying Color & Marking Guides lay everything out nicely. I have not found photos of all included aircraft, but am still looking -- it's a personal thing, not a kit flaw.
The "Early Version" kit gives you a single sheet with 3 schemes:
· 269 Sqdn RAF, ca 1937; K6321, aluminum finish, coded 269*Y.
· 206 Sqdn RAF, ca 1939; K8754, camouflaged in DG/DE & Alum, coded VX*T.
· 233 Sqdn RAF, May 1940; K6298, camouflaged in DG/DE & Alum, coded EY*V.
The "Export Version" kit has two sheets with 7 schemes (original serial if known):
· 1st delivery aircraft, RAAF, ca 1936; A4-1 (K6212), aluminum finish.
· 22 Sqdn RAAF, ca 1939; A4-6 (K6217), aluminum finish.
· 2 Sqdn RAAF, ca May 40; A4-26 (K8805), camouflaged in DG/DE & Night, coded B.
· No 1 Comm.Flt, RAAF, ca 1941; A4-43 (L7917), aluminum finish.
· unk sqdn, SAAF, ca 39-40; 1134, aluminum finish, coded C2.
· GR School, RNZAF, ca 1944; NZ418, camouflaged DG/RNZAF Ocean Blue & RNZAF Sky Blue.
· LeLv 48, Finnish Air Force, ca 1942; AN-102 (K8739), Dark Green & Aluminum.
(At least one of the 3 Finnish a/c, AN-101 I think, was fitted with skis !!)
Of the 10 schemes provided, several are interesting -- the 269 Sqdn RAF a/c, the SAAF a/c, the 2 Sqdn RAAF a/c, and even one of the other two Early Version schemes if for no other reason than the aluminum undersides. Of interest is that many pre-war aluminum-finish RAF Ansons had serials above and below the wings -- if you do your own pre-war markings, check this carefully. Unfortunately, the only aluminum-finish RAF scheme in the kits did not have overwing serials. A small wish would be that CA had provided one over/under-wing serialed aircraft as they are somewhat unique and photos do exist -- I might have to dig through the decal stash to do my own ...
The "Mk.I Late" kit gives you a single decal sheet with 3 schemes:
· 500 Sqdn RAF, ca 1940; N9732, MK*V, camouflaged Dark Green/Earth, Aluminum under.
· unk RCAF, ca 1942; 6656, overall Yellow.
· unk RCAF, ca 1942; 9982, Dark Green/Earth with Yellow under, yellow rear fuselage, and yellow boxes overwing.
The two RCAF birds do not have the turret. I have one photo of 6656 that shows the right side cockpit glass covered/replaced to protect from the cold, but I do not know when the date of that photo so doing it with all glass could also be correct.
The "Late Export" kit has a single sheet with 4 schemes:
· Greek Air Force, N.Africa, ca 1941; camouflaged in DG/DE & Night, coded N56.
· Turkish Air Force, ca 1940; camouflaged Dark Green over Sky Blue.
· No 5 SFTS, RAAF, ca 1945; N4960, overall Yellow.
· RAAF Survey Flight, ca 1946; MG973, SU*D, overall Aluminum.
The two RAAF ships do not have turrets -- also these are the only two I do not have pictures of, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. I find the "Export" schemes somewhat uninspiring given all the possibilities.
I would hope the Anson inspires some decal makers -- national insignia and letter/number sheets of the appropriate sizes, usually larger than the standard fighter markings that are out, although sometimes 1/72 bomber codes will suffice. There are just so many interesting things one can do with the Anson Mk.I, early or late -- numerous countries, use as trainers, ambulances, commo/liaison, and operational aircraft, etc.
I recommend the Warpaint as a minimum reference, the next two if you get hooked, and the rest if you go fanatic ...
· Avro Anson, Warpaint #53; Alan W Hall, Warpaint Books.
· The Avro Anson Mks I,III,IV,X; Alan W Hall & Eric Taylor, Almark Publications, 1972.
· The Anson File, Ray Sturtivant, Air Britain Publ, 1988.
· Pilot's Notes for the Anson I, Air Ministry reprint.
· "The Chronicles of Faithful Annie", Air Enthusiast #42, 1991?.
· "Avro Anson Air Test", Vintage Aircraft #5, Jul-Sep 1977.
· "Avro Anson - Faithful Annie", Wings v1 #7, 1977?.
· Britain's Military Training Aircraft, Ray Sturtivant, Haynes Publ, 1987.
· British Warplanes of World War II, Daniel J Marsh, ed, Aerospace Publishing, 1998.
· Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways, Bill Gunston, Osprey.
The Instructions and Kit Options: These apply to an 'early export' build, but are generally applicable to any.
Having selected your kit and color scheme, it is time to carefully look over the instructions where you will find that CA has provided several options within the kits. Before we get into them, the instructions are typical CA -- 4 folded over sheets of paper making 8 pages with a short history, exploded parts view and then 17 construction steps. As usual, they seem well laid out, pretty clear, and contain paint-color, call-outs, and notes in the right places. Later we will find some clarity problems, and a wish that they'd provide a couple more pages ... The decision to include the turret and the positioning of the machine gun really requires you to study those steps in the order 10-8-9-6 to understand the big picture. I believe part R30 (step 6) should only be used with the decking, not the turret. I haven't inventoried every part against the instructions, but I don't expect any major problems.
A minor complaint is that for each option, CA says "check your references". Well, as I indicated above, finding good references is hard or expensive. I think CA should have at least indicated which part/option to use with each kit provided color scheme and which combinations of options are appropriate. I'll make a few comments below based on my research.
The box is usual CA top-opening box of medium strength cardboard. All parts are in plastic bags, except the decals. The parts in my Early Version kit were well packed. A few parts had broken from the sprue in the Export Version leading me to think that John Noack pre-fondled the kit before he sent it on to me. Regardless, there was one broken resin part, easy to fix, in one kit and everything else was in great shape.
There are 3 sprues, totaling 51 parts, of light grey styrene plastic packed neatly into one bag. Overall, there is very little flash, no, repeat no, sinks marks, surface flaws, etc. There are lots of injector pins to clean up on the inside parts to ensure things fit together. There are no locator pins or tabs, as usual. I can live with out locator pins, but am never confidant attaching wings & tails without some kind of spar/tab to keep things in place -- it's not a kit flaw, it's me not being very gentle with things. All control surfaces are fixed (unless you hack the ailerons). There is no bomb bay detail, but I think that is OK, and I am not tempted to hack them in.
Below are two of the three sprues. In between them is a close-up of the aft section of the fuselage showing the outstanding representation of the fabric on the fuselage. Note the fabric texture, the structural details, and the discreet sag between them. This is really nice. Note the engines come in styrene & below in resin -- I don't, on first look, see any difference between them. The props are kind of ugly, but there are several detailing parts which should help out -- same with the engines.
Here is the 3rd sprue containing the wings. I have also included 2 close-ups of the wings. On the one hand, again see the nice fabric representation on the nacelles and the subtle panels, etc -- in particular you have to see the awesome representation of the structure under the fabric ailerons!!! On the other hand, you'll note the representation of the wing covering which is overstated. I mentioned before that few pictures give a good enough shot of the wing to discern the style ailerons, much less the correct representation of the covering. The Anson wings were spruce-framed with a plywood skin -- all that was covered with fabric. While many photos indicate a ""smooth"" wing, I think that is a function of perspective, light, and distance, as some clearly show a pattern similar to the kit detail but not as noticeable. I conclude that detail is probably a cover over the plywood joints, such as a tape. The laydown of the lines is accurate but I suspect they would look better if they were sanded down by half. This also applies to the tailplanes shown above. The downside of doing this might be to damage the fabric texture and so it may be best to leave well enough alone.
There is one bag of all 17 clear parts and are they beautiful!!! They are crystal clear, thin as can be, and the scribing is just as sharp. Note the largest piece -- this is the side windows and roof all in one part -- something that will simplify construction and strengthen the model -- and the fabric/framework on the top of this piece is again awesome. The windscreen also contains part of the fuselage. I expect I will be able to make a quick test fit of the two fuselage halves against the glass and do any tweaking for alignment up front, well before all sorts of other parts get in the way. In both cases this will keep glue away from the window glass and facilitate attaching and painting -- I think this shows a lot of forethought!!! OTOH, with this much glass, a mask would have been a nice addition.
Resin and Photo-etch.
The 67 (or so) cream colored resin parts come in 3 separate bags and again they are, as the others, wonderfully done. As I noted above, one resin part in one kit was broken, but since all the pieces were there, it can be repaired easily. It is here that one can see the family of Ansons CA intends to release will mostly be made by changing resin. There are engines and cowlings that will change in subsequent versions, and so on. The resin parts are supplemented with 39 photo-etch parts and an instrument film. The PE is used in the cockpit and for control surface arms, etc. Some of the resin pour blocks are thick but look like they will separate well.
The interior is exquisite, but fragile -- sanding the walls to get proper fit will be intense. The representation of the walls, and various gauges, boxes, levers, and things is good if not fully complete. I have the Anson I Pilot's Notes and the cockpit compares well. The single diagonal box on the RHS isn't all there is to fuel controls, but it is enough. The nacelles will be dicey -- not only must you take the block off the front, but it also appears that you will need to trim it out from the inside of the cowl.
I noted only one possible error in the cockpit. The instructions show two PE levers sticking out of the 2nd set of gauges from the top on the RHS of the instrument panel. All two photos I have of Anson Mk.I cockpits show those two instruments are oil pressure gauges and not levers. I think I'll kludge the panel to reflect gauges and use the two levers to flesh out the throttle quadrant which could use a 3rd lever on top for mixture and another over on the left side for flap control.
OK, on to the build...
As I am only building one of these kits right now, I arbitrarily chose the Early Version kit. Right off the bat I found the right fuselage was warped at the rear and the half the tailplane pieces were also. I opened the Export Version kit and everything was just fine, so I swapped a few parts to save build time and moved on. Since parts are identical in both kits, I have to assume a flaw in the production run and not in the design or molds.
That out of the way, I recommend Step Zero, before anything else -- remove the antenna and probe assembly molded into the right side tail and put them aside for clean-up and reinstallation later -- they are just too vulnerable.
I pulled the big parts out and did a rough trim of the mating surfaces so I could do a test fit. I got major use from my new Mission Models chisel while cutting down the big injector pins. There are a couple of parts (e.g. C8, instrument panel) where the pin is on the visible side, not the back side; otherwise they are mostly hidden and just need to be gotten out of the way for assembly purposes.
The fuselage halves go together neatly, but some strips of plastic at strategic places will go a long way to make putting them together go easier. The major glass pieces fit very cleanly and I can see where only minor filler might be needed. Fortunately the glass pieces contain fuselage structure, so you can do any gluing, filling, fitting well way from the clear windows and the frame detail.
The wing and tail trailing edge mating surfaces need to be sanded down (on the inside) to get the trailing edges to mate seamlessly and thinly. On the other hand, do not get carried away cleaning up the root edges of the wing or tail -- my test fit shows the match is almost perfect.
Satisfied with the overall fit, I decided to start work, but not in the order of the instruction sheet, rather cherry-picking my way around to get as much going as possible. I also wanted to focus on the wings first.
I decided to do the long aileron modification. I may not have mentioned the kit plastic is fairly soft so the cuts were made easily with my favorite modeling tool -- a single-edge razor blade. The instructions do not mention, but it will become obvious quickly, that you must bevel the top wing edge significantly so the aileron will fit in.
Next I went after the landing gear and here, for one place, given the absence of locating tabs or marks on the parts, I found the instructions unclear. At issue is the proper placement of the ""ceilings"" (A5,A6) in the wheel well and the bulkheads (A14,A15) in steps #12-13, with the gear in step #17. CA provided several scale drawings that helped the Walrus build tremendously, but there is nary a one in the Anson instructions so I went to my growing reference collection for photos and drawings.
The two pictures below should provide enough info -- the gear legs should be sticking out of the large U-shaped area in the lower wings -- roughly aligned with the middle rivet of the panel. The openings in the lower wing need to be made a bit bigger -- sand so the resin cover/gear (R26) fits neatly, then open up the U-slot just a hair so the legs (C20,21) will slide in neatly. I also took just a little off the lower corners of the bulkheads (A14,15) just to get them to fit better.
Warning. Way past the end of this step, while stuffing paper towel into the wheel wells for masking, I dislodged one of the ceilings. I had to break off the nacelle, fiddle around re-aligning the ceiling, holding it in place, tacking it down, etc - it wasn't pretty. If the nacelles hadn't been separate parts, I would have been facing major surgery. Bottom line, I recommend that after gluing the wheel well parts in position, you glue some scrap above them to lock them in place.
Next I went after the wing detail, working carefully with successive grades (800...2000) of Tamiya paper to try to get it as even as possible without actually loosing the detail. I probably took a bit much in a couple places, but I think I got it about the way I want it, a bit over half-way - we'll see when I get some paint on.
With that done, I did the interior paint job and put everything together. Cutting the ailerons out takes away some wing rigidity, so I glued some scrap plastic inside to keep the wing surfaces parallel. I ignored the kit instructions to fill the gap between upper and lower wing where the ailerons were, but did run a thin strip of plastic along the inner side of the ailerons to do about the same thing. I also capped the open ends to tighten up the fit. I put one piece of plastic in the nacelle openings as a locator tab to help hold them on the wing. And that was enough for the wings to start -- I'll not attach the gear, the engine, or all the linkage and hinges until much later.
The picture here shows both wings together, with one landing gear propped up for show. Note the aileron fit and also the greatly reduced wing detail.
Cowlings, Engines, and Props.
First, the two resin cowlings - the instructions offer no hint as to how to clean these up. As I stated in Part 1, the plug appears to not only be attached to the front, but to extend into the cowling. I studied as many real photos as I could and finally decided that the lip of the cowling should be close to the front edge of the ""helmets"" (bulges), so not removing the ring would be wrong.
So I carefully cut the plug off the front of the cowling, using the trick of lightly sawing a couple strokes, then rotating the cowling and doing it again and again, working my way carefully around until I had cut through neatly. When I do this I have found that if the saw blade edge is away from my body then I tend to cut slightly out rather than in and have less chance to ruin a good piece of resin -- and these cowlings are good resin!!!!
Once the plug was cut from the front, then from the back, I ran a scribe around and around until the remaining ring was cut out -- again being slow and careful due to the fineness of the resin -- you do not want to take a chip out. You can see in the picture below, one cowling with just the plug cut off and the other with the plug cut off and the ring removed.
Then I went after the engines. The instructions tell you to ignore the plastic and use the resin -- I think the cylinder fin definition is better on the plastic although they are a bit bigger and probably will not fit in the resin cowlings. Anyway, once you clean the seams on the resin engine, you should lightly round the top of the cylinder heads so they will just fit into the cowling.
There are several parts to add to the engine, one tiny and two very tiny. When you go to add the crankcase cover to the engine, add it to the longer side of the crankcase on the engine, not the shorter -- the instructions do not tell you this. The positioning of the (tiny) carburetor (R43) isn't obvious without a photo.
There are two flaws with the engine -- there are no color instructions and no pushrods. I was fortunate to find several good frontal shots of a Cheetah, one in color, and so added pushrods, front plug wires, and a couple other lines to kick it up a notch. Note that I didn't run the pushrods all the way up because the helmets hide the top of the cylinders and I didn't want them getting in the way of a good fit later.
All I'll say on the props is that I spent about as much time cleaning them up as any other part. Again two flaws -- no color instructions, and the prop boss needs filler to achieve a good shape.
Yeah, I know, aircraft modelers always start here ... Anyway, as with the wings, I dry-fit the major pieces -- the floor (C2), the turret floor (C27), the two bulkheads (C4,7) and the two side panels (R1,2) using tape to hold them together. Again, the lack of locator pins/marks and/or scale drawings (a la the Walrus) makes this more difficult.
I finally glued the two spars (C18,19) to the floor (C2) and used that to help line up the two sidewalls, then everything became more obvious. I decided that aligning the two side walls with the rear windows was the best bet, and this showed that the bulkhead (C4) didn't neatly hide in the turret opening -- which doesn't matter because the turret covers it up.
Satisfied I knew how the parts went together, I then started cleaning the two resin side panels. The instructions don't tell you how much is enough. I decided to sand the lower half down to a smooth surface, plus a hair, and call it quits. You have to protect the thin frame upper half while doing this. I think I ended up taking off about half the lower half and just enough off the frames in the top half to clean them up and leave them round(ish).
Test fit - the two side windows fit wonderfully into the fuselage openings.
I drilled the holes for windows in the nose -- the 2 smallest work out to a #41 drill, the two larger to 3.5 mm. I intend to use Kristal Kleer rather than the kit parts. I've also decide that all the detail in the nose won't be visible and I'll probably leave it out.
The Cockpit and Fuselage.
As I studied the assembly instructions for the cockpit and fuselage, I became concerned that very fragile parts would be connected to both the floor and sides and would be in danger when putting all that into the fuselage. So, I decided to vary the sequence a bit.
First, I recommend you defer Step 1 until Step 10/11 -- without scale drawings or locator pins, I think you are better off measuring the rudder pedals and throttle quadrant to fit in the assembled cockpit.
I had already glued the spars to the floors as part of test fit, so I completed step 3 by gluing on the left side and the turret compartment to the floor. Then I jumped ahead to step 5 and glued that assembly into the left fuselage, checking alignment with the right fuselage half.
With that done, I went back and worked all the details. As I noted before, I was unsure of where rudder pedals, etc, really went so I deferred them until later. I made three fixes to the instrument panel -- 1) left off PE11 levers, those are gauges in that position, 2) added a 3rd lever to the quadrant, 3) found resin part R14 (a compass) not mentioned in the instructions but which should be wedged between the panel and quadrant. PE seatbelts are provided, but instead of getting 3 each of PE16 and PE17, you get 4 PE16 and 2 PE17 -- I just buried one PE16 under another and moved on.
Anyway, I assembled all the small parts I could, cherry picking from steps 1-7 and 10-11, building everything into the left side of the cockpit. There are no detail paint instructions, so just detail away with various colors. I realized AMS was kicking in when I started obsessing on the colors of the very detailed relief tube on the right wall and had my wife do an intervention ...
Next, I test fit my assembled left side/fuselage, the right side and the right fuselage and then glued the right side in place on the right fuselage, held in place by clamps. When that dried, I then glued both fuselage halves together and when that was dry, completed the cockpit assembly with the upper braces in step 6. Well, brace R18 is impossible to see and fit, so it went to the spares box. Also, because I am using the solid nose, I left out all the nose detail -- it cannot be seen either. (Yes, there is some putty -- mostly my fault ...)
That's one way of doing it. I wish CA had as many scale alignment drawings for the Anson as they had for the Walrus, because I am not sure I got the sides in the fuselage correctly. My test fits indicated the top rail of the sides should match with the edge of the fuselage opening, but that left a very ugly seam/gap where they met -- I ended up filling both sides to get rid of that and hoping the cockpit glass will cover it. As the canopy glass now lays right on the upper braces, I think it probable that the sides should have fit just below the fuselage opening and the resulting gap would be more like a ledge or sill. In all the studying and fiddling I did, that option never became obvious to me and the instructions don't help. When I do my next Anson, I'm going to look at it differently.
Looking back where I did test fitting, I can see a potential problem. I was working with the right side/fuselage as primary yet when I started the build I was working with the left side/fuselage as primary. I have no idea why I shifted gears like that, am not sure it actually impacted anything, but it is a lesson learned.
With the fuselage clamped and drying, I looked at the turret assembly, steps 8 and 9, which I show here rather than the parts themselves. My initial concern was that the very fragile pieces would be vulnerable during the rest of the assembly process, and believe me they are fragile. The Vickers is a fine little jewel but the front section of the barrel is extremely vulnerable to breaking -- I did and paid dearly trying to get it back on right.
Anyway, my idea was to assemble the seat pieces (R8, R27, R33) into the fuselage section (A3) and glue that all into the fuselage itself, then assemble the rest of the turret as a separate assembly that would just drop in at the end. That's when I figured out that the turret would not rotate -- not a big thing in itself, but I like the option for display purposes. Also note that the seat assembly doesn't attach to the mount assembly, so even if something rotated, not everything would. I decided to just glue the seat assembly pieces to the fuselage section so the gun will be pointing about 5 o'clock and move on. (Actually I had intended to have it point at 7 o'clock, but with the parts upside down, you know what happened...)
At this point I was wishing for more diagrams. The mount assembly isn't what you might think. Looking at the instructions, you would think it gets glued to the ring inside the fuselage section. My first plan was to Blue-Tac the two X-pieces (R42) to the ring, then glue the mount (R33) to them, then worry about putting it all together later. That is when I figured out that if the X-pieces were sitting on the ring then the bottom turret piece (CP5) wouldn't fit into the fuselage section -- they cannot both be on the same ring !!! Despite the "Note alignment..." comments in the instructions, I was stumped -- and thankful I hadn't been gluing before thinking !!!
Maybe the instructions wanted me to glue the mount assembly inside the ring not on top -- who knows? My solution was to glue the mount assembly to the bottom clear part. I trimmed off about 3/64" of the R42 bottom legs to lower the mount slightly, held those pieces with Blue-Tac and then glued on the mount R33, but did not glue that assembly to the bottom piece (CP5) yet.
Now I've solved two problems -- the delicate turret assembly can be put on at the end, and the upper part will rotate. I have even figured out that I can glue the two clear pieces together and paint them, assemble the gun pieces to the mount and slide all that together at the end, finally gluing the mount to the bottom glass.
The Fuselage and Wings.
At this stage, it was time to start putting it together. I decided to just go for it as instructed, sans any homegrown tabs, spars, etc. I am pleased to report that with a good coat of CA, the wings and tail hold to the fuselage quite nicely and I haven't broken any off (yet).
The fit of the wings and tail surfaces to the fuselage are tight and clean -- but I wasn't as neat as I should have been, so we won't show any pictures of that until after I repair the damage.
Onward and Eduard to the Rescue.
With all the big pieces together, it is time to think about painting and that means masking all that glass.
Eduard, bless their hearts, released a flexible mask set, EX196, for the Early Anson and I highly recommend it. If I were doing this with my Tamiya tape and a razor blade, I'd never finish. They also released one for the Walrus so I stocked up on both.
I chose the 'Export Version' markings of 2 Sqn RAAF, ca May 40; A4-26 (K8805), camouflaged in Dark Green / Dark Earth over Night, coded B. I like these pre/early war aircraft with the camouflage and the big white serial numbers underwing -- almost as neat as those in DG/DE over Silver with the big black serial numbers underwing.
The control arms and aileron hinges are photo-etch and I decided to put them on before painting so I wouldn't mar the finish with glue later - HAH! I mounted them, then bumped them, then bent them, then knocked them off, and whatever else I could do. They didn't even look good when I first put them on. I came close to just stripping them off but didn't. I have voted them off the island - when I build another Anson, I'm going to make my own parts from scrap. CA, if you redo this kit, please provide them as resin, similar to the Walrus!
Then I mounted the engines and cowls and there are three problems. First, it is virtually impossible to slip the cowlings over the cylinder heads without doing a little rounding of the top of said cylinder heads (I mentioned this earlier). Be very gentle with these exquisite cowlings.
Second, there is nothing on which to mount the cowlings because the engines have little to no contact with anything once in their helmets. I put a small scrap of Evergreen on a few cylinders and then a glob of thick superglue on that. I then carefully wiggled the cowl on and sat there trying to hold it perfectly aligned in 3-dimensions until the glue set, hoping it was thick enough to maintain contact between the engine and the cowl. Did it twice. Used four-letter words as an accelerator ...
Third, once done, something didn't look right and after laying the model on a 1/48 drawing (and seeing the outline match just fine), I've decided the nacelles should be a bit fuller and/or longer so the rear of the cowl would fit a bit tighter. At first I thought something was wrong with the fore-aft position of the engines/cowls but in fact they are exactly where they should be. I'm beginning to wonder if part C12 isn't a kludge to make up for a short nacelle to get the engine/cowl in the right place. I have no fix for this cowl/nacelle match but I wish I'd done a better job painting/detailing the rear of the engine, at least the top half which is real visible!
I used my love/hate Mister Kit paints... The Night Black lifted off and had to be repaired, but the Dark Green and Dark Earth behaved nicely...
In all this work, I found the big canopy to be a hazard area. After grabbing the fuselage a few times, I heard a little crack and sure enough I'd broken the right side loose from the fuselage - not major damage, just my nice seam cracked. Get used to grabbing the wing or rear of the fuselage and keeping your hands away from the fuselage/canopy area. But watch the photo-etch control arms...
Anyway, with the paint on, I was a lot happier with my sanding down of the wing detail, but next time I'm going to take it down further or even all the way off.
Decals laid down fine using Micro-Sol & Micro-Set. Then I hosed it down with Testors Dull-Cote, which I have found great for smoothing over my paint flaws ... I used Kristal Kleer to fill the little nose windows instead of the tiny kit glass and it worked just fine.
While assembling the turret I again broke off the front part of the gun barrel; it'll never look right now...
And that's it, except for "Undressing Annie" - no not what you think, just removing all the Eduard masks and letting daylight into the cockpit area again after all this time. Got to tell you, if was a thrill doing it -- really turns the model from a brown & green lump into something really neat!
Oh, #$*&!@% - in step 10, when you glue the big landing light (R45) into the clear nose (CP8) you naturally think about painting the inside of the light - but did you think to paint the outside of the light some interior color or can you now see a cream colored resin landing light housing through the tiny little windows underneath the nose? Like I can....
This is a good kit and I think this can be said of any in this series. The Anson is truly a classic airframe but has suffered unbelievable neglect over the years as a model subject. It isn't a pretty aircraft, but it served in various operational and training roles in many countries, providing a wealth of interesting subjects and color schemes from pre-WW2 to post-WW2. Classic Airframes has done a good job producing a kit that does honor to the aircraft.
The strong points in this kit are the scale dimensions, the exquisite resin detail, the overall fabric representation, the excellent canopy/fuselage section, the selection of markings, and the overall fit of the major pieces.
The major detractor is the rib/panel detail on the wings and horizontal stabilizers - it simply should not be there. The only other significant issue is the nacelle length/shape that not only effects the appearance of the model, but also the assembly of the cowlings to the engines. The other issues are minor and, as usual, relate mostly to the incorrect or unclear instructions -- come on, CA, I'd be willing to pay a couple extra dollars per kit to get more than a page or two of what are not much more than construction notes.
I recommend the CA Anson family to modelers who want a great option for something other than the ordinary killing-machines and for colorful, interesting, and different markings. However, I recommend this only to experienced modelers due to the large amount of very finely done resin and the thought process that has to go into finishing the kit. You will end up with a wonderful representation of a Classic Airframe. I have 3 more in stash and fully intend to build them, if that's any recommendation.
I do recommend the Eduard mask, EX196, to help get though the lengthy masking process with minimal hassle or possible damage to the clear parts.
Let's leave this review back we started ...
They wheel her back out to the line,
Her Cheetahs start to cough-
Our Anson knows they're lads to train
And she's eager to be off.
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