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Eastern Carolina Plastic Modelers
Build/Review Article
ipms logo Founded 1964 amps logo Founded 1993
Last Update: 09 Mar 2009

Eduard 1/48 Lysander
John Ratzenberger

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Eduard 1/48 Lysander Mk.III in Ilmavoimat Service
Kit# 1138
MSRP: $59.95

I am a member of the IPMS Reviewer Corps and built this kit as an IPMS Review; the following article differs in format and content from that published on the IPMS/USA website. I would like to thank Eduard and IPMS/USA for providing the review kit and allowing me to review it.

I don't think the Lysander requires much introduction -- short-take-off/landing, army co-op, target tug, air-sea rescue, special ops -- here are some useful references:
· Westland Lysander, 4+ Publications, ISBN (978)8090255914.
· Westland Lysander, Warpaint #48, Warpaint Books, Ltd.
· Westland Lysander, Mushroom Model Publications, ISBN (978)8391717844.
· Pilot's Notes, Lysander III and IIIA Aeroplanes, Air Ministry, 1941.

Bottom Line Up Front

It's a really good kit, despite a couple issues, and a few tough spots. The result can be a very nicely detailed model of an interesting aircraft.

Inside the Box

The basic kit has been released maybe a half-dozen times, by Gavia and/or Eduard, with differing details and decals. For example, I have the Gavia Mk.III(SD) in my stash.

The kit has three flaws, IMHO. The first, and most serious, is that the wings have noticeably insufficient dihedral because the struts are about 5/32" too short -- solved by either lengthening the struts or relocating them inboard a bit -- I'm not sure which way I'll go yet, although the relocation is simplest.

The second is the absence of the rather large rectangular inspection window on the rear fuselage at the leading edge of the rudder -- Eduard has just provided a scribed replica in the plastic fuselage, even though their boxart shows it correctly. The purpose was a clear view of the tail balance weights (C/G) during walk-around -- it also opened on the right to access the engine crank. I have seen some pictures with a smaller porthole and some with it blanked out -- it is possible that some configurations had the left side painted over, but not both? Unfortunately, fixing this means cobbling together some interior parts to look at through the window.

The third is a historic issue in that this kit represents a "late" Mk.III. There are several differences between the early and late, one of which is the difference in the rear canopy -- the front edge is straight on the "early" and notched on the "late". The kit has a notched canopy. But the decals with this kit are all Finnish -- the Finns ordered 17 Lysanders but only got 12, 3 Mk.I and 9 Mk.III "early". The Finnish serial numbers on the decals are correct for the Mk.III's they received. I have seen a photo of LY-120 with the straight edge canopy. So there is a small problem with this release -- you'd have to do something to backdate it to an early Mk.III to use the decals provided.

Anyway, in the kit you get:
  • 3 sprues of plastic in a single bag, maybe 90-some parts of which 14 are not used. Overall, the parts look nice, flash and seam free, with the exception of a significant "slash" on Part 79, the underside of the right wing - that'll take some fancy fill. Detail is subtle, wing ribs and panels are finely done, although I think the fuselage stringers are a bit heavy.
  • 1 sprue of 7 clear parts, protected in their own bag. The canopy frames are pretty sharp, but the glass could be a bit thinner. Note the instructions show how to separate the pilot's sliding windows.
  • 1 bag of 14 resin parts, protected by bubble wrap. The resin provides a Vickers-K for the rear gunner and the skis (It's Finnish, you have to have skis!!).
  • 2 frets of photo-etch, one in color - over a hundred pieces. These are lots of interior and engine parts, the Mk.I Light Series Carrier and the Universal No.1 Carrier, and some other exterior parts. I'd like to point out that Eduard also produces a similar separate photoetch detail set (#48367) for the Gavia kit(s). The nifty thing is it contains the Light Series & Universal No.1 Carriers that can be used on a host of other 1/48 aircraft, such as the Walrus and many 'tween wars aircraft. I have several of these sets in the parts bin for that purpose.
  • Canopy mask -- yea !!!
  • 1 sheet of decals for 4 aircraft. They appear to be a bit thick. On 3 of the 8 serials the last digit appears off-color until you look at the color sheets and recognize the camouflage break -- in all cases, you will have to be careful to get the camo scheme exact at that point so the decals line up.
  • Instruction booklet and color diagram. These are B/W, folded A4 size -- one reason I prefer to get the PDF from the Eduard website so I get color coded parts and markings, even if smaller.

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It does not, however, come with any ordnance to attach to the carriers -- kind of a bummer, would have fit nicely in the resin baggie.

There are two items on my wish list for the basic kit -- the oft-seen open wheel spats, and separate leading-edge slats and wing flaps (these were interconnected on the Lizzie). I know CMK has a resin set (#4130) that includes the latter.

Anyway, that's the kit in a nutshell, the build will start shortly ....

I'm not going to use the decals -- I'd rather do this in British markings. I had thought about doing a Mk.III Target Tug, and probably will using my Mk.III(SD) kit some other time. I didn't want to this time because it takes us too far from the review kit and excludes use of the Light Series Carriers on the winglets and under the rear fuselage, as well as the message hook -- all of these come with the kit.

Instead, I'm going to rely on the fact that the early Mk.III and the Mk.I, albeit with different Bristol Mercurys, look the same. To do this, I'll have to make the same conversion, hack the rear canopy, that you might have to make to have an accurate Finnish kit. Then I'll use some generic decals for an early war machine that I particularly like.

Starting Off - The Cockpit and Fuselage

I am known for starting elsewhere, but this time we'll start where the instructions do. The cockpit is made of an appropriate mix of styrene and photo-etch, constructed in 11 steps, for some reason interrupted by 3 steps of other stuff totally unrelated to getting the cockpit done and into the fuselage.

The instructions are logical enough and I'll only cover a few things:
  • Step 1,6: each lap belt assembly should have one PE2 and one PE3, not two of each.
  • Step 1,3: the frame (14) should have the little bar lower down and the seatbelts should drape over the bar (see photos), not the seat itself; hold the shoulder belts until Step 10.
  • Step 3,10: the fuel tank sits about 1/8" too high on the frame (14) and PE47 won't lie properly.
  • Step 4: the crosspiece on part 1, drill out the holes - I'm surprised this bar wasn't photo-etch. Also, do not glue the seat from Step 1 onto PE44 - wait until step 10.
  • Step 6: the observer's seat (PE35) has to sit further back on support (18) toward the frame (17) than the instructions show, so the observer will have some leg room when you put it all together.
  • Step 7: knowing the back of the instrument panel is exposed, I added some wires coming out of the instruments. Also, I recommend waiting until Step 14/15 to actually mount the instrument panel and compass.

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Step 10 is a magic step where you put all the pieces from the first 9 steps together and is really done best in conjunction with Step 14 and 15 -- no sequence is shown, so here is how I did it.

To start with:
  • ignore the circular inset - it shows the armor plate (PE47) positioned incorrectly.
  • do not glue the wing mount (32) onto the structure at this time - save that until Step 21.
  • slightly open up the 3 holes in each fuselage side where the frame fits in - I used a 1/16" drill.
  • I would ignore the observer's gun and the message hook until much later.
  • attach PE47 to the Step 3 assembly.
  • glue Step 3 and 6 assemblies between Step 8 and 9 assemblies (now known as the "assembled frame").
  • test fit part 29 and the assembled frame into the fuselage; I found part 29 to be too narrow and added a .015" strip on each side before gluing part 29 into the frame.
  • test fit part 31 and the assembled frame into the fuselage; I found it to be OK.
  • test fit Steps 2 and 5 assemblies into the assembled frame and when happy you can glue in them plus part 31.
  • test fit the rear deck (33) on the frame and trim if necessary but don't glue yet.
  • test fit the front cockpit deck (23, Step 7), trim if necessary, but don't glue yet.
  • now add the seat, shoulder belts, etc.
  • finally glue down the cockpit deck (23) and add the instrument panel and compass.

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Seems like a lot of work, but fit is critical to ensure the fuselage closes up and all the pieces are aligned correctly. You may find a better sequence. But anyway, you should have the cockpit all nicely glued into the fuselage now.

Engine and Things

With the fuselage drying, you can attack several steps as time filler.

Step 11 is the engine, cowl, exhaust and prop - you'll make a power pack here that can be mounted anytime convenient to you. Note the two little pins inside the cowl flaps - they fit into the dimples on the top and bottom of the fuselage -- don't assume they are flaws and fill 'em in. Also, PE50 is a ring and bead sight and Step 17 shows construction of a reflector sight - mount one or the other, not both. Regardless, do not mount PE50 until you're sure you won't knock it right off.

Step 12 and 13 are the two tailplanes. If you are thinking of separating the elevator, then study some Lysander pictures. The horizontal stabilizer was variable incidence, usually cranked way down for landing and then left there, so if you want to droop the elevators, you probably ought to crank down the stabilizer. But don't get ahead of yourself and mount them yet.

Steps 14 (gun), 16 and 18 (bomb carriers and wings) can also be done now. When it comes time to mount the observer's gun, you can tack the other 4 drums onto the deck - which isn't noted in the instructions.

Do not do Step 17, cockpit glass, now but it's a good time to dip it in Future. I should note the cockpit glass is beautiful -- clear, flawless, pretty thin -- a good dunking in Future and you can see everything in "the office".

Final Assembly

Assemble the landing gear, wheels or skis, in Steps 19 and 20. I recommend you not add the stub wings until later. The small holes is the front of the spats are for machine guns, be sure they are neatly opened up.

Step 21 is another magic event -- here's how I did it.

The key to a squared away Lysander is to get the landing gear on the fuselage right. That means the wheels stand vertical, the rudder stands vertical, etc. Do this now, then add on the tail planes and get them even and level. I mounted the stub wings, less carriers, at this time.

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Now you can add the wing mount (32) onto the fuselage, focusing on getting it even and level. I had to widen the holes a little. This will never be a strong assembly so be careful when fitting and assembling the wings and things. Do be sure your wings slide on easily.

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Now test fit the wings and struts. The cockpit glass is part of this. The top piece (61) must fit between the wings and rest on the wing mount. This piece must also meet the front windscreen (60) correctly. This determines where/how the wings fit on. Now you can work at giving the wings some very slight dihedral when looking at it dead on in a level position -- this determines where to fit the struts, etc. While doing this you should also make a test fit of the cockpit side glass (58,59) - I had to do some trimming off the top edge.

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When I had figured out where to mount the struts, I redrilled the holes for the struts (I had filled the original ones) and then went back through the test fit steps, this time with glue. First was get it all set up again, then glue the wings to the mount and let them dry, then glue the struts to the gear and wings and let that dry.

Then I started on the cockpit glass, a piece at a time. First the windscreen (60), then the top piece (61), then the two side pieces (58,59). You'll note that I opted to open the pilot's side windows partially. On the Lysander these crank down into the fuselage so it's just a matter of cutting off what's supposedly in the fuselage. The astute will note an error from the pictures - I failed to match the rear of the side glass to the upper glass, it isn't as noticeable with the rear canopy open, also it helps that I least got it wrong about the same on each side.

From here, it's pretty much book-keeping to finish all the small parts and call it done.

AMS Alert

I mentioned in the beginning that the large inspection window, a distinctive feature, is not replicated in the kit. I cut holes in the fuselage, made a little compartment, added some weights and a starter crank, and then "glassed" them over with some acetate.

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When you mount the message hook, you'll see a small panel near the hook -- that should have a slot in it so the observer can get/put messages. I emulated that with pencil highlighting.

But I also have an oops. I completely forgot that I was going to modify the rear canopy to look like a Mk.I until I was sitting back enjoying my completed model. At this point, I decided not to bother, I had the rear canopy neatly tacked down on the rails and didn't want to disrupt things. Oh, well ...

It's my Lizzie and I'll do what I want...

The Lysander is an ideal aircraft to paint in pieces. Once you get the fuselage assembled, with landing gear and tail planes, and the wings built, you can pretty much paint everything up. Sure beats trying to protect all that glass.

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In the first part, I noted that I wanted to do an early war Lysander and had my mind fixed on a 16 Sqn machine in dark earth/green with black/white underwing as applied to fighters and army co-op aircraft. 16 Sqn was the first to receive the Lysander and essentially functioned as an OTU. But to my chagrin, all the photos I found were of Mk.II aircraft. As I looked deeper, I started noticing a lot, and I mean a lot, of Mk-# errors in the photo and profile captions in the reference books -- even though some of those books had correct tables of serial numbers. All I can say, at least for the Lysander, verify the captions before you make any decisions -- that's what bit me.

Anyway, not finding any actual Mk.I in the scheme I wanted, I did a little deductive reasoning about the dates 16 Sqn had the Mk.I and the changes in RAF schemes and markings, and decided they might have had a MK.I that looked like this. So there we are. I've noted the overall scheme - the only other thing is the roundels. I tried to replicate the change of the A-style roundels to a B-style by widening the red and blue to cover the white and over-painting the yellow with camo color.

I'm happy, it won't be going to any contests to be nit-picked over anyway...

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Great kit. Good plastic, nice mix of resin and photo-etch for details, good instructions, masks for all the glass -- great value in the kit. It's a bit tricky to build, more because of the aircraft modeled than anything Eduard did or didn't do. The only real problems are the wing/strut set-up and the missing inspection window -- both fixable, as we've seen. Recommended to experienced modelers because of mixed media and the tricky construction.

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I'd like to see Eduard continue the line -- a Mk.II is possible with a different engine, a target tug is possible, etc. The basic kit is amenable to many things. If Eduard doesn't issue any variants I have one in the stash that will emerge as a target tug with open wheel spats one of these days - already have the decals.

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I really enjoyed this build and would like to sincerely thank Eduard for supplying the review kit and IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it.

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