Monday, December 21, 2009

John Ratzenberger's Frog 1/72 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. 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.

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.

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.

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.