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F-5B

Classic Airframes 1/48 Fairey Gannet ASW Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2007 Manufacturer Classic Airframes
Subject Fairey Gannet ASW Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4135 Primary Media Styrene, Resin
Pros Detailed resin cockpit and nice Mamba intake ducts Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

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The Fairey Gannet was the answer to a post-WWII carrier-based strike and reconnaissance aircraft. The original concept was to be powered by a pair of Rolls Royce Merlin engines, but instead, a pair of Armstrong Siddeley Mamba turbine engines were selected to drive a pair of counter-rotating propellers. The first Gannet variant, the AS.1, had 2950 shaft horsepower at the propeller gearbox, while the AS.4 had increased available power to 3145 shp.

While various navies were learning to operate pure turbine-powered aircraft from their flight decks, turbo-prop powered aircraft had a far greater safety margin operating from the carrier. Early turbine engines were not very responsive to throttle inputs, you could almost use a calendar to measure response time. Not good if your hurtling toward a pitching flight deck and need power to NOT smack the fantail. A typical turboprop engine runs at a constant RPM in flight, only the fuel flow is altered along with propeller pitch to maintain constant RPM as you increase or decrease required thrust. These engines are about as responsive as piston-engined aircraft.

The Gannet served as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) as the AS.1 and AS.4, as an airborne early warning (AEW) as the AEW.3, as a cargo aircraft as the COD.4, and even as an electronic warfare platform as the ECM.6. Gannets were flown by Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Germany and Indonesia. While the aircraft might not be sleek and beautiful, it served its mission well and even provided each of the crew members with his own Malcolm hood canopy.

Classic Airframes continues to tackle subjects where the mainstream manufacturers fear to tread (though Trumpeter has been dabbling in this direction recently). This latest release provides a very nicely engineered Fairey Gannet in either the AS.1 or AS.4 configurations.

Molded in medium gray styrene, the kit is presented on three parts trees, plus one tree of clear parts. The crew seats, cockpit tubs, nosewheel and main wheelwells, intake ducts, and engine exhaust ducts, nose and main wheels, and other details are all beautifully molded resin parts.

Take a closer look at those styrene parts. It is a shame that the Gannet was not operated as a bare metal airplane since the kit's external surfaces are glassy smooth. The resin castings are also very sharp in detail and require a minimum of cutting to remove the parts from their casting stubs.

One nice touch in the design of this kit is the main spar that extends out of the sides of the fuselage. This will ensure a uniform wing/fuselage join with a minimum of hassle.

The propellers and hubs are styrene, which makes the job of assembly just a bit easier since you'll have the job of ensuring that each of the blades are 90 degrees apart, are all in disk alignment, are all oriented to rotate in the correct direction, and are all set to the same pitch angle. This would be a bit more painful to assemble with resin and cyano. With styrene and cement, you have time to tweak the parts into submission.

Markings are provided for four aircraft:

  • Gannet, WN391, O/334, 824 Sqn, RN, HMS Ark Royal, 1956
  • Gannet, XG826, M/845, 816 Sqn, RAN, HMS Melbourne, 1960s
  • Gannet, UA+112, MFG 3, German Navy, 1980s
  • Gannet, ANGK LAUT, Indonesian Navy, 1962

The decals are in beautiful register and were printed by Cartograf.

This is a very nicely designed model and looks like it will be a gem on the shelf when finished. It is really impressive to see just how far Classic Airframes has raised the bar on kit quality in the world of limited run kits. I'd really like to see more of the mainstream manufacturers get their styrene parts as crisply and cleanly molded as these.

This kit is definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to Classic Airframes for this review sample!

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