Trying out a new approach today, a series of paired articles that go together basically like Bonnie and Clyde. What qualifies for it? Builds that share something: be it the same vehicle in different scales, two vehicles modeled in an unusual scale for me, two vehicles that both fought in the same battle / time period, or, as is the case today, my first time trying out a new vehicle type.
Talking about the topic at hand, a first take on airplanes, the ultimate goal is to turn a present from my good friend Tibi into a fantastic-looking Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia. To make sure I do a good job with it, I decided to try and learn the ropes of it all through an inexpensive airplane model. How inexpensive, you might ask. Well, how does €2 sound? Cheap as chips, yes, but at the end of the day, is it a decent kit?
The box contents are pretty straight forward. You get two grey plastic sprues for the main assembly of the aircraft. Quite a bit of flash, but once you clean it up, the parts are pretty detailed. The only exception were the horizontal stabilizer supports that snapped in half during clean-up. I had to replace them with two strips of wire.
Next up, the clear parts were a nice surprise. You get 3 canopies, just in case you break / lose one. I think this is a nice touch, especially for a low-budget kit.
The decals were pretty bad. Thick and fragile at the same time, but I guess you can make them work if you’re very careful. I managed to break the ones on the vertical stabilizer and the ones on the underside of the wings. Oh well 🙂 If I were to do it again, I would get some after-market ones, for sure, but for this project, I really wanted to build it out-of-the-box.
The instructions are shocking. For such a low price tag of €2, I was expecting a xeroxed piece of paper with barely-readable text and mismatched drawings (I’m looking at you, Ark Models). What you end up getting, though, is a high-quality print, with explanations on the functional purpose of the parts built on each step. Through decals and clever use of paints, you are able to place the airplane in four historical settings:
- Training School, Romanian Air Force, Ghinbav (1940)
- Fourth Air Regiment, Polish Air Force (1935)
- Second Air Regiment, Polish Air Force (1935)
- Wermacht-captured PZL P.7a, Germany (1942)
Talking about history, the PZL is a remarkable example. Developed in 1928 Poland by Zygmunt Puławski, the P.1 variant introduced a whole new wing concept, the high gull wing (also known as the Polish wing). This design was meant to highly improve the pilot’s visibility by being very thin next to the fuselage and growing in thickness toward the ends.
Several prototypes were built, but the P.7 was the first one to enter mass production. Between 1932 and 1933 a total of 152 fighter planes were delivered. Most of them would be lost in the battles of 1939, but a few would be evacuated to Romania to avoid being captured. At that time, Romania was a neutral state. They would not use the PZL’s in combat, but as training airplanes for future fighter aircraft pilots.