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Fonderie Miniature 1/48 scale Fouga CM-170 Magister

Manufacturer: Fonderie Miniature, available from Squadron Mail Order, 1115 Crowley Drive, Carrollton, TX 75011-5010, 972-242-8663
Kit: No.6011
Scale: 1/48
Price: $29.96
Comments: Mixed media, 136 parts (32 injection-molded plastic, 49 photoetched brass, 24 white metal, 23 resin, 8 vacuum-formed plastic), decals
Pros: Good photoetched parts, good decals, wide variety of markings
Cons: Poor quality of plastic, resin, and white-metal castings
Initially flown in 1952, nearly 1,000 of the distinctive, butterfly-tailed Fouga Magisters served in training and counter-insurgency roles with 20 air forces throughout the world. Many still fly in military and civilian roles.

A true mixed-media effort, the Fonderie Miniature kit's injected-molded fuselage, wings, and stabilizers are supplemented by resin, white metal, photoetched metal, and vacuum-formed details. The last includes two complete four-part crystal-clear canopies for butterfingers like me. Unfortunately, framing isn't symmetrical left to right, and the fit of the cockpit enclosure is poor.

On three small sheets, FM's beautifully printed decals provide a suite of markings for French, Belgian, Katangan, Lebanese, Moroccan, and Algerian Magisters. French choices include a machine of the Armee de l'Aire's "Patrouille de France" aerobatic team and two trainers, with one scheme each for the five remaining nations.

Also included is the prominent stenciling common to aluminum-finished examples. Those who select the Moroccan scheme will have to underpaint the gold portions of the roundel crowns. The decals also exhibit some silvering even on high-gloss surfaces, and they don't conform well to compound curves. Liberal baths of setting solution - and patience - help.

Fonderie's instructions comprise eight pages of assembly drawings and markings guides. The assembly drawings require close attention because there are many parts in each of the four steps. Choosing the Patrouille de France livery or either camouflaged example poses problems with the colors. Instead of citing standard color references or commercial paint matches, Fonderie provides only generic color descriptions. Exactly what shade is "blue," anyway?

The plastic parts have uneven recessed and raised panel lines. My sample had hundreds of surface imperfections; after I sanded them smooth, many of the panel lines vanished with the sanding dust. The poor component fit also demands considerable filling and sanding at nearly every joint.

All 26 white-metal parts were marred by pits, flash, and mold-separation lines - many modelers will seek spares-box substitutes.

At first sight, the resin parts look like the best components, but painting and dry-brushing revealed lots of molding flaws. The small fuselage scoops were impossible to remove from their thick backing wafer, so I left them off.

The crisply cast main gear wells, by contrast, install beautifully, and the kit's resin cockpit traps almost perfectly between the fuselage halves. Unfortunately, most of the cockpit details don't attach or align properly. I used interior photos from the Oct. 1998 issue of Scale Aviation Modeller International - and considerable trial and error - to ensure correct parts placement. Attach the instrument panels, rudder pedals, and nose-gear assembly before installing the tub; attaching them later is extremely difficult.

A feature on first generation jet trainers in Air Enthusiast 48 proved helpful. FM gives markings for the aluminum finished "KAT 93," one of three notorious Katangan CM 170s fighting UN forces during the Congo Civil War in the 1960s. Preferring the camouflaged "KAT 91" instead, I simply replaced the 3s with vertical bars from an H on FM's decals. Polly Scale paints provided my warpaint matches.

While the colorful Magister ranks among my favorites, much of the enjoyment of adding this model to my collection was lost in finishing Fonderie's kit. Even with numerous shortcuts, construction consumed 30 hours. Only experienced enthusiasts should consider this one.


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