Manufacturer: MPM, available from Squadron Mail Order, 1115 Crowley Drive, Carrollton, TX 75011-5010, 972-242-8663.
Kit: No. 72078
Comments: Injection molded, 87 parts (15 resin), decals.
Pros: Petite recessed surface detail, injection-molded canopy, long-overdue subject, good decals.
Cons: No locating pins or tabs/slots, Spartan interior, fit and shape problems, no ordnance.
Looking at Fairey's Barracuda doesn't make you think of its sleek, fast, and ferocious namesake. The airplane was a slow, ungainly, but capable combat aircraft. The Barracuda drew first blood at Salerno, then went on to serve in the Atlantic and Far East. One of its more notable missions was the surprise strike against the German battleship Tirpitz on April 3, 1944. Barracudas scored many hits but failed to sink Tirpitz. In the Far East, Barracudas participated in raids against Sumatra and the Japanese home islands while serving with the British Pacific Fleet. Various marks of the Barracuda served into the early 1950s.
MPM's gray and clear parts show petite engraved detail. The clear parts can be improved by a dip in Future floor polish, though. The fine resin parts include some interior details, prop blades, and exhaust stacks.
I cleaned up all mating surfaces of the parts first. There are no locating pins, so cleanup helps parts fit. Check the instructions, as there are some alternate parts you need to choose.
The kit's cockpit interior is oversimplified and not entirely accurate. Since there is a large greenhouse canopy, you may want to consult references to improve the cockpit. There is a small window just ahead of each wing's leading edge that is outlined on the fuselage halves, but no clear parts are provided. I carved these out and filled them with Microscale Kristal-Kleer.
You may need to modify the interior subassemblies to get them to fit inside the fuselage.
The shape of the wings is inaccurate. The kit has a rounded bump in front of the main gear tire well. There should be a bump there, but the leading edge forms straight lines from the crown of the bump to the wing root and the wing tip. There should be a slight negative sweep angle from bump to the wing root. Filler and careful sanding will correct the error. There is no detail in the wheel wells, so you may want to spend time improving them. I left the wings and horizontal stabilizers off to ease painting.
After adding some of the small exterior parts, I painted with Humbrol and AeroMaster enamels. Joining the wings to the fuselage is tricky as there are no attachment aids - no tabs and slots, just flat butt joints. To establish the correct dihedral, I added .2mm (HO scale 2 x 4) Evergreen strip to the bottom edge of the wing root.
The horizontal tail surfaces are also tricky. Along with butt joints, the support struts are too long. Since the struts have fairings at both ends, you need to remove 4mm from the middle section. The struts meet the horizontal tail surfaces 9mm out from the fin and 2mm back from the leading edge.
After giving the finished model an overall coat of Future, I applied the Cartograph decals. MPM provides decals for two aircraft from the Tirpitz raid and two from the British Pacific Fleet aboard HMS Vengeance in 1945. My decals were crisply printed, but the yellow rings on the fuselage roundel/insignia were slightly off register. The decals respond to Solvaset, but I added a little diluted white glue to help them stick.
The ungainly landing gear sets need care when they are installed. Give glue plenty of time to set before putting the model on its wheels. The instructions are vague about the correct placement of the retraction struts. The lower ends should be glued to the outsides of the main supports. Drill shallow holes in the rounded ends of the fuselage supports to hold the oleo struts.
You'll need to carefully modify the slots in the flaps for the actuators to align them with the slots in the wing trailing edge. The instructions tell you to scratchbuild radar antennas for the top of the wing. MPM provides no ordnance, but you could add British 250 or 500lb bombs and scratchbuilt pylons under the fuselage and wings.
The kit measures overscale by a few inches, but does capture the gangly look of the Barracuda sitting on a flight deck. I devoted 23 hours to my model.
Only experienced builders should tackle this one due to the need for adding detail, correcting the wing leading edges, minor scratchbuilding, and dealing with tricky positioning of the flight surfaces. The completed model will look like a Barracuda, provided the builder gets everything right.