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Trumpeter 1/72 scale Fairey Gannet

Kit: 01629
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, from Stevens International, 856-435-1555,
Price: $25.25
Comments: Injection-molded, 100 parts, decals
Pros: Nice detail, needed subject, thin well-printed decals
Cons: Decals prone to stretch and tear, several ejector-pin marks, and sinkholes in visible areas
With its contra-rotating propellers housed inside a huge conical spinner, a fuselage shaped like a pregnant whale, a trio of bubble canopies, and big, bent wings, the Fairey Gannet ranks as one of the uglier aircraft in history.
Trumpeter's new 1/72 scale kit captures the bizarre shape of the Gannet and gives fans of Fleet Air Arm aircraft a long-overdue new kit of this important airplane.
The light gray plastic parts have fine engraved panel lines with little flash and a few mold separation lines that were easily cleaned up with a sanding stick. The clear parts are thin and clear, and capture the complex bubble shape well, but there is a mold line down the center of each that requires careful sanding and polishing to remove.
Fifteen easy-to-follow steps are clearly printed on the 8-page instruction sheet, with exploded views and paint call outs throughout. A separate full-color sheet gives painting and marking details. The well-printed decal sheet includes marking for three aircraft, including two Royal Navy versions and an option from the West German Navy. They are bright, sharp, and detailed enough that it is possible to read the typo on one of the stencils "DANGER - KEEP OFF - THE SPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED."
Cockpit detail is adequate for the scale, including raised detail on the instrument panels, which I dry-brushed to highlight. The cockpit tub is built up from a floor, two sidewalls and several bulkheads; all fit together well. The fuselage went together easily trapping the cockpit and radar operators positions, a tail hook, and nosewheel well. The instructions don't mention adding weight to the nose, but a lot needs to be added to prevent the model from sitting on its tail. There's not a lot of room in the fuselage forward of the main gear. I managed to cram nine lead sinkers under the cockpit and above the nose gear bay, but my Gannet still wants to rock back. Trumpter does provide the option of displaying the cylindrical, ventrai radar unit deployed (not something which happened on the ground according to my references). It can be used to support the tail.
The wings go together OK, but there are small steps at the trailing edge between the ailerons and flaps which needed sanding. Both the ailerons and flaps are included separately, and the instructions show the flap being constructed in the open position; some sort of support would have to be built to display them retracted. The horizontal stabilizers went together easily. The instructions indicate that the fuselage plug housing the radar unit should be installed near the end of construction, but I installed it early to ensure it blended into the body before painting. Most seams required just a little sanding to make them disappear.
After masking and installing the clear parts, I primed the model and painted it with extra dark sea gray and sky as indicated, using Gunze Sangyo acrylics throughout. The paints dried with a semigloss finish, so I applied the decals for the Royal Navy's 820 Squadron directly over the paint.
The decals are very thin and settled over the paint and details without setting solutions. They had a tendency to want to stick immediately, though, and required careful handling. A couple stretched and tore during application.
I finished the model with a coat of Testors Acryl semigloss clear, then added the landing gear, flaps, propellers and engine exhausts. These exhausts are small tubes which fit into openings on the rear fuselage. And they can easily fall through the openings into the model. (One of mine had super glue on it when it fell inside. At least it's not rattling.)
The finished models scales out just about perfect according to British Naval Aircraft Since 1912 by Owen Thetford, and it captures the awkward look and stance of the full-size aircraft. I spent about 22 hours on my Gannet, and any modeler with a few kits under their belt should be able to turn it into a nice replica. Or at least as nice as a Gannet can look.
- Aaron Skinner


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