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Xtrakit 1/72 scale Gloster Meteor F. Mk.8

RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT
Kit: No. XK72001
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Xtrakit, available from Hannants, www.hannants.co.uk
Price: $24
Comments: Injection-molded, 83 parts, decals
Pros: Nice decals and clear parts
Cons: Inconsistent fit
With nearly 70 variants and configurations during its operational life, the long-lived Meteor performed yeoman Royal Air Force service and was exported to many countries as well.

The Mk. 8 was the first real modification of the basic airframe, featuring a lengthened and strengthened fuselage, new canopy, ejection seat, redesigned tail, and more powerful engines. It served with the Royal Australian Air Force during the Korean War, scoring a handful of air-toair victories, and later went on to other triumphs with Middle Eastern air forces.

Xtrakit's 1/72 scale release is molded in gray plastic with nicely recessed panel lines. A choice of early- and late-production injection-molded canopies is provided, as well as optional intakes for the "Deep Breather" Derwent 8 engine modification. A belly tank and two underwing drop tanks are included in the kit.

Nine parts make up the interior tub, with an additional five added after positioning the tub inside the fuselage. The petite three-piece ejection seat is well done and stands to benefit from extra detailing.

Assembly was straightforward, but the fit of some parts was poor. A few needing truing or trimming.

Separate main wheel-well inserts are provided, while the cockpit floor forms the roof of the nose-wheel well. The instruction sheet shows the nose gear and nose-gear doors being installed in Step 7 with a note that it's better to install them in Step 19 instead - good advice. Each landing gear comprises three parts plus the builder's addition of scratchbuilt braces for the mudguards. The trailing-fork configuration of the gear and the lack of really accurate locating aids on the struts and forks make reference photos and drawings a necessity, as the angle of the "knees" determines the height and the final stance of the model.

The wing represents an early-production Mk. 8 with one trim tab per aileron; installed in the fuselage, the wing fillets matched up perfectly. But putty and sanding was needed on the belly where it joined the fuselage.

The wing is slightly thick compared to reference drawings - but not too noticeable unless viewed straight on. All horizontal flying surfaces have trailing edges that could benefit from thinning.

The injection-molded canopies are crisp and clear, and they fit the cockpit opening nicely. The windshield and sliding canopy are one-piece moldings.

I used Testors non-buffing Metalizer for the overall "High Speed Silver" (actually aluminum dope) finish. The Aviprint decals are super and include three markings choices; I opted to build my Meteor as an aircraft of No. 600 Squadron, based at RAF Biggin Hill in the 1950s. The only necessary modification to the decals was some tweaking of the red diamonds on the wingtips so they all pointed spanwise as intended.

I spent 20 hours on the kit, about average for a project this size. The finished model captures the look and stance of the real Meteor, and it scales out correctly according to my references (The Gloster and AW Meteor: A Comprehensive Guide for the Modeller, by Richard J. Caruana and Richard A. Franks). I'm pretty happy with the results.

- Walt Fink

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