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  1. Some will have seen my post about my visit to the Shuttleworth Collection and my "love at first sight" moment with their Hawker Demon. So this build has to be, not only because the Silver Wings kit is in the stash AND it's beautiful, but also because I would get no rest until it's underway. And that in part is the reason for this slightly premature beginning, because I'm shortly off to Cornwall playing golf for a few days, so no modelling for at least a week! But as has occurred before with the Gauntlet build for instance, research is an integral part of the satisfaction that I achieve from modelling. And the result of my initial research has been fascinating. The Demon's existence owes everything to its predecessor, the very similar Hawker Hart: which as a light bomber was so fast that the RAF fighters, the Bristol Bulldog for instance, struggled to keep up with it, let alone catch it. So the proposal was to make a fighter version of the Hart, which eventually became known as the Demon in 1932. The eagle-eyed will immediately spot that the two are not too dissimilar, even down to the fighter having a pilot AND a gunner. This was a carry over from the WW1 Bristol Fighter F.2B design, which was based on the premise that bombers would be larger and therefore slower than the fighters. The concept of bombers having a fighter escort (unbelievably) hadn't been thought of! However there was a flaw with the combined speed and design of the Demon. The gunner was equipped with a single Lewis gun on a ring mounting, modified to slope upward and aft to give an improved field of fire. However, the Demon's speed meant that the gunner had extreme difficulty training and firing the gun to either side because of the slipstream. Frazer-Nash came up with s solution, the "lobster shell" turret: which did nothing for the Demon's elegant lines nor centre of gravity. It also made it more difficult for the pilot to aim his two forward-firing guns when the rear gun was facing to the beam. The turret was a palliative measure and latterly not adopted universally, but some design seeds had been sown. The Air Ministry had enough faith in the Demon as a fighter despite these drawbacks to place a substantial order, work proceeding at a pace at the Hawker Kingston factory before being transferred to Boulton-Paul in 1936 because Hurricane production took precedence at Kingston. Rear-turreted fighter......Boulton-Paul.......Frazer Nash.......? I can do no better than to quote a passage from "On Silver Wings": "In the heyday of the RAF's biplane fighter era in the inter-war years, no aeroplane could better exemplify the combination of economy-led compromise enforced by the Treasury, and the Air Staff's flawed tactical concepts, than the Demon. With hindsight it is difficult to see how the Air Staff's stubborn faith in the concept of the two-seat fighter could sensibly have been sustained to the point where the Boulton Paul Defiant two-seater was thrown into action in 1940 with such disastrous consequences in fighter versus fighter operations." Nonetheless, the Demon is a great looking aeroplane: The picture below is just brilliant, so much detail and information there when you study it closely: ...and whilst I am under no illusion that this will be a simple build, I know it will be an enjoyable one! Have I started it? Well, I've sorted bits: and I've printed off Doug Nelson's build guide for the Hart from the Silver Wings website since the two are pretty similar: Until later.......
  2. The Aircraft The Percival Mew Gull was a 1930s racing aircraft, and Alex Henshaw, who at the time was a noted racing pilot, bought ZS-AHM in 1937. It was transferred to the British register as G-AEXF, and after a number of more minor successes he won the King's Cup Air Race in 1938. This was topped off in February 1939 by his solo "Cape Dash" from Britain to Cape Town, South Africa and back, setting a record which stood for a good many years. His book The Flight of the Mew Gull (Airlife Publishing, 1998, originally John Murray Publishers Ltd, 1980) relates this period from when he was 9 years old until the start of WWII. The war interfered somewhat with pleasures of that type, and Henshaw became a test pilot for Vickers-Supermarine, testing new Spitfires off the production line (see his book Sigh for a Merlin, Air Data Publications, 1996). G-AEXF did not fare well, and to cut a long story short was restored and rebuilt, and now resides at the Shuttleworth Collection, Bedfordshire, UK. Like the rest of the Collection's aircraft it is maintained in airworthy condition and flies at air displays and at other times. I'm fortunate enough to live near there, and volunteer at the collection. I have frequently walked past this aeroplane, and stopped to look, and as any modeller would, I have wondered "Why don't Tamiya do one of these in 1:32?" The Kit Of course, the answer to that question is fairly obvious! However, there is a resin LSP kit available: Marsh Models in the UK are best known, perhaps, for model cars, but they also do a line of racing and record-breaking aircraft in resin. Now I have said before "I don't do resin kits"; but having found that a Mew Gull kit was available, I did a bit of research, found only good things about Marsh Models, and decided to order one. In the fullness of time it arrived. These are all "limited edition" kits, and mine included a statement on the information sheet that it was no 103/150. What's more, it was cast to order. This was a "clear-the-workbench" model, so I did just that, and have dived in. The kit arrived in a stout box enclosed in a padded mailing bag. Opening it, I found plenty of bubble-wrap and packing, and an entirely different arrangement of parts compared to the "standard" kits I'm used to: I made it 22 resin parts (not easy to count without actually opening the bags, and I did not do that at this stage); a bag of white metal bits; two PE frets; two vac-form canopies; decals on three sheets (the little silver nose band below the second sheet is on its own sheet); and a sheet of vinyl which can either be used directly as canopy framing, or to mash and paint said framing. The resin is a little more rough-surfaced than a styrene kit, but a light fine sanding should suffice. There are no casting blocks, but some trimming of odd bits and a little truing-up of mating surfaces is needed. A quick test-fit of the fuselage halves proved a very good fit. Overall, I'm very impressed so far: resin kits have come a long way since the last one I tackled, which was not just years, but two or three decades ago. The cockpit "tub" is already moulded into the fuselage, and although some detail needs to be sharpened up, it is a good basis to add the various bits of white metal, resin and etch that comprise the rest of the detail. It's a small aeroplane. I've already wondered to myself how anyone could spend over 4 days crammed in there, with all necessary supplies and as much fuel as possible, let alone manage to navigate and fly. Standing by it on the ground, the centre of the prop spinner is only just above my eye level (I'm 5'10"/178cm). But that means the model shouldn't take up too much shelf space either. Thanks for reading this ramble, I'd better go and get on with it. Wish me luck ! PS: any hints on dealing with resin kits, please chip in, apart from conversion and detail sets I'm very much new to the medium for a complete kit.
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