'Sexy Beast'
Trumpeter Gannet AS Mk 1/4, Pt 1


1/72 Trumpeter Gannet AS Mk 1/4


by Damian Coburn


Introduction

Trumpeter’s new Gannet certainly seems to have created a stir.  The MPM/Italeri Hudsons raised a bit of interest, and the Anson – numerically the most important type ever operated by the RAAF – by Classic Airframes seemed to be a three-day wonder, if that.  By comparison we seem to be surrounded by Gannet fever!  Gary tells us that Red Roo’s Gannet decals have been departing the shelves like hot cakes and, most notably, it seems that some of these kits are not going into stashes but actually are being built!

Until very recently I knew almost nothing about the Gannet except two things.  One, it’s one ugly aircraft, but one that manages like many British Naval Aircraft to be interesting nonetheless.  Secondly, it was an important type for the RAN, being a half of one of the three fighter/ASW tag-teams operated by the RAN.  Consequently, while interested in the type, I hadn’t felt the urge to try and do something with the ancient, even by Frog standards, Frog kit, or shell out for the CMR resin version.  So I was quite pleased when Trumpeter put out a kit, and even more so when Red Roo produced a set of RAN decals. 

This is part one of two parts of my Gannet build, from opening the box to having the main shape put together.  As I’ve already said, I am not a Gannet expert so I am only able to provide fairly minimal comments on the accuracy of the kit – see Haydn Neal’s review elsewhere on the site for that - or the accuracy of the decals.  This is essentially about how I went about the build.

In the box

The box is typical Trumpeter: very sturdy, heavy-duty cardboard, with a picture on the front that at least tells you that what is inside purports to be a Gannet (Picture 1).  The box is quite large, even given the size of the Gannet: somewhat bigger than a Hasegawa 1/48 single engine fighter box (Picture 2). 

Inside are four sprues in grey plastic and one in clear (Pictures 3 to 6).  Each was bagged separately except the smallest two opaque sprues, which were bagged together.  I might take a punt and guess that the smallest sprue might be different in the T2 boxing.  Also in the box are instructions (of course), a neatly printed decal sheet (Picture 7) and a sheet printed on both sides with colour three views (Picture 8, one side only).

Pic - 3
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Pic - 8

My immediate impressions were of nicely done detail, but with lots of flash (Picture 9) and lots of ejector pin marks.  I recall reading at least one review that suggests that these ejector pin marks won’t be visible except for the ones inside the nose wheel bay doors.  Not so.  The ones in the flap bay (Picture 10) and on the upper surfaces of the flaps (Picture 11) -  especially the flaps - will stick out like the proverbial canine wotsits if not attended to.  The Main wheel doors also have marks that can be cleaned up without damaging any inner surface detail – because there isn’t any – and the top of the spars at the front of the flap bays also have ejector depressions that become obvious when test-fitting, because they leave small gaps. I filled these before assembling the wings; doing it afterwards might be a trial of patience.

Pic - 9
Pic - 10
Pic - 11

Continuing with general impressions, there is some particularly nice detail in, for example, the windscreen with wiper (Picture 12) and main wheels (Picture 13), albeit with off-centre axle-hole!  Similarly to the only other Trumpeter kit I’ve experienced, one of their 1/35 KV-1s (that from time to time a stick a part to), the engineering seemed on the whole intelligent and maybe even a bit clever in parts.

Pic - 12
Pic - 13

Let the building commence

I should take a detour here to deal with a couple of detail points for people equally unsavvy about Gannets as I was when I started.  All of the above said, the main wheel-wells are somewhat sparse (Picture 14).  The flap bays are also devoid of any detail.  “Oh Trumpeter”, I thought, and proceeded to go about working out how to model the flaps up.  I was proceeding down this path when I noticed that the Red Roo decals instructions show a photo of XG796/858, hanging over the side of the Melbourne by its tailhook having made a bad landing, and showing inside the flap bays.  Trumpeter has portrayed them the way Fairey built them: no detail other than the flap actuating mechanisms, as provided in the kit.  So no problem there.

However, another reason to build the flaps as being up is that, as far as I can tell from looking at every photo I could find on the net, is that the flaps seem rarely to be down when on the ground (presumably the pilot of 858 forgot to raise them, having other things on his mind finding himself, his crew and his aircraft dangling by a wire over Jarvis Bay).  Test fitting the flaps I found there was a strange triangular notch in the outboard flap (Picture 15).  “Really, Trumpeter”, I thought.  Then I noticed in a picture showing this area in Wilson’s Firefly, Fury and SeaVenom in Australian Service (p18).  Nope, Trumpeter have it exactly the way Fairey built it. 

Anyway, I’m building mine with the flaps down.  A point to note if one does want to build them up is that they are a tad too broad in chord.  I’ll try them up when I build the T Mk 2.

On to the building.  The cockpit is, as other reviews have noted, basic.  Such detail as there is, is impressionistic, such as black boxes and strange lumps which are perhaps supposed to represent trim wheels.  The sidewalls are cleverly keyed so you can only install them one way, but the fit is quite loose.  The sidewalls are supposed to butt up against parts A11 and C37 so install these to the floor before the sidewalls for good fit.  I also installed the seats after these parts but before after the sidewalls, contrary to the order in the instructions, but I think this would be easier (Picture 16).  An anomaly to the barren, flat surfaces is the nanotechnological, two-part rudder pedals (Picture 17, taken with an electron microscope, hence the poor focus).  The coggy-wheely-thingy goes on top of the rudder bar.  Can anyone tell me what this is?

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Trumpeter would have you paint the interior in Gunze H337, Gunze’s version of the USN blue-gray colour which is used on the upper surfaces of RAAF Hornets.  After consultation on the Forum, and sage advice from Mr Edwards, I duly painted the whole lot black (Tamiya NATO black which is a bit softer than a true black) except for the headpads which I painted dark brown.  It all boxed up nicely into a tub for the front and a floor-and-bulkheads for the back (Picture 18). No the black doesn’t show much.  Dick Hourigan’s and Brian Kerr’s photos in the latest Modelart showed that the seats should be tan as well but, ah well, it was too late.

Test-fitting the cockpit parts, as well as the nosewheel bay and wing spars, into the fuselage showed that some refining of the mating surfaces of the fuselage parts is necessary to get a good fit between the halves.  Before installing the nosewheel bay I gave it a coat of Tamiya spray matt aluminium to save me masking it up later.  Silly.  First, because the front and rear walls of the bay are partly parts of the fuselage, so pre-painting doesn’t obviate the need to paint again after assembly.  Secondly, because RAN Gannet wheel bays, from Q&A on the forum, were typically sky or another green colour.

I painted most of the interior NATO Black and glued all the parts in the starboard fuselage side (Picture 19), installed some fishing weights just behind the nosewheel bay, and then closed the fuselage up.  Note that I had masked and painted the tailhook prior to installation, as I figured that it would be difficult to do afterwards, as I had chosen to model 858, despite its watery fate, because of the interesting red and yellow striped tailhook.  The stripes are 2mm wide – nothing particularly scientific, but that seemed to get the right number of stripes over about the right length.  The other two options have plain yellow tailhooks.  The spars protruding from the fuselage provide mounting points for the wings.  Note also the ‘strakes on the sides of the exhaust outlet fairings; these are part of the wing roots (Picture 20).

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Pic - 20

Now, something that can be seen in this last picture is that I had some difficulty getting the fuselage halves to line up neatly.  Aside from the weapons bay door along the bottom, this wasn’t a big deal when dry-fitting.  I suspect the problem might be because the cockpits and the nosewheel bay pushed the halves out of alignment. Next time I will be inclined not to glue any of the interior parts into place until after the fuselage is closed.  All of the interior parts (except weights) can be ‘got at’ with glue to tack them in place afterwards and, while all the interior parts fit rather tightly, this might allow enough play to get good joints.  Another (beginners’ error!) mistake I made was to try to do all the joins at once: I should have worked my way around.  I might also remove the locating pins, but I’ll see how dry-fitting goes.

An aside at this point, while cleaning up the joins I found out the hard way: don’t forget that the tailhook sticks out the back.  It is flexible but not indestructible.  Luckily, despite bending to maximum tension before snapping, the flying end ended up neither next door or in my eyeball, so I have it to attempt to attach back on later.

I then turned to the under-fuselage radar dustbin fairing.  This, so far, has been my only real disappointment with the kit so far.  Comparing the parts with photos (every drawing I have seen of this area is different), I think Trumpeter have got this wrong in lots of little ways that add up to the area being not quite right.  This is because, I think, Trumpeter have tried to include an option of having the bin up or down within the same parts – and this is pointless unless the model is going on a stand, because the bin is longer than the main fuselage legs – and also because the geometry and shape of the fuselage might be out of whack, though I am not 100% sure on this score, in that I think the bin on the kit points a bit too far forwards and the fuselage might be a bit skinny.  The problems are: the collar is too thick and goes too far up the fuselage; the strakes on the bin are too thick and the slots for these are in the wrong place; the bin is too small in diameter (but the collar is approaching the correct size) and not rounded enough on the bottom; and the fuselage lip at the front of the bin is too big.  Compare my Picture 21 with photos of this area by George Canciani (Picture 22) of the Queensland Air Museum Gannet and Ross Moorhouse (Picture 23) of the Moorabin airframe.  Another problem, about fit not shape, is that the housing is too wide for the fuselage as well.

Pic - 21
Pic - 22 (courtesy of George Canciani)
Pic - 23

It may be possible to get the area looking better but I figured I would prefer to live with it rather than stick the model back on the shelf until I get around to a fix.  I did fill the slots in the collar and narrowed the housing for a better fit.  Only just now as I type, looking again at Ross’ photo, I realised that I installed the bin so that its lower rim is flush with the collar when it should be level with the forward fuselage.  Doing this would have improved the look of the area.  Say La Vee as the French say.

Next was the nose, which fits fairly poorly.  There is a raised area at the back of the piece that is supposed to be, I think, part of the forward wall of the nosewheel bay.  This had to be filed off to get the part remotely near fitting. I tried to fettle the part into place but got to a point where I was making it worse, so out came the filler.  The inside profile of the intakes are also incorrect; you should be able to see straight to the faces of the engines, but in the kit you can’t.  Again see Dick Hourigan’s and Brian Kerr’s photos in Modelart, and also Picture 24 by Ross.

From here things started moving along nicely.  The upper tailplane parts are slightly longer in span than the lower parts, so the tips needed some work.  The fit to the fuselage is very firm and positive, so I’ve left them off until painting, but I reduced the length of the locating tabs as they seemed to be interfering with each other inside the fin.  I also flattened the bottoms of the finlets as Haydn suggested in his review.  I used a scribing tool to emphasise the ‘gaps’ between the elevators and the tailplanes.

The wings are fairly straightforward but, like the fuselage, needed preparation of the mating surfaces and lots of pegs to keep the parts together.  A little sanding was needed to clean up the leading edges and the trailing edges of the wingtips, and to thin the trailing edge between the ailerons and the flap wells as they are very thick.  The ailerons are separate and fit well.

The wings fit on very well, with the short length of wing root on the fuselage helping align the wings (Picture 25).  And so we have something that is starting to look like a Gannet (Picture 26).

So far, despite my criticisms I am pretty pleased with the kit.  The real indicator is that I am still thinking of building another, in the T Mk2 guise to take advantage of that option on the Red Roo decal sheet.  We’ll see if I still feel that way after part 2: small parts, painting and decaling, and final assembly.

References

Wilson, S (1993). Sea Fury, Firefly and Sea Venom in Australian Service.  Aerospace Publications, ACT.

Morgan, F. Hourigan, R. and Kerr, B (2007). “In close up – Gannet” in Modelart Australia 35 pp.38-42.

Hourigan, R. and Halls, D. (2007).  Instructions for Red Roo decal sheet RRD7248 “RAN Fairey Gannet AS Mk1 and T Mk 2”. (See First look review here )

The photos by Ross Moorhouse are from a walkaround on his website www.rosssmodels.hobbyvista.com  (yes 3 Ss in a row).  Note this is the new URL for this site ( link updated on Links Page ).  Photos used with permission.

George Canciani’s photo is one of his very many pictures on www.airliners.net.  Photo used with permission.

Haydn Neal’s review on this website provides useful comments, that I can’t, about the accuracy of the kit.


 

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