‘Sexy beast’ - Part 2

Trumpeter Gannet AS Mk 1/4

by Damian Coburn


Welcome back to part 2 of my build of the Gannet.  At the end of Part 1 I had completed the main assemblies. From here on in matters proceeded faster – when I could get to building.  Unfortunately, however, due to a combination of requirements to work unsociable hours, and illness (not serious, just enough to curb modelling enthusiasm) I haven’t gotten to the workbench as much as I would have liked. 

Before turning to business, a few loose ends from Part 1.  First, a warning.  Nose weights.  Pack them in.  The model needs lots.  You will see why (and my embarrassment) as you read on.

Secondly, I asked if anyone knew what the “coggy wheely thing” on the rudder bar was. Bill Penney posted the following interesting answer on the forum page (thanks for agreeing to my reproducing it here):

“I'm sure it is the rudder bar adjustment device, and the "coggy" teeth are widely spaced so that the pilot can adjust the reach of the rudder pedals with his feet after he is strapped in. If my memory serves me correctly, the same device was fitted to Canberra aircraft, and perhaps to Meteors as well, and possibly to Bristol Frighteners. It was probably also used in a variety of British aircraft of the period.”

Thirdly, after I had sent off the article, I remembered from Haydn’s review that he thought the shape of the intakes is wrong.  I believe he is correct.  Look at the photos of the nose part of the kit in Haydn’s review, and compare with the Photos included in Haydn’s review and also Ross’s photo in Part 1.  The intake of the real aircraft seems to me to describe a partial circle, or something close to it.  The kit part is, by comparison, somewhat slab-sided.  To the extent that this slab-sidedness continues down the fuselage, it would contribute to the incorrect ‘join’ line between the fuselage and the radar bin housing.

Fourthly and and finally, I mentioned that drawings differ as to the arrangement of the radar dustbin and housing.  I think the artwork by Graeme Molineux on p39 of Modelart 35 (February 2007) has this area right.

Undercarriage and transparencies

OK, back to business.  The next steps were to install the undercarriage and cockpit transparencies.  I mentioned in Part 1 that RAN Gannet undercarriages seem to have been sky or another green.  I plumped for sky so that I could install the undercarriage to give the model something to sit on during painting, without making painting more complicated. Note that the main gear braces (parts B5 and B6) don’t naturally sit where they are supposed to.   There is a little ledge in each of the forward corners of the mainwheel bays, and the legs of these parts sit on these – this isn’t immediately clear from the instructions (well it wasn’t to me.  Draw your own conclusions) and the parts need a little bending to get to the right spots. The correct placement result is shown in Photo 1.

The instructions say to leave the main nosegear doors open.  Every photo of a live (that is, not on a junkyard or in a museum) Gannet I have seen has these doors closed, so I fitted the doors accordingly.  The closed fit is not fantastic, but not so awful as to leave them open.

Fitting the canopies led me to the only point where, albeit briefly, I seriously fell out of love with the kit.  First step was to remove mouldlines from the centrelines of the canopy parts.  This wasn’t a problem, just something new for me and, well, I’m sure I’ll do a better job next time.  The problems were twofold.  First, fit of the forward transparencies.  The windscreen, canopies and centre-section (part D3, which includes windows) are separate transparencies.  In Part 1 I mentioned fit problems in the fuselage halves that were possibly caused by the cockpit interiors being slightly out of alignment when glued into one side before closure.  I found the bulkhead at the rear of the forward cockpit ended up sitting slightly to one side, which also created problems for the ‘sit’ of the centre-section, leaving a gap between the part and the fuselage on one side.  Again, I think the  fix is likely to be not to glue the cockpit tubs in place until after the fuselage halves are together, if at all.  There was also a fore and aft fit difficulty.  Part D3 has tabs to locate it on the fuselage but the placement of the part resulted in difficulty getting the canopies to fit in, and the windscreen ended up with a gap between the forward edge and the fuselage.  All around there were gaps which I filled with white glue (my transparency fixative of choice).  Next time I’ll remove the locating tabs on part D3.  By the way, it goes without saying to install all the canopy parts in one step working from back to front, without antenna mast, instead of the instructions which is to install part D3 first, and then the canopies around it.

The second problem, which I have to admit is only a suspicion based on looking at photos and in the absence of actually looking at and measuring a real aircraft, is that the forward transparencies are incorrectly shaped.  Look at Photo 2.  I think the forward canopy is too narrow – at least compared to the middle – measured along the sill from the side, and is also too tall.  This excess height may be why the forward edge of the windscreen is too far forward, as noted by Haydn.

The lower edges of the ‘clear areas’ on the canopy parts are distinctly curved and have very rounded corners.  Thankfully, photos show these areas to be quite square and that is how I masked them.  The frames of the windscreen are also rather too thick, but I didn’t catch that.  I masked the clear areas before installing them, using thin strips of Tamiya tape, and masking fluid.  I painted the sills and edges of the transparencies black to obviate internal shiny edges of the parts being visible from outside.

By the way, the canopies optically negate any efforts one might put into detailing the interior, so don’t bother unless you plan to have them open.  The transparencies are possibly flexible enough for this.

Paint and decals

I airbrushed the canopy areas black to establish the interior frame colours, and at the same time did the upper wing roots for masking off for wingwalks.  As with the interior I used Tamiya NATO Black (XF-69), which provides a slightly soft very dark grey rather than a true, hard, black.  According to the Red Roo instructions the wing walks do not follow the wing root, but curve outboard to clear the exhaust outlet bulges.  The simple way to make a mask would be to enlarge the Red Roo instructions to make a template, but I didn’t have access to an enlarging copier (um, that I could work out how to operate).  So I constructed the shapes by placing thin strips of Tamiya tape along the inboard edges of the wingwalks; using further strips as spacers, which then enabled location of the outer edges.  Photo 3 shows the framework, before using more tape to make the mask ‘solid’.  The pale grey around the edges of the transparencies, by the way, was to check that I had filled all the gaps.

I then gave the entire model a thin coat of Tamiya sky grey for an undercoat, and to prevent the black areas showing through, and then a coat of sky.  “Which sky?”  I hear you ask.  I grabbed the three bottles to hand (Tamiya, Gunze and Lifecolour), and compared swatches with Ian K Baker’s chip.  In my view the Lifecolour was the best match – albeit to the chip.  The Tamiya was rather darker, and the Gunze too yellow.  I don’t know how widely used Lifecolour paints are; this is the only one I have got around to using after buying some at an ACTSMS annual comp, but it worked very well.  The paint was opaque, having a good consistency like Xtracrylics for brush painting, but thinned and airbrushed well.  I’m not tossing either of the other skys, though, because sky code letter decals vary and having different paints provides a range of sources to match.  Look at photo 4, where I used Tamiya sky – darkened with a little extra green – to match better the PD decals markings for ‘Paddy’ Finucane’s early spit Vb (the horrible fuselage roundel is by Airfix, by the way).  Against the ocean grey and dark green, the Tamiya sky looks fine.  At least I think so and it’s on my model shelf!

Masking the sky areas took a lot of tape.  I started by outlining the areas to be masked with thin strips.  Given recent discussion of this topic on the forum pages, photo 5 shows how I did the wing roots and particularly the curve around the leading edge, as the extra dark sea grey wraps around the leading edge of the wing.  To help the strips bend I made several small cuts across the outside edges (ie outside edges of the curves, but inside the area to be masked), but still needed three sections to get the whole curve.  A cotton-tip was used to press down the edges on the inside of the curves, ie the outside edges of the masked areas.  As I mentioned in Part 1, the fit of the tailplanes is both good and very positive and so I left them off until after painting and decaling.  As an aside, in another recent review the reviewer solved the wing to fuselage masking issue by painting the wings before fitting as well as the tailplanes.  As I said in Part 1, the wings are a good fit so this is a viable solution; but note that the fit, while good, unlike the tailplanes is not positive, so there might be a risk of damaging the paintwork while moving the wings around to get the best fit.  Recall also that the trailing edge wing root is part of the fuselage, not the wing, so either way a little bit of masking will be required.

I used Gunze extra dark sea grey for the uppers.  The Gunze was readily available to me, but is too dark.  I lightened it to match roughly (again) the relevant Baker chip.  I added some post-highlighting (as I had previously done with the sky), but at the end this is barely visible – better than overdoing it.  Photo 6 shows the results after unwrapping all the masking.  Note that, while not shown in this photo, the upper surfaces of the flaps are grey as well and I did them at the same time.

Now on the downhill run I painted the various small intakes on the fuselage red, and gave the entire model two coats of future with a soft brush in preparation for decaling.  I know some people of are of the view that one coat is enough, but I found two were needed to get a good gloss. 

The Trumpeter sheet provides a number of stencils but, from what I could see of photos, none are relevant to RAN Gannets except the black diamond showing the steps on the starboard side.  I managed to destroy this decal by irretrievably curling it up.  For the rest of the markings I used the Red Roo decals. When I proposed this article to Graham and David I said that, being a complete Gannet novice and therefore unable competently to comment on their accuracy, I would have to limit my remarks about these decals to how they are to use.  Well, how they were to use was an absolute pleasure.  The instructions are clear and informative.  The decals themselves are tough but extremely thin.  I used sol and set, and the decals conformed to the panel line details like paint without any trace of silvering.  After a coat of varnish the decal film disappeared completely.  I forgot to put a gloss coat on the main gear doors and, in a fit of laziness, applied the relevant decals anyway, and there was no silvering on the very matt finish (in accordance with best decaling practice, though, I wouldn’t rely on this!).  The decals come off the backing paper very quickly: the larger ones leave just enough time to put some sol on the surface of the model after placing the decals in water, the smaller ones don’t leave even that much time (so sol, then dunk).  So no waiting around twiddling thumbs.  Between the fast-acting decals and the relatively small number needing to be applied, this is a one-evening job.  At least it should have been; I started decaling before dinner, but had a glass or three of red while cooking and then eating, and so thought better of doing the last few decals that night!

A few points to note, though.  The serials and codes have plenty of decal film, and a trim doesn’t hurt.  The large roundels were slightly out of register in my set, resulting in a white edge partway around the edge of the roundels.  I fixed this by trimming the roundels very closely on the upper wing surfaces – the decal sheet has three complete sets of roundels, but as I don’t expect to do more than one grey and sky example that means I had spares.  I contacted Gary Byk who (i) checked out his stock and advised that I must have had a bad set and (ii) offered to replace them (but having solved the minor problem this wasn’t necessary).  Finally, I noticed that one of the marking diagrams of the T2 option shows the yellow trainer bands under the wings extending across the flaps, but another diagram shows them not on the flaps.  Gary told me the stripes should go across the entire width of the wing, that is across the flaps as well.

Final details and assembly

A feature of RAN Gannets was underwing rocket rails.  I gather these either weren’t fitted to all aircraft and/or weren’t always fitted, but in the photo my aircraft had them, so I decided to make some up out of 2.5x0.75mm strips. Photo 7 shows the results of an evening’s work.  They are about 10mm long.  They would look better at about 11 to 11.5mm long and made out of 0.5mm thickness strip.  That’s not to say they would be more accurate, I largely eyeballed them, but I think they would look better.

The final assemblies were the flaps and props.  The prop blades are separate and are keyed so they are aligned in the fully feathered position.  It would be a simple matter to cut the keys off but alignment would be more fiddly. The front and back plates of both spinners were poor fits, though, and required a lot of filler.  The flap actuators were finely done and, in common with many parts of the kit, were designed to help with positioning parts, but were loose fits.  Very important point: in trimming off the sprue attachments from the flap mechanisms, trim the sprue attachments and only the sprue attachments.  I got this wrong on one of them, but the incomplete part is carefully hidden away where it is difficult to see!  Photo 8 shows the flaps assembled and just needing the sky freshened with a brush on the edges before installation (the bit I shouldn’t have cut off, but did, is on the inboard actuator of the port inner flap).

At this point I got a rude, rude, and, apropos my initial warning, noseweight-related shock.  I mentioned in part 1 that I had put in some nose weights.  I put in about 25g behind the nosewheel bay, and my feeling since had been I had perhaps overdone it.  However now I installed the tailplanes – big, chunky, taiplanes – and it promptly sat on its tail, resulting in some comments on my part disputing the kit’s parentage.

I was all ready to go down the ignominious route of a tail prop when a desperate approach occurred to me.  See photo 9: I cut a hole in the nose and hollowed out the props to get the largest weight in that I could, in the most forward position I could.  This was just enough to get the model back on its nosewheel.  The yellow (Games Workshop Golden Yellow), by the way, was for the blade tips and the yellow stripe around the forward prop. The stripe is immediately forward of the backplate, and so turned out to be not nearly as scary to mask as I thought it might have been.  I sprayed the spinners Tamiya green (X-5) and painted the prop blades Games Workshop Chaos Black, because for these parts I wanted a good, hard, black- black.

As the absolutely final steps I installed all the remaining parts – props, flaps, gear doors, and radio mast (installed twice, I broke it off at one point),  –  except the wheels and exhausts, and gave the lot, including the wheels which had painted hubs but which were otherwise still on the sprues, a coat of Tamiya clear with a drop of flat base to make it more satin.  I then painted the tyres black (NATO black again), so they would be matt, and installed them, together with the various lights, and the exhausts which I handpainted Vallejo gunmetal.  The exhausts are a bit simplified but also, with a coat of paint, are for this kit an uncharacteristically tight fit.  DO NOT try and force the exhausts into place, as they may skip inside the fuselage, never to be seen again.  I almost, but didn’t quite, learn this the hard way.  The last two things were to remove the canopy masks and install the antenna wire, using EZ-line which, it seems to me, is perfect for the kinked sort of antenna wire as fitted to the Gannet.  EZ-line is also available from Red Roo.

Oh, and yes, and the broken tailhook from Part 1.  I splinted the parts with a piece of tape and then applied glue.  The repaired part is mostly straight …

And Voila!


To me it looks like a Gannet, capturing the essence of something that looks like it really needs to be flung off the end of an elevated runway (ie a flight deck) to get into the sky.  I had some  minor tribulations, but nothing major.  There are one or two areas that could be improved upon, and might be a fruitful area of endeavour for aftermarket companies on top of the already available cockpit and weapons bay, ie wheel wells, the canopies and the radar bin area and, to appeal to the lazy modeller, raised flaps and closed nosewheel main doors.  The shape of the intakes is more difficult to fix because the problem may be in the fuselage and not just the intakes, but a replacement that has proper depth down to the engine faces would be nice.  But see my comments on the forthcoming Revell kit, below.  The Red Roo decals are absolutely superb to use and, even though I’m not expert, they look right to me as well.

Here’s the crunch question: would I buy another one?  Well, yes and no.  All other things being equal, the answer unreservedly would be “yes” so I can do the silver and yellow T2 option on the Red Roo sheet.  Things, however, are not equal.  This is because Revell has indicated that it is also going to bring out a new-tool Gannet. The Trumpeter kit is good but, as I listed in the preceding paragraph, Revell has lots of opportunities for improvements.  For now, though, it is an unknown quantity, and the final answer depends on each individuals preferences for birds in hands or bushes.  In the meantime I am very happy with the one I have.

Further images





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