1:72 Shorts Tucano T.1
Review by Michael Johnson
The Shorts Tucano
T.1 serves with the RAF as a basic two seat turbo prop trainer. Selected
in the face of fierce competition to meet RAF requirement AST-412 for
a Jet Provost replacement, the Tucano has a high performance combined
with a considerable economy of operation. (Whilst evaluating a replacement
for the MB326 Aero-Macchi, the RAAF also considered the Shorts Tucano.
Eventually the RAAF selected the Pilatus PC9A.
Developed from the Embraer EMB-312 Tucano,
which is also in widespread service, the RAF version has a more powerful
engine in a redesigned nose, a four bladed propeller, ventral airbrake
and restyled wingtips; less obvious are the structural strengthening
to give 50% longer fatigue life, new BAe Hawk style cockpit layouts
and strengthened cockpit canopy; the crew are provided with Martin
Baker MB 8LC ejection seats.
Following a lengthy development programme,
the Tucano entered service with the Central Flying School at RAF Scampton
in mid 1988 and as the 130 machines on order were delivered into service
they replaced the Jet Provost with the Flying Training Schools, No.
7FTS being the first. The UK Ministry of Defence also has an option
for 15 Tucano T.1’s and the Kenyan Air force has also ordered
The Tucano T.1 is powered by a Garrett
TPE331-12B turboprop engine developing 1100 shp and has a maximum speed
of 514kph (312 mph) at 4567m (15,000’). Wing span; 11.2m (37’
0”) and length 9.85m (32’ 4”).
I snapped this kit up at a recent club
night held at a local hobby shop, the incentive being an attractive
discount of 25% and the vision of the completed model positioned next
to my BAe Hawk T.1A.
Resides in a typical top opening Airfix
box, with box art depicting the attractive all black scheme adopted
by the RAF for their trainer aircraft. Opening the box reveals two
light grey plastic sprues, one clear, an excellent decal sheet and
a comprehensive instruction sheet. On the whole, all parts are clean
and flash free, with fine, nicely defined engraved panel lines.
My one gripe, as usual, is that the clear
parts are not bagged separately, so protecting them from scratches
and the like. It would be no more expensive to do and would save extra
work for us all!
Decals were dense and slightly thick,
however there were no details at all on some of the placard markers
and squadron badges. What had printed was blurred and lacked definition.
However I decided to use them as there appeared to be no aftermarket
options available at all. I also decided not to use the out of register
roundels, substituting them with perfect, but slightly smaller roundels
of the correct type from my Mike Grant Decals Hawk decal supply.
I also did the rounds of the Hobby shops
here in Perth and looked at two other Tucano kits, with all suffering
from out of register roundels, but the stencils were much more sharply
defined. During this process I ordered another sheet online from Airfix.
C’mon Airfix, give us some quality control here!
The original box top art
(as always) started in the cockpit.. The instrument panels were painted
neutral grey and the kit provided instrument panel decals were added.
The standard interior finish for the Tucano is grey, for this I used
Humbrol H64 grey. The plain looking ejection seats were painted black,
cushions picked out in olive drab and masking tape seatbelts added
to “busy them up a bit”. They were a tight fit for the
cockpit tub, needing a little shaving of the lower sides to allow a
A quick dry fit ensured the completed
cockpit tub fitted well so it was then cemented into place along with
as much lead weight as would fit in, and the fuselage sides joined
together. The fuselage only needed minor amounts of filler which were
then cleaned up with wet and dry used wet to remove any seam lines.
The nose and radiator assembly was another story altogether, requiring
a fair amount of filler and associated work with wet and dry to eradicate
the seam and to smooth it in to the rest of the fuselage.
While the fuselage was drying, I assembled
the wings. These needed careful filling and re-scribing to remove the
joins of the upper and lower wing halves. Gaps in the wheel well where
the well sides were too short were attended to with applications of
PVA glue, the excess wiped away with a moist cotton bud. I did check
to see if the top wing half could be forced to meet the wheel well
sides but the distortion caused by doing this would have been too obvious.
The wings attached to the fuselage fairly
well, with small amounts of filler required, smoothed over with the
nail polish remover dipped ear bud. This is a fantastic way to fill
gaps in areas such as wing roots or hard to access areas. I apply the
filler as normal, leave it to cure for 5 minutes and then run an ear
bud dipped in nail polish remover (make sure the remover is of the
acetone type) along the filler. The moist ear bud softens and smooths
the filler into place perfectly, removing any excess in the process.
Once dry the whole process can repeated if required. I then carefully
sanded any remains of the small step created after the filler had dried
The underside, where the one piece lower
wing abutted to the fuselage was another matter, requiring filling
and sanding to eradicate the join line. Care is needed to be taken
to preserve the complex shape of the rear lower wing, this was complicated
by the ventral aerials closeness to the join lines. The wheel wells
and air brake well were then painted white with several thin coats
of Citadel Skull White. Once the paint had dried for 24 hours, I masked
all the wells with moist tissue paper, which was then covered in Humbrol
Once the wings and tailplanes were on,
I realised that the trailing edges should have been thinned out as
they have a real “chunky” look to them, reminiscent of
earlier kits. Unfortunately substantial thinning would have to be done
and I was not willing to buy into re-scribing and replacement of moulded
The exhausts were cleaned up and hollowed
out with a hobby drill and painted with Testors Metalliser Burnt Iron.
I elected at this stage to leave the exhausts off. This was to be a
decision to that was to cause problems at a later date.
The canopy was polished with Novus plastic
polish and brush painted with Future inside and out to improve clarity.
Once the Future had cured, Tamiya masking tape was used to mask the
canopy and it was then cemented in place. PVA glue was then used to
fill any gaps.
I took the quick way out with the overall
black finish of the Tucano, laying down a number of mist coats of Citadel
Chaos Black straight from a spray can. This gave a wonderful flat back
finish which would later form a perfect base for gloss coating.
While the airframe was drying I began
to mask the complicated black and white spinner and propeller scheme
so prominent on the Tucano. This nearly drove me to distraction, but
worked perfectly and I was most impressed with the end result, breathing
a very deep sigh of relief and reminding myself how much I prefer building
1:48 scale kits!
I sprayed the undercarriage legs and
wheel well door interiors white and applied Future to them in preparation
for some weathering. Weathering was a disaster, and I had to cut back
the paint with Mr Muscle oven cleaner and start over. This time the
weathering turned out rather well and another sigh of relief was breathed
as the finished items were flat coated and set aside to dry.
Once all the paint on the airframe had
cured, I applied several coats of Johnsons Future with a wide flat
brush, kept especially for this purpose, to seal everything in and
prepare the surface for the application of the decals.
Applying the decals was time consuming
and frustrating but once in place they settled wonderfully onto the
model with no silvering at all. Most of the yellow stripes had to be
touched up with Aeromaster Orange Yellow to remove white edging and
to fix up gaps caused by adjusting their ill fitting nature. I used
Aeromaster Sol II decal solvent to help bed them all down with no adverse
reactions. Once the decals had dried, the fuselage was washed very
carefully with a damp cloth to remove any glue and solvent residue
and the decals where then sealed in with yet another coat of Future.
As I mentioned earlier, Airfix has real problems with quality control
and decals vary wildly from kit to kit.
As this is a trainer aircraft, I decided
that it would be kept pretty clean by overzealous ground crews, with
weathering kept to the bare minimum. So I contained the dirtying up
to the wheel wells and the undercarriage legs.Once again the model
was put aside to cure and finally sprayed with Pollyscale Low Sheen
Clear, to give an all overscale gloss finish.
Canopy masking came off now and to my
horror the Tamiya masking tape had marked the Future coated canopy.
I nearly threw the Tucano against the wall for the umpteenth time but
taking a firm grip on my feelings and squashing my frustration again,
I removed the remainder of the masking and brushed on a thin coat of
Future, thus restoring the canopies clarity. What a wonderful boon
for modellers Future is!
Funnily enough it was only recently
at the WASMex weekend that I was discussing Tamiya masking tape with
some fellow modellers. Seems as though this problem has occurred before
and seems to depend on certain batches of tape. I might buy another
roll with a different batch number and see how that fairs.
Placing the undercarriage opened up another
can of worms. The pegs for the undercarriage legs were incorrect, forcing
me to remove them and butt join the legs to the correct locations within
the bay, reinforced later with some CA glue. Once the retract struts
were in place each leg assembly appeared quite strong. Citadel Skull
White followed by re-washing and Aeromaster flat coat was used to touch
up the insitu undercarriage assemblies.
Placement of the pre painted twin exhaust
pipes proved problematic, with some careful filling, sanding and re-painting
having to be undertaken to ensure a better fit. It would have been
better to fit these before painting of the fuselage.
Now the moment of truth arrived, I had
read several reviews about the Tucano, reinforcing the tail sitter
aspect of the kit. I had hoped that there was adequate weight enclosed
within the nose. WRONG!! I had a tail sitter. The Tucano nearly flew
into the wall after this discovery and this build was supposed
to be part of my AMS cure?
I held my breath, sipped the nice hot
cup of tea my wife brought downstairs to me and contemplated the situation.
Cold logic cut in and the Tucano did not look too bad, nothing a smidgen
of blue tac on the nose wheel wouldn’t fix, something I used
to do as a kid! At WASMex this year I purchased some aftermarket ejector
seats from Aeroworks, a South Australian based mail order Company run
by Craig Chidley. Craig had some fantastic resin concrete tarmac bases
for sale for around $35 which would be just the ticket for displaying
So, feeling much better about the state
of all things Tucano, I finished off adding all the remaining items
and finally the Tucano was done!
After much undue pain and gnashing of
teeth over badly fitting smaller parts, poorly printed decals and other
issues, I now have a Shorts Tucano in my model cabinet. With an all
over black finish and yellow stripes, it does look quite nice.
Airfix is the only mainstream manufacturer
to offer the Shorts Tucano as part of its catalogue at present, although
Premiere marketed a Tucano some time ago which would be an alternative
if it could be found, either at club sales, swap meets or eBay. As
such I would recommend this kit only to those who want a Tucano in
their modelling cabinet!
Mind you, it really does look great parked next to the
Bae Hawk T.1A trainer….
World Aircraft Files
CLOSE UP: A close-up of a Tucano
in the new colour scheme. Note the ventral airbrake. Note the curved
profile of the rear section of the canopy, which I feel the kit does
not properly reproduce. However, other photos taken from different
angles appear to show a profile much closer to that in the kit.
ROTATE: A Tucano
in the new colour scheme. Note the flashes, which appear in this
photo to be an unusual shade of light florescent yellow - possibly
a trick of the light. Note that the inner main undercarriage doors
are not opened at this point.
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