November 2015

Folland Gnat T.1

Folland Gnat F.1

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Folland Gnat T.1

Central Flying School, RAF Little Rissington, 1964

Airfix 1/72

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Have a look at my Friends & Allies  pages for more RAF & FAF Aircraft models

This is another superb new mould Airfix product.  It has slightly deeper than optimum panel lines, but otherwise this is a very nice kit, which is accurate and builds well. Clever mould design by Airfix means that obvious join lines are minimised, especially across the top of the fuselage and the wings.   

Only one decal option is provided, although the same kit has also seen release in equally colourful Yellow Jacks and Red Arrows display team markings.  For this scheme, the combination of a metal finish and dayglo panels does not make for the easiest of paint jobs although it looks very good when finished.  For the metal I used Humbrol Polished Aluminium and for the dayglo, Humbrol Flame Red over a base coat of white (I remembered too late that I had ben advised to use yellow as the base). Getting the orange even and solid when using  a brush is not easy. I applied two well stirred coats; it could have done with a third, but was beginning to look a little thick.  

The kit sits happily on its undercarriage without the need for weights and its comprehensive cockpit is well detailed with decals representing the instrument panels and a reasonable representation of the very compact ejector seats fitted to the Gnat. There are pilot figures supplied, but their heads and helmets look a little like early Star Trek Romulans, so they were quickly ditched.

The Gnat was produced as  a private venture low-cost lightweight fighter for the RAF. However, the concept of a small subsonic fighter ran counter to the accepted RAF doctrine of the day and as a result it found little favour with the Air Ministry, despite its astonishing performance and very low cost.  

However the RAF was impressed and the Gnat fighter design was quickly adapted as a fast jet trainer, adding larger wings and more conventional control surfaces.  In this guise it saw distinguished service with the RAF for many years, becoming most famous as the mount of the iconic Red Arrows display team.

The real thing displayed at the RAF Museum Cosford


Folland Gnat F.1

HavLv 11/HamLsto Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force)

Luonetjarvi, Finland 1971

Special Hobby 1/72

Single seat Gnat fighters saw active service with Finland and India, as well as being evaluated by the Yugoslavian Air Force.  Indian Gnats were very successful during the conflicts with Pakistan, where the aircraft’s small size and agility gave it a significant advantage over the PAF’s Sabres and Starfighters.

The first of 13 Finnish Gnats was delivered in June 1958 and the type remained in service until 1972 when they were replaced by Saab Draakens. As the first operational user of the Gnat, the Finns found them troublesome and maintenance intensive.  The hydraulic system proved particularly problematic, but once these problems were ironed out, the aircraft performed well.

The aircraft depicted was the first Gnat delivered to Finland and bears the name of Count Von Rosen, a Swedish aristocrat who provided the Finnish Air Force’s first aircraft during their war of independence against the Russian Bolsheviks.  

Von Rosen was a controversial character; a founder of the Swedish Nazi Party, his sister in law was Herman Goering’s first wife and his personal family emblem was a blue swastika on a white background, a symbol that was adopted by the Finns as their aircraft roundel until restrictions on its use were applied as part of peace treaty conditions imposed by the Allies on Finland after WW2.

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Background Picture- Farewell to the Vulcan at the 2015 RIAT

An ex-RAF development Gnat F.1 displayed at the RAF Museum Cosford

Have a look at my Friends & Allies  pages for more RAF & Friendly Nation Aircraft models

This marvellous little kit was released this summer and makes a fine partner for the Airfix trainer variant.  Very finely moulded with lightly engraved detail, the kit went together beautifully with no need for filler at all, although one or two parts are a little fiddly to assemble; the rocket packs and the ejector seat in particular.  The cockpit is well equipped, and allows an option to open the rather unusual canopy design.   

Unlike Airfix, Special Hobby have not included detailed intake trunking, but you really can’t tell this from the completed model.  I was especially impressed by the way the wing parts fitted without any obvious join lines. Airfix avoided this with clever mould design, but Special Hobby’s rather more conventional approach works just as well, thanks to the precision of moulding.

My one gripe is with the decals (two Yugoslavian and two Finnish options are provided), which I found a little thin and fragile. The titles on the forward fuselage split as they were applied, but I managed to re-align their parts. I had less success with the fuselage roundels which had to be replaced after both sides split.  

The kit is a tail-sitter - remember to add some weight if you want it to stand on its legs (ask me how I know :) )    It is perhaps a little expensive for its size, but you can probably tell that I enjoyed building this one and definitely recommend it for Gnat fans!