The de Havilland D.H.60 Moth revolutionised UK private flying and went on to become the ancestor of a long line of famous variously-named Moths from the company. The earlier D.H.51 biplane was too large for sports flying, while the D.H.53 Hummingbird single-seater monoplane was deemed too basic. The answer lay in the middle - a scaled-down D.H.51 with a 60 h.p. Cirrus engine. First flown in 1925, the D.H.60 Moth exceeded expectations and was soon selected by flying clubs and private buyers, many being exported around the world.
The D.H.60G Gipsy Moth was the result of nearly four years and four million miles of experience with the earlier versions. The main changes were the introduction of de Havilland's own 100-120 h.p. Gipsy engine, a split axle landing gear and optional Handle-Page slots. The type remained in production until 1934, being built under licence in Australia, France and the USA.
A-Model's D.H.60 certainly crept in under my personal kit-radar, and I was totally unaware of its release until I spotted it by chance while browsing at Model Hobbies
. It's just one of those "must have" subjects for a modeller interested in Golden Age aircraft, so having decided which of the 3 available versions to buy (more of that later) I reached for my wallet. True to Model Hobbies' usual speedy service, the package arrived the next day.
A-Model's Gipsy Moth is packed in a solid little top-opening box with the sprues in a large zip-lock bag and the film windscreens further protected in a bag of their own. The kit comprises:
88 x grey styrene parts (plus 2 spare)
A pair of printed windscreens
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
A-Model describe the kit as "limited edition", but the moulding is still light years ahead of the quality that one might have expected from a small manufacturer just a few years ago. There's a little flash here and there, but the parts are generally pretty clean. I couldn't find any sink marks worth worrying about, and what I really like is that the designers have managed to produce the kit without any unsightly ejector-pin marks - something many better-known manufacturers could do well to learn from. On the down side, sprue attachments, while commendably small, frequently extend onto the surface of parts, so a little extra time spent preparing for assemble will be the order of the day.
The surface finish is pretty good, with delicate panel lines and quite restrained raised details. The wings are slightly off-putting at first glance, because they seem to have a roughly "scuffed" look. Although it's not like the classic "sack-cloth" effect of some older kits, I assume this is actually deliberate as part of depicting the fabric covering (although it's not evident on the tail surfaces). I can't say I like it, but the good news is that it should polish off quite easily, leaving the flying surfaces with a very subtle representation of the ribs.
A few details
The basic kit is designed to cater for several versions, so the engine section and fuselage are on separate sprues to allow for a Cirrus-powered D.H.60 and the metal-structured D.H.60M, while sharing the same wing sprues etc. That's all very well, but trawling through the photos of preserved Moths on Airliners.net
seems to show variations in the wing structure too. Many modellers may chose to ignore that, but what's more concerning is the position of the interplane struts - A-Model have placed them directly on a rib (which seems logical enough), but the photos of the real thing reveal the attachments are between the ribs. The wing tips may be a little too "rakish" - but the subtle shape of the originals is hard to judge from photos, and differs completely between one set of plans and the next that I've found online. I'll be modelling "Jason", which is preserved in the Science Museum, so I think the real answer is to go and take a look for myself before starting work.
Construction is a little unusual in that the cockpit floor actually forms the base of the fuselage as a separate part. This means no unsightly seam in the interior, but leaves each half unsupported on the sprues and my kit shows sign of slight over-stressing, so it's something to watch out for. There's not a lot one can really test fit for a review in a kit like this, but the fuselage halves match up neatly enough and the separate nose fits OK - with the proviso that you check and clean up the mating edges.
The wings are constructed with separate panels and a choice of centre-section fuel tank on the upper wing. The locating pins are small and a little vague, so you may want to replace them with styrene rod or metal pins for a more precise assembly.
The cockpit is quite nicely fitted out with 17 parts. The front seat is unusual in being integral with the bulkhead, while the rear seat is standard. Neither has any harness provided - I presume just lap belts would be fitted on the originals. The instrument panels are quite nicely detailed, and the interior of the fuselage sides has a neatly moulded framework and separate throttles etc. There's probably more you can add - some photos of preserved machines show a prominent compass on the right, and a rolling map display - but the basics are certainly there for a nice "period office".
The Gypsy engine is pretty basic, but will largely be hidden in the close cowl. The lower vent is just moulded as a recess, and if you open this up you'll need to add a bit of gizmology behind to represent the engine block.
Depending on the colour scheme you choose, A-Model provide optional exhausts, wing slats, and undercarriages. The spoked wheels seem to match photos of "Jason" quite well, although the originals show an extra access hole in the canvas covers.
The kit doesn't include any fuel pipes from the upper wing, so you'll need to make these from fuse wire or similar. Looking at photos, there are a number of different configurations evident.
Instructions & decals
The 11-stage assembly guide is clearly illustrated and laid out in a logical order. You may want to construct the upper wing to attach as one piece, rather than build the centre section before adding the separate wings later, as suggested. Sadly, no rigging guide is included. Humbrol paint matches are provided for most interior details.
Three colour schemes are featured
1. D.H.60G, G-AAAH - Amy Johnson's "Jason".
2. D.H.60G, G-AAEE, piloted by Lady Mary Bailey (not "Bailery" as printed)
3. D.H.60X, A7-9, VH-UAO, as preserved in Australia.
"Jason" is shown with white wings, whereas I believe the original's are aluminium-doped.
The decals are nicely printed in perfect register. The items are thin with a very matt finish and look as though they are produced by Begemot, although this isn't shown anywhere. The Australian national markings are printed with a mid-blue, rather than the deeper Roundel Blue on the preserved aircraft.
Overall, this is a nicely produced little kit, and good value at £15 - but it's not really suitable for beginners. As noted above, I'm slightly wary of the accuracy of the wings - and not convinced that they can be correct for all the various Moths in A-Model's series - but the ribs are represented lightly and experienced modellers should be able to modify them if needs be. So, it's a kit that will demand a little extra research and care in assembly, but the effort will be worth it, as the finished model should be delightful and capture the spirit of Golden Age aviation very well.
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