by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
After years of relative neglect as a subject, the de Havilland Tiger Moth is finally getting its fair share of the limelight, with two new kits arriving almost simultaneously. Airfix have just brought out a 1:48 injected kit, while Silver Wings have released a 1:32 resin model. A new kit of the Tiger Moth in this scale is certainly welcome, because the venerable Matchbox kit (re-boxed by Revell) is now over 40 years old.
Silver Wings' new "Tiggy" arrives in a compact and very stylish top-opening box. Great care has been taken packing the resin parts, some of which are very delicate, and they are sealed in zip-lock bags which are then placed in protective bubble-wrap pouches to prevent them rattling together in transit. The method worked perfectly in the sample kit, with everything reaching me in perfect condition.
Most parts are still attached their casting blocks, and some of the struts are cast with metal cores for strength. There's no parts guide included, so I recommend identifying the items using the assembly diagrams as a guide, separating them into basic groups as you go and re-bagging them (i.e. engine, cockpit, undercarriage etc.), because this will make life much easier later when you start assembling the model.
All told, I counted the following:
107 x grey resin parts
2 x clear resin windscreens
49 x etched brass parts, plus printed film for instruments
Decals for 6 colour schemes
A 19-page assembly and painting guide
A colour print of the boxtop artwork
The casting is excellent in the sample model, with no problems such as bubbles or other flaws. A test fit is obviously out of the question at this stage with a kit like this, but everything looks straight and true - and the fuselage halves arrived ready-taped together and lining up perfectly, which is always an encouraging sign for the build ahead. There are some really fine exterior details, with crisply defined raised fittings and engraved panel lines, plus an excellent depiction of well maintained and taught fabric surfaces.
A Few DetailsThe kit is certainly packed with detail. Constructions begins with the cockpit, which promises to look excellent with its combination of around 50 resin and etched parts. The side frames are neatly cast, and the seats are realistically thin and supplied with etched harnesses. The instruments comprise separate bezels and film faces (which you'll need a punch and die to prepare, because they're not printed on the film in quite the layout shown on the instructions). The rudder pedals are very delicate multi-part assemblies, while the throttles are photo-etched with separate levers. Despite the relatively spartan full-sized cockpit, the kit version should look quite nicely "busy" once it's complete.
The kit features a neatly detailed 6-part engine, which will be a good basis for some extra wiring and pipework - all of which will be visible thanks to separate cowl panels on each side which are cast impressively thin. There's a choice of short or long exhausts, and a well shaped propeller. There's a slightly awkward casting line on the prop in my kit, but it should clean up well enough.
The undercarriage is crisply detailed and quite a complex affair with all the struts cast individually, so it's not something you'll want to rush. The way the wheels are produced, you probably could reshape the point where each attaches to its casting block if you don't like a "weighted" look to the tyres. Personally, I welcome the slight flat spots to give a realistic sit. The tailskid is crisply detailed with a separate spring and bracket.
Some of the external fittings and panels on the fuselage are supplied as etched parts, as are the lines of stitching at the lower rear on each side. The latter need folding along their length and they are very narrow, so extra care will be required.
The tail surfaces and optional anti-spin strakes look pretty straightforward, but I think some form of jig will be essential when constructing and fitting the wings. The interplane struts are cast around a wire core, so they should have no trouble bearing the weight of the top wing, but the lower wings' attachments to the fuselage are realistically small and could prove flimsy, so I'll add brass pins to give extra strength and rigidity to the assembly. Strut locations are marked very lightly, so you'll want to drill them out. Rigging points aren't marked, but the instructions include a page of useful diagrams to make sense of what goes where. There's also a diagram showing the angles of sweepback and dihedral, while the excellent colour profile can be used to set the wings' stagger.
Instructions & DecalsThe instruction booklet is a major step forward for Silver Wings in terms of presentation compared with their earlier kits, with high quality shaded CAD illustrations and a clear and logical assembly sequence. The diagrams still require careful study, though, because they tend to make construction seem simpler than it's likely to be, and not every part is shown individually, so (as noted above) it's wise to compare the pieces against the diagrams as you unpack them to work out what are actually sub-assemblies.
No colour suggestions are included for interior details, but a handy full-page chart shows the exterior colours for the featured schemes.
1. Tiger Moth, s/n R4922, used by 7 Elementary Flying Training School, Desford and Braunstone, 1939-1945
2. Tiger Moth, G-ACDA, De Havilland School of Flying, Hatfield, 1933
3. Tiger Moth, s/n N6919/36, probably of No 1 EFTS, RAF, 1940
4. Tiger Moth, s/n DE745, assigned to the 353rd Fighter Group, USAAF Station 366 (RAF Metfield), September 1943
5. Tiger Moth, s/n MO-159, LeLv26, Finnish Air Force, 1943
6. Tiger Moth, s/n PG-712/2, Royal Netherlands Air Force, 1946
The decals arrive on two sheets, the first containing national insignia and white items, with the second is printed solely in black. The items look nice and thin, but I am a wary of the colours of some of the insignia e.g. the pre-war blue on the RAF roundels looks very bright, while the wartime blue seems very dark. There's a faint fringe of white underlay showing on some of the items on my sheet.
One point that I wish had been designed differently is that wartime RAF fuselage roundel is printed with its outer yellow ring - which will be hard to match with the painted yellow lower sides of the fuselage. Luckily, it should be pretty straightforward to cut masks and paint the roundels if you prefer.
ConclusionSilver Wings' Tiger Moth is an exciting kit that's beautifully cast and detailed. On first inspection, I'd recommend it for experienced modellers (preferably with a few biplanes under their belt), because some of the construction looks quite complex. The finished model should be an absolute gem, though - and the myriad of colour schemes sported by this iconic aircraft in its long career means we should see some spectacular builds at clubs and shows, once worldwide Covid-19 lockdowns end and the modelling community can hopefully begin to gather together again however the future's "new normal" allows.
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