by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
backgroundIn 1931, Vickers designed as a private venture a General Purpose version of the Vickers Vildebeest to replace the RAF's Westland Wapitis and Fairey IIIFs, supporting the Army in the Middle East. Successful trials were conducted in the Middle East, Sudan and East Africa with a converted Vildebeest I in the General Purpose role during 1932–1933, and Specification 16/34 was drawn up around the modified Vildebeest, which was named the Vickers Vincent. Differences from the Vildebeest were minimal, with the torpedo equipment replaced by provision for an auxiliary fuel tank instead, and a message hook was fitted. It had a three man crew, and was powered by a 660 hp (490 kW) Bristol Pegasus IIM3. Between 1934 and 1936, 197 Vincents were built for the RAF or converted from Vildebeests.
The RAF replaced 60 or so of its Vincents in 1939, these being shipped to the RNZAF in two batched, the first arriving in New Zealand in July.
Sources: Wikipedia and the kit's instructions.
the kitAzur FRROM's latest addition to their family of Vildebeest /Vincent types arrives in an attractive convention box with the sprues and accessories bagged separately. The kit comprises:
92 x grey styrene parts (6 x unused)
5 x clear styrene parts
24 x resin parts (plus a spare engine in the sample kit)
64 x etched brass parts
Decals for 4 x colour schemes
The kit clear originates in the MPM Production stable and typifies their approach, representing what is arguably the state of the art in today's limited run styrene kits. The parts in the sample kit are well moulded, with only a whisper of flash here and there. I couldn't find any sign of sink marks, and the ejector pins have been kept clear of areas like the cockpit. Ironically, where they are used, the marks have somehow come right through the fuselage halves and are visible on the exterior. That's no major problem, however, as it'll only take a few moments to clean them up.
The surface finish comprises neatly engraved panel lines and a very crisp representation of the ribs on the flying surfaces. Purists may wish to knock them back a bit, but what I really like is the effect of taught fabric over the upper wing tanks - excellent in my opinion.
A few detailsConstruction begins with the cockpit interior, and this is certainly well detailed with 36 parts forming a really busy "office". The pilot's seat gets a full etched harness, while the rear seats have just lap belts. Brass is used for smaller items such as the throttle and trim wheel, while the control column and rudder bar are supplied in resin. Perhaps surprisingly, the instrument panels are styrene, but they are neatly done for this scale.
The Bristol Pegasus engine is a 7 part assembly, combining resin and styrene. The detail on the resin crankcase and cylinders is really excellent, but a minor mystery in the kit is the inclusion of an equally nice casting of what I take to be a Bristol Jupiter. It's not mentioned in the instructions and, as far as I can tell, isn't appropriate to the Vincent. Perhaps it's simply a left-over from parts produced for Azur FFROM's earlier Vildebeest.
The kit offers a choice of plain or spatted landing gear, and a very nice addition over the Spanish Vildebeest which I reviewed previously is the inclusion of 8 detailed bombs and underwing racks. Each bomb is cast in resin in 2 parts, and the crisply moulded styrene each racks are fitted with a pair of etched swing braces. Completing the stores fit-out is a centre-line fuel tank.
The observer's position has a clever choice of open or closed sliding cover provided in brass, while the rear gunner's Lewis should be a real gem when finished with its etched sights and detailed Scarff ring.
The final stage of assembly covers the rigging, which shouldn't be quite as daunting as one might imagine as, despite its size, the Vincent was only a single-bay biplane. It'll still be quite fiddly enough, though, in this scale.
Instructions and decalsThe assembly guide is a nicely illustrated B&W folded A-5 pamphlet. Construction is broken down into 10 stages, with info-views dotted along the way. The diagrams are well drawn, but do bear close scrutiny, as some of the sub-assemblies are reasonably complex. Gunze Sangyo paint matches are given throughout.
Decals are provided for 4 very interesting colour schemes:
A. s/n K4712, 8 Sqn., Khormaksar, Aden, August 1940
B. s/n K6363, 244 Sqn., Sharjah, 1942
C. s/n NZ344, 30 Sqn. RNZAF, Gisborne, May-July 1943
D. s/n NZ322, 2 SFTS, RNZAF, Woodbourne, March 1940-August 1941
The schemes are each illustrated with a main 4-view drawing, plus views of the camouflage patterns for the lower wings. The monochrome printing is fine for schemes B, C and D, but the upper surface 6-colour pattern for scheme A is hard to discern. Luckily, Azur FFROM have posted full-colour diagrams on their website (reproduced here) which make everything clear - and what a stunning scheme it is!
The decals are printed by Aviprint and look to be excellent quality - thin, glossy, with minimal carrier film and accurate colours.
ConclusionAzur FFROM's Vincent is a very fine model. It's limited-run nature (plus being a bi-plane) means it's not suitable for beginners, but experienced modellers should relish the challenge it offers and the chance to build something a bit "different". Certainly, finished in the 6-colour Middle Eastern scheme it'll turn heads at any show!
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