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Reviews : American : American post war Last Updated: Apr 21st, 2015 - 23:52:06

Unlimited Class air racers. HIgh Planes 1/72 scale.
By Ley Reynolds.
Apr 11, 2006, 11:16

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The Unlimited Class of the National Championship Air Races held at Reno, Nevada can best be described as flying very quickly around a small circuit in the remains of a late 1940s vintage fighter aircraft. These machines usually have drastically modified airframes, been re-engined (sometimes not as envisaged by the manufacturer) and use special fuels and lubricants, all of which costs money - hence the plethora of sponsorship logos. As with Fl racing cars, changes are frequent and usually subtle once the basic configuration has been achieved, meaning that any model can only portray the aircraft at one particular time.
High Planes have announced a range of 14 kits of these aircraft, some being modifications of the one aircraft. As this is a specialized interest my references are minimal, but luckily a fellow APMA member has collected much information on the topic. From this I have deduced that both the kits well represent the aircraft/engines/colour schemes/markings of the aircraft depicted, at at least one point in their existence. Not surprisingly, various sources give various overall dimensions for both machines, but any discrepancies between these and the kit dimensions are minimal. Furthermore the overall shapes look correct. These are short-run injection moulded kits, so they have thickish "gates", some flash and no locating pins.

P-51D "Roto Finish"
This kit consists of 29 parts, a vacform canopy and white metal undercarriage and wheel-well insert. External detailing is by way of fine engraved lines: re-scribing those to the control surfaces will improve the kit. The wheel-well insert is very well done but some thinning of the insert and the wing halves will be necessary for a good fit, as the instructions point out. The undercarriage covers include detailing on the internal faces and the kit includes some options - separate flaps for those wishing to display them displaced; extended wing root fairings which were fitted at one time; and full span tailplanes which must be trimmed, as shown in the instructions, for the colour scheme depicted in the kit.
Some cockpit detail is moulded onto the insides of the fuselage halves, and the rest of the "internals" are simple but entirely adequate given the small canopy. The propeller blades are somewhat too "paddle-bladed" in my view, but this is easily corrected by judicious sanding. Fit of parts is quite good, although some filler will be needed if the extended wing roots are fitted. As with all short-run kits, some preliminary cleaning up of the components is necessary. The exhausts come as separate mouldings and these are a little indistinct (white metal might have been a better option), but as the originals are quite short and covered with a fairing this may be a result of moulding limitations. Markings are provided for the aircraft as it appeared in 1972.
Overall this is a good kit of an unusual subject. It will not "fall together in an evening but is well within the capabilities of the average modeller and is a much easier route than modifying a standard P51D kit. Roto Finish eventually became the "Red Baron" so no doubt another release with alternative markings will be forthcoming.

Sea Fury "Furias"
The comments above generally apply to this kit, although the mouldings are somewhat crisper and exhibit considerably less flash. This time the wheel--wells are moulded integrally with the lower wings which makes for easier assembly at the cost of slightly less detail. Otherwise the wings are standard Sea Fury complete with cannon breech fairings, which must be removed for this colour scheme; presumably they remained in place at one time (another colour scheme?). The revised air intake for the starboard wing is supplied as two separate mouldings - part of the wing must be cut away and these two components inserted, which should be within the abilities of most modellers. On the down side, the joint at the wing root is a poor fit, but is easily rectified with filler.
The cockpit consists of a tub with side consoles, seat, back plate and instrument panel, all adequately detailed considering the small cockpit opening. Seat belts and careful painting result in a quite acceptable component. The most noticeable feature of "Furias" is, of course, the massive engine and cowl (from a DC7?). On the model the former only consists of the crankcase and first row of cylinders, but in truth little else can be seen in the close fitting cowl. Once again the canopy is an excellent vacform item.
Finally, the undercarriage details are provided in white metal. These items are the best examples of white metal castings I have seen and include the FAA style tailwheel and arrestor hook. The main wheel doors include internal detailing on this kit too. The red and gold colour scheme will require some careful masking but the decal sheet provides the black pin-striping that divides the colours plus complete logos, numbers and even legible crew names for the undercarriage doors.
This is a well thought-out and engineered model easily within the capabilities of even the novice modeller, and as such a marginally better buy than "Roto Finish". Both of these kits provide the modeller with a chance to complete replicas from a specialised but nevertheless interesting area of aeronautical endeavour, and as such are to be welcomed.

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