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1:32 Morane-Saulnier Type N

James H

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1:32 Morane-Saulnier Type N

Special Hobby
Catalogue # SH32006
Available from MPM for 31.95 €




For a world in which powered, manned flight was only a decade old, the Morane-Saulnier Type-N monoplane was certainly a design which appeared to be very ahead of its time. This aircraft was actually designed in the months before the outbreak of World War 1, and was actually a racing machine. The aircraft did have a few issues which affected its operation service during the war, and these were the very fast landing speeds which made operations from some airfields, quite tricky. The engine used to also overheat, although the eventual removal of the streamlined spinner did fix that without any real issue with overall performance.




The French machines had a non-synchronised Hotchkiss MG mounted in front of the pilot, with defector plates fitted to the paddle propeller. The RFC machines tended to use a Lewis MG instead of the Hotchkiss. There was another issue which plagued the Type-N, or 'Bullet' as the British called it. This was the establishment's dislike of monoplane aircraft. Despite the Bullet being more than a match for the Fokker E.III, it wasn't built in great numbers, and was eventually sidelined in favour of newer biplane types. The N-Type was also quite difficult to fly, and this twitchiness was intensely disliked by the pilots. When the machines were fitted with up-rated engines, the problem intensified. By late 1916, the N-Type was obsolete.


The Special Hobby 1:32 Morane-Saulnier Type N certainly isn't a new kit. Why are we looking at this one now though? SP&R and Large Scale Modeller recently partnered up to bring our members and visitors the very latest in news and releases from their MPM/CMK/Azur and Special Hobby brands, and we agreed that as we shall shortly be starting a Great War Group Build on Large Scale Modeller, that it would perhaps be time to air this type of kit again. Not everyone will be acquainted with these earlier releases, and it would be interesting to see how they stack up today.


This release, as with other Special Hobby kits, is a limited run, low-pressure injection moulded kit, and as a result, the parts do tend to need a little more preparation before assembly. The style of box for this one is one of the older Special Hobby styles, with a gorgeous artwork of the Type N flying at low level over the French countryside. Inside the box, we have a single re-sealable bag containing THREE light grey styrene sprues. Inside the same bag, but wrapped individually is a pack of resin parts, a single photo etch fret, a clear sprue and a sheet of decals. Despite the sprues not being individually bagged, no parts have suffered in transit with breakage or scuffing.




Despite this kit pre-dating the superb WNW initial releases, this kit displays not much less externally, in terms of detail and finesse. This is the first time that I've actually seen this kit, so I'm pleasantly surprised with how this limited run kit looks. In fact, very much so.

The first sprue contains the wings, fuselage halves, wheel halves, bulkheads and the engine cowl/spinner parts. The quite aerodynamic lines of the 'Bullet' as superbly captured, and with my limited reference, do look to be accurate in terms of shape and detail. The fabric and stringer fuselage is sharp, realistically representing the tight corners of those stringers that the fabric was doped around. The port side of the fuselage has a laced maintenance panel and this is neatly represented, as are the leather grommets through which control cables pass. Hand and footholds are also nicely reproduced.








The forward fuselage panels and stiffeners are crisp, as is the carburetor outlet which just needs a drill bit passing through it to open it up. Internally, the side walls have some stringer and former detail which is sharp, despite not being very deep. A number of ejector pin stumps also protrude. Although there isn't one in the cockpit area, there is one just forward of this, and this should be ground away and the plastic re-polished. The wings are moulded as port and starboard, as a single piece each. The rib and fabric representation is excellent, with nothing really in the way of actual texture, but with a realistically taught looking surface. I think the rib upper and lower edges were capped with a separate strip of either wood or bamboo, as the rib capping does appear to show this. Whichever material was used, the definition is very sharp, and the result looks very pleasing. Rigging point plates are neatly moulded, but I would drill the actual rigging point out a little to make it easier to insert your wire/cord. As the N-Type was a wing warping machine, no ailerons are present, of course.








Special Hobby have produced the wheels in halves, and whilst this isn't a problem as such, the canvas and spoke area doesn't look too realistic. You might be hard pressed to find another solution for this, except to perhaps more or less sand down this detail to reduce its effect a little.


The engine cowl is moulded as a single piece, and the large bowl-type spinner looks very accurately shaped, complete with some rivet indent detail which I presume is there to support possible internal structure. The pilot seat is a low-back type with an integrally moulded, upholstered cushion. The detail is very nice and certainly more than passable.


The second sprue contains the lion's share of the remaining parts for this kit. Here, you will find the parts for the N Type's fully detailed cockpit. This is centered around two side wall structures, complete with instrumentation and ancillary equipment, held together by a series of cross member parts, including rudder pedal bar and control yoke cross member. The cockpit will also be supplemented by a number of instrument faces which are printed onto film, and also photo etch bezels. Seat belts and rudder pedal straps. Parts are included on this sprue for the side wall cockpit fairings. In this release, photo etch alternatives are also included which would exhibit a more scale thickness and appearance. A rather neat looking upholstered bar is to be found here which acts as the pilot's back seat rest.




Two upper, forward cowls are included, but for this release, only one option is to be used.

The stabilizer of the 'Bullet' was a single piece unit which rotated up/down, and here it is moulded as a single part. The edges exhibit a few seams which will need to be eradicated, as will those on the integral fin/rudder assembly. The fabric and rib structure here is relatively subtle in relation to the rib detail, but I'm not sure how authentic this is. It doesn't look bad at all, and with some neat shading, should be made to look very good.












Other parts on this sprue include tail skid assembly, undercarriage 'v' struts and spacer bar (neatly moulded as three tubes), engine induction pipe assembly, prop, etc.

The last and smallest grey plastic sprue contains the Hotchkiss machine gun and mounts, ammunition racks and wing warping cable pylon, to name a few.








Generally, all moulding is excellent, with only a little flash to remove in places, and the couple of ejector pin stumps to remove from the cockpit. No deformation, sink marks or other defect can be seen. A single clear part is connected to a small sprue gate. This part is for the aircraft windscreen. Clarity is good, but will benefit from a dip in Klear.






A bag of resin parts includes the Le Rhone 9C rotary engine, control cable pulleys, ammunition belts, paddle prop and prop mounting plates. These are cast in a pale yellow resin such as is seen in CMK releases, and casting is excellent. All parts should be very easy to remove from their blocks, and no flaws can be found. The engine is cast with integral spark plugs, for which there is a photo etch ignition ring included. The rear face of the engine cylinders do have a casting line present down the length, but this can easily be removed. You also won't see this area when assembled anyway, so it's no deal breaker. The paddle prop will need a little clean up and sanding in order to define the blade edges a little.






The single photo etch fret contains the ignition harness, seatbelts, ammunition belt chutes, rudder pedal straps, turnbuckles, instrument bezels and cockpit side fairings. Production is clean and what you would expect from the company which produces CMK resin and etch detail sets.












An eight page, black and white A5 instruction manual is included which displays the constructional sequences in line drawings which appear to be easy to follow. The manual starts with a history of the N-Type and also a map of all the kit parts for reference. Colour notation is given throughout the construction in Gunze paint codes. The manual includes a rigging drawing and the profiles for the TWO schemes included in this release. These are:

  • MS 394, probably Escadrile MS.12, 1915
  • MS 391, Dunkirk, neither unit nor date are known

A single decal sheet is included, printed by AVIPRINT. The markings for this machine were very simple, consisting of roundels for the wing upper and lower surfaces, fin flashes, and for one machine, a Tricolor for the fuselage. Printing is nice and thin with only a little carrier film. Registration is also perfect. You will need to trim the fin flash for one machine, but this is indicated with a 'cut line'.





For a relatively old kit, there certainly isn't much to grumble about here. Very little cleaning up to do overall, and some superbly rendered detail both internally and externally. The N-Type is a very attractive little aircraft, and this kit really does it some serious credit. I would say this kit isn't aimed at a beginner due to the number of small photo etch parts and the fact that a little extra work needs to go into limited run kits in order to maximize their potential. For 'value for money', I would say this kit is pitched correctly. This is very much a kit that does excite me, and I think I'll be building this one soon in the Large Scale Modeller 'Great War Group Build'.


Very highly recommended


James H


Our sincere thanks to MPM/Special Hobby for the review sample used here. To purchase directly, click THIS link.





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