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Aviattic 1:32 Ansaldo A.1 “Balilla”


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1:32 Ansaldo A.1 “Balilla”

WW1 Italian Fighter Aeroplane

 

 AVIATTIC

(catalogue n.ºATTKIT006)

Price Tag – £ 160

( resin parts, PE sheet with  parts)

 

One day, I got a surprise waiting for me… a package with the Aviattic logo on it!!

An excitement get over me and I was just like a 5 years old kid with a  brand new toy Ansaldo A.1 Balilla in 1:32.

Knowing Richard and all the products release by Aviattic the “Balilla” would be top noch in quality and detail.

Richard from Aviattic is a devoted modeler and a WWI passionate so all their projects will come at their very best and a truly dedicate product.

The love for their products is well patent on all their work.

 

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The Balilla is the best example of that.

In a first glance I can tell that this is the most complete multimedia model kit that I ever seen.

 

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Utterly amazing! The all package.

 

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I had the chance to saw it, a first run full build “Balilla” and I was blow away with the detail.

But just before going to open the box, here`s a bit of history of the tail slim and elegante aircraft.

“The Ansaldo A.1, nicknamed "Balilla" after the Genoan folk-hero was Italy's only domestically-designed fighter aircraft of World War I to be produced in Italy. Arriving too late to see any real action, it was however used by both Poland and the Soviet Union in the Polish-Soviet War.

The A.1 resulted from continued efforts by the Ansaldo company to create a true fighter. Their SVA.5 had proved unsuitable in this role, although it made an excellent reconnaissance aircraft and had been ordered into production as such. Ansaldo engineer Giuseppe Brezzi revised the SVA.5 design, increasing the size of the lower wing, and redesigning the interplane strut arrangement, abandoning the SVA's transverse Warren truss interplane strut layout, which had eliminated the need for spanwise-exposed flying and landing wires, which the new rigging scheme re-introduced to the Balilla's airframe design. While this produced more drag, it increased the stiffness of the wing structure and reduced stresses in the airframe. Engine power was increased to 150 kW (200 hp) and a safety system to jettison the fuel tank through a ventral hatch (in case of onboard fire) was installed.

The first prototype was completed in July 1917, but acceptance by the air force did not occur until December. Test pilots were not enthusiastic in their evaluation. While they found a marked increase in performance over the SVA.5, the A.1 was still not as maneuverable as the French-built and designed types in use by Italy's squadrons, most notably the Nieuport 17, which was also produced by Macchi in Italy. This resulted in a number of modifications, including a slight enlargement of the wings and rudder, and a further 10% increase in engine power. This initially proved satisfactory to the air force, and the modified A.1 (designated A.1bis) was ordered into service with 91 Squadriglia for further evaluation.

Reports from pilots were mixed. While the fighter's speed was impressive, it proved unmaneuverable and difficult to fly. Nevertheless, with a need to clear a backlog of obsolete fighter types then in service, the air force ordered the A.1 anyway.

 

The first of an original order of 100 machines entered service in July 1918. The A.1s were kept away from the front lines and mostly assigned to home defense duties. In the four months before the Armistice, A.1s scored only one aerial victory, over an Austrian reconnaissance aircraft. It was during this time that Ansaldo engaged in a number of promotional activities, including dubbing the aircraft as Balilla, flying displays in major Italian cities, and in August donating an example to Italian aviator Antonio Locatelli as his personal property amidst a press spectacle. (This latter publicity stunt backfired somewhat when one week later a mechanical fault in the aircraft caused Locatelli to make a forced landing behind enemy lines and be taken prisoner). Despite all this, the air force ordered another 100 machines, all of which were delivered before the end of the war. At the armistice, 186 were operational, of which 47 aircraft were ordered to remain on hand with training squadrons, and the remainder were to be put into storage.

The A.1 found a new lease of life, however, when a purchasing committee from the Polish army visited Italy in 1919 in search of new weapons. A contract for ten evaluation aircraft was signed, and these were delivered to Warsaw in January 1920. The initial impression of pilots there (mostly American volunteers) was extremely favourable, on account of its high speed and fuel capacity and, curiously, the maneuverability disdained by Italian airmen. On May 25, the A.1s were deployed to the front line. All but one of them were destroyed during the Red Army counterattack in the Ukraine. Nevertheless, the Polish government had already purchased another 25 aircraft and a licence to locally produce another 100. The new aircraft only arrived after hostilities had ended, and in July 1921 the first of 36 licence-built machines rolled out of the Lublin factory.

The Lublin-built machines were some 80 kg (180 lb) heavier than the original Italian design and exhibited frequent problems with their engines and with the quality of their welds. Numerous accidents ensued, including at least nine fatal crashes. In 1924, the production order was reduced to 80 machines, and soon thereafter to 57 (the number actually constructed at the time). The following year, the armament was removed from all A.1s then in service, and by 1927, the type had been withdrawn from service completely.” – wikipedia courtesy.

 

I got the Italian version with a beautiful box art featuring n.º 16553 Balilla of Tenente Antonio Locatelli.

Richard was too kind and also send all the parts and decals for the polish version.

Back to the Italian version, the design of the box is very well achieved, with the sides boxes with color profiles and a very vintage look.

 

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Opened the box, a truly gem is inside with a professional and passion packing with resin parts popping every ever and some RB seatbelts in the middle at a first glance.

 

The package is the best I ever seen.

The resin parts are separate in several zip log bags, but separate by groups of parts of the same part of the aircraft: cockpit, engine, engine cowlings, undercarriage etc.

In each zip log bag, a small business card with reference photos of the corresponding parts of the aircraft.

As example: the tail wing.

 

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 A fantastic treat for the modeler.

The wings and flying surfaces are taped to a foam-core sheet on the bottom of the box to keep them flat and protected.

 

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The foam-core is bent on one end creating a space for the main fuselage, made by two parts.

Everything is made to prevent any damage to the parts.

 

First job: counting all the resin parts… I confess I give up after counting 130 but I`m sure that it goes up 150…

All the resin is in grey color and with some outstanding casting and sharp detail. No a single bubble… quality control with A+.

The professional packing just prevents any broken part being all in their perfect shape attached in the resin block.

 

Let´s check a few of the parts.

 

The fuselage is made by 3 parts: a large tub piece side and bottom in one part, separate upper decking and tail.

The separate upper deck has also part of the cushion of the pilot seat.

 

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The other main parts, the wings are solid parts, the upper in a single piece with the upper wings ailerons in separate and the lower wings are in two parts

 

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Also the tailplane has the flying surface in separate.

 

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The detail on the wings is very well achieved with subtle accurate wing rib strips that will enhance the look of the wings.

 

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Passing to another main point of all WWI, the engine.

 

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The S.P.A. (società piemontese automobili) 6A is a 6-cylinder inline engine, 14,6 litre, 200hp and it`s just gorgeous with tons of details. It`s a the level of the Taurus engines ones. It`s that good.

Its all there, the valve springs, camshaft gear tower, magnetos water pump, oil lines… everything is there in all 63 resin parts and PE parts.

 

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You can decide to put inside or not with this details level.

 In fact is quite a good idea, a stand with the engine with the Ballila at side, engineless.  But if you want to put the engine on the Balilla, the engine cowlings parts are separate parts, cast in very thin resin parts. The cooling vents are not totally open so you need to sand off gentle the thin areas inside.

 

To cover or not all the details, the engine cowlings are beautiful cast with all the shape and details on these so evident part of an aircraft… the nose!

 

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The radiator and propeller are also beautifully cast and with high detail.

 

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As for the armament, the machines are included in beautiful cast parts.

 

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The polish version has another version of machine guns, two British Vickers guns.

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The cockpit just like the rest of the model has exquisitely detail, with lots of attention to instruments/levers and cockpit gauges.

 

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The instruments decals are very well register. This sheet is in continuous film so the ideal tool to take then off is a punch and die set.

 

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(The fuel tank is a fantastic piece with tons of detail)

 

The seatbelts are made by RB Productions giving modeler fabric belts and PE buckles.

 

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There`s the indication of interior color: if you do the presentation aircraft (Antonio Locatelli and Natale Palli) a quite challenge you will face with the white and blue painted cockpit. If not, plain and bare wood.

The cockpit is quite complete with lots of resin and PE parts, showing again that this model is not for beginners.

 

The resin parts with attachments like wings and wings struts have wire inside of the part to assure good and solid attach.

 

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The undercarriage is also reinforced with wire to assure a good holding structure and no resin bending.

 

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 But not all resin made this beautiful package: two brass sheet (a large very large brass PE, with tons of detail parts and another small), a much smaller nickel steel PE sheet with spokes for the wheels.

 

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All sheets are designed by Ron Kootje.

On the large brass PE you got handles pedals, engine details, turnbuckles, etc.

 

The medium one, the wire wheels.

 

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         And small details on the smaller one.

 

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The package parts only finish with a white metal tail skid and a length for spark plug wire.

On the box, there´s not instructions. Those can be found here, in a PDF download format build log.

The build log is quite good, with clear indications and simple and quite understanding step-by-step constructions.

 

 

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I fully understand that the non-inclusion of a print instructions version was an economic reason to keep the model at the lowest PVP possible and even so this exclusive model still not cheap.

However and being the Balilla a bit obscure airplane type of WWI, Aviattic decided to include (instead of the instructions) a 28 page reference booklet.

This little booklet is quite fantastic with quite a lot of white and black pictures, a brief history and several walkaround color pictures.

Another bonus is a frameable four view color artwork with some decals options. A beutifull artwork.

 

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Checking the decals, they are made and design by Pheon Decals, ehci means quality at all levels.

The decals are like all Pheon Decals in continuous film, so the modeler need to cut the decal by the edge.

The colour registration is top noch.

The Italian decals includes six markings (with the two presentation shemes).

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The spectacular hand-painted “St.George” made originally by Venturi

 

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Having the luck of getting also the Polish version, the decal sheet for the Polish option gives seven options, six Polish and one Mexican version.

 

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Besides the markings, Aviattic also provide walnut graining for the fuselage for both types: dark wood (Italian version) and light wood (Polish version).

 

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Being Aviattic the main source for linen decals, clear doped decals are provide for the wings and the colourful top wing of the Italian version, along with instrument decals.

 

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And on top of all that, a set of nail-head decals made by HW.

 

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This version of the Balilla (32007) have a reproduction of a statement/letter from Marian C. Copper, Captain of the US Army to the Polish government offering his services to fight in the Polish-Russian conflict.

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Conclusion:

 

I can say for sure that it`s the most complete resin kit that I ever seen.

I already review others resin kit (armour and aircraft, including Cutaway Catalina form HpH) and any of them is as complete as Aviattic Balilla.

Tons of work and love is on the jewel. Yes, it’s a jewel… for 160£ you get some precious resin parts, tons of PE, booklet with fantastic pics, fantastic decals sets from Pheon, nail decals from HGW etc.

Checking the pictures from the booklet and others sources, all the parts looks quite accurate. The casting is outstanding as there´s no distortion or bubbles, all are in perfect shape.

It`s without any doubt, the most complete and comprehensive resin model kit that I ever had the pleasure to get my hands on.

Now to the bench to start cutting some resin!! I do hope in finish this beautiful Balilla until the end of the year.

Very High Recommend

Our truly and sincere thanks to Richard from Aviattic for the review samples.

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