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1:32 Bristol M1.C


Jim H
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1:32 Bristol M1.C


Alley Cat
Catalogue # ACRK32-10


Available from A2Zee Models for £59.00

 

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The Bristol M1.C Scout was developed as a private venture due to the establishment's deep-seated mistrust of monoplane aircraft. The Fokker Scourge of 1915 must've been easily forgotten in that respect. The performance of the 110hp Clerget powered M1 Scout was also proven during its maiden flight in 1916, and in subsequent test flying. Despite the very promising performance exhibited during flight trials, a number of problems were encountered.

 

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A lack of good downward vision due to the wing arrangement, proved a hindrance, and also a lack of good forward vision. Whilst the latter problem was one that couldn't readily be fixed, the wings were redesigned with open panels at the root to allow downward vision. Another more fatal flaw which hindered serious mass production of the M1 was its high landing speed, thought to be unsuitable for forward airstrips in Western Europe. The final production run of the M1, including the main M1.C variant, was only 130 aircraft, mostly operated by training units, or in the Middle East. Armed versions carried a single .303 Vickers MG.

 

Being a recent convert to WW1 modelling, the models I've reviewed or built have fallen into either the angular or graceful category. Perhaps a combination of the two. The Bristol M1.C is an oddity. Whilst not angular, it certainly doesn't look too graceful, despite the very bird-like wings and tapered, streamlined fuselage. The almost bull-nosed spinner, while aiding that streamlining, does look rather awkward. Still, what a hugely unusual subject for a resin model kit, and certainly one which I look forward to building soon after this review. Let's look further into this release.

 

Alley Cat's Bristol M1.C is packaged in a very sturdy top opening corrugated box, adorned with a lid label depicting one of the SEVEN schemes applicable for this release. Inside the box there are three bags of resin components, and one which contains various rods, wire, photo etch fret, and a cast white metal undercarriage and tail skid. Whilst the majority of the smaller parts, including the cockpit walls, engine and internals are packaged loose into one bag, the hefty single piece fuselage and wings are supplied in a single bag, strategically stapled to stop the fuselage from rolling around with the wings. The tail plane parts, ailerons, cowl and spinner etc are packaged into the last rest zip-lock bag. In the bottom of the box lie 3 instruction sheets and a single sheet of decals. The model kit itself comprises of SEVENTY-THREE parts, superbly cast in light grey resin; a single clear resin part for the M1.C's windshield, and the white metal undercarriage is supplemented by a brass rod for the axle. As resin models tend to be heavier than injection plastic ones, the all metal undercarriage is a well thought out and welcome addition.

 

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A number of resin parts are supplied as options in this kit; both as simple choices, but also for the sake of the different machine configurations which the schemes depict. Two seat options are included. One of these has a set of cast lap belts which look excellent by any standard. The other seat is bare, allowing the modeller to choose his/her own belt solution. As the M1.C can be built as an unarmed trainer, as well as an armed fighting scout, two coamings are included for the upper, forward fuselage. This thoughtful addition means that you don't have to start cutting out and modifying a stock piece in order to fit the Vickers MG. The trainer version also has the optional clear resin windscreen, whilst the Vickers MG consists of a finely detailed main gun part with open muzzle, an ammunition feed and cartridge chute part, and a padded face guard to the rear.

 

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The most obvious part when you open the box is that single piece, streamlined, tubular fuselage. This really is a wonderful piece of casting, with hardly a blemish anywhere. A few tiny bubbles reside on the underside of the front section, but they certainly aren't anything to worry about whatsoever. This relatively heavy resin part is supplied with the forward upper cockpit section faired over with a web of resin that needs to be removed. Internally, the side walls of the tube cleanly depict the fabric and frame construction of the real thing, with a recessed slot into which to insert the completed cockpit assembly.

 

Externally, the fuselage detail is superbly rendered, with an accurate depiction of taught, doped linen shrunken over the wooden framework, subtle laced areas, neatly scribed access plates, and very fine rigging attachment points. The tail plane is attached to the fuselage by means of pips which neatly allow a trouble free fitting. This is proven by dry fitting these assemblies.

 

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The Clerget engine is supplied as a centre crankcase with nine separate cylinders, supplied over 2 casting blocks, with a spare cylinder as default. There is a slight seam on some cylinders, but again, nothing to be concerned about, and the rocker head detail is very good, with clean connection points for the induction pipes, also supplied as separate parts, with spares too. Refreshingly, the styrene rod required for the pushrods is also included. So many resin kits require you supply your own rod etc, assuming you already have a stash of it.

Of course, all this beautiful resin engine will be mostly concealed within the large cowl, and shrouded by the trademark spinner of the 'Bullet'. The cowl comes attached to a shallow casting block that sits neatly within the front of the fuselage. Just check this for fouling the internal cockpit tub. Even though the block is designed to be removed, if you can come to a compromise against the internal tub, then the casting block is a great alignment tool. The prop and spinner and cast as a single part, with the internal prop hub being separate, and connected to the internal spinner portion of the prop. This aligns simply in between pips within the spinner.

 

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The cockpit tub itself is superb, and has plenty enough detail to keep the best of us happy. Comprising of the single piece resin side frame, cockpit floor, and a number of cross brace parts, the finished 'box' assembly slips into those recesses within the fuselage tube. Cockpit internals consist of a control stick with integral torsion tube, rudder foot bar, fuel tank and a side console instrument panel. Whilst the instrument locations are excellent, no decals are supplied to detail this area. For a perfect solution, take a look at the WW1 instrument sheets available from Airscale. This is what I will be using for this build. All the interior requires to finish it off is perhaps a little plumbing. This area is a small project within the kit itself, and as there is no upper wing to hide the cockpit opening, make sure you do a good job here!

 

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The shoulder mounted wings are cast as single pieces, with just the ailerons needing to be added. A little clean-up will be required in the downward view apertures, and also the pouring stubs need to be removed from the aileron area. This is places here so as not to foul any exterior detail on the wing. Two pips are cast at the fuselage juncture, in order to facilitate perfect mating and location. Wing surface detail is excellent with more subtle rib and leading edge strip detail, as well as a number of small access ports (aileron pulley access). The rigging points are cast as small hollows into which a rigging cap is inserted over a photo etch plate. Full instructions are given for rigging and with there not being too much work involved, it all seems quite easy. Of course, there are also the control surface photo etch horns which will require a cable adding to the various location points on the fuselage and wing etc.

 

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The upper wing rigging lines are tethered to a cabane strut pylon which sits atop the gun platform. The instructions say you must drill a hole in the upper pylon so that the wires may be joined. I would need to check my sources, but presume you may need some sort of sleeving or turnbuckle arrangement for this

 

The horizontal tail plane and elevators are cast as four separate parts. The detail across them is again superbly rendered, and I would look at using some wire to pin the various control surfaces to the airframe, instead of relying on a simple butt-joint. This applies to the rudder and vertical tail plane too.

 

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The trainer version windscreen is cast onto a small block which should be easy to remove. Clarity of the part is excellent, but as is normal for me, a quick dip into Klear should improve this even further.

 

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Generally speaking, the overall quality of the resin is excellent. There are a few pin-hole bubbles which will require a small drill bit to open and then be filled, but on the whole, this is probably one of the best cast resin kits I've seen in a long while, and those miniscule imperfections won't take long to eradicate. A number of structural elements for the interior, such as spacer beams and side walls, as cast flat onto a casting block 'bed'. There is a resin dead-space below this meaning that a few minutes careful cutting with a razor saw will be enough to free these ready for clean-up.

 

With the exception of the fuselage, whose casting core is deep within the tube itself, the remainer of the parts are secured to either casting blocks, or will simply require casting tabs removing. In all, there's nothing here which looks tricky at all.

A single etch metal fret contains the control surface horns, complete with their cable attachment holes, and also the rigging point stiffening plates.

 

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The white metal undercarriage parts are cleanly cast with as good a surface as you should expect to find, and very little clean-up will be required. The triple axel is supplied as brass lengths, and are easy to insert into the pre-cast strut holes.

 

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Alley Cat produce some superbly illustrated instructions, and this kit is no exception. The Bristol M1.C is quite a straightforward model to build and a single sheet shows all aspects of construction as exploded line drawings, with clear annotation. Rigging is shown, as are smaller exploded drawings of the engine and cockpit assemblies. A double sided, colour printed sheet illustrates the SEVEN schemes which are provided. These vary from simple PC12 schemes to some quite startling schemes which were applied to personal mounts/trainers. The schemes included are:

  • Bristol M1.C, No.72 Squadron
  • Bristol M1.C, C4921, No.150 Squadron, Salonika, 1918
  • Bristol M1.C, C4907, flown by Lt. Hamilton, No.150 Squadron, Amberkoj, Macedonia
  • Bristol M1.C, C4960, No.1 School of Aerial Fighting, Ayr, April 1918
  • Bristol M1.C, C5019, unarmed trainer.
  • Bristol M1.C, C5001/83, No.4 Auxiliary School of Aerial Gunnery, Waddon, July 1919
  • Bristol M1.C, C4940, Turnberry

 

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A single decal sheet is included which carries both national and serial markings for each aircraft, plus the occasional motif. The decals are nice and thin and carrier film is minimal. Whilst everything is in perfect register, the blue colour doesn't seem as solid as it should be. This not be the case when applied, but I think for my build, I will be using masks for painting all markings. Some spare decal section colours are provided just in case you have a mishap. Roundels are printed with separate red centre spots.

 

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So what do we think?

In all, this is a great kit, and one which doesn't cost the earth either. The fine mastering and excellent engineering of the pattern maker is evident throughout the kit, and Alley Cat's casting quality is every bit as good as we have come to expect from them. The Bristol M1.C is a fairly simple model to build, and would be an excellent introduction for an experienced modeller to chance their hand at their first all-resin kit. For an experienced resin modeller, then the sky really is the limit with this unusual and strangely attractive machine. I just hope we see more like this from Alley Cat.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

Our sincere thanks to A2Zee Models for the review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.

 

James H

 

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