by: Darren Baker [ ]
This Autogiro dates back to the early 1930’s and was produced by a number of companies in Western Europe prior to World War 2. The Autogiro was popular for a period with the hobbyist flyer with a number of clubs being set up specifically for this aircraft type. The Avro 671 is of particular interest to me as they started their military service at Old Sarum just outside of Salisbury and about 9 miles up the road from me; Sadly this now public airfield is due to close soon and I suspect will be turned into another housing estate and so the demise of another of the WW1 airfield meets it end. I am led to believe that one of the remaining autogiros is on display at the Imperial War Duxford, but I cannot recall having seen it there. So let’s take a look at what MiniArt has provided us with here.
This offering from MiniArt is packaged in the usual cardboard tray and card lid. Inside there is a single plastic bag containing the parts for the model with the photo etch elements protected inside a card envelope which is a positive change by MiniArt. The decals are left a tad unprotected and so I have opted to keep them inside the instruction booklet. Where the decals have been packed with the clear sprue in this example there is a crease now in one of the decals.
The fuselage of this aircraft is constructed with a metal frame covered in cloth; MiniArt has done quite a nice job of replicating the taught material over the interior frame, but I would have liked to see some effort to provide a textured finish to this element but I accept that getting this right is very problematic. That tail is long and low and this is because the blades of the rotor would otherwise hit it. The horizontal stabilizers are angled along their length and I am informed that this is to counter the rotation of the rotor head. An area to be aware of in this area are the flight controls as they are shown very differently depending on your reference. The model has a very small trim vane on the vertical stabilizer and along the full length of the horizontal stabilizers, I have found images that show this as partial as well as MiniArt has provided, so be advised to check your reference closely.
The rotary engine of this aircraft should be a seven-cylinder Armstrong Siddeley Genet Major IA or a five-cylinder Armstrong Siddeley Genet Major I. This model is equipped with the later version of the engine and so has seven cylinders. MiniArt has done a very good job of replicating this engine in nearly all respects, but all of the elements they have provided appear accurate, but there is room for the modeller to improve this further via the addition of the fuel lines and the electrical cables shown in the provided image. The exhaust manifold has been very nicely replicated and should meet the requirements of even the most discerning modeller. It is my understanding that the propeller is a fixed pitch wooden offering as supplied in the model.
Moving onto the cockpit and an area that is very easily observed. The instrument panel for the rear seat does look to match what I have in the provided schematic and the dials here have decals provided to further improve that detail. I was unable to find reference for the front control panel and so I am going to choose to believe it is accurate due to the accuracy of the rear panel. It is the pilot in the rear seat that controls the aircraft in the air and the front pilot that controls steering of the aircraft on the ground. The controls mounted on the internal frame all appear correct, but I was able to note that the lateral trim control appears to be missing or incorrectly replicated. The seats are a basic design as you would expect and I am very pleased to see seat harnesses provided in photo etch on this occasion.
The rotor head machinery is hidden inside a shroud and so not replicated on this model. The rod coming down from the head to the rear cockpit enable the pilot to alter the rotor head angle during flight. The support structure for the rotor head looks accurate to me and again should meet the needs of everyone. The rotors themselves can be displayed as in flight position or transport position, an aspect I approve of greatly due to the instant reduction in the amount of space it would take up with the rotors deployed. The friction dampers for each blade have been provided as photo etched parts. The head where the blades all come together does appear inaccurate to my eye, but I do not know if there are different iterations of this part depending on the aircraft.
The undercarriage on this aircraft is quite complex at the front for a fixed undercarriage and that detail has been very nicely tackled by MiniArt. The wide spread of the undercarriage is in order to keep the aircraft stable on the ground and during takeoff and landing. The tail wheel is steerable and could be finished in a turned orientation. MiniArt has provided different hubs for the front wheels and two options as regards the tail wheel, I have done some searching and been unable to find what these two details represent on the aircraft.
Despite being a 1/35th scale offering from MiniArt this kit is not made up of a huge number of parts due to its diminutive size, and so you very quickly get to the finishing options of the aircraft. MiniArt has provided four finishing options for the model, three of these are RAF machines and one is a Fleet Air Arm. With some searching , on Google in my case, resulted in a large number of images of these machines in use with armed forces and civilians and so opens the field as regards finish for the modeller. The options provided in the box are:
An aircraft based on HMS Courageous an aircraft carrier of the 1930’s
A training unit aircraft of the RAF from 1939 – 1940
1448 (RADAR Calibration) flight, airbase RAF Halton, 1942
529 (RADAR Calibration) flight, airbase RAF Halton, 1943 – 1944
This offering from MiniArt is a lovely offering that would look good parked next to a suitable vehicle in a diorama. The size of the finished model with the rotors in the towed or stored position makes the size easy to accommodate for most modellers. The build if done from the box will be a quick process and result in a fairly accurate model with the exception of the rotor head assembly as far as I can see. All told this is another great addition to the MiniArt catalogue and should be popular with the armour modellers who want something a little different.