By Erwin Bovyn
- Type injection moulded
- Brand BAe-Aérospatiale Concorde, Airfix
- Scale 1/72
- Paint Humbrol, Revell, Vallejo
- Accessories scratch
- Documentation Internet, Wing Masters 46
Whenever the name “Concorde” is mentioned, a lot of people think back to the disaster in 2003 when one of the oldest aircraft of this type crashed shortly after take-off in Gonesse near Paris (F). All passengers and crew members lost their lives as well as some civilians on the ground. Investigation regarding this crash would later prove that it was due to external factors and not with the crew or the aircraft itself but the death bells had rang over the further operational life of the Concorde. Worrying about the accident and especially the bad economical atmosphere at the start of the new millennium led to the withdrawal of all of the Concordes of British Airways and Air France from operational life. Strangely enough, none of these aircraft will know dishonour by scrapping but all of them will end up in museums or storage.
Many forget that the first flight of this type of aircraft took place in 1969, i.e. 34 years before the accident, and that in those 34 years there has never been a deadly accident; something that no other aircraft type had realised before.
The Concorde was the result of a research program for which researchers even had developed special research aircraft like the Fairey Delta 1 and 2 so to test the effect of aerodynamics on the revolutionary wing shape, movable nose and engines. The Concorde would develop to be the first civil airliner reaching supersonic speed in the world, capable to transport 100 passengers at a maximum speed of Mach 2.2. Main default of this aircraft would be that it was not of American or Russian design and it was boycotted in this way. The American counterpart, the Boeing SST, only reached the mock-up stage and the Russian design, the Tu-144 (nicknamed “Concordski”), crashed at his first public debut at Le Bourget (F).
Concorde was one of the most beautiful and elegant aircraft ever build and will keep a unique place in aircraft history for ever.
I have build this model on behalf of someone who is very possessed with the Concorde but has no modelling skills. I can’t blame that person because, despite the fact that the kit does not count a lot of parts, it certainly is not a model for the absolute beginner.
The big parts form part of several sprues in white plastic. Big is certainly the description because the aircraft will measure around 9Ox36 cm when finished. There is one sprue containing the clear plastic parts for the cockpit windows but there are no parts provided for the many windows in the main hull.
The landing gear comes in grey plastic and the engine parts and nacelles are in black plastic. And it is here that the problems start because the black plastic used is apparently of another type than the white one and gluing both together does give problems.
We had agreed that the kit would be build as straight-from-the-box without after market sets and as little scratch as possible and I intended to keep myself to that.
Work starts with the engine nacelles where we encounter the problem regarding the two types of plastic used. Adjusting and sanding is necessary as well as the use of cyanoacrylate glue on the black plastic. Take care not to mix up the parts of the left and right engine because there is a difference between them. Some test fitting and try-outs led to a decent result. Putty and water abrasive paper are necessary elements in the finishing.
The instructions mention the different colours to be used in the different stages but they all first received a coat of Revell white primer before their final colours. Engine intakes and exhausts are painted Vallejo gun metal highlighted with Vallejo Natural Steel.
The cockpit is made up of a floor and a bulkhead, a console in the middle, instrument panel at the front and on the right hand side. There are two typical Concorde steering wheels and three seats. Cockpit interior is painted light grey with decals on instrument panels and that is more than enough because not much can be seen from it later on. The side console is the first problem. It obscured part of the right side window when positioned according to the instructions and that can’t be the general idea. Checking out pictures of the real thing shows that the windows are free and so this means that the side console must be repositioned further aft. This is only a minor change but so important for the general view.
The article in Wing Masters mentions problems when fixing the cockpit glass. It proved necessary to adjust the centre console so to join the cockpit itself. Several dry runs showed that the cockpit glass also needed adjusting by sanding the lower corners. At first, my solution seemed the right thing to do but, when joining both cockpit parts together and the cockpit glass in place, it showed that the instrument panel didn’t measure up with the cockpit glass and a gap was left between the two parts. I therefore also needed to adjust the instrument panel. The cockpit will later be glued into a separate hull section that we will refer to as the nose section.
One of Concorde’s specific items is the movable nosecone that is positioned downwards whilst landing to allow more visibility to the pilots. Airfix does replicate this nose cone as well as several parts allowing it to move. Unfortunately, a kit is not a toy and those parts that are supposed to make the nose move are made of clear plastic that makes them more vulnerable to damage.
It took me a whole evening to find out how the system finally worked and, after a lot of test fitting; I finally managed to connect the nose cone to the front nose section. The hinges are very visible trough the big window on top of it and I hide them from sight with a piece of plastic card. Unfortunately, the nose cone will break off in a later stage leading to it being glued in fixed “nose up” position.
The landing gear
Decide, before starting this stage, if you want to present the aircraft “in flight” or “static”. The tyres are of the vinyl type and need to be slipped over the wheel rims. Not every modeller is fund with this type of tyre but it does provide a much easier way to paint the rims. The vinyl tyres themselves have a big seam with a lot of flash that demands great care when removed if you do not want to add damage to the surface of the tyres. The surface is than slightly sanded to give a used matt effect.
The main landing gear comes in two halves in which you need to insert a metal rod provided in the kit. This brings the advantage that the main landing gear is stronger but brings the disadvantage of extra sanding to hide the seam between the two halves. Once cleaned up properly they are, referring to pictures of the real thing, painted silver with aluminium detail on the hydraulic arms. A light wash enhances the details and a used look.
The tail cone also has a small landing gear that prevents the tail hitting the tarmac on take off or landing. This tail wheel is located in a separate housing that facilitates its positioning. The front landing gear doors also need adjusting because some of them do close up again when the landing gear is down.
Body and wings
If you want to build the aircraft “in flight” than you can leave away several parts representing the inner parts of the landing gear bay. You can also use the closed landing bay doors. The kit provides some parts and drawings to allow you to build the aircraft hanging from the ceiling This aircraft will however be build “in static” and we do need to fix the wheel bays. They lack detail and I did add a bit of wiring thanks to reference pictures. The wings look like they suffer from warping at their ends but this is not the case. Concorde’s wings did bend down at the end. You do need to glue the upper and lower wing parts and later on close the remaining gaps with putty. My model didn’t have a good connexion between the hull and the wings and I needed a lot of putty to repair this.
There are a lot of windows in the hull but no clear plastic parts. The instructions suggest making them yourselves with the aid of Clearfix (Humbrol) and the use of a clear plastic pin provided in the kit. This will be postponed till after painting. Shortly after I fixed wings and hull, a fellow modeller made the remark that the British Concordes counted fewer windows than the French ones. As my aircraft was to be a British one I checked it out and learned that the British aircraft counted 3 windows less at the front and two less at the middle emergency escape doors. The Concorde being build up in sections (nose, middle and tail) I could glue a piece of plastic card on the inner side of the windows at the front. The openings were than filled with putty. Those at the middle emergency doors couldn’t be reached and were only filled with putty followed by careful sanding.
Flaps and engine nacelles
Both wings have big flaps that need a lot of attention. Each of them carries at least for ejector marks and that is more than decent. They all need to be filled and sanded. A coat of primer is applied to check out if the work was successful and if not some more filling and sanding will be necessary. The flaps are then mounted on their supports. This is also a good moment to fix the nose and tail sections to the hull. Take care to the right alignment of both sections according to the hull. Give the glue time to harden because some filler and a lot of sanding will be necessary to become one smooth body.
The instructions do suggest that the many antennas should be fixed in the phase but, regarding the many manipulations of the body still to come, I left this behind till after painting and decaling. Fix the engine nacelles in their under wing positions before you add the flaps. Again, filling and sanding is on order on the nacelles. Flaps need some minor adjustment. They were positioned in the same line as the wings and didn’t hang down unless when in maintenance.
Once flaps and nacelles in place it was time to give the entire aircraft a coat of Motip white primer. This coat showed some minor things that needed to be adjusted. The Concorde is a big beast measuring more than 83 cm in length and about 35 cm wide. It is therefore very important to spray paint in one smooth move and my experience whilst doing this was that it was much easier to do when the aircraft was in vertical position balancing on its tail end.
Next step is masking the undersides and spray paint the engine nacelles black for which I used Revell 5. Thrust reversers and engine interior is painted gun metal with aluminium dry brushing.
Once pleased with the result the engine nacelles are masked using Tamiya tape before applying a white gloss coat again using a Motip spray can. Let the paint at least dry overnight, it’s not because she looks dry that she really is. The paint is than covered by a coat of Klir (Future). You can’t see many panel lines on Concorde pictures but they are there. I added these using MIG dark wash and sealed them with a second coat of Klir (Future).
When painting is done I added the many cabin windows using Clearfix and the tool provided in the kit. Take the time to let the Clearfix dry because it has the tendency to shrink a little and a second coat was needed in certain places.
As said before, the Concorde is a big aircraft that needs a lot of decoration. These are well represented on a large decal sheet, as large as the big box itself. It offers the possibility to build several different aircraft in different era’s of service. I was asked to build the aircraft represented on the box-art i.e. the latest version British Airways flew with.
All decals are printed o none big carrier film and they need to be cut out one by one. There are very small decals but very large as well and these got on first, starting at the tail fin. First problem here is the position of some antenna blocks that have been painted over on the real aircraft. It was therefore necessary to cut open some of the big decals to allow an easier positioning. The use of Humbrol Decal Cote 1 and 2 was more than necessary but I also used Daco decal setting because this last one lets the decals melt over the surface.
The same method was used on the other big decals. They were put aside for a couple of hours to let them dry out thoroughly because smaller decals will need to be positioned on top of the big ones.
But Murphy came in to lend a hand and if I had thought that all would go fine than I had been counting without him. First next of decal to be applied are the warning strips on the wing edges. I started working from front to end only to see that the strips were too short. Time to soak them off and reposition them again; this time working from rear to front. The decal strips come in certain lengths and it was necessary to cut them once in a while so to be able to follow the wing edges in an easier way.
Once dry they had the tendency to loosen and to curl and they had to be sealed by a coat of Klir (Future) before the other decals could be applied. Unfortunately, several decals would prove to be too small, especially those representing the emergency doors and their logo’s and it was necessary to cut the stencilling off to allow better positioning. This is a minor point for a rather recent kit providing a prestigious decal sheet.
Each step in positioning the decals was sealed with Klir (Future). When all decals in place the entire aircraft was spray painted with gloss varnish but it was here that all went wrong. I still don’t know what went wrong but on certain places, especially on top of the big decals and the decals representing the emergency doors, the gloss varnish started cracking resulting in an orange peel surface. The only alternative was to sand the varnish using water abrasive paper, taking care not to damage the decals themselves. Once done, a second coat of varnish was applied, this time with good result.
Last step is the application of all the different small antennas. It’s a delicate job because, as big the aircraft is, as small are the antennas. Some of them even need a decal to be applied.
The Concorde is the biggest aircraft in 1/72 scale I have build so far. The build is not that difficult if you don’t count the trouble with the nose section. I often wondered why I never saw such an aircraft at modelling events regarding the fact that it is a rather recent release, a joint venture between two big names (Airfix en Heller) and it offers the possibilities to either build an aircraft used by British Airways (Airfix kit) or Air France (Heller kit). Bad fit of parts provided the answer and if someone encounters the same problem with the decals than I am convinced a lot of modellers will be discouraged. It also is a big aircraft difficult to handle whilst building and the many small antennas do not make transport easy without the risk of damaging them. The aircraft only once went to an event but, due to a small damage, wasn’t entered in competition. Despite this it surely attracted a lot of attention on the club table and many a visitor took pictures of it. It certainly was a good exercise resulting in a decent build and I regretted to give it back to the owner because I had loved to see it finding it’s place on my airfield.
Keep ‘m building