Up until now the only 1/72 scale kit issued of the Grumman G-44 Widgeon, or Gosling as it was known in Royal Navy usage, was the venerable Airfix offering which dates back just about as far as I can remember. It was one of the first kits that I assembled and indeed forms part of my collection today. (See the Model Gallery). It always required a fair amount of correction and detailing to present an acceptable subject for display.
However, this issue from Czech firm Pavla Models has now consigned the Airfix kit to the dustbin of history (or the collectors shelves) as it is state of the art and very, very nice.
IN THE BOX
The kit comes packed in a flap-ended box which exhibits a very smart box top painting which could be framed (if it wasn't for two roundel logos printed in the way) and contains 53 injection moulded parts, 7 resin, 2 vac-form canopies ( one spare) and a smart decal sheet. A packed, clear instruction 'booklet' of 5 double sided pages completes the kit.
The injection parts are moulded in light grey, quite hard, plastic and a degree of flash is present but nothing to worry about. What immediately catches the eye, however, is the superb engraved surface detail together with the fabric structure over the after section of the main wings, elevators and ailerons. This really does look nice, not over-done and should look good with a coat of paint on top.
The cockpit is reasonably well catered for with two seats, a control wheel, instrument panel with some detail and a representation of rudder pedals which I do not think will be visible when completed. There is no representation of any aft interior, all the rest of the details being for the exterior. In this scale I guess most modelers will opt to paint the interior black as not much can be seen through the small side windows (Unless you check out the manual pages in the Reference section!). The engine nacelles, floats, oleos and tailplane are all well throughout and detailed and it should not take too long to get to the painting stage.
Some of the smaller parts, such as the main wheels suffer from ejection pin marks on their rear faces but they should clean up ok.
The resin pieces are for the engine fronts, oleo stays and elevator counter balances and are exquisite. The cockpit canopy is formed in strong vac-form style, with a second being provided - just in-case. (About time all vac-form kits had this). The window frames are quite clearly seen and it should not be a problem cutting this out, but it will be 'weak' aftwards so beware how you handle this part - it will make or break this kit I feel.
The kit carries three decal options, two for the Gosling in Royal Navy service and one U.S.C.G. scheme, the same well documented scheme that the Airfix 'Grandad' carries. however, the decal sheet printed by MPD (?) is superb state of the art stuff and is extremely thin. All the main elements are there, see image above, but I did notice that the yellow surround to the hull roundels is slightly out of register on my example - everything else is ok though. The U.S.C.G. badge is nicely executed.
One of the Royal Navy examples, FP462, is well documented in camouflage of Extra Dark Sea Grey, Dark Slate Grey and Sky (type 'S') from NAS Pensacola in 1944 but I confess the other, the same aircraft from N.A.S. Pensacola, also in 1944, is not. (at least to me). This is stated as being in Sea Green upper surface and Light Grey undersurface colours. FS numbers are given for all colours in all the schemes. I suspect that this follows that the latter scheme was the U.S. original finish and then it was over-painted for British use.
One small point is that the USCG variant looks as if it has two different colours underneath it, called out in the instructions as Alclad and Aluminium, and thus the plan carries two differing styles of notation. This is due to the difference between the metal and fabric surfaces on the wings but in reality, in my opinion, I cannot see much if any of a demarcation or difference in overall colour 'look' in any of the close-up photographs I have. I will paint mine just a 'tad' darker over the fabric areas but not much so - don't over-do it.
The real aircraft, according to the Grumman Manual checks out at overall length: 31'1" - Wingspan: 40'0" - Height: 9'0". This breaks down in 1/72 to 131.5mm for the length and 169.3mm for the wingspan. The kit measures out at 130mm and 166mm respectively making the length as near as no matter and just a tad undersized on the span BUT it does not show and looks every inch a Widgeon.
This is a very nice kit and will make up into an accurate replica. It also leaves room for the super-detailer to 'go to town' on the interior. It is a shame that all manufacturers do not follow the example set here by Pavla Models. They have listened to the modeler and provided him/her with all the best starting points one could wish for. The best bit is the price - here in England I bought mine for £10.00 from Hannants in London. Now that is a bargain for what is contained within this box and I for one cannot wait to get building a few!