Author Topic: Special Hobby 1/72 Aero Ab-11 L-BUCD “Blue Bird"  (Read 1059 times)

Offline Brad Cancian

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Special Hobby 1/72 Aero Ab-11 L-BUCD “Blue Bird"
« on: May 07, 2023, 12:49:24 PM »
Special Hobby 1/72 Aero Ab-11 L-BUCD “Blue Bird on a long flight over Europe, Africa and Asia”
Reviewed by Brad Cancian



Item: SH72471
scale: 1/72
Price: 20.00 Euros, direct from Special Hobby


Review kit kindly provided by Special Hobby at https://www.specialhobby.eu/blue-bird-on-a-long-flight-over-europe-africa-and-asia-aero-ab-11-l-bucd-1-72

The Aero A-11

In early 1923, the Aero company started working on a two seat observation and reconnaissance biplane which could also operate as two seater fighter plane. The Czechoslovak Ministry of Defence received Aero's proposition and placed a number of orders for a total of 129 aircraft. The type was designated Aero A-12 and was of mixed construction, the fuselage was made of welded thin-walled tubes covered with wood and fabric. The all-wood wings also had fabric covering. The plane was powered with a German Maybach Mb IVa engine, originally built to be used on airships. This powerplant was required by the Ministry as they had large stocks from war reparations.

Though built later, the Aero A-11 was derived from the A-12, powered by the Walter W-IV engine. The Ministry ordered serial production which at first gave a batch of the standard A-11 airframes, later followed by an improved Aero Ab-11 version equipped with a Perun II engine, a different style of the nose radiator and also a larger centre-wing section fuel tank. As these Ab-11 s were mainly intended for the bombing role, they also had bomb racks under the lower wings. The Aero A-11 also became the basis for the first indigenous designed and built seaplane, the Aero A-29, which was fitted with a pair of floats. The development line based on the A-11 also gave the much improved Aero 32 and 211 series with radial engines.

The A-11 became the main piece of armament of observations squadrons, and their service was long and trouble free. In combat service, theA-11 were replaced by the new Letov Š.328 biplane and the last ones of them fell into the hands of the Luftwaffe during World War Two.  The three last examples of the A-11 trainer continue to fly with the Slovak State military until 1944.

Blue Bird
In May 1926, to promote both Czechoslovakia and the A-11 aero design, pilot Vilem Stanovsky and his mechanic Frantisek Simek, teamed up with the Aero company to undertake a long range flight around Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor. They chose the new Aero Ab-11, powered by a Perun engine. The aeroplane was painted in light blue overall, which gained her the name “Blue Bird”.



The flight commenced on 25 May 1926, but due to foul weather, they had to return after only a few miles, but they recommenced their journey soon after. Between 25 May and 23 June, the airmen covered a range of 15,070km, achieving an average speed of 164km/h, making 23 stops in total. They navigated using various maps of somewhat dubious quality, which resulted in some cases in forced landings. The first was in Portugal, where they damaged the aircraft, requiring repairs to be made in situ. The second, whilst flying over the sea towards Greece, they suffered an engine failure due to a faulty magneto, just making it to land. The final leg from Rome to Prague saw the crew receive an enthusiastic welcome. The flight not only made the crew famous, but also resulted in Finland placing an order for the Aero A-11.

The Kit

There have been few releases of the Ab-11; indeed the only other kits available of this type are from RVHP resin from many years ago, which are virtually unobtainable today. Special Hobby released this kit in 2020. This kit is a completely new mould and is clearly a labour of love and a subject of well-earned pride, given Special Hobby is a Czech Republic company. The kit consists of two sprues of medium grey plastic, a clear sprue, and a small etched fret.

Sprue A contains the fuselages halves, upper cockpit decking (times, two; one of which is not used), chin panel, and two propellers. The parts are crisply moulded, with just the slightest hint of flash. There is lovely louvre and hinge detail to the nose, and subtle fabric detail to the fuselage. The interior has some nice sidewall details, though there are some mould release pins in some unfortunate positions which will need some clean up. The two cockpit deckings indicate potential for other variants of this kit in future.





Sprue B contains the flying surfaces, and all other details. Again, moulding is very crisp. The fabric surfaces have fine representations of ribs and rib tapes. This representation is crisp and consistent, and extremely well done. The centre wing section for the additional capacity fuel tank is included. Elevators are moulded separately, whereas ailerons and rudder are moulded with their respective flying surfaces (though it would not take much to cut and reposition them if desired).Strut holes are suitably deep, and the wings contain small holes to receive the rigging lines (well done, Special Hobby!). The modeller will, however, need to fill the holes under the lower wings for the bomb carriers, which were not used on Blue Bird.






Cockpit details are very nicely done, and include seats, control sticks, instrument panels, radios, and various other details, which will make the cockpit look suitably busy in this small scale. The instrument panel and fine details are exquisitely done, testament to Special Hobby’s improved moulding techniques of recent years. Struts are commendably fine and to scale, but care will be needed to remove and clean up these parts without damaging them. Bungees are moulded onto the landing gear legs, which is a nice touch. Exhausts are also included, but may need to be hollowed out (or replaced with suitable hollow tube). Again, there are many additional parts not required (including radiators, weapons, and another centre wing section) which indicates that a military version is on the horizon.




The clear sprue contains the necessary windscreen, and a window for the camera port under the fuselage.



The etched fret is also nicely done, and contains a propeller boss, and, commendably, seat belts for both seats (yay!).



Instructions

Special Hobby’s Instructions are provided in their modern, high-quality booklet. Presented in 16 glossy pages, construction occurs over 21 steps. The instructions are comprehensive, with a parts layout, clear instruction and paint call outs (in Humbrol and Gunze paints), and full colour four angle painting profiles. Thankfully, a rigging diagram is also provided.













Another excellent touch are the several pages dedicated to describing “Blue Bird”, her journey, and her crew. Wonderful!






Unsurprisingly, only one colour scheme is catered for; L-BUCD “Blue Bird” herself:



Decals

The decals, like all recent Special Hobby releases, are crisply printed with solid colour and excellent register. Interestingly, though not marked as such, these appear to have been printed by Eduard in their recent style, which allows the modeler to peel off the backing film after application. Colour density, fine detail and register is excellent, so I envision no problems with these decals whatsoever.



Accuracy and Buildability:

Not having any detailed publications on this aircraft, and not being a particular expert as to this aircraft, I can’t comment conclusively about accuracy. It appears that Special Hobby used the replica Ab-11 at the  Prague Aviation Museum, Kbely, as the main reference.



Accordingly, I have no doubt that the model scales well to this replica. It also looks to be largely accurate based on walkarounds of this aircraft, plus the plans I could find online.



As such, I can reasonably assume that this kit will produce a good representation of the Blue Bird. As noted above, some minor adjustments (filling of bomb carrier rack holes, for example) will be needed, but nothing serious.

Though the construction looks to be generally straight forward, I would recommend the modeller proceed with some care. There are no jigs for the angled struts, so it’s recommended that some kind of supports or home-made jigs be used during this crucial step in construction. The usual adage of being careful whilst removing and cleaning up parts, and test fitting before reaching for the glue, applies here. Online builds show the kit to build up nicely, the only things that may need watching for is the fit of the upper cockpit decking, the chin panel, and maintaining the proper neutral dihedral of the lower wing. Deepening the interplane strut holes or trimming the struts slightly may help here.



Conclusions

“Blue Bird” is clearly a subject close to Special Hobby’s heart, and accordingly, one cannot but help feel that a lot of love and care has gone into this package. This is a rare but important inter-war piece of aviation history, and will no doubt form the basis for a military version of the kit some time soon. As with many of their releases, Special Hobby are to be commended for tackling such a subject, and presenting a package that is of solid quality that should build up very nicely out of the box. There will be some things to watch out for in construction, but again, nothing that can’t be handled by someone with a little bit of experience who can make this “Blue Bird” sing.

Highly recommended!

Our very sincere thanks to Special Hobby for the review sample!
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