Beech UC-43 in 1/144 by Anigrand

Some people become stupid when the get old and senile, others were born that way and others again attribute the condition to strong drink. I don’t know which of these you would attribute my current state of stupidity to, but I admit to having had an attack of it.

Anigrand resin kits are a bit like Mach 2 kits, only worse. We can attribute all the faults and difficulties confronting the maker of a Mach 2 kit to a kind of Frankish bravado or perhaps post-modern over intellectualization of the kit making process for, while most modelers these days expect Germanic precision in their kits and complain bitterly about the slightest seam line or gap, M Palix expects those who make his model kits to do some of the work too so that the finished model if a collaboration between kit maker and modeler. Either that, or M Palix is partial to a little too much vin rouge with his lunch.

In comparison to this understandable deviation from contemporary kit making practice in rural France, one can only wonder what is going on in Hong Kong that Anigrand kits are the way they are. Perhaps it is some fiendish Chinese plot for world domination by exporting model kits to the world that drive those trying to make them bonkers.

The evil mind behind Anigrand makes his model kits tempting by offering kits of aeroplanes that are otherwise unavailable, and adds to that by providing three ‘bouns’ kits with the main kit in the box. As far as I can tell (from experience) the only real bonus to be had from these additional kits is that they will drive you nuts even quicker than if there was only one kit in the box.

Of course, there is no rule saying that one has to actually make these tiny little bonus kits, but one has paid good money for them and they are tempting because there are no other offerings of these kits in 1/144. My excuse is that I treat these little kits as exercises in various modeling techniques. What they really are is exercises in futility and madness.

UC-43e

Take, for example, the tiny little kit of the Beech Staggerwing which comes in the box that offers to give you an early model Boeing B-17. This B-17 B, C of D is irresistible because modifying one from a standard B-17G kit in this scale is all but impossible. That fact that the Anigrand kit is almost impossible to make well anyhow is not something that need detain us here.

The components for the Staggerwing are in the lower left hand part of the picture, there’s not many of them which also adds to the temptation to not throw the lot in the bin because one thinks, in a moment of folly, ‘How hard can this be?’

One is lured further into a false sense of security because the fuselage and the lower wing fit together without a hint of trouble or need for filler. A test fit of the top wing, always a problem with biplanes, shows that it too fits snugly and so one is lured on into the web is insanity that lies ahead.

These days Anigrand offer clear resin parts rather than the old vacformed parts they once offered. This too is an inducement into folly because it seems so simple, but when one discovers that the resin is warped and leaves large gaps under the top wings, it is time to pack it in. Not I, though. I decided to fill the gaping gaps with some clear resin – which did not go as well as I had hoped.

Moving on from that because, I say to myself, it will be hidden under the top wing, we put that on and decide to have a look at some pictures of real Staggerwings just to make sure things are going along alright. To our horror, we discover that they are not. I can only think that the reason the kit provided one with a square rear fuselage while the real aeroplane has a delightfully rounded rear fuselage, is some kind of observational or intelligence test. It has to have been done deliberately, nobody could make that kind of error by mistake.

UC-43d

Here is what a real Staggerwing looks like and here is what the Anigrand kit offers instead. What do you think is going on here, and I wonder how many little models are out there in the world looking so wrong? Will the thought police come around one day to check on who passed the test and who didn’t?

The resin is very thick in the rear fuselage so it was only a few minutes work to rasp away at the offending square edges – taking care to avoid breathing in all the resin dust floating in the air, of course. The result didn’t look too bad, so I pressed on. At this stage I was thinking of making the kit as a Beech GB-1, the US Navy version of the Staggerwing, but there were already too many problems with the kit that a bright metal finish would have shown up that I decided the only viable option was the dull drab olive of the USAAF UC-43. That would tend to camouflage the multitude of problems with the kit, and besides, that was what the kit decals offered.

UC-43a

Pushing on, against all the odds, it was time to attach the undercarriage. At this point I discovered what must be the second deliberate mistake with this kit. The kit offers undercarriage that it attached to the rear spar rather than the front one, by the stabilizing arms rather than the load bearing legs that should be attached to the front spar just behind the leading edge. There is no sign of either the undercarriage legs in the kit and the doors are missing the covers for the legs. This mistake must have been deliberate, I hope that the evil kit maker in Hong Kong got a chuckle out of giving modellers like me this headache to resolve.

UC-43b

The simple thing would have been to toss the little monster into the bin at this stage but, ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’, as they say and, besides, I’d already squandered so much time on this kit that the trouble of carving openings for the front spar undercarriage legs seemed little in comparison to what I’d already gone through, or the modification of the kit undercarriage to make it all look half presentable. Which was not easy for such a small scale kit.

In the end, the little monster was completed, and here is what it looks like.

UC-43c

(March 2018)

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