Dassault Etendard IVM in 1/72 by Heller

(May 2009) This little kit comes from the heydays of Heller in the 1970s and 1980s.  At that time I tried to make sure I got all their kits but this is one that escaped me then so I thought they hadn’t made a kit of the standard Etendard IV.  Imagine my pleasure when I picked one up at a swap-and-sell.  Since then I’ve picked up another two and although I can see it would not be too difficult to convert one into an Etendard IVP (the reconnaissance version) I now have a spare.  I imagine I can do something useful with it, like make another Etendard IVM. I can’t think of anything seriously bad to say about this kit.  Actually, come to think of it, I can.  But we’ll come to that. Given a choice, I tend to prefer Heller kits from this period over more recent kits.  They have a certain fastidiousness about them and a care in the layout and crispness that suits my somewhat gallic sensitivities.  In those qualities this kit is not a disappointment, all the parts fit nicely, there is no vulgar and ostentatious engraved panelling and the plastic itself is neither too hard or too soft so it is a pleasure to work with.  Neither is there any unnecessary detailing so there is not much supplied for the cockpit, but then it is not large so there is little to see and there is no detailing in the undercarriage holes, but who looks there anyhow.  Everything goes together nicely, there is no need to fiddle with parts to get them to fit and there is little need for filler.  The only part I replaced was the prominent pitot tube that erupts from the fin, partly because I usually do that kind of thing and also because it broke off and disappeared into the black hole in my floor. Painting is not difficult either.  The topside is a colour almost identical to FS36118 Gunship Grey and the underside is white.  How difficult can that be?  Masking is the usual tedious process, the kind of thing that goes nicely with a full performance of Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande which runs for two and a half hours.  After that there is the airbrushing stuff and then it’s time for decals. It may well be that Heller’s decals have improved over the year but I have no compunction, or desire to drive myself mad, so I dispose of them.  Instead Carpena make a nice aftermarket decal sheet that can be used for either Etendard IVM or IVP and the Super Etendard.  They look lovely and the first couple lulled me into a false sense of security while the next few disintegrated into a million pieces as soon as I touched them.  Still, modellers have to be ingenious folks so I overcame that problem too.  Only the fastidious will notice that the words ‘Marine’ in the fuselage sides are not as big as they should be, and that’s my excuse. After that a coat or two of Dulcote, the final assembly et voila, ell est tres belle.