Thursday, July 11, 2013

1/72 Bleriot XI (Possibly a KGB knock-off of the Frog kit)

 (The finished model is here:)

More arcane things keep coming out of that box sent from the Zoenke UnterVolkano Evil Empire.
As you can see, this time is an esoteric rendition of an iconic plane: the Bleriot XI.
It will be redundant to comment on the history of the Bleriot XI, possibly one of the best known pioneer era aircraft.
For the younger amongst us: "Bleriot" is neither a video-game,  nor a French fancy name for the last model of smart phone.
You are all familiar with the well-documented US paranoia with the Russians during the cold war, but I am sure you did not know this story. The obscure origins of this Russian rendition can be traced to Frog which released (I am using the term in the sense you may use it for a wild animal) upon us the kit about the 60’s, possibly under the influence of the then popular psychotropic substances. Novo and other shady companies re-released it through the years, and the issue I got has an all-Russian instruction sheet made from the traditional row materials of the time: burlap and recycled politburo members.
Does the kit indeed resemble a Bleriot XI? Well... do I resemble Brad Pitt? My wife feels slightly inclined to politely say that perhaps not, unless it is very dark, I am a mile away, and she is asleep. Nevertheless, every kit in the world deserves a chance.
I usually try to improve things a little when working on a not-so-great-kit, or go directly for scratch, but in this case a 99% of replacement parts would have been the I decided to go ahead and build the kit as it is, for the sake of old times kit fun and homage.
In examining the kit you will notice the said instructions, which you will proceed to sell on evilbay as a relic of the early cold war, or use it as roofing material.
The sprues showed an encouraging number of parts, mainly flash-free, and curiously included two human figures: a small one I believe intended as a pilot –posing seemingly holding some sort of joystick as seen in one of the photos bellow- , and a bigger, chubbier one that perhaps portrays Nikita Khrushchev. The engineering is simple and although some details are not totally bona fide (like wheels, thinness of the frame, engine) they are quite charming in their own way, and anyone looking at the finished product will exactly know what is representing.

 The two figures: reputedly Bleriot and Nikita Khrushchev:

Have you noticed that strange custom every country has of attributing themselves the invention of everything, the creation of everything, the discovery of everything? in this particular case, though, the naked truth is out: the Russians made the Bleriot:
 Part of the clean up:
Some cleaning, drilling and puttying are in order:
Most parts cleaned-up:

The rumor was true: Bleriot's own bed head was used for the front of the plane:
 The characters in the interior of the fuselage have been erased, so the Russians can prove nothing now:
Some reviewers state that the shape of the prop is wrong. Lies!!!, I thunder. They ignore that Bleriot, contemplating the dangers of crossing above the Channel, planned, in case of a forced splash, to use its plane as a boat, hence the maritime-like prop:
As I advanced in the cleaning I noticed something terrible: the steering wheel was missing. This is either a Russian or Zoenke's plot to wait until I am done with the building and then using the surreptitiously kept steering wheel to take control of the airplane for unspeakable purposes:
One of the little stubs in one leg was missing, so I glued a piece of rod and later on trimmed it down to the required size:
 This particular model of Bleriot (there were a great number of them) had a partially-flying stabilizer, meaning the external parts of the stab pivoted to control pitch:
 I separated those parts so I could later re-glue them in a different position:
 The fuel and oil tanks were cleaned up of flash and mounted to be painted:
The cold war Russian kit makers did not have a budget to include more than three symbols in their instruction sheets. Hence you can see here how the "cut" symbol is used to indicate the drilling of holes for rigging:
 The tanks are painted:
 And glued before closing the fuselage:
 Painting of some large and small parts ensues, together with some spare decal sheet for ulterior uses:
 The seat was drilled to make it a tad more realistic:
Using exclusively the kit parts the fuselage is closer to completion:
 A closer look at the two figures suggests that I was wrong, and the scene may be labeled as "Stalin carrying his illegitimate child Bleriot"
The long task of measuring, cutting and gluing the rigging segments (40 of them) begins:

Wings and other details are now in place. A few more parts, a couple of "linen" decals for the fuselage sides and then only wing rigging will remain:
The two decals for the fuselage sides are prepared:

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