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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mikro Mir 1/72 NIAI-1 Fanera 2

НИАИ-1 Фанера 2 (NIAI-1 Fanera 2 -plywood-)
Russia, 1933

Another civil kit! Well done Mikro Mir*!!!!
*Mikr Mir is micro-world or microcosm

This plane was designed and engineered by the Lisichkin-Rentel team around a Shvetsov M-11 of 100hp capable of lifting 4 passengers in an aerodynamically-polished airframe that was a little bit like a motorglider or embryonic flying wing. The plane had very appealing lines and included very smart features to save weight and avoid drag. There was a prototype (Fanera-1) very similar to this later model, but the production model of which 20 were made (and that this kit represents) had many refinements. It operated in the state airline successfully, carrying in ideal conditions up to five people including the pilot.
Here a YouTube clip showing the thing in action:
This plane is sometimes referred to as ЛК-1 Ленинградский комбинат (LK-1, Leningradskii Kombinat). There are some images of one of these planes on floats.
The kit depicts the specific plane modeled as white, but if you are doing other airframe than that, beware that photos (and the movie clip) show in other planes paint that is anything like white, most likely aluminum. Photos also show the Townend ring removed, no spats, different props, and so forth. At least one photo shows a fin/rudder with a particular decoration. Once more: study your photos and references.
I have wanted to build this one for many years. I thought nobody would ever release this design as a model kit, so of course as I usually do I decided to scratch-build it. I collected references and even printed out scaled plans but did not actually cut any building material. And I am so glad I didn't!, because now a company that is new to me, Mikr Mir, made it available as a short-run injected kit.
This little kit (thanks, Merry Xmos from Malabamba!) looks quite good, it includes masks for the extensive window areas, some photoetched parts, decals that look good, and of course the injected sprues and instructions. The parts have good detail, and will need just a bit of cleaning-up, and enough of them are present to cover a reasonable level of detail. The plans are not bad, but not the best I have seen at any rate. The surface detail is convincing and the assembly looks practical enough. Care should be taken in dealing with the extensive transparencies in order to keep them clean. Those parts in the kit are good but most likely I'll be bathing them on acrylic floor polish to improve their clarity.
Here a few pictures of the kit contents: 

 Masks! nice!:
 Photoetched bits:

 The engine alone comprises several parts:

The instruction sheet: the usual small, vague, fuzzy business. There is something awkward with part 7 (front/instrument console) there seem to be a mistake either on the part or the plan, we'll found out...or will be? (NOTE: I did found out, is completely in the wrong position, see further below):
Sprues are washed, let dry, and almost all parts are separated from the trees and cleaned up:
 As it is common with Eastern European  kits, the masters seem to have been exquisite, only to be diminished by the low-tech molding process. What a pity:
 Many parts are thin and fragile (that is to scale). Be careful removing and cleaning them:
 The lower wing is the platform on to which you start to build the kit. Wing ribs and aft spar glued in place:
The whole engine/Townend ring/prop/exhaust sub-assembly is comprised of 11 parts. As said before, the masters were good. The molding poor, and the instructions just despicable, following the known illogical path of "let's represent a very small and complex assembly with a very tiny drawing with bad detail and mistakes". In any case, the Shvetsov M-11 is a well known engine, look for images on the Net and figure out what goes where:

A problem with the wheel pants: they are narrower than the wheel they are supposed to lodge.
A few solutions (I have done this before with other models): glue one side to a piece of styrene sheet to add width, re-contour, glue the other half; or: sand the wheel flatter; or get a narrower wheel; or (as I will do here) sand a wheel, cut in half, partially insert the half wheels into the pants once all is painted separately. Use the axle as a stopper for how far inside the half-wheels will go. These pants, as some of the other parts, are wafer thin, so watch out:
The peculiar shape of the plane calls for innovative break-down engineering. Thus the top-cum-sides of the fuselage is provided as two clear parts (since the windows are there) that must be joined, and then a stub tail added to it. Be sure to align the clear part properly as the glue sets, don't ruin the windows area with glue smudges or sanding scratches. I most likely will glue a thin styrene sheet as a reinforcement underneath the narrow middle, which is the cabin ceiling:
Remember I told you that part 7, the instruments console that has a particular shape had a very suspicious position indicated in the less than poor instructions? well, that is because part 7 goes in a very different place, as shown here in these photos, and NOT where is shown in the instructions. Now, when a manufacturer has no clue as to where the parts he made should go, you are in trouble. Other aspects of this kit are OK, though, more info as we go:

View of the sub-assemblies:
A general view:
 Dry fit parts go together well, if not perfectly:
 Dry fit. Some touch ups will be needed:
The kit has very nice masks and photoetched parts, even a photo-film for the instrument panel to be combined with the metal part. The photoetched parts are covered with a protective film. All this and the decals come in a resealable plastic pouch. Well done, Mikr Mir! As you can see I painted the film white on its back for contrast:
 The instrument panel/console group is assembled and glued, interior color applied:
The interior is in place with the small addition of joystick and rudder pedals. Notice the pilot's seat has a small plinth molded in it which makes it slightly different than the others:
 The clear part is glued in place and the nose added. The fit again is not bad, but it is not a snug and perfect one. Some filling/filing/puttying/sanding will be mandatory, all being careful not to scratch the window areas, which should be masked:
View from bellow. The remaining clear parts are glued in place with clear parts cement:
Clear parts were masked and putty applied, and once dry it was sanded away to improve the surfaces, and then the temporary masks removed:

This plane transported five with the pilot. The S.79 to which is compared in size, in its civil version, transported eight. The Fanera designers knew how to squeeze performance from an airframe an engine (one in this case against the three of the S.79):]
The masks provided with the kit are great, and I am especially grateful for them. This a very neat detail on part of Mikr Mir:
 Now the model is ready for priming:
Primer applied:

The primer revealed spots that needed further attention:

The Venturi probes, two exhausts and the landing gear parts are removed from the sprue and carefully cleaned. Beware, these parts are fragile:
Tail feathers, ailerons and landing gear now in place. O couple things I would have liked to be provided with the photo-etched sheet: a handle that goes above the door and the Pitot probe:
The exhausts are added to the engine. The Townend ring will be slid-in from the front once everything is painted:
There are a couple of things that the instructions ask you to do but I wasn't able to corroborate in photos: the kit has two anti-slid/walkway sections as PE parts that are supposed to be glued at the wing roots, but photos only show one, on the left-hand side, and not going all the way up to the front of the wing as the kit parts. The kit also has two Venturi probes, but all photos show only one. The origin of the mistake seems to be the plan on which the kit perhaps was based. Again, all photos show one entrance through a sliding window on the left, therefore one walkway and one handle on top of that sliding window.

A bit of color is applied:
 The photoetched parts for the aileron linkages are glued. The wingtip skids although provided as plastic parts, were discarded in favor of one made with wire.
 Also added are the control horns for the rudder and their control cables exits on the fuselage side. Holes are drilled for the stab rigging. None of the latter are provided/described in the kit.
 As explained before only a partial walkway is glued as per photos (not kit instructions). The kit provides two and they are seemingly too long, reaching the leading edges:
White paint is airbrushed. Do not forget the Townend ring and the spats:
Flip over:
Proceeding to the decaling stage, I found out that the decal manufacturer has invented the un-decal.
Let me explain: a decal that shatters in contact with water, and when for some miracle remains in one piece, will have almost no adhesion to the surface (will unstuck when dry), will not conform to curved surfaces, and will be mostly impervious to setting solutions:
 How a decal manufacturer can do such poor job is on itself a high achievement of failure. But, who knows, may be it was just my decal batch. My advise: scan the kit decal to a high resolution, print your own decals and rather deal with cutting out the very many individual subjects than scatter decal dust all over the model and the building board. A very POOR JOB, these decals:
With some huffing and puffing the decals are now in place. Yet another mistake in the instructions: decal number 7 (as marked in the DECAL SHEET) should be the one going on the vertical stabilizer. The smaller one, number 8 as marked in the decal sheet should be on the wing. To make it clear: they are wrongly numbered in the instructions: decals on the wing should be # 5, 6 and 8, not 7 as indicated there. Sigh.
As said, I had to print a set to replace some of the shattered decals:
If you need to touch-up the red decals, Model Master Acryl Italian Red is a very good match.
The remaining sub-assemblies and parts are added. Engine group, wheels and pants, the Venturi and Pitot and the tail rigging:

We will go now to the post with the completed model:

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