After establishing an enviable reputation for producing some of the best update and conversion sets available, SBS Model took the bold move late last year of releasing their first full resin aircraft kit - the 1:72 Latécoère 28-3 'Comte de la Vaulx'. Péter Lőrincz submitted a superb build of the kit as a Feature HERE
Now the kit is back in a new guise as “La Frégate”, an aircraft which set no less than 16 international records during 1930-31.
Arriving in a compact and sturdy top-opening box, what immediately impresses is the care with the model has been packed, with the parts well protected in bubble-wrap and zip-lock bags. The kit arrived in perfect condition and comprises:
39 x grey resin parts
4 x clear resin parts
29 x photoetched parts film
The casting is quite simply superb. I haven’t found any blemishes on the sample parts. The main exterior finish consists of crisply engraved panel lines and neatly depicted fabric surfaces. The separate nose section really has to be seen to be believed - a one-piece casting, it features in situ
hollowed-out exhausts and delicate rocker covers and louvres.
All the main parts are straight and true, and the wing panels match perfectly in airfoil and chord. The biggest part of preparing to build the kit will be removing the fuselage from a very major casting block. While this means the box-like fuselage can be cast as one piece, greatly simplifying assembly, it will need to be removed extremely carefully.
a few details
Construction begins, logically enough, with the cockpit. This is very well detailed for this scale, with a mix of 19 resin and metal parts. The front bulkhead has finely moulded engineering consoles integrally, plus a separate etched instrument panel with a printed film backing. The seat bases attach to delicate etched pedestals, with the seat backs moulded onto the rear bulkhead. Photo-etched shoulder harnesses are provided.
The rear fuselage is cast in just 2 sections - a main casting of the base and sides, plus a separate roof that traps the wing. This makes getting the correct rectangular cross-section much simpler and does away with ugly seams to fill – but, as noted above, it does mean there's that hefty casting block to remove. Once that's done, though, all there is to add are the crystal clear windows, the cockpit door and slide the completed cockpit sub-assembly into place.
The fantastic nose casting is further adorned with radiators and a tank between the cylinder covers.
The instructions illustrate attaching the well detailed floats next, followed by the 2-part wing and the tail surfaces. For me it’s very much “six of one, or half a dozen of the other” as to which is wisest to attach first. I’ll probably lean towards the wings, because I always like make sure I have the basic airframe correct before I move on to “dangly” bits - but I’ll test fit the floats’ struts first. A real battle some years ago with a short-run1:48 styrene floatplane kit taught me a healthy respect for such subjects (and this was despite building a jig to keep everything square and true. So, forewarned and forearmed, I’ll check and re-check everything here before committing myself.
The floats themselves are nicely detailed, with the casting stubs limited to small scars at the front to clean up. There are separate etched inspection covers to fit, plus 2-part etched boarding steps for the starboard front strut.
The cockpit windows and windscreen are cast as one piece and are beautifully clear. A nice touch is the way the nose section ahead of the windscreen is cast integrally, minimising any fit problems.
The final details are aerials and venturi for the top of the fuselage, plus the propeller. This features a separate hub and blades, with deep and precise location slots to ensure it goes together correctly.
Instructions and decals
The assembly and painting guide is neatly printed in colour on high quality glossy paper. The diagrams are very well drawn, and are clear and straightforward.
Decals are provided for La Frégate in two possible colour schemes, with either a dark red or French Navy grey fuselage. SBS follow most references in showing the top of the fuselage, along with the wings and tail painted white, but an intriguing point I noticed in some vintage photos is that the white of the national insignia seems paler than the surrounding paintwork. So, was it perhaps cream or silver dope?...
The decals look very good quality; thin and glossy, and printed in perfect register. Stripes for the rudder and elevators are provided, but many modellers prefer to paint them to avoid having to touch in the edges. Therefore, a nice touch is that the anchor symbols for the Aéronavale roundels are printed as separate items in case you wish to paint these too in order to ensure the colours match precisely.
SBS’s La Frégate is a superb resin kit, really right in the first division in terms of quality. It’s not suitable for beginners, but modellers with experience of resin and short-run kits should find it a hugely enjoyable build. Highly recommended.
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