Originally designed by Beagle Aircraft, the Bulldog was first flown at Shoreham Airport on the 19th May 1969. The first order for 78 Bulldogs B.125 was from the Swedish Air Board. Unfortunately Beagle Aircraft ceased to exist shortly after the order was made. Fortunately the production rights for the aircraft, along with the Swedish order, were taken over by Scottish Aviation (Bulldog) Limited. All subsequent aircraft were built at Prestwick Airport by Scottish Aviation and then British Aerospace. The Bulldog was taken up by quite a few air forces as a trainer.
The first 58 aircraft (designated the SK 61A and SK 61B) were delivered to the Swedish Air Force in 1971. Twenty more aircraft were delivered to the Swedish Army as FPL 61C in 1972, although these were transferred to the Air Force in 1989 as SK 61C. The Swedish Bulldogs could be loaded with weapons for training. By 2001 all the Swedish aircraft had been withdrawn from military service. 26 were bought in 2004 by the Hungarian company AVIA-Rent. The largest customer for the Bulldog was the Royal Air Force. The RAF placed an order for 130 Bulldogs in 1972, entering service as the Bulldog T.1. It was used extensively by the Royal Air Force as a basic trainer, in particular as the standard trainer for the University Air Squadrons. The RAF sold off all its remaining Bulldog trainers in 2001. The relatively low price meant they were snapped up by air enthusiasts around the globe. The Grob Tutor took over the role of training future RAF pilots.
This is the second prop engine trainer that Tarangus has released. Last year Tarangus gave us the Saab 91 Safir. The Tarangus Bulldog comes in two separate releases: the RAF and the Swedish version. This particular sample is the RAF version (TA4806). There is no difference with the plastic supplied; obviously the markings are completely different. Tarangus has kindly sent the decal option for the Swedish boxing (TA4805).
It is well worth taking a look what the Bulldog was capable of in good hands.
The side opening box contains less than sixty grey plastic parts and seven clear plastic parts. The grey plastic parts are in one large sealed bag and the clear parts are separately bagged. The decals are also separately bagged, but you only get the set that is relevant to your choice. The detail both recessed and raised is nicely done. The raised detail on the control surfaces looks a tad overdone, but it replicates the look of the real thing pretty well. The sprue attachment points are quite small for a limited run kit. The clear parts look a little cloudy. I would suggest giving all the parts a good wash in soapy water before building. Marking options for Bulldog T1  include:
- XX621 Yorkshire University Air Squadron
- XX537 RAF East Lowlands Universities Air Squadron
- AS0023 Air Wing of the Armed Forced of Malta
- 701 Kenyan Air Force
The marking options for the Bulldog Sk.61 include:
- Sk61A 61011 - F5 Ljungbyhed in original two-tone camouflage
- Sk61A 61011 - F5 Ljungbyhed in original two-tone camouflage with high vis markings.
- Sk61A 61025 – F5 Ljungbyhed in post 1989 RAL livery
- Fpl 61C 61061 Displayed at F11 museum in Nyköping
Parts are supplied for the cockpit floor with a central console, rear bulkhead, side walls, instrument panel, seats, control stick, rudder pedals and finally a fire extinguisher. The Bulldog had very robust seat harness as this trainer was fully aerobatic. Unfortunately no harnesses are included. References show some seats are cushioned and others are just a bare metal seat. The latter was common for pilots wearing a parachute pack. There are a couple of raised ejection marks to remove before the cockpit side walls can be added. I was not hanging around for aftermarket detail sets so I added additional detail using plaster card and thin metal. One obvious cockpit feature missing in the kit is the canopy locking handle and rail. The omission was easily rectified using sprue and plasticard. The rather large one piece canopy has a slight cloudy appearance. The size of the canopy is one good reason for spending some time and/or cash on extra cockpit detailing. The two rear windows are separate clear parts. I did blend in both these windows with the fuselage using some fine wet and dry. They were polished up and dipped in Klear to restore their clearness. The cockpit was painted light grey and the instruments were picked out in black. I did scratch some of the details of the instruments for added effect.
The fuselage is split traditionally and the cockpit fits in with very little trouble. The engine bay needs to be filled with lead as the kit is a real tail sitter. There is no engine, but the radiator is included for the front of the aircraft. The side windows require a little fettling before fitting. A dip in Klear removed the slight hazy look to the clear plastic. Just be aware that the side windows for the RAF version lack the horizontal frame that runs across the surface of the Swedish Bulldogs.
Fuselage and wings
The fuselage halves fit together very well. There are no locating pins so a little care is needed to fit the fuselage halves together. The nose wheel leg is meant to be fixed in place before the fuselage halves are joined, but I left mine off until painting was completed. The wings go together with little problem, although I needed to trim the locating stubs for the fuselage a little for a good fit. The fuselage wing join needs a bit of filler to produce an acceptable appearance. There is a clear plastic part for the landing lights. The upper part of the landing light fairing seems to be blanked out probably preventing glare to the pilots. The lights themselves were picked out in silver and black. The rudder and tail planes went together very well and needed no filler at all when fitted to the fuselage. The main wheel legs also were glued in place. There are a number of very useful lightly engraved marks on the wings and fuselage that indicate were parts are attached.
Once the sanding was complete I added the canopy. The canopy was soaked in Klear for ten minutes and allowed to dry overnight. This made a huge difference in the clarity of the plastic. I used Humbrol plastic adhesive to join the canopy to the fuselage. The glue was applied to the fuselage and allowed to cure for a couple of minutes before bonding the canopy. There are a couple of small gaps around the edge of the canopy and these were filled with Mr Surfacer 500. Do make sure that the canopy is sealed as any dust entering the cockpit will show up on the clear plastic like a sore thumb. I left a tiny gap and after the final sanding discovered some annoying specks of dust inside the canopy. I tried to suck them out using a combination of drinking straws attached to the hose of a vacuum cleaner. So you have been warned. The canopy frame is pretty easy to mask of yourself as were the two small windows.
The prop has separate blades, spinner and a back plate. A hole needs to be drilled to fit the completed prop to the airframe. The masking and painting of the prop I thought would be challenging, but in this scale there were no problems.
There are a number of painting options with the RAF version of this kit. I went with XX537 of the East Lowlands Universities Air Squadron, which was in a rather nifty black and yellow scheme. The Swedish camouflage versions look pretty challenging to achieve, but give the Bulldog a real military appearance. I used Halford grey primer and also their matt black paint. Tamiya acrylic yellow was also used. Some careful masking is required for whatever option you pick and I used Tamiya tape. Once the painting was completed I applied three coats of Klear to provide a good surface for the decals.
The decals are superb: good colour density, thin, very little carrier film and did not need much soaking. They went on really well and required no setting solution. By the way if you doing XX537, then the spare small yellow “C” is placed over the air inlet cover on the nose. This is not mentioned in the marking guide. After the final coat of Klear I glued in place the front undercarriage leg and wheels. The front undercarriage leg has a separate torque link. I picked out the visible metal part of the suspension with Alclad II aluminium. I did slightly flatten the main wheels for a weighted look. The instructions show the main wheels set at an angle. As far as I can glean from images, this is true if the aircraft is in flight. Once the Bulldog is on the ground the weight straightens up the wheels. The amount of lead used in the engine bay is just about enough to keep this lovely model on its wheels. Finishing touches include drilled out exhaust pipes, pitot tube, and the steps for access to the wing. Oddly the latter are not mentioned in the instructions, but are present on the sprue. Finally the two aerials on the tail were attached; these were made from a couple of white nylon filaments from an old toothbrush.
The instructions are pretty good and the colour painting guide is attractive and useful. There are some really useful diagrams illustrating dihedral, aerial locations, etc. I was a bit disappointed with the stencil guide as some of the decal numbers are inaccurate. There are a surprisingly high number of stencils to apply, they kept me busy for a couple of evenings. Gunze Sangyo and Humbrol are used for colour reference.
There is plenty of reference material on the Bulldog online. It’s well worth taking a look at the images of some of the civilian Bulldogs if you want to finish your build with something different.
This is a great release from Tarangus and fills a void in 1/48 scale of this type for the plastic modeller. I feel anyone with a few kits under their belt and a modicum of scratch building skills should have no trouble with this kit.
Detail is nicely done and the fit is generally good. Once completed this will make a colourful addition to your model aircraft flight line. You will not be too surprised that I would recommend this kit highly. Yes it’s a bit pricey, but you could be waiting a long time before any mainstream manufacturers release a Scottish Aviation Bulldog in 1/48 scale.