by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
It wasn't on my personnal "check-list" but as I saw the boxart on a magazine I was attracted. I think it was because of the beautiful cover artwork by Romain Hugault who just released a comic album about WW2 fighter pilots. Anyway, the kit is now in my stash and here it is...
HistoryThe Loire 130 was a multi-role catapult-launched flying boat. The prototype first flew on November 19th 1934 with test pilot Pierre Nadot at the controls. A strong lateral yaw tendency was eliminated with the addition of finlets to an already oversized tail unit. Some locking devices were also fitted to the rear gunner's clear hatch to prevent any undue shooting at the plane's flying surfaces.
Two versions of the Loire were build: the Loire 130 M (for Metropole) and Loire 130 C (for Colonial). The latter was fitted with a larger radiator and other modifications. Eventually, the Loire 130 served aboard the cruisers Dunkerque, Strasbourg, the training cruiser Jeanne D'Arc, the seaplane carrier Commandant Teste and other battleships as well as within several shore-based squadrons, both at home and in Indochina. After 1940, the Loire 130 flew under the colours of the Vichy government and some were used in Indochina after the war. The last one was scrapped in 1949, after between 125 to 150 units had been built.
The kitThe kit comes in a sturdy top-opening cardboard box. The cover artwork, again, is a nice illustration by Romain Hugault and will be the only reference for painting and decaling. But more on that later.
On opening the box, one can immediately notice the kit is a "multimedia" affair (picture 1). You have three sprues of white plastic, one bag with resin parts, one bag with white metal parts, one "clear" plastic sprue (quotation marks are on purpose!), one photo etched fret, one decal sheet and the B&W instructions guide.
Two plastic sprues are for the wings, fuselage and ailerons, while the last one is for the detail parts (picture2). When you take a close look at the plastic sprues, you can see they belong to the "King of Flash" category! (picture 3). The moulding by itself is very short run-like. This is particularly noticeable on the wing's trailing edge! The outline can't be described as precise there (see red arrows in picture 4). The surface detail is correct but you will have to do some sanding with fine paper to achieve a better finish (pictures 5 and 6). The plane will be mostly painted in aluminium and we all know bare metal paint schemes don't allow any imperfections!
The resin parts are for the floats, the cockpit and for the engine (picture 7). The cockpit sides are crisply done, but the mould for the engine seems to have suffered a bit (see arrow). The side venting panels will need to be replaced with plastic sheets.
The white metal parts are for the propeller blades, the radiator, the struts, the armament, the catapult cart and the bomb racks... bomb racks?... Hey! I don't see any bombs included in the kit! Grumph! Spare parts will be needed! The quality is good considering the material used and Fonderie Miniature will get a good name for itself here!
Now comes the really weak point of the kit: the plastic "clear" parts (picture 9). In fact, they are not clear at all! One solution would be to use all your polishing skills... the other one to replace them! Sadly, the shape of the parts will not be easy to reproduce from scratch. Personally, I would give a try to solution one. The red arrow on the picture marks a strange semi-circular depression in the clear plastic. I first thought it was an ejector pin mark (a big one), but on the instruction the semi circular shape is represented... but it's difficult to know on the drawing if plastic has to be removed or left as it is? I wrote to FM about that but haven't received an answer yet! So I will have to hunt for refs about the Loire.
The photo etched fret is mainly for the cockpit and the quality of it is good. You have seatbelts as well (picture 10).
The decal sheet is well printed and on register. The colours appear to be correct. The only downside is that apparently German decals were planned for an aircraft used by the Luftwaffe. This is notified on the first page of the instructions, but the guys at FM must have changed their mind during the design process of their kit... sadly for the "foreign planes used by the Luftwaffe" fans out there. Talking about the instructions (picture 12), I can say they are spartan! The drawings are OK, but some steps are hard to follow even with the additional explanation text (English and French). But the most irritating thing is the complete absence of any paint guide or painting reference. Just a few written words aren't enough. One page of the instructions wasn't used so I don't think it would have been a great deal to add a four view drawing! Again refs will be needed...
ConclusionThis is a real short run "multimedia" kit. Not something I would recommend to a modeller used to Tamigawa quality. Some parts even have to be made from stretched sprue! For those wanting to add a challenging and "exotic" kit to their collection, it's the perfect choice. The unique look of the plane will make it a real winner in contests! I've seen many kits that are far better than this one... but also many that are worse! So it's really up to you to decide if you want to give it a try or not!