by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
HistoryThe Caudron C.714 was a light fighter aircraft which, according to Service Technique de l'Aéronautique issued specifications, should have provided same performances as a standard fighter but with less production expenses and complexity. The aircraft was developed by the Caudron company which was well known for it's experience in racer and record breaking light and aerodynamically smooth planes.
The first prototype was test flown in July 1938 and the first production machine, powered by a Renault 12R-03, was delivered no sooner than in July 1939. unlike the prototype, the latter featured new wing structure profile, shallow ailerons and modified undercarriage. The engine also introduced a new carburetor that could operate in negative g. The armament consisted of four 7,5mm MAC 1934 machine guns located in two wing gondolas.
Only Groupe de Chasse (GC) 1/145 was equipped with the Caudron C.714 C.1. It was a unit composed of Polish (and also Czechoslovak) pilots under French command. They fought against the Luftwaffe in spring 1940 and despite the aircraft climbing like a "brick", the highly battle motivated Polish pilots scored 8 confirmed victories with an overall loss of 7 pilots (including casualties). Until the fall of France, more than 60 machines were produced and several were in progress. At least one machine was tested by the Luftwaffe.
(Source: kit's instructions)
The KitAzur's new 1:32 scale Caudron C.714 C.1 kit comes in a too large top opening cardboard box. The original aircraft being not that big, the model isn't neither and the content is far from filling all the available space. Fortunately, no parts were damaged in my sample. The kit is made of 4 sprues of light grey plastic parts, one sprue of transparent styrene parts, one bag of resin castings, one small photo etched fret, one decal sheet and one instruction booklet. The content is protected by plastic bags.
The quality of the kit is pretty much what we can expect from a limited run company like MPM (Azur kits are produced by the Czech company which also does the Special Hobby kits). The surface of the parts is very well done with finely engraved panel lines and subtle rivet lines. The Caudron was mainly made of wood, so don't expect a "Trumpeter like" finish as the aircraft's skin was rather smooth. Azur have nevertheless managed to feature all it's subtleties and I was particularly impressed by the representation of the fabric on the fuselage sides and the control surfaces. I've seen more pronounced representations on 1:48 and even 1:72 scale models!
The Caudron kit also features some nice relief details on the wings and fuselage (access panels, reinforcement ribs, walkway, etc...) which will certainly look good when highlighted during the painting and weathering process. However, with such kits, it is always necessary to clean the parts from some flash (landing gear legs pieces) and test fit them carefully before assembly. But MPM have made some real progress here and some details on the plastic parts are quite sharp like the ones represented on the wheel hubs. Some movable surfaces like the rudder and horizontal tail planes are separate but unfortunately not the ailerons and the flaps.
The transparencies are excellent and Azur have designed them in a clever way. Indeed, the windscreen and the rear part both include pieces of the fuselage. This will allow the modeler to glue them in place without fearing of ruining them.
Usually, in short run kits, what is too difficult to represent in injected plastic is provided as resin or photo etched parts. The Azur Caudron is no exception to this rule and 15 light yellow castings and 12 metal pieces are included. The resin bag contains the following items: machine guns muzzles (sadly not hollowed), detail parts for the cockpit (side consoles, pilot stick, levers, etc...), exhaust stacks (slightly hollowed this time) and forward end of the engine. The latter part only features two of the 12 cylinders and the most demanding modelers will be disappointed not to have the whole Renault 12R-03 included, or at least all what is visible through the front opening. How dramatic the impact will be on the appearance of the finished model will probably remain in the eye of the beholder though. The photo etched fret is very small and holds only a very limited number of parts (12). Seat belts are included as well as rudder pedals, levers and a gun-sight. Surprisingly there is no PE instrument panel provided in the kit but one is already present as a very nice plastic part. Sure we are all used to include pre-painted ones in our cockpits nowadays but sometimes a good painting also does the job.
The instructions are printed in black and white on large A3 sheets of paper folded so to constitute a 12 pages A4 booklet. They are composed of an History of the aircraft, a parts layout guide, Color guides, a 10 steps assembly guide spread over 4 pages and decals and painting guides for 4 aircraft. The latter can be downloaded from the CMK/MPM website if you want them in color.
Painting and DecalsThe decal sheet is nicely printed by Aviprint, in perfect register and with realistic french colors (I mean the blue). Research must have been done under the supervision of Mr. José Fernandes (Air Magazine and Azur brand manager) and this is a pledge for accuracy. If you are interested in the Caudron C.714, I can recommend issue n°6 of Air Mag about GC 1/145. Four marking options are included:
A - Caudron C.714 C.1, n° 8549/I-207, "white 13", 1st Esc. GC 1/145, pilot 2nd Lt. Aleksy Zukowski, Villacoublay, May 1940.
B - Caudron C.714 C.1, n° 8549/I-207, "white 13", 2nd Esc. GC 1/145, pilot Lt. Boleslaw Gladych, Villacoublay, May 1940.
C- Caudron C.714 C.1, n° 8542/I-201, "white 10", 1st Esc. GC 1/145, pilot Cpr. Andrzej Niewiara, Villacoublay, May 1940.
D - Caudron C.714 C.1, "white 9", 1st Esc. GC 1/145, pilot Sgt. Ladislav Uher, Villacoublay, May 1940.
All aircraft wear the typical French camouflage consisting of a three tone upper scheme of dark blue grey, dark green and dark brown colors over light grey under surfaces. The stripes all differs on the four aircraft as there was no real camouflage pattern template in the French Air Force at that time.
ConclusionWith the Caudron C.714, Azur have now produced all the important French fighters of May 1940 in 1:32 scale (Morane Saulnier MS 406, Bloch MB152, Dewoitine D520 and Curtiss Hawk H-75). The quality of this kit seems higher when compared to the others and it seems as if Azur have managed to produce their best big scale model to date. I'm already looking forward to the rest of the program. A LéO C.30 (Cierva autogiro) is already planned!
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