The Folland Gnat was designed and developed by Teddy Petter as a very small, lightweight, manoeuvrable fighter in an era when modern fighter designs seemed to be becoming larger, heavier, complex and more expensive. Although the Gnat was never developed as a fighter for the RAF it did find fame training RAF pilots for the more complex frontline aircraft of the RAF. The Gnat would be best known as the mount of a number of aerobatic teams from the Yellow Jacks to the Red Arrows. Other users of the Gnat were Finland, Yugoslavia and Indian Air Forces. India built the GnatT.1 under licence and went on to develop the Gnat F.1 Hal Ajeet fighter. The diminutive jet fighter proved to be an excellent dogfighter against the F-86 Sabres of the Pakistan Air Force during the Indo – Pakistan Wars of 1965 and 1971. It also proved to be a useful ground attack machine.
Entering service with the RAF in 1962, the Gnat served until 1979, whereupon it was replaced by the newer and more capable Hawk T.1 A few examples are still flying in private hands today.
This new tooled Folland Gnat F.1 replaces the original Airfix kit which was first issued in 1964.
The small side opening box has a very good illustration of the Folland Gnat that is featured in this release climbing vertically. The painting guide is on the back. All the plastic contents are placed in a sealed plastic bag. The clear parts are bagged separately. First impressions are off a tiny model, the fuselage length is only 135 mm long. Sprue attachment points are a little thick so some care will be needed detaching parts. The 49 parts look cleanly moulded.
inside the small box is:
-2 x grey plastic sprues.
-1 x small clear plastic sprue.
-1 x decal sheet.
-1 x construction and painting guide.
is made up from nine parts with two one piece ejector seats. There is no cockpit tub; instead there is a floor onto which is glued the rear bulkhead, the forward instrument panel and control sticks. The rear instrument panel is glued to the back of the forward ejection seat. There is a separate instrument hood to fit over the rear instrument panel. There is no detail on the instrument panels, Airfix have decided to use decals to provide the detail. Love them or hate, the decal instruments do look very good, offering the sort of detail that would be difficult to achieve by painting. There is some good detail on the walls of the front cockpit moulded inside the fuselage halves. The side walls of the rear position are equally well detailed, but cleverly they are moulded onto the separate air intake ducts for the engine. The two seats look basic compared to the Folland built bang seats and don’t have any harness detail.
Two pilot figures are included and they attired with suitable clothing and helmets.
is one piece and pretty clear. Unfortunately my sample has a slight crack in it, but I sure Airfix will send me a new one.
is split vertically , the complete tail is moulded on the left side fuselage half. The fuselage feels a little flimsy because narrow piece of plastic that spans the cut out for the shoulder mounted wing and the main undercarriage bays. The lips of the air intakes are separate and the edges are thin. As already mention the air ducts are separate and they have a blanking plate moulded to the rear to prevent being able to see into the fuselage. The two main undercarriage bays are separate and are detailed with some recessed access panels. The ventral air brake is separate, but is not designed to be displayed deployed. The kit includes two air brake doors; one is to be used if you are displaying the model wheels up and includes the forward main gear doors. The other is used for gear down in combination with separate forward gear doors. Whichever air brake you use there are a couple of recessed holes on the inner surface to drill out if you intend to display the model on the Airfix stand. The stand is not included. The one piece jet pipe is separate; it can be glued in place after the fuselage halves are joined.
There are three blade aerials moulded onto the left side fuselage to be wary off when you are cleaning up the joint. A clear plastic lens is included for the nose light. The long pitot tube attached to the nose is nicely shaped and includes part of the nose fairing. Some care will be needed detaching it from the sprue.
The upper wing surface is one piece and includes most of the dorsal shoulder. The upper wing includes the lower wing tips, flaps and ailerons. The trailing edges are commendably very sharp. The whole wing seems oddly thin until you realise that it did not have to accommodate any undercarriage. The vent recesses on the spine are ever so delicately moulded.
The optional wing fuel tanks are each made up from three pieces. To fit the tanks holes need to be opened up in the lower wing, Airfix have thoughtfully placed recessed marks on the inner surfaces of the lower wings to indicate where to drill.
The horizontal stabilisers are both one piece and amazingly thin with very sharp trailing edges.
recent Airfix new moulds have come in for some criticism for the overly emphasised panel lines. I compared previous Airfix new moulds: the F-86 and the P-40, to see if there was any difference in the execution of the panel lines. The recessed panel lines are pretty much the same, still a bit heavy for the scale. One thing in their favour is if you build the kit carefully you will find the panel lines match the joint lines very well.
legs are all one piece including retracting arms and very nicely done. The injected plastic wheels look as if they are resin items, the detail is very good. The nuts and the brake detail are superb. The front undercarriage bay is incorporated with the floor of the cockpit. The concave housing for the nose wheels is nicely done, with some low relief detailing.
Some of the undercarriage doors have alternative parts depending on how you are displaying the undercarriage.
main components fit together very well. You probably won’t need anything more than liquid glue to put this kit together.
just the one set of markings for a Gnat of the central flying School, Royal Air Force based at Little Rissington, Gloustershire, 1964. The choice of markings is quite spectacular, painted silver with areas of high visibility orange. I believe what looks like a natural metal finish on the Gnat is a silver coloured paint.
no clue on the sheet to who printed these gems, they look very good indeed. The colours are strong, there is minimal carrier film and the decals look thin. As the roundels on the wing are placed over the bright orange areas it might have been handy if Airfix had included some white discs to place under the roundels so the underlying colour would not affect the white on the roundels. The stencils particularly have very good definition; even the smallest text can be read.
there are 49 parts and Airfix have included 29 stages of construction. The black line drawings clearly show you what goes where. The only thing I can see missing is the adding of nose weight to prevent tail sitting. There is a good stencil guide; the decal sheet has 52 stencils to apply. The coloured four view paint guide is on the back of the box. Paint references are not surprisingly for Humbrol paints.
I rather like this latest release from Airfix, it certainly is a good candidate for a weekend build. The shape looks very good and captures the clean lines of the real thing. If you find the scheme not quite your taste it would not be too much trouble to reproduce some of the Red Arrow or the Yellow Jackets schemes as well as some of the paint jobs on some of the privately owned Gnats such as the Flanker camouflage scheme of Steve Rosenberg’s
Folland Gnat T-1
I requested a new canopy via email on Sunday 12th February and received a replacement Thursday 16th February. Nice one Airfix.