by: Mecenas [ ]
I have build the model very straight from the box. The cleaning of parts was rather symbolic as I was afraid of loosing the out-of-box character of the assembly process. I omitted the tiniest photo-etched parts as using them on this level I consider as simply pointless.
As the foreword is always written when the author already knows what's in the following paragraphs I would like to ask you for not discouraging and getting feeling that this kit consists only from weaknesses and problems. There are more straightforward and non-problematic steps than errors and steps which require special care and attention. But if something is straightforward what to talk about? I hope that from all this griping and complaining on the kit weaknesses you won't get the feeling that this a bad model. I want to give you a fair description of potential problems and save you some time for inventing the wheel once again.
WingsAll parts for the wings are taken from the already known kits of the Azur's PZL P.24. Its shape and dimensions are the same for P.11 and P.24 but the differences and accuracy are hidden in details. First of all the P.24 had different fuselage and windscreen so the whole area of wing and fuselage joint in front of the windscreen is wrong for the P.11 kit. As far as I'm aware modellers try to adopt this section from the ancient kits from PZW Siedlce/ZTS Plastyk and make the home-made transplantation surgery, which results are usually very good. In attach you can find an image of one of this correction made by a fellow modellers from Poland – Marek. He has removed the part of a fuselage from the AZUR kit and replaced it with the insert taken from the PZW/ZTS kit which has the correct shape. Another issue are raised “fins” on the wing upper surface. These details should be of course flat on upper surfaces and raised only on lower surface as the imitation of the metal sheets junctions. Another error are the inspection panels of the armament. There are quite significant differences in the armament between P.11c and P.24's so this is of course wrong for our kit. You can try to correct it but almost for sure you will damage the delicate imitation of the crimp surface which looks very nice. You can read a lot about most of these problem in the in-box reviews but the pure out-of-box assembly reveals few more problems. You will have to pay some attention to sanding and trimming both the leading and trailing edges as the joint surfaces of the upper and lower “halves” have the tendency to be rounded along the edges. Especially on trailing edge it makes the impression of thickness and won't look good after just filling with putty. You will have to do whatever is possible to make the trailing edge as fin as possible to achieve good result. It won't be difficult but for sure is time consuming and will require many fittings. This is child easy to remove, just place the sanding paper on the flat base and grind it a bit. Except this glitch the overall fit is good, there are absolutely no other excesses or trimming required.
Fuselage and pilot's officeThe cockpit interior is rather symbolic. On the fuselage sides producer have reproduced the internal structure of the fuselage and typical furnishing of pilot's seat: control stick, dashboard and rudder pedals. The general impression is enhanced by adding PE details for seatbelts and seat details, throttle lever and rudder pedals. What was a bit disappointment for me as a problematic fit of the instrument panel to fuselage, just below the windscreen. Fuselage have the rounded shape in this place at it results in rather big thickness of the plastic part itself. This characteristic of the kit causes the dashboard fits much lower than it should. First of all it looks incorrect according to the real plane. Secondly it looks simply unsightly. Correction once again won't be difficult but will require some time and for sure you will produce a lot of plastic scobs around your workbench while thinning the fuselage side. In the assembly instruction producers warns and appologies for the bad fit of the frame with bulkhead behind the pilot's seat. It will require additional attention. In my kit the fit of halves was better than expected after reading the warning.
Some time and a bit of grinding will be required, similar to wings, with the rudder trailing edge. If you will have a gap at the joint line a bit of putty and gentle sanding will do the job. What is a big “plus” is a very good fit of the fuselage and windscreen. As this is a very noticeable detail of the kit you won't have to rework or reshape anything to improve it, of course unless you want to have a perfectly accurate kit.
EngineAssembly of the engine unit is quite troublesome. These are just four parts which need to be glued together but it can be quite annoying. Engine itself is made as a single part. Cowling is made of two halves while exhaust manifold is a resin casting. Assembly of these parts, according to the instruction, seems to be rather simple. Glue exhaust to the engine cylinders, add propeller and attach to the fuselage front side, then close the cowling around engine. Et voilà. No, it's not so simple. First of all exhaust seems to be slightly bigger in “diameter” than the engine and the joint area is limited to the small connectors protruding from the cylinder heads. Combination of these two factors made this step a bit tricky. When it's done and you attach the unit to the plane's fuselage you'll notice that it is hidden very deep in the cowling, so deep that the propeller shaft can't reach the engine. Beside, if you take a look at the references, you will easily notice that the rounded engine reduction is a bit protruding from the cowling. To make the model looking more less like a real P.11f I decided to move the engine inside the cowling to the front and at the same time glue the exhaust to the back edge of the cowling. I hope that attached photo tells the story. This is of course an ridiculous solution from the technical point of view but it makes the impression of correctness. You would have to disassemble the model first to find out what's wrong. If you want to make the kit even more realistic you can add few rods from the stretched styrene for the valves pusher rods, the cowl braces and make the spark plug cables. These details are easy to be scratch build basing on just few photos published in the internet.
Other detailsIn my opinion the tail wings struts will need replacement or serious reshaping For my taste these parts are way too thick and, if cut to provided length, seems a bit too short. If you decide to use kit parts leave at least 1mm or slightly more as a reserve for further fitting and length adjusting.
I have to declare here loud and clear that I made few errors during the assembly of my kit. I have glued the struts and tear-drop bulges of ammo chutes in wrong attachment points on the wings. I thought it was ok according to assembly instruction, but unfortunately it wasn't. In this configuration and placement the characteristic Romanian enlarged curved ammo chutes collide with the front struts. Both front struts will have to be moved bit forward while the ammo chutes should be moved a bit back, I say ca. 1-1,5mm back from that characteristic longitudinal panel line between leading edge and corrugated skin. This way we will get the missing space between these parts.
Very good addendum to the kit is a photo-etched fret with smallest details. Gun-sight, antennas or ailerons/rudders pushers, handles and back-mirror do a really good job, adding a good taste of the kit in general.
What is not required but will make the modellers life easier is gluing the struts and landing gear to the fuselage on the wire support. Of course you need to pay a lot of attention while drilling holes in thin struts and fairings for the wires but thanks to this small improvement it will be much easier to glue these parts to fuselage. The joint areas are very small and the parts would easily fall away or brake during further handling of the model. I'm almost sure that none of you like to glue again any strut or broken landing gear leg on the painted and almost finished model.
Final conclusions The general fit of main parts is good and assembly very straightforward. With just few basic tools and some careful fitting you will easily overcome all difficulties. As for the short-run kit there are no flashes and the cleaning of parts from the mould connection lines is limited just to few places. The biggest joint lines were on the main wing struts.
Those of you who are more determined in improving the basic AZUR kit can get an old Polish kit of P.11 and try some surgery of plastic. These kits are easy to get for just 2-3GBP/3-4USD. Smaller details can be also supplied from a very nice Part photo-etched fret, although it was originally designed to other kit. What I also liked almost instantly is the ease of setting the correct geometry of the main and tail wings. I never like to build all these assembly jigs, pyramids and other Eiffel towers for getting the perfect harmony of longitudinal, transverse or perpendicular hypothetical lines of the plane construction. It took me no more than five minutes to glue the wing and tailplane to the fuselage and not get the misshapen shape.
Using an optional resin undercarriage, which for this type are skis, can result in a very uncommon model amongst overs standing on a traditional wheels. There are very good quality archive photographs of the plane in this configuration in the net.
This kit, without doubt, requires experience. Absolute novices in this business or kids may encounter problems too complicated for their skills or patience. If you have at least few finished models on the shelve you don't need to worry as you'll pass all the without bothering about them.
What I like very much in this kit is that it has a high potential for improving and you can stop in any place you want (if for example you're starting to get bored with this kit and just want to finish it as soon as possible) and you will still have a good looking bird. You can improve interior with building the framing around the pilots seat, you can open all the vents around the engine, you can separate the ailerons, rudder and elevator, you can improve and expose the engine or improve the details of the spent ammo chutes.
Whatever you like in this hobby you'll get it with this kit. Scratch building? Go ahead, there are plenty of details you can make yourself. Out-of-box? No problem, you get all you need in one box for a good looking finished model. Your mother always wanted her son to be a surgeon but you failed the exams on the Medical University? Get this kit and an cheap Mastercraft/ZTS/PZW kit and make the home-made transplantation surgery.
Despite its weaknesses or errors for sure this is still the best PZL P.11 kit on the market, for both “c” or “f” variants, as the sprues are common for both boxings so I'm very glad and thankful to Azur-Frrom for taking the interest in this topic and releasing the kit.
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