Airspeed Horsa Mk 1 / Mk 2
Manufacturer : Italeri
Scale : 1/72
Documentation : Airfix Magazine September, October and November 1976
: D-Day Gliders by Philippe Esvelin, Editions Heimdal.
: 39-45 Magazine Hors Série, Historica: La nuit des Para’s
: 39-45 Magazine Hors Série, Historica: Les para’s du Jour J
This model was made regarding a project of my club IPMS GENT (Belgium) in the recreation of some of the wartime events on the former airfield of Ghent-St.-Denis during WWII.
I was asked to make a model of a glider that landed on this airfield in 1944 on its way to Arnhem during "Operation Market Garden", if possible a Horsa or a Waco.
I had a Horsa stacked away so, why not? I found some pictures and quite interesting history in old Airfix magazines as well as a picture of the inside of the glider.
During a trip to Normandy I found the book D-Day gliders and both of the Historica magazines. The book is ideal if you want to make a Waco but the US forces also used Horsa's and so you find very interesting pictures of these machines, adorned with the American bars and stripes, too.
The other magazines (Historica) provide a lot of pictures of Waco, Horsa and even Hamilcar as well as pictures of crashed planes with detail of the interior.
Click On Images to Enlarge
There are two big sprue's in light grey plastic as well as a separate sprue with the glazing. Parts are provided to make a Mk 1 or 2 version, with or without loading hatch or with separate tail. Both versions are treated in separate plans. The drawings are well done and do not allow to make mistakes except for the colour drawings. If you want the tailpiece separated, than you will have to make some improvements to it.
I wanted to construct an aircraft used in 1944 and so I thought a Mk 2 would be correct. The main difference from the Mk 2 with the Mk 1 existed in its jettisonable tailpiece. Time had shown that the unloading procedure of a glider asked too much time and manpower; something that soldiers do not have when freshly landed under operational conditions. So suggestions were made to jettison the tail after landing in order to be able to evacuate as fast as possible the glider and unload its cargo from the moment it had touched the ground and was halted. This practice only took 3 to 4 minutes. A Horsa was mostly used only once under operational, say combat, conditions and was then mostly classified as written-off due to the damage inflected in the landing.
An other main difference was the skid underneath the aircraft. A Horsa had, regarding to the Waco, nor brakes and for that reason the skid was added on later production machines.
Interior colours are given with the instructions so you can have no excuse for not painting the interior. One remark however: Italeri proposes to paint the interior Green Zinc Chromate.
This colour was found on German planes (Yellow Zinc Chromate Primer) but British aircraft usually had Aircraft Grey Green, now Interior Green. The black and white picture in Airfix Magazine November 1976 however shows a lighter shade as interior colour and so I didn’t ask any further questions and I followed the instructions as mentioned on the plan. This resulted in using the spray gun from the beginning and a mat yellow interior colour that proved not to be the good choice. So I repainted it in Interior Green lightened with a few drops of matt white. Much better, certainly after a light wash.
The Horsa is a big aircraft with a big glasshouse. A floor, 2 seats with cushions and harnesses! a central console, dashboard, two trim wheels, a handle, oxygen bottle and two control columns are provided in the kit. There is also a bulkhead with a door and this construction is mounted is a separate nosepiece on witch the green house is placed. You need to finish it well because a lot of detail is visible.
I first wanted to leave the inside door away for the simple reason that the model would be open and that you could get a good see-trough effect. Looking at the pictures and reading the text in the books, I came to the conclusion that here were in fact two door halves and this was the main reason for a little conversion. The door was cut in half and mounted half open.
When viewing the pictures one sees that there are things missing in the cockpit after all so I constructed the following items from scratch:
- A small dashboard mounted on top of
the dashboard provided in the kit. A small piece of
plastic strip (1 ft on 1/72) with two instrument bezels on it was constructed.
- An other small dashboard on the left side of the cockpit holding the radio switches.
- 2 cilinders on the right side of the cockpit. I suppose they provided compressed air in order
to move the flaps.
- A small dashboard hanging from the upper glass part of the cockpit.
- A compass on the right side of the centre console.
- Other pedals, this time mounted on a Y frame.
Do not forget to lest the aircraft underneath the floor plate, 20 grams according the instructions but I preferred to add a bit more.
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The hull provides two doors that need some attention because you can mount them open or closed. The kit gives spare parts to allow you to chose between the sliding doors or those with small steps that open to the outside. If you chose the sliding doors than it is logical that you leave the steps away. There was no sliding door opening to the outside.
Nonetheless all the pictures of Horsa’s available, I couldn’t find any picture of an open sliding door taken from the inside. This led to the supposition that those doors slide open to the top like a garage door but I couldn’t have this fact confirmed.
Interior parts for the hull include walkways and bench seats. If you choose to leave the tail on and close the doors, than those parts do not need to be fitted but in the other case, fitting them is simply a "must". We modellers shout loud when there is no interior provided so, in this case, use it!
After constructing the nose part I decided to mount this part, without the glass cockpit part, to the hull. Take care and attention to mount it straight up because you could easily end up with an angled floor. On my example, the diameter of the cockpit part and that of the hull was slightly different resulting in adjustment by using putty and some filing and sanding.
Looking at the pictures I also found out that there was some kind of a panel at the end of the cargo bay, placed between the cargo floor and the underside of the hull, some kind of half moon shape. I constructed this out of plastic card and I also drilled out some openings in it, used to pass the tail control cables.
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These are provided in a single upper wing part that needs to be adjusted to the upper part of the hull. A Mk 1 requires some extra conversion.
Construction is rather simple but there was need for some putty and sanding to have the leading edges nice and smooth. According the wing undersides to the hull also required some putty and sanding.
The tailpiece got his tail planes too in this phase.
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I decided to spray paint the aircraft before I fixed the landing gear.
The tailpiece was mounted to the hull temporarily using white glue; this helped me when drawing to camouflage stripes.
The decoration chosen was that of a glider on its way to “Market Garden” and so still wearing its black and white invasion stripes.
Following some suggested paint tips published in some modelling magazines, I spray painted big white bands round the rear hull, on upper and lower wings. This was followed by careful masking of the parts that needed to stay white using Tamiya tape.
All this was followed by the main colour, matt black that covers all of the aircraft with the exception of the upper parts.
Pictures of the real machines have showed that invasion stripes were applied in the field with the aid of big brushes and that there was no time spend in painting them “between-the-lines”.
I first thought painting them like that but I am sure that modellers would not have appreciated this.
Next came the spray painting of the upper colours, first Humbrol Dark Earth followed by Humbrol Dark Green, followed again by a cote of Klir (Future) diluted 50/50 with water and finally gloss varnish on the places where decals had to come.
Each of these coats was sprayed on an evening and left during the rest of the day and the night in order to dry.
Once painted, the aircraft was turned upside down in order to mount the landing gear. It is a rather simple frame on which a chock absorber was placed. Tyres come each in two parts and a small ring. Do not be bothered by the angle they are mounted, they were like that on real machines too.
Tyres were painted German Panzer Grey, wheel discs and frame matt black. Dry brushing with Panzer Grey.
The Horsa Mk II had a double nose wheel, be careful and do not be fooled with the other types. The tailpiece gets a small ski but the big skid is constructed using 5 parts and mounted underneath the hull. Do not forget to get some dirt and mud on the undersides.
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The kit provides decals for 3 versions. Both MkI’s are drawn with a skid and the Mk II does not have it but those instructions are wrong. The Mk I did not have a skid, Mk II did. The 3 aircraft are also represented with the antenna parts of the MkI. Watch out!
There may be a difference in the serial numbers too. All of the aircraft numbers start with the letter R like RJ245. The serial numbers of the Horsa’s used in Sicily and Normandy were printed in the old Airfix magazines and this shows that there were no R registrations but L registrations. LJ245 was an existing registration but was not used in Normandy. So, I found it fair enough to give this registration to the Market Garden machine. Pictures of Market Garden rarely show the crashed gliders and their registrations so I guess I could be wrong but…
The letter R was changed into an L.
Decals are good and Decal Cote 1 and 2 was used. When dry, the complete glider got a coat of Xtracolor matt varnish. This very fluid varnish can be sprayed without diluting and dries fast.
Nice aircraft that is very pleased with the bit of extra attention that it gets on its cockpit and tailpiece. A quick build when wanted closed but also one that demands a lot more of attention when you want to recreate a used or crashed glider in a diorama. The Historica publications are full of pictures of aircraft being loaded/unloaded or crashed. Plenty of stuff for every one.
Keep ‘m building.