DH. 82A Tiger Moth with WWII RAF Cadets
ICM has released another combo aviation kit, this one including the ubiquitous Tiger Moth training aircraft and their RAF cadets figure set.
The DH. 82A Tiger Moth is perhaps one of the most common light aircraft in the world to this day and really needs no introduction. First beginning production in 1931, it served as the main basic training aircraft for the Royal Air Force well into the 1950s, and was exported to more than 25 other air forces during that time. Now in demand in commercial venues, it continues to fly all over the world to this day.
This is actually the second iteration of this famous aircraft in 1/32nd scale, the first being the venerable Matchbox variant, which came out in the 1970s. This version featured a host of special features, including floats and the Canadian enclosed cockpit variants. Although ICM’s kit doesn’t feature all of these options, it has much more refined details as befits a kit of the 21st century.
The cockpits are relatively basic, as in appropriate for the aircraft itself, but you must make sure to drill out all the rigging holes marked on the plans before closing up the fuselage as these locations will be much harder to determine later on. Unlike the plans, I elected not to actually enclose rigging string at this time, as it would interfere with the painting. The control panels feature individual gauge decals. As is typical for ICM, no attempt has been made to provide seat belts, so those will have to be scratch built or obtained from another source.
A full engine is provided, although it is quite simple (again, as per the prototype). If you choose to enclose it fully with the fuselage panels little will be visible in any case. There are only a couple of options provided in the kit – cockpit bumpers and a folding hood for the student. Neither the rudder nor ailerons are intended to be adjustable, although a little change out of neutral position can be accomplished with some careful bending.
Like the fuselage, there are holes to drill in the wings for the rigging. Once again, I elected to forgo adding rigging string at this, especially as I was going to attempt the muck more elaborate paint scheme provided in the kit. This is where I ran into some trouble.
In order to simplify painting, I have typically installed all the struts to the lower wing and painted and installed the upper wing separately. I’ve never had trouble using this technique with ICM biplanes before, but came up hard against the delicacy of the parts in this model. The struts are absolutely to scale, and are consequently flimsy in the extreme. In addition, the mounting points for the fuselage struts are not “lock tight” and provide very little in the way of absolute alignment. As a result of these issues, getting the upper wing onto the model was something of a challenge, and I don’t think I pulled it off very well. If I were to do this model again, I would follow the kit guidelines of installing just the facing sides of the wings first, rigging it and then installing the outer faces afterwards -- an approach I didn’t take because it struck me as so counterintuitive.
Decals, as is typical of ICM, went down well for the most part, with only a bit of decal softener needed for the serial numbers. There are two schemes offered in the kit – a fairly bland 1930s version and a wartime trainer version, although there are literally hundreds of schemes one could find for this model if you chose. I elected to go for the more colorful version, and it certainly is distinctive. Weathering was kept to a minimum because these were usually well-tended aircraft.
All in all, I did manage to get this model together (more or less) and it certainly looks the part when completed. Of all the ICM biplanes I’ve built, this one perhaps requires the most patience despite the comparatively low part count. However, if you have the patience to do it right, it really does make for a distinctive addition to any collection and represents one of the most important training aircraft of all time.
ICM includes a lovely set of RAF cadets in this set, which has an officer overseeing one cadet trying on a parachute, perhaps for the very first time. Two additional cadets carefully watch the efforts of their companion. All four figures are well presented and the entire set goes together very quickly as there are few accessories. The youth of the cadets is well depicted as is the stance of the commanding officer. The parachute assembly is also well depicted.
As I’ve stated before, ICM’s later pilot set offerings appear to be more in the 1/35th scale range compared to their earlier sets, but in this case it doesn’t detract from any potential scenario with this aircraft, as the Tiger Moth was a pretty diminutive machine in its own right. In addition, of course, they won’t look out of place if you add an airfield vehicle or two.
In conclusion, this combination set is ideal for creating a simple diorama by itself, and the combination does save a bit of money compared to buying these separately. I still think ICM would have done itself a favor by including some unique decals for the set, but the kit-supplied markings are quite adequate in their own right.
I want to thank ICM for supplying this review kit, and wish them and their countrymen all of our prayers and hopes. As always, thanks to IPMS/USA for a chance to try out this fascinating set. Happy modeling and stay safe, everyone!