Airfix has released a Jet Engine kit, part of their line of “Engineering Models”. This is an interesting kit, as it intends to explain the basics of how a jet engine operates and it introduces the modeler to some very basic electrical skills.
The kit is molded in red, white, blue, clear and silver plastic. It requires no paint and it actually is put together using (dare I say?) screws rather than plastic glue! It even provides you with a screwdriver.
There are about 50 parts which are well molded and the parts themselves require little clean up before assembly. The instructions guide you through the electrical connections of a handle, starter button and mini-electric motor/blower which actually spins the engine.
Mechanical assembly of the base, column and wing foil is very straightforward. The only issue here is the electrical assembly as the instructions are wrong and show you to connect the red to the black wire. I have heard the British like to place errors in the instructions of their educational toys as to get the kids to troubleshoot and think what they are doing. I leave up to you to decide if it was an “educational” error or just a “plain” error.
Having sorted out the electrical assembly the main base/column/wing foil the assembly of engine itself, with the multiple blades and compressor it is actually quite fun. It brought back memories of being a 10-yr old putting together my first models at my grandparents kitchen table.
The overall design here is that a small electric motor pushes air into the engine blades and it spins. There is no actual compressor or fuel. There is only 6 Volt in the circuit making this a fairly safe toy. Kids could get hurt themselves more by dropping the assembled model on their foot than by anything else.
With the assembly completed (about 90 minutes) it was time to give the engine a try…. Just to find out the turbine would not start on its own. It either needs some extra lubrication or the electric motor needs to push more air into the turbine. If you start spinning the turbine by hand, the airflow from the motor blower is enough to keep it going, but not enough to start. That was very disappointing. Also, the design of the model/toy makes the turbine to spin “the wrong way” as air is blown into the blades from the back instead of the front.
Let me summarize my experience with this kit:
- The instructions should have been printed in color, or at the very least made available online in color.
- The instructions are confusing and even misleading, as they show you how to connect “red to black” wires.
- The turbine spins the wrong way
- The turbine does not start on its own. It needs a “push” to get going. Once started, the airflow is enough to keep it running
- Very fun kit to build
- It took me less than 2-hrs to have it put together.
I had fun putting this kit together. The educational part of it might be questionable, as the instructions include errors (unless they were there intentionally) and the turbine spins the wrong way.
Recommended only due to the fun value of the kit.
I would like to thank Hornby/Airfix and IPMS/USA for the review model.