Mignet HM14 Pou du Ciel (Flying Flea)

Published on
April 2, 2015
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Brengun - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Brengun - Website: Visit Site
Box art

Brengun is a fairly new company in Brno, Czechoslovakia. They make resin and photoetch kits in various scales. They have some VERY interesting kits and PE detail sets. I recently reviewed their 1/72 shopping cart. It’s got to be part of a street diorama, as soon as I find a 1/72 young lady to go with it.

The Aircraft

In the late 1920s - early 1930s France was very much taken with aviation. If it flew, a lot of people were fans. Henri Mignet decided that he wanted to design and build an airplane that everyone could fly and almost anyone could afford to own. The concept was a “Model T of the Air”. Because the ubiquitous Ford Model T was called “Pou de la Route”, which translated to “Louse of the Road”, his aircraft became the Pou du Ciel, or “Louse of the Air”. The common English translation became “Flying Flea”.

The Mignon HM.14 was introduced in 1934, 4 years before the Piper Cub. There had been earlier HM aircraft, but Mignon felt that the standard aircraft design required too much stick and rudder coordination for the average person/pilot like himself. The resulting tandem wing aircraft was built from wood and fabric, and TT used a motorcycle engine. There were no ailerons, the wings were solid, pulling the stick back moved the entire front wing, and the stick side-to-side controlled the rudder, so there were no pedals. Mignet published the plans in a book, and the book was serialized in “Practical Mechanics” Magazine in the US. Hundreds of people built Flying Fleas, and a number of people designed derivative aircraft.

Because of the controls, the aircraft could not be taken off in a crosswind. This wasn’t a problem in the 30s. as most airfields were square grass pastures, and you took off whichever way was into the wind.

There was another serious flaw in the design. If the stick was pulled back to climb too aggressively, the front wing would stall, and this would cause the rear wing to gain lift, which would cause the nose to drop. The normal reaction would be to pull back harder, which would keep the front wing stalled, and the plane would eventually crash. The fix was to push the stick forward, ending the front wing’s stall, and allowing the climb to be resumed. This problem made the Flying Flea far less popular.

The Kit

The kit is quite simple. There are resin parts for the fuselage, wings, wheels, engine and prop. The single PE fret has the engine mount, which is also the wing center support, tail wheels, instrument panel, a second prop, main wheel axle, rudder connector, and wing supports and mounts. You can set all of the parts comfortably in a Post-It Note.

The Build

Because of the tiny size of the parts and the whole project, I painted everything first. The fuselage is blue, the wings and rudder are white. The entire PE fret was painted black. The resin wheels are black and the resin prop is medium brown.

The first step is painting the interior and installing the seat belts. I painted the seat brown and the belts green. The big trick here was getting the belts into the cockpit. I used white glue instead of CA because I needed more time to get the parts in place than Super Glue allows. Note in the photo that the fuselage rests on a dime with plenty of room.

I then put the decals on. Since the decals are just the aircraft registration and am insignia on the rudder, it was FAR easier to do before all the parts were added. The decals came off the backing cleanly and went on nicely.

I put the PE parts on the bottom of the wings. Next was the motor mount/wing support. The main part is a “hood” which mounts to the fuselage. Then the two side pieces should be bent to form a triangle which will be the wing center support. Then there’s another part on the wing support which comes down to the engine, which I think is the fuel line.

My plan was to attach the hood, then bend one of the motor/wing mounts. I’d attach the motor to the mount, then bend the other mount up to match up with the motor. This idea died when the first mount broke off of the hood as I was bending it up. I then thought I could come back by using the other motor/wing support and gluing the broken one in place to match up. But the other support broke off at the same place.

Plan C: Attach the motor to one motor mount, then the other. Glue the motor mounts to the hood, then carefully bend the top of the mounts to meet the wing. This worked. The problem here was that the PE was so fine that it had no ability to stand up to bending, it just broke. If you’re going to build this kit, you may plan accordingly. Or just figure that I ham-handed it, and you can do better. The latter idea has merit.

I now attached the rudder and rear wing. These fit pretty well. The rudder has a PE part which holds the rudder and also has the tail wheels mounted on the bottom. This worked fairly well. The rear wing mounts with a pin and hole in the fuselage. I had to be careful to keep alignment, but it fit nicely.

Next was the front wing. It mounts to the motor/wing mount at the center, and there are two PE struts from the wing to the fuselage which provide stability. I started out using white glue, figuring it would allow me to align the parts. I could align the parts, but then everything moved. I cleaned off the white glue and used tiny amounts of CA. I mounted the wing to the center support, then added the struts. Once I had everything pretty well aligned, I used accelerator to keep things where I wanted them.

The final touches were putting the wheels and prop on. The tail wheels are very tiny, but once I got them on the axle, they were good. The main wheels are a treat. The axle goes through a hole in the fuselage, which I had to open up, as there was a little bit of resin flash in there. I glued the axle in with white glue. When I went back later to put the main wheels on, as soon as I touched the axle, it moved. White glue is not useful in this project. I got one wheel on, then evened out the axle left/right, then put the other wheel on. Then I put a dab of CA on the axle and got it centered again, for the last time.

The prop went on the front of the engine with no problem, fit nicely on the spindle, and had no issue with alignment.

And it was finished.

Overall Evaluation.

Recommended for the resin/144th/Golden Age enthusiast who has some experience. The kit is accurate, and because of the limitations of the small scale, there are difficulties. I ran into some problems in this build, but there was never a time when I thought that I should quit and do something else. My old friend George Reny used to say that there’s nothing you can do to a kit that you can’t fix. And I thank him for that wisdom. I certainly had a sense of accomplishment when I finished.

I like the kind of aircraft that has a story behind it, and this one certainly fits that.

Many thanks to Brengun/Hauler for a kit with an unusual story, and to IPMS/USA for letting me build and review it.


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