R.V. Aircraft Nord-Centre NC.701 Martinet

After 20 or more years during which the KP kit was the only option for modelling the NC.701, R.V. aircraft out of the Czech Republic have issued a brand new family of kits covering the Si-204, NC.701 and Aero C-3. As far as I can tell, all the kits include identical plastic parts.

The kits contain two tan coloured sprues of limited-run plastic parts, and one sprue of crisply moulded clear parts. The main parts feature very refined surface detail, in the form of lightly scribed detail and nicely understated rivets. There is some flash on the parts, but generally the parts give a very good impression, particular for a limited run manufacturer.

The kit includes optional two- and three-bladed propellers (unfortunately both with separate blades), and two styles of vertical stabilizers, as well as optional parts for a dorsal turret or clear fairing, and ventral bomb racks.

The cabin features reasonable detail, though the instrument panels and centre console are devoid of details. The pilots' seats have faintly moulded lap belts. Behind the cockpit bulkhead, a floor is provided for the cabin, but no other interior detail.

The instructions consist of a double-sided A4 sheet, with exploded views of the main assembly and some details, as well as some very nice scale drawings of various components. Parts are identified on a sprue diagram, but not on the sprues themselves. The layout of the clear parts on the sprue does not match the diagram in the instructions. Unlabelled scrap views show differences in the layout of the dorsal fairings and antennae, but don't associate these with particular versions. Aside from the half page of aircraft history, the rest of the instructions appear to be shared between all kits in the family.

A second double-sided A4 sheet provides profiles and plan views of the 5 decal options. Again, none are identified. Only the first is shown as featuring the three-bladed props, however I believe these should also be fitted to options D (Aeronavale) and E (Armee de l'Air). The decal sheet is nicely printed, with 5 complete sets of roundels. Unfortunately, rudder markings are only provided for the outsides of the rudders. The kit provides 5 pairs of rudder stripes, but each is printed with the appropriate serial/designation, so there are no plain sets to use on the inside. I suspect I'll mask and spray my rudders in any case.

Identifying markings for an Indochina-based NC.701 is a challenge. My limited references suggest that most were very simply marked, so kit scheme E (code letter S) could quite possibly be appropriate. The best reference I have found is the Avions special issue on German aircraft in French service, volume 2, which includes 2 shots of an NC.701 'gunship' with a single side-firing machine gun, as used in Indochina.

Overall, I'm excited to get my hands on this kit, and looking forwards to starting construction. I think any KP kits in the stash can safely be sold off.

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