Grumman JRF Goose

Released early in 2002, Sword's Goose represents somne improvement over their earlier Bearcat, and offers the first injection-moulded rendition of the subject. Two sprues of grey plastic provide the bulk of the parts, featuring neatly scribed panel lines (plus scribed rib tapes on the wings and stabilisers). All external surfaces feature a smooth finish. Both the main wheel-well inserts in my kit had blobs of excess plastic inside

Several resin parts provide seats for the cockpit and cabin (with belts molded into the cockpit seats), engines, exhausts and intakes, plus an insert for the rear of the planing bottom. The fuselage side windows are provided as cloudy injection-moulded parts, while the blisters for the RAF version and the windscreen and cabin roof are vacuformed. Two (identical) windscreens are provided.

The interior is well catered for, with the resin seats, injected yokes and instrument panel (with soft detail), a full length floor and front and rear bulkheads. Construction looks straight-forward, though fitting the separate spray guard and building up the complex landing gear may prove tricky. Scrap views provide details of the fitting of the maingear, an improvement over some of Sword's earlier kits. Another point to watch out for is the resin insert, which can optionally be fitted to the rear of the planing hull to add detail- this requires you to cut the corresponding section from the hull halves, a task for those with a steady hand with the razor saw.

Decals are provided for three variants- an RAF Goose 1A in extra dark sea grey and dark slate grey over sky; a present-day restored warbird in US Navy grey over grey; and an Indochina-based overall dark sea blue JRF-6A of Escadrille 8S! Model Art will soon release a sheet with some additional French schemes.

Overall- a lovely little kit, which will require some care in assembly, but should reward you with an excellent representation of Grumman's charming mid-sized amphibian!

In terms of a general reference on the Goose, you can't go wrong with Steve Ginter's Grumman Goose. For photos of aircraft in French service, the best source I've found is Aviation Francais Magazine's article on Escadrille 8.S.

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SB2C-4 Helldiver

Continuing a trend of releasing US Naval aircraft that have not been well served in recent years by manufacturers, Sword have produced a well-detailed model of the Helldiver. The kit is described as an SB2C-4, however the -5 is generally very similar. The kit includes injected parts for most major components, with resin cockpit details, wheel wells, and exhausts. A pair of vacuformed canopies are provided. The dive brakes are given as separate injection molded parts, with the perforations molded as shallow indentation. The toothed trailing edge of the flaps will need work to be defined cleanly- this area is badly flashed in my kit. The interior includes resin sidewall, rudder pedals, and seat for the pilots area, and a resin gunners seat and gun mount. Injection molded parts are given for the instrument panel, stick, gun ring and the guns themselves. The injected engine is disappointing, being molded as two separate rows, but looking distinctly toy-like. Other details may need to be refined, such as the Yagi aerials and the pitot tube. No bombs or other ordnance are provided.

The main difficulty I foresee is the pilots sliding hood. The vacuformed kit part features framing, as appropriate for a SB2C-4. The SB2C-5 features a frameless hood. Given the simplicity of the shape, it may be relatively easy to plunge mould a replacement.

Decals are provided for two US Navy Helldivers, one in the three-tone blue and white scheme with the outer wing panel undersides in blue, and one in overall dark sea blue. Extensive stencilling is provided. Compared to the Sword Bearcat, the vacuform canopy and crude engine seem like backwards steps, however the Bearcat's injected canopy was foggy and fit poorly. The scribing of the panel detail is sharper, and the resin wheel wells now feature locating holes for the gear legs. Overall, this seems to be the best Helldiver on the market, and with the addition of a set of photo-etched dive breaks and some work on the engine, the kit can likely be turned out to a very high standard.

For info on the Helldiver in French service, see Crosnier and Dubois's Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless & Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver.

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