La Poste - Part 1
I've always been fascinated by the interwar French airmail arrangements and by the books of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry where he writes about his and his colleagues experiences. St. Exupéry started out with the Compagnie Latécoère in 1926 which flew Breguet 14 A2s. These were converted World War 1 bombers equipped with 2 underwing panniers and with the fabric forward from the rear cockpit replaced by aluminium sheet. Flying these mastadons took courage. Navigational aids were minimal both on the ground and in the aircraft and despite being robust for a WW1 aircraft an accident in one of them was frequently fatal. Furthermore the engine that powered these aircraft was not the most reliable and often failed. Several crews lost their lives on the mail runs. Latécoère flew the French empire routes over deserts, seas and mountain ranges. Just to add spice the aircraft were liable to be shot at by inhabitants of the areas they flew over who were not really reconciled to the French presence.
The model is the recently released 1/72 KP Breguet 14 A2 (use this version rather than the B2 which has significantly different lower wings) and converted using the Renaissance Models set specifically for this aircraft.
The conversion set is a nice one providing resin panniers, a sheet of photo-etch with overlays, decals and some open spoked wheels. It fits well and transforms the model. Research is essential as Latécoère Breguet 14s varied quite significantly in markings and engine arrangements. One can leave the front unaltered omitting the overlays and still have an accurate Latécoère Breguet 14. One can also choose several different decal markings to represent the South American aircraft as well; the decal sheet contains all the options. I chose a French/Moroccan/Spanish postal aircraft which caries three bands.
There's still a lot of work to do to make an accurate postal Breguet though. The cockpit coaming needs to be converted but with judicious cutting it's not too difficult. The radiator at the front also needs to be extended down and I added the open flaps as well and an extra radiator under the wheels. I used matt coated Bare Metal aluminium foil to represent the aluminium skinning.
The KP kit is a nice one and goes together well. Various holes in the fuselage need to be filled to represent a non military aircraft and the interior also needs modifying. Lapbelts were from the Eduard coloured French WW1 set. One item to note and KP's only error is that the framing inside the aircraft is not wood. It was duralumin and this was an innovative feature of the Breguet 14.
KP are also good on the rigging but this is difficult and complex - just the nature of the aircraft. As I mentioned the front of the model was covered with Bare Metal foil with some areas painted to get a worn used look. Fabric was Tamiya Deck Tan XF55. Rigging was a mixture of 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 mm rod depending on the use. The Renaissance decals went on very well and were very robust settling well with Micro Sol but needing a matt coat to blend in to the fabric. Next conversion will be an Aeropostale Potez 25.