Molesworth's horse

April 21, 2023 · in Aviation · · 22 · 435

In Searle and Willian's Molesworth books - the delinquent schoolboy tries betting on horses and he chooses a glossy nice looking animal that falls at the first fence. The Renard R-31 reminds me very much of that tale - a nice looking, sleek aircraft which did not perform well. In fact, all aerobatics in the aircraft were banned because of its propensity to enter a flat spin with any violent manoeuvre. Only 34 were built but they did survive until the start of the Second World War where despite the bravery of their crews they were a failure. It really is a bit of a surprise to see Azur release a injection molded kit of this aircraft.

I like Azur models - they have interesting subjects and they're generally well done with lots of detail. However, there is a tendency to over-simplify the details. The outline is generally correct but they can't be said to study the actual aircraft photos in detail. However, who else apart from resin or vac-form manufacturers would attempt such a subject?

I've wanted to do Belgian silver wings aircraft for some time. The silver and black scheme is very attractive coupled with the Belgian national markings so the Azur R-31 is a very enticing option. The kit doesn't come with decals for this scheme so some adaption and cutting of the kit decals is necessary. Given the chosen options, only Aircraft N-8 is possible unless one goes for custom-made decals. Still N-8 is a good subject.

The kit goes together very well and is a pleasure to build but as with all Azur kits patience and care is necessary and a ruthless approach to mold seam lines. The etched brass is a real bonus and whilst very finicky adds a lot to the final result. One thing that is surprising is that there's no instrument panel decals even though the instrument panels are clearly visible. I used Mike Grant cockpit decals to create a realistic representation. Adding detail is important though and careful study of photos is a must. I found I needed to add the following
Handles for the gun mount (0.3 mm square strip)
Replacement wind driven generator
Gun camera and platform
Replacement Pitot tube
Navigation lights

The kit does include a wind driven generator but as far as I can tell it only resembles one example. The Belgian Air Force employed a wide variety of generators on the R-31 (I count at least 3 different types) so I converted an old Airfix Bulldog generator. Azur omit the distinctive wingtip navigation lights as well, something which for a company of their level is inexcusable and far too frequent. However, these can be repurposed from (ironically) wind driven generators included in the Potez 25 kit (if you don't use them on your chosen Potez 25 option). Fuselage paneling also needed creating with the molded on panels removed and new ones added from plastic card.

There's not a lot of information available but I was able to find the FNAR website which had a useful section on the R-31 and the Belgian Wings website. This latter has a the laudable aim of providing a photo of every Belgian Air Force aircraft. However, despite having all these photos the research and information provided about the prototypes can only be described as poor. Sketchy captions and a low level of proof reading combine to limit the site's usefulness and it is nowhere near the quality of the Dutch (for example) websites but it is the only reasonably comprehensive resource for the interwar Belgian Air Force.

This kit is a pleasurable build and if you enjoy adding detail (which I do) then it can be built into something special. The decals despite not having a true silver wings option are very well chosen and printed and the options interesting. Colours used were Tamiya X-18 satin black (the prototype black was a satin finish), Tamiya X-11 chrome silver enamel for aluminium doping and Tamiya XF-16 flat aluminium enamel for the aluminium sections (the brushed aluminium effect was attained by using matt varnish with the ordinary aluminium satin varnished).
Reader reactions:
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22 responses

  1. Great build of a pretty and as you say a rather obscure aircraft.
    Lovely 👍

  2. Many thanks Guy - it is a fun build and thanks to Azur we have a very nice kit of it.

  3. An excellent representation of a rare
    and very interesting subject, Christopher! As always, your attention to detail and excellent modeling skills resulted in yet another fantastic model.

  4. A lovely model, thanks for sharing.

  5. Nicely done, pretty bird.

  6. Nice, obscure subject Chris. Great plane, it it is anything like the SV-4 was.
    I find Belgian wings to be an excellent resource. All know planes are covered down to their individual Registrations .This is the work of a private individual, just for the love of aircraft.

    • Many thanks Bernard. I understand what you say about the site and it is the only resource out there but to my mind it needs to be more than just a collection of pretty pictures with minimal captions. He can do a lot more with his material without too much effort.

  7. Nicely done! I love obscure subjects, and have a stash-full of such, but not this one! You stumped me with one I wasn't aware of. Love the extra TLC you gave it to bring up to par.

  8. Never heard about this aircraft before, Christopher @christopher
    Your build clearly shows the beautiful lines of his rare aircraft.

  9. Great build of an unusual subject, I love obscure and little known stuff that didn't make the
    "A" team!

  10. Cool build, I did the kit myself a year ago.
    Enjoyed it a lot except when mounting the wings, that was a pain in the a*s 🙂
    That being said de R-31 is the only Belgian designed and constructed aircraft that flew in WW2 (recon missions), an artist impression of it can be found near the Belgian town of Tienen where there used to be a German airfield during WW2: see the following link

  11. There's one I never heard of before, and here you are with an excellent model of it.

  12. Thanks very much Tom - they weren't exactly good aircraft (but they were the first home designed and built Belgian aircraft). They did look quite nice though.

  13. An excellent build of an unknown between the wars subject.

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