Maquette 1/48 Morane Saulner Type G
The Morane Saulner Type G first appeared in Russia in 1913 and was used to establish some of the first Russian height and distance records. It was admitted to Russian military service that same year as a reconnaissance aircraft. Remaining in frontline service till its withdrawal at the end of 1915, the type continued to enjoy a role in flight training schools for some time into the 1920's.
It was using this type that two of the most famous (if not desperate) early attempts at engaging the enemy in the air, were carried out by Russian airmen. In September 1914, Captain Nesterov rammed a German reconnaissance aircraft in a suicide attack. Needless to say Nesterov and both of the German crew perished as a result.
More well know are the aerial exploits of Lieutenant Kozakov (Russia's first ace with 17 victories). He had the unorthodox idea of utilizing a small charge of explosive attached to a boat anchor to grapple the wings of an opposing machine. After some practice he used this method to bring down a German Albatros reconnaissance aircraft in March 1915.
For the most part these aircraft went unarmed although some had a Madsen machine gun mounted and angled to avoid the airscrew, its effectiveness was hampered by the slow rate of fire of the Madsen and the difficulty achieving a well aimed shot.
Maquette provide this kit in a simple flat box made of thin cardboard, the parts themselves are moulded in dark blue styrene and all parts and decals are sealed in a plastic bag. Instructions are of the expanded diagram variety and offer no written explanation of construction, nor is there any statistical information on the aircraft or its history.
The only nice touch here is the inclusion of original drawings for the type, these also feature some of the finer details like the control systems and engine details. They are reproduced in about 1/40 scale and I had to reduce mine by 0.83 to get 1/48 drawings. The other oversight here is that these drawings give only the plan profile, the plan over views and wing drawings are not included, but can be sourced elsewhere (see Windsock Vol 10, No. 4 July/August 1994). As for the kit, it is basic yet in places nicely done.
The parts are finely moulded where it really counts but there is still a quantity of flash to be found. The model features a simple interior which includes a crude seat, control column and rudder bar. No other instruments are provided and the fuselage walls will require sanding down and fitting out by the modeler. The wings on the other hand are commendably thin and will be perfect with just a light sanding. The rib detail here is very well done and effectively captures the essence of this delicate machine. The same can more or less be said of the elevator assembly although the rudder could do with some thinning.
Undercarriage struts, wing warping frames and control horns are all included but these are a bit chunky and will need to be thinned down or replaced to provide the required finesse. The cowling certainly looks the part although it has a rather large ejection lug on the inside that will have to be dealt with. The same unfortunately can not be said of the engine. This comes in three parts (front, back and the push rods) it lacks detail, looks rather under nourished and will definitely need replacing.
The prop is acceptable and a little cleaning up here will yield dividends. The only paint guide provided is the picture on the box top and that is for an unidentified Russian machine in clear doped linen. The decals provided feature the Russian tricolour cockade in two sizes. These are poorly printed on thick paper and should be binned without hesitation.
And now the question of accuracy.....
The fuselage (basically a box) is the correct length width and shape, the fairing behind the cowling is the correct shape and is well represented. Wing attachment points are where they should be and the wings themselves are the correct span, chord and shape. The type G was produced in two versions with different wing areas. One was 14 square metres the other was 16. The kit represents the 14metre version. The ribs are beautifully represented and have the correct spacing, the only spoiler here is that they are displaced inboard by 2-3mm from where they should be (this may bother those unfortunates debilitated with AMS, but I am content to ignore this difference). Elevators and rudder are adequate in their size and shape and these areas will offer a large scope for super-detailing the control mechanisms.
Now for the really interesting bit.....
If you are like me and intend to use the MS-G as the basis for a conversion to the Pfalz E.I, then it certainly can be done with this kit. The Pfalz E.I was actually based on the MS type H, in fact it was an exact copy with an similar but different engine. Pfalz had a licence agreement with Morane-Saulnier, signed in 1914 to build both MS-L (parasol) and the MS-H (low wing) monoplanes. This they did and they were used in a variety of roles by Bavarian units.
MPM Spitfire PR.XI