Pavla's 1/72 Miles
M.38 Messenger

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

History

Planes from the Miles brothers tended to look a bit different from the rest of Britain's manufacturers, and the Messenger is no different.  With three vertical tails and large Junkers-style flaps, the Messenger is a very distinctive plane.  Powered by a Gipsy Major engine, the M.38 Messenger was a four-seat artillery observation aircraft with short field capabilities that was initially set up for a production run of 250.  Unfortunately for Miles, however, only 21 of these planes were built, with the most famous being Marshall Montgomery's plane.  The simple, sturdy construction kept many of these planes around for several years, with some still flying today.

The Kit

With only 21 Messengers in existance, references on this plane are hard to find and so I can't comment on the accuracy of this kit, but in dry-fitting it looks like the few pictures I've turned up.  The parts are well molded and since it was of wooden construction there isn't many panel lines to worry about.  Those that are present are finely recessed.  The canopy is vacuformed and there are two options: one with square rear windows and one with teardrop-shaped ones.

The cockpit is somewhat basic, but it is doubtful that there was much inside anyway.  The cockpit floor, rear bulkhead, and seats are molded as a single resin piece, with separate control sticks and etched brass seat belts.  The instrument panel is also resin and has basic detailing.  Some extra work on the sidewalls would help out in this kit, as there is a lot of open clear parts that will show everything off quite well.

The construction of the rest of the kit is very straightforward, with the stablilizer fitting into a notch in the upper fuselage and the wings & vertical tails all butt-joined.  The fit of the stabilizer doesn't look good, but the manner of construction should make filling in the resultant gaps a snap.  While a flat joint for wings might not work in most kits, for this one, with its light weight and small size, it will probably be sufficient.  For those who want added protection, adding some small pegs is a simple matter.

Not everything is provided in the kit, however.  You will need to manufacture the exhaust stubs, but Pavla gives you very detailed dimensions for both styles of exhaust ports.  You will also need to make up some of the parts of the landing gear (rear bracing struts).  Some of the finer parts will need some cleanup, and while the wheels are workable it might be easier to check the spares box for replacements.

The decals are printed by Tally Ho! and provide two variants.  The first is the obvious choice, that of Marshall Montgomery's personal plane.  Finished in dark earth and dark green over yellow undersurfaces, this plane also features invasion stripes in all the usual spots, resulting in a very striking scheme.  The other option is for a civilian Messenger recently restored in England.  Painted in overall red with cream accents, this is also a very impressive-looking Messenger.

Conclusion

This is probably going to be the only injection-molded Messenger in mainstream production and initial impressions is that it is a good one.  While there weren't many made, there are several colorful choices over the years.  While it isn't going to be a simple kit to build, a bit of work will result in a very colorful plane that will definitely stand out from the rest.


pragolog-sm.jpg (5410 bytes)



< MPM's 1/48 L-39 Albatross

Pavla's 1/72 I-207/3 >