Azur's 1/72 Fairchild F-91

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

Overview

This is a very odd release when one does a bit of research on the aircraft.† Odd because Sword just recently released the same plane, resulting in two 1/72 kits of a plane that only had a total of seven built.† After close inspection, though, it becomes apparent that Azur did little more than rebox the Sword kit, add a new decal sheet and a few more bits of resin, and put it out the door.† Since the Sword kit was reviewed recently, I'll refer you to that article and just talk about the different resin bits & new marking choices.

The resin pieces actually don't add much over the Sword kit, with the biggest difference being the resin cockpit bits such as the instrument panel, cockpit floor & bulkheads, and control wheels.† The small cockpit windows make these extra parts overkill, though, as little of it will be seen once the fuselage is together and canopy is on.† The resin engine offers a slight edge over the kit part, but it's still mounted on a rear plate.† It would have been nice if Azur had done a complete engine with exhaust system rather than the same method in the kit.†

The other difference is in the decals.† The Azur kit includes one scheme that's the same as one in the Sword kit, and that's the Spanish Civil War example.† Each kit gives a different date for the scheme depicted, with the Sword kit from February 1938 and the Azur example from April of 1939, and there's some large differences between the two.† The Sword kit depicts black bands on the wings and large white crosses, with white wingtips, none of which are present on the Azur kit.† The same engine markings are present, though, and the name on the rear fuselage (although in different type styles, same with the codes), and both have Popeye on the nose, although in different poses.† I have turned up references depicting the way Sword has their Spanish example and none on Azurís example, but I donít have a comprehensive reference library on the type so both could be right.

The other choice in the Azur kit is for the sole RAF example flying out of Egypt on SAR duties.† This plane was purchased by Gar Wood who later donated it to the British American Ambulance Corps in 1941.† This aircraft was camouflaged in dark earth and middlestone, with a black belly.† The instructions are wrong in depicting the demarcation of the black undersides, as is the boxtop illustration.† The black actually extended way up the sides of the plane, ending in a wavy line approximately 2 feet below the cockpit windows and running about even with the tops of the cabin windows.† The fuselage and lower wing roundels are also incorrect for this plane, being Type A roundels rather than the Type C included.† I donít have a photo showing the upper surfaces of this aircraft, but Iíd guess the upper wing roundels are correct.

Conclusion

Either the Sword kit or the Azur kit will get you a very nice little flying boat, and the benefits of each over the other pretty much narrow the choice down to which one is cheaper at the hobby shop youíre buying it from at that very moment.† If you want to build the entire collection of F-91s (youíd only need 7 kits) you could probably mix and match with both kits and the differences would be very difficult to pick out once the models were finished.†

References

For Fairchild aircraft, the best single reference is "Fairchild Aircraft 1926-1987" by Kent A. Mitchell.† This book has several photos and a fairly complete history of the F-91 (although thereís no photos of the Spanish Civil War plane).† If you want to build the whole family this book is a definite must-have.


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