During the early 1930s, it seemed that every country was building its own parasol fighter, many of which featured inverted gull wings mounted at the fuselage shoulder. This offered great all around visibility, but required fixed landing gear because of the high wing. One of the French parasol fighters was the Loire 46, which first flew in 1934. With an open cockpit and a big radial engine up front, the Loire 46 resembled many biplanes of the era, and performed similarly, only with one wing. Initially the Loire 46 packed quite a punch, with two 20mm cannons in the prototype. This was changed in the production run to four 7.5mm machineguns, mainly due to their higher rate of fire.
The life span of the modern parasol fighter was limited, though, and the Loire 46 only served in front line service for a couple of years before being replaced by the much more potent Morane Saulnier MS.406. The Loire 46 was relegated to the training role, where it did an admirable job of converting pilots from basic trainers to their eventual fighter mounts. Five of the first six Loire 46s were also delivered clandestinely to the Spanish Republican Air Force in 1936, where they saw limited service against the latest German types. But their era had already passed—within two months two were shot down and two more were destroyed in accidents.
Classic Airframes is probably better known for their nicely done injection plastic kits, but they also put out a fair number of resin kits as well. Their latest addition to thestable is this kit of the Loire 46, and if you're into French aircraft you will probably want to grab this one up. The kit is molded in tan resin except for the engine, which is molded in a greenish-gray polyurethane resin.
The kit could best be described as delicate and crude. While this might seem to be a contradiction, it really isn't. On the outside, the detailing is excellent, with finely recessed panel lines and crisply molded details such as the exhaust ports in the cowling. The one-piece wing is solid and without warpage. Smaller details like the wheels and struts are nicely done, and while you'll have to sandwich the wheels into the wheel pants, even that won't be much of a problem.
But when you turn to the inside of the plane, the crudeness shows up. The interior detailing is heavy and soft. The sidewall detailing on the fuselage halves is bad enough to warrant complete removal and replacing it with something more to scale. The crispness seen on the outside just isn't there on the inside. In defense of the kit, though, once the fuselage halves are together, the tiny cockpit opening won't reveal much from the inside anyway, so even out of the box it can look good.
This basic detail level is not present in the engine, however, which is a little jewel in and of itself. Molded by CMK, the engine has a beautifully detailed crankcase and three sprues of individual cylinders. The only thing that's missing is the exhaust pipes, which might be visible from the back of the cowling. This should be fairly easy to add from plastic stock, though.
Another shining spot in this kit is the decals. These are very well done and provide an option for French and Spanish birds. The Spanish example is quite colorful, being overall silver with red bands around the wings and fuselage, with the red/yellow/purple roundel and rudder markings finishing it off. The French option is just as interesting, with the typical French camouflage of dark green, earth brown and dark blue gray over a light blue gray. Standard French roundels and rudder markings apply, making this a colorful example as well.
While this kit has some shortcomings, mainly in the interior, it is a very nicely done resin kit of the Loire 46 and while the design doesn't look easy, building this kit should be very straightforward, even for a resin kit novice. With the interesting marking choices and the unique design, the Classic Resin Airframes Loire 46 will definitely turn some heads.