Societe Anonyme des Avions Caudron's C.714 was the culmination in series of light weight, high speed designs by renowned French engineer Marcel Riffard. Experience with racing aircraft induced the company to develop a light weight fighter based on proven designs and construction methods. Several prototype aircraft (C.710, C.713 and C.714.01) confirmed the potential and performance of Riffard's concept, with the result that the prototype C.714 was turned over to the French government for testing in September 1938. Two months later, an order for 100 aircraft was placed.
The production version C.714 was a low wing monoplane made almost entirely of wood. The wing section was so shallow that the armament (4 x 7.5mm MGs - changed from the prototype's 2 x 20mm cannon) had to be fitted in two streamlined underwing gondolas. Powered by one 450Hp Renault 12Ro1 in-line piston engine, the aircraft could attain speeds up to 301 mph (485kph), reach a service ceiling of nearly 30,000 ft (9100m) and a range of 560 miles (900km).
Production began in mid-1939. Fifty aircraft were diverted to Finland, but only six actually made it by March 1940 (the rest presumably having been lost enroute). About 40 aircraft were provided to the Armee de l'Air before the French government cancelled the order, claiming dissatisfaction with the type's rate of climb. These were used to equip the all-Polish squadron, GC.I/145, and saw brief action against the Germans in the first weeks of June, 1940. After the fall of France, a few surviving aircraft were used by Vichy forces or confiscated by the Luftwaffe.
I'm a big fan of obscure aircraft, and the C.714 certainly fits that description. I'd lusted after this kit for years - ever since I'd seen it in Squadron's catalog. So what do you get for your money? I was actually quite pleasantly surprised upon opening the box. The kit is mixed-media, with 13 resin, 10 white metal, 21 photo-etch brass, and two styrene plastic parts (the styrene being the canopies). All parts are well cast and show no defects - no pitting, no voids, no steps between mold halves. The resin is rather dense, but not brittle - a good thing, as you have to be careful with the lighter resins that you don't sand too much off.
The fuselage comes in three pieces: nose, center section and tail. The center section houses the cockpit - no tub to drop in here, but a pre-formed opening to which you add all the detail parts. The white metal bits, props and landing gear mostly, are very cleanly cast and very detailed.
A quick test fitting shows that everything comes together nicely, with only small gaps and mismatches to fix. About the only problems I can see with my kit is that the wings are warped. A bath in hot water will correct this, however. I'll also probably add a pin between the center fuselage and tail as extra support. I'm also concerned with the fit of the canopy to the fuselage, but I'm sure careful cutting, filing and fitting will take care of this.
Decals are provided for three subjects: the first production aircraft, a Polish squadron aircraft, and one in Finnish service. All are well printed and perfectly registered. A note in the instructions points out that a clear overfilm covers the entire sheet, so each marking will need to be trimmed carefully.
Finally, the instructions appear to actually be a help, rather than a hindrance. The suggested building steps are clearly outlined. Though apparently translated from French, they're concise and not confusing. All parts are clearly labeled (taping the PE fret to an exact-size copy, with all parts labeled, is a nice touch). The paint guide is acceptable, though interior colors are not noted; exterior colors are referred to by their FS numbers and French names.
All-in-all, I'm pleased with this kit and look forward to putting it together. The kit is pricey at an MSRP of US$67.96, but if you have the means, and you enjoy the obscure, I recommend adding this one to your collection.