Pavla's 1/72 Grumman
Like the MPM Ki-21 Sally reviewed elsewhere in this issue, I received this kit in the day before the issue went up, so I didn't have time to dig up my references and write a decent history on it. Basically, it's a flying boat, with a pair of engines mounted high on the wing. There's a fair amount written about the Widgeon, though, and a web search should turn up quite a bit of useful information.
This isn't the first kit of the Grumman Widgeon to come out. Airfix came out with a kit of this plane ages ago. While I don't have that kit, this one undoubtedly has much better surface detail and probably better interior details as well. The kit is a combination of injection plastic, cast resin, and vacuformed clear parts. There is no etched brass included, which is a pity as a lot of the finer details could really have been improved had they been in brass.
The interior of this kit is a bit basic, but this is probably due to the lack of interior references. I'd much rather have no detail than incorrect detail. What you do get is a floor, rear bulkhead, two seats, control column, rudder pedals, and a front bulkhead/instrument panel. Inserts are also provided to fit around the main wheel wells behind the seats. There's also an insert to go in the rear fuselage for the tailwheel to attach to.
The wings are in right and left sections, split into upper and lower halves. I would have rather seen the upper section be one piece, as that would help keep things aligned, but since there's no dihedral to worry about on this plane it's not as big a concern as it could be. There are several details that the instructions have you scratchbuild, such as the control arms for the flaps. The engines are very nice, though, with a resin piece making up the bottom of the engine (which is very visible from the front). There are a couple separate scoops to mount on, plus the exhaust pipe, making the final engine nacelle into a very nice representation. The propellers will need some cleanup, though, but they are molded as one piece so you don't have to worry about trying to align individual blades.
The wing floats are split in half, with one half having the struts molded on. This will make alignment simple, as everything is 90 degrees to the wing. The instructions outline where the bracing wires go as well, another nice touch. The wings are butt-joined to the fuselage, and you may want to add a spar or brace of some sort for added strength here. One nice bit of resin provided in the kit is the cleat on the front of the fuselage. Knowing what a local modeler went through to build a 1/72 cleat I'm glad that Pavla decided to include this.
The Widgeon had a fairly complicated landing gear arrangement and this kit does a decent job of representing it.The gear strut has four main parts, to which the wheel is mounted. A jig might be useful here in getting both sides set up the same, and you'll definitely want to leave these off until after painting.
On the subject of painting, this kit provides three choices of markings, one US and two British. The decals are printed by MPD and are both thin and in excellent register. The US example is probably the most colorful and is the one seen on the boxtop. It's a Coast Guard bird, flying out of Port Angeles, Washington in 1941. It's silver overall, with yellow wings. The rudder striping is provided as a decal, so finishing this one will actually be pretty simple. The two RAF examples are very similar, being the same plane at different times in its career. One example has it painted in Sea Green (FS 34128) over Light Gray (FS 36440), while the other is finished in the more standard scheme of Extra Dark Sea Gray and Dark Slate Gray over Sky.
While the Airfix kit is definitely buildable, it is much easier to build a detailed Widgeon from this kit. The beautiful engines, fine recessed panel lines, and excellent decals make it the only real choice for building a 1/72 Widgeon. And with Sword coming out with the Grumman Goose sometime this year, this will make for a nice stablemate to that kit.