by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
BackgroundWith a basic design over 60 years old now, the Pitts Special achieved legendary status with its domination of aerobatics competitions through the 1960s and '70s. It became truly the aircraft against which all other designs in the category were judged. Curtiss Pitts began work on the tiny biplane during WW2 and it first flew in 1944. After producing his aircraft in limited numbers through the '50s, Pitts made plans available for home-builders and developed the 2-seater S-2 in 1967. Pitts Specials are still in production, with the rights currently owned by Aviat Aircraft.
The kitThe compact top-opening box is adorned with some useful colour reference photos of the full-sized aircraft and contains parts for two complete models, comprising:
22 x white styrene parts
2 x clear parts (one unused)
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
As you can tell from the parts count, this is a pretty simple little model. The moulding is quite sharp, with no sign of sinkage and just a few small ejector-pin marks to take care of. Surface finish comprises fine engraved panel lines and raised ribs for the fabric surfaces. A basic test fit seems encouraging, with the fuselage halves clipping together neatly and sitting solidly on the full span lower wing. The interplane struts have large locating tabs and promise an easy build even for biplane novices. Interior detail is limited to a one-piece seat/floor, plus a joystick and headrest, while the wheels are moulded solid with their spats. Everything looks set for a pair of diminutive and charming little models and, while no details are given of the rigging or tail and undercarriage struts evident in the boxtop photos, they shouldn't be hard to figure out.
Rounding everything off is a crystal clear canopy - and it's here that you hit the main stumbling block of the kit. The former LS parts are for a single-seater, but the AIRock team use an S-2 with a single extended canopy covering both seats. The position of the front cockpit is scribed on the top-decking so, strictly speaking, you'll need to do some conversion work to open up both cockpits and plug-mould a new canopy to depict an AIRock Pitts accurately. Whether or not you choose to ignore the discrepancy, photos show you should tint the canopy slightly green.
Instructions and decalsThe instructions are written entirely in Japanese, but this isn't really a handicap on such a simple model. Colour matches are helpfully provided for Gunze Sangyo, Tamiya and ModelMaster paints, so you should have no trouble tracking down suitable model paints anywhere.
If the model itself is rather simplified, the decals are very elobarate, with comprehensive markings for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. The items are thin and glossy and the registration is perfect, with tiny legible sponsor marks and pin-striping that would be almost impossible to paint in this scale. The red that's been used looks a touch orange compared with the boxtop photos, so you may have to do a little deft colour-matching to paint items like the cowling.
ConclusionAt its simplest level, Platz's AIRock Pitts looks a delightful "weekend project" - a simple kit backed up by spectacular decals. Experienced modellers may want to spend a bit of time making a new canopy and front cockpit interior for closer representation of the full-sized aircraft. As it stands, the kit is simple enough to appeal to all ages, but youngsters may need supervision with the comprehensive decals.
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