The evolution of aircraft post-war led to many weird and wonderful different design languages for aircraft. From twin booms to full deltas…aircraft were always evolving.
The Fouga Magister looks like it took it’s design language from nature, having a beautiful butterfly tail, and lengthy almost dangly wings. It has a certain grace when in the air, and a degree of uncertainty when performing aerial manoeuvres, almost cumbersome as it throws it’s length wings out to catch the ever thinning air.
It is an aircraft that was notorious for being underpowered, yet used by the Israeli, French, Belgian, Brazilian, and Irish national aerobatic teams – a feat that is certainly worthy of recognition in the ‘jet trainer hall of fame.’
The aircraft, being a French historical treasure (much like the Gnat in Britain), has constantly been churned out by Heller. Humbrol/Airfix also had their own variation (which given the companies close relationships is perhaps unsuprising). Heller’s moulding remains fairly old, and the construction remains simple (but in some instances more complicated than it should be).
The construction is pretty much seats and cockpit surfaces. Merge the two fuselage halves, and construct the wings. Once you’ve done this construction all but finished. When I say this kit is really really simple, I definitely stand by it.
There are some additional parts that you have to put onto the fuselage, and I do not know what the parts are called, but they are rounded parts or “v” shaped parts for the wings.
I used Revell 56 (Blue) for the main colours. The kit itself provides you with the colours for Heller, Humbrol, and Revell…but as a Revell Aquacolor sort of girl, that’s what I fell to. I did actually test both of the suggested paints (Humbrol and Revell) but I ultimately felt the tone of the Revell paint was more accurate/felt better.
I’d be curious to try Heller paints…but…shipping costs.
The decals in the kit seem to suffer from the same old issues that Heller kits have had for quite some time. I don’t know if it is just me who has this issue, but I’ve built a lot of Heller kits in my time and they seem to always have the same issue….the decals tear, rip, and just split.
I tried soaking the decals for longer than usual, the ripped.
I tried using my thumbnails to gently help move them from the sheet, they tore.
I tried using a water/decalfxi solution, they split.
No matter what I did the decals didn’t work out. Even after I had put some varnish over the top I still had the decals come off. This may have been user error, but I’d be surprised given that I’ve never had this issue before.
Normally I’d order a new model, and restart or reapply the decals…but given these harsh Covid-19 times my models have been bought with Twitch donations and so this wasn’t really viable. Therefore I have left it as it is, a memory of how bad the Heller decals are. I have ‘fixed’ it a little when editing the final images for the model – but hence making it clear here.
Buy or Fly?
I feel very conflicted here. It’s a fantastic model, there is absolutely no denying that. But the decals at the end reduced me to absolute frustration with how poor they were. I have a sneaky suspicion that I got unlucky with the set I have however as I have built countless Heller kits and never experienced it being this bad. Although the company is under new management, I believe it is still using the same equipment as I saw no news of manufacturing changes.
It is for that reason that I will say buy. The kit is cheap (found for between £7-10, sometimes with paints and glue) and relatively easy to access, even on Amazon with prime shipping (though please support your local model shop or even Hobbycraft I guess?).
Photos can be found below of the kit built in the article above. I’ve also thrown in some relatively ancient pictures of me building it in the Diablo Rouge scheme (basically Patoruille de France but Belgian). These featured decals by Tomcat Decals.