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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby Loire 130Cl "Colonial" -- 1:48 Scale



Amphibious aircraft and seaplanes represent a fascinating blend between flying and sailing machines.  Some of these aircraft achieved legendary status, such as the PBY Catalina or the Grumman Albatross.  Others are no less interesting, but are less well known.  Such is the case, arguably, with the Loire 130 seaplane that was developed in the early 1930s and it saw action during the Second World War.  Here, Special Hobby has re-boxed the 2006 Azur kit of the Loire 130, added a good number of their own detail parts, and included new decals.  Let’s take a look.

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In 1933, the French Navy requested a new reconnaissance/light bomber seaplane able to serve aboard its warships and be launched from shipboard catapults – not all that different in concept from the Vought OS2U Kingfisher.  The Loire 130 was the winning design selected from six proposals submitted by various manufacturers.  It featured a shoulder-mounted wing monoplane and a pusher configuration, with the single engine mounted above the wing and behind the pilot.  The Loire 130M (Métropole) saw service in French waters while the Loire 130 Cl (Colonial) was optimized for tropical service.  The Cl variant was designed to withstand hot and humid temperatures, featured a larger radiator, and offered improved crew protection from the elements.

Loire 130s were deployed on all catapult-equipped French warships before the outbreak of WWII and also at bases in France, Africa, and Indochina.  Those that were not destroyed in the defense of France in 1940 were absorbed into Vichy forces.  A few were retained by Free French forces, and a handful of the Vichy 130s were transferred to the Germans and flight tested by the Luftwaffe.  The sun started to set on the Loire 130 within a few years, and when French territories in Africa were liberated, a mere 15 Loire 130Cls remained airworthy, owing to a lack of spares and other logistical support.  Soon, however, those airplanes were back in the air but fighting against their former Axis allies. After then end of WWII, small numbers of Loire 130Cls participated in the conflict in French Indochina.  The last Loire 130Cl appears to have been operational in Saigon in 1949.

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Special Hobby’s 1:48 scale Loire 130Cl is a multimedia kit.  It contains 92 injection molded parts on four sprues, eight injection molded clear parts on one clear sprue, two vacuformed clear parts, and 27 cast resin detail parts.  Markings are provided for four aircraft:

 Strengths:  Special Hobby has a really neat offering here.  I am a bit biased since I am a big fan of seaplanes, but they have really worked up a very nice kit here, regardless.   

Let’s start with a look at the plastic parts.  These are from the 2006-vintage Azure molds, and they are quite good.  Shapes, sizes, and configuration appear accurate.  Parts breakdown is conventional, and I like the single-piece upper wing-half for the simplicity of construction.  Surfaces are smooth, blemish-free, and feature high-quality raised details mixed with recessed panel lines and rivet and fastener details.  These external airframe details are one of the highlights of the kit.  Other small details, from the flap/aileron hinges to the struts, floats, bomb shackles are included as well.

The interior of the Loire 130Cl is good.  Here’s where a lot of the resin parts come into play and they do so quite effectively.  You get the pilot and co-pilot/radio operator’s seats with molded-on belt details, a whole lot of radio gear, sidewall details, the cabin fire extinguisher, rudder pedals, and more.  The other resin parts include a GREAT engine radiator face, engine exhaust stacks with nicely hollowed-out ends, and the propeller’s spinner.    

There are four markings options, and they are all interesting, colorful, unique, and historically significant.  The decal sheet is printed by Cartograf and it is impeccable from both a design and printing perspective. 

Weaknesses:  This is a limited run-multi-media kit, so experience with this type of model kit will be useful for the builder.  You will note that the kit parts are attached to the sprue by big sprue gates including some that intrude into the part, such as at the bottom of the hull.  Cleanup with be needed for virtually all the parts here, but its nothing that a little time, patience, and a sanding stick can’t take care of.  There are also a handful of whopper ejection pin marks on the inside of the fuselage and cockpit sidewalls that you’ll want to eliminate.  There are no mounting pins of tabs for the alignment of parts such as the fuselage and wing halves.  At least for the fuselage halves, I would advise making your own mounting tabs so as to assist in the fit and strength/stability of the seam.  Also, the control surfaces are not separate parts.

While the cockpit is very nicely detailed, the two observer positions are really minimally detailed. Yet,  you won’t be able to see much of the interior when the model is completed. Also, this is a kit that could have really benefited from photoetched metal parts or even decals for the instrument panels, but we have none.  I was a little disappointed by the optical quality of the vacuform parts (one of which is an extra should the builder need it), as they are a bit grainy, and these are tiny defects deep inside the clear plastic.  The only serviceable solution would be to pull your own vac replacement parts.  

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Special Hobby’s 1:48 scale Loire 130Cl is a very appealing kit of a very interesting subject.  The base plastic kit is well done, especially as it represents limited run-style tooling.  The resin detail parts really elevate the detail in this kit and the Cartograf decals are excellent.  Perhaps the lack of additional photoetched metal details is a missed opportunity.  At the end of the day, this is solid kit certainly not for a novice, but in experienced hands, this can be a really neat project.  

Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby for the review sample.  You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


 

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series



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Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
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