by: Tim Hatton [ ]
The Boulton Paul Balliol was a two seat advanced trainer that served with the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm. The original Air Ministry Specification called for a three seat aircraft, the third seat was for an observer. The Specification also called for the new advanced trainer to be powered by a turboprop engine. After a re-evaluation the Air Ministry changed the specification to a two seat advanced trainer powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin engine. The first prototype first flew in on 30 May 1947 powered by a Bristol Mercury radial engine. The second prototype first flew on 17 May 1948 and was the first turboprop powered aircraft in history.
The Merlin powered T.2 first flew on the 10 July, 1948 and in a competition for the contract to supply the RAF with advanced trainers beat the only competitor, the Athena built by Avro.
196 Balliols were built mostly by Boulton Paul, Blackburn built 30 aircraft. The last Balliolís were retired from RAF service in September 1957. The only export sales were to the Royal Ceylon Air Force.
The sturdy top opening box has a fine illustration of two Balliolsís flying in loose formation over broken cumulus stratus cloud. Inside there is:
-2 x grey plastic sprues.
-1 x clear plastic sprue.
-9 x resin parts.
-1 x fret of photo etched parts.
-2 x decal sheets.
-1 x instrument panel printed on a small acetate sheet.
-1 x 10 page construction and painting guide.
Although everything is contained in one large bag, there are smaller bags containing the resin parts, clear plastic parts and another small bag contains the photo etched fret, decals and acetate sheet.
Cockpit: is made up from a number of multimedia parts. The cockpit floor, instrument panel base, rudder panels and roll bar are made from plastic. The seats, control sticks, avionics box behind the pilotís seats, and two side control consoles are resin. The photo etched parts includes seat harnesses, foot straps for the rudder pedals, throttle levers, and the instrument panel face. Some of the photo etched parts do need to be folded before installing. I am a little dubious about the size of the seat harnesses, they look oversized. There is some excellent raised detail, including ribs and boxes on the inside of the fuselage halves in the area of the cockpit. There are positive lugs on the interior of the fuselage halves to aid the positioning of the floor. A raised ejector mark right next to the locating lug for the floor will need removing. All the components for the cockpit with the exception of the instrument panel sandwich fit onto the cockpit floor. The instrument panel is made up from a plastic part, acetate film and a photo etched part. There is no real detail on the acetate film that represents the instrument faces, which makes its use a bit pointless. It may be worth ignoring it to make life easier. The photo etched panel looks very good. There is no colour guidance for the cockpit parts but itís a safe bet it will be mostly black. All in all this should look a stunning office with everything you will need contained in the box.
Canopy: is thin, clear and one piece. There are eighteen panes so there will be a bit of time spent masking these out before painting. There are a couple of photo etched windscreen wipers to add, probably best done using PVA glue.
Fuselage: is split vertically and the fuselage halves are full length. Special Hobby has decided to create the radiator chin separately and is made up from two plastic parts. The resin radiator is detailed; the honeycomb grille in front and behind is nicely represented. The dorsal spine is moulded entirely on the portside fuselage. The recessed detail on the fuselage surface is very well done. There are no locating pins or holes to help with alignment when gluing the two halves of the fuselage, which is common practice with limited run products.
The impressive looking four bladed prop, well they must have been after the Harvard, has separate blades, spinner and back plate. Special Hobby have made the task of aligning the blades simpler with square profiled attachment points fitting into square cut outs in the spinner back plate. The exhaust stacks are separate one piece items that would benefit from the ends drilling out.
Wings are made up from four parts and similarly to the fuselage has some excellent recessed panel lines. The airbrakes and the main undercarriage bay look particularly well done featuring low relief detail. The upper wing halves have very positive looking stubs for locating into the fuselage. There are a few raised ejector pin marks on the inner surfaces of the wing some of which need trimming to ensure a good fit. Included on the clear plastic sprue are covers for the two wing tip lights and two landing lights situated in the wing leading edges.
The stabilisers are both one piece featuring sharp trailing edges.
Undercarriage: the main wheel oleos feature some good detail, including the spring shock absorbers. The torque links are separate parts. The three spoke main wheels are one piece and feature some fine details including the air valve holes and bolts. The fixed tail wheel is one piece and features some good detail.
Dry fit: reveals generally well fitting parts. The fit of the tab on the main wings into the fuselage is a bit loose. There are some prominent raised ejector marks on the wing inner surfaces that need trimming to achieve a good fit. The only challenging part will be to disguise the fuselage/wing joint in the main wheel bay. The canopy fits very well.
Markings: there are four schemes included with this release:
WG128 DʘW, 7 FTS. RAF Cottesmore, 1953. Red spinner and yellow fuselage and wing bands.
WG507 ʘCV, RAF College Cranwell, 1954. Red spinner and yellow wing bands and blue fuselage band.
WG118 QʘX, 7 FTS. RAF Cottesmore, 1953. Red spinner and yellow fuselage and wing bands.
VR592 ʘ79,involved in the National air races early in the 1950ís. Red spinner and yellow fuselage and wing bands. The black race numbers have yellow background.
All aircraft are painted aluminium overall and not left natural metal.
Decals: are printed by Aviprint and have very good colour strength, registration and definition. The larger roundels on the upper are two pieces; the central red area is a separate decal. The complex pattern of the wing walk area is included on the decal sheet. Also included are two thin black lines that border the blue fuselage band of WN507.
Decals are numbered on the sheet and the instructions, which is particularly helpful for some of the smaller stencils.
Instructions: the ten pages with many black line drawing illustrate the build process very well. The grey tone painting instructions are very clear. Also included are scrap illustrations of the prop, showing the location of the decals for the manufacturers logo.
This is a good looking kit of the Balliol and great to see Special Hobby tackling some of the lesser known aircraft. Although itís a limited run kit, it should be well within anyoneís skill level if you have tackled a few injection kits. The resin and photo etched parts are a great inclusion. Not the most handsome aircraft ever, but it does have bags of character. The colour schemes will certainly add interest. Nice on Special Hobby.