Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Airfix and the Dragon Rapide

click photo to enlarge
Like many men who were little boys in the 1950s and 1960s I made my share of Airfix models, the plastic kits of aircraft, cars, ships and much else, that are assembled with polystyrene cement and then painted, usually with Humbrol enamel paint. The Supermarine Spitfire, Avro Lancaster, Hunting Jet Provost, Hawker Sea Hawk, Blackburn Buccaneer and many other Royal Air Force and Royal Navy aircraft were put together by my not-so-nimble fingers. I favoured the classic WW2 planes and the newer jet-age models but I also attempted a couple of pre-war aircraft and biplanes. I recall making the Tiger Moth (see yesterday's post) and the Fairey Swordfish, a torpedo carrying biplane that served with some distinction during the second world war. My model-making years were few, you soon grow out of these things as well as seeing the limits of the exercise, but I enjoyed it and learnt quite a bit.

One biplane that became available in Airfix that I quite liked was the De Havilland Dragon Rapide. I'd seen these aircraft flying about, and though they were old looking and old in years, first flying in 1934, I admired their elegant lines and curves. However, I never bought the kit. In later years I had a flight in one and I recall the steep slope of the cabin floor when the plane was at rest. The other day, at the Imperial War Museum airfield at Duxford we saw two giving pleasure flights and watched a third, pristine example of this aircraft, being towed out of a hangar and onto the runway. We all commented on the high quality of the paint job and speculated that it had just been finished - there was no insect spatter and no exhaust stains. Later we saw it take to the air and I got a couple of photographs.

Interestingly, when I came to look up some information about the Dragon Rapide I discovered that the Airfix model of this plane was based on the freshly painted one we'd seen. Perhaps that, alongside the perfect paintwork, accounts for the fact that in my main photograph the aeroplane looks like a model!

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 70mm
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On