1/72 Airfix Folland Gnat target drone

Gallery Article by Dave Bailey, aka "The Rat" on Jan 4 2012

Silly Week 2012


As the venerable Gnat neared the end of its service life a decision was made that they should, for the most part, go out in a blaze of glory rather than suffer the ignominy of being melted down. Ejection seats were removed in order to lessen any danger to civilians should a drone crash in a recoverable area, and ballast installed. The wing tanks were also saved for scrap value, as they would not be necessary on a short one-way flight.


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There were a few teary eyes in the aircraft which shot them down, as most of the pilots had trained on some of these. But all agreed that it was a better end than becoming pots and pans.

This was the old Airfix kit, picked up at a show for a couple of bucks. The only piece missing was the nose glazing, and after messing about with this kit I almost wish that all the rest of the bits had gone missing too. But I persevered perversely, and finally won the battle. The nose glazing was replaced with a piece of clear sprue which was filed, sanded, and polished to shape, and the cockpit was blanked off with sheet styrene, as were the intake ducts. A cheap imitation of a Sidewinder was located in the spares box, it was painted the standard gloss white with the distinctive 'rollerons' picked out in silver. A hole was drilled in the Gnat for the nose of the missile, and a hole was drilled in the missile's tail for the 'flame'. This was a toothpick which was painted yellow for the hot flame at the immediate end, red for the cooler flame further back, and cotton wool was used to imitate smoke. I honestly can't recall if the Sidewinder has a smokeless flame or not, and I don't really care, because first, smoke looks cool, second it's a 'what if', and third, MFM! The decals were extremely fragile, and applying them was 'touch and go' for a while, but I finally got them mostly in place without them turning to dust. The ejection seat decals were left off as I may want to use them on something else some day. Rather than try to replicate buckled metal at the impact point I decided that this soon after impact there wouldn't be any, so there. Any JMNs who disagree will be summarily ignored.

Dave Bailey, aka "The Rat"


Photos and text by Dave Bailey, aka "The Rat"