1/72 Airfix BAC/Aerospatiále Concorde

Gallery Article by Gavin Parnaby on Feb 13 2013



Forward Fuselage 
The kit was already started when I acquired it, but work had gone little further than the flight deck interior.  The kit provides decals for the main instrument panel, the flight engineer’s station and the overhead panel, and these had already been applied.  In the absence of etched brass replacements, I went with these.  The flight engineer’s station does not quite fit behind the starboard flight deck window, so some fiddling was necessary.  

The seats provided aren't too bad, but they lack arm rests (perhaps a consequence of decades of modelling military aircraft in this scale).  These were added, the tops remodelled slightly and a fourth scratchbuilt seat for the supernumerary crew member was added behind the pilot.  Seat belts were added from masking tape.  

Not a great deal can be seen through the flight deck windows, but the plastic is large and clear enough for the flight deck interior to be somewhat visible.  Accordingly, I scratchbuilt the circuit breakers behind the captains station and added the pilots consoles into the fuselage halves.  I also added a ceiling and a throttle quadrant, which is entirely missing from the kit.  All the while, I was dryfitting the fuselage halves, flight deck and flight deck transparency. 

Before mating the forward fuselage halves I added some extra bulkheads from plasticard and filled in the radio racking behind the flight deck.  Nothing behind the flight deck is visible once the fuselage is assembled, however.  

The painting instructions in the kit do not correspond with such photos as I have gained access to, with the upholstery in black/white/grey speckle rather than mid-blue and the flight deck ceiling and walls in a rather lighter grey than the floor and bulkhead.  I used up the kits acrylic medium grey in painting the interior.  The coaming was painted flat black, as were the inside of the window frames.  I didnt miss out the red placards on the back of the seats. 

With the flight deck completed, the first of the kits major problems was encountered. Several builders and reviewers have complained about the working nose droop mechanism, which is both inaccurate and terribly fragile.  This is indeed reminiscent of the toylike features of kits from a generation ago.  A very poor choice Id have elected for a range of separate assemblies the part count is after all not high for an aircraft of this size.  The build was of an aircraft in cruise condition, so the nose was going to be set in the most straightforward position. 

The nose halves had to be attached to the fuselage halves prior to the latter being mated, so I left them to swing on their pivots, while gluing them at the same time as the fuselage halves.  The latter required comparatively little filling along the main seam, although the fit of the flight deck windows was poor, and required quite some filling.  The base of the forward flight deck windows had to have the corners sanded off in order to fit adequately.  I painted the outside frames in Humbrol Satin White 130 at this point, looking for a suitably muted effect behind the visor.  Quite a lot of filler had to be added just above the flight deck windows to maintain the fuselage curvature.  

The fuselage halves are open beneath the flight deck glazing, so scrap plastic, painted matt black, was used to box them in.  The inside of the nose halves was painted in the same colour.  The arms of the visor retraction mechanism snapped during the introduction of the visor itself, which is far too long.  Some modellers have completely replaced it, but I have yet to develop sufficient skill in handling transparencies, so I elected to push ahead with the piece, first basing it with a piece of scrap plasticard with details added from same.  I painted this black, but subsequent research suggests that it should be zinc chromate yellow. 

Prior to attaching the visor, I had thinned it down at the aft end, trying to achieve the best fit with the forward fuselage that I could.  It seemed OK at the dry fit stage, but the actual assembly was quite different! I used Humbrol Clearfix for most of the bonding, but I had to resort to cyanoacrylate at the aft end, to keep the visor from sinking into the nose.  In an ill-advised use of a small clamp to hold the refractory assembly in place I managed to crack the visor.  Just one of several missteps.  Nonetheless, it came out vaguely serviceable.  Here an aftermarket replacement would be very useful.  Quite a lot of filler was needed once the joints had stabilised.  More was needed at the hinge point beneath the flight deck.  With this, the forward fuselage assembly was more or less finished, with only a couple more bulkheads to be added.  These were fabricated from plasticard, and sanded to fit, prior to being dropped in should instead have fitted them before mating the fuselage halves. 

Once the principal assembly was complete, the various pitot probes and vanes were added to the nose area.  The kit omits the vanes beneath the cockpit, while too many side vanes are provided (but at least this allows for spares).  Two orifices were added, and the nose probe, which proved robust enough.  There is a small oblong dome above the cockpit, which appears to be correctly represented. 


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Main Fuselage 
Once the forward fuselage was complete, I prepared the main fuselage halves. Here I came across the second major problem with the kit – the fuselage windows.  Firstly, the windows as moulded are far too large.  Concorde has significantly smaller windows than most airliners due to its substantially higher cruising altitude.  Secondly, the windows are moulded onto the circumference of the fuselage rather than into a flat window belt as they should be.  

To correct this, I began by sanding the window belt flat.  I masked off the adjacent regions with masking tape, and set to with wet and dry.  Once Id got the section right, although the tapered ends were hard to capture, I filled the window apertures, and redrilled smaller ones, approximately 1.5mm by 4mm, by drilling a hole with the largest pinvice bit that I had, then opening it up with a scalpel to the correct size.  There was a fair amount of filling and sanding before I could get to the end of this, however.  The end results, the numbers checked against photos of G-BOAF (the machine Id chosen), were as even as I could make them, and, of course, far too small to see anything of the interior.  So all I did here was scratchbuild a floor and overhead luggage racks from plasticard, and rearrange the kits upper bulkheads to correspond somewhat more closely to the actual internal layout.  The bottom part of the bulkheads were left as they had been, to better ensure rigidity.  The interior walls were painted in Humbrol 146 whilst the luggage racks and floor were painted in Humbrol 128. 

Concerning the doors, comment on the intermeweb has had it that they are too large.  This is half-true, from what I can determine.  The kit is certainly wrong in having the doors the same size on both sides of the fuselage.  Those on the starboard side were significantly lower than those on the port.  This is because the former were used for loading and emergency exit rather than boarding, as were the latter.  So, after a false start, I filled the upper part of the starboard doors, leaving the lintels level with the tops of the windows, and left the port ones alone.  It is certainly novel to have a passenger entrance at half root chord one opportunity afforded by the delta configuration.  

There is little to add to the main fuselage at the detail assembly stage, apart from the communications fairings aft and the VHF aerial forward.  The latter was originally moulded with the starboard fuselage half for some obscure reason.  Needless to say, it did not survive the preparation of the window belts.  So a replacement had to be crafted from plastic scrap and added at this stage.  Beneath, meanwhile, the ventral VHF aerial was added using the kit part.  

Aft Fuselage/Fin 
With the extensive and substantial remodelling work so far required, it was certainly a relief not to have to worry about horizontal tail surfaces!  Again, Web chatter had it that a better fit was to be had by bonding the tailcone halves to the main fuselage and then mating them as one.  In retrospect, I can’t see much difference.  The fit hasn’t been a huge problem, not nearly as much as has been made out.  Certainly, it is the least of the modeller’s worries in this kit.  I had some trouble firming up the bond in the shallow lip that forms the joint on the main fuselage halves, but this was taken care of with some extra cyanoacrylate. 

The tailcone halves needed no more work than the opening of a hole to mount the small static discharge wicks later on.  As far as I can see, all the vents are represented.  Once the tailcone halves were blended into the main fuselage halves, I mated the two sides.  Some filler was needed, but not a huge amount.  Certainly nothing compared with what was to come...  The most trouble I had was with the seam on the fin extension, which needed repeated filling of some very persistent small cracks.  

Having mated the fuselage halves, I attended to another of the kits major accuracy problems.  The nose gear bay is too far aft and needs to be moved forward by approximately 16mm right up to the joint with the forward fuselage.  I filled the interior with scrap plastic as far as I could and then installed the gear bay.  I was building the model with the gear retracted which simplified the situation considerably.  With the bay secure, I glued on the four doors.  In the event, I glued on the main doors back to front rather than remove them and damage the unavoidably delicate assembly, I filled the existing landing light apertures and opened up new ones in the correct place.  The slightly undersized vents were sanded off they would have been unlikely to survive the work involved in fitting the forward fuselage anyhow.  

The tailwheel bay is in apparently the right place one out of four is something, I suppose.  The doors were not a particularly great fit in the closed position, but nothing that wasnt manageable.  The nine static discharge wicks, on either side of the trailing edge were added with fusewire after the final major assembly.  Rather than cutting slots, as on the wingtips, I applied cyanoacrylate directly to the trailing edge sides.  This led to some rather unsightly puddling, however, and left them even more fragile than usual.  The tail navigation light dome was added after final assembly.  Fit was quite reasonable.  The static discharge wicks were added from a single piece of fuse wire, threaded through, then bent and trimmed to shape.  

This is where things got REALLY difficult.  The ventral centrebody on the kit is far too wide. Whereas previous, smaller-scale kits had captured the shape of this reasonably well, Airfix have here made an enormous howler.  It is partially driven by the totally inaccurate section of the inner wing, with which it is moulded in one piece.  The part is totally wrong in cross-section, having the curvature in the opposite sense to the actual aircraft.  In order for the step between centrebody and ventral wing surface to somewhere close to the actual aircraft, therefore, the centrebody has to be far too wide.   As it is, there is hardly any room for fuel! Spend 5000 hours refining a design and that’s the care people take with it! Error.

In the absence of comprehensive scale drawings (a curious situation for such a well-loved, long-lived, prominent and of course unclassified aircraft) I did not have the necessary data to attend to this.  So I had to settle for sawing several millimetres of the side of the centrebody, thus dividing the piece into three.  I also cut out the fuselage fairings to give myself a bit of room to manoeuvre. What is really needed here is a drop-in replacement.  But I expect that the cost of such a large item would be prohibitive.

In preparation for later work with the engines, I obtained a couple of lengths of brass box girder to make spars to keep the aft inner wings straight, I cut notches for these into the lower walls of the fuselage, then epoxied them into place.  

If the gross inaccuracy of the centrebody area wasnt enough, the main gear bays are too far aft and need to be moved forward 7mm.  I was very grateful to be able to build the model with the gear up by this point.  I simply traced the lines forward 7mm and filled the aft gaps with scrap plastic.  

With all this mauling completed, it was time to put the remains of the centrebody in place beneath the fuselage.  I used liquid polystyrene cement for the most part, with viscous cyanocrylate and cyanoacrylate gel for the yawning voids.  

The dorsal wing surfaces were more or less left as they were, apart from the panel lines over the main gear bays.  These had of course to be moved forward 7mm.  The pieces were then glued into place, using polystyrene cement where they fitted and epoxy where they did not.  Care was taken to make sure that they were quite normal to the fuselage at the root.  

Once the upper wing halves were firmly installed, the inner ventral surfaces were added.  Liquid polystyrene worked well enough here.  To say that the gaps were then filled would be a gross understatement. Instead, vast amounts of Milliput were ladled in, with the FSRn process (Fill, Sand, Repeat to n times) using an entire packs worth (normally, a pack will last me a year or two) and taking a solid month.  Similarly epic quantities of wet and dry were needed to bring the surface to an acceptable condition. 

Once completed, and after the apples of the Hesperides had been obtained and the Augean stables cleaned out, the outer wing panels were added, liquid poly (which has got a lot more potent over the years) grabbing them in seconds.  The complex twist, curvature and camber seem to be well enough captured, but in the absence of detailed (and accurate) drawings, its impossible to be sure, especially in the cruise condition.

The elevons and their associated jack fairings were added after the engines had been completed.  Some filler was needed to blend them in, but not a vast amount.  The inner two did indeed fit the straight line of the inner wing well, better than would have apparently been the case without the internal stiffening.  Seven slots were cut in the outer elevons for the static discharge wicks.

Engine Nacelles 
The engine nacelles incorporate another one of the kit’s major inaccuracies, in that there is a completely fictional taper in the section, and more seriously in the elevation, of them, to fit the inaccurate inner wing.  For the fix, I followed the method developed by kitnut917 of the Britmodeller forum, and sawed into the aft end of the forward nacelle, and steadily bending it out, perturbed it to the shape required.  When these pieces were secure, I added the aft ventral nacelle pieces.  The gap thus opened up was filled with lengths of plasticard, with several dry runs to check the fit with the dorsal components. 

I assembled the nacelle interiors as per the kit instructions, shading Humbrol 22 gloss white into grey to give the impression of depth.  The compressor faces were painted in 53 Gun Metal metalcote.  I took the opportunity to open up the spill doors beneath the nacelle.  Once the interior ramps were secure, I bonded each nacelle to the underside of the wing with liquid polystyrene.  Once this was dry, I added the dorsal nacelle pieces, and then the turbine faces, to which I’d added beforehand spacers above and below from plasticard, so that they would fit the somewhat enlarged apertures.  After quite some sanding, they were ready for the external walls to be fitted above the nozzles.  Once these were installed I added the elevons and their associated jack fairings. 

I elected to finish the model with spraycans, given the simplicity of the base coat.  I prefer Hycote primer for its even finish, although I did suffer a ‘stubble’ problem with one.  Some slight fissures around the windows and the nozzles were dealt with reasonably enough using Mr. Surfacer, but this did present coverage issues above and beyond those presented by the white plastic.  Eventually I applied enough to gain an even coverage, using about two and a half large cans to do so.  Before the topcoat was finished I needed to take down the roughness, particularly on the starboard upper wing and the ventral tailcone.  I then applied a gloss white topcoat, which provided as nice a finish as possible in the circumstances.  For all the care that I’d taken in the filling and sanding stages, blemishes nonetheless appeared under the final coat, especially around the main/forward fuselage join.  

For the first time, I applied the metallic colours of the turbine and exhaust sections of the nacelles by airbrush.  After using a rattlecan to apply the basic acrylic flat black basecoat, I sprayed both with Humbrol 53 Gun Metal.  I masked off the nozzle section and applied a mix of Humbrol Metalcote Gun Metal, Xtracolour Burnt Iron and Humbrol 56 Aluminium to the turbine section, applying two coats before polishing.  The rest of the model was protected by pieces of newspaper held together by masking tape.  The turbine section was then masked off in turn, before the nozzles were sprayed with pure Metalcote Gun Metal, again being buffed on the second coat.  On removing the masks, I naturally found that paint had found its way to where it shouldn’t be, for all my careful masking, so the excess had to be removed by cotton bud and white spirit.  

With the decals finished, I applied two extra glossy coats with Johnson’s Pledge, as directed by Phil Flory of ProModeller.  Previous efforts with this substance showed the possibility of beads forming and solidifying, but most of these were wiped away before hardening, fortunately, as these are hard to remove once solidified – Windolene having no discernible effect and ammonia solution only working partially, at high concentration. 

Picking out the details was quickly done, with only a few places diverging from the overall white.  The static discharge wicks were picked out in Xtracolour Duralumin, with a Gun Metal root, the rims of the aft vents in Aluminium, and the vanes in the nose region in Gun Metal.  There are four small circular aerials on the forward ventral fuselage, and these were added in Humbrol 6 Tan.  The aerial and exhaust forward of them were added in Matt Black, as were the boots on the intake auxiliary doors.  The navigation lights on the forward wing root were painted in Tamiya Clear Red, then differentiated with Humbrol Glass Cote. The vane below the ventral VHF aerial was painted in Humbrol Silver. 

Once the gloss coat had dried for a day or two, I proceeded to apply the Pro Modeller weathering wash. On account of wanting to bring out the panel lines rather than weather the surface, I mixed the Dark Dirt wash with the much paler Light Dirt. It still came out a rather strong grey, however. 

With the basic colours stable, the decals had to be applied.  The sheet has been one of the few areas of the kit that has not induced a storm of criticism from the modelling community, and I found it as accurate as I could determine and very reliable, although I did lose a few from uncontrollable surface tension (‘crinkling’).  The choice of serials allowed me to recover this for the most part. On the gloss surface, the decals gripped very well, possibly too well, as with Micro Set it was hard to do the necessary manoeuvring once applied.  Some choose to paint the markings, but if one is going to use all the decals provided it will take a long time – I was approximately ten hours at it, over three nights and an afternoon.  The biggest challenge was the cheatlines (although the 1985-97 scheme did not have to be fitted along the window belt, thankfully).  There were port-starboard alignment and see through problems to be dealt with, but Humbrol 60 Matt Red was useful for the inevitable touchups.  I used the decals for the inner intake lips so far as I was able, touching them up with Humbrol 21 Gloss Black.  A fresh tin of Humbrol 22 Gloss White was used to answer the inevitable overruns.  The markings beneath the ventral leading edge were dealt with in the same way. 

The fin markings are intended to be touched up with paint, across the rudder actuator housings and – the Humbrol 15 Dark Blue is not the right shade, and I waited until daylight to mix this with Humbrol 189 Insignia Blue until I got a shade that seemed acceptable.  The intrusions into the crest were dealt with in Humbrol 56 Aluminium.

The kit stand was solidly completed, with the parts glued together via five-minute epoxy, with more used to attach a copious quantity of roofing lead to the base for the sake of solidity and balance.  The gaps that arose, primarily around the collar, were filled with black Milliput – not quite the same shade as the plastic, but the best that was available.  The screw was reinforced with screw lock cyanoacrylate.  Thin cyanoacrylate was used to fix the ball in position.  Polish was repeatedly applied to reduce the buff finish remaining after even the highest grade paper had been used on the column, but had only a limited effect.  

I would like to acknowledge the varied and considerable assistance given me in this project by: kitnut917 and Pin of the Britmodeller forum.  This build has been much the easier and more successful with their knowledgeable and enthusiastic assistance. 


  • Concorde: The Story of the Worlds Most Advanced Passenger Aircraft, F. G. Clark & A. Gibbons, Phoebus, 1975.

  • Aircraft Profile 250: BAC/Aerospatiale Concorde, N. Barfield, Profile Publications Ltd.,

  • Concorde Factsheet, R. Currell, Currell Graphics Ltd., 2006.

  • Crowood Aviation Series: Concorde, K. Darling, The Crowood Press, 2004.

  • Owners Workshop Manual: Aérospatiale/BAC Concorde: 1969 onwards: All Models, D. Lenny & D. Macdonald, Haynes Publishing, 2010.

  • Replic 10, p 50-6

  • Revi 57, M. Cvrkal.

Internet resources:

Gavin Parnaby

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Photos and text © by Gavin Parnaby