Next up on the 800NAS project, a bit of an unusual one for a squadron whose history is at the tooth end of the animal that is the Fleet Air Arm. The Miles Magister, affectionately known as the ‘Maggie’, was the RAF’s first low-wing monoplane trainer. They were used for the elementary stages of flying training, advanced training being performed on the Miles Master or aircraft such as the Harvard. Early aircraft had an unpleasant tendency to crash if put into a spin, this was cured by a redesigned tail and strakes along the top of the rear fuselage to maintain rudder authority for recovery (“full opposite rudder – pause – stick forward” if I recall correctly).
In the late 1930’s, 800NAS was something of a trials squadron in addition to its other duties. This is why they were given a couple of Gloster Sea Gladiators, and a few Maggies. Quite what they were going to do with them, I haven’t found out, but I suspect they were used for communications flights and as the CO’s weekend hack.
Anyway, this is a nice little kit of a charming little aeroplane. It is a new release by RS Models who also have two other versions on the market – mainly with different decals I suspect.
The kit comes on a single plastic sprue, with a small sheet pf photo etch, an acrylic sheet for the windscreens and instruments and a set of decals for three aircraft – two RAF and one Portuguese.
There is nothing really to say about the construction. All the pieces fit together well enough, there is little in the way of flash to clean up apart from a few injector posts here and there in the wings and fuselage, but otherwise extremely straightforward.
For colours, I opted for the pre-War all-over yellow, as by the time camouflage was introduced the Maggies had long gone and the squadron was working up with the Blackburn Skua. As I have mentioned before, yellow is so difficult to get with any depth, so I gave a light coat of white over the primer first, then two layers of yellow. The engine cover is aluminium.
Once it is all done, wheels on, the stowed blind flying hood behind the rear seat and the decals applied, it all looks pretty ship shape. A lovely little aeroplane. Interestingly, L5961 as shown here was also on the books of 24 Sqn RAF before the War, and 24 Sqn was also something of a working trials unit. Certainly in the dark days of 1939 and 1940 when invasion seemed imminent, plans were made to equip Maggies with eight 25lb bombs each to help fend off the enemy (the ‘Maggiebomber’), but they were not needed in the end. So perhaps the FAA and RAF were looking at what else trainers could do.
Anyway, many FAA pilots were trained on Maggies at RAF Elementary Flying Training Schools, then often abroad to train on Harvards before joining their squadrons. Next on the list is one of they types on which they would have been let loose, the Seafire.