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Freightdog's 1/72 scale SR P.177
Saunders Roe Cyclone F.1

by Brett Green

 

SR P.177 prototype finished as the hypothetical Saunders Roe Cyclone F.Mk.1
74 "Tiger" Squadron, Royal Air Force
RAF Leuchars, Scotland, May 1964

 


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Introduction

 

Background*

In February 1952, the Cowes based Saunders-Roe company tendered to meet specification F.124T to supply a small rocket powered interceptor, able to fire fifty unguided projectiles at its target, then glide back to base, or allow its pilot to escape via a jettisonable cabin, similar to the Bachem Natter.

Saunders-Roe were awarded an amended contract on 9 May 1952 now calling for a mixed power project. Work began on the Mach 1.3 capable SR53 high-speed research aircraft, however the SR53 would not materialize as a combat ready design, but instead valuable experience gained by the company could prove the concept for a larger more capable aircraft. This project was to become the Saunders-Roe SR177.

In May 1955 the go ahead was given to meet the requirements of the Royal Air Force under O.R.337, and the Royal Navy under N.A.47. First flight of the Mach 2.3 SR177 was planned for early 1958; by September 1956 this was refined to cover a batch of twenty-seven airframes, including nine development aircraft for each service. Now designated P177R and P177N for Air Force and Navy respectively. The first five aircraft, powered by one Gyron Junior turbojet and supplemented by a Spectre rocket engine were allocated serials XL905-07, 920 and 921. These five would fly without weapon capability or radar in order to speed development.

 



The future of the P177R and P177N was looking bright, with potential British orders for one hundred and fifty of each variant, along with strong export potential from the West German armed forces. Sadly it was not to be, the Defence White Paper of April 1957 resulted in the immediate cancellation of the RAF P177R, reducing the initial batch to eighteen aircraft. The Royal Navy P177N (illustrated above) survived until December of that year, while work on the near completed prototypes continued, by Christmas Eve the whole project was cancelled.

Saunders-Roe's last attempt to revive the project, the sale of all five airframes under construction to Japan (including tooling and the completed SR53ís) proved unsuccessful.
 


Freightdog's 1/72 scale SR P177R in the Box

Freightdog Models released their 1/72 scale Saunders Roe P177R mixed-power fighter project aircraft at IPMS ScaleModelworld in November, 2006.

The model comprises 25 beautifully cast yellow resin parts, plus a vacform canopy (and a spare). The high level of casting is not surprising as the parts have been produced by Anigrand Craftworks in Hong Kong. There were a few air bubbles that need to be filled on my sample, but this was a fast and easy task.

Rockets and drop tanks are supplied, as is a nice ejection seat. The seat is the only element provided for the cockpit, but it is very nicely done and the heavy framing of the canopy will effectively disguise the lack of detail in the black-painted front office.

Wheel well detail is cast in place on the fuselage halves.

Very little cleanup of the resin parts is required before construction begins.

The kit is cleverly engineered to help ensure secure fit of major parts. The fuselage has locating holes for the wings and the fin, and the horizontal tailplanes slot into the top of the fin for a secure bond.

Markings for six speculative aircraft are supplied, but you can please yourself about the finish of your model as the real aircraft never reached completion. These attractive markings will provide ample inspiration, however. The decals are printed by Fantasy Printshop, and are thin and in perfect register.

 

 

Construction

 

When I received my early production sample last year, I did not really intend to build the model immediately. I was just going to test fit the parts.

As it turned out, preparing the parts was so easy that I thought I might glue a few components together. The fit was so good that I just kept going!

 

 

I only have a few comments and suggestions about construction:

Do take a few minutes to check for pin holes and air bubbles. On my sample, there were a few on the fuselage and wings, and more noticeably on the drop tanks. These were filled with Milliput and sanded smooth when set.

 

 

The Red Top Missiles are beautifully detailed but both of mine had a nasty warp along their lengths. I was not entirely successful eliminating this warpage, but I cut off the raised mounting lugs and repositioned the missiles to (hopefully) draw attention away from the banana profile.

The vacform canopy is very thin. If you are securing it in the closed position, I recommend gluing a fine bead of copper wire (or plastic sprue, or fuse wire, or any similar material) to act as a positive lip to glue to the inside edges of the canopy part.

 

 

If you are building the aircraft with the wheels down, remember that the intake lip would have been extended. My early sample did not come with instructions so I did not discover this detail until it was too late!

Some nose weight is required, but thanks to the separate jet pipe I waited until construction was complete before dealing with this issue. This is a real advantage, as I was able to add only the weight required to keep the nose wheel on the ground, avoiding overloading the resin undercarriage.

Otherwise, construction was very straightforward.

Fit is almost flawless. However, I did manage to slightly misalign the join on the bottom of the rear fuselage. This step was filled with Milliput and sanded flat when set.

 

 

Painting and Markings

 

Prior to painting, the main joins were brushed with lines of Tamiya Liquid Surface Primer as insurance against any fine gaps, and the entire model was sanded first with my Blue Mastercasters sanding stick, then with 3600 grit Micro Mesh cloth.

The canopy was masked with Tamiya tape and secured to the fuselage using watchmaker's cement. A number of small gaps were filled with Tamiya Liquid Surface Primer before painting.

 

 

Freightdog's kit comes with six marking options, but I decided to customise my "Cyclone" as a Tiger Squadron aircraft. I have always liked Meteors and Lightnings in this colourful Squadron's livery, and the lines of the P177 seemed to lend itself to something similar.

The first painting step was to spray the general canopy area black to ensure the correct interior colour.

Because the model was destined to wear a natural metal finish, I primed the entire airframe with Tamiya Grey Primer, decanted from the spray can into a plastic container, and then into the paint cup of my Testor's Aztek A470 airbrush. I like the Tamiya primer, being fast drying and a good base for Alclad, but it can display a slight "orange peel" finish when sprayed straight from the can.

 

 

Next, the the model was sprayed with an overall coat of Alclad Aluminium. Selected panels were masked off before applying a coat of Aluminium Shade 2, followed by more masking and, perhaos predictably, Aluminium Shade 3.

Alclad dries so fast that I could mask over the previous coat almost as soon as I had cleaned the airbrush.

With the natural metal finish taking form, I masked the spine, nose cone, anti-glare strip and tail. These areas received a coat of flat black. The masking was removed from the metallic areas and the whole model was sprayed with Polly Scale Gloss in preparation for decals.

 

 

Markings were sourced from a number of sheets. I wanted to depict a scheme around 1964/65, when 74 Sqn carried its most interesting (in my opinion) colours. The truncated Squadron colours behind the roundel was seen on Lightnings in 1965, so I thought it was good enough for this one too.

All the Squadron flashes came from Xtradecals' 1/72 scale sheet number X72-057 for RAF Gloster Meteors. I also used the small Squadron flash and Tiger's head from the Xtradecal sheet as a supplementary marking for the drop tanks. The large Tiger emblem on the tail was sourced from Cutting Edge 1/48 scale sheet CED48077 for the English Electric Lightning. National markings, the code letter "R", the serial number on the fuselage and under the wings, and the stencils, were all included on the Freightdog kit decal sheet.

All the decals performed flawlessly with the help of Micro Set and Micro Sol - even the very challenging application over the raised strake under the port side of the canopy (after a little persuasion with a toothpick and a hobby blade).

 

 

Weathering was kept light, with some very subtle streaks sprayed onto the fuselage and wings, and selected panel lines highlighted with a thin oil wash of Lamp Black and Raw Umber.

I checked my meagre references and found various schemes applied to the missiles. In the end I settled on white, with an oil wash to highlight the details. The tracking head was painted Gloss Blue, then a few white spots added before an application of Tamiya Clear Blue. From some angles, this delivers the illusion of semi-transparency.

The undercarriage was painted and installed without incident. The nose weight was sufficient to keep all three wheels on the ground. Finishing touches were some avionics for the spine and a pitot tube (at least I assume it is a pitot) on the tail, all scratchbuilt.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Freightdog Models' debut release features excellent surface detail, is easy to build, and offers unlimited possibilities for marking options. The P177 is certainly an interesting subject too.

I look forward to seeing what Freightdog comes up with next!

Thanks to Freightdog Models for the sample kit.

* Thanks to Freightdog Models for permission to use background text

 


Model, Images & Text Copyright © 2007 by Brett Green
except Background Text Copyright © 2007 by Freigthdog Models
Page Created 27 January, 2007
Last Updated 24 December, 2007

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