1/32 Matchbox Tiger Moth Part 1

by Barney Dunlevy


Tiger By The Tail

One of my all time favourite aircraft is the DeHavilland DH82C and although I have built 4 of the 1/32 scale Matchbox kits over the years, I have never reproduced my old Moth as it was in 1955.  I guess the big deterrent was the checkerboard pattern on the wings and tail, which I had masked off on the original..to the tune of 14 rolls of masking tape..and I was not about trying that again in any scale. 

The first task was to find decal sheets in the correct size, but this proved to be futile.  The tail surfaces required 3/32 inch and the wings 5/32 inch checkerboard decals..and no one produced the correct size until a question was posed on Hyperscale and Mike Grant of Mike Grant Decals responded with the answer.  An order was placed and before too long the two sheets, 5X7, arrived in the mail and they looked really good.  Perfect red squares on a clear background…which will be painted gloss white.   


Now to the old kit that has been sitting in my closet for a great many years..and the much older factory drawings which I would use for reference.  The major parts were cleaned up and checked for accuracy against the drawings.  The fuselage is of course the British version with planned modifications for the Canadian built aircraft.  The molded in structure and throttles looked out of place and sure enough the drawings confirmed my worst thoughts.  Out came the trusty Dremel and soon I had all of the interior removed and replaced with Plasticard stock.  The frame structure was replaced as were the throttle, brake systems,  trim system, fuel shutoff and canopy emergency release.

I did not like the kit instrument panels and they were the next to get the treatment, using two layers of plastic card with decal instrument faces.  These were sealed with a couple of drops of Polyscale clear gloss.  The seats were attached to the control tunnel on the floor but when I tried to fit things together I found that the seats were too wide and the tunnel was equally out of proportion.  The seats were narrowed using Mr Dremel , new sides made from card stock and the new tunnel built up from .020 card.  Rudder pedals were made up from brass bits and plastic rod and attached to the tunnel.  A fire extinguisher was made by turning a piece of plastic rod in my battery powered drill and trimming with a nail board sanding stick.  Bits of brass were used to finish the bottle which was installed on the back of the front seat.  Eduard photo etch seat belts were attached to the seats and the whole parcel was installed in the fuselage.  And it fit fairly well.  The only kit parts in the fuselage are the firewall and the rear bulkhead which was properly modified.

The tail  assembly next got my attention, with the rudder and elevators being separated from the fixed surfaces, and trim tabs installed. There were no trim controls on the kit even though they are quite prominent on the real thing.  

The wings got the treatment next , with the slats glued in place, filled and contoured.  The Canadian Moth had a plywood leading edge covering over the ribs and this was taken care of with Tamiya grey putty.  The bottom wing needed some extra attention with hand holds being drilled out and filed smooth.  The aileron external control mechanism was finished using discs punched out of .010” card and glued in place.  The fuel tank received a bit of enhancement using brass tube and plastic..more on this part later! 

At this point, all rigging points and control cable exits were drilled out using a no. 72 bit in a pin vice.  I plan on using stretched sprue for the rigging and control cables and by pre-drilling, the job becomes much easier. 

The lower wings are now in place as is the tail assembly and tail wheel.  The plan is to paint the model before installing the upper wing ..and apply the decals as well.  What will it look like ..Well remember this was a civilian Moth, with my own personalized paint job..before the warbird restoration bug spread around the globe.  My Tiger Myth was an eye-catching airplane and within the next couple of weeks, I’ll be able to finish this work of love.   

I’m attaching a photo of the real thing, taken at RCAF Station Greenwood, Nova Scotia in 1954..shortly after being rolled out of the paint shop.  I know that a couple of the guys have already seen this photo but for those that haven’t  , enjoy. Not having a digital camera, I can’t give you work-in-progress photos but they will follow at a later date


Happy Scratch building..


1/32 Matchbox Tiger Moth Part 2

Photos and text © by Barney Dunlevy