20 July 2022
Aviation 72 de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk
PRICE: £34.99 each
REF NO: AV7226016 (Army), AV7226018/19/20 (College of Air Training)
Designed and developed immediately after World War II by de Havilland Canada, as a trainer replacement for the de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane, the DHC-1 Chipmunk first took to the skies at DHC's Downsview base, near Toronto, on 22nd May 1946. Into service within months, the Chipmunk was procured in large numbers by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Royal Air Force (RAF). Now, more than seventy-five years after the type first entered service, hundreds of Chipmunks remain airworthy and are in operation around the world.
A total of 1,283 Chipmunks were built – 217 by de Havilland Canada, until production ended in 1956, and 1,000 were built under licence by de Havilland itself – initially at Hatfield Aerodrome before production was transferred to Broughton, near Chester. A further 66 were manufactured by OGMA (Oficinas Gerais de Material Aeronáutico), at Alverca in Portugal from 1955 to 1961, for the Portuguese Air Force. Amazingly, six are still in service with the Força Aérea Portuguesa today!
The prototype was fitted with the air-cooled Gipsy Major 1C, but production aircraft in Canada (designated T.1 and T.2) were fitted with the Gipsy Major 8. Those produced in the UK (T.10) also had the Gipsy Major 8. The RAF took 735 T.10s, seeing action with the Royal Navy and Army too, and 217 were exported and redesignated as Mk 20s. The Mk 21 was the civilian production version – 28 were built.
Many Chipmunks that had been in military use were sold to civilians when they were struck off charge, either to private owners or to companies. These were then used for a variety of purposes, often involving the type's excellent flying characteristics and its capability for aerobatic manoeuvres. The Chipmunk still serves as a useful trainer today, also seeing use as a glider tug, and some have even been specially converted to crop sprayers. A very versatile aircraft indeed.
The options in 1/72 scale diecast are currently limited to just one manufacturer - Aviation 72 - but it has already built up quite a catalogue of these magnificent aircraft. Here we have the four very latest releases. They have been a long time coming, with pre-production samples having first been seen at Nuremberg in 2019, but it has definitely been worth the wait as our Editor just can't get enough of these beauties!
With these four all landing together, it's like a mini squadron has just arrived. The Aviation 72 casting is excellent and this batch brings the total number of variants to 22.
So onto the first three reviewed here - all are variants of aircraft used by the College of Air Training. Formed in 1960 to train pilots for the national airlines, BOAC and BEA (later to become British Airways), it started with an intake of 21 students and was officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1961.
To gain their commercial pilot’s licence, the student pilots first trained and the course they took was equivalent to degree standard today. Successful candidates first undertook ground school training, progressing on to flying training with an instructor in a single engine Chipmunk, these were replaced in 1967 by Piper Cherokees. We have three registration variants of these here - G-ARMG (still flying today wearing its original WK558 markings), G-AMUC (de-registered in 1976 and shipped to the USA) and G-AMMA (de-registered and now flying in Denmark as OY-DHJ).
The Army Air Corps was formed in 1942 and certainly operated Chipmunks at one point (it even still has one in storage for a future rebuild), but the aircraft modelled here, for our fourth Chippie, is actually G-HDAE repainted as WP964 - the real WP964 is based in South Africa these days.
All four models carry on the excellent work of Aviation 72 and are superb additions to its squadron of Chipmunks. The casting is wonderful and the paintwork is flawless, with the simple liveries expertly applied. And you don't even need a licence to 'fly' one of these magnificent models, so what's stopping you?