RFB Fantrainer

Fantrainer in 1/72 scale: kit modelling report of the AVIS kit

The West German company Rhein-Flugzeugbau developed a light two-seat trainer in the seventies. It got a development contract from the West German Defense Ministry. It was to be a low cost trainer and had a special feature as it had a mid mounted ducted fan and slightly forward swept wings. The crew sat under a large bubble canopy hood. First prototype flight was in 1977 powered by two NSU Wankel engines. Later the engine was changed to Allison 250 engines. No German Defense order was placed but the Royal Thai Air Force ordered from 1983 Fantrainers , some 31 FT400 and 16 FT600, with local assembly and production with some structural changes. But it is unclear how many actually were completed, reports say no more than a dozen. The Fantrainers that were delivered were used as the "lead in" trainers for the Thai F-5E fighters.

Some data: crew 2; length 9,2 m and wing span 9,74 m; maximum speed about 417 km/hr and 4 hours endurance. Typical take-off weight 1700 kgs.

 avis fantrainer
The model kit of the Fantrainer 400 is of AVIS which is an unknown brand to me but looks to be Amodel. The kit  #BX72024 was released in 2017. It is a short run kit but the about 40 parts are neat and fine. The transparant canopy is cristal clear and there is also a small etched metal fret with parts for the cockpit interior.

Decals are for one single Thai Air Force scheme with tiny roundels and code "4001". The associated paint scheme is rather complex with white and red and cheatlines. All this needs masking and painting at this tiny model.

It was decided to finish it as per kit scheme for the Thai Fantrainer, nice for the "World Air Forces in Plastic" collection.

Kit  built-up is rather complicated because of the mid situated fan. The cockpit seats are too wide and do not fit. So some work to trim these is needed here. Cockpit detailing was done at a later stage as the tub is reachable.

Before closing the fuselage nose really ensure to put weight in the nose. The undercarriage is very weak but this is needed to avoid a tail sitter.
The assembly af the duct and fan showed the fan to be 0.2 mm too large in diameter. So trim as well. There is a small correction needed in the wing part #33, this is indicated in the instructions.
Aligning and getting parts symmetrical needs care. Also some putty and sanding is needed, particularly at the wing - fairing and forward fuselage. I removed the small pins at several parts to get a better fit.
a3  putty      
I decided to cut the main undercarriage leg part in 2: this enables installing it at a much later stage. Otherwise it may be damaged quickly.

Sanding and putty was needed, also at the lower fuselage.

I also reduced the ailerons span by about 2 mm and used a little bit of white glue to get a better looking gap.

Now first airbrushed was a primer: base grey with Revell 75 "steingrau" aqua to check for any errors in filling.

The paint work was done before adding all the smaller parts.
After a good result, a base coat of mat white was airbrushed followed by a few gloss white coats. Next the masking was required for the red trim. Some red paint was also applied with a brush.

I covered the model also with a few coats of gloss, in this case with Johnson Future/Pledge FloorCare acrylic. The decals are a bit thin so take care. To be on the safe side, cover the decals with a coat of MicroScale Liquid Decal film.
future pledge  decal film

The few decals were set on the model. 

The cockpit was now detailed and the parts like the seat straps in the etched metal fret added after these were painted. The interior has varying colours with a base medium grey finish. The canopy set closed as this makes the Fantrainer look "smart". The canopy needed only some white glue to close the tiny gaps. Paint when dried. The red painted on the model later was visible, I should have added a little white. The airframe red appears lighter red beacuse of airbrushing, with a thin red coat layer.

The vulnerable gears and doors were installed. As noted earlier the main gear strut I had cut in half. So it could be installed and set symmetrical.
Finally I added a few "static dischargers" made from thin flexible fishing wire on the tips of wing and tails.

This completed this neat looking Fantrainer model. A nice addition to the World Air Forces collection.

thai map   thai falg  thai air force roundel
[  513,000 sq.km | capital: Bangkok | 69 million inhabitants | GDP per capita $7,600 ]

The Thailand Air Force ("Kong Thap Akat Thai") was established very early in 1913 when Thailand was known as Siam. From France some Breguets and Nieuport biplanes were acquired. In the 1930s over 70 Curtiss Hawks and over 100 Corsair V.93 were used. From 1939 the name Thailand was used and after the second world war ended some American second hand aircraft were put in service like the Bearcat. But also trainers like the AT-6, Chipmunk and Tigermoth. From 1957 some T-33 jets were supplied under MDAP with transports like the C-47, C-54 and C-123. During the Vietnam war also the air force was re-enforced. Some 30 F-84 and over 50 F-86F Sabres were used followed by F-5A/B. Some USAF aircraft operated from Thai bases. In the 1980s Fantrainers were ordered and locally produced and F-5E fighters and F-5T trainers followed from 1988 by F-16A/B. Various transports were also operated including from 1980 C-130 and from 1982 some 19 GAF Nomad. The L-39ZA was also procured in the 1990's along with PC-9's and from 2000 some 20 Alphajets. Current fighter aircraft are dozen modern Saab Gripens and still F-16's.  
The air force uses a specific designation system with B.Kh for fighters, B.J for attack aircraft, B.TL for observation, B.Th for bombers, B.F for trainers and B.L for transports.
 ... and set in a scenery....

- Air International magazine, Volume 30, page 70...

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Created this page March 15, 2018