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.
  photos made at Le Bourget air show in the 1990s

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 ]

Thailand between Burma, Malaysia and Vietnam in south-east Asia has a population of now almost 70 million with Bangkok as its capital. It has many different etnic groups and from the sixteenth century onwards contacts arose with the Portuguese who called it Siam. In the east there was French Indochina but the area of Siam was never really colonized in all those years. Thailand has elections but
still a monarchy with the Royals of Rama.

From 31 January to 6 February 1911, the Belgian pilot Charles Van Den Born made a first aircraft demonstration in Siam at the Sapathum Horse Racing Course (now Royal Sports Club) in Bangkok. Thai King Rama VI was so impressed that in 1912, he sent three army officers to France to learn to fly. Military aviation started in December 1913 when the ordered Nieuport IIN and IVG with 4 Breguet III planes arrived with the Army Aviation established. From March 1915 flights were done from Don Muang. In the 1920s, Nieuport Bebes 11 fighters were acquired, followed by Nieuport 17, 21, 24 and 27 fighters and a few SPAD VII/ XIII as well. Some 30 aircraft were locally build. Some 8 Breguet 14 were also used for several tasks in the 1920s such as mail flights. Some were locally built. In 1924 another dozen Nieuport 29D fighters arrived. Mid 1928 4 Consolidated PT-1 trainers were acquired and in 1929 a pair of Bristol Bulldog II and 20 Avro 504N. Two Heinkel HD43 fighters came in 1930 and two Boeing 100E end 1931. 
After a bloodless coup d'état in 1932, Thailand became a monarchy. In the 1930s, more than 70 Curtiss Hawk II and some 84 Corsair V-93 biplanes followed, of which some 75 were built locally. In 1936 Hawk III were also acquired and some 50 locally built. April 1937 6 Martin 139 WSM bombers arrived as well as 12 Curtiss Hawk 75N fighters.

In April 1937 it officially became the Thai Air Force ("Kong Thap Akat Thai"). Three Fairchild 24 liaison aircraft were delivered and another 10 in 1940. During the Franco-Thai War in early 1941 there were air battles against the French Vichy in Indochina. After Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941, a local agreement was reached after 2 weeks in which the Thai rulers could stay under Japanese control but whereas War had to be declared to the United States and England. Thailand would act as buffer towards British India and military support from the Japanese followed, but the battlegrounds were mostly elsewhere. However, aircraft such as 25 Ki-30, 9 Ki-21 "Sally" bombers, 24 Tachikawa Ki-36, 24 Ki-43 Hayabusa "Oscar", 12 Ki-27 "Nate" were received. From the occupied Dutch East Indies 3 Martin 139 and 6 Martin 166 bombers were transferred August to November 1943 by the Japanese and they were designated Type 41. Many fighters were used in 1945 for the defense of Bangkok against air raids by the Americans.

After 1945, Thailand would be more Western oriented along with the other countries and the United States because of emerging communism and the Cold War in Asia. Dozens of US second-hand aircraft were obtained such as 10 Stinson L-5 liaison aircraft and 6 Beech C-45, over 12 C-47's. From 1947 18 Miles Magister trainers followed, over 60 DHC-1
Chipmunk and Tigermoths. From 30 Spitfires were acquired and 3 Westland WS-51 Dragonfly helicopters. Some 204 Grumman Bearcats were delivered from 1951 under MDAP but also trainers such as the over 30 AT-6 Texans, Pipercubs and a Hiller 360 helicopter, YR-5a and Hiller UH-12 helicopters. In 1951 a dozen Fairey Fireflies were delivered and 6 Curtiss Helldivers. In 1957, the jet age began with the Lockheed T-33 and 8 RT-33A. Not much later followed 31 F-84 Thunderjets and 45 F-86F-30/40 Sabres, followed by 17 F-86L in 1963. One C-54 VIP and 8 C-123B transports were also obtained and T-37 jet trainers. Four H-43B huskies helicopters were also used. During the Vietnam War, in the sixties the air force was also strengthened with from 1967 a dozen Northrop F-5, some 40 and later 80 extra T-28 Trojan. In addition, the USAF also flew from Thai bases such as Udorn and Ubon, even with bombers. At the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975, the crews of some 100 former South Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian aircraft had fled to Thailand and several were put into service. Additional aircraft obtained were F-5, Bell Hueys, A-37, OH-13, T-41D and over 30 OV-10 Bronco's.
After the end of the Vietnam war, there were still threats from communist groups along the Thai-Cambodian lines. A dozen SIAI SF-260 trainers and 24 NZA CT-4 trainers were used. A local developed trainer was the RTAF-4 Chandra. Transports were also a few C-130 and GAF Nomads.
From 1978 reinforcements from the USA followed with dozens of modern F-5E and F-5F Tiger fighter-bombers. In the eighties Fantrainers were ordered and produced locally, but they were not a success. In 1985 the US Congress approved the sale of about 60 second-hand F-16s to Thailand. A dozen trainer PC-9, some 36 L-39ZA Albatros and from 2000 about 25 second-hand Alphajets arrived.
The current fighters are 13 modern Saab Gripens and still the F-16. The fairly large and modern air force has about 26 squadrons flying from a dozen air bases.
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.

Thailand's navy has also had its own air force for years, with Fairey Fireflies in the 1950s and then the Grumman Albatross and 10 second-hand Trackers. These all flew from the shore above the Gulf of Siam. The navy had more ambition and in 1997 the aircraft carrier HTMS Chakri Naruebet was put into service, which would fly with ex-Spanish AV-8 Harrier/Matadors. In practice these were modest operations, most 9 Matadors remained on shore and rarely were flown from the ship along with some helicopters. From 1996 to 2006, the White Shark squadron flew 24 second-hand Vought A-7 Corsairs. Currently, the Navy Air Force mainly flies helicopters, but also a number of Fokker F27s and Lockheed P-3 Orions.

In the eighties Fantrainers were ordered and produced locally, but they were not a success. view
 ... and set in a scenery....

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

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Created this page March 15, 2018