What if Rotordyne

By: Mark Powley

Quite often prototype aircraft will be cancelled just as it seems as all of the design flaws have been solved. The Fairey Rotodyne was one of these. It's main problem was the shrill scream coming from the rotor tip jets and this was the reason given for it's cancellation. I was visiting a Alternative History discussion board one day and one of the topics was the Fairey Rotodyne. The main points of the discussion boiled down to the fact that the noise problems had indeed been solved just as it was cancelled, what the results of US-license production would have been and potential customers and uses. This inspired me to think about potential Australian use and the thought struck me that a high speed, troop/cargo version would have been perfect for use in South Vietnam.

Then just a week later I was browsing in Model World and what did I see but....the Airfix Rotodyne. Needless to say that I promptly bought it. This is an old kit and, man, does it show. Incredibly thick trailing edges, flash all over the place, sink marks galore,a barely existent interior and about 50,000 over-sized rivets. Undeterred I got started.

My first task was to sand off all the surface detail as I quickly realised that filling all the sink marks would mean that a lot of the detail would vanish any way as well as the fact that all the rivets were rather smeared looking . While I was at it I thinned down the trailing edges as best I could. As my kit would be a troop/cargo carrier I decided to change the large oval windows to smaller circular ones instead and to change the rear clamshell doors to a more practical Chinook style ramp. Filling each window and recutting new ones would be a lot of hassle, so I went the easier route of cutting out the fuselage section containing the windows, replacing it with a piece of 40 thou plastic card and then drilling new windows. The rear of the fuselage was then cut a an angle for the new rear ramp. A whole bunch of other tasks followed: improving the cockpit, adding floors to the undercarriage bays, replacing the hopelessly ugly undercarriage with items in the spares box and building all the interior detail for the cargo bay. About halfway through construction I completely ran out of steam. Lots of work and filling and sanding and filling and sanding had sucked dry all enthusiasm I had for the project and it went into storage.

About 18 months later I decided to pick it up again and finish it off. More construction, more filling, more sanding and half a can of spray primer/filler later and it was ready. All I had to do was mask the canopy and that was it.

A year later I finally got around to masking the canopy. I was going to finish this kit if it killed me! I decided to go with a simple overall olive-green colour and dug around in my paint drawer until I found something suitable. The markings came from an Aussie Decals Chinook decal sheet and are a mix of early and late markings. Not accurate but I don't care! Final construction was a case of adding the undercarriage, props and rotor.

There are a whole bunch of things I should have done such as adding undercarriage doors and painting the props and rotor blades black but I just couldn't be bothered. Just finishing was more important than how good it was. Now that the Rotodyne is finished I can look at it with a feeling of relief. It's never going to be an award winner but as a two-footer it looks okay. Do you know what really bothers me? When I bought this kit John at Model World brought out an older boxing of the Rotodyne he had for sale as well as an alternative but I declined. Now in hindsight I realised that it would have been a much better buy as it would have been a much cleaner moulding than the boxing I had. D'oh! Oh well, we live and learn.