Kit No. 255
Cost: $19.95 – $34.95 (Long out of production)
Decals: One version – Royal Air Force Transport Command
Comments: Optional position landing gear; extensive raised rivet detail; raised panel lines; heavy engraved lines for control surfaces and cabin hatch; cabin interior includes floorboard, seats and twin control wheels; includes two pilot figures and display stand
The B.206 Basset was a British twin-engine liaison and communication aircraft manufactured in relatively small numbers from 1961 to 1969 by Beagle Aircraft Limited at Shoreham Airport and Rearsby Aerodrome in the United Kingdom. The prototye, B.206X, made its first flight on August 15, 1961. When British Executive and General Aviation Company (BEAGLE) was formed in October 1960, it ushered in a host of new ideas to aviation, culminating in the Basset 206, a small, sleek, light twin-engined executive aircraft less than a year later. The B.206 had a reputation for being stable in flight with quite responsive controls, an unusually rugged airframe, and was designed to require a minimum of maintenance when operating away from a fixed base.
The Basset 206 evolved from the Bristol 220 and was powered by two air-cooled Rolls Royce/Continental GIO-470 six-cylinder horizontally-opposed piston engines giving it a maximum speed of 220 mph and a range of 1,645 miles. The Basset carried as much radio equipment as a large airliner in order to fulfill the RAF requirement of positioning V-bomber crews. For a light plane, it had a relatively large cabin (over five feet wide), permitting wide armchair seats which could be arranged to face in either direction. Although designed to seat five, and later seven, it could seat up to eight in a pinch. Full de-icing systems, air conditioning and hydraulically operated landing gear were standard features.
Two aircraft were built for evaluation by the Ministry of Aviation at Boscombe Down, and an order for twenty aircraft for the Royal Air Force followed. The RAF aircraft were designated Basset CC.1 and were built at Rearsby Aerodrome, Leicestershire. A competition was held at RAF Northolt in March 1963 between the B.206 and the de Havilland Devon for an aircraft to replace the Avro Anson, resulting in 20 Bassets being ordered for the RAF. The first delivery to RAF communications squadrons was made in May 1965. The Northolt aircraft were originally based at RAF Bovingdon near Watford, Hertfordshire with the Southern Communications Squadron until the ‘SCS’ moved to Northolt and became 207 Squadron on February 4,1969. Another squadron, the Northern Communications Squadron, operated Bassets from R.AF Topcliffe near Thirsk in North Yorkshire, later becoming 26 Squadron at RAF Wyton. Most aircraft were removed from RAF service on May 2, 1974 and sold for civilian use. Civil versions were operated in many countries around the world for years afterwards.
First released in 1968, Airfix’s Beagle Basset 206 has been out of production for several years (why remains a mystery, as finished photos I have seen prove that it builds into a a sleek, attractive aircraft kit) and is something of a collector’s item, particularly if it can be found fully intact (mine was close, missing only a marking or two from the curled, yellowed decal sheet).
The kit is molded in metallic grey plastic and consists of 46 parts (not including display stand). Five of these are clear plastic parts for the large, panoramic windshield and smaller cabin windows. There is a one-page instruction sheet containing clear, detailed illustrations front and back for each stage of construction, as you would expect from Airfix. The cabin features two individual seats for pilot and co-pilot, and two couches behind which seat an additional three and two persons, respectively. There is a rear bulkhead, two control wheels, and no other detail. The cabin interior sidewalls are smooth, as you might expect on an Airfix kit of this vintage, and the overall effect is Spartan. The pilot figures, however, are quite well detailed, right down their helmet visors and air hoses.
There are two two-bladed propellers, which are to be affixed to not-particularly-detailed engine faces. The kit can be built with the gear up or down, and a display stand is provided if a modeler chooses the former. The gear doors are small and spindly and conjure unpleasant memories of the carpet monster dwelling malevolent and unseen below every modeler’s workbench — it will require care not to lose them. Since this kit has tricycle landing gear, if you should build it with the gear down– don’t forget the nose weight!
A great vintage kit. While the rivets will need to be sanded down to smoothness in some areas to assure good decal adhesion, this will be a fun one.
- Private Aircraft: Business and General Purpose Since 1946 by Kenneth Munson; Copyright 1967 by Blandford Press, Ltd.
- Airfix instruction sheet