Kit No. 72061
Decals: Two versions – Saunders Roe touring/promotional aircraft, and Czech Airlines version
Comments: Engraved panel ;detailed resin radial engines; photo-etch parts for cockpit, landing gear, hull/fuselage
The Saro Cloud was a British amphibian flying boat designed and built by Saunders-Roe as the A.19 and later produced as the A.29 for the Royal Air Force for pilot and navigator training, and also as a patrol and rescue craft. It saw service as both a civilian airliner and military trainer from 1933 to 1939. Expecting to build on the success of the A.17 Cutty Sark, the Saunders Roe company designed an enlarged version designated the A.19 Cloud.
The new flying boat carried a crew of two with eight passengers, and like the Cutty Sark was a twin-engined monoplane flying boat with two engines strut-mounted above the wing. The design was a hybrid, involving a metal fuselage and wooden wings, and allowed for flexibility in engine fits. First flown on July 16, 1930, the prototype was fitted with two 300 hp (224 kW) Wright J-6 radial engines. Later versions were powered by a variety of engines, always in pairs: the Napier Rapier in-line sixteen cylinder engine, the A.S. Lynx IVCc, or Pratt and Whitney Wasp C radial engines. Many production aircraft were powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Serval III radial engine of 235 kW. Ultimately four aircraft were sold to private operators with still different engines fitted.
The Air Ministry ordered one aircraft for evaluation as a trainer, it was first flown in June 1930. After evaluation the Air Ministry ordered a total of sixteen aircraft for pilot and navigator training (in three batches) to Air Ministry Specification 15/32. Designated the A.29 the Serval-powered aircraft had room for six students, it had provision to fit gun mountings in the bow and aft compartments, it could also carry four 50 lb. practice bombs. The fourth aircraft built had an interesting history. It was the civilian G-ACGO aircraft depicted by one version of the markings in this kit. Built in July 1933, it went on to tour Scandinavia and the greater part of continental Europe, and was the firrst amphibious aircraft to land in Prague, Czechoslovakia on October 5, 1933.
Czech officials were so impressed with its flight characteristics and potential for boosting the tourism industry that the official state airline purchased the plane. It was later fitted with different engines, the Czechoslovak-built Walter Pollux IIR, and from August 1934 flew with the serial OK-BAK. In 1935 it began regular service on the Zagreb-Susak route, offering a faster mode of travel to a popular recreational destination. Service continued until 1938 and this A.19 was decommissioned in March 1939. After World War II it was sold for private use and converted to a houseboat.
The first production A.29 Cloud was delivered to the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment for test and evaluation. Following modifications to the hull and steps, the aircraft was delivered to the Seaplane Training Squadron at RAF Calshot in August 1933. During its career, 22 Clouds were built, with the majority serving as RAF training aircraft for both pilots, destined to train on larger flying boats after graduating from the Cloud before being assigned to frontline RAF flying boat units, and navigators, as the cabin was large enough to house several map tables. The final Cloud was delivered to the RAF in 1935 and after only a few years’ service as trainers the last operational aircraft were withdrawn from service in July 1939.
Valom’s Saunders Roe A.19 Cloud is injection molded in grey and consists of 134 grey and 8 clear plastic parts (142 injection molded parts total), plus 11 cast resin parts, also in grey, for the radial engines, alternate cowlings, and landing gear. A photo-etched fret rounds out the kit’s details. The two large sprues for the injection molded parts come in a resealable clear plastic bag, and the two highly detailed fuselage halves are each self-contained in their own non-resealable clear plastic bag. They feature ribbed detail on both the fuselage interior and exterior, and have noticeable flash in the openings for the cabin windows — the only place flash appears on the entire kit. The parts for the cockpit and cabin interior, as well as the clear plastic parts, are in their own resealable, zip-lock bag.
For some reason, three plastic parts comprising the floor for both the cockpit and passenger cabin are rattling around loose in the kit box, and should be secured. The kit features a complete cockpit with photo-etch detail parts for the seat straps, combined with separate frame part for the seats, as well as rudder pedals, control columns, and control wheels. Photo-etched and acetate film parts combine to make a detailed instrument panel. The full cabin consists of seven multi-part passenger seats, and there is a separate compartment in the rear with a single separate part to be cemented to the floor that is unidentified, but appears to be a commode.
The wings feature both raised detail and engraved panel lines, and the panel line detail on the engine nacelles is particularly crisp. There is a multi-part tail assembly, and the engines will involve some minor scratchbuilding, calling upon the modeler to fashion a propeller shaft from plastic rod (dimensions are provided). The instructions also call for the insertion of a metal wire into the single support pylon for each engine, presumably to help secure each engine to the wing and provide greater structural strenth to the engine assemblies.
It is clear that a great deal of care went into the research behind and engineering of this kit. Its sole drawback is that the only option provided in the instructions in relation to the landing gear is to depict them deployed, i.e. with the A.19 resting on land. Since this is a seaplane, a clear option should be provided for depicting the kit in the water or in flight (wheels up). Howver, studying the box art will probably help confirm the proper position of the landing gear in flight.
The markings, with the exception of the two small Czech ensigns for the Czech airline version, are entirely in black, and appear to be clear and thin with a semi-gloss quality. Included in the separate, sealed decal bag are two film inserts for the instrument panels. The instructions include a brief history on the aircraft, very little text in the instructions, and a four-view, color schematic of both versions of the A.19 depicted by the kit markings.
This is a beautifully done kit of a pre-World War II seaplane that served as both as passenger airliner and military trainer, that will be a very appealing addition to your collection of Golden Age aircraft. Highly recommended.