Airfix Gnat – the original…

I couldn’t resist this when it appeared on Trademe (our national equivalent of Ebay) just as our COVID-19 lockdown period ended and normal(-ish) services resumed…

Airfix has more recently (in the last decade or so) released a complete new tool of this classic little British aircraft – perhaps more recognisable from Hotshots? – that meets contemporary expectations and requirements. Apparently, it’s really nice…but…it’s not the original Gnat. While I was based at Ohakea, I would often travel home for the weekend via Fielding to grocery shop en route, and on occasion, do essential shopping at Warewhare. Here I was rapt to discover the original Gnat in starter pack packaging, and devastated when I go home to find the the slipper tanks and rockets had been removed from the molds…

…still not the original Gnat…

So what, you ask…? Why all the excitement over an old of date old model kit that is so far from modern standards, one that was originally released in 1964.

Well, you see, this particular model has a special place for me. As near as I can figure this was the first ever model kit that I not only purchased for myself but actually owned. I bought it one school holidays from Martyn’s Cycle Shop in Thames Street, Oamaru (I think that shop is still there too…) sometime in 1973 – probably the August holidays, I think…

I assembled it all by myself, liberally coating it with Uhu then Airfix model cement. Ultimately, it ended up with a Chipmunk canopy (the original canopy fell under the ‘liberal coat’ category and the Chipmunk had two canopy options); tracks (from the Roco Sherman that was my second acquisition) for negotiating grassy airfields after it rained; and casemate turrets from the Revell USS Pennsylvania (my third ever acquisition) for better all-round self-defence…even now, some 47 years later, parts from all three original acquisitions still rise to the surface of the spares box…

…what’s in the bag…

Will I build it? Probably not, unless I can find another complete original molding with the rockets and tanks…this is one of those treasure like surviving Little Golden Books, Ladybird Books or the Collins Orbit Books series…

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