First Look Review
Morane-Saulnier M.S.406
Variations on a theme
  • AZ_MS406_Boxtop

by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Kit 4804 - Morane Saulnier M.S.406 (France 1940) - €28.50
AZ Model's range of M.S. 406 variants is upgraded from the short-run kit originally released by Classic Airframes. Some details have been changed - particularly the surface finish, which now includes improved details and embossed rivets. For a detailed look of AZ Model's M.S. 406, please refer to Eetu Tahvonen's review of the Finnish version. In terms of the parts provided, the versions are identical and the French version comprises:

37 x tan-coloured styrene parts.
42 x etched parts produced by Eduard, which include pre-painted instrument panels and seat harness
20 x resin parts
A vacuformed canopy, plus a spare
A length of steel tube for gun barrels
A set of kabuki-tape painting masks
Decals for 3 x colour schemes

As with Eetu, my previous experience of the original kit is restricted to the MPM Mörkö-Morane and I too found the fit of AZ Model's fuselage to wing joint much better. One point which I found inferior in the new kit is the canopy, which appears to be a copy - rather than produced from the original mould - resulting in softer frame-detail. It should still be fine though.

Eetu pointed out some construction points to watch out for with the interior, so all I'll add is a note of caution about the colour - AZ Model call for Light Aircraft Grey, whereas my references make the French colours Bleu Foncé seem more likely for the cockpit and Chamois for the undercarriage. These paints are available from White Ensign Models as part of their French Colourcoats range.

The kit includes decals for three paint schemes, illustrated in colour on back of the box:

1. M.S. 406 C-1 # 101, N417, "White 34", GC III/1, 6eme escadrille, SPA 93, flown by Sgt. Miroslav Jiroudek, Narrent-Fontes, 1940.
2. M.S. 406 C-1 # 597, L536, "White 6", GC III/6, flown by Sgt-Chef. Pierre Le Gloan, Chatres, November 1939.
3. M.S. 406 C-1 # 969, GC 1/2, "White VII", 1eme escadrille, SPA 93, Nimes, November 1940 (should that be 1939?).

Note: Jean-Luc Formery has checked his references for Scheme #3 and came to the following conclusion:

"The decoration is alright but the date seems indeed to be wrong. I have seen a profile of the same aircraft which indicates that the date should be July 1940. But the kit's decals are missing the big underwing code L9-98. On my profiles, the vertical tailplane is also partially painted in red as well as the nose of the aircraft. I don't know if these where late "Bataille de France" tactical markings or the first version of the Vichy markings though..."

The decals look excellent quality - very thin and glossy, with minimal carrier film. The centres of the roundels aren't separate, but the registration is spot-on. Rudder stripes aren't provided - personally, I always prefer to paint them anyway, but some modellers may miss their inclusion.

All the aircraft are illustrated with tailwheels, but a tailskid (included in the kit) is more likely.

Decal Set #1 - €11.00
Along with their range of MS.406 kits, AZ Model have produced a supplementary set of decals that offers a selection of six extra colour schemes:

1. M.S. 406 C-1 # 289, N701, "White 2", GC III/2, 3eme escadrille, flown by Sgt-Chef K. Šeda and J. Hybler, France, 1940.
2. M.S. 406 C-1 # 827/AX675, No. 2 French Fighter Flight, Haifa, October 1940.
3. M.S. 406 C-1, MS-317, 1/LeLv 28, flown by Vänr. P. Myllyä, Lunkula, 1941.
4. M.S. 406 C-1/D-3800, J-59, Swiss Air Force, 1941.
5. M.S. 406 C-1, Italian Air Force, 1942.
6. M.S. 406 C-1 #1078, Lithuanian Air Force, 1939.

The decals are printed excellently - once again being very thin and glossy, with the register spot-on and crystal-clear carrier film. Red used for option #2 looks rather bright, but this was a non-standard field-applied finish, so the colour might be correct - I think I'll dull it down though...

The schemes are illustrated in colour and there are a couple of points to watch out for:

Scheme #1 - this a/c is shown with the prominent Bronzavia exhausts fitted. These aren't included in the kit, so would need to be scratch-built.
Scheme #4 - according to my refs, the D-3800 licence-built Swiss version differed from French aircraft in a couple of areas. There was an antenna forward of the windscreen and the ring and bead gunsight wasn't fitted. Also, the D-3800 didn't have the wing machine-gun bulges.

All the aircraft are illustrated with tailwheels - that's correct for the D-3800, but check your references for the other schemes featured.

Accompanying the colour schemes is separate diagram showing where to place some stencils - most of these apply to the Swiss version, but there's also one small marking for the cowling that wasn't included in the standard kit.

AZ Model's release of an updated range of MS 406s is very welcome and they should definitely appeal to modellers with a little experience with short-run kits. Bearing in mind my small reservations, the supplementary set of decals opens up some very attractive options for different schemes if you're not content with those offered in the standard kits. I don't think I'll be able to resist building the French Fighter Flight version - the combination of French and RAF camouflage and markings is just too tempting!

AZ Model's Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 range is available from Modelimex - specialists in Eastern European short run kits.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: The plastic kit has been upgraded with extra detail. Beautifully printed decals.
Lows: Some minor scratchbuilding will be needed to model all the schemes on the supplementary decal sheet.
Verdict: An attractive short-run kit of a long-overlooked fighter, upgraded from the original Classic Airframes release.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: See text
  Suggested Retail: See text
  PUBLISHED: Nov 21, 2007

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright ©2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Hi Rowan! Here are some pictures of the third profile you mentionned in the review. There is also a build article of Azur's 1/32 scale model with the exact same markings on Modelstories, a french website. The author's theory about the red markings is that the plane was destined to be shipped to indochina where the Moranes carried such markings. Hope this helps... Jean-Luc
NOV 22, 2007 - 09:27 PM
Thanks Jean-Luc That's a great help. M.S. 406s (and other aircraft) serving in French Indochina would make a really interesting subject! - a sadly neglected aspect of the Pacific War in modelling terms. All the best Rowan
NOV 23, 2007 - 11:44 PM
It is nice to see something other than the usual suspects.
NOV 25, 2007 - 06:29 AM
All you have to do is pick up a copy of the May 2007 issue of the French mag "Le Fana de Aviation", it has a 14 page long article with photos and a few color side views. It is a good quick well done article. Also the MS 406 in the opening post belongs to GC 1/2 1st Esc. which did not serve in Indo-China. I for one would like to see some information on the red nose and red background for the Esc. stork insignia.
DEC 11, 2007 - 07:37 AM

Click image to enlarge
  • AZ_MS406_Parts_2
  • AZ_MS406_Parts_1
  • AZ_MS406_Resin
  • AZ_MS406_Etch
  • AZ_MS406_Canopy
  • AZ_MS406_Colour
  • AZ_MS406_Decals
  • AZ_MS406_Decals_Colour_1
  • AZ_MS406_Decals_Colour_2
  • AZ_MS406_Decals_Sheet