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The Gregor FDB-1 Fighter

Gregor FDB-1 Fighter in service.

The Gregor FDB-1 (FDB stood for Fighter Dive-Bomber) was a fascinating design for a biplane fighter designed just before World War 2. Only one prototype was ever built. I've painted it as if it had reached production and gone into service with the RCAF / RAF.

Rather than writing an article on the Gregor FDB-1 that would just paraphrase other sources out there can I just refer you straight to be best online history of the aircraft to read. It is on the Vintage Wings of Canada website and you can get to it at the following link.

Gregor FDB-1 on the Vintage Wings of Canada website

Would the Gregor FDB-1 have been a success if it had got into service? With it's original Twin Wasp "Junior" engine of 700 hp probably not. But if they had managed to get a 1,200 hp Twin Wasp into it, as they planned to do, and if the weight did not go up too much with addition of armour protection and armament (say four big calibre .50 inch brownings) then you would have had an interceptor with extraordinary performance, perhaps able to match the Bf109E with speed in level flight and certainly able to out-climb and out-turn it. One can imagine a wing of Canadian crewed Gregors based at Biggin Hill power-climbing (like "homesick angels" as the article says) straight into the underside of the Luftwaffe "Valhalla" bomber formations as they approached London. However, it is unlikely that the Gregor could have been developed much to take advantage of engines of much greater power and if it had reached production it would have likely been sidelined as the war progressed.

Modelling the Gregor FDB-1

Regrettably for an aircraft that holds a key place in Canadian aviation history there has never been an injection-moulded plastic kit of the Gregor FDB-1 issued. Even in vacuform format there has only been one attempt at reproducing it (at least only one I am aware of). That is in 1/72 scale by the Can-Vac Models company of  Coquitlam B.C. Canada; a short lived concern that seem to have only released two models, the Gregor and the Canadair Tutor jet trainer.

The Can-Vac Gregor FDB-1 vacuform model is one for experienced modellers only. It provides only the most basic parts. There is no propeller, no engine, no undercarriage and no decals provided with the kit, you'll have to source these from your spare-parts box or make them yourself. The plastic is quite thin for a vacuform, making it easy to cut the basic parts out but difficult to glue together. There seems to be an issue with the shape of the rudder, which actually looks better fitted backwards! This means you have to re-scribe the horn balance. The fabric effect on the wings seems a bit overdone while on the fuselage there are no panel-lines at all, except for the cooling gills which are moulded much too heavily. When compared against plans of the Gregor FDB-1 the outline of the wings and fuselage are actually very accurate, however the lines of the engine cowling do not quite capture the "look" of the original. The cockpit transparency cuts out quite well but is difficult to locate on the fuselage, you need to carefully study photos of the original to make sure you do not put it too far forwards. The most difficult aspect of the model is making and fitting the gull-wing centre sections. The parts provided for the gull-wing section are difficult to cut out accurately and I found them impossible to mate up convincingly. I had to improvise and scratch-build these sections. It is hard to criticise the Can-Vac model too much, after all it is the only game in town if you want to build a Gregor FDB-1, I can only thank them for providing the starting point for building this fascinating aircraft. There seem to be quite a few unbuilt ones out there since they seem to crop up on ebay surprisingly often.

Can-Vac Models Gregor FDB-1 Vacuform kit.
The Can-Vac kit consists of two sheets of vacuform plastic and a vacuform transparent canopy. There are no decals, propeller, engine or undercarriage.

Can-Vac Gregor FDB-1 instruction sheet.

The other side of the instruction sheet. The sheets of vacuform plastic provides lots of spare plastic to cut out the bulkheads, cockpit floor and instrument panel from the templates provided.

Completed Can-Vac Gregor FDB-1 model.

Completed kit, in RAF camouflage colours as if it had gone into service. I gave it the serial number of one of the first Hawker Hurricanes produced in Canada.

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