Golden Age Racers
DeHavilland DH-88 – Howard DGA-6 – Caudron 460

The 1930s was an exciting period in the history of aviation. Technology was forging ahead rapidly with new and intriguing ideas being explored and new aircraft being rolled out of the workshops all the time. At the forefront of these developments were the aircraft designed for racing in which there were no compromises when it came to achieving the highest possible speed and endurance. Today let’s look at three of them.

DeHavilland DH-88 Comet in 1/72 by SBS Model
This aircraft was specifically designed to participate in the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race between London and Melbourne to celebrate Melbourne’s centenary year. They were the most modern aircraft designed in Britain to that time. Three were completed in time for the race but one suffered fuel problems and did not complete the course. One of them (G-ACSS) won the race in the time of 70 hours, 54 minutes. A third DH-88 (G-ACSR) came fourth (after a Douglas DC-2 and a Boeing 247, both airliners) and returned to Britain the following day carrying movie film of the race, completing the round trip in a record time of 13 days and 6 hours. Later G-ACSR was sold to the French Government, converted to a mailplane and made several high speed flights.

There is no shortage of kits of this aircraft. The oldest of them is the Airfix kit which was first published in 1957 in bright red plastic and had been republished many times since then. Next came the 1964 Frog kit that has also been republished many times in various boxings. These kits are very basic and are best avoided. Kovozávody Prostějov published a kit of this aircraft in 2018 which gets a positive review in All Scale Modeller that includes photos showing the kit offers three nose options for the different DH-88s. I made this model using the SBS Model kit which is crisper and more detailed but also, I suspect, more challenging to make. However, the end result is delightful. An in-box review of the SBS kit on Hyperscale includes photos which show why the SBS kit is preferable to the KP one.

Howard DGA-6 in 1/72 by Dekno
This aircraft was specifically designed to compete in the United States National Air Races and in 1935 it won both the Bendix and Thompson Trophies. It is the only aircraft to have done so. The Bendix Trophy was the opener for the Air Races, a long range flight from Los Angeles to Cleveland that this aircraft won at a speed of 238mph. The Thompson Trophy race was a very popular unlimited division closed circuit pylon race that the DGA-6 won at a speed of 220mph. Before the races the following year the only DGA-6 crashed and was destroyed. However, the DGA-6 was the only racer of the Golden Age to evolve into a successful production aircraft.

I made this model using the Dekno 1/72 resin kit and, so far as I know, that is the only kit of this aircraft in that scale. This kit was not easy to build but it came together nicely with a bit of care and attention. If you are unaware of Dekno, look them up <<>>. They are not cheap kits but the range of ‘Golden Age’ aircraft the company offers is extensive and, I think, well worth the investment. A review of the Dekno kit of the Howard DGA-15P in Fine Scale Modeler concludes that it was a ‘charming little kit’ and ‘an impressive and simple build’.

Caudron 460 in 1/72 by Dujin
This aircraft was a development of earlier Caudron 362 racer which came second in the Coupe Deutsch de la Meurthe, which was a race run in two 1,000k stages, in 1933. Caudron made two version of the new racer with a more powerful engine, the 450 with fixed undercarriage and the 460 with retractable undercarriage. The Caudron 450 won the 1934 Coupe Deutsch de la Meurthe because the two 460 aircraft entered had undercarriage problems and had to fly with them fixed down. A Caudron 460 won the 1935 race at an average speed of 443.96 km/h (277.5 mph). It was taken to the United States National Air Races in 1936 where it won the unlimited division Thompson Trophy and also the Greve Trophy for aircraft with an engine capacity limited to under 550 cubic inches.

I made this model using the Dujin 1/72 kit. For many years it was the only available kit of this aircraft but an improved version of it was published FSC Dujin in 2016 with better decals and an etch metal fret. By modern standards this is a fairly primitive little kit but I love my Dujin kits and won’t hear a bad thing said against them. However, SBS Model published a kit for this aircraft in 2019, I have a copy and think it is even better than their kit of the DH-88 racer. The build review on wingsofintent gives detailed photos and a build review which shows how great this kit is. My Dujin model shows the Caudron 460 in the darker blue in which it flew in the United States in 1936 so I will make the SBS model in the lighter blue in which it won the 1935 Coupe de la Meurthe.