Formula one

Detailing the Heller Ligier JS11

1/12 scale

by Mario Covalski © 2007 - 2013

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1979 was a year dominated by the ground effect cars in the Formula 1, and unlike it happens today, many teams were competing under the same conditions, and many of them had possibilities to win the championship. That was the case for Lotus, Ferrari, Brabham, McLaren, Tyrrell, and Wolf, all of them had excellent racing machines and pilots. However, at the Argentinian Grand Prix, beginning the season, there was a French team showing that she would be fighting for the top prizes too, that team was Ligier Gitanes.


Ligier began his racing career in the F1 on January 25, 1976, at the Interlagos circuit, during the Brazilian Grand Prix. That same year, Jacques Lafitte, driving the JS05 model, finished within the six first places in five races, earning 20 points, which took the team Ligier to the eighth place in the Constructors Championship. That was beginning of Ligier's great adventure. In 1977, with the JS07 model, Ligier finished the World Championship in second place with 18 points. In 1978, with the same JS07 model, Jacques Lafitte finished eighth again, although this time with 19 points. For the 1979 season, the LIGIER GITANES team lined up two cars, the JS11 model with FORD-COSWORTH engines. Car #26, in the hands of Jacques Laffite, and car #25 for Patrick Depailler.

That was total dominance for the team LIGIER; the first line in the grid was all blue and the victory was at reach of the hand. LIGIER was having a great chance to obtain the world championship. After a great campaign in South America, the cars lost their competitiveness in the South African GP at the Kyalami circuit; they also had transmission problems at the LONG BEACH GP, and won the Spanish GP at the Jarama circuit.

Although Jacques Lafitte recovered his competitiveness at the wheel of the JS11 #26, they faced a fiery competition from Ferrari, as well as a tremendous uplift from the Williams team. However, although they were facing technical problems, plus the handicap posed by Patrick Depailler accident due to the delta wing, the team LIGIER-GITANES finished the season in the third place of the World Championship, getting 61 points, with three victories.


The model

In 1993 I had in my hands the 1/12 Ligier kit by Heller; I was about to buy it but the decal sheets were too old and in bad condition. Since that moment, I've always had in my mind the idea of building a model of the JS11 (which impressed me when I saw it in 1979), and detail it as much as possible, because these Heller kits are really poor in quality and inaccurate. So, a few months ago, while I was talking with an importer, I saw the box in his office and the idea came back back to my mind. Needless to say that a few hours later I was examining the kit in my house.


The kit is the most simple and inaccurate that I've tried to build in the last 20 years; I'm not trying to criticize Heller with this, what I'm saying is that this is a model to be built in a weekend, and not a model to superdetail; although considering the time when it was released, we can say (without comparing it with Tamiya) that it was interesting.

Analyzing the components

In order to simplify things, and to take decisions, I analyzed the kit and looked for any kind of reference that I could get. Fortunately I had several magazines from that time with good pictures and a slide of the model JS11/15 (1980 model), that were good enough for my purpose. I divided the kit in five sections: the body components, the chassis, the engine, suspension parts, and mechanical parts.

The body

The body measurements are slightly out of scale but the detailing, as well as the plastic quality, is good. The fit between the parts for the pontoons (parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9) is poor and it needs a lot of puttying and sanding.

I decided to install a 5mm. plastic tubing inside the nose in order to receive both front wings, without having to glue them as suggested by Heller.

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