DeHavilland DH-103 Hornet
The twin-engine Hornet fighter was designed to Specification F.12/43 and the first prototype flew on 28 July 1944. It entered production at the end of 1944 and deliveries were made to the RAF from February 1945. Four versions were produced for the RAF as: the Hornet F.1 medium-range single-seat fighter with four 20mm cannon and provision for carrying two 450kg bombs or two 455 litre drop tanks; Hornet PR.2 long-range unarmed photographic reconnaissance aircraft; Hornet F.3 long-range single-seat fighter with the increased fuel tankage of the PR.2; and Hornet FR.4 with a vertically mounted camera. More than 200 were built. The Hornet was the fastest twin piston-engined operational combat aircraft in the world while in service and the first aircraft to demonstrate a cartwheel manoeuvre. Operated in Malaya in the early 1950s, the type was finally withdrawn from service in 1955.
With the disappointing news of the withdrawal of the 1:32 Westland Whirlwind fighter from their prospective new releases HpH came back with stunning news that they were to release the beautiful DeHavilland DH 103 Hornet instead. Still in 1:32, this news was greeted with great enthusiasm by the modelling world. The kit was rand eleased just before SMW at Telford, even though it is quite an expensive kit, from what I could see it was being snapped up. We at BM are lucky enough to have to opportunity to review one of my all time favourite aircraft, even if it is RAF colours.
The kit comes in a very sturdy cardboard box, on top of which are two side views of the two colours schemes provided within the box. On opening the divided interior is full of grey resin, either separate, as per the larger parts or in poly bags for the numerous smaller bits. There are also three sheets of what look like etched nickel, a set of fabric seatbelts, paint masks and quite a large sheet of decals. The instructions are provided on a CD which when printed out are in full colour and very nicely laid out. The diagrams and parts placement are very clear and easy to read, which is a good job really, as there are a lot of parts in this kit. Before building there is a lot of cleaning up to be done. Not only is each part attached to a casting block, but there are large areas of the wings, such as flap and aileron positions, filled in with thin resin, as is the cockpit opening, and wing openings in the fuselage. A large number of the smaller parts are moulded on thin resin sheets from which they need to be cut out. Other than that there is no real excess flash and the moulding does look very nice indeed, with fine panel lines and rivets where required. There has been quite a bit of web chatter about the dimensions of the kit and it is generally agreed that the kit is very nearly spot, being within 0.5mm of what it should be, which, given the variable shrink rates of resin is about as good as it can get. The one fly in the ointment is the nose join with the windscreen and canopy. Even in the box the nose does look ever so slightly screwy and there does appear to be a slight discrepancy in the shape of the nose fairing where it joins the windscreen frame. This is quite an awkward fix, but it can be done as shown in a build thread on BM. That being said, I think if the kit is built out of the box with no alterations it will still look fantastic and impress anyone who views it. This kit will be the subject of a build review on here as soon as I get some time in-between other duties on BM and life in general.
Once all the parts have been removed from their moulding blocks and the superfluous resin removed from the wings and fuselage, and had a good wash in warm soapy water you can start construction.
The build begins with the wings and the fitting of the front and rear radiator faces, carburetor intake doors, which can be fitted in either the open or closed position depending on the whether the aircraft is flying or on the ground. The front and rear spars are then attached and wings closed up and finished off with the fitting of the clear navigation light lenses. The lower wing roots are then joined together along with the front spars, creating a single piece wing. Before the fuselage is closed up the tail wheel assembly is constructed put of the bay roof, front bulkhead, tailwheel and oleo which is fitted to the forward roof part. The completed assembly is then fitted in position in the right hand fuselage. The two fuselage halves are then glued together and the wing passed through the openings at an angle to slide through the fuselage, then straightened up and glued in position.
Construction of the superbly detailed cockpit starts off with the starboard side panel and the fitting of the numerous handles, brackets, trim wheels, switch panel and its separate switches. The port panel is then assembled with the addition of switches, canopy handle and placard. The side consoles are also assembled with resin consoles, PE panels and additional switches. The main instrument panels are also in resin with the with the pre-painted PE instruments fitted to the back. The complex seat brackets are next, attached to the rear bulkhead then fitted with the four seat supports onto which the seat with its separate bag pad, PE seat adjustment handle bracket and resin handle attached. The assembly is completed using the fiddly, but very worthwhile cloth seat belts with their PE fittings. The cockpit floor is the fitted out with several PE items and the rear cockpit bulkhead is attached to the floor. Before the cockpit floor and bulkhead can be fitted into the fuselage the rear cockpit shelf needs to be slid into position. On this shelf there are two resin boxes with their associated PE tops and fittings and the oxygen bottle. With the shelf in position the cockpit floor is then slid into the nose of the fuselage and glued into place. The port and starboard cockpit panels are then attached followed by the side consoles. The rudder pedals and control column/joystick are then assembled and glued into place followed by the instrument panel and centre console, cockpit coaming and a beautifully detailed gunsight made of resin and etched parts along with a clear reflector glass, which is then attached to the top of the instrument panel. Finally the seat and bulkhead assembly is fitted to the attachment points on the cockpits rear bulkhead. At this point the instructions call for the windscreen and canopy to be fitted, but it’s probably best to leave this till a later stage, although there is a set of masks for hte windscreen and canopy should you wish to added them at this stage.
Construction then turns to the rear empennage which consists of the two horizontal tail planes, separate elevators and trim tab linkages, along with the tailplane and separate rudder and again an etched trim tab linkage. The rudder and elevators require short lengths of wire to attach them to their respective parts. Wire is also required to attach the horizontal tailplanes to the fuselage with short lengths fitted to the rear of the join and a long length which passes through the fuselage onto which the tailplanes are fitted.
With the airframe almost complete the build moves on to the engine nacelles. Each half of the nacelle is fitted with the exhaust stubs, from the inside, the main wheel bay forward bulkhead is then attached and the nacelles closed up. The two propellers consist of the four blades, propeller spinner, and two metal tubes which connect the propeller to the hub. The completed propellers are then fitted to their respective engines and the completed nacelles are attached to the wings, along with the radiator flaps, intakes grilles and the internal ribs for each flap bay and the pitot probe, although this could be left till later to prevent breaking the thing off. The main undercarriage legs are then assembled, each consisting of the main oleo, scissor link, support arm, and when fitted to their respective bays the retraction jacks are attached. The main wheels are made up of the wheel with separate inner and outer hubs and are then attached to the axles of each oleo. To finish off the bays the doors are fitted with their retraction jacks and attached to their respective positions on the nacelles. Each of the inner and outer flaps are assembled using the outer skins, inner hinges and a length of wire. If keeping to the instruction sequence the next operation is the construction of the weapons and drop tanks each of which can be fitted as per the modellers preferences. The 500lb bombs consist of the main body, separate tail and PE tail ring and are attached to the mounting pylon by PE crutch plates and crutches. The rockets are made up form a metal tube, turned metal head, PE tail fins, PE mounting clamps, mountings and supports. The drop tanks consist of the large resin moulding, onto which two etched rings are fitted to the top and side of the nose. They are then attached to their pylons ready for attachment to the wing. Also in this instruction sequence is the attachment of the trim tab linkage to each of the ailerons. The flaps, choice of weapons and ailerons are fitted to their respective positions on each wing.
The moderately large decal sheet contains markings for two aircraft, along with enough stencils for one. The options are:-
• DH 103 Hornet F.3 of 33 Sqn RAF, Tenga and Butterworth, Malaya, 1951 – 1952 in Dark Sea Grey and Dark Green over Medium Sea Grey.
• DH 103 Hornet F.Mk1 of the Commanding Officer 19 Sqn RAF, Church Fenton, Yorkshire, U.K. July 1950 in Medium Sea Grey over PRU Azure Blue
The decals are very nicely printed, in good register and nicely opaque, they are semi-gloss and with little carrier film so they should settle down well with the modellers choice of softener and setting solutions.
It has been a long time coming and even then it came as a bit of a surprise, but it’s been well worth the wait. The nose and canopy problem will probably defeat all but the best or most fastidious of modellers who will be able to rectify this, but out of the box I imagine that most people looking at a completed model won’t be able to notice. Being mixed media though it will pose some challenges to those who haven’t built in resin and the like before, but if taken steadily and carefully, a superb model can be built. If you love the Hornet you shouldn’t be too disappointed with this release and it will look great in anyones collection. Highly recommended