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  1. Part 1 of 3 Ki-43 notes 2019 As part of Ki-43 research I decided to buy and compare all modern 1/48 Ki-43 kits available side-by-side. This is unfair to model manufacturers as all the kits below do build up into believable Ki-43 models, however I am looking for the best and most accurate so I will harshly judge them by that criteria. There is much commonality among the parts, as in the real plane. The modern Ki-43 kits in 1/48 I compared were- Ki-43-I Nichimo Ki-43-I Hasegawa Ki-43-I Ki-43-II Otaki/Arii Ki-43-II Finemolds Ki-43-II Hasegawa Ki-43-II Ki-43-III Finemolds Ki-43-III Hasegawa Ki-43-III Doing a side-by-side comparison with all of these revealed alot, and I mostly relied on http://soyuyo.main.jp/ki43d/ki43e-1.html for his line drawings and much of his analysis which I direct you to see on his pages. Some interesting points after doing all reviews are- 1) Headrest sizes are one part the kit manufacturers don't agree on! The Ki-43 until mid'43 had a tiny roll bar rather than a full headrest. With the armoured headrest from mid'43 on its size more than doubled and it almost fills up the canopy hood when closed (which is why many pilots removed it to improve the rear view). I don't think any model variants headrest is right in all dimensions! 2) Wingtip shape on the Ki-43-II/-III is very subtle and complex and also not agreed on by model manufacturers and scale drawing makers. From my research I believe it is more evenly rounded than usually depicted (Burindo FAOW and Gakken book drawing of -II/-III wing tip shape are close). The inflexion of the wing tip curvature is on the wing centreline at the wing tip and smoothly rounded front and back (note that wing centreline is not perpendicular to airplane body!) . Spoiler final result! *********************** Ki-43-I 1st Hasegawa 1/48 2nd Nichimo 1/48 (with basic work and canopy = 1st). Ki-43-II 1st Finemolds 1/48 2nd Hasegawa 1/48 3rd Arii/Otaki 1/48 (with intermediate work and canopy = 2nd). Ki-43-III 1st Finemolds 1/48 2nd Hasegawa 1/48.
  2. Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 Spacecraft Great Wall Hobby (GWH) 1:48 History During the early part of the 1970's China initiated a space programme, titled "Shunguang-1", with the intention of developing and using their own craft and astronauts for space exploration. The first astronauts were selected in April 1971 but nothing came of it and the project was cancelled. The programme was restarted in 1985 with the intention of building their own space shuttle however, at that time, China did not have sufficient technological knowledge or experience for such an elaborate undertaking and the whole project was abandoned soon after. In order to continue their commitment for an indigenous space programme, China decided to build a spacecraft developed from the Russian Soyuz craft. With Russian co-operation the Chinese spacecraft, to be known as Shenzhou (various derivations but most popular 'Devine Craft'), could be built at a reasonable cost and to less protracted timescales. After long consultations, designs and re-designs, they were finally able to authorise a new project entitled "Programme 921/1" in 1992. The Shenzhou spacecraft was larger than the Soyuz craft but still looked outwardly similar and had some additional features that the Soyuz did not have; namely it would have it's own engines and docking system to allow for independent docking with a space station. the first craft, Shenzhou-1, was launched in November 1999 carried by a two-stage Long March rocket and was an unmanned test flight. Shenzhou-2 was launched in January 2001 and carried animals as part of the ongoing experiments towards eventually attaining manned spaceflight. Following improvements from lessons learned with the previous launches, Shenzhou-3 went into orbit in March 2002 and this time a test dummy was carried. A further launch with a test dummy, plus several onboard scientific experiments, was undertaken with Shenzhou-5 in December 2002. On 15 October 2003 Shenzhou-6 became the first Chinese built and manned spacecraft to be launched into orbit. The craft was crewed by Yang Liwei who travelled 14 earth orbits before returning safely. This was final recognition that China had achieved the status of being only the third country to succeed in their own manned space flight programme, following the USSR and USA. A second manned flight followed in October 2005 with a two-manned Shenzhou-6 craft during a five day mission with Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng as crew. China continued in their advances in technology and aeronautical capability by building and launching a 3 man craft, Shenzhou-7. As with the other launches, this craft was carried atop a Long March 2F rocket and the crew consisted of Zhai Zhiguang as commander with crewmembers Liu Buoming and Jing Haipeng. Although this mission only lasted 3 days it was deemed very successful in that it achieved the first space walk (EVA), undertaken by Chinese astronauts. The stage was now set for China to enter into the realms of building space stations, conducting experiments in space and looking beyond low-earth orbits in their quest for space travel. Two craft were to be built next; one would be a space station and the other a craft to dock and undock with it. The space station was titled Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) and the craft would be Shenzhou-8. The first space station, Tiangong-1 was launched 29 September 2011 and was placed into earth orbit in readiness to be docked with a spacecraft. Shenzhou-8 followed on 31 October and was an unmanned craft, the purpose of which was to test the abilility to automatically dock and undocking of a spacecraft with the space station. The tests went without a hitch and meant that the first manned mission to the space station was able to take place the following year with Shenzhou-9. Of special note for this mission was the first female Chinese crewmember Liu Yang. To bring the Chinese Space Programme up to date, June of this year (2013) has seen the launch and rendezvous at Tiangong-1 by Shenzhou-10. The crew, consisting of commander Nie Haisheng, with Shang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping, are the last astronauts to dock with Tiangong-1 as the space station has accomplished its mission and will now go into orbital decay and eventually make a destructive re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. This is not the end of China's space station programme as two more space stations are being designed and constructed, with developments advancements learned from Tiangong-1, these will be named Tiangong-2 and Tiangong-3 respectively. They are due to be launched in 2015. Other Information from China is that they also have plans to start projects involving missions to the moon as from 2017 but such timescales currently look to be somewhat ambitious. The kits There are two complete kits in the box, one the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft and the other is the Tiangong-1 space station. The Shenzhou-8 kit is representative of the last development version of the Shenzhou spacecraft and has therefore become the standard design for future Shenzhou craft. This means that the kit can be built as version 8 or, with a few modifications, modelled as the 9 or latest 10 version. The box containing the kits is quite large, which would be expected for two 1:48 models, however there is no spare room within. There are 5 main sprues; two each for the Space Station and Spacecraft and one for the stand. There is also a small sprue containing connecting tubes for the solar panels. All the sprues are produced in a nice, sturdy, light-grey plastic and this review model does not show any signs of flash or warping. Some of the connecting pins/sections to the sprue frame are rather thick and, in some places, are thicker than the component attached to them. This means there is a possibility that a clean cut to separate these components may be difficult and require some filing and shaping to get a clean edge. Tiangong-1 Sprue A contains the larger parts of this space station, consisting of two fuselage halves and the solar panels. The surface detail is fair, with wiring and panel sections marked out in raised relief. It must be difficult to get full representation for this model as there isn't that much detail available of the actual vessels. Some of the reasons are that the craft are covered and enclosed on take-off plus, unlike the International Space Station and the Shuttles, there have not been any 'fly-bys' to get photographic details. Most of the images to be found available are mainly cgi drawing and generalised interpretations. The good new is that there are plenty of images available of the inside of the space station which means that this model can be extensively detailed inside if one wishes to do that. The second sprue has the front end plate (docking section); tail end (small rockets) and various booster units and communication antennas. These pieces have some very nice detail on them including the docking approach/guidance panel and capture ring. Shenzhou-8 The first sprue for the Shenzhou spacecraft, marked sprue C for this spacecraft, contains the Orbital Module; Service Module, with its solar panels, and a variety of thruster, booster, camera and antenna units for this spacecraft. The solar panels are modelled in the extended mode and have detailed representations of the small sensor cells on one side and the cabling and connectors on the other side. The panels can be assembled with the ability to be positioned at various angles, as the real thing would be aimed at sunlight, with the use of a connecting piece which runs through the fuselage; a somewhat similar process as connecting a prop spinner of an aircraft kit through fuselage to a retaining ring inside. The last sprue containing spacecraft parts has the Re-entry Module components; docking connector unit, base for the Service Module and its thrusters, plus hatch covers and other antenna pieces. Although the kit parts are sparse internally, it is such a large kit that there is plenty of scope to detail these with a bit of scratchbuilding and looking up images and schematics on the web. This kit comes with a rectangular base and two pedestals to hold the completed model, each craft has a hole for the tops of the pedestals to be set into. The base is a sturdy piece of plastic, as it needs to be for a model of this size and weight. An interesting aspect for this base is that one of the plinths fits into a movable slider and this allows for the plinths to be positioned for best balance when seating the model on the base. There is a small cutout in the centre of the base which holds a very nice nameplate in raised Chinese script. One final sprue contains pieces to make the tubes which are used to interconnect the left and right solar panel arrays, through the fuselage, for both the Service Module and the Space Station. This should allow the solar panels to be positioned at different attitudes rather than just flat out. Decals Three small decal sheets accompany the kit; two for the space station and one for the re-entry module of the spacecraft. Instructions and Colour Details The instruction and colour details are contained in an eight page booklet, with the introductory text in both chinese and english. It has the break down of parts and their assembly laid out in the illustrative method, which means the build process can be recognised internationally without the need to have elements of text translated into many languages. It also has some colourful details to help with markings and colours etc. Conclusion I mentioned before that this is a large kit and it really does look as if it is going to be of sturdy construction when it is completed. The model depicts the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft but, as that craft was the final major design for this, any of the subsequent craft (currently Shenzhou-9 and 10) could be built as they have all docked with the space station Tiangong-1. There is plenty of scope to add plenty of additonal detail internally, if you have that interest to research for the relevant information and images. IPMS members will be fortunate in that they will have received this months subscription magazine which contains an excellent build review of this kit by Keith McNeil. Finally, while checking the web for prices of this kit, I was pleasantly surprised at the retail price for such a large kit which should keep the space enthusiast happy for quite a while. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of Buy it Now Kindly mention Britmodeller.com to the supplier when making enquiries or orders
  3. Launch Tower & Space Shuttle with Booster Rockets Revell 1:144 Following the demise of the Saturn/Apollo programme, which ended with the Apollo/Soyuz Test Program (ASTP) in 1975, NASA moved on to a new era in space flight; that of the Shuttle Programme. The intention was to design, build and launch a manned vehicle that could carry a crew and cargo payload into low earth orbit, deliver its cargo, and then return to earth, land like an aircraft, and be reusable for future launches. The requirements for the Shuttle were to be that, unlike the Saturn/Apollo system which progressively discarded everything on the way to the Moon and return only with the manned crew capsule; the whole transporter vehicle (the Orbiter) would need to launch, deliver, re-enter and land safely back on earth in a controlled fashion. Two solid booster rockets (SRB's) would also be recoverable for refurbishment and re-used which left the external tank (ET) as the only disposable component. Although the Launch Vehicle would be a completely new design, NASA wanted to minimise the work and costs required for the launch pads (LC-39A and LC-39B) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. Methods used were to modify the existing Crawler/Transporter (CT) and Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) hardware. The MLP would need the existing single flame trench opening to be filled in and the dismantling of the 36 storey Launch Umbilical Tower (LUT). The Shuttle system, comprising of the Orbiter, two Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB's) and a large External tank (ET) required multiple flame trenches to be cut/built into the refurbished MLP's and the finished design provided for 3 rectangular cut outs to be incorporated for this purpose. The launch pad foundations did not require a great deal of re-work as the existing approachways, flame channels/trenches etc., could be re-used in their present condition; however the supporting structures did require a totally new support system for the Shuttle and was quite different from the Saturn/Apollo technology. In the Apollo era, the manned capsule was sat atop a massive 330ft (100m) Saturn launch vehicle and needed an even taller support tower in the form of the LUT to service it ready for launch. The new Shuttle was only 122ft (37m) but required access to virtually the whole length of the Orbiter and the access to all this had to be in a clinically clean environment. The solution was to have a two part launch tower consisting of a rigid tower; called the Fixed Service Structure - (FSS) which was mainly the vertical tower gantry, and a movable structure; titled the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) which swung around to totally encompass the Shuttle when it arrived at LC-39 from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). NASA was also able to recycle the top twelve of the original platform levels from the LUT and this became the new FSS Tower thereby reducing time and costs in some of the design and build of the new launch tower facility. The Kit(s) This is a re-release of the kit which was first seen in the shops in 1986. There are three major components to be found in the box; the tower complex, which comprises the tower (FSS/RSS); the transporters (CT/MLP) and the Shuttle stack (Orbiter, ET & SRB's) and altogether makes quite a complex construction. Let's get some important scaling issues dealt with at the outset. Although the box art description quotes 1:144 scale, only the Shuttle stack is to this scale. The RSS/FSS scales out at 1:168, which is nearer the international 'N scale' and the CT/MLP is a demure 1:200 scale. The aim of this review is to highlight the contents of the box, its component sprues and materials used etc. As this is a re-issue of an almost 30 year old production it is not the intention of this review to go into any long-winded and irrelevant history of how and why these differing scales came to be brought together or used all those years ago. Launch Tower Gantry Complex First thing that we cannot ignore is that it is a big kit, the box it is supplied in measures a massive 30in x 20 x 5in (75 x 51 x 13cm) and contains 27 large sprues. The breakdown is generally 19 sprues for the FSS, RSS, CT and MLP and the remaining 8 are for the Shuttle, ET and SRB's. That's an impressive 292 individual parts, broken down to 194 for the tower complex and 98 for the Shuttle. How the model should look can be seen by the close-up photo details which are posted in the Walkaround Section titled: NASA Kennedy Space Centre Launch Pad 39A. As already mentioned, the tower complex consists of two main components; the FSS and the RSS and these together can be built as a stand-alone model, just as the launch pad has stood for most of it's 33 years - the various shuttles only occupied the pads collectively for a total of approximately 10% of that time. These sprues are quite large and the first section in the instructions refer to the FSS, comprising the tower gantry, platforms and central lift shaft. There are two sets of sprues for the tower gantry below and these provide the four sides plus the base platform and lift machinery house. Another pair of sprues of similar size, as seen below, are those for the internal lift shaft unit. They also have parts for the gantry supports and lighting posts. There are two different sprues containing the platforms, one platform for each level on the FSS; one sprue has six standard platforms whilst the second has six different platforms each depicting various items of equipment in position. The standard shapes are for levels 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9; with the remainder being specific to levels 4, 5, 8, 10, 11 and 12 The gantry supports also have the vertical support arm for the RSS and this is a tubular section where the RSS is attached to the FSS and is the point where it rotates towards the CT, MLP and Shuttle stack in order to protect the shuttle whilst being prepared for launch. There is so much framework, gantry and crane elements that the kit looks just like one big mesh of girders and tubing and this can be seen in the sprue below which holds much of the overhead crane unit and other tower items. The overhead crane is a free-rotating unit and the kit has a spindle to pass through locating holes in the base of the crane and the top of the gantry platform; much like the facility used to connect free-rotating propellers to the fuselage of a model aircraft. Next we come to the sprues for the RSS. This is the large moving element of the Launch Tower which travels on a curved piece of railway track and brings the RSS up to the Orbiter. The main elements for this are the large cylindrical housing unit, the box-like holding frame, and the rotating gantry framework. Shuttle Stack and launch platform The shuttle stack comprises the main re-usable spacecraft, known as the Orbiter; two solid fuel booster rockets (SRB's) and a large external tank (ET), the latter items detach from the orbiter once their fuels are expended with the SRB's returning to earth under controlled methods whilst the ET is destroyed during its re-entry fall to earth. The Shuttle Stack is also from the original 1986 kit offering, although possibly with updated decals, and shows signs of age with flash evident on many of the sprue parts. Four main sprues contain the Orbiter and payload components with a further five having the combined Mobile Launch Platform and Crawler Transport (MLP/CT); SRB's and the ET. All the parts are produced in a glossy white plastic and these appear to show more flash and mould-wear than the Launch Tower components. Each of the first two sprues hold one half of the orbiter fuselage, two pieces to which form the upper and lower planes of the wing, the trap-door type hatches for the payload compartment, and the engine exhaust mounts etc. To assist in the positioning of components and colour schemes, close-in detail photos can be found in the Walkaround section titled Rockwell International Space Shuttle/Orbiter. The next sprue has the Orbiter payload bay base and side frames, the outer hatch deployment covers, and their inner linings. There is also an astronaut with a length of umbilical cabling so that it can be positioned in a space-walk setting. The fourth sprue has the payload assembly which consists of two satellites and their holding components within the payload bay. A choice here can be that they are positioned inside the Orbiter together; or just one, or neither depending on the mission scenario chosen to be built. The remaining kit parts are for the Canada arm and this can be assembled in various positions such as folded, short pickup (V shaped) or fully extended and, possibly even with one of the satellite units attached, ready for deployment. The next sets of sprues hold the external fuel supply units; the ET and SRB's, with their connecting components for attachment to the Orbiter and the MLP/CT for the whole Shuttle stack to sit on. In the top left corner of the sprue below can be seen two items, with two little lugs projecting below them. These are stabilising stands to hold the model of the Orbiter vertical on the MLP base but these items would not be found on the real Shuttle stack or launcher unit. The tractor units, of which there are eight, are the components for the CT and are attached directly underneath the MLP to become a single integral unit in the model. In reality they would be two separate vehicle and launch pad components. Interestingly, the pieces for the Tail Service Masts below appear to be at the correct scale of 1:144 even though they attached to the 1:1200 MLP. Probably as they sit either side of the Shuttle stack and give the setup a better perspective. Decals This kit comes with a comprehensive set of decals, with different sized markings - for Atlantis, Enterprise, Discovery and Endeavour pre-1998 and also for Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour post-1998. Additional to those, there are various ational and commercial emblems; such as "USA" and "NASA" motif's, again depending on which era of the Shuttle program you may wish to depict. Other decal items consist of colour demarcations for the ET, SRB's, MLP and the gantry. A point to note here is, on a quick check of decal placement, that a few of the decal numbers for some components do not appear to match those on the instruction sheet. I would recommend checking with the instructions, and any available photos, for clarity. Conclusion This is a very large and complex looking kit and should be a great build, especially for those who enjoy detailing the insides of models; such as the insides of tank turrets, ship superstructures or aircraft cockpits etc. The difference here is that the whole thing won't then be lost to the eye, (when normally a fuselage, turret or hull is assembled) when it is all closed everything inside! There is some minor flash present on some of the sprues but nothing of great issue, especially for moulds which are almost 30 years old. One recommendation I would put forward is to pre-paint as much of the inner workings of the launch tower gantry, especially the lift shaft area and the insides of the gantry units as I suspect that it will be quite difficult to get a paintbrush into some of the deeper recesses once the kit is built. I understand that this kit has been on some modeller's waiting lists for a long time; as seen by some on-line sales forums having had the original listed, with some quite elevated prices, over the last decade or so and therefore I suspect that this will be a popular model to get and build. The most popular setting for the completed model would to represent the short period just prior to the launch of a Shuttle, however the Launch Tower itself stood without the shuttle for approx. 90% of it's existence and that is how most people would have seen it for real; therefore I would recommend perhaps to also consider an alternative diorama - of the tower in a stand-alone setting, as the photo at the top of this review depicts. Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit or
  4. FINISHED MODEL Got this kit for £12(?) off a guy on Facebook, it sat in the stash for a week or two, but I was itching to build my first German aircraft (German aircraft being my favourites in WW2). Yeah the canopy needs a little clean up, but that's effort. It's not built to an amazing standard, just enough for me to be happy with it on display without close scrutiny. Criticism welcome though, I'm always looking to improve where I can (be bothered) . Yep wonky gear, haven't glued it yet, so that why. REVIEW Quick version (copy pasted from my review on Airfix's website) The cockpit goes to together nicely, and is well detailed for the scale. I added some seatbelts made from masking tape as that's the only area I can really fault the interior on, not having any. The wing fit however I found to be off, I don't know if this was due to my error or the kit, which also messed up the fit of the engines to the wing. The landing gear doors (front of the nose gear door, and both of the main gear doors) have quite a tight fit, and may need a small amount of sanding to fit well. The decals were a little difficult to get on right around the tail, the checker pattern being made of two decals, which I think were labelled with the the wrong number (which was rather confusing). I got them on in the end, with some chipping using some silver paint it looks acceptable now. I completed the kit in little over a week, a very good speed for me, and it was a fun kit to build. I would consider getting the other variants available to add to my collection. Long Version First thing is the sprues, the parts are aranged onto 3 (not 4, one was cut so it'd fit in the box I was washing them in) main sprues, and one clear. The parts are well organised with only a few small issues immediately obvious, one of the wheels was a little off and misshapen, but that was fixed with relative ease. This looked like it would be an easy build, and as per normal now, I decided on a gear down build, and wanted the cockpit open with no pilot. First thing to build was the cockpit assembly, which goes together very nicely. I added seat belts using masking tape and painted them in a tan-yellow colour (looks more yellow on the photo. Next was the wings, which had a terrible fit with the body, and threw off the fit of the engines I kinda stopped taking so many pictures here... Lots of filler, and sanding, and frustration around the engines (ended up trimming most of the join away and using filler instead), and added bullet holes. Painting, always silver primer for me, Maskol was sued for chipping, and blu tac for the cockpit and wheel wells. Not bad for a first attempt (no practice) at mottling Decals now Tail band decal was a nightmare, and I got aftermarket for the swastikas, which are not included Link to the kit here: https://www.airfix.com/uk-en/shop/aircraft/messerschmitt-me-262-a-1a-schwalbe-1-72.html
  5. Hi, I was wondering if anyone has used 26decals decals and would care to share a word about the ordering process and quality of the products? Many thanks in advance! Cristian PS: Ray at 26decals sure answers questions very fast!
  6. Hey, I was about to post my first review just to realize there is no "Start new topic" button on that page Are there any per-requisites for this like a certain number of posts? Should reviews be sent in differently? Thanks! Cristian
  7. Hi All, Has anyone seen the new Valom Harrow kit yet? Been working on the Contrail vac for some time, but this has to be a better option i would think. John
  8. BAe Harrier Gr Mk. 7/9 1:72 Revell Developed from the prototype Hawker Siddeley P.1127, which flew for the first time over fifty years ago, the vertical take-off Harrier has become one of the most famous post-war jet aircraft of all. Awarded what some would say is the ultimate accolade for a non-US designed aircraft – a purchase order from the United States Government – the first generation Harrier was successful enough to merit the development of a second generation. Despite a slightly troubled development, during which Hawker Siddeley pulled out of the joint Ango-American project in 1975, only to rejoin again (as British Aerospace) in 1981, the resulting aircraft was a quantum leap in terms of capability compared to the original design. The second generation of Harriers, to which the GR7 and GR9 belong, feature a larger wing, more powerful engine and extensive use of lightweight composite materials throughout the airframe. The GR9 boasts a wide range of improvements to avionics and weapon systems compared to the GR7. The aircraft has seen extensive combat service and both the GR7 and GR9 have been employed over Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick. It’s no secret that Revell’s Harrier GR Mk. 7/9 is actually Hasegawa’s GR Mk. 7/9 in a blue box. Revell must like the Japanese manufacturer’s take on the Harrier as this is at least the second time that they have released it in their own box. They also released the 1:48 version a few years ago too. The kit is comprised of 91 parts, moulded in the familiar glossy grey plastic used by Hasegawa. Despite having been around the block once or twice, the moulds are clearly in excellent condition and there is no trace of flash anywhere. The panel lines which make up the surface detail are very fine and clear. This is one area where the kit has the edge over the newer Airfix version. Whilst the panel lines on the Airfix kit are pretty tidy, these are just that bit more refined. The cockpit is pretty typical of other Hasegawa kits in this scale. The overall shape looks good, but there is no raised detail to represent the instruments or controls on the instrument panel or side consoles. Decals are provided instead. If you want something a little more convincing, then aftermarket resin or photo etched parts will be the way to go. The ejection seat provided is actually for the AV-8B rather than the GR7/9, so it is closer to the American UPC/Stencel seat than the Martin Baker Mk.12. As the seats provided in kits in this scale are usually only rough approximations of the real thing though, it’s not exactly a deal breaker. Other interior detail includes the intake trunking and turbofan blades, both of which are moulded in a single part and so will require careful painting. The auxiliary intake doors are moulded with the upper three in the open (or dropped) position, which is a boon for those of us who model their aircraft with the landing gear down. The front jet exhaust nozzles are moulded in two halves, which will create a troublesome seam to clean up. The rear nozzles are moulded in one piece, but are solid, with no real attempt made to create any impression of depth. I’m not sure which approach is better, but this is one area of the kit where I really would recommend some resin replacements. To be fair to Revell (or Hasegawa), this tends to be a problem area for all small-scale Harriers. The nozzles are designed to rotate too, thanks to rotating joints which fit inside the fuselage. The other major parts of the aircraft, including the nose, wings and horizontal stabilisers are all very nicely recreated. The nose in particular is bob-on. The Leading Edge Root Extensions (LERX) that are characteristic of second generation Harriers are the earlier 65% type, which means that if you don’t plan on using the kit decals, you will need to check to see if the aircraft you plan to build had the 65% or 100% versions fitted. If it’s the 100% versions, then there are a couple of aftermarket options available to you. The undercarriage is all quite nice, although in-flight versions of the wing-mounted stabilisers aren’t provided. The nose gear wheel is moulded in one piece with the leg, which is a pet hate of mine, but I guess it makes the whole set up a bit stronger. Hasegawa blow hot an cold with their ordnance. Some kits have very little whilst others have a veritable surfeit. Unfortunately this kit falls into the former camp. Aside from the option of gun pods or strakes for the under-fuselage position, you are provided with a couple of drop tanks and a pair of AIM-9 Sidewinders. If you want a full load of stores then you’ll need to rob the more generously appointed Airfix kit or the spares box. The canopy is thin and clear, but owing to the horseshoe profile, it has a mould seam running down the centre. This should be fairly easy to remove with a nail buffer or similar tool though. The MDC is moulded in place on the inside of the canopy. A decal is also provided for this feature, but the carrier film is quite large, so I personally would avoid using it. Two options are provided for on the decal sheet: GR.9 ZG858, flown by Wing Commander Simon Jessett of No. IV Squadron, Joint Force Harrier, RAF Cottesmore during the Harrier retirement flypast on 15 December 2010; and GR.7 ZD404 “Lucy” of 1 (F) Squadron, depicted at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan, 2007. As usual, the decals are superbly printed but they do look a little matt. I would recommend applying them over a gloss surface and using a decal solution. The decal sheet is amazingly comprehensive and includes decals for the ordnance, undercarriage and even the individual numbers for the Rolls Royce Pegasus compressor blades. Conclusion Most modellers considering a Harrier GR.7 or GR.9 in 1:72 face a straight choice between this kit and the Airfix alternative. The Airfix kit holds quite a few aces in terms of ordnance, cockpit detail and optional extras (closed auxiliary doors, in-flight undercarriage, 100% LERX), but this kit is still well worth a look. Although it is slightly simpler, it has finer surface detail and will build up into a very handsome model. Revell’s boxing is also good value when compared to the later Hasegawa boxings. Recommended. Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit
  9. Hello, Having noticed a dearth of discussion regarding said kit, I thought I'd start the ball rolling myself. Sprue pics are already floating on the Net, however here are mine. Looks like this boxing is the only one that we'll get, with optional parts for early and late versions and something for the spare box as well. Manufacturers take advice: the fuselage interior shape follows, well, is the actual fuselage: the Karman fairing is a separate part. Great for accuracy, although it remains to be seen how this will affect putting on the wings. With respect to their first kit, ejection pin marks are more in check, and there is some detail on the inside of the wheel wells: You get enough bombs to prevent takeoff. I don't think the Il-4 was ever armed with rockets, however their provision doesn't certainly harm no one. Spare box, here we come! A rather unusual load is an AMG-1 naval mine with aerodynamic fairing; there's also a torpedo (possibily a 45-36-AN model?), one FAB-1000 and two FAB-500 bombs. If you build the bomber version the torpedo can be used for a Soviet A-20... What let me down is the width of the panel lines. What to do here? Mr.Surfacer? Stretched sprue? Bite the bullet? Suggestions are welcome. Some oddities of the surface detail: Rendition of the fabric has improved a bit: There are a lot of parts for the interior, but the detail is rather on the soft side: The clear parts are thick but clear. You get a dorsal turret and a half (the difference is in the number of frames), the other half might be a starting point for a field-modified Boston...? This was the feature I was most anxious about. How do the nose windows fare? Fit seems good but they sit 'recessed', not flush. Thinning of the fuselage in correspondance to the frames is in order. Part of the engine. See what I mean about the 'soft' detail? Re the decals, we're finally spoiled for choice. Register is good. However, there's a bit of a problem with the star borders and other details: the white and especially the yellow don't quite cover. This kit will satisfy enthusiasts first and foremost by virtue of its existence, however in some regards (surface detail...) it's a step back from the Tu-2. Pity. Still, I'd rather put together this one rather than wait for Tamiya. If I get some spare time today, I could try and tape it together to check for fit and shape. HTH, Bone
  10. HAWKER HUNTER in RAF Service by AIRfile Hot on the heels of AIRfile's first 'single type' aircraft publication, the Fairey Swordfish, comes this book on the Hawker Hunter. This sleek and beautiful single engined jet has to be one of my all time favourite aircraft, ever since I first saw them in Borneo whilst on operations out there in the 1960's. The book is produced by Neil Robinson to his practical and visually impressive style of layout; starting with the a full colour photo on the A4 card cover, depicting a Hunter FGA.9 of 54 Sqn RAF. Within the book's 88 pages are chapters on the early Marks; the F.6 version, ground attack & fighter reconnaissance versions; and a final chapter all about the Hunter twin-seaters. As with all AIRfile publications, the book is profusely illustrated throughout to an extremely high quality with no less than 120 full colour side profile drawings. Each illustration, nicely produced by Jon Freeman, depicts a Hunter at a specific time and date within its airframe life. Information provided includes the version, serial & code, squadron, location plus any pertinent data such as operational theatre or tactical situation. The chapter on the F.6 fighter version covers fourteen pages and provides information on airframe serials plus the squadrons they were allocated; again being backed up with a whole load of colourful profile drawings. Another visually impressive chapter is that on the twin-seat version of the Hunter. Many of the illustrations are in full 4-view format which provides colour details on all aspects of the aircraft. This detail can be especially beneficial to anyone wishing to identify the colour demarcations when building a model kit of the Hunter. In additon to all the lovely colour illustrations, there are over 38 colour and 15 black & white photos of the Hunter in various theatres and locations. These provide additional visual clarity on colours and markings for the enthusiast. Conclusion Another fine book from the AIRfile stables, of a very fine and good looking aircraft in its time. The illustrations are really good and covers a whole multitude of colours and markings which can benefit anyone contemplating building a model of the Hunter. I have only had time to have a high level look through the 88 pages of impressive drawings and detail but have already found two or three 'must build' versions and I wish to thank Neil Robinson and Jon Freeman this choice of subject here. The layout is just right, with large colourful illustrations and just enough historical data to enlighten and interest the masses without getting unduly bogged down with reams of tabulated data etc. Review sample courtesy of Kindly mention Britmodeller.com to the supplier when making enquiries or orders
  11. I have posted a review of the new OzMods 1/72 Pilatus PC-9 on Aussie Modeller. http://www.aussiemodeller.com.au/forum/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=8786&p=68384#p68384
  12. I've been reading various reviews on the merits of the Hasegawa / Italeri kits in 1/48 scale. As expected, the general opinion is that the Hasegawa wins hands down, however, I see the Italeri new mould kit, No.2716 is currently available for around £20, considerably less than the opposition. Rather than a review, has anyone who's built the Italeri (or both) versions any comments to offer? I appreciate there is still some work to be done on the Italeri kit, but a £30 saving is a considerable incentive to overcome this!
  13. Adler Gegen England (Eagle against England) The Luftwaffe's Air Campaign against the British Isles 1941-1945 Book by AirFile Adler Gegen England (Eagles against England) is the story of the Luftwaffe's attempts to subdue England; following their unsuccessful attempts to control the skies by destroying the RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. The story highlights how the Luftwaffe changed their tactics; to a concerted effort to bomb the industries, import and distribution networks, including the domestic infrastructure of Britain. Considered to be a major factor in the failure of this strategy was the choice of twin-engine tactical bombers for the Luftwaffe's sorties; as opposed to the allied forces heavy four-engine strategic bombing campaign. The strategy was further exacerbated by the constant changing of target types without following through on any advantages gained before the switches. The Book This book is laid out in AirFile's typical standard of soft cover A4 portrait style. Contained with the 72 pages is a compendium of historical text which is nicely interspersed with full colour profile and plan drawings of Luftwaffe aircraft camouflage and markings, plus the occasional archive photograph from the war period. The sequencing of the German air force's strategic air plans are broken down into chronological chapters within the book and cover the major phases over the Luftwaffe's four year bombing campaign as follows: The Blitz - September 1940 to December 1941 The Baedeker Blitz - 23 April to 3 May and 31 May to 6 June 1942 High and Low Raiders - Ju86 high flyers and Fw190 "tip and run" raiders 1942-1943 Intruders and night fighters - 1941 to 1944 The air attacks in 1943 and 1944 - including "Unternehmen Steinbock" Anti-shipping and maritime operations - 1941-1944 Air-launched V1 missiles, jet bombers over the UK and the Nachtjagd's last fling 1944-1945 The book starts with a comprehensive narrative about how Germany planned to take the offensive to Britain; how medium bombers were favoured over heavy bombers and how it was proposed that the Luftwaffe should support Germany's U-boat offensive. The section on the Blitz, probably the most well known period of Germany's strategic forays, covers the period up to December 1941 and within this section are colour profile drawings of Dornier Do.172 and Do.217's, Heinkel He.111 medium bombers. There are over ninety-five full colour drawings in single side-profile colour arrangement throughout the book. Each drawing depicts a specific aircraft as it was on a certain date/period.some have the aircraft's nose art drawn alongside in greater relief which is a real boon for the modelling enthusiast. Another eleven pages have 4-view profile and plan colour images, each depicting a single aircraft and includes a full narrative of historical relevance. In addition there are thirty eight black and white archive images which provide photographic evidence of the types of aircraft deployed and their markings. Also described is Germany's anti shipping and maritime operations and depicts such aircraft as the Arado and He.115 floatplanes, Fw200 Condors; including their operations with guided bombs/missiles against allied shipping. Conclusion This is another nicely compiled book by Neil Robinson and the illustrations from Peter Scott's library really do enhance the narrative with beautifully visualised images of the aircraft concerned throughout Germany's attempts to subdue Britain into defeat and surrender. Some of the enclosed photographs had not been seen by me before and I found them extremely interesting; it just goes to show what can be achieved through in-depth researching of a subject. For me, this was a pleasure to read as I had not seen so much about Germany's strategic air campaign detailed so well in one, easy to read, book before. I would happily recommend this book to anyone planning to make models of German bombers; or anyone wanting to see what types of aircraft were used and their markings. Review sample courtesy of Kindly mention Britmodeller.com to the supplier when making enquiries or orders
  14. Unmanned space probe VOYAGER 1:48 Hasegawa The Mission The Voyager space probe program was initiated to send two unmanned space probes into deep space with the intention of conducting near-passes of the giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Their mission (referred to as the Grand Tour) was to obtain images and data of those planets and transmit the information back to Earth for analysis and was planned to last approximately 5 years. This was no mean feat as the planets were millions of miles away from Earth; with Jupiter approx 550 million miles, Saturn almost 1 billion, Uranus 2 billion and Neptune 3 billion miles distant. No existing craft, or fuel systems, had ever been invented that could travel these enormous distances however the theory, that these craft could use the gravity of those planets as slingshots to propel them into deeper space, had been identified in 1961 by the mathematician Michael Minovich. This theory became known as Gravity Assist. The concept and design for this was developed during the 1960's and 70's with the missions eventually being approved in 1972; the scope being to make close-by passes of those four major planets and, if possible, their moon(s). Calculations had identified that all these planets would be optimally aligned in 1977 and a planned launch window was proposed for that year. This launch window was very narrow, when these planets could all be reached in one single mission, as the next window would not be for another 176 years! The two probes were named Voyager 1 and 2, with Voyager 2 being launched August 1977 followed by Voyager 1 in September. Both Voyagers carried out identical missions for the first phases (Jupiter 1979 and Saturn 1981) however it was decided that Voyager 1 should detour to take images and readings of Saturn’s moon Titan. This caused the trajectory of Voyager 1 to be off the eliptic path and thereby making it unable to make further gravity assists. This meant that, once it had completed its fly-by, Voyager 1 would continue on into deeper space, unable to return to the original planned track. Voyager 2 continued on the planned mission, encountering Uranus in 1986 and eventually Neptune in 1989. Although the mission was to identify and record the composition and structure of the planets etc., the mission planners also arranged for the craft to carry gold disks, containing images, music and messages; just in case they encountered intelligent extraterrestrial life out in space. The completion of the survey of Neptune marked the official end of the extremely successful Grand Tour mission, however both craft continued sending back data and so NASA approved an extended program, titled the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM), in 1991 with the objective to extend NASA’s exploration of the solar system to the limits of the heliosphere and possibly beyond; depending on how long the power will last and until communications with these craft eventually fails. Now, 35 years after their respective launches, both Voyagers are about to reach the heliosphere. This is the distance where the outer solar system is believed to start. If the power and communications continue to be received then it is hoped the Voyagers will be able to send data which will indicate they have reached the heliopause boundary (where the solar wind meets the interstellar medium). Nobody knows exactly where this boundary is, although scientists think the craft will get there in the next few years and it is hoped that measurement data being transmitted back will provide information on where that boundary actually is, in relation to the distance from the Sun. The Kit This is an injection moulded plastic kit, produced as part of Hasegawa's Science World series, and it comes in a sturdy lid and base type box with an image of the Voyager on the box lid. The contents of the box consists of 3 main sprues, 2 black and 1 white plastic, which contain most of the kit body and components. Additional to these is small display base, produced in a clear blue plastic and a short rigid wire which forms the vertical stand. There is a further sprue containing a representation of the gold disk carried on the missions; plus a rather weird alien figure which, at just under 1 scale inch, makes the figure about 3ft 6in tall in 1:48 scale! Sprue A (black) mainly constitutes components for the base of the craft comprising the Bus Housing Electronics assembly and Housing Mast assembly. The detail looks nice and crisp with no sign of flash. Any ejector pin marks appear to be on the insides of the parts and would be hidden from view when the model has been completed. Sprue B (black) contains the remaining components to make up the Meter Unit Mast; High and Low Field Magnetometer assemblies and also smaller electrical components. All the parts are clearly numbered on the sprues for matching up with the build process outlined in the instruction sheet. Sprue C (white) contains the parts to make up the High Gain Antenna assembly including the large dish antenna and receiver elements. Transparant blue plastic base Conclusion The kit looks to be a fairly simple construction and, with a little time spent on getting a nice paint finish, this look good in any display cabinet or on a desk. There are no decals supplied with the kit and, after checking various images on the web, I can't see if there were any markings on the actual craft. Although this kit is a fine model in itself, the antenna gantry is constructed from a solid piece of plastic ( as are most gantries in plastic kits) and this element could be greatly enhanced by using LVM-Studios Photo-Etched magnetometer and instrument boom. This is a timely release for the Voyager kit as the real craft are currently in the news, as they are due to leave our known solar system any time now, after 35 years of exploration in deep space. Review sample courtesy of UK distributors for
  15. Heinkel He 115 B/C Seaplane 1:72 Revell The handsome Heinkel He 115 was the largest twin-float sea plane used during the Second World War. Developed by Heinkel in the mid-1930s as a replacement for the He 59 seaplane, the He 115 was intended to fulfil the role of torpedo bomber, mine layer and reconnaissance aircraft. Although somewhat obsolete by the outbreak of war, the He 115 was able to remain in service throughout, due largely to the fact that it was able to undertake nocturnal mine laying duties while relatively unmolested by allied aircraft. The He 115 was a minor export success for the Warnemünde-based firm, with a small number of aircraft being sold to Sweden and Norway prior to the outbreak of war. Several Norwegian examples were acquired by the British and were used against the Germans in clandestine operations. During one notable incident, an He 115 landed in Tripoli harbour to pick up British agents, all the while completely untroubled by any German forces. September seems to be re-release month for Revell. Following on from their re-boxing of the Hasegawa Harrier Gr. Mk 7/9 is this re-issue of the classic Matchbox He 115, also known as PK-401. The kit was first released in 1977 and was part of Matchbox’s Red Series. It is made up of just 59 parts – surprisingly few for an aircraft of this size. Matchbox must have known a thing or two about tool making, as the sprues are in very good condition for their vintage. There is very little flash indeed and no other obvious signs of wear and tear. Surface detail is fairly basic and is comprised of a mixture of raised and recessed panel lines. The larger moveable components such as the flying surfaces and bomb bay doors are recessed, while panels that would have been riveted in place on the real thing are represented by fine, raised lines. The long cockpit is right at the basic end of the spectrum as it is comprised of just three parts; the cockpit floor and seats for the pilot and rear gunner/navigator. There are no instrument panels, control columns or any other gubbins, so if you want to add some detail to this area, then scratch building will be the way to go. By contrast, the three crew members are rather nice and feature plenty of detail. The observer/bomb aimer, moulded in the prone position, is particularly good. The wings and horizontal stabilisers are each made up of upper and lower halves and all of the control surfaces are moulded in place. The BMW 132K 9-cylinder radial engines look ok and should do the job under the one-piece cowlings. The kit is not without some finer details though. Rudder and aileron balance weights are provided, and the 7.92mm machine guns would probably pass muster if included in a kit released today. The floats, struts and ladders are all reasonably fine too. I would nevertheless recommend taking care when installing them just so you can be sure that everything lines up properly. I’d love to tell you that the extensive canopy and nose glazing is thin and clear, but I’m afraid it isn’t. It’s quite thick and rather opaque. I’m not sure whether dipping the parts in Klear would have much of an effect either, as the parts appear to have a rough texture. If you really want to improve these parts, you may want to sand them down and then polish them up to a shine yourself. Even worse, the nose glazing is split vertically, with the seam running right down the middle of a single piece of glazing. This will be almost impossible to disguise, so I would recommend that you either cheat and paint an extra canopy frame down the middle to hide the join, or cut the part out and replace it with a single piece of clear plastic cut to shape. Two options are provided for on the decal sheet: Heinkel He 115 C-1 of 1./Kusten-Fliegergruppe 106, Cherbourg, France 1941; and Heinkel He 115 B-1 of 1./Kusten-Fliegergruppe 406, Norway, October 1941. Both aircraft are finished in two-tone green splinter camouflage with light blue undersides. Unfortunately Revell haven’t included RLM reference numbers, just their own. The decals are nicely printed but are quite matt. I would recommend using a decal solution and applying them over a gloss surface. Conclusion This isn’t a modern kit by any means. It’s very basic in places and the part count is remarkably low for a kit of this size. There isn’t much in the way of fine detail and the clear parts are really quite poor. Nevertheless, I feel a certain fondness towards this kit. I’m not sure whether it’s the He 115 itself, dewy-eyed nostalgia or just a hankering for a nice, simple kit to build, but I’m actually looking forward to building this. Recommended (if you’re a sentimental old fool like me). Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit
  16. USS Kearsarge LHD-3 1:700 Hobbyboss The USS Kearsarge was the third of the ‘Wasp’ class of amphibious assault ships to enter service with the United States Navy. Commissioned in October 1993, she followed the USS Wasp and USS Essex into service. The eight ships of the Wasp Class (Wasp, Essex, Kearsarge, Boxer, Bataan, Bonhomme Richard, Iwo Jima and Makin Island) were each designed to ferry a detachment of over 1800 US Marines into battle, deploying them via landing craft, hovercraft and helicopters. The Wasp Class of ships are also able to deploy strike aircraft including AV-8B Harrier IIs and AH-1W Supercobra attack helicopters. The ships boast an impressive defensive armament including Rolling Airframe and Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles, and 20mm Phalanx automated cannons. Not long after her entry into service, the USS Kearsarge was deployed in support of NATO operations in the Balkans, where her marines undertook the successful rescue of downed pilot Captain Scott O’Grady in June 1995. Since then she has performed humanitarian missions in Sierra Leone, Bangladesh and Haiti and took part in Operation Odyssey Dawn, the US designation for the international military operations in Libya. Following hot on the heels of their excellent kit of the USS Wasp, released earlier this year, Hobbyboss have now produced the second instalment in what should eventually be a complete line-up of Wasp class vessels. In typical Hobbyboss fashion, the kit is immaculately packed into a sturdy top-opening box which is divided into a number of compartments. Each sprue is individually wrapped and delicate parts are protected with extra strips of foam padding. If there’s a company around right now that packs their kits more carefully than Hobbyboss, I’ve yet to find them. The box contains a veritable mountain of sprues, some moulded in grey plastic and some (the aircraft) in clear plastic. A stand, two decal sheets and four photo etch frets complete the package. According to Creative Models, the UK importer and distributor of Hobbyboss kits, over 600 parts go to make up this impressive kit. The plastic parts are perfectly moulded and feature plenty of intricate detail. The photo etch parts, particularly those for the radar antennae, are very fine indeed. As you might expect, the vast majority of parts for this kit are identical to those included with the earlier USS Wasp kit. There are a couple of important changes to account for the differences in the actual vessels, however. The hull is moulded in upper and lower halves, which gives you the option of building the kit in waterline configuration if you so wish, although no separate waterline plate is included. The superstructure, or ‘island’ is moulded in one piece, to which many of the small details such as the Rolling Airframe and Sea Sparrow missile launchers and the Phalanx guns, are added. This part is one of the few that are different from the USS Wasp kit, as otherwise the two vessels are remarkably similar. As mentioned above, many of the smaller details are replicated in photo etched brass. The detail on the radar antennas in particular is incredibly fine and the parts look to be correspondingly delicate. For those who don’t wish to tackle the photo etch parts, Hobbyboss have included plastic alternatives as well, but when it comes to finesse of detail, they obviously don’t come up to anywhere near the standard of the brass parts. I estimate that around half of the 600 parts that go to make up this kit are used to create the land, sea and air vehicles that the USS Kearsarge carries into battle. The quantity of mobile military hardware supplied with the kit is mind boggling. A pair of Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) are included, as are a pair of Landing Craft Utility (LCU). Ground vehicles supplied include a host of deck tractors and cranes, as well as two AAVP-7 amphibious assault vehicles, two LAV-25 reconnaissance vehicles, two M60A3 Main Battle Tanks, two M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks and a pair each of M198 artillery pieces, trucks and Humvees. The air wing is just as good, if not better. There are helicopters galore, including four MV-22 Ospreys, four CH-53E Sea Stallions, four CH-46 Sea Knights, two AH-1W Supercobras, and two SH-60F Sea Hawks. Four AV-8B Harrier IIs are also included. All of the aircraft are moulded in clear plastic, which gives you the option to mask the transparent parts if you are that way inclined. The aircraft and other vehicles all look excellent and, best of all, all of the helicopters feature folding rotor blades where appropriate – a nice touch from Hobbyboss. As mentioned above, there are two decal sheets. The first is for the ship itself and the second is for the aircraft. There are also three frets of photo etched brass parts. All the decals and extra details that you could want are replicated here, including a full set of railings, so there should be no need for aftermarket. This kit really is a complete package. Conclusion This really is a top-quality kit from Hobbyboss. It’s hard to imagine how they could have crammed in more detail, and the variety and quantity of additional vehicles is pretty faultless too. The quality of the mouldings is also superb, as are the photo etched parts. All-in-all this looks like a great package and it can be strongly recommended to all fans of modern US Navy vessels. Review sample courtesy of
  17. I confess I had missed this release so seeing the review on Hyperscale certainly caught my eye. What conversion options are there and how easy to do I wonder? http://www.hyperscale.com/2012/galleries/sealynxmk8832dw_1.htm
  18. Fairey Swordfish Mk.I Floatplane 1:72 Airfix Although somewhat antiquated in appearance when compared to its all-metal monoplane contemporaries, the Swordfish turned out to be a formidable warplane which earned itself a place in aviation history. The fabric-covered biplane took to the air for the first time in 1934 and entered service with the Fleet Air Arm two years later. Designed principally as a torpedo bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, the versatile Swordfish also found itself used for other roles such as anti-submarine warfare. It remained in squadron service longer than most of the types intended to replace it and was still in use at the time of Germany’s capitulation in May 1945. Nicknamed the ‘Stringbag’, not because of its biplane configuration but because of the wide range of ordnance it could carry, the list of actions the Swordfish was involved in is the stuff of legend. It took part in the attack on Taranto Harbour which many believe heralded the end of the battleship and played a key role in the destruction of the Bismarck. Engagements such as these demonstrated not only the rugged, dependable qualities of the Swordfish, but also the bravery and skill of the crews that flew them. When Airfix’s all-new Swordfish was released at the tail end of 2011, it was greeted with much enthusiasm by the modelling community. With its combination of rich detail, clever engineering and ease of assembly, the kit hit the sweet spot for many modellers and has now set the bar by which Airfix’s subsequent kits have been judged. The kit is packed into reasonably large top-opening box and is comprised of five sprues of grey plastic and a single, small clear sprue. All of the parts unique to the floatplane version are contained on a single sprue and the kit is otherwise identical to the earlier release. The part count has now risen from 125 to 149 parts. The kit looks impressive on the sprues and the parts are crisply moulded. In contrast with some other recent airfix kits, the sprue attachment points are quite fine. Although there aren’t too many panel lines on a Swordfish, those that are present are reasonably subtle. Airfix have managed to create a very realistic stretched fabric effect on the wings and rear fuselage too. As I mentioned when I reviewed the first incarnation of this kit in 2011, it looks as though it has been designed with the enthusiast in mind. The cockpit is made up of eighteen parts including the floor, fuselage framework structure, crew seats, a neat little radio set and both the rear-firing Lewis gun and the forward-firing Vickers gun. Instrument panel detail is represented by a decal, which seems strange as the radio set features beautifully moulded detail, but that aside this is one well-appointed cockpit. It would be a shame if the rest of the kit didn’t live up to this promising start, so I’m happy to report that it does. The oil cooler, engine and cowling are all beautifully detailed. The cowling is made up of no fewer than four parts, which makes construction more complex but is another indication that the kit has been designed for enthusiast modellers. Airfix continue the good work with the flying surfaces. Both elevators and rudder are fully poseable and feature nicely detailed hinges. For fans of folded wings (and modellers with small shelves) the kit can be finished with wings extended or folded. The interplane struts are joined at the bottom which will make the finished kit stronger and will also help make sure everything is properly aligned. Unlike older biplane kits, the horizontal part that helps align the vertical struts is then hidden between the upper and lower halves of the lower wing – nice work Airfix! If you decide to build your Swordfish with the wings unfolded, a spar must be inserted in the centre wing section. If you want to build the kit with wings folded, this part is left out and the two jigs that can be seen on in the fourth picture above are used to align the wings. This makes a complex stage of construction as simple as possible, something that will go down well with all the biplane phobics out there. A plentiful selection of ordnance is provided, including bombs, a flare, an auxiliary fuel tank and a torpedo. Airfix have also included a ground handling trolley for the torpedo and beaching gear for the aircraft itself. The floats themselves are each made up of three parts. You’ll need to remember to drill through the flashed over holes in the fuselage halves at the start of the build, otherwise you’ll be kicking yourself at the end! Two options are included on the decal sheet: L9768 of No. 814 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, HMS Ark Royal, 1938. This aircraft is finished in the pre-war light grey and silver scheme. K8363 C8C “Mitzi” of the Royal Navy battleship HMS Valiant, July 1940. This aircraft is finished in Dark Sea Grey/ Slate Grey and Extra Dark Sea Gray/Dark Slate Grey over Sky. The decals are printed by Cartograf and look nice, although they are a little matt so you’ll need to keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t silver. Conclusion Such was the high standard set by this kit the first time around that the floatplane version was never going to be a disappointment. This kit packs in enough detail to please even the most demanding modellers, whilst retaining an ease of construction that shouldn’t put off those with a more casual interest in the hobby. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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