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Vickers Valiant B(PR)K Mk.1/B(K) Mk.1 1:72 Airfix Although designed from the ground up as a high-altitude strategic bomber, the Vickers Valiant was adapted to a number of other roles throughout its career. The Valiants high-altitude performance and long range made it ideally suited to the photo reconnaissance role. The first converted aircraft, known as the Valiant B (PR) K Mk. 1, equipped No. 543 Squadron, based at RAF Wyton. The photo reconnaissance equipment was installed in the bomb bay, with nine windows being fitted to the bomb bay doors. Photo reconnaissance Valiants operated successfully until replaced in service by PR Canberras. Valiants were also deployed successfully in the tanker role. These aircraft, designated B (K) Mk. 1 were adapted by the installation of a Hose Drum Unit (HDU or HooDoo) in the bomb bay. The benefits for the RAF were immense, providing true strategic offensive capability as well as prolonging the endurance of the fighter force. The Valiants promising career was famously cut short in 1964, however, following the discovery of fatigue cracks around the wing spars. For many, the release of this set was one of the least surprising to emerge from Airfix HQ late last year. It was obvious that a photo reconnaissance bird would be in the pipeline at some point because the parts for the bomb bay glazing were included in the original boxing of the Valiant. Rather than inflate the price of the original kit by including these extra parts, or risk investing in a complete PR/tanker boxing, Airfix have chosen to release their own aftermarket conversion set instead. I think this represents a good deal all round, and will hopefully help to shift a few more Valiants as well! The set comes packed into the familiar red box, clearly marked additional parts and decals so as not to mislead. A photo of the plastic parts and the decals features on the left hand side of the box, accompanied by CAD images of the parts in place on the lower right hand side. Inside the box is a single sprue which holds all eleven plastic parts as well as decals and instructions. The plastic parts are crisply moulded, to the same high standard as the original kit. The photo reconnaissance conversion is simplicity itself, requiring the use of the new bomb bay doors and the left over clear parts from the original kit. The tanker version is slightly more complex, as you will need to assemble the HDE and fix it to the replacement bomb bay roof. The HDU is nicely detailed and should look great once in place. Of course youll need to finish your model with the bomb bay doors open in order to show it off. A choice of two schemes is provided on the decal sheet: Vickers Valiant B(PR)K Mk. 1 WZ399 of No. 543 Squadron, Royal Air Force Wyton, 1957. This aircraft is finished in High Speed Silver with Signal Red areas on the wing tips and tail surfaces; and Vickers Valiant B(K) Mk. 1 XD812 of No. 214 Squadron, Royal Air Force Marham, 1960. This aircraft is finished in Anti-Flash White. The decal sheet is nicely printed (by Cartograf) and includes just the main markings for each aircraft. Youll need to use the decal sheet provided in the original kit for the stencils and other common markings such as roundels. Conclusion If you have an urge to build a Valiant in something other than the nuclear/conventional bomber configuration, then this set is a no-brainer. If you just want the new bomb bay doors and decals for the PR version then I think its fair to say you will get the rough end of the deal. The good news is that you can overcome this by purchasing a second kit and building a tanker version. Go on, you know it makes sense! Review sample courtesy of