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Hawker Hunter FGA.9/Mk58. 1:32

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Hawker Hunter FGA-9/Mk-58

Revell 1/32

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History

The Hawker Hunter FGA 9 was the RAF's main close support or ground attack aircraft during the 1960s, having replaced the de Havilland Venom FB.4. The Hunter was chosen for the role after competitive evaluation trials that were carried in Aden in 1958. At first the contest was seen as being between the Hunting-Percival Jet Provost and the Folland Gnat, both in use as RAF training aircraft, but the Hunter F.6 was added to the contest, and easily outclassed its competitors. In 1958 Hawkers received an order to convert forty F.6s to the new FGA.9 standard. This was followed by five more contracts to convert a total of eighty eight aircraft, for a total of 128 aircraft.

The F.G.A.9 had a stronger wing than the F.6, allowing it to carry a wider range of stores. The inner pylon could carry a 230-gallon drop tank (with an extra strut for support), but required a cut-out to be made in the flaps for clearance, two 25lb practice bombs, one 500lb or 1000lb bomb, up to 6 3in rockets or a battery carrying 24 or 37 two-inch. The outer pylon could be replaced by four Mk 12 rocket rails, each of which could carry three or four 3in rockets. In 1967 this was replaced by the 68mm SNEB rocket pod, which carried eighteen individual rockets. The FGA.9 also carried extra oxygen, improved cockpit ventilation and cooling (to cope with the high temperatures in the areas it was expected to operate in) and a tail landing parachute to help on smaller Middle Eastern airfields.

The first F.G.A.9 made its maiden flight on 3 July 1959, and entered service with RAF Strike Command (the former Fighter Command) in 1960-61, joining No.8 Squadron at Khormaksar (Aden) in January 1960. No.208 received the type in March 1960 and used it from Kenya. No.43 received the FGA.9 at home then took it to Cyprus in June 1961. No.20 Squadron received the type at Singapore then used it during the Indonesian crisis of the mid 1960s. At home Nos.1 and 54 Squadrons received the FGA.9 in 1961.

The FGA.9 began to be phased out towards the end of the 1960s. The last few squadrons to use it as a front line aircraft were No.1, which transferred to the Harrier from July 1969, No.54 which was disbanded then reformed as a Phantom squadron in September 1969 and No.8 Squadron, which lost its aircraft on its return from the Gulf in 1971. The aircraft was then used with a number of training units before finally retiring from that role in 1980. The FGA.9 was the basis of a large number of export versions of the Hunter, while twelve were sold directly to Rhodesia in 1963.

The Swiss meanwhile had taken delivery of their FGA.9 equivalents, the Mk58 in 1963 having ordered 12 modified Mk.6 aircraft and 88 new builds. Swiss Hunters were operated as interceptors, with a secondary ground-attack role; the outboard wing pylons were modified to carry two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. In the ground-attack role, the Swiss Air Force maintained an arsenal of conventional iron bombs, a number of compatible napalm bombs were also maintained for intended use by the Hunters. In the interceptor role, the Hunters were supplemented by a surface to air missile (SAM) defence system also procured from the United Kingdom, based on the Bristol Bloodhound. A portion of the Hunter fleet was permanently placed in reserve as "sleeper squadrons", housed in remote mountain-side hangars. It was planned that in a large-scale conflict, these aircraft would fly from adjacent highways, using them as improvised runways.

By 1975, plans were laid to replace the Hunter in the air-to-air role with a more modern fighter aircraft, the Northrop F-5E Tiger II. The Hunter remained in a key role within the Swiss Air Force; like the RAF's Hunter fleet, the type transitioned to become the country's primary ground attack platform, replacing the Venom. While the Swiss Hunters already had more armament options than the RAF aircraft, being cleared to carry Oerlikon 80 mm rockets instead of the elderly 3-inch rockets used by the RAF, to carry bombs from both inner and outer pylons and to launch AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, the change to a primary air-to-ground role resulted in the Hunter 80 upgrade, adding chaff/flare dispensers, BL755 cluster bombs and the ability to carry AGM-65 Maverick missiles.

The Patrouille Suisse flight demonstration team were prominent fliers of the Hawker Hunter for several decades. Squadron aircraft were fitted with smoke generators on the engine exhausts and, later on, were painted in a distinctive red-and-white livery. The group officially formed on 22 August 1964, and used the Hunter as its display aircraft until it was withdrawn from use in 1994.

The Model

The big Hunter FGA.9 was originally released by Revell in 1998 and whilst there are rumours on how it didn’t sell as well as was predicted, it still seems to be a popular kit, particularly since there are a number of conversion and aftermarket sets available to make other versions and improve the kit ones. Revell have kindly decided to re-release this as it was getting relatively hard to find, although I know a few stashes where quite a few are held. The kit comes in the same style of top opening box that the original did, but with a slightly different box art showing a very nice artists representation of the aircraft “flying” out of the box and a photograph of a Swiss aircraft in the bottom right hand corner. Inside, the two sets of sprues, standard hunter parts and FGA.9 specific parts, are contained in large poly bags. This at least means that any parts that come away from the sprues are safe, even if there is more likelihood of the parts being damaged. Fortunately the clear sprue is held in a separate poly bag. All told there are six quite large sprues of light grey styrene and the one of clear. The moulds still appear very fresh as there is no sign of flash or other imperfections. Although some of the details do appear a little soft, particularly in the cockpit. The external details such as panel lines and fasteners are really finely done, some may say too fine, but the Hunter was a clean looking aircraft with good fitting panels, well, certainly the GA-11’s I used to see a lot of when based down at RNAS Yeovilton were. Now while I’m sure many people know this kit intimately this review will be written as if it’s a completely new release for those who haven’t had the opportunity to see it before.

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The build begins with the cockpit and the ejection seat in particular. The instructions give the modeller a choice of two seats, depending on which version of the Hunter they intend to build, but in reality it looks like the only difference is in the colour scheme and stencils used. Each seat consists of the seat pan, back rest, and seat squab to which the main gun frame and head box is attached and finished off with the addition of the central seat pan firing handle.

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As you’d expect the instrument panels are different between variants, but since the details are quite soft they would be better replaced with something from the likes of Airscale and their excellent instrument and bezel packs. The instrument panel, rudder pedals, forward bulkhead and joystick are then assembled to the cockpit floor with the side consoles moulded integrally. The ejection gun unit is then fitted followed by the ejection seat itself, along with the rear bulkhead.

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The completed cockpit assembly is then sandwiched between the two nose fuselage halves. To this main assembly the cockpit coaming is attached along with the gun sight and gunsight glass. The nose wheel bay is then fitted with the nose wheel leg and its retraction jack and attached to the inside the nose wheel panel, which is then affixed to the underside of the nose assembly.

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Moving on, the front engine fan disk is fitted to the two halves of internal intake ducts, this assembly is then attached to the lower portion of the intakes along with the forward duct sides after which the upper intake section can be added, and for the RAF version a pair of sensor fins. The complete intake assembly is then added to the rear of the nose assembly. The nose cone can then be filled with the appropriate weight and attached to the nose.

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With the appropriate holes opened up in the lower wing sections the wing halves can be glued together. The optionally positioned flaps are then attached, as are the wing tips, navigation lights and leading edge dog tooth extensions. The rear fuselage also requires certain holes to be opened up if the Swiss version is to be built. The two halves can then be joined together. The engine exhaust nozzle is now assembled between the two rear tail cone halves and the upper and lower sections of the horizontal tailplanes are glued together allowing the main structures to be assembled. The nose assembly is joined to the rear fuselage assembly followed by the tail cone, tailplanes and wings. Lastly the upper fuselage spine is attached, and runs from just behind the cockpit to the spine join just in line with the wing trailing edges.

The already assembled nose undercarriage leg is fitted with the nose wheel, moulded in two halves, and the completed with the fitting of the other half of the axle yoke. The rear bay door is then attached to the fuselage and joined to the nose wheel leg by two struts; the front bay door is then attached to the front of the bay. Too pose the doors closed you will need to remove the retention lugs before fitting to the bay. The main wheels are each made up of two halves, which when joined together are completed by the addition of the inner hub. This assembly is then attached to the main oleo axle along with the separate scissor link and the upper bay door, which has to be separated from the lower door as it is moulded as one piece to aid fitting if posed in the closed position. The middle outer door is then attached to the wing and connected to the oleo by two struts, then the lower bay door is attached the two legs of the middle door. The completed main legs are then fitted into their respective positions followed by the inner bay door and its associated actuator jack.

Final fitting out of the model includes the attachment of the airbrake, in either open or closed position, tail bumper, windscreen and canopy, alternative aerials and sensors, depending on which version is being built, rear bullet fairing tip, and the optional types of cannon link chute fairings. Revell have provided a pair of 230gal and two 100gal drop tanks, each of which are made up of two halves, with the 100gal tanks also having two stabilising fins attached to the rear. Each pylon is also in two halves and when attached the 230 gal tanks are fitted with a support strut. The kit also has the option of having two 68mm rocket pods fitted in place of the 100 gal tanks on the outboard pylon. These are assembled again from two halves with a separate nose cone. For the Swiss version the kit provides for an extra pylon, practice bomb unit, 675ltr drop tanks, two Maverick missiles and different cannon muzzles.

Decals

The single large decal sheet provides a complete stencil set for each version of the aircraft plus all those required for the different tanks and weapons. The markings provided are for the following:-

  • Hunter FGA.9 of No.1 Squadron, Royal Air Force, West Raynahm, England, September 1963.
  • Hunter F.58, Fliegerstaffel 21, Swiss Air Force, Emmen Air Base, March 1994.

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Conclusion

It’s very nice to see this kit re-released and it’s still a fabulous looking kit. Not being overly complex it shouldn’t take too much to make a good looking model out of it. I have heard there may be fit problems in some areas, but with a bit of care and patience I’m sure they won’t be too bad. It will certainly be an impressive model for any collection. Plus the fact that so there are so many lovely aftermarket sets available the world is truly your cuttlefish.

Highly recommended.

Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit

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Just to add - this re-pop of the original FGA Mk 9 incorporates the revised/corrected/improved cockpit tub and parallel ailerons of the later F Mk 6 kit - so improved over the original FGA Mk 9 kit.

Iain

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Its a really nice re-issue this kit have purchased and started it already, currently have a WIP on it at the moment on britmodeller.

http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234957777-revell-132-hawker-hunter-fga9/

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Thanks for that Iain, I knew there was a problem but couldn't for the life of me remember what it was. Not that it matters now if it has been revised and updated.

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Many thanks for the review, Dave.

Think I'll get it, wonder if there are some good decals sheets available on the aftermarket.

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There is the old xtradecal one http://www.hannants.co.uk/product/X32005

Not much else for the MK9.

Aeromaster sheet for the MK.10 http://www.hannants.co.uk/product/AMD32002

Durch Decal sheet but for a MK.4 http://www.hannants.co.uk/product/DD32011

Flevo do a sheet for a Dutch Mk6 http://www.hannants.co.uk/product/FV32009

Might still be some of the other aeromaster sheets out there.

Julien

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Great review. I'm debating getting one of these. It's a bit too big really in 1/32 and displaying it would be major headache for me. I really like the Hunter and l'm having no luck getting hold of the Academy 1/48 version. Decisions......Decisions.

Chris

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Thanks. Go for it Chris, you won't regret it. :thumbsup:

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Great review. I'm debating getting one of these. It's a bit too big really in 1/32 and displaying it would be major headache for me. I really like the Hunter and l'm having no luck getting hold of the Academy 1/48 version. Decisions......Decisions.

Chris

Chris,

Not sure why you would have problems getting hold of the Academy 1:48 scale kit ?. They are not easy to find, I grant you, but they are not super rare either….and don't forget that Italeri recently re-boxed the kit with the added bonus of including both F Mk 6 and FGA.9 parts in the kit so you can change your mind later if you want !.

HTH

Mark

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I guess it partly comes down to price. The Academy kits pop up regularly on ebay but seem to go for silly prices, or at least what l call silly. I watched one recently that went for £25 + £6 p+p. I may just have to dig deep. I've never seen one of the ltaleri kits on ebay; and l have just worked out why. I always enter 'hawker hunter' into ebay's search tool and that returns the Academy, Revell or Airfix in 1/72 or 1/48, among other things; but never Italeri. However if l enter 'hunter 1 48' then it also returns the Italeri kit........aaagh!

Chris

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I guess it partly comes down to price. The Academy kits pop up regularly on ebay but seem to go for silly prices, or at least what l call silly. I watched one recently that went for £25 + £6 p+p. I may just have to dig deep.

IIRC the Academy kit retailed for close to DM 40 in Germany when originally released, which equates to roughly 20 €. I'd say there are kits far more heavily affected by inflation than the Aca Hunter. Besides, I myself did not consider me particularly lucky after finding out that the cockpit and especially seat are heavily underscale in the Aca kit, and I think there was a serious problem with the fin shape (too much sweepbak ?) as well. In short, that kit still awaits my continued attention more than 15 years on.

Dave, as you refer to a choice of two seats - I do not spot a second one on the sprues, nor do I recall it from my (also stalled) build from 16 years ago, so only a "painting/decalling" option ?

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