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Shar2

DeHavilland Sea Vixen FAW2. 1:48

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DeHavilland Sea Vixen FAW2

Trumpeter 1:48

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The DeHavilland Sea Vixen was a twin boomed fight designed for use by the Fleet Air Arm in the 1960’s. It was the first British twin seat aircraft that could achieve supersonic speed, although not in level flight. While it was a great improvement over the previous FAA aircraft, it could be difficult to handle and many were lost in crashes during its operational history. The Royal Navy Historic Flight current has the only flight worthy example, although this too had an accident not long ago where its hydraulic system failed and it had to be landed on its belly at RNAS Yeovilton. This caused considerable damage to the underside of the fuselage. Hopefully we will see its wonderful shape in the air again in the future.

 

The Model

With the Airfix 1/48 kit now out of production and getting harder to find, modellers may be pleased to see Trumpeter releasing this kit, but be careful what you wish for. I’ve this kit a little while now, and thought it necessary to do a fair bit of research before writing this review as Trumpeter have a reputation for grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory when it comes to British aircraft types. First of all let me say that the moulding is up to the standards we expect from a modern kit, with fine panel lines, recessed and domed rivets where they thought they should be. I say this as there are some spurious panels and fastenings over the surface of the kit.  On the wide upper surface of the fuselage some panels aren’t the right shape, and most of those which are fitted with quick release clips in real life don’t have these represented on the model, but more like screw fasteners. Some of the prominent vents don’t appear wide enough, plus the hot air duct around the cockpit is not wide enough. The same can be said for the underside, with none of the panels matching photos of the real aircraft, plus the sides of the airbrake bay at the trailing edge are not quite correct.

 

The panels on the booms are either completely missing, the wrong size or have the wrong fastenings, and the raised rear sections of the booms, where they meet the tailplane aren’t prominent enough, in fact they look like they are part of the boom rather that an addition, with just a panel line where it’s meant to be. The tails are at least accurate in shape, but again the access panels are mostly the wrong shape, size and position, plus the panels on top of the tails are only represented as panel lines of the wrong shape and no fasteners. This goes for the insides as well as the outsides. While the intakes look pretty good, as do the exhausts and nose cone there is something not quite right with the nose section, some areas are too curved while others not curved enough, making other parts look wrong, particularly the navigators hatch, which is then correspondingly too narrow. Whilst in the nose area the cockpits are, shall we say, interesting. They don’t seem to match photos at all, other than general appearance.  The cockpits of the Sea Vixen is cramped and very busy, you just don’t get this feeling with the kit example, but I’m sure the aftermarket companies will come to the rescue, even if you can’t see much once installed, there are prominent handles and fittings that are visible with the canopies open. Oh, and don’t get me started with the seats, they are awful and don’t resemble any seat I know and/or have worked on.

 

Moving onto the undercarriage, while the legs are a little simplified they do at least seem to match the real thing. As for the bays, there is some nice detailing within on the roof and sidewalls, as well as the undercarriage doors, and Trumpeter do come close to achieving what’s in the real bays and doors, but they’re still not quite right. The interior of the airbrake bay is better, but appears a little too deep and the equipment not quite in the right place or the right shape even. It’s the same story with the pylons, in that they have an ok shape, although not perfect, but with the spurious panels. The kit comes with four missiles, two Red Top, with clear seeker heads and two Firestreak, with protective covers, why they did this is a mystery as the FAW 2 was generally armed with Red Top, whereas the Firestreak was used mostly by the FAW1, but not worry, that’s not the biggest problem with them, the main wings are of each missile wrong in shape and design.  The drop tanks look ok though, if a little skinny.

 

For the sake of completeness I will go through the build process as with my usual reviews. The build begins with the assembly of the nose wheel bay, which is made up from three parts into which the four part undercarriage leg and wheel is attached. The intakes are also assembled, with the single piece intakes being fitted with three piece trunks and two etched parts. The main undercarriage bays are also multi part, with the sidewalls being glued to the roof section.  The nose bay, main bays, intakes and the arrester hook bay rear bulkhead are glued into the lower section of the fuselage, followed by the upper fuselage section being glued to the lower. Each of the two ejection seats are made up from five parts, then glued into the cockpit tub, which is then fitted with the longitudinal framework, pilots rudder pedals, joystick and instrument panel, followed by the navigators instrument panel and radar stick.  The completed tub is then glued into the upper nose section, along with the navigators side window.

 

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The two booms are now assembled, each of two halves.  The two piece horizontal tailplane is the glued between the two tails and the whole assembly glued to the fuselage/inner wing assembly, although it might be better to glue the booms in place before adding the horizontal section to keep everything aligned. The upper nose section/cockpit assembly is also glued into position. The outer wing panels, whilst separate are not given the option to be posed in the folded position.  Each is made up of upper and lower sections and fitted with the two piece ailerons, PE wing fence, and clear navigation lights before being attached to the fuselage assembly, along with the cockpit HUD, canopy, windscreen, and two piece navigators hatch.

 

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The main undercarriage legs are made up of upper and lower sections, to which the two piece wheels are attached before the assembly is glued into position, along with their respective doors.  The jet pipes/exhaust are fitted with the rear face of the engines before being slid into the aperture in the fuselage.  The separate nosecone, in-flight refuelling boom, front and rear airbrake bay bulkheads, and nosewheel bay doors are then fitted as are the large air-scoops adjacent to the airbrake bay. The missiles and drop tanks are assembled and attached to their respective pylons.  They are then glued into their respective positions.  The three piece airbrake is then glued into place, as is the three piece arrester hook several aerials and the two pitot probes completing the build.

 

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Decals

The decal sheet provides markings for the three aircraft.  They are very nicely printed, with no sign of carrier film, in good register and nicely opaque.  Unfortunately the colour schemes indicated on the painting guide, and thus the colours of the decals, particularly the underside serials are wrong. The problems are mainly due to the undersides being depicted as grey, rather than white, which, given that the provided serials are white and not their correct black, it’s all a bit of a mess.  The callouts for the upper-sides are for extra dark sea grey and dark grey, where in fact they were only ever painted in extra dark see grey over white. The options are:-

 

  • Sea Vixen FAW2, 127/E XJ565 of 890 NAS.
  • Sea Vixen FAW2, 464/C, XN654 of 893 NAS, HMS Centaur, circa 1964
  • Sea Vixen FAW2, 707/VL, XN647 of 766 NAS, RNAS Yeovilton, circa 1969

 

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Conclusion

The Sea Vixen is a very distinctive and surprisingly large aircraft which deserves to be well kitted. Unfortunately, no matter how beautifully moulded the parts are, or how fine the detail if it doesn’t look right then let alone be accurate it does leave the modeller a little flat. I’m sure it will still sell well, and will look the part in a collection viewed from about three feet, but, in my opinion it just doesn’t look right.  I’m sure the Sea Vixen experts will have their own opinion, I have only laid out what I think is wrong with the kit.
 

Review sample courtesy o
logo.gifUK Distributors for logo.jpg
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Thanks for this interesting review Dave.  I had been planning to get this kit  later this year and the information on the accuracy leaves me to reconsider this.  I would think that those points you mention might not be so prominent in my normal scale, of 1:144 but at 1:48 they must be glaring.  An informative and honest review which I appreciate, rather than only extol the good points and skim over the less so.

 

Mike

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I'm sure the members will appreciate the honesty Dave, and it's frustrating for us over in Europe that they've not managed to hit or surpass the level of accuracy of the earlier kit.  However, with that aforementioned kit being hard to find even over here, and their main market being the Far East, I'm sure you're right that it will sell well, especially given the scarcity of the other kit and the fact that it would doubtless be more expensive when it hits their shores due to the extra layer of import costs and the importer's cut. :shrug:

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Unfortunately I bought one not long ago and was not impressed at all but I though the booms were to long as well as incorrect detail on them. I only compared them to the 1/48 airfix kit. 

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It looks like the main canopy can only be modelled in the closed position, how strange :shrug:,  I think I’ll keep my Airfix kit, shame  as they missed a trick again.

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Yes Dan, it seems so. I forgot to mention that, there were many other mistakes.

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Just now, Shar2 said:

Yes Dan, it seems so. I forgot to mention that, there were many other mistakes.

 

Cheers Dave, nice to see a good balanced review, warts and all fella :thumbsup:

so glad I kept my Airfix kit now but I was hoping this one was going to be a great kit.

 

Dan 

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Great review, I have a quite a bit of sea Vixen material (and a fair chunk of one!), and I absolutely concur.

Another thing worth mentioning, though the cockpit is nicely detailed the consoles positions and shapes in particular are fictional.

I guess that the upside is that the Sea Vixen is so distinctive that however this kit is built it will look like one!

 

I'm not sure that the Airfix one is hard to find, just sellers asking stupid prices on a certain site, but I have seen three in a shop recently at standard Airfix prices.

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1 hour ago, 71chally said:

I'm not sure that the Airfix one is hard to find, just sellers asking stupid prices on a certain site, but I have seen three in a shop recently at standard Airfix prices.

Got to agree with James. Even without going to shows I managed to get one quite easily a couple of days ago. In a real shop too 😮 Perhaps the design Team just hate British aircraft?

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1 hour ago, 71chally said:

Another thing worth mentioning, though the cockpit is nicely detailed the consoles positions and shapes in particular are fictional.

I thought I had written that, but there was so much wrong with the kit it must have passed through my noggin before I could write it down. Doh!

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Good honest review Dave :thumbsup:

Heres another missed trick from Trumpeter .

Also note how the wing seems to be designed for a wing fold ( photo number 6 shows the wing fold bulkheads above the u/c and engine nib ! )and then its as if Trumpy thought stuff it ! 

Ive built the Airfix kit and Ill wait for Airfix to re-issue theirs before building another.

 

Andy

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Another observation - The Centaur markings option sounds a bit spurious.

 

I believe that 892 squadron flew off Centaur during '64 and they used FAW.1 models

 

IanJ

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Great to read a very balanced and honest review. I guess some people will be happy enough to have a Sea Vixen in their collection while others (like me) would not be able to live with the issues. I will stick with my Airfix kit for now.

 

Duncan B

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Thanks Dave for your honest review.

I really don't understand how can someone dedicate time and money to make a product and then skip so basic research as the painting scheme, like the fictional grey undersides with white serials? It only takes a few documentation and checking up... Unbelieveable sloppy work.

There are still a couple of Airfix Sea Vixens available at the LHS, time to buy one!

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How can you say it doesn't look right if you haven't even built the kit yet? Yet another case of Trumpeter bashing with no real basis?

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Really @warreniI spent a long time going through each part, and compared them with the relevant sections from photos of the real aircraft, and reference books I have. The kit is very wrong in almost every area. I do not go in for manufacturer bashing, if a kit is wrong It's wrong. Unfortunately,  Trumpeter release some lovely subjects, but without doing any real research, as they don't really have any affection for their kits or respect for the modellers.

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From what I read, and what I have seen of the couple of Sea Vixens I have looked at an Photographed in museums I thought Dave's comments were a bit restrained.

 

Know one likes to bash a kit, but even from Photos you can see parts of this kit are wrong.

 

Julien

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And yet they got the underwing serials the right colour on the box illustration...

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That's because the artist actually does some research.

 

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Just found this kit for a bargain £25 on ebay so I can live with a few errors, it looks good enough for me.

 

One thing I can't put up with though is the white underwing serials! Will need aftermarket decals. Also, anyone else notice they've printed the third option as 'XX654' (a Bulldog T1 I think!) instead of 'XN'. Weird error.

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On 7/7/2019 at 10:47 PM, Lord Riot said:

Just found this kit for a bargain £25 on ebay so I can live with a few errors, it looks good enough for me.

 

One thing I can't put up with though is the white underwing serials! Will need aftermarket decals. Also, anyone else notice they've printed the third option as 'XX654' (a Bulldog T1 I think!) instead of 'XN'. Weird error.

I think sometimes Trumpeter design their kits via a phone discussion with somebody who is looking at a drawing of the real thing.  I wouldn't mind so much if they were cheap, but both this and the Defiant are a lot more expensive than the far superior Airfix offerings.

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Posted (edited)

and I am still to see a completed one on any modelling website (or am I not looking hard enough?). That to me is a real indicator of issues

 

EDIT : of course, tempting fate with the above statement, I've found  few that look quite good (although the above comments (canopy , no folding wings etc) are mentioned.  One site suggests that Airfix are going to re-release their in "2019" ...but as it's already October, I think I'll take that with a pinch of (sea) salt

Edited by FIGHTS ON
eat my own words!

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On 10/6/2019 at 4:59 PM, FIGHTS ON said:

and I am still to see a completed one on any modelling website (or am I not looking hard enough?). That to me is a real indicator of issues

 

Erm, my completed build is on here in the RFI section....

Not everybody posts pictures of their models.

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