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Hawker Hurricane Mk.I (A01010A) Airfix 1:72


Julien
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Hawker Hurricane Mk.I (A01010A)

Airfix 1:72

 

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If one was to asked to give the name of a British fighter that took part in the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire would undoubtedly be the most common answer. However, the aircraft that provided the backbone of the defence in that infamous battle was the Hawker Hurricane. Designed in 1935, it was quite a step forwards to the existing front line RAF fighters of that era, key features being a fully enclosed cockpit, retractable undercarriage, 8 guns, powerful V12 engine and most notably, a single cantilever wing as opposed to a biplane configuration. Despite its revolutionary look though, the design and manufacturing techniques were old school, a steel frame with fabric skinning so in reality, it was very much a progressive rather than evolutionary design. This however was to provide useful in manufacturing and in the face of battle. The Hurricane was easy to produce, repair and maintain. This is in comparison to the birth of the Spitfire which used completely new manufacturing techniques which whilst offering performance, hindered early production.

Early Hurricane Mk.I’s went through a series of design enhancements. Initial aircraft had fabric wings which limited the dive speed whilst the spin characteristics were a concern for test pilots. This was remedied by the addition of a strake below the rudder that became a key characteristic of the Hurricane. The fabric wings were also changed by 1940 for new metal skinned ones which increased the dive speed by some 80mph. Other notable improvements on the Mk.I were the addition of 70lb of armour plate for the pilot, self sealing fuel tanks and a 3 blade constant speed propeller. The availability of 100 octane fuel early in 1940 gave the Merlin an additional 30% boost power available compared to the power available on 87 Octane which was a significant when one needed to open the taps as wide as they would go!. With aircraft entering service in 1938 with the RAF and a few exports, the first blood was achieved on 21st October 1939 when a squadron of Heinkel He115’s were bounced by 46 Sqn looking for ships in the North Sea. The engagement resulted in 4 aircraft downed with more being claimed by 72 Sqn Spitfires. France was to prove more challenging for the Hurricanes as opposition was encountered by the more lethal BF109E’s. What became the Battle of France was to prove a bloody battle as a result of what the Luftwaffe were able to put up. With the German forces pushing forwards, the RAF and ground forces were forced to retreat to UK soil which paved the way for the Battle of Britain where the Hurricane achieved its legendary status alongside the Spitfire. Of the 2700 victories claimed during this battle by the RAF, nearly 1600 ware at the guns of the hurricane. Whilst the Hurricane soon became outdated a front line day fighter in Europe, it went on to see considerable success in other campaigns throughout the war. With the addition of bombs and cannon, it became an effective ground attack aircraft. It has its history firmly rooted in the battles of the Mediterranean, Russia and the Pacific, not to mention early night fighting over Europe where many aces earned their status.

The kit
This is a welcome re-release from Airfix of a great little kit. There are  5 grey sprues, a clear one, decal sheet, two colour instructions and a colour painting guide, this is great value for money. Moulding quality is excellent with virtually no flash or sink marks present. The surface detailing on the fuselage and wings is beautifully done with realistic looking fabric areas. Shape wise, it looks very good too. The wing has the slight kink noticeable on the inner section.

 

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Construction starts with the wings. A detailed main gear bay is first constructed before joining the top and bottom wings up, a straight forwards affair. The cockpit is then built and assembled into one of the fuselage halves with the rudder pedals and column being fitted to the wing centre section. Two rear bulkheads are supplied in the kit, one armoured, the other not. The instructions show only the non-armoured unit being used, however if you are going to use aftermarket decals, you may want to research your aircraft before selecting the correct one. Detail for the cockpit is only provided in decal form which for some will be well received. I would have preferred some surface detail, so you may want to use an aftermarket etch set if this is an issue to you. With the fuselage quickly assembled, two rear lower fuselages are supplied. The first is the early one without a strake, the second having the more typical and charismatic spin recovery strake. As the base of the rudder is different for each, two rudders are also supplied. Again, check your references before being rushing in with the glue! If one is to be critical on the fuselage, the fabric effect on the access panels below the cockpit fade out on the panel edges.  Following a some discussion about the two ‘bumps in the nose immediately behind the propeller at the 4 & 8 o’clock positions. It appears that very early variants didn’t have these. If this is the case on your aircraft, they can simply be sanded off if this detail is important to you. The rudder and tailplanes have the same quality of moulding as the main fabric areas. I’m particularly impressed with the elevator moulding. The Carburettor intake under the nose is a good example of how Airfix have moved on. The intake is recessed giving good scale representation, not simply a blob of plastic as you would get on 20th century kits leaving you to drill the intake out.

 

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Two options are provided for gear position. If you prefer to have your gear raised, the parts are superbly produced with wheels & doors moulded as one. This not only looks effective, but keeps it simple for novice builders. If you want to have the gear lowered, separate legs and doors are provided with accurately shaped inner door profiles and two part legs for each side. A noticeable error is the 4 spoke wheels. Typically, the early Hurricanes had 5 spoke wheels so correcting this will need aftermarket wheels. The radiator is another key feature on the hurricane and this is well represented. Both front and rear radiator faces are provided and nicely detailed and the variable flap is moulded in a slightly open position with a very thin edge as not to look toy like.

 

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As mentioned previously, both a two speed Watts fixed pitch prop and a 3 blade DH constant speed unit are provided giving more options as to the time period of your build. There are supported by the early slotted and subsequent triple ejector type exhausts. As I suspect that these revolutions happened across various time periods, using reference material for any specific aircraft will be critical if you desire an accurate build. A pleasing feature is the inclusion of a separate canopy enabling you to have it in the open position. This is quite thin and free from distortion. Two windscreens are provided, one of which has an armoured panel protruding out. Other minor features to be aware of in determining your build is things like the venture on the side of the cockpit. At some point, these were phased out with the introduction of a vacuum pump to provide vacuum for the instruments.

 

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Decals
The decals look very nice. Very sharp print quality with a matt finish and excellent register are evident, only one option is supplied;  L1679 of No.1 Sqn in Northern France 1939

 

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Conclusion

Although there's an obvious error in the kit, notably the 4 spoke wheels, and a decision not to include surface detail to represent cockpit instrumentation, this kit is a welcome along side other Hurricane models now appearing. . The quality of the moulding and accuracy is reflective of the recent progress Airfix have made and as such offers great value for money. Both experienced and Novice builders alike will enjoy building this kit , I only recently built another boxing and really enjoyed it. Highly recommended.

 

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3 hours ago, Julien said:

both a two speed Watts fixed pitch prop and a 3 blade DH constant speed unit

I think this is supposed to be a two blade Watts fixed pitch prop and a 3 blade DH variable pitch prop. For this time period the constant speed unit hadn't been introduced and the DH propellers could only operate in fine or coarse pitch.  Doesn't affect the parts supplied as they're pretty good representations, just mentioning for the historical record. It's nice to see airfix offering all the options from this tooling in a series 1 boxing

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