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Avro Vulcan B.2 (A12011) 1:72


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Avro Vulcan B.2 (A12011)

1:72 Airfix




It’s hard to think of a more iconic aircraft to represent the RAF Strike Force at the height of the Cold War than the Avro Vulcan. It’s also difficult to believe that design work was begun by Roy Chadwick and his team, who designed the Lancaster, while WWII was still ongoing. Even though both aircraft fulfil the same basic role, the two are extremely different both in looks and the level of technology used. The Vulcan was the third of the V Bombers operated by the RAF, her sisters being the more traditional Valiant and the crescent-winged Victor. The Vulcan was the more technically advanced aircraft and was considered a greater risk, one of the reasons that all three types were commissioned.  The first prototype Vulcan flew in 1952 with a straight delta wing, reaching production as the B.1 from 1955. The design was improved by cranking and “drooping” the delta wing that improved flight characteristics, with more powerful Olympus engines making the aircraft capable of carrying the Blue Steel stand-off nuclear missile. 


The Vulcans would later lose their nuclear role in the 1970s, and switch to conventional weapons in support of NATO, until right at the end of their service life they were called on to fly their longest, most difficult and most famous sorties. In a major feat of aerial logistics, they along with their siblings the Victor tanker, would fly from Ascension Island to Bomb the Falkland Islands’ airfield at Port Stanley, after the invasion by the Junta led Argentinian military.  After successfully shortening the runway by dropping a full stick of bombs diagonally across the tarmac, the missions rendered the runway useless for any fast jets, forcing them to use up all their fuel flying to and from the mainland. Later missions provided Radar Suppression on the Falkland Islands, stooging about and trying to tempt the Argentinian radars to light up so they could launch Shrike missiles and destroy them, leaving the Sea Harriers free to defend the otherwise vulnerable fleet and take on the fighters.  Each mission was a round trip of nearly 8,000 miles that had every opportunity to go wrong, leaving the possibility of a Vulcan having to ditch in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  This almost happened when a refuelling probe sheared off on a later mission, leaving the aircraft incapable of taking on any more fuel from the waiting Victors, and forcing it to land in Chile, where it remained.


A solitary Vulcan was kept in the airshow circuit for a while after they left service after being replaced by the Tornado, but by the early 90s they were only to be found in museums, often rotting away outside.  Vulcan XH558 however was kept in running condition along with a few others by dedicated volunteers, and was eventually brought back to flight status by a huge amount of support and generous donations from the public, flying for a number of years before it was grounded again for good when it clocked up more hours in the sky than any other Vulcan, when support was withdrawn.



The Kit

Airfix was the only company to create a kit in 1:72 in 1983, which has been re-released many times over the years, and its popularity had seen the quality of the moulds begin to deteriorate in more recent runs.  An excellent model could be built from that kit, but as our standards increased, much more effort, money or both was required to make it happen.  Meantime, the existence of an essentially accurate kit was clearly off-putting to other manufacturers, so it has been left to Airfix to replace their own kit with a thoroughly new tooling that will make us all happy again.  This has been a long time coming, especially after they inadvertently dropped the announcement before they were ready, so everyone’s breath is well and truly baited by now.


The kit arrives in a large box that is about the same size as the old one, and inside are seven grey styrene sprues, most of which are almost as large as the box, a sprue of clear parts, a large decal sheet, thick A4 instruction booklet with separate glossy A3 painting guide, and another sheet for the stencils.  The sprues are large and wobbly, and some can be nipped into smaller, more manageable sizes by cutting out the runners from between the sprue sections, which I did in order to make photography easier for the detail pictures.  Detail is really nice, with engraved panel lines, raised and engraved surface details on the skin of the aircraft, plus a much-improved range of detail in the cockpit and gearbays that will be sufficient for the majority of modellers.  There is also a complete bomb bay in this tooling that even has a complement of iron bombs to fill it, separate open doors, and an insert to allow the Vulcan to carry the Blue Steel nuke in a recess under the fuselage.  Unsurprisingly, you get a Blue Steel missile too, which is more detailed than the original, and has the fold-over fin that was necessary to prevent it from scraping on the ground on take-off.  From examining the instructions, it is clear that a lot of effort has been expended to make the model well-detailed and easy to make, with some clever design visible in various places.























Construction begins with a deep breath and a broad smile, as we’ve been waiting for a new Vulcan for quite a number of years now.  Unsurprisingly, the first steps involve the cockpit, which if you’ve been inside one, you’ll know is on a split level and very cramped.  Under the floor is a pair of L-shaped supports that portray the basics of the crew access corridor, with some ribbing moulded in at the door end.  A centre console and rudder pedals are inserted into the floor first, with the front bulkhead blocking off the front and the main instrument panel with clear decals for the dials applied to detail it, and a pair of fighter-style joysticks projecting from the panel on short stalks.  The front crew have Martin-Baker MB.3 ejection seats that get them out of the way in the event of an emergency, and these are made from two half shells with the seat cushions installed inside, which include moulded-in seatbelts and a fire extinguisher behind each one on the top level, plus a ladder between them.  To their sides are a pair of side consoles with their own decals to provide some visual interest.  The three rear crew were less lucky, and had simple seats that meant that they had to hope that the pilots had time to let them bail-out before they ejected, after which the task would have been almost impossible.  The centre seat is a different style to allow access to the entrance corridor, and this is depicted here, the outer two having the same more substantial rotating fitting, and each seat is installed facing the aft bulkhead, which has a narrow table but no detail or decal, which is a shame.  That said, there’s very little that will be seen with the canopy on, even if you open up the access door.  By this stage the cockpit is clearly forming the tubular shape of the fuselage, and here Airfix have created an internal nose cone that can be used to contain the 40 grammes of nose weight that they suggest you use.  The weight compartment is made from two halves, and has pegs that insert into the cockpit’s front bulkhead, so fill it with lead or whatever you have to hand, and weigh it so that you don’t end up with a tail-sitter.  Nice work Airfix!


The fuselage front then closes around this assembly, with the nose weight sleeving inside, and the very tip of the nose has a cone with either a slot for a refuelling probe, or one without.  The canopy is a single part, which is about right, as the only time you’d see a Vulcan without a canopy is after an ejection, or during maintenance where just the windscreen would be left in place.  A decal is applied to the inside of the canopy to represent an instrument panel, and in the coaming around the front of the cockpit area, a small clear observation window is inserted before the cockpit is closed up.  Under the nose is an insert with the bomb-aimer’s window plus separate glazing, and the crew door aperture moulded-in.  To fit the door in the closed position, a small portion of the hinge should be filed away, as shown in a scrap diagram.


There’s a lot of internal structure to this model, as it is a large kit.  There are two spars that form the front and rear of the bomb bay, which have small sections cut out first if you are depicting a Blue Steel aircraft, then the interior of the bomb bay, which has a series of arches along its length, some of which are numbered for your ease.  The three larger arches are made first from three parts each, then the bay walls are attached to the two spars to be joined by the rest of the arches from above.  The whole bay is painted white, and you have the basis of the structure provided for you in this kit, but there is always more you can add if you have the references and the inclination to detail it further.  A pair of intermediate spars are attached to the sides of the bomb bay, and all three are joined by an L-shaped stringer that gives the structure some strength.  This large assembly is set to the side now, while the upper and lower wing skins are built up.






The wings of the Vulcan are large and blend along the majority of the length of the fuselage, and in order to create a full-width skin, the two halves have to be joined together.  If you are portraying a Blue Steel aircraft, there are two sections around the Bomb Bay doors that will need removing first, but Airfix have already weakened this area with a simulation of chain-drilling that should make their removal quite easy.  For gear up, there is a single bay door for each of the main gear bay apertures, and to the rear there are some holes that need drilling between the two engine nacelles, which differs between decal options.  The two lower wings are joined together with either a standard closed bomb bay, a Blue Steel insert, or the space for open bay doors, whichever you decide.  For the first two options the wings are made up and the internals are glued over the top, but for the open bay, the insert is added to one wing, then the other is joined to the assembly to ensure the two wing halves sit at the correct angle once glued.  For a gear-up Vulcan, the nose bay door is inserted from outside, or for gear down, a bay is made from five sides, then glued into the lower wing from inside.  The two main gear bays are also made up from five parts each, and they too are inserted into the lower wing.  It’s not the last part to be installed either.  There are four Olympus engines to go.












Before the two pairs of intakes are made up, there are some paper templates included in the instructions that can be used to mark off where the camouflage ends inside the intake lips, and that’s yet another considerate inclusion from Airfix.  Each paired intake is made up from a top and a bottom half, with a separate part depicting the curve of the internal split between the two tubes.  At the rear a pair of engine faces are included to block off the trunking, and if you wish, there are also a pair of FOD guards to blank off the intakes for a parked-up Vulcan.  The two pairs are handed, and these are installed into the lower fuselage according to the numbers embossed on the rear of the engine fans.  Lastly, a pair of landing lights are inserted into the lower wing from within, then the upper wing is made from two halves, and here it’s noteworthy that the ribbing inside the bomb bay is moulded into the interior of the two halves, and there are a number of overlapping sections that will ensure a strong join between the two halves.  The two wing surfaces are joined finally, and the nose clips into place, with a much more refined splitter plate sliding into the gap between the fuselage and intakes than on the old kit.  The tail cone has two 1mm holes drilled in it for one decal option, then the two halves are joined and have an additional intake added into a depression on the right side, then it too is joined to the fuselage/wings.


The exhausts of the Vulcan were always a bone of contention with the old kit, as there were different styles, and the old kit didn’t portray then well.  This new kit seems to have a lot more detail, and even includes a jig to assist in construction, so follow their instructions and don’t glue the figure-of-eight parts into position, or you’ll be sad.  Each exhaust has a number of notches in the inside end that tells you its number, which corresponds with a number on the upper fairing into which you drop them two at a time.  The jig is slid over the outer end of the pair, then the remaining two parts of the cylindrical cowling are glued in place around each pipe, with the jig removed once the glue is dry.  Another section of the exhausts is included to give a more accurate length to the interior of the trunking, and this part has a representation of the back of the engine blocking your view, and you guessed correctly that these too are numbered.  The same task is carried out on both sides of the aircraft, then various exhausts are fitted to the undersides of the engine nacelles, followed by some strakes in the gap between them, and a pair of asymmetric Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) plates that fit between them with a vertical support giving them a T-profile.


One of the stand-out parts of a Vulcan is the fin, which makes them easy to find on the ground.  The tip of the fin is first to be made, then joined to the two-part fin, which has a posable rudder that can deflect 30o to either side.  The two flap sections per side are also made up and installed either side of the engines, and the two-section ailerons are also installed, with 10o/22o deflection and 12.5o/27o deflection respectively.  The latter have separate actuator fairings fitted to the mobile section afterwards.




The landing gear and their bays are a big improvement on the old kit, with more detailed bay doors, and the legs themselves are made up of a number of parts that have eight wheels per main leg fitted on each one, a long retraction jack, forward bay door and big inner doors with their actuator jacks on each one.  The nose gear leg has multiple parts too, and has two wheels, one either side of the axle.  This inserts into the bay and has doors with retraction jacks on each side, one of which has a towel-rail antenna on the outer face.  It’s still quite a way before the model is finished, but the open bomb bay, if you chose it, is next to be finished off.  There are three sets of seven bombs supplied to fill the bomb bay, then the bi-fold bomb bay doors are made up from two parts each that are latched into the bay walls in a partially retracted fashion on each side.  You also have a choice of closed or deployed spoilers in the forward inner wing section, using either flat panels or alternative parts on two legs for each of the four spoiler positions.  The upper spoilers are doubled-up, so look quite impressive when deployed.


If you are using the Blue Steel bomb, it is built from two halves, with the forward steering vanes a single part on a rod that passes through the nose.  At the rear, the top fin is installed upright, two small parts are fitted to the horizontal fins, and the bottom fin is glued in the folded position parallel to the ground, then the exhaust cone is popped into the hollow rear of the missile.  It inserts into the semi-recessed section of the fuselage where the bomb bay would normally be, with the top fin sliding into a slot like the real thing.  Now it’s time to mop up the small and delicate sections that are best left until the end.  A clear light is fitted into a recess in the underside of the aft fuselage with an exhaust port just behind it; the crew access hatch and ladder is made up with handrails, then glued into the hatch behind the bomb-aimer’s window bulge beneath the nose with a trio of probes around the aforementioned window; a pair of antennae fit into recesses in the upper spine between the engines, and if you have selected the nose with the fuelling probe recess, that is the last job on a long list.




There are two markings options on the decal sheet, one camouflaged with white undersides, the other completely anti-flash white.  Both schemes are laid out using a full side of the A3 each, with smaller drawings showing the colours of the bombs and the Blue Steel missile, with colour call-outs in Humbrol shades.  From the box you can build one of the following:


  • The Scampton Wing (Nos.27, 83 & 617 Sqn.) RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire, England, 1966
  • No.12 Sqn. RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, England, 1963






Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.




A new tool Vulcan.  Just sit there and let that sink in for a second.  The only thing that would top that is a 1:48 injection moulded Vulcan, but that’s just pipe-dreams.  It’s a great kit, includes plenty of detail for the majority of modellers, and has some neat, inventive engineering touches that should make it a good build at a fair price.  Then it’s just a case of affording another one for the other scheme, and another one for the inevitable B.1 with the straight leading edges.


So highly recommended that it stings a little.




Review sample courtesy of


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I don't see on the sprues anywhere, but did they include covers for the jetpipes as well? Or is this going to be something for the aftermarket lot to cover (and I'll certainly want a set for one of my Vulcans).

I also wonder how easy it would be to splice spare Olympus 201 jetpipes from this onto the old kit rather than finding resin ones. Worth a try if someone has an old tool kit to sacrifice in the name of modelling science.


Other than already known problems mentioned in the original new tool Vulcan thread which stem from changes made in museums which have been moulded here, I can see one area I'm not entirely happy with. The nose cone part is done in an odd way, it will add an extra panel line which needs to be eliminated (and doubtless many modellers will not realise this). There is a perfectly good panel line a bit further back the joint could have been moved to, and further eliminated another issue. This other issue is what about Vulcans with refueling probes but no TFR mod. Sure, you can put in the circular cap like XH558, XM603, XL318 and the cockpit of XL388 have today, but plenty should have a smooth nose tip and a refueling probe (especially any in white because the TFR mod was done after the white scheme was phased out iirc). I'm sure this won't bother most other modellers but it just creates extra work for me. Why oh why did I have to learn too much about Vulcans....


3 hours ago, Mike said:

Then it’s just a case of affording another one for the other scheme, and another one for the inevitable B.1 with the straight leading edges.

B1s didn't have straight edges as standard. These were just the prototypes and first five production ones, the other 40 B1s had kinked wings, and most of those earlier ones were quickly refitted with kinked ones. B1a was an ecm refit (seems to be a common misconception that this was the kinked wing refit).

Still, we can wish for a proper B1 or B1a kit some day... The 1/96 1958 FROG kit is the most recent one, and well, good luck finding one of those.

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6 hours ago, Mike said:

It would be churlish not to, really ;)

It was there, in my backorders, nudging me saying "go on, go on, you must, you must", so I had to. And because I'm such a clumsy shopper a 1/48 Hobbyboss Chinook fell into my basket too.

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16 minutes ago, Beermonster1958 said:

Just out of curiosity here (I'm no expert) but, could the 1000lb bomb carriers for the Vulcan kit also fit in the Victor as, it too (IIRC) carried GP bombs in clips of 7?


Maybe, although the Victor could carry 35 thousand pounders, so you might need another two lots of seven bombs! 
Cheers.. Dave 

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1 hour ago, PhantomBigStu said:

Beginning to regret my decision to wait for the next production run......that is stunning 

You know what to do Stu :wicked:

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It would have been icing the cake for Airfix to supply the necessary nose weight, like many of the Far Eastern manufacturers do. Still, *definitely* looks like a Vulcan to me, and doubtless it will fly off the virtual shelves! 

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57 minutes ago, PhantomBigStu said:

I shall hold you responsible.......

I've already told everyone to blame me for the size of their stashes :yes:

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1 hour ago, -Ian- said:

.....or a Black Buck set with 12 Victor K2s.

Fixed that for you! 🙂



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I have 2 waiting for me at home.


I imagine that there will be a Black Buck boxing as well as a future XH558 standalone boxing with the correct (incorrect) roundels and the decals for the inside of the bomb bay.


This has to have been Airfix's greatest success for years.

I can't wait to see mine and will be looking forward to your builds too.


Off the back of the reception this has had, the 1/24 Typhoon and Hellcat I imagine a similar response will await the 1/24 Spitfire IX which must be on the cards surely!

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1 hour ago, At Sea said:

Off the back of the reception this has had, the 1/24 Typhoon and Hellcat I imagine a similar response will await the 1/24 Spitfire IX which must be on the cards surely!

Oh I don't know... we've just seen a new version of their 1/72 Vulcan kit, why not follow up with a new version of their 1/48 Buccaneer?

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A long time coming, but worth the wait. I had one on backorder from Hannants since it was announced, not wanting to miss out. Shipping to the US was scandalously expensive (equalling the cost of the kit almost to the penny - fortunately I was able to add quite a few items to my order without much effect on the postage). I hope to build two or three, so I hope this is a big seller for Airfix, especially here in the States.

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