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Sea Vixen FAW.1 XJ481

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Hello everyone.


I don't get on this part of the forum very often as my builds tend to be rather prolonged affairs, but here we are: this is my attempt at building an accurate Sea Vixen FAW.1 at 1/72 scale. A full account of the research materials and design process can be found on the WIP here:

The build originally started out nearly two years ago with the original intention of modifying two existing kits (an approach which I pretty soon abandoned on grounds of quality/accuracy),deciding instead to design my own. Shown here is the result of 3d printing with some homebrew PE and vacforming for details. A few other details like pylon braces were hand-made from brass, whilst custom masks and decals were produced to handle the colour work. The designs for this aircraft were produced from a combination of photo-interpretation and the aircraft maintenance manuals - each indispensable in confirming the details of the other - using Fusion 360. I've no background in CAD, or 3d printing - or even making your own brass etch -  so the whole undertaking turned out to be a major learning exercise on multiple fronts as different sets design problems arose and needed to be resolved. The aircraft here is actually the first of two FAW.1 designs that I've produced; I'll talk a little more at the end of his post about the next one.


Aside from the encouragement of a regular bunch of knowledgeable and generous friends on here, there are specific individuals that I need (as always, I never consider anything I do on here solely 'mine' so much as the result of shared knowledge) to single out for thanks. @71chally -  in my view the peerless historian of this de Havilland aircraft made sure that I had the bumps and colours of this aircraft correct. @Navy Bird provided support in the early days of the project and proved (should proof be needed) of how generous modellers are with information. @canberra kid as usual seems to have every British aircraft manual under the sun and filled in the blanks most decently with the pages missing from my own copy. @hendie was - with the routine resin masterpieces that he casually lobs into his builds - the single biggest influence on me turning to 3d printing and has by this stage cost me a bloody fortune in tools over the years....


The following photos then show my reproduction of XJ481, an early production Vixen that ended up being co-opted as a trials aircraft in the late 60s, at which time she received this bold diagonal scheme for work on trials of the Martel missile system. The paint scheme shown here is intended to represent the appearance of the aircraft circa 1970; a more detailed service history being available on the FAA Museum site here.


Studio photos to start with then showing some of the details:
































My personal preference remains the use of daylight in terms of judging the effectiveness of my work in relation to the actual aircraft:

























Next up over on  the WIP will be XN708, a later production version of the FAW.1 that was lost on night exercises in Lyme Bay in 1964. This one will be built as a full display version with wingfolds, moving radar and removable Avon engines:







It's already printed - I just need to get cracking and build the thing!


Thanks for looking in.

Take care,



















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We are here at last, and what a fantastic journey, ending up with a truly splendid model. Can't tell you how much I have enjoyed watching the WIP and admiring your tremendous range of skills.


Well done Tony and thank you!




PS. Looking forward to watching XN708 come together!


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I knew she was good, I have watched and revelled in every little baby step but wow!


When photographed for display I am blown away again.


As Keith puts it succinctly:

2 hours ago, keefr22 said:

THE most accurate 1/72 Sea Vixen - ever!

Thanks for the ride, thanks for all the lessons along the way.

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6 hours ago, cmatthewbacon said:

Have you thought about licensing the CAD files to Airfix? It would be a helluva jump start for an accurate injection moulded 1/72 Sea Vixen...




They have probably been watching this build with fear, "Now we shall have no excuses left!"



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Superb model, Tony :worthy:  :worthy:  loving the stand and pose too :clap: :clap:


It was a deeply enjoyable ride altogether, with memorable 3d sketching, skilful scratch building, vacforming and PE home brewing.

Totally worth it!



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It's been a wild ride from Catapult one to the landing approach, and now you've hit the three wire!

She looks fabulous and you are entitled to be very proud of this unique build.

I'll wager @Ex-FAAWAFU 's old Seaboots there isn't another one on the planet.*


*(Who doesn't love the smell of salty leather in the morning?) (Did I say that out loud?)

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Although my previous comment on this RFI was rather “laddish”, seriously I do think that this (and Hendie’s Wapiti and lots of other people on BM) marks a change in how people look at kits. No longer is it a good enough for a major manufacturer to get something that “looks like a” out by the next financial year. Now there is a whole set of “manufacturers” who really care about the subject and can take the time to get it exactly right.

I don’t know how this could get to market and what business model could work (and I have a day job already!). One could imagine buying a dozen Marses and operating like a subcontract injection moulder?


But if you want a Farley Friutbat, learn CAD!




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Clearly the work of a complete nutter! Brilliant effort and I am glad that there are people like you about. The only adverse comment is that seeing it mounted with those prongs up its jetpipe gives me an uncomfortable feeling in my backside.


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What a journey you have been on. I can't start to imagine all the learning curves you must have had to climb but I do know I have never been so envious of a biscuit box full of kit bits lol.


Duncan B

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Nah, it baint graciousness.

Simply in awe at sharing space with such a presence m'lud.


Tony it truly has been an awesome ride, you even got me buying a capable laptop with which to attempt to learn and handle Fusion360 in a fit of imagined competence, now proven to have been a jump too far.


Riding the shoulders of giants has been a game changer, really.


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2 hours ago, perdu said:

you even got me buying a capable laptop with which to attempt to learn and handle Fusion360

My God - what havoc have I wrought here? 😁


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