Valom 1/72 Hampden B.I

KIT #: 72033
PRICE: 28.00
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Short run kit with etched metal parts

HISTORY

In September 1932 the Air Ministry issued its specification B9/32 for a twin-engined bomber which represented a big hope for the British Bomber Force. Handley Page and Vickers, two aircraft companies were each awarded a contract and the resulting prototype, the HP52 and the Vickers Type 271 flew within a week of one another. The former on 21st June 1936 powered by two Bristol Pegasus PE5-SM radial engines. The Handley Page design had an extremely slim fuselage with three manually operated gun positions. In spite of its antiquated appearance the Hampden which was the Handley Page bomber had several remarkable characteristics. With use of leading edge slots it was able to land at 73 mph, while its maximum speed of 254 mph was higher than the Vickers product known as Wellington or the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley and it could carry 4,000 Lb of bombs in the bomb compartment and external bomb racks. Over a distance of 1,200 miles by comparison with the Wellington’s figure of 4,500 lbs over the same distance. 

Following trials at the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment, at Martelsham Heath, and at the Central Flying School at Upavon deliveries to the RAF began in September 1938 with the first batch of Hampden bombers going to No 49 Squadron at Scampton, Lincolnshire. No 49 was part of No5 group which was eventually equipped completely with Handley Page Hampden bombers. When WWII broke out, 10RAF squadrons were using the type. Early operations in daylight reconnaissance role were uneventful but soon in September the Hampden’s short comings were highlighted mainly when 5 out of 11 aircraft in two formations were destroyed by German fighters when within sight of the German coast. Not long after it was decided to operate in future under cover of darkness and some leaflet-dropping missions were carried out. By winter 1939-40 the Hampden had found its most useful role as a minelayer. Aircraft from No 5 Squadron sowed mines in German waters on the night of 13-14th April 1940 just after the German invasion of Norway and by the end of the year No5 Group Hamden’s squadron had flown 1209 mine laying sorties.

Still the Hampden’s inadequate defensive armament caused it suffer heavily at the hands of the German fighters when used as a day bomber. On the Night of 25-26 August 1940 Hampdens and Whitleys took part in the RAF’s first raid on Berlin and the Hampdens continued to support the night bombing offensive till  late 1942, when in the night of 15-16 September aircraft of the Royal Canadian Air Force No 408 Squadron attacked Wilhelmshaven in the Hampden’s final sorties with Bomber Command. From April 1942 the Hampdens had gradually been transferred from Bomber Command to Coastal Command, entering service with the latter as a torpedo bomber in the form of Hampden TB Mk1. The first two units were No144 and 455 Squadrons, the latter a RAAE unit and detachments from both Squadrons went to the Northern USSR for convoy protection operations. 32 Hampdens of these two squadrons left Sumburgh in Shetland Islands on 4th September 1942 but 9 were lost in the crossing, including 2 which crashed in Norway and I which crashed on landing in the USSR. No 455 was the last Operational Hampden Unit based at Sumburg and sinking a u-boat on 4th April 1943 before reequipping with the Bristol Beaufighter at the end of the year.

In spite of the inadequacies the Hampden did have its good points. Among them were the pleasant handling characteristics and an excellent view to the pilot. Still the accommodation was very crammed and in view of the narrow fuselage interior individual crew members being able to change places only with extreme difficulty, which posed great problems in case of injuries. In all 1432 Hampden bombers were built, 502 of these by Handley Page, 774 by English Electric, 160 in Canada. In total, until September 1942, the Hampdens made 16,541 combat flights and delivered 9,200 tons of bombs. Overall 413 aircraft were lost during combat operations and 194 aircraft were lost due to operating reasons.

THE KIT

The kit comes in a top opening cardboard box having an impressive box cover art work of a Hampden P1333 of No 49 Squadron RAF circa 1940 in formation with another Hampden on a bombing mission over enemy territory. Upon opening the box there are two sprues of medium grey coloured plastic, another smaller sprue of transparencies and a fret of brass etch items. The A5 size instructions folded to make a 12 page booklet contains 13 stages of construction, easy to follow with clear illustrations. There is one page containing five black and white photos showing interior detail. Judging from these photos gives a clear indication of how crammed and narrow the interior of the bomber is. There is a page dedicated to no less than 5 equivalent brands of paint which include Humbrol, Agama, and Model Master. Another page contains specification and history of the bomber. Two more pages depict two lots of colour 4-view information drawing which are useful when painting the model and for reference for decal emplacement.

For a look at the parts, visit the preview.

CONSTRUCTION

The fuselage and wing parts are separated from the sprues. One will notice that there are no locating pegs and corresponding locating holes on any of these parts. The surface of these had detailed recessed panel lines. The cockpit area is first assembled. The brass items for the instrument panel, seats harnesses, rudder pedals and side consoles are all included and assembled in the fighter type narrow cockpit, crammed as it may be just like the real thing. There is a plastic bomb bay roof that fits nicely and one may start to wonder why the kit did not incorporate open doors and stores. There are reasons to believe that Valom has plans for other future releases of the type in different format that will include also stores. The kit also contained 8 pairs of rack brackets I form of inverted ‘Y’ but were nowhere to fit on this kit so far.

 The dorsal gun turret had a crew seat that fits on a bracket attached to one side of the fuselage. There is a clear canopy for this station but I had to cut a slot to fit the twin gun position. The alternative was not to mount the Vickers guns.  The transparencies are very clear and contain recessed frame detail. As for the ventral single gun position there is indication to drill the transparency to fit the gun into. Unless one desires to open the transparent canopies I fond it that it is not worth detailing the interior more than given with the kit as these are rather thick in spite of clarity of the plastic and little could be appreciated from the outside. There are two square windows just aft of the bomb bay which I preferred to glaze with Kristal Kleer. With all the parts including the nose seat, all in place I then closed the fuselage together.

Dry fitting the nose transparency indicated that this was wider than the place where it was to sit. I have partly solved the problem by inserting a spacer made from sprue to the interior to keep the fuselage from caving in. The lower clear nose part fitted as it should. The cockpit canopy had its sides moulded separately. The reason being that these windows were slightly concave and hence why coming in part. It was a difficult task to put these together unless one makes a ground diorama to justify these being left open. The best way that I found to tackle this was to assemble the canopy in one piece before bringing it to sit on its spot on the fuselage. The tail [plane unit splits horizontally which also caries part of the tail boom. Once assembled the whole tail unit is butt jointed to the fuselage. The instruction sheet indicates that the tail wheel roof has to be hand made from a rectangular piece of plastic. A hole was then drilled to accept the tail wheel. Once the tail assembly is butt jointed this needed some smooth fairing for a continuous joint with the rest of the fuselage.

Joining the main planes together needed some care as these had no locating pegs on the inside to help aligning the parts together. The wings are then slid into recesses that are moulded on each side of the fuselage. In order to fit the inner faces of both wings were slightly scraped. The engine cowlings had locating pins which simplified alignment. These had the detailed resin radial engine parts to fit inside and allow the front to just protrude joust outside the cowling. In order to fit the radial parts required slight filing at the circumference, thus reducing slightly the diameter until they fit. The assembled cowlings were then brought to the rest of the wing. Any slight mismatch that was present was attended to with careful filing and filler.

The undercarriage assembly is well detailed and once assembled and set it was very sturdy. I made sure that once fitted inside the wheel well these were vertical to the ground level. Having convinced that this alignment was correct I then detailed the rest of the cowling adding air intake scoops, exhaust stack and went on with adding antennae, elevator balance items, tail wheel, guns to the rest of the kit. I threw away the wing tip transparencies which I replaced with solid Perspex as my examples had a shrink hole in them. These I fitted slightly oversize using super glue then filed the perspex to conform exactly to the rest of the wings.

COLORS & MARKINGS

The kit can be built either in standard dark earth and green camouflage with black underside as used during the war by the RAF bomber Command or as a Coastal patrol aircraft. My choice fell on a Coastal Command Hampden sporting a contrasting colour scheme of white lower surfaces and fuselage sides and dark sea grey on upper. I used Humbrol enamel white and Humbrol ocean grey M106 followed by a coat of Clear. Decals were thin and correct register. These were easy to apply. The kit was finally given a coat of Revell semi matt clear varnish. A small amount of weathering in form of varying degrees of grey was added to exhaust areas.

CONCLUSIONS

 Considering this is a limited run kit this was a fine build and my only criticism falls on the slight overlap of the canopy and the cockpit side windows which I found hard to put together without risk of staining with glue. On the positive side the new liveries that come with emerging Valom kits is very welcome. The kit is definitely not beyond the capacity of most modellers but I particularly recommend this kit to anyone who is keen on Coastal Command and WWII bombers of the RAF.

Carmel J. Attard

January 2009

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