Heller/Ventura 1/72 Tempest I

KIT #: 274
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Peter Burstow
NOTES: Conversion


The prototype Hawker Tempest Mk.I was first flown on 24th February 1943, some months after the first Mk.V. It was fitted with a Napier Sabre IV 24 cylinder sleeve valve engine of 2240 h.p. At 466 mph, it was the fastest of the Tempest family. Distinctly different from the Sabre II engined Mk. V, it was fitted with leading edge radiators, rather than the bulbous chin radiator.

Only one prototype was built, due to the cancellation of the Sabre IV, and the perceived vulnerability of the leading edge radiators. The production orders for 400 Tempest Mk. Is being changed to Tempest Mk. Vs.  


 Only seven low pressure injection moulded parts, two fuselage halves, a carburettor intake and four wing radiator halves make up the conversion set. Moulded in brittle, grey translucent plastic, with thick sprue attachment points. The parts are all very thick and need thinning in places. There is also a vacformed 'car door' style canopy and two car doors. There is a single A4 instruction sheet with a split-plan and profile painting guide. There are no construction notes.

 The donor Heller kit, no. 274, is fairly old, and sometimes available. My boxing is the 'black box' type with instructions in English, French and German. Typical Heller, nicely detailed with fine raised panel lines, a basic cockpit, and boxed in wheel wells. It also contained a small bulb of glue, which fortunately had not leaked. The Heller decals were for two famous and well photographed Tempests, JF-E and RP-B.


 First step was to separate the parts from the sprue. The plastic was brittle and a piece of sprue shattered when I tried to use my cutters. I used a razor saw, making two cuts, one to remove the sprue, the second close to the part. I then cleaned up the part by carving, scraping and sanding. The attachment on the leading edge of the fin was the most difficult, and one of the sprues broke away, leaving a large hole in the top of the fuselage which will need repair. It was about this point I decided that this model was not going to get a natural metal finish.

 The Heller cockpit has a seat, control column and bulkhead to be added to a floor. The seat looks more like a park bench. I added blue masking tape seat belts. The cockpit assembly and instrument panel were fitted to the fuselage and the halves closed up. A little bit of shaving and trimming was needed to make it all fit. The Heller wing was assembled and joined to the Ventura fuselage, it fitted reasonably well, but I had to thin the root trailing edge on the fuselage to avoid a step. Time for a fill and sand session. I used thick superglue as a filler.

 I then added the wing leading edge radiators, first opening up the front, and thinning them to a more sensible thickness. While my reference didn't mention it, I'm sure they were not made from six inch armour plate. They didn't fit at all well, and needed a lot of trimming and filling to make them look reasonable. Fit was slightly improved by putting the radiator labelled left on the right wing and vice versa. I was not happy with the 'see through' look of the radiators, so fitted a piece of check pattern plastic card to the wing leading edge. I hand painted the inside of the radiators dark grey, then dry brushed, with Mr Metal 'iron', to pick up the check pattern.

 I butt joined the Heller tailplane halves to the Ventura fuselage and went over the joints again, adding another layer of superglue especially to the still obvious hole in the upper fuselage. Made up some cannon from 1mm brass tube to replace the plastic stub and hole provided on the Heller wing.


I went for a late WW2 colour scheme of grey, grey and green. Used Tamiya acrylics, first overall medium sea grey, XF-83. That showed up some joints and scratches, and the hole in the fuselage, that need more work.

 Then the topside camouflage using light grey, XF-66, and deep green XF-26.

 I decided on a 486 squadron RNZAF scheme, code SA-K, they were Tempest Mk.V operators. I gathered decals for the roundels and fin flash from the spare stash. For the squadron code I used sky letters from Altmark sheet A18. I didn't use a serial.


 I added all the remaining small bits from the Heller kit, undercarriage, pitot, propeller etc. Made the whip antenna from 8lb monofilament. A few bits of detail and touch up painting, then an overall coat of Testors Dullcote. I used the Heller bubble canopy, the prototype Mk.I first flew with the car-door style, but was later fitted with the standard bubble.


 A rather difficult conversion, but the end result is much better than my scratch built effort, using a Revell Tempest, many years ago.

 Recommended for experienced modellers due to the lack of instructions and the hacking and slashing required.


William Green, Fighters Volume 2, Macdonald, London, 1961

 Peter Burstow

June 2013

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