Airfix 1/48 Hurricane I
There is nothing I could add to what has been written by much more competent contributors on the iconic Hawker Hurricane fighter. This partly fabric-covered monoplane bore the brunt of the Battle of Britain and yet remained in the shadow of the more modern, all-metal Supermarine Spitfire. Hurricanes continued to serve for years throughout the conflict and also played an important role in bringing airpower to the Atlantic convoys, but their performance in the summer of 1940 is what made them the legend they are.
My situation this year is like that of a fan of some obscure rock band or football team. One of the sort that has seen better days and faded not quite into oblivion, but into the ignominy of performing in obscure venues with lacklustre results, all the while distressing their loyal supporters that find it ever harder to rose-tint what they see. And then, ka-BOOM, the band is injected by a seismic amount of creativity, the football team is bought by some plutocrat that actually has some sense for what the audience wants, they release a new album that rocks the charts, the team rises from some minor league in the sticks to nationwide fame, back into the spotlight.
Same - to me - with Airfix. Since they went into administration and were taken over by Hornby, a change has set in, and the current catalogue is vivid testimonial that they are actively updating their entire range of planes and vehicles to a new standard that is finally on par with the competition. This year´s 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain sees this new Hurricane Mk.I kit after their earlier release of a Spitfire Mk.I, and they are complemented by a set of ground equipment and figures, plus a tanker and a medium truck, all in 1:48 scale. Whilst the early new releases received heavy flak due to their perceived heavy-handed engraved details, these new 1:48 kits have been received very warmly on model review sites.
With myself anything but a Hurricane boffin, but rather a hopeless Airfix supporter and Anglophile, I am unable to comment on the finer points of ye aulde accuracy of this kit, and I unable to comment without bias. I can but report on how the kit built on my workbench. I built it over a week and a half next to work, with most hours thrown in on the weekends. It was built mostly OOB. The only aftermarket items were Eduard coloured PE seatbelts and one small generic PE part by Saemann I used as eyelet on the aerial mast.
First of all, the kit is very well molded. There are some ejector pin marks that might show up to a pen-light in the lower reaches of the cockpit, though. These were filled with CA glue. There was one sink mark on the port stabilizer root, which I also filled. The sprues were well-packed and the top-opening box not overly cramped.
I am very happy with the new-style instructions. They are very clear and show you in red where some part needs to end up. They are mostly in sensible assembly sequence. They properly show build options. They are uncluttered. In short, they are virtually as one would wish them, short of the full-colour splendour of Wingnut Wings. But then, this is an easily affordable kit, at a bit over 20 Euros. As Revell has their penchant for their own paint range, Airfix still only lists Humbrol paint numbers in their instructions, but at least offers clear names to the main shades in the colour profiles.
Construction did start with the cockpit, and stayed there for quite some while, as you get a good part of the tubular inner structure and two wing spars. You´ll end up with the correct bottomless cockpit and some pretty well detailed wheel wells. I opened the access panels to the gun bays at this early stadium, too. As I wanted to build a plane undergoing servicing, the quite nice pilot figure would not be used, and I added a set of hopefully appropriate seatbelts from a friend´s spares box. Everything went together really well, and I soon was able to add some paint to the interior.
This model was painted as follows: All the parts were sprayed with lighter fluid for de-greasing, and then primed with Vallejo´s PU primer. Paints used were Vallejo Model Air for aluminium and black and the appropriateXtracrylix shades for the interior and the camo scheme. The primer held up well on the plastic and I did not experience any embarrassing paint liftoffs.
I was pretty soon able to mate the cockpit/wing spar assembly to the lower wing, and experienced a satisfying fit. Next came filling the gun bays with the eight Brownings and their ammo feeds. These parts are quite nice from the box and were good enough for me, even though I´m sure there will be some impressive aftermarket offerings with increased detail. I used AK interactive´s True Metal Paste to advantage here, plus some dark washing.
The next real test of the fit came when the upper wings were glued to the lower wing assembly. Some minor sanding of the boxes surrounding the gun bays sufficed to achieve a good fit. While this dried, the fuselage halves were prepared. There is limited sidewall detail and a structured instrument panel, and a firewall blocking the view into the hollow area where the engine would sit. This was duly painted and the I.P. decaled, which rendered a credible result. The fuselage halves were then mated and also fit really well. Next came the real test of the kit´s fit, mating the fuselage to the wing/cockpit. It was quite helpful that the fuselage was open on the underside at this stage, as I was able to apply glue from there. The rather complex shapes and contours all lined up pretty well, and in the end I only needed some limited amount of CA glue to fill some very small seams. I was impressed by this fit, and quite happy.
You get some quite neat extra parts with this kit, namely an optional underside with arrestor hook for the Sea Hurricane, and an optional chin underside with the Vokes sand filter for your tropical needs. Apart from the later cannon-armed planes, you can build a lot of Hurricanes from this kit, as it also contains two different propellors and wheel hubs with differently shaped faces that can be installed as needed.
The fuselage inserts I needed were of the early, common or garden variety and fit well. Having closed the fuselage, I completed my seam work and masked the cockpit. Ailerons, stabilizers and rudder were now added and also fit well.
Now it was time to address the remaining bits of varying fiddliness. This comprised the oil cooler with some fiddly actuators, the nicely detailed landing gear, the wheels and their separate (!!) hubs, the exhausts and the prop. The exhausts were carefully drilled open and painted True Metal with some dark red drybrushing. The prop assembly fit well and was painted. The clear gunsight was also painted at this stage. The landing light covers had been installed right when building the wings and were masked then. The navigation lights had small holes drilled carefully from their rear face, and filled with red and green paint respectively.
There are two canopy parts of different width for use in the open and closed position, which is quite helpful. Eduard has announced canopy masks for this kit, but as I was in a kind of modeling frenzy at that stage I did not quite like waiting for them to reach me. So I used a sharp #11 blade and masked away.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
I started with pre-shading the panel lines with black, and then sprayed the underside and wheel well covers Sky. This was duly masked and the uppersides then sprayed in camo. I had started around the gun bay covers with hard masking, but didn´t really like the effect. I felt I should do soft masking, but didn´t quite feel up to the task and wouldn´t want to ruin things with some paint disaster. So, despite knowing that Huricanes were mostly painted with rubber paint masks, I freehanded the camo, which is not correct, but looked less toylike than my attempts at hard masking.
The underside masking removed, the model was checked for faults, some touchups were made, and then I applied Johnson´s Klear to give me a good base for decaling. That cured (I continued work on the remaining fiddly bits in the meantime) I applied first the underside decals and then the upperside ones. I quite liked the red tape decals to cover the gun muzzles, even though the decal film is on the stronger side and less amenable to setting solutions, so it did not easily conform to the openings I had drilled out earlier. This property of the decals was annoying but turned out to be a blessing in disguise pretty soon.
All decals applied, I belatedly decided to spray the black walkway areas on the wingroots instead of using the kit decals. That necessitated masking their surrounds, and even though I apply any masking tape to a glass pane prior to applying it to the model, I managed to tear off the lower half of the right side squadron code on de-masking.
Sitting there with half the decal on the masking tape, I managed not to explode and soaked the tape in water until it was quite soft. The rather strong decal material enabled me to very carefully pull it off over some ten minutes of careful work, and I was able to re-apply it with only limited damage. That damage was painted over with one of my sizable collection of greys (less than fifty, though), and I was able to seal the decals first with more Klear, then with Windsor & Newton´s Galleria flat acrylic varnish.
Next came weathering and accentuating the model. I used artist´s oils for wear and tear and slight gunsmoke staining, and True Metal for paint chipping. Some washing, some pin washes, some drybrushing later I called it quits. The exhaust marks were sprayed with dark grey Vallejo ModelAir paint. The rest of that day was spent painting the canopy and installing it, and adding the landing gear, prop, navigation lights and antenna mast. The aerial was made from ultrafine Caenis monofilament. The rearview mirror which is missing from the kit was made from some styrene stock and painted accordingly.
This is a most delightful kit that brought back the fun and joy of building plastic models to me after a protracted slog through a 1:700 resin kit with loads of delicate PE. I need something like that from time to time, and it sure hit the right spot. I´m currently working on the Albion Fueller and am looking forward to my small Battle of Britain vignette.
Now if only Airfix would direct the same dedication to producing some new ship models, I´d be happy as a pig in a really large pool of mud!
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