Airfix 1/72 Mosquito FB.VI

KIT #: 02001-9
PRICE: AUD$ 8.00
DECALS: Two options
NOTES: The original Airfix offering


The De Havilland Mosquito was conceived as an unarmed high-speed medium bomber built mainly from light-weight balsa wood.  Initially dubbed ‘Freeman’s Folly’, it received other nicknames like the ‘Timber Terror’, and the ‘Wooden Wonder’, but more often to her crews, she was just a ‘Mossie’.  The bomber first carried 2 x standard, then later, 4 x shortened 500lb bombs.  Later still, some received a bulged bomb bay so that they could carry a 4000lb ‘cookie’.  The bomber was modified into photo-recon, cargo carrier (including provision for a single passenger) and photo-recon variants.  When armed with 4 x 303” Browning machineguns and 4 x 20mm Hispano cannons, the Mossie became a night fighter or fighter-bomber with a reduced bomb-load because the cannon breeches occupied the front half of the bomb bay.  Other weapons were tried on (or in) a Mossie for use against ships.  These included rockets and a 57mm cannon.  All the while, her two Merlin engines enabled the Mossie to out-run and out-manoeuvre most of her enemies.            

My Model Club President challenged us to scan our collections of references and completed models to find a model that is featured in a book (novel, actually).  The objective was a club display to be called “By the Book”.  So, the challenge was set, and the searching began.  I immediately knew that I could contribute several models and books, but I also knew that I had a book for-which a unique, never-modelled-before Mosquito would be required.  I’d always wanted to build this Mosquito, and this was the perfect stimulus to do so.

The book is “633 Squadron”, in-which an RAF medium-bomber squadron is tasked with a special mission to destroy a difficult target.  The squadron flew into the book equipped with Douglas Boston bombers, but for their mission, they were re-equipped with special De Havilland Mosquito bombers.  633 Squadron’s new Mossies had their bomber-type clear nose bubble replaced by a solid nose, and were armed with 2 x 303” machineguns & 2 x 20mm cannon, with all of the barrels projecting forward out of the nose.  (See Chapter 12 in the book).  This makes sense because the whole bomb bay was needed for their special 4000lb bombs, and bulged accordingly.   

633 Squadron” was made into a movie.  But the Mosquitoes from the movie of did not have the cannons – just four machineguns.  Modellers, who want a Mosquito from the movie, will simply build a post-war Mosquito bomber with a second intake under each spinner, 4 x machine guns in the painted-over clear nose, a bulged bomb bay and three blisters on the canopy.


 The kit I chose was the original Airfix 72-scale De Havilland Mosquito FB (with rockets).  I chose this kit because it is only for the display – not a serious model.  Test-fitting showed that the fit of the parts was only fair, that there were a lot of gaps that would need filling, and stepped seams that would need both filling AND sanding.  It is hard to identify a good feature about this kit.  The rockets lack warheads; the UC legs are featureless; the wheels are too skinny; and the two crew members sit on planks in a too-short featureless cockpit.  So, this is typical of an old Airfix kit.  (Is this model 76-scale?)  I guess the only good things are that the rivet detail is quite subdued and that Airfix produced a new Mosquito kit.   


 OK – so I needed 2 x MG and 2 x 20mm cannon barrels to stick-out from the nose.  I didn’t have a mod-set to bulge the bomb bay doors, so I have to scratch-build it all.  Naturally, I’d do something about that empty cockpit.  And while I was at it, I suddenly decided to leave the bomb doors open, and to put a 4,000lb cookie in there.  This build is getting complicated.  Because I HATED the poorly-kitted undercarriage, I appealed to modellers for a replacement set, and happily, I was supplied with a set of wheels AND legs (Tamiya, I think).    

 Internet research revealed that the Hispano 20mm cannons were 8’2”/2.45mr long (34mm in 72-scale).  The later Mk.V’s (as fitted into the Hawker Tempest) were 10” shorter at 7’4”/2.2mr (30.5mm in 72-scale), were lighter, but fired at a slightly slower rate.  I decided to put the shorter ones in my 633 Sqn Mossie - they musta been available because the rocket fuel factory target suggests a late stage of the war.  Diagrams showed that the forward 1/3rd was unobstructed barrel, with the remaining 2/3rds being the receiver and gas-operating system.  So, I’ll put the barrels sticking-out of the nose by 733mm (10.2mm in 72-scale), and have the (notional) rest of the cannon fitting between the nose and the bomb bay’s forward bulkhead.  Going solely on length, they would have fitted.  I’ll use the second-smallest brass tube that I can muster. 

 I quickly stuck the wings & engine halves together because there was nothing else to them.  And because I could, I drilled a cavity in the roof of the engine nacelles so that they appeared to have room in there for the wheels.  Neither the movie nor the book Mosquitoes used rockets, so neither would mine, and I filled the holes for the rocket rails.  While they dried, I thinned the inside of the fuselage, then scribed-off the bomb doors.  Luckily, I made the bomb bay a little wider than the raised detail indicated.  The bomb bay got a low roof attached to the underside of the wing roots (to hide them), then I closed the fuselage.  Front & rear bulkheads followed vide my favourite method – where a bulkhead should go, I sawed part-way up into the fuselage, and up to the roof.  A large piece of thin plastic card formed the bulkhead and filled-in the saw-cut.  Glue it in, trim off the projecting bits, then fill and sand.  An instrument panel backing plate was made in the same way.

 I formed the bomb doors by rolling lengths of brass sheet under a piece of dowel.  With my Hold n’ Fold, I put in some folds so that the upper portions fit against the inside of the fuselage, and so that there was a flat ridge that accepted the thickness of the fuselage walls.  The bomb doors gape too widely, but I don’t dare try moving them into a correct position because I might break the superglue bond inside the fuselage.  A length of 12mm dia plastic tube replicates the 4000-pound bomb. 

 Note that I didn’t start this model in the cockpit, ‘cos there wasn’t one.  The forward extension of the roof of the bomb bay became the floor of the cockpit.  I built a low rear bulkhead and a shelf behind the “seats” (and on top of the wing roots), and added some lumps as a radio & stuff.  Finally, I added a couple of seats to fill the nothingness in the cockpit.  But somehow, I forgot to add seatbelts (TWIT!!).

 The wing trailing edges needed filling and sanding to form a sharp edge, and I lost some detail in the process.  The tops of the engine nacelles were attached level with the tops of the wings, which left a gap underneath.  Filler was needed everywhere – fuselage belly & spine, engine nacelles to wings, wing to fuselage, nose to fuselage and tailplanes to fuselage.  Unfortunately, the kit 303” MG barrels were HUGE – too big even to be the 20mm barrels, and the nose had sockets to accept them.  So, I filled all of the sockets, and drilled all new holes for the 20mm cannons, and the MGs.  My drilling isn’t perfect.  To avoid drilling into the (soft) filler, I put the nose on upside-down – and had to blend the two together with a little filler.  In my opinion, the small intakes under the engines were too small, so I deepened them by gluing a plastic strip underneath them, and sanded them to shape.  They still leave a bit to be desired, but they did allow me to incorporate the small rearward extensions over the wheel wells.  Attaching the canopy (then masking it) gave me a complete airframe that was ready for painting.     


       Virtually all modern Mossie kits provide decals for the radiator cover warning stencils inboard of the engines.  This kit doesn’t.  The cure was to paint the whole cover red, apply narrow strips of tape between the raised detail, then to paint over the red.  The book doesn’t specify the colour of the 633 Sqn Mossies, so I went with the colour of the post-war/movie ones - dark green cam over grey, with a light blue belly and spinners.  I used Tamiya XF13 J.A. green (yes, I can hear you gasping and picking-up stones), XF20 medium grey and XF23 light blue.

Now, the decals for this old kit were long gone, and I considered robbing a later Airfix Mosquito kit to get a set of national markings.  But happily, I found that I had a set of generic RAF roundels for 72-scale Spitfires & Mosquitoes.  I considered using the letters GE * E (633) for the squadron code and aircraft letter, but I couldn’t find suitable ones, and making the ‘G’s would have been difficult.   For ease, I stayed with the movie aircraft’s Squadron code of code of HT.  I would have preferred to use C – Gellibrand’s aircraft (the Australian - I’m an Aussie, myself) - but I resorted to E, because it was easier to make.  They were made from 2mm-wide strips of white decal film.  Now I reckon that they look too wide, but I’ll live with it.  I sprayed her with Gunze H 20 clear flat, and my airbrush spat-out some white specks with the clear paint.  Rats!       


 The foil bomb doors were attached, and the ‘bomb’ shoehorned into the bay (it was a TIGHT fit).  The donated Tamiya legs were brush-painted silver, fitted with the donated Tamiya tyres and the assemblies were dry-fitted.  The legs were WAAAAAAY too long (are you sure this isn’t a 76-scale model?) and too wide, but by severe pruning, I managed to get them in and looking OK.  Don’t you agree?  And the wheels were too huge, but I used them anyway.  With brass tubes and wire, I added the propellers (so that they could spin) and the MG & cannon barrels.  Finally add the antenna post and an aerial of EZ-Line and I can declare another one finished.  


 I wonder why De Havilland never tried protruding barrels on the Mossie?  Many other aircraft had them.

While I used an ancient and inaccurate kit, I still enjoyed the build.  True - better Mosquito kits are available (in 72-scale), so I can only recommend that this old kit be given to your junior modellers for modelling practice. 

I have no doubt that there will be modellers who will declare that my Mossie is totally wrong, because real Mossies never had this armament configuration, and it does not look like the ones in the movie.  But the movie makers had to use whatever Mosquitoes they could find.  See, when the movie was made, it was post-war, and  Mossies were gone from the RAF inventory – so much so that the movie-makers could afford to ‘crash’ one, and take an axe to another (the same one?) before burning it, just for the movie.  

My model of a “633 Squadron” Mosquito IS accurate because the book preceded the movie.  Unfortunately, my 633 Sqn Mossie is probably doomed, because, in the book, only two of the aircraft managed to limp home.  In the movie, none returned.  However, while you can shoot down the planes and kill the crews, you can’t kill a Squadron.  I’m just happy because I have the only accurate model of a 633 Squadron Mosquito that I know-of.


Just the kit instructions, the description in the book and the boxart.

 George Oh

July 2012

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