Airfix 1/72 deHavilland Heron

KIT #: ?
PRICE: 12 Euros
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard


Developed as a four-engined partner to the Dove, the Heron flew for the first time on May 10, 1950 in its original series 1 form, with fixed undercarriage. An example of this early version can be located at Newark Aviation Museum, UK. The Heron with retractable undercarriage followed in 1952 and a total of more than 140 of the two versions were eventually built.

By 1968 there were still small numbers still in service that were then serving with eight air forces. No781 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm had at one time four Herons on its strength. These were used on communications links between Naval establishments in the UK. Herons also were attached to the Hal Far FAA flight in Malta, early they wore the silver with white top scheme and later were spotted wearing the Admiral Barge scheme of white top and the rest was overall emerald green with the Royal Navy flag on tail fin.

Up till a time all of these Herons had four 250hp Gipsy Queen 30 Mk2. piston-engines. During the late 1960s there formed a growing market for aircraft to be operated by so called ’third-level’ airlines, more often referred to today as the commuter operators. However many of the operators of that period certainly could not afford to purchase expensive new aircraft. Saunders Aircraft Corporation of Montreal, Quebec, Canada came up with a scheme to update and improve an already accepted and well-proven ‘commuter’ airliner.

 The idea was for a standard Heron series 2 to be modernized by replacing the four DH Gipsy Queen engines with two Pratt and Whitney PT6A Turboprop engines and to insert additional fuselage plugs to increase the length by 8ft.6inches. This will increase the passenger accommodation from 17 to 26. There was also increase of 1ft 6inches to fuselage nose to accommodate radar. Other modification included reshaping the fin and rudder, and the wing structure was redesigned and strengthened to accommodate the increased loads.

A number of Herons saw service with small civilian airlines. The scale model depicts one of these Herons belonging to Jersey Airlines. Way backing 2009 Heron II G-AORG Duchess De Bretagne (C/A 14101) was known to be on overhaul at Coventry and was expected to be back in the air at the time. So the sole UK based airworthy Heron we have is the last British four engined piston powered airliner left to mankind.  


The 1/72 scale model of the Heron by Airfix is quite a delightful model and deserves to find a place in the collections of modelers interested in both civil and military aviation scene.  

The kit is a re-issue, the only difference being re-boxing with new box art and this time it offers a well printed Jersey Airlines decal sheet as opposed to previous initial issue where it contained two decal options, one being a petroleum company livery and the other an RAF service decal sheet. The 58-part kit is molded in silver gray plastic and has good surface finish and surface detail. 

 The kit is fairly old but in spite of this the fit is good and contain separately molded control surface. Certain details found in today’s models is lacking and best thing to do is make constant reference to photos of the type on the web especially during the detailing stage for areas like undercarriage bays and variety of antennas they carry from time to time. The model has tricycle undercarriage and therefore requires a certain amount of weight inside the nose space to make it rest on all three wheels.


 Having carefully cut the parts from runner the first step was to build a separate compartment in the nose area to secure the lead weight as counter balance. Cutting a piece of plastic card with a half elliptical shape was fitted lengthwise so that the upper space holds the lead and the lower will accommodate the nose wheel.

The interior is painted dove grey. I did not add passenger seats, as little could be visible from the outside. The crew compartment was assembled and added a black decal door at back of seats to resemble entrance to cockpit from passenger compartment. Instrument panel was fixed in place and printed instruments glued onto it with white glue.

The cabin door on port side was fixed in place, as I was not in mood to add passenger stairs. Crew figures painted in their respective uniform colors and fixed permanently on brown seats. Two control wheels added to the inside of cockpit. Nose balance weight added and nose wheel fixed in place, the fuselage halves was then glued  together.

Turning to the wings, these had bare wheel wells and therefore I added crossbars that are normally interior detail, which is visible. This detail was painted light gray and the wing halves were then closed inserting the ailerons in place while doing so. The kit offers retractable undercarriage feature, which I done away with in fact I left out parts 26 and 30which hold the undercarriage legs in retracted format. The undercarriage was permanently fixed to the wings.

The engine parts were trimmed from excess fins and the four exhaust pipes drilled at both front and end on each. Propeller blades were very flimsy and care was taken to avoid breakage while these were thinned down in section throughout the length of each blade. The four engines assembled and fixed to the wings, leaving the blades for a later fit since they were to be painted while loose. Wings wee fixed to fuselage along with the rest of parts. Filler was added to wing roots and sanded smooth.Further study of box art revealed position of antennas and those aerials under fuselage. These were made from metal wire.


Kit had the clear windows and canopy masked and top airbrushed semi gloss white and the rest in commercial silver mixed with 10% Model Master lacquer. Kit decals applied as per instructions in Jersey Airlines livery. 


 To sum up this  was a simple and reasonably good kit that gave me surprisingly amount of joy and I feel that this kit represents good market value and highly recommended.


Air–Britain Aviation World

Carmel J. Attard

January 2015

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