Special Hobby 1/72 Pembroke C.1

KIT #: 72105
PRICE: 27 Euro from K hobbies, il-Fgura, Malta.
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Includes photo etch parts


The Pembroke C Mk1 released by Special Hobby comes under the title of  “Cold War Spy Plane” and it is worthwhile relate how a communication aircraft came to perform such missions as best explained in the kit instructions.

 Manufactured by Hunting Percival Aircraft Ltd at Luton, Bedfordshire, the Pembroke was originally designed as a communication aircraft and entered service with the RAF in late 1953. Powered by two Alvis Leonidas 127 radial engines the aircraft could also be used to carry VIP passengers, and could also be configured as a flying classroom for Navigation and Air signals training. In 1956 six Pembrokes were converted to take air survey cameras. These were known as C (PR) Mk1, serving in Malaya with 81 Squadron RAF.

 The final unit to use the Pembroke operationally was 60 Squadron RAF based at RAF Wildenrath in Germany. The seven aircraft of the Squadron were a familiar sight in the Air Corridors between West Germany and Berlin, which were established after the Berlin Blockade. These aircraft carried a squadron crest on the tail fin consisting of the Kabul Markhor, a mountain goat found on the high slopes of Safad Koh Mountains that formed the immediate boundary of Afghanistan in the vicinity of Kurkum and Khyber Passes.

 On the 3rd of February 1969, the title of honours of 60 Sq was transferred to RAF Germany communication squadron, a squadron unique in having carried out 25 years of continuous service in Europe. The squadron operated Pembrokes, Heron, Devon, and Basset and Andover Mk1 and Mk2. In 1975 the Andover was returned to Northolt, UK, which left 60 Squadron as the only one in the RAF to operate entirely with Pembrokes. The type was used for VIP passenger transport and to carry freight to support the operational readiness in RAF Germany, operated aero medical flights and maintained 24-hour stand by for search and rescue duties. 

Until recently, another true function of the Pembroke was known only to a very few in the military. These were used in one of the most sensitive intelligence missions flown by the RAF during the Cold War, known as Operation Hallmark. In this role the Pembroke was fitted with high-powered reconnaissance cameras and they photographed Soviet and East German military installations and airfields underneath the tightly controlled corridors. The air photographs were then analysed by imagery experts, who recorded any changes of the powerful Warsaw Pact forces facing the West.

Changes to Order of Battle; introduction of new equipment and units moving out of barracks were all items of interest to be reported. It was imagery from the Pembrokes that gave the Western analysts some of the first indications as to where the Soviet forces that invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 had come from. The empty barracks in East Germany were the first clue. It is reckoned that the Pembrokes were still flying to Berlin from RAF Wildenrath in 1990 right up to the end of the Cold War. One of these special aircraft is still flying in UK at Duxford where it was being used for air to air filming and photography.

Besides the RAF Pembrokes were also in service with the Air Forces of Sweden, Belgium and Germany.


 When I went for the Special Hobby kit of the Pembroke my plans were to get the German Mk54 version, which also has Belgian AF decals, but instead there was only the RAF Pembroke box instead and in this situation I had no option but to have the one available. This takes me back to the time when the Pembroke was based at Ta’ Qali airfield in the early 60s.

The kit is nicely moulded in medium grey plastic, a medium sized model with finely engraved panel lines. Being a short run kit there are no locating pins and the sprues in-gates are somewhat thick. There is full interior detailing with neatly moulded passenger seats and detailed cockpit. The transparencies are absolutely crystal clear and so well fitting especially the side windows, which had a slight taper towards the outside so that they if so desired can be fitted at a final stage after paintwork on the fuselage. I did not go for the sequence and preferred to fit the window clear parts before I closed the fuselage.

The kit has optional parts so that a short span Prince can be made and the wing extension was all that was needed to make the Pembroke. The decals offer three options, two being 60 Squadron RAF with different serial number and one having squadron bars around the roundel. These are light grey with white top. Another option is for a Pembroke also in white top but the rest is silver and it carries the Suez campaign black and sand stripes on wings and fuselage. Decals are of very good quality and have all the stencil detail that goes on the aircraft. There are no AVTUR filler red round markings to go on top of the wings but these were not always applicable. Two types of blue cheat lines are provided. Each comes in two parts, front and aft and a diagonal flash that go all together making a perfect continuous trim.


 In the absence of locating pins I fixed plastic stabs about 1 cm long fixed at intermittent spacing along he fuselage joining line to the two sides at alternate position. This method I found works perfect on vac form kits and equally well on short run kits. The interior was painted light grey with seat cushions in brown together with tan seat straps. There was no scope of adding more detail to the passenger area as it will be lost when the fuselage is closed. As this is a tricycle undercarriage type this needed lead weight add to nose compartment. The added weight was kept secure by adding blanking bulkhead made out of plastic card. In case one misses adding weight a prop is provided so that it is fitted to the fuselage aft. One comment when it comes to the wing extensions, which had a slightly thicker section on the outer wing parts so that the step produced, needed to file down to bring an even continuity of wing suction side. Separate transparencies form the wing tip lights. A little amount of filler was all that was needed to the wing root joints and engine nacelles to wing joints. Small aerials and antennae as well as windscreen wipers were all fitted at this stage. 


 Half of fuselage and top decking are white for which I used semi gloss Model Master brand. Wings and rest of fuselage were in light grey for which I have used Humbrol No 64. After drying the kit was given a coat of Klear. Decals were applied and I went for the C1 with serial number XF799. which carried the No 60 squadron decorative bars at both side of fuselage roundels. With the entire stencil detail on spot the kit now took a different and more realistic appearance.


 This was my fourth Pembroke in a list of five I planned to build. One wonders how many varieties of markings go on the Pembroke and recently I also came across an RAF version in sand and dark earth camouflage. One final note is that this is a multi media kit and not quite the type for beginners.

Carmel J. Attard

September 2010

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