Frog 1/72 E.E. Canberra PR.7

KIT #: F-323
PRICE: $2 (!)
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Peter Burstow
NOTES: Aussie Decals & NKR Models vacformed canopy used


Australia's Government Aircraft Factory at Avalon, assisted by a swarm of sub-contractors, undertook licenced production of the English Electric Canberra B.2 in the 1950's. Produced at a leisurely rate, 48 Mk. 20s were manufactured from 1953 to 1958, with the factory ticking over in 1959 doing some conversions to Mk. 21 trainers.

Supplemented by five English built B.2s and a pair of T.4s the Canberras remained in Australian service until 1982.

The Australian Canberras saw active service during the Malayan Emergency and Vietnam. They also did extensive photographic survey work in Australia, New Guinea and Indonesia, participated in exercises, air races and atomic trials.

Several ended their days as targets or on fire dumps, most were scrapped, but fortunately a number survive in museums or as gate guards, and at least one is still flying.


 First released in 1955, the Frog kit was for a long time the only way to build a real Canberra, before it got jazzed up with fighter canopies, gun packs and silly noses. Frog rehashed the mould (or maybe made a new one) in 1973, producing a BI.8.

15 parts are moulded in a hard silver-grey coloured plastic, the nice stuff that shows the flow lines. All parts had been removed from the sprues, probably why so many bits were missing. There was heavy raised rivet detail on the fuselage and wings, but only light raised lines indicating the control surfaces. The startling thing, to those used to more modern kits, is how thick the parts are. This model will be very strong when built. A couple of minor sink marks, a small area short shot, and a tiny bit of flash was all that needed cleaning up.

Cockpit detail, duh, solid cockpit with a pilots head and a headrest. Engines? Well there is a bulge about half way along the wings. Solid at the front, with a bullet fairing for the starter, and a blanked off hole at the rear. No wheel well detail, not even a wheel well. Yes there is a hole to plug in the one piece wheel, gear and door part, another hole for the inner door, about a scale foot thick. One of the inner doors, the nose wheel and both nose wheel doors were missing from my kit, so I guess this one is flying, hey! the stand is missing too. There should be two clear parts, one for the nose and the other for the pilots cockpit, but the main cockpit transparency was also missing.

Decals represent one aircraft, WH773 which really was a Canberra PR.7. They don't look too bad, but I won't use them. The instructions are typical early Frog, with an exploded diagram and 15! construction steps. It suggests adding one and a quarter ounces in the nose to stop it tail sitting. It also suggest using shellac varnish as a good surface for applying transfers (what we used to call decals).

 Overall it certainly looks like a Canberra. It measures about the right size, the PR7 had a slightly longer fuselage than the bomber versions. I didn't count the rivets, I sanded them off.


Lots of sub-assemblies here. I started by dryfitting the fuselage halves, fit was OK but there was a bit of a warp. With the nose and tail joined I could stick my finger into the gap halfway along the fuselage. The instructions suggest holding it together with rubber bands, so maybe it was moulded like that. After running a bead of liquid poly on both mating surfaces I used some serious clamps to hold it all together. Next morning I ran some superglue into the gap right around. It looked like it would hold, but I was not going to take any chances. I fitted a 5/32” (about 4mm) bolt, with washers and a nut, right through the wing root. That should keep it together.

 About a dozen clothes pegs were used to hold the wing halves together, and another pair of clamps were used to hold the wingtip tank halves together, while the glue was hardening.

 Now to deal with the canopy. I have a couple of conversion sets to turn funny Canberras into real ones, one by NKR models, one by Aeroclub. I found the Aeroclub one first, only one canopy, I was thinking of making a cast and plug moulding a new one. Then I found the NKR models conversion, not one or two, but three vacformed canopies supplied. Thanks Earl! I checked with NKR, this conversion has been OOP for about 15 years.

With the canopy sorted, and a nice vacformed nose cone as well, I gave the clear parts a swim in floor polish and left them to dry.

 Thanks to the clamping and all that superglue, there was not much of a seam to deal with on the fuselage, a light scrape and sand did it nicely. I took the opportunity to sand off the rivets, Canberras may be held together by rivets, but you can't see them in photographs. I also sanded the idiot marks (moulded in decal placement guides) off the fuselage and wings. I probably should have scribed the control surface hinge lines before sanding off the raised detail, but only remembered in time to do the entrance hatch, and that only lightly. My Canberra is going to be a smoothie.

 One half of the fin was slightly under shot, so a touch of filler was added. I drilled out clearance holes for my bolt, and attached the wings, all looked good, and not much of a gap, then added the tailplane halves. Again a good fit with only a small gap. The tailplane dihedral was set by the locator tabs. I also added the wing tip tanks. I repaired one of the starter fairings then filled the various gaps and the holes for the u/c and a couple of rough spots and it was ready to paint.


I decided on a RAAF Mk.20, as I already had Aussie Decals sheet 72039, Canberra Mk.20 silver schemes. I picked the ARDU version A84-237 as it had a little colour, green and yellow tail, and I already have built some other ARDU aircraft. During trials at Woomera, 237 got hit by a Karinga cluster bomb and destroyed in August 1982.

I gave the top of the fuselage and tail a couple of coats of gloss white, then a coat of gloss yellow on the tail. After leaving it to dry overnight I masked off the yellow stripes and I also filled up a couple of spots on the joints that the gloss white picked up. Then I sprayed the tail dark green. Probably not the right shade, I used touch up paint that came with my front fence.

 After masking the tail, I painted the top of the fuselage gloss white enamel again. The usual gloss white problem, no coverage, it needed six coats over a couple of days.

 Another few days of paint hardening and I masked the top of the fuselage then gave the rest of the airframe a spray of gloss black as a primer. Then I painted it all silver. When it came to remove the masking a large chunk of the green fence paint came off, from one side of the tail only. I retouched it with Tamiya acrylic JA green which was not a match, but close.

 After painting the cockpit area flat black, I added the NKR vacformed canopy, which fitted well. I used the kit clear nosecone and hand painted the cockpit frame with gloss white enamel.

 I used the Aussie Decal roundels, serial number and ARDU badge, and used ejection seat triangles and the fin flashes from the spares stash. The Aussie decals worked very well, they are thin but hold together well, and the carrier disappeared on the gloss surface.  I then outlined the small porthole in the canopy with a white “0” from an old explosive ESCI sheet for the F-105. Explosive because it falls apart when it gets wet. I didn't use the extensive stencilling and walkway decals on the Aussie sheet, saving them for the next, and maybe better detailed, Canberra.

 A coat of floor polish to seal the decals and it was finished. I have a box of old stands somewhere, if I find it I'll have a flying Canberra in the display case.


 I think I first built this kit sometime in the early 60's. “I think” because I remember my father bringing the kit home, and sitting with him at the kitchen table looking at it. I have no memory of us building it or the finished model. One of the tailplanes has been in my spares box, and the dried, cracked but unused decal sheet stuck in my file, for many years.

 When I saw one at a swap meet a few years ago I grabbed it. It was an easy and fun build, and I am not nit-picking enough to worry about lack of detail, or dimensional accuracy. Not a super kit by any means, but it fitted together well, (with some encouragement).

 As usual it spent far longer in the paint shop than it did on the bench. I enjoyed the build and am happy with the end result.


Stewart Wilson, Lincoln Canberra & F-111 in Australian Service, Aerospace, Weston Creek, 1989.

 Peter Burstow

April 2013

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