Airfix 1/72 Canberra B.(I)8

KIT #: A05038
PRICE: $21.95 SRP
DECALS: Three Options
REVIEWER: Martin Pohl


The Canberra had its origins in a 1944 Air Ministry requirement for a successor to the de Havilland Mosquito – a high altitude, high-speed bomber with no defensive armament. Several British aircraft manufacturers submitted proposals. Among the companies short-listed to proceed with development studies was English Electric, a well-established industrial manufacturer with very little aircraft design experience, though when a desperate need for bombers arose during the early years of the Second World War, English Electric had built the Handley Page Hampden and later the Handley Page Halifax four-engined bomber under licence.

In 1944, Westland Aircraft's technical director and chief designer W. E. W. Petter prepared a design study for a twin-engined fighter bomber, the P.1056, based on two fuselage-mounted Metrovick F.2/4 "Beryl" engines. The authorities doubted its suitability for operations from unprepared fields and at low altitude but could see its potential as a bomber design; numerous manufacturers refused to take on the design. Petter left Westland to join the English Electric company in December 1944, where he was encouraged to develop his design. EE formed its own in-house aircraft design team in the following year.

In June 1945, the design of the aircraft that was to become the Canberra bore many similarities to the eventual design, despite the placement of a single, centrally-mounted turbojet engine; two wing-mounted engines were adopted later that year. On 7 January 1946, the Ministry of Supply placed a contract for the development and production of four English Electric A.1 aircraft. It continued to be known as the English Electric A.1 until it received the name Canberra after the capital of Australia in January 1950 by Sir George Nelson, chairman of English Electric, as Australia was the first export customer for the aircraft.

The Canberra had a simple design, looking somewhat like a scaled-up Gloster Meteor with a mid wing. The fuselage was circular in cross section, tapered at both ends and, cockpit aside, entirely without protrusions; the line of the large, low-aspect ratio wings was broken only by the tubular engine nacelles. The use of swept-wings was examined but decided against as the expected operational speeds did not warrant it, and it would have introduced unresolved aerodynamic problems to what was aimed at being a straightforward replacement for the RAF's Hawker Typhoon and Westland Whirlwind fighter-bombers.

 Although jet powered, the Canberra design philosophy was very much in the Mosquito mould, providing room for a substantial bomb load, fitting two of the most powerful engines available, and wrapping it in the most compact and aerodynamic package possible. Rather than devote space and weight to defensive armament which historically could not overcome purpose-designed fighter aircraft, the Canberra was designed to fly fast and high enough to avoid air-to-air combat entirely.

Canberra B(I) Mk.8:

Third-generation Canberra derived from B6 as an interdictor. Fitted with a new forward fuselage with teardrop canopy on the port side, and Navigator station forward of pilot (early marks had the navigator behind the pilot. Provision for a ventral pack similar to the B(I)6 with 4 x 20 mm Hispano cannon, one external hardpoint under each wing for up to 1,000 lb (454 kg) of bombs or unguided rockets, LABS (Low-Altitude Bombing System) for delivery of nuclear bombs. Prototype converted from the only B5 and first flown 23 July 1954, 72 built including 17 for export and two converted from B2s.

(source Wikipedia) 


My example came in the new layout red Airfix box which is quite nice and quite stable. Inside you find 4 gray sprues, 2 fuselage halfs, the clear sprue, the instructions and the decals – ah and yes some commercial prints to become an Arfix Club member. The last I did not use.

The gray sprues do look very good. The engraved panel lines are a bit wide perhaps but this is very common to modern Airfix kits from what I've read so far. For me those panel lines do look OK. The clear parts are clear – well that’s one can expect, or not? They are a bit thick I would say but it's acceptable.

The instructions come in a 10 sided A4 booklet. They are easy to follow and pretty clear on optional parts. Speaking about optional parts, you get some options on external workload which I can't name as I'm not that familiar with such British stuff. You get the inside bombs if you wish to build it with an open bomb bay and for the wing station you get some rockets for the outside mount points and 3 different weapons for the inside pylons, a double rocket pod, a single one and a bomb. I just relied on the instructions for my workload.

Wikipedia is stating here:

·        Rockets: 2 unguided rocket pods with 37 2-inch (51 mm) rockets, or 2 Matra rocket pods with 18 SNEB 68 mm rockets each

·        Missiles: A variety of missiles can be carried according to mission requirements, e.g: 2 AS-30L air-to-surface missiles

·        Bombs: Total of 8,000 lb (3,628 kg) of payload can be mounted inside the internal bomb bay and on two underwing hardpoints, with the ability to carry a variety of bombs.

·        Typically, the internal bomb bay can hold up to 9 500 lb (227 kg) bombs, or 6 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs, or 1 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) bomb; while the pylons can hold 4 500 lb (227 kg) bombs, or 2 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs.

Last but not least you get a color printed sheet showing 4 side views of all the versions you can built with the decals given.

The decals are nicely printed and fairly thin. Also I did have my problems with them (see below) I'd consider them as good.


As I don't have much of a clue of the Canberra I just decided to build it out of the box. So I followed the instructions more or less. So first the pit, here I decided to do some extra details for the two seats given which in the end was for nuts as you cant see much in there. Mostly because it's just damn dark inside.

After the pit was built and painted (see below) it was placed into one fuselage half together with the bomb bay and this inlet to close the pit around the pilot office. Then the fuselage was closed – quite a nice fit only some sanding here. Only this area around the pilot's place was a bit of a nightmare but most probably again because of a two-left-hand syndrome of the builder. So some filler went here and some sanding has to be done here too.

I decided to close the bomb bay as this way the Canberra just looks slimmer. This gave me some areas to use filler and sandpaper again. This is not very uncommon to a lot of kits where you can build some inside details given up front. If you decide not to use those inside stuff the doors to close this often don't fit that well.

The wings went on without any filler or sanding. So did the rest if there weren't the intakes. I don't know if it was me or the parts but I had some real big gaps there which again gave me the chance to practice filing and sanding.

The clear parts went on quite good so did the external parts – well most probably I rediscovered my way of “how to behave at the bench” – some days you just should sit and look outside the window for not to break something … hmm better not the window then.


First the pit inside, well the instruction stated BLACK – no that's just to dark! I used a dark gray and gave that a black wash. This way it did get some illusion of depth. It looks just dark inside when everything is closed, so one could use black too.

The airframe: After masking the clear parts did get a dark grey spray over as they look also very dark. Then the complete Plane did get a light gray base coat. This time I used the Vallejo base and it worked just great. Then I sprayed the yellow area at the rear of the fuselage and masked that off. As don't have a lot of colors to be used on British planes I mixed a gray and a green. First the complete plane was sprayed gray and then the green was sprayed freehand on top of that. That did get a light blue filter to tone it to the colors I thought are right. The blue filter was just about a thimble of white spirit tinted with blue oil paint – just pull a #3 brush along the opened oil paint tube and wash that in the white spirit, repeat that 2 times, that's it.

The underside was sprayed with a mixture of light ghost gray and silver.

Last the black area inside the yellow stripe was sprayed and a clear cote to seal it all.

Decaling – well that part was not easy for me but most probably just  a problem above keyboard – erm, you know what I mean – and not because of bad manufactured decals. I somehow managed to break all the bigger ones. So this way it was a good decision not to use the yellow/black stripe decal.

I sealed the decals again with a clear cote and then I weathered the bird a bit with some lighter shades of gray or green and a black/brown washing. Painting the gear doors dark gray and a semi flatt clear cote ended it then.

The external work load I just painted according the instructions, only some washing were applied there.


Thanks to my Secret Santa (also a member here on MM) I did get the chance to build it. It was a nice one to do. Well honestly I think the Canberra is quite an ugly bird but then seeing her standing in the cabinet it looks quite nice.


Internet only

Martin Pohl

October 2013

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