Premiere 1/48 Hawk T.1a

KIT #

?

PRICE:

AUD$ 5.00 (swap meet)

DECALS:

See review

REVIEWER:

Michael Johnson

NOTES:

Difficult build. Mike Grant decals used

HISTORY

 

The British Aerospace Hawk has been in RAF service for more than 20 years. During its first 10 years, the Hawk has been used as the RAF’s advanced trainer, taught pilots tactics and weapons skills, became a fighter and thrilled millions as the mount of the Red Arrows aerobatic team.

Today the Hawk is still in production at Warton – but as a very different aircraft to that conceived over a quarter of a century ago. The sound performance, structural integrity and handling characteristics of today’s Hawk have their roots in a RAF requirement of the late 1960’s.

 By the late 1960’s, the RAF’s basic trainer, the Folland Gnat and the advanced trainer, the Hawker Hunter needed to be replaced. In 1970 a new Air Staff Requirement (ASR) 397 was issued, outlining the requirements for a new trainer.

 At the onset, it was realised that the new trainer needed to be exportable, which required it to be ground attack capable. The contenders were the Franco German Alpha Jet, the Hawker Siddeley HS 1182 and the BAC P.59. By March 1972, the contract for 176 aircraft for the RAF was awarded to the HS 1182, the name Hawk was chosen in August 1973. By the early 1980’s the Hawk was the principal trainer of the RAF and the mount of choice for the world renowned Red Arrows. 

The Hawk was designed from the onset to have 5 hard points, allowing a flexible weapons load to be carried. Weapons training and airfield defence roles began in 1977 and 1983 respectively with Hawks carrying 30mm centreline Aden guns, rocket pods and bombs for ground attack training. In early 1983 89 Hawks were converted to be adaptable with the AIM-9L Sidewinder AA missile. After this conversion, aircraft were designated Hawk T.1A.

 The Hawks first export success was in 1977, when Finland purchased 50 Mk.51 export versions from Hawker Siddeley (later BAe and now BAe Systems). Export success grew, with Air Forces around the world purchasing the Mk50/60 series.

 The Hawk100 and single seat 200 series aircraft are now in production, with the US Navy now flying a highly modified carrier capable variant, the T-45 Goshawk. Australia and Canada have also recently commenced using Mk100 Hawks for trainer operations.

 The success of the Hawk continues unabated, with many more countries expressing interest in a versatile aircraft seen as the optimum solution to meet a number of firm requirements.

 Preamble

 I get pretty keen on many aircraft, but the one plane apart from a Spitfire that really captures my attention is the BAe Hawk. My attraction to the Hawk began when I was a raw modeller of 14, at that time I had three of the Matchbox 1:72 Hawks in various stages of construction and I still have one of them, a Red Arrows version, with me today. See Tim Beales Matchbox Red Arrows Hawk review on SMAKR for a snapshot of my modelling skills in 1980! These were all purchased for the princely sum of $2.50 from my local newsagent, which was a major “dealer” supplying me with a continuous flow of kits to feed my addiction. 

In those halcyon days, only Matchbox and Airfix produced a model of the Hawk. Matchbox in particular produced a Hawk T-1 Red Arrows, RAF airfield defence, Mk50 Finnish variant as well as the single seat prototype Hawk 200. Fujimi produced a selection of Hawk T.1’s as well.

 However the most prolific of Hawk kit producers has been Italeri. They have released a Hawk T-1A, Hawk 100 and a T-45 Goshawk (USN carrier capable variant). The recent Revell kit is an Italeri re-issue with new Red Arrow decals. For RAAF modellers, the Hawk 100 needs considerable work to represent a RAAF Hawk 127 LIF.

 Late last year Max from JB Wholesalers informed me that High Planes were producing the RAAF Hawk 127 LIF version in 1:48 and added that Airfix had a Hawk 100 on the way as well. To completely knock me over, he further added that Italeri were “upsizing” and producing a new Hawk T.1A, which may well be a cross-kit boxing of the Airfix T.1A release.

 The High Planes multimedia kit retails at a hefty $70 and is difficult to build, while the Airfix and Italeri kits should come in at around $35-50. I have ordered both the Airfix and Italeri kits to date. There is no doubt in my mind that now these kits have been released, a multitude of new aftermarket decal sheets and update sets will hit the market. There is also some strong rumours around that High Planes will release their resin/white metal/etched components as an aftermarket set to make the Airfix Hawk 100 into a true RAAF Hawk 127 LIF version.

 However the only current kit available in my preferred scale of 1:48 scale currently is the very basic Premiere kits, which are very limited run, looking like an up-scaled version of the old Matchbox kit, complete with Matchbox’s trench like panel lines. I purchased 3 of the T.1A kits four years ago at only $5 each. For those who would like one of these “gems” in their collection, they can be picked up at club auctions or eBay for around US$3-$7.

 Premiere released two boxings of the Hawk. The T.1A  trainer/airfield defence fighter and the other was a T.1A Red Arrows release, with both kits sharing the same moulds.

I could have waited until the new kits arrived but I enjoy a challenge and it is very gratifying to say

 “That’s the Premiere kit!”

 At recent club build nights Max would walk by and make a comment…

 “You still building that! Why don’t you wait until the new kits come out?”

 I have been working on this kit for the last 6 months (construction actually started back in 1999) and will, in this review, provide a snapshot of my experiences.

 

THE KIT

The box is of the typical top opening type, with two red plastic sprues, one clear and a decal sheet of dubious quality depicting Red Arrows Hawks, plus the instruction sheet. One the whole, all parts are clean with minor amounts of flash, with deeply defined engraved panel lines (ala’ Matchbox). Underwing ordinance provided in the kit includes the Red Arrows centreline smoke pod, two AIM-9 sidewinders with the accompanying hard point attachments and a centreline Aden 30mm cannon pod.

 It is clear upon studying the sprues that Premiere intended to release different versions of the Hawk, perhaps the Hawk 200 or the demonstrator version of the USN T-45 Goshawk as the fuselage is made up from  7 separate parts (more on that later).

 The clear plastic sprues are bagged separately thus protecting them from scratches and the like. However after removing them from the bag, it was to my disappointment to see the main canopy hood marred with surface scuffs and scratches.

I elected not to use the kit decals as I intended to use an aftermarket set by Mike Grant Decals. I had read elsewhere that the kit decals are very fragile, certainly they were sharp and in register but suffered badly from a lack of detail. Mike Grant’s sheet is for a later era Hawk, but there is NOTHING readily available at this point in time for a 1:48 Hawk T.1A so I was going to use the aftermarket ones I could get! 

I also sourced a long out of production etched brass set by Airwaves from a kind soul on rec.models.scale. The fret contained improvements for the airframe and the cockpit, such as wheel hubs, harnesses, replacement instrument panels, side consoles, other bits for the seats and other cockpit goodies. I ended up with getting two of these sets from the same source for a paltry AU$15, which pleased me no end!

CONSTRUCTION

Construction (as always) started in the cockpit. Premiere provides a very basic cockpit interior of which all parts were painted in appropriate colours. There are some nasty ejector pin marks on the cockpit insides that need filling and careful sanding to remove. Unfortunately this removed sidewall detail which proved very difficult to replace. I am still not entirely happy with my efforts; fortunately the areas are partially concealed by the ejector seats and cockpit side consoles.

 Filling needed to remove an ejector pin mark on each of the early style winged MB Mk10B ejector seats. Once this was done I painted the seats with Aeromaster extra dark sea grey and cushions Humbrol Olive Drab. I then attached all the etched brass harnesses, grab handles etc from the airwaves set. The photo shows the difference between the kit seat and the enhanced seat. I then dry brushed appropriate shades to lift detail and impart some service wear and then set them aside to add to the cockpit at the end of the project.

 The winged style ejector seats were replaced in 1986 by later MB Mk10 seats with the more rectangular shape drogue/parachute pack-headrest. I fully intended to replace the seats but could not find any MB Mk10 seats of the correct type here in Australia!

 The etched brass side consoles were added with throttle controls and painted flat black. Detail was picked out by a dry brushing with light grey. Whilst that was drying I attached the etched brass instrument panels and detail painted them. The brass instrument panels were bigger than the plastic kit parts and subsequent dry fitting indicated that some trimming of the brass was needed to allow correct placement of the cockpit tub within the fuselage forward half.

 Premiere provides no locating points for the cockpit tub which made alignment very difficult, but this was achieved by perseverance and by using scrap sprue supports to keep the tub square. I then added nose weight forward of the cockpit and beneath the cockpit tub to prevent a tail sitter. 

The forward fuselage halves were joined together and set aside to dry. Once the assembly had dried and seams treated with filler, the transparency representing the landing light at the tip of the fuselage was added. This needed to be shaped with wet and dry so as to smooth it into the fuselage. Some polishing with Novus plastic polish soon restored the shine.

 Attention was then turned to extending the instructors instrument panel shroud behind the student seat. I used blue tack to position the internal armour glass inside the canopy and noted where the glass sat over the shroud area. Plasticard was then used to construct the extension, with filler and sanding needed to blend everything together.

Setting the forward fuselage aside, I started construction of the rear fuselage. This comes in no less than 7 parts including the jet exhaust and tail. The rear fuselage was assembled first with the jet exhaust pipe sandwiched between. The middle fuselage assembly was then assembled and offered up to the rear fuselage. Whoops! I had to grind away the rear of the pipe to enable the rear section to fit into the middle fuselage assembly. Correct alignment of the two rear fuselage assemblies was critical to avoid ending up with a banana shape. I achieved this by using my steel rule and constant checks to get everything straight and square.

 The resultant fit is very poor and I spent a very long time filling and sanding to achieve a smooth end result. I cannot remember spending this much time filling and sanding any model, even the Airfix Rotodyne, but the end result is certainly worth the work. I then added the tail and faired it into the fuselage with filler and a nail polish remover laden cotton bud (Q-tip). Acetone type nail polish remover is a fantastic way to fill wing roots and tight areas and avoids the need to sand the filler smooth with wet and dry. I re-scribed areas that were filled in by the filling and sanding operations and sprayed the fuselage with some flat white to check for any areas that needed additional work. 

 It was at this point, sitting back and admiring all my hard work that I realised that the tail seemed too far forward. Further research indicated a fillet running from the base of the rudder to the rear of the plane varies in angle and that it varied even on the same version, especially the Red Arrows mounts. The tail fillet on this Premiere kit sloped down before the end of the fuselage, correcting it would not be unduly difficult but I decided not to do so. Premiere also provides a tail plate that is suitable for a Red Arrows Hawk but not the normal trainer version. All that needed to be done at the rear was to scratch build a light, this was done with some clear stretched sprue after painting was finished.

 A quick dry fit ensured the completed forward half fitted well, so this was added to the assembled rear fuselage. The jet intakes and splitter plates were then added and once again fit was poor. One side fit flush but required filler to remove the seam and smooth out the join, whilst the other side needed shimming with scrap plasticard at the rear to avoid a 1mm step at the join. Filler was then used to fill up gaps and subsequent sanding smoothed all fit issues away. The jet engine intake openings are not correct, being smaller that the 1:1 Hawk, but I left this one alone as well.

 The wing wheel wells have no details and are not boxed in, leaving large gaps which show the inside of the fuselage. To remove this unsightly pair of holes, I used some plasticard to provide a roof for the wheel wells. Some minor filling and sanding followed and the assembled wings were offered up to the fuselage. The wings attached very well, with small amounts of filler required, smoothed over with the nail polish remover dipped cotton bud. The tail planes were added and adjusted once attached to ensure that they sat at the correct “stance”. Being of the all moving type, I did not need to use filler although the gap was a little wider than I was happy with.

 At this stage I added the wing fences and ventral strakes. The ventral strakes situated at the rear of the fuselage, either side of the airbrake, are butt joined to the fuselage. The resulting join is weak and needed careful reinforcement to ensure that they stayed in place (They broke off three times anyway).

 The Airwaves set contains etched brass replacement items for the ventral and dorsal aerials and the wing fences. They seemed a bit too thin, so I left them off in favour of the kit items. Also included in the Airwaves set are the wing vortex generators, however they are far too large and I elected to leave them off. I find the problem with adding etched aerials to any kit is that the attachments are precarious at best, resulting in the etched part snapping off and disappearing into the ever hungry maw of the carpet monster.

 Knowing full well that filler shrinks as it cures; I left the completed fuselage aside for a week.

 I decided to give my Hawk some “claws” in-keeping for the Hawk’s more usual role of airfield defence and aggressor training. Premiere supply a 30mm Aden cannon pod, which although basic is accurate in outline and shape. However the cannon barrel was poorly moulded and I decided to replace it with some plastic tube of the appropriate diameter, cut to the correct length. Flash vent holes were carefully drilled through the tube using a hobby drill and the new barrel was then attached to the pod body. The cannon barrel was painted flat black, washed with brown ink and dry brushed with Citadel Boltgun Metal, while the pod itself was painted Citadel Chaos Black. This paint, produced by Games Workshop and suitably thinned, is superb for brush painting and I have had friends use it through an airbrush with equally impressive results.

The sidewinder rails were painted black as well, with the sidewinders cleaned up, exhausts drilled out with a hobby drill and finally painted out in the appropriate colours. Decal strip was used to represent the brown and yellow bands on each missile.

 To protect the lens array on AAM’s, ground crew place rubber covers over the lenses, using flexible rubber or elastic straps looped over the forward fins to hold the cover in place. To replicate this feature and to avoid having to create lenses for the ‘winders on the Hawk, I used some scrap plastic tube of the appropriate diameter, capping each end with a film of PVA glue, built up over several layers. These were then painted yellow, dirty wash applied and attached to each sidewinder head. 

The fuselage, which had been left for a week allowing the filler to cure, was examined for shrinkage and any suspect seams were re-treated to the filler/sand/polish regime. I had to repeat this several times to ensure a seamless finish.

 Whilst waiting for the fuselage to “cure”, I painted all the wheel wells, undercarriage doors and undercarriage legs with Citadel Skull white followed by future, once dry, a wash of Tamiya Smoke with a small amount of dishwashing liquid added was applied to “dirty up” the white. The dishwashing liquid serves two purposes, to improve flow of the wash and to retard the drying time of the wash. After 10 minutes I wiped away excess wash with a cotton bud, leaving the wash in all the recesses. Aeromaster flat coat was then applied to flatten the shine and blend everything together.

 Turning my attention to the two part canopy, I polished the worst of the scuffs out with Novus plastic polish and brushed a thin coat of Future inside and out to try and improve clarity. This was pretty successful, with most of the marks and scuffs disappearing under the polish and Future. I set the canopy pieces aside for a week to allow the Future to cure fully.

 At this stage I added the remainder of the fuselage aerials and decided to attach the nose pitot tube. The kit supplied pitot tube is accurate in outline but needed considerable cleaning up before attaching it to the nose of the Hawk. Concerned with the fact that it might break during cleanup (which it did), I procured stainless steel tubing and wire of appropriate length and diameter and scratch built a new pitot tube. This was attached into a support sleeve constructed from a short length of brass tube and plasticard with CA glue. The finished result looks most convincing.

 While the metal rod and tube was on the work bench, I scratch built the retract struts for the main undercarriage legs. These items were not present in the kit and adding them to the main gear legs is an important but straight forward operation.

 Each of the two canopy pieces were then masked using Tamiya masking tape. Framing on the canopy pieces were well defined, making it fairly easy to mask. The forward windshield was then attached with a careful application of liquid cement and PVA glue run along the join to seal any gaps, excess glue was wiped off with a moist finger and a step at the front was fixed with some more filler. I attached the side opening main canopy to the cockpit sills with Humbrol Maskol so it could be removed and repositioned after the painting and decaling had been completed.

CAMOUFLAGE & MARKINGS

Decal options are provided for the RAF Red Arrows Hawk aircraft, with enough serials to construct any of the aircraft in the team. The decals are crisply printed and thin but lacking in detail. However I had purchased an aftermarket sheet by Mike Grant Decals so the kit decals went into the decal bank. Mike produces superb decals using the Alps printer system. I purchased two sheets (1:72/1:48) of a RAF 74 Squadron Hawk in full 1992 Tiger Meet livery. 74 Squadron’s Hawks are black overall with the squadron badge on the tail fin. The “re-dressing” of this Hawk for Tiger Meet replaces the squadron badge with a tigers head covering almost all of the tail.

 I ordered the decals off the net last year using my credit card and within a week had them in my eager hands. They looked as good in real life as they did on the monitor, their only vice is that they required careful handling. Mike was of great assistance at the time and I intend to check out more of his other subject sheets. In anticipation of the impending release of the new Airfix and Italeri Hawks Mike has re-released this sheet in both 1:48 and 1:72.

 Moist tissue was then used to stuff the pre-painted nose wheel well and the kit supplied one piece “closed up” main gear doors. Using moistened tissue paper is a great way to mask cockpits, wheel wells and the like. The moist tissues can be shaped using a toothpick whilst in place and once dry create an almost perfect mask. To remove the tissues after painting is complete, just use an eyedropper to re-moisten and remove with a pair of tweezers. Any over spray can be then corrected.

 First step was to paint the white framing over the central section of the canopy covering the internal glass shield, for this I used Citadel Skull White. Once this had dried I masked the white frame area off and airbrushed the entire airframe Tamiya Flat Black. It may have been me but these new formula, smaller pots seem to need a lot more mixing than their larger predecessors. At this stage I also sprayed the undercarriage doors as well. I am not overly happy with Tamiya Flat Black at this point in time as the paint seems overly fragile with a tendency to rub off at the slightest touch. I cannot remember the older and larger pots having this problem.

 Once all the paint had cured, I applied several coats of Johnsons Future with a wide flat brush, kept especially for this purpose, to seal everything in and prepare the surface for the decals.

 I went very carefully when applying the decals, which settled wonderfully onto the model with no silvering at all, the only aid being the use of Aeromaster Sol II decal solvent.

 I pillaged the kit decal sheet and other sheets sourced from the decal dungeon for RAF style warning labels and placards that were not provided on the Mike Grant sheet.

 After the decals had dried, the fuselage was washed very carefully with a damp cloth to remove any glue residue and the decals where then sealed in with yet another coat of Future.

 Once again the model was put aside to cure and finally sprayed with Pollyscale Satin Clear, to give an “in scale” gloss appearance.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

The main canopy was carefully detached from the fuselage and the residue Maskol was removed. I then removed all canopy masking and added the pre-painted etched brass rear vision mirrors, stretched sprue struts, canopy release levers and grab handles to the inside of the main canopy. This tasked my patience to the limit; thank the modelling gods for my new magnifying glasses!

 The Tamiya masking tape had also marred the Future coated finish of the canopy, so I used a micro-brush loaded with ammonia to “melt” the Future and smooth out the marks. This worked really well with no sign of the tape marks after the Future had re-cured.

 Delving into my decal bank I emerged with a sheet of Scalemaster white decal, which I cut into strips of the appropriate width and applied to the cockpit canopy to represent the canopy seals. A much neater and quicker way than masking and painting! A quick brush paint with the Pollyscale Satin Clear sealed the white decal strips. Clear flat was also used to simulate the internal framing.

 The undercarriage, undercarriage doors and underwing ordinance were then attached without too many problems and my Hawk was completed. Finally, I added some Remove-Before-Flight tags to add some more visual interest, which I made after reading the excellent “how to” article from the tools-n-tips section of the Aircraft Resource Centre web site. The NATO style RBF tags are provided on the Mike Grant decal sheet.

 The ejector seats completed some months earlier were added into the cockpit and the canopy was attached in an open position. I then gave the model a quick buff with a lint free cloth to remove my fingermarks from the model surface and my Hawk was done!

CONCLUSIONS

I built this kit even though a new much better kit was due for imminent release, simply because I wanted to build it. It was at times frustrating, parts did not fit, were mis-moulded and the detail is crude and in some places inaccurate. The use of the Airwaves aftermarket set and Mike Grant decals went a very long way to improve the end result. In the end, I had to draw the line somewhere and elected not to correct certain aspects or re-build items.

 Was it worth it? Yes it was, because building model kits is always about fun, enjoyment and a having a well earned sense of satisfaction when completing a hard to build kit. Some frustration is a side effect!  To top it all off I discovered or learnt new skills and techniques.

 Hey, Max, I did it!

 As I write this conclusion to my review, the rumour that Airfix had released the Hawk T.1A in the UK for the princely sum of £10 was confirmed by Max, however I believe that we will not see the arrival of this kit in Australia until the end of the year. 

I also read an in-box review of the kit on another web site which reveals that the kit is not well detailed but still far superior to the Premiere kit. It may well be that Airfix are moving down the middle road, providing enough for the more “casual” builder and relying on the aftermarket industry to provide for the modeller after more detail.

 I reckon it is time to build a Tamigawa kit now and in another colour other than black!

REFERENCES

World Aircraft Files

Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Aircraft c1981 (for early Hawk T.1 cutaways and 3view drawings)

Scale Aircraft Modelling magazine

Aeroguide No.1 BAe Hawk

 The Internet

Michael Johnson

October 2003

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