KIT:

Airfix 1/48 Bae Hawks

KIT #

05111 / 05112

PRICE:

9.99

DECALS:

two options per plane at least.

REVIEWER:

Peter Marshall

NOTES:

 

HISTORY

 (thanks Google :-)

The Hawk originates from a 1964 requirement for a new RAF trainer to replace the Gnat. The two-seat Jaguar was initially intended for this role, but it was soon realised that this would be far from ideal. Accordingly, in 1968 Hawker Siddeley Aviation began the design of a much simpler strictly subsonic trainer, which it designated P.1182 (later HS.1182). The stepped cockpit, allowing the instructor in the rear seat a good forward view, was an innovation subsequently adopted by many other training aircraft.

Confidence in the design was such that no prototypes or pre-production aircraft were ordered, the first six production aircraft being used for development testing. Five of these aircraft were later delivered to the RAF. After entering RAF service in April 1976, the Hawk replaced the Gnat and Hunter in the advanced training and weapons training roles respectively. The most famous RAF operator being the 'Red Arrows' aerobatic team.

The Hawk gained an additional role from January 1983, when modification of 88 RAF aircraft to carry Sidewinder missiles commenced. The resulting T.Mk 1A variant was intended for emergency use as a point-defence fighter, supporting Phantoms and Tornados in the UK Defence Region. These aircraft are now used as dedicated weapons trainers. The Hawk subsequently replaced the Canberra in the target towing role.

The Royal Navy also acquired a dozen Hawk T.Mk 1/1As from the RAF, for use by FRADU as aerial targets for the training of ships gunners and radar operators.

From an early stage, the Hawk had aroused considerable export interest, and in 1977 the 50 series export variant was introduced. This minimum change version included provision for underwing drop tanks for the first time. In 1982 an improved export version, the 60 series was introduced, featuring an uprated engine, improved wing aerodynamics and revised wheels and tyres. Further development led to the Hawk 100 and Hawk 200 series and a major rework into the T-45 Goshawk variant for the US Navy.

 

THE KIT

Well we HAVE waited a long time for these, haven't we?  The only offering in 48th up to now was the much maligned Premiere kit and now, 29 years after the Hawk first flew we suddenly have four kits!  The two Airfix kits here, High Planes multimedia Hawk 127 and the (supposedly) Italeri BAe Hawk T Mk.1 (which isn't out yet, and may be a reboxed Airfix I heard?  Though I also heard that Airfix dropped their price (originally 15.99) to match Italeri so maybe not.)

So was it worth the wait?  This quick look will be based on the T Mk1 and then a separate bit on the 100, so bear with me.  The box says there are 128 parts and I'm not going to argue.  We have six sprues molded in a fairly soft grey plastic and one clear sprue, a fairly large decal sheet and an A4 instruction booklet.  The instructions are typical Airfix, if you've seen their Jaguar, Buccaneer, Spitfires etc you know what to expect, reasonably clear exploded construction drawings with detail painting called out during assembly.  The usual gripe about Humbrol colour codes is the first niggle, only Humbrol numbers are referenced, none of them are named and if they're going to have you mix a colour (both the Hawk 100 schemes require you to mix paint) the least they could do is tell you the ratio they intended.  I guess most people will check some references and use other paints.  I know I will.... 

That said, the painting and decal instructions are fairly comprehensive, and the decals look good and thin and provide a lot of stencil data.  The Red Arrows boxing contains markings for the Red Arrows (duh!) and the Finnish Midnight Hawks display team.  There has been a lot of work put into these, all the Red Arrows serials are provided for the 2000 season and there are serials for 6 different Finnish a/c with appropriate code numbers and letters for the whole team (I assume) at both the early and late parts of the 2000 season.  The only problem I can see is a slight misregister of the light blue part of the Finnish roundels, which is a shame as they otherwise look good.  And they include all the white markings for the Red Arrows wing and fuselage flashes (with multiple parts for the undercarriage doors) saving a pretty tedious masking job if the white is opaque enough.

So what's the plastic like?  I have to say right now that I'm not going to be comparing these kits to plans, checking the panel lines are in the right place etc etc.  It looks like a Hawk, I would be very surprised if they've made any major outline cockups with the access I'm sure they've had to the real thing and I think the price is pretty good, I'll live with it as it is.  So as I said, it's pretty soft grey plastic, engraved panel lines (maybe a bit soft?) and a slightly "grainy" surface to the plastic that I don't think will matter after a coat of paint.  The wing trailing edges might benefit from a little thinning but as I guess most people will cut the flaps (yes, the wings are molded with them up) and use the replacement bits it might not be a problem.  And it's just as well the plastic is soft, one wing in my RA box is quite warped (the 100 wings are fine) but I hope hot water and bending will do the job.  I can't find any sink marks or visible ejector marks, so that's good, and you've got wing tanks, sidewinders, a gun pod and a smoke pod for the RAs so you're not short of stuff to hang under it.  What's not good then?  Well, without wanting to sound negative:

Main wheel wells have NO depth, gear doors are thick (they might be in real life I guess, must get some references, but I bet they're not as thick as the kit ones), the cockpit is just inadequate (especially under that canopy (whose MDC is a bit too pronounced, IMHO)) and I have no idea what the instrument panels are supposed to look like in a Hawk but I bet they're NOTHING like the ones provided (in either kit), the seats might be OK with a good paint job and the addition of an Eduard harness (can't be far off) but I for one will be waiting for some decent resin seats (maybe a whole cockpit, come on CMK, Aires, BB, anyone?), the sidewinders in both kits look short shot in that some of the forward fins have a blobby rounded shape that isn't at all like the double delta that should be there (break out the Hase weapons set), ... I think that'll do for a first look.  I suspect some of the details are over simplified but I expect that anyway.  That's what aftermarket companies are for, even if Airfix had given us the best cockpit injection molding could do we would still be buying resin replacements (and resin wheels, etched brass wing fences, vortex generators, sidewinder fins etc etc) so it's probably a "good as it needs to be" kind of exercise.

Hawk 100

The main difference is of course the fuselage, a pair of sprues containing the new fuselage and instrument panels replace the corresponding ones in the RA box.  The wings are the same which means there's a bit more surgery to perform, removing the wing tips and replacing them with the tip rails for more (short shot) sidewinders.  These tips are included in the RA boxing, BTW.  The decal sheet has markings for a nice blue Canadian Mk115 and three Australian aircraft, standard markings for a 76 and 79 Squadron a/c and the display a/c for 76 Squadron (also pretty).  Again, lots of markings, lots of stencils and again the blue part of the blue on white roundels (for the Canadian a/c this time) are slightly off register.  Slight, but it's there.  But a really nice sheet otherwise.

CONCLUSIONS


What than, 6/10? 7/10?  I'm sure it'll look like a Hawk, with some detail parts it'll look great and who looks under a model at the wheel wells anyway you picky bastard?  If it's anything like a usual Airfix kit it won't fall together, there's more cutting than you're used to (at least they've given us a whole fuselage rather than have us graft new noses on and I welcome that) but it won't be THAT hard.  And if we all go out and buy loads they might do a single seater.  And the T-45, which I would really like.  So go and buy some.  What's that you ask, will I be buying any more?  Hell yes!  (I might wait and see what the Italeri one looks like, if it ever comes out, but I can see me buying a few more of these anyway.)  I would have to say I think it's a fair price, and there are a lot of marking options, all black RAF trainers, red/grey/white/blue RAF trainers (I should mention that Hannants are offering their Xtradecal sheet X007-48 which has that scheme on for 2.50 when bought with a Hawk), desert Hawks etc etc etc.  Roll on the decals and cockpit sets :-)

Kits courtesy of my flexible credit card and Hannants, bless them.  Review done so quickly thanks to my Mac and many cups of coffee keeping me awake this long.  Just.

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