Airfix 1/48 TSR.2

KIT #: A10105
PRICE: $70.00 SRP
DECALS: Four options


“All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics. TSR-2 simply got the first three right.”  Sir Sidney Camm


The TSR-2 was conceived as a terrain hugging low level supersonic strike and reconnaissance plane carrying the most advanced electronics in the world.  It was born in 1956 as General Operational Requirement 339 or GOR.339 as a low level supersonic STOL replacement for the Canberra when it was realized that the USSR had developed high altitude SAMs (the S-75 which is more well known by its NATO designation, SA-2 Guideline) that would be able to shoot down high altitude bombers such as the Canberra, Victor, Valiant and Vulcan.


Unfortunately, the TSR-2’s specs were set out only a year before the silly and infamous “Defence White Paper of 1957” which said that manned aircraft will be replaced by missiles.  Many projects were scrapped because of this paper with GOR.339 being one of the few exceptions.  Despite surviving the chop, what would eventually become the TSR-2 became a hot topic among senior defence bureaucrats and senior officers as the UK military had to deal with the devaluation of the pound as well as limited budgets.  The subsonic Blackburn Buccaneer was touted as a better choice for the TSR-2 role by the Royal Navy while the RAF fought against it as somewhat a cold twist of fate that the Buccaneer would later fly with the RAF in what would be many of the TSR-2’s intended roles.


Vickers Armstrong (later merged into BAC) won the contract to design and build the TSR-2 based on the spec of carrying a 2000lb tactical nuke for a combat range of 1000 nautical miles on a high low high mission profile with the “low” portion at an altitude of 200 feet and a speed of slightly less than Mach 1.  As development continued, so did costs as the TSR-2 would be flying with the most advanced avionics of the time.  What made matters worse was that the tactical nuke it was designed for was not capable of being dropped at supersonic speed.  More weapon spec changes would cause a redesign of the new bombs to be able to be fit into the TSR-2’s bomb bay.


In 1964, the TSR-2 started flying test flights and had impressed for the most part despite some glitches.  By April 1st, 1965, it had flown 24 flights and looked to be able to meet most of its mission requirements.  However that day, the Labour Government cancelled the program on the basis that the TSR-2 could be replaced by the much cheaper F-111.   It would later turn out that the F-111 wasn’t much cheaper (in fact more expensive) and economic conditions in the UK got even worse so the F-111 buy was cancelled forcing the RAF to make do with what it had.


Most of the TSR-2 prototypes and productions jigs were scrapped and the two complete airframes would be sent to museums.  As it turned out, the TSR-2 was the last “all British” military plane as later planes would be developed as part of a multinational coalition.



In the mid 2000s, Airfix released the 1/72 version of the TSR-2.  It was well received but had some fit issues as evidenced by the editor’s review of the kit as seen here . (Editor's note: I only included the image of the fuselage as there was just too much. The breakdown of parts is quite similar to the 1/72 kit.)


An injection molded 1/48 version was eagerly awaited (although there is an excellent 1/48 vaccuform model by Dynavector as reviewed here) but Airfix ran into financial problems and no 1/48 model was released.  In  early 2009, the new reborn Airfix did a limited release of the 1/48 TSR-2 which is when I picked it up, but never thought to do a preview until now (as I started building it.)


The kit comes in very large box (similar in size as the box for a Monogram 1/48 B-17/B-24 kit) and is made of a thick white plastic which might help in painting if you build the prototype markings, but in my experience I have found white plastic a pain in the rear to paint.  There isn’t much flash and the detail looks good but a bit overdone compared to a Hasegawa or Tamiya kit, but I doubt that either company will ever do a TSR-2. 


It comes on five huge white sprues and one of clear parts with separate bags for all of them.  The wings and fuselage are done in logical fashion.  One thing I like about it is that most of the seams are covered up and the only areas that really need sanding filling are along the rear fuselage and the forward fuselage. I did notice a few sink marks on the rear section of the fuselage that need to be fixed.  It looks a lot like an upscaled version of the 1/72 kit as it has a similar parts layout, but the parts are better detailed (including the cockpit) and test fitting shows there might (emphasize might) not be as many fit/gap issues as the 1/72 version of the kit.  The clear parts are reasonably thin and clear.


A first I’ve seen in any injection molded kit is the one piece engine exhaust tubes.  The only problem is that they lack details.


It’s huge, and the finished model will be a little over 2 feet long when completed.



Airfix/Hornsby did a good job of resurrecting the 1/48 TSR-2.  An aircraft whose demise created a national legend similar to the Arrow is for Canadians.  It also provides an excellent possibility for the “What If” modelers (and those who don’t want to build the prototypes.)


If you’re like me and want to add extras then there are several companies that make resin detailed parts for those who want something better than OOB.


This kit is recommended for most modelers except newbies.


Dan Lee

October 2012

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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