Revell 1/32 Hunter T.7 (conversion)
KIT #: 04727
PRICE: About  $32 when new
DECALS: options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES:

Fisher Conversion: $75.00

HISTORY

To my mind, the Hawker Hunter is aesthetically one of the best-looking jets ever designed.  In that opinion, I am not alone, as many have responded favorably to the flowing lines of Britain's first successful swept-wing fighter.  With the first prototype having flown July 20, 1951, the Hunter is one of the longest-serving jets in any air force, with the last of its type retired from the Royal Air Force only in 1996.

            Hawker Aircraft came late to jet aircraft, and even later to swept wings. Where the company had achieved a 30 year run of success with all previous designs, it seemed to lose its footing with the Hunter.  Its immediate predecessor was the straight wing Sea Hawk, a design that was five years behind its US contemporary - the Grumman Panther - when it finally entered service with the Royal Navy in 1953. As a design, the Hunter suffered from a too-extended gestation, which failed to take into account very important discoveries about jet aircraft that could have led to early modification of the design, most important of which was that the horizontal stabilizer was not all-flying, and was in the wrong position aerodynamically for transonic flight.  Failure of the flaps to operate as effective air brakes led to  extended tests as to the proper location of the ventral dive brake eventually fitted. There was aileron pitch-up stall which was only cured by the addition of a sawtooth leading edge to the wing. What would turn out to be the biggest fault - one shared with all other British post-war designs - was the extreme lack of range, since the original design called for a point-defense interceptor.

            Eventually, the Hunter emerged from all this development - which included several test flights with extensive criticisms from Chuck Yeager during 1952-53 - with handling qualities that became the standard against which other military aircraft would be judged.  The airframe was so strong that no Hunter was ever lost to midair structural failure.  The firepower of four 30mm cannon was such that any target that got in a Hunter's sights could be shredded with a 2 second burst. 1,972 Hunters were built, of which 400 were later re-manufactured for service with second air forces, and it served with no less than 21 different world air forces, a record only bettered by the MiG-17, which was built in substantially greater numbers, making the Hunter’s achievement even more remarkable.

The Hunter T.7:

            Soon after the Hunter’s introduction to squadron service, it became apparent that a two seater advanced training version with weapons capability would be useful, given that the Meteor and Vampire trainers did not adequately introduce a pilot to the increased performance of the Hunter.  Coincidentally, Hawkers had already been planning a trainer version for the export market, designated the P.1011, which formed the basis of the RAF specification issued in 1954.  After much trial and error to get the shape right aerodynamically and avoid buffeting, new side‑by‑side forward fuselage with a deep spine aft of the side-by-side cockpit was designed and mated to a Hawker Hunter Mk4 fighter airframe with an Avon 121 or 122 engine; this whole process took over 20 different design attempts and took over a year to solve.  The resultant aircraft was designated the Hawker Hunter T7.  The aircraft carried only a single 30mm Aden cannon for gunnery training.  Shortly after the “dogtooth” leading edge was introduced on the single-seaters, it appeared on the 45 new-build trainers.  The T7 was also the first Hunter to have the parabrake housing over the exhaust, which was later a feature of the FGA 9.

            Ten Hunter T7s were diverted to the Fleet Air Arm as the T8, with a different electronics set and an airfield arrestor hook under the tail cone.  These first 10 were followed by 30 other various sub-types, as trainers for the electronics equipping FAA aircraft like the Sea Harrier.

            Hawker also introduced the Avon-200 series engine that powered the F.6, for the export market.  India was the first customer, for six, with an armament of two 30mm cannon, which became the standard for the many export trainers built by converting F.4 and F.6 airframes. 

            Altogether, Hawker built 65 new-build trainers for the RAF and FAA, 10 for the Netherlands, two for Denmark, and one for Jordan, for a total 78 new-build trainers.  All others were converted from existing airframes.

            The Hunter T7 entered RAF service in 1958, with one aircraft assigned to each Hunter fighter squadron, with the remaining aircraft allocated to 229 OCU (Operational Conversion Unit).  The Hunter T7 remained in RAF service until 2002 when the last remaining RAF aircraft was retired from operations with the Empire Test Pilots School.

THE KIT

            Revell-Germany’s 1/32 Hawker Hunter first appeared in 1998.  It was obvious from the way the kit was designed that there was considerable “stretch” to create both the earlier Hunter F.6 with its different tail cone, and the T.7 with its completely different forward fuselage.  Unfortunately, the kit seemed to be just ahead of the market curve for 1/32 kits. Nice as it was - and is - the Hunter became something of a “shelf-sitter,”even with several aftermarket decal sheets from Aeromaster and a resin cockpit from True Details that made a nice model even nicer.

            In recent years, with the growth in interest for 1/32 kits, the Hunter was rediscovered and re-releases of the kit by Revell-Germany saw it start to achieve respectable sales figures, culminating in the release of the F.6 in 2006.  It was always obvious that Revell was considering the two-seat trainer, given the separate nose design of the fuselage.  This version, however, has yet to appear, which makes the new Fisher Models conversion very welcome indeed.                           

           Paul Fisher’s Hunter trainer conversion set is very straightforward.  The forward fuselage is one piece of resin, with the cockpit tub molded in.  This is joined to the fuselage fairing, the other major piece of resin. There is also a resin tail cone with the parabrake housing. The cockpit includes full detail, with a photoetch instrument panel, and two really excellent Martin-Baker Mk.4 seats by Harold Offield of AMS Resins.  The two-piece clear resin canopy is designed to be displayed in open position only, and has resin parts for the interior canopy opening system.  The kit provides markings for an all-silver T7 with 74 “Tiger” Squadron, a red/white/grey gunnery trainer from RAF Valley in the 1970s, and a camouflaged trainer from No. 4 Flying Training Squadron in 1973.   The decals sheet includes the serials and individual markings, and is designed to be used with the Hunter decal sheet provided in the donor kit.

CONSTRUCTION

            So far as construction of the plastic kit is concerned, I refer you to my earlier review of the Revell Hunter F.6 in the Reviews Section here.  I will reiterate that I think the best way to assemble the basic kit is to assemble the wings and then attach them to the separate fuselage halves, with their intake trunking, in order to get a good fit of the wing-to-fuselage joint.  One also has to cut off the forward part of the spine as shown in the conversion set instructions, before further assembly.  Once the fuselage is together, attach the tail cone.  With test=fitting, this will require only a little bit of filler around the joint.

            As regards the conversion set, I urge you to read the instructions.  Assembly starts with the cockpit.  Everything here fits, and given that the cockpit is black, it benefits from a dry-brushing with flat aluminum to “pop out” the detail.  Once the cockpit is finished and assembled, the two major pieces of resin are joined.  You will need to reinforce that joint with cyanoacrylate glue, and then sand it smooth before fitting the nose to the rest of the model.

            Fit of the nose is easy, and I only needed a little bit of cyanoacrylate glue along the cockpit fairing to take care of that joint. 

            The canopy windscreen needs test-fitting and trimming to fit closely to the fuselage, and then some putty to smooth it to the fuselage.  You should paint it black from the inside before assembly to avoid seeing any putty, and mask off the clear areas before proceeding to sand that putty smooth.  I also found that dipping the canopy parts in Future insured there would be no fogging when attaching these to the model with cyanoacrylate glue.

            I left the seats out of the cockpit and filled the cockpit with tissue paper when I proceeded to paint the model.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Painting:

            The coolest-looking scheme is naturally the one that is most difficult to execute: the red/white/grey trainer scheme.  I began by painting the entire model with Tamiya “Flat White.” I then masked off and completely covered the white areas, and painted the red areas with Gunze-Sangyo “Shine Red,” a nice bright scarlet red that is very close to the British Trainer Red.  I then masked that off and painted the grey area of the wings with Tamiya “Sky Grey.”  The wheel wells, landing gear and gear door interiors were painted with Tamiya “flat Aluminum,” while the interior of the flaps was painted Tamiya “Flat Red.”  The model was given several coats of Xtracrylix Gloss Varnish to get all the paint surfaces to the same level. (Editor's Note: Humbrol carries both the Post Office Red and Light Aircraft Grey if you have difficulty finding other sources)

Decals: 

            The kit decals needed some Solvaset to get down completely, while the Fisher decals went on without problem under a very light coat of Micro-Sol.  When dry, the model was washed to get rid of solvent residue and given a final coat of Xtracrylix Gloss Varnish.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

            The landing gear, flaps, and drop tanks were attached, as were the wingtip navigation lights and the pitot tube.  The seats were installed and the canopy was unmasked and glued in the open position.

            As an aside, if you cannot find the Hunter F.6 kit, you can use the Hunter FGA 9 kit, though you will have to close up the flaps and fill them to deal with the cutout for the longer drop tanks. 

CONCLUSIONS

           

The Hawker Hunter Trainer doesn’t have the same smooth lines of the single-seater, but it has a great look all its own.  This conversion set from Fisher Models allows you to use the most-accurate Hunter kit to make the most-accurate Hunter Trainer model.  Highly recommended for fans of British jets.

Editor's Note: In case you are interested, XL600 (the subject of Tom's kit) is still extant. It retired from the RAF as the famous matte Black T.7 with 208 Sq and 237 OCU, and is now a popular war bird in the UK, registered as G-VETA.

Review kit courtesy of my wallet; conversion kit courtesy of Fisher Models.  Get yours at www.fishermodels.com   

Tom Cleaver

May 2010

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

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page