KIT:

MPM 1/72 Defiant II

KIT #

72519

PRICE:

DECALS:

Three aircraft

REVIEWER:

Scott Van Aken

NOTES:

 

HISTORY


The theory of a turreted fighter was a good one at the time. Here was a chance to build a fighter aircraft whose armament wasn't fixed in a single plane. Instead of fixed armament, a standard turret could be installed, allowing the attacking fighter to rake the hapless victim as it flew past. This would, theoretically, provide a greater weight of lead into a single victim during a single pass.

Eagerly embracing this radical idea, the British went into production with the Defiant for the RAF and the Roc for the Fleet Air Arm. To say that the plane was not quite up to specs would be putting it mildly. The first time Defiants were attacked from the rear, the four-gun turret was a rather nasty surprise. However, once the cat was out of the bag, Luftwaffe fighters made short work of the hapless Defiant. You see, having the turret added weight. Adding an extra crewman added weight. Having the turret in the air stream added drag. Adding the turret required a bigger airframe. All of this equaled a plane that was slower than the Hurricane (which used the same engine), and unable to properly dogfight with the more nimble Luftwaffe fighters. They were also unable to get to the enemy bomber streams where the four gun turret would be an advantage.

The type was quickly withdrawn from the day fighter role. Being stuck with all these airframes wasn't good. Fortunately, one didn't need to be particularly fast or nimble to be a night fighter. In fact, the turret could be a real benefit against slow bombers, where the Defiant had some small success. When Air Intercept (AI) radar was available in 1941, a number of Defiants had this equipment installed. This vastly improved the success of the aircraft and by the end of the year, the Defiant was the most successful British night fighter in the arsenal.
 

THE KIT

Once more, a much more modern MPM kit. This one has no resin, no vac canopies and only a smattering of photo etch; that for the radar aerials. Naturally, I'm pretty happy about this improvement as while resin and PE are nice, it is also nice not to have to do the extra work and have to use superglue, which these more exotic materials require.

The kit itself is nicely molded with crisply done panel lines. I found no problems with flash, or ejector pin marks. The only sink mark I found was on the radiator insert. MPM is still doing separate prop blades and molding its wheels in two flat halves. Perhaps correcting these will be the next step.

The cockpit has detail on the sidewalls and a selection of radio boxes and quadrants to add to it. A nice touch is a photo of the real cockpit for some guidance. There are also photos of the landing gear and gear doors, undoubtedly photographed at the RAF Museum. The turret assembly appears complicated enough to be believable. The turret itself is in two parts, which will make for getting rid of the seam a bit of a chore. It seems to me that molding technology is advanced enough for this to be done as a single piece, for it sure would be a help.

The turret does not seem to be designed to rotate, and in any case has to be aimed to the rear as there is no option to lower the rear deck to provide room for the turret to rotate as is shown on the box art. Nor is there an optional canopy which also has a section that would be lowered during this time. The clear parts are very clear and superbly formed. There is no option for an opening canopy, so those who want to show off their interior work will have to break out the razor saw or vac a new sliding section. To use the clear landing lights, the area on the wing leading edge has to be cut out prior to installation. Probably the most difficult part of construction is the installation of all the little metal AI antennas. No guide on the parts is given for their placement so one has to carefully read the instructions to guesstimate their location on the airframe. Those who are really not ready for putting on these bits can model a version prior to the installation of the AI radar. Check for references.

Instructions are excellent as mentioned, with alignment guides and photos to help with construction. All the Humbrol paint numbers have names with them for those of us not using Humbrol paints. You can do this kit in any color as long as it is black. Markings are for three planes. One is the box art aircraft of 151 sq in 1941, followed by one from an unknown unit as well as the prototype night fighter with the AI radar. Decals are the usual excellent ones and a full set of stencils is provided as well, for those who have the patience. It will be interesting to see if the red decals disappear against the black background. MPM decals are usually very opaque so shouldn't provide any problems in this area.

 

CONCLUSIONS

Well, chalk up one more ancient Airfix kit to the trash bin or the sale table. No need to spend all the time correcting that old dinosaur now that MPM has provided a modern replacement. It is good to see the lack of resin and the minimal use of etched metal. This makes the model much more mainstream.

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