Valom 1/72 Firebrand II




$36.98 (29.96 at Squadron)


One option


Scott Van Aken


Short run with etched, resin and vac parts.


The Firebrand had its beginnings in specification N.8/39 for a single engine carrier borne  to replace the Gladiator, Fulmar and Skua on fleet carriers; it was to be armed with four 20mm cannon and later a power turret. Thanks to the really horrible showing of the Blackburn Roc the turret requirement was removed and the specification rewritten. This and later rewrites removed the second crew member, mainly because radio and nav electronics had improved to the point that the additional crew was no longer needed. Power was to be Napier Sabre H-24 engine.

The first of three prototypes first flew in Feb of 1942. Trials showed a need for improved tailplane and elevators, this being done before  A&AEE testing was done during June and July of 1942. It was shown that larger flaps were needed to improve carrier landing and the pilots complained of distortion in the windscreen quarter panels. The second machine was armed and undertook trials in October of 1942, with the first deck trials taking place in Feb 1943. The third prototype was delivered for armament trials in May 1943.

A redesigned engine mount was done on the first prototype to make engine changes easier. After five of the Sabre engines were built, it was decided to prioritize Sabre production to the Typhoon, leaving the Firebrand somewhat in the lurch. The success of the Seafire also meant that it was without a role. Thanks to its good load carrying capabilities, it was decided to fit it out as a Torpedo/Strike Fighter.

In accordance, the second prototype was rebuilt  and increased in width so that it could carry an 18" 1,850 lb torpedo. This was the first Firebrand TF.II. Nine of the already built and unmodified Firebrand F.Is were used for various trials, with most being broken up with very few hours on the airframes. The TF.II was only built in very small number, 12 to be exact. These were used by only one squadron, 708Sq a shore-based trial unit. Eventually the Firebrand matured into a very capable airframe, but by that time, the need really wasn't there and as a result, though the TF.5 was a capable aircraft, it was produced in small numbers and eventually replaced in 1953 by the Wyvern.


Though numbered 006, this is actually the fourth Valom kit done. Like the previous ones, it is of a subject that are perfect for short run companies and a subject that the 'big boys' wouldn't touch. Most short run kits from Eastern Europe rely on etched metal frets, resin detail parts and vacuformed canopies. This one is no exception in that regard. However, the reliance on these exotic materials is reduced from previous efforts. Resin is used for the torpedo, wheels and a 'bump' on the leading edge of the wing. Etched metal is used for a few interior parts like rudder pedals and instrument panel. It is also used for intake grilles and for the main landing gear doors. Two vacuformed canopies are provided.

The plastic itself doesn't seem as 'clunky' as on earlier kits and I'm delighted to see the prop and spinner cast as a single piece. It seems Valom agrees that you don't have to have a zillion small parts when just a few will do just as well. Trust me, we don't feel cheated at all by having one molding where some will make it into a 6 part construct! The kit has engraved detail which seems very good for this scale. The fin and tailplane are a single solid mold, yet there are no sink areas. There also is no flash and the only place I found ejector towers (and they are very small) is inside the fuselage where they won't be seen or get in the way of construction. The interior is rather complete for a fighter and includes a tub, seat, stick, rudder pedals and some small etched knobs and switches. The etched seat belts will add quite a bit to it, though really, the cockpit opening is rather small so little will be seen. Several of the etched parts are for the torpedo fins and propellers. The vac canopies are well done with good frame detail and are quite clear.

Instructions are quite good with color information provided for Humbrol, Agma, Gunze Sangyo, ModelMaster and FS 595 references where applicable. Bascially you have your Extra Dark Sea Grey/Dark Slate Grey over Sky camo scheme. Decals are small but sufficient with codes for what I assume is 708 Sq. They are very well printed and experience has shown them to be very opaque as well.


Overall, this looks like it is the best of the lot so far. Detailing is super and the fact that Valom is relying less and less on 'exotic' materials, is a good sign, though I doubt if they'll ever really wean themselves from it. I should also mention that Valom packages all the bits inside a nice zip bag, which makes it much easier to keep track of the parts once you have opened the kit to fondle the plastic. I wish other manufacturers would do the same.


Blackburn Aircraft since 1909, AJ Jackson, 1989, Naval Institue Press, ISBN 0-87021-024-6

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