Airfix 1/72 Short Sunderland III




$22.98 MSRP


One option


Scott Van Aken




By the start of the Second World War in September 1939, three squadrons had been equipped with the Sunderland. Seven hundred and forty-nine Sunderlands were built, and they served throughout the war. The final Coastal Command Sunderland operational mission was in June 1945 over four weeks after the German surrender. Long-range Sunderland operations also took place overseas from bases in Africa and the Far East.

Post-war the type took part in the Berlin Airlift carrying 4920 tonnes (4847 tons) of freight. During the Korean War, Sunderlands based in Japan undertook nearly 900 operational sorties totally over 13350 hours of flying. The Sunderland finally retired from RAF service in 1959 when the last aircraft were scrapped at RAF Seletar, Singapore.

The Sunderland's design was so good that it remained in front line service for over twenty years. It was also the last flying-boat operated by the Royal Air Force. The Sunderland was produced as a military development of the 'C'-Class Empire flying-boat operated by Imperial Airways. It entered service in June 1938 and was the first British flying boat to have power-operated gun turrets as part of its defensive armament. This strong protective armament resulted in the Germans giving it the nickname 'Flying Porcupine'.

Thanks to the RAF Museum for that historical background


We old time modelers will recognize the give-a-way traits of a 1960s Airfix kit right away. Lots of well done rivets, minimal interior detail, movable bits such as ailerons, elevators, rudder, and turrets that one would find in any Airfix bomber. Add to it the ability to slide the front turret housing aft and the ability to remove small windows from the depth bomb bay and slide out the ordnance out to the wings. Any competent 14 year old would be able to have all of these features properly functioning and have a nice, large model to boot!         

My kit suffered from some problems that were not due to the kit molders. That is the problem of having all the bits in one bag and having been moved many times. I'm not sure of how old this kit is, but I did buy it new, it is made in France, and it still had the tape on the box somewhat holding on, though it did break free rather easily. Thanks to all the bouncing around, many of the parts separated from the sprue and were all squished in one end of the still-sealed polybag. All of my props have one or more blades broken so I'm going to have to come up with some replacements. Any suggestions?

Other than that, there are a few minor sink marks, a bit of flash and, of course, the dreaded ejector pin marks on every part.  Cockpit is two pilots, seats, control sticks, instrument panel (the instruments are to be cut from the instructions and pasted in place) and a floor. The turrets are manned by half-people as is the norm. There are eight bombs to attach to the little trailer that moves them in and out of the wing on a large I beam that gets glued to a slot in the wing underside. A set of beaching gear is supplied for the side and an aft hull support cart for the rear.

Instructions are typical of Airfix in that they supply Humbrol numbers for all the paints.  Other than the exterior colors, there is no reference guide to explain what the colors are. Frankly, it probably doesn't matter as I'm sure this kit was made prior to the most recent number change that Humbrol has undergone. Markings are supplied for one aircraft; 432 Sq RCAF out of Northern Ireland in 1943/44. It is in the typical Coastal Command scheme of what is listed as Dark Green/Slate Grey over white. Decals are in pretty good shape for their age and have only started to yellow. I'm not really sure where one could find aftermarket sheets for this aircraft so one has to improvise if one wants anything different.


Normally, the Sunderland would not be something one would see on a contest table. I know I've never seen one done in the last few years. However, with the new White Ensign etched bits out for it, perhaps some will give it a go. I know it does make into a very nice and somewhat large model.

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