|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
The Bristol Blenheim was a British light bomber aircraft designed and built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company that was used extensively in the early days of the Second World War.
It was adapted as an interim long-range and night fighter, pending the availability of the Beaufighter. It was one of the first British aircraft to have all-metal stressed-skin construction, to utilise retractable landing gear, flaps, a powered gun turret and variable pitch propellers. A Canadian-built variant named the Bolingbroke was used as an anti-submarine and training aircraft.
The Blenheim Mk I outshone most biplane fighters in the late 1930s but stood little chance against the German Messerschmitt Bf 109 during daylight operations, though it proved successful as a night fighter. The Mark IV variant was equally unsuccessful in its daylight bombing role, suffering major losses in the early stages of the war.
The Blenheim had some export success with the Finnish making the best use of the planes it received in their war against the Soviet Union.
Prior to the release of this kit, the only early Blenheim that was done in this scale was the rather elderly Frog version while later Special Hobby/MPM did a short run version. While not bad kits, the Frog is very basic and the MPM variant was not an easy build. Now those can be relegated to the spares compartment as Airfix has produced a mainstream kit of this aircraft.
As with all new Airfix kits, it is molded in India and of rather soft plastic. it is very basic and very much a kit of its time. It is engineered in a modular format to allow for later variants to be kitted from the same basic airframe. The wings have a complete lower section with a bomb bay molded in place. To this are installed the wing spars and the first parts of the landing gear. In fact, for those modeling the kit in flight, this is where the complete landing gear installation occurs. I should also mention that for those wanting to install a little-seen bomb rack on the fuselage, early in the build would be the time as this is one of those kits where one builds most of the airframe and then builds and installs the nose.
Speaking of which, the nose section has a lot of clear plastic and the instructions would have you glue the clear bits to the nose solid bits prior to gluing the nose halves together. The pilot and bombardier's positions are built up and then attached to a rear bulkhead piece that is then trapped in the two halves. Atop all this a third large clear bit is attached. Personally, I would have liked to have seen the nose transparency molded as a single piece but perhaps that is beyond their molding technology.
The landing gear is quite complex but nicely molded. Wheels are two halves with a flat spot molded on them. One then spreads the main gear struts to get the wheels in place. The kit also provides separate elevators, rudder, ailerons and flaps. Only the flaps have the option to be modeled in the lower position. Another option is to have the bomb bay open or closed and there are a goodly number of weapons for the open position as well as a lot of light bombs if you wish to install the external racks.
The kit's engines are basically a single row that includes the intake piping behind it. This fits onto a forward nacelle. The prominent engine cowling brace and carb intake horns are included. The forward cowling is three pieces with a single piece forward end/exhaust manifold. The exhaust stacks are separate pieces that fit behind the cowl flap section, which itself can be modeled open or closed. Two different styles of upper turret are provided, one extended and the other retracted.
Instructions are well done with some areas in color, showing newly added bits, a real help. As usual interior paint colors are going to have to be figured out as only Humbrol numbers are provided. Markings are for two planes. One RAF aircraft from a V.C. mission of 62 Squadron in December 1941 in Malaya and the other a Romanian aircraft. Decals are well printed and I'd bet there will be aftermarket sheets out to do other options quite soon.
Those who have wanted a nice Blenheim I now have one available to them. Thanks to Pavla, we also have a nice selection of upgrade bits and SAC does metal gear for it as well.
Thanks to me for picking up the preview kit. If you would like your product reviewed fairly and
fairly quickly, please
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