Airfix 1/72 Bristol Blenheim IVF

KIT #: A04017
PRICE: $19.99 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES:

HISTORY

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.

About 60 Blenheim IV aircraft were converted into a long range fighters by the inclusion of a belly pack containing four .303 machine guns. It was not very successful either and a few were used as night intruders.

THE KIT

Hornby continues with the overhaul of its catalogue to more modern kits with the release of this kit. Modelers may be disappointed that this is not the more widely used bomber version, but the long range fighter variant of which relatively few were built. This is, again, part of the standard program of kit releases in today's market where one issues the 'less desirable' variants first to build up sales for later, more mainstream offerings.

Not surprisingly, much of this kit has parts which are identical to what was provided by the Blenheim I release. This basically concerns the nose section and the addition of the gun pack. Of course there is more to it than just that so let us take a full look at this one. The new cockpit section is quite nicely done with a pilot and navigator/bombardiers section included. The nose glazing  is in several sections with large mounting tabls for the side and nose pieces, the upper section fitting atop all that.

The instructions would have you build up the basic wing/fuselage assembly first then complete the nose section and attach it, which might make attending to seams a bit difficult. The kit has separate ailerons, flaps, elevators and rudder, though it only shows the flaps as being able to be deployed. No bomb bay building is provided as that area is where the gun pack is situated. Instead, any bombs are shown mounted to a rack on the aft fuselage. One will need to be sure to open holes for these items before committing the bomb bay doors or the fuselage halves to cement. The landing gear is quite well done and flattened tires are also included, something that Airfix seems to be doing on most of its kits.

Nicely detailed engines are included and one can have either open or closed cowl flaps. The forward cowling exhaust braces are also included along with the carb intake horns. One also has the choice of a raised or lowered upper fuselage turret, which has a single piece greenhouse. I should add that one is supposed to attach radar antennas to the wings and nose on this one. I am not sure if this feature was standard with all of the IVF planes or not so one might want to do additional research in this regard before starting the build as you'll have to drill holes in the wing to accommodate these items.

Instructions are superb other than the continued insistence of Airfix to only providing Humbrol paint numbers vice actual colors for painting during the build. I know one can find charts that will decipher their paint codes, but one should not have to. Markings are for two planes. One is the box art plane from 248 Squadron with Coastal Command in 1940 in standard scheme while the other is all black and the plane of the CO of 68 squadron in 1941, hence his initials in the code. Decals are nicely done and include the wing walk area on the sheet along with a gas patch for the box art plane.
CONCLUSIONS

This should sell quite well to fans of the type. In several ways it is good that they did the long range fighter version first as those wanting to use their Blenheim I to make a IF can do so with the bits in this kit. Since Hornby already has the bomb bay inside bits on the sprues along with the under nose gun turret, then a standard Blenheim IV bomber can be done with this kit. One only needs to locate serials and code letters. I am sure dedicated kits of both those types are on the way, and however you want to do it, you can now build some nice Blenheims for your shelves.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_Blenheim

Thanks to your editor for picking this one up.

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