Special Hobby 1/48 Firefly Mk.I 'Foreign Postwar Service'

KIT #: SH 48151
PRICE: $57.00 SRP
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Includes resin and photo etch parts


The Fairey Firefly was a British Second World War-era carrier-borne fighter aircraft and anti-submarine aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA).

It was superior in performance and firepower to its predecessor, the Fulmar, but only entered operational service towards the end of the war. Designed around the contemporary FAA concept of a two-seat fleet reconnaissance/fighter, the pilot and navigator/weapons officer were housed in separate stations. The design proved to be sturdy, long-ranging and docile in carrier operations, although the limitations of a single engine in a heavy airframe reduced overall performance.

The Fairey Firefly served in the Second World War as a fleet fighter but in postwar service, although it was superseded by more modern jet aircraft, the Firefly was adapted to other roles, including strike operations and anti-submarine warfare, remaining a mainstay of the FAA until the mid-1950s. Both the UK and Australia Fireflies flew ground attack operations off various aircraft carriers in the Korean War. In foreign service, the type was in operation with the naval air arms of Australia, Canada, India, and the Netherlands whose Fireflies carried out a few attack sorties as late as 1962 in Dutch New Guinea.


The folks at Special Hobby have done FAA fans a real favor by producing this particular kit. The previous kit in this scale by Grand Phoenix was, from all accounts, quite fiddly to build and relied heavily on photo etch and resin for all the detail stuff. There are several boxings of this kit and I chose the post war version because I like the less than usual schemes these sorts of boxings provide.

The kit itself is quite typical of MPM/Special Hobby etc in that it has nicely engraved surface detail, no alignment pins and uses some photo etch and resin. Let me start off with that. The photo etch fret is small with two pieces, both of them used for the wing mounting of the rocket rails. If you don't use the rails, you won't need these pieces. The resin is a full wheel well along with the two engine exhaust sections and two lower engine intake pieces. As usual with the CMK family of products, the resin is excellent.

The interior sections are very nicely detailed. There is inner wall framing and all the various small panels and other bits that you'd find in a operational plane; all of it done with injected plastic. Really all that is needed are seat harnesses. The radio operator/observer's station is complete with radio equipment and navigational stuff. There is a decal for the main instrument panel, which is just fine with me, or you can detail the raised area.

The wing is a constant lower wing with two upper wing halves. This will help maintain the diheadral. Tailplanes are two pieces per side and slot into the rear fuselage. Gone are the days when everything was a butt join. There are clear wing tip formation light lenses and the kit's prop has separate blades which have shallow keys.

Landing gear is nicely done with wheels in two halves as well as the oleo scissors. Also in two sections is the tail hook. I'm not sure if this would have equpped the Ethiopian or Thai version. For things under wings, you have the ability to install a pair of double rocket rails under each wing and there is also a radar pod on the centerline. This is only applicable for the Canadian option. The clear bits are nicely done, though a tad thick compared to some.

The kit has a bunch of 'do not use' parts including rockets, forward canopy, prop blades, wheels, wing tanks and so on. I have a feeling that many of these parts are for the later Mk V version.

Instructions are well done and in a booklet. All the 'this part goes here' lines are in red and the overall camo schemes and two pages of adverts are in full color. Paint information is Gunze. Four markings options are provided. One is the box art plane from Ethiopia in sand/earth over sky (in fact, all the options have a sky underside). The Dutch option has dark slate grey and extra dark sea grey upper surfaces with a very low demarcation line. The Canadian plane has extra dark sea grey for the upper color and a high demarcation line. Finally, the Thai version is the same as the Canadian scheme and with the large red, white, blue rudder stripes and a red spinner. The large decal sheet is very nicely printed by Aviagraphics. In all, it will be difficult to choose which scheme to use as they are all very nice.


For those who wanted a 1/48 Firefly I and either couldn't find or didn't want to deal with the fiddlyness of the GP kit, you now have a viable option. It isn't cheap as the CMK family of kits are still considered to be short run, though the high end, and so are not printed in the same quantities as, say, Revell. Still, worth the time and effort I would think.



June 2014 

Thanks to me for picking this one up on sale.

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