Valom 1/72 Handley Page Hampden B.I
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New Mold Kit|
The Handley Page HP.52 Hampden was a British twin-engine medium bomber of the Royal Air Force serving in the Second World War. With the Whitley and Wellington, the Hampden bore the brunt of the early bombing war over Europe, taking part in the first night raid on Berlin and the first 1,000-plane raid on Cologne. The newest of the three medium bombers, the Hampden, known as the "Flying Suitcase" because of its cramped crew conditions, was still unsuited to the modern air war and, after operating mainly at night, it was retired from Bomber Command service in late 1942.
Handley Page designed the Hampden to the same specification as the Wellington (Air Ministry Specification B.9/32) and the first prototype flew on 21 June 1936. The first production batch of 180 Mk I Hampdens was built to specification 30/36.
The Mk I had a crew of four: pilot, navigator/bomb aimer, radio operator and rear gunner. Conceived as a fast, manoeuvrable, "fighting bomber", the Hampden had a fixed .303 in Vickers K machine gun in the forward fuselage. To avoid the weight penalties of powered-turrets, the Hampden had a curved Perspex nose fitted with a manual .303 inch Vickers K gun and two more single Vickers K installations in the rear upper and lower positions. The guns were thoroughly inadequate for defence, consequently, by 1940, the single guns had been replaced by twin Vickers K guns.
A total of 1,430 Hampdens were built: 500 by Handley Page, 770 by English Electric at Samlesbury in Lancashire; and in 1940–41, 160 in Canada by the Canadian Associated Aircraft consortium (although some were retained in Canada, 84 were shipped by sea to the United Kingdom).
In addition to Commonwealth nations, the Hampden was operated in the Soviet Union and a single example was purchased by Sweden when they were considering license production.
Valom's much awaited kit of this aircraft has been well worth it. The exterior detailing is superlative with nicely engraved panel lines and good rivet detail. Those who do not like the rivets will be glad to know that they look just fine to this reviewer and their effect will be lessened even more once paint is applied.
There is still a small reliance on photo etch for some of the finer detail parts like rudder pedals, harnesses, instrument panel, and look antennas, but the vast majority of the kit is standard injected plastic. A small section of acetate has the instruments printed upon it for attachment to the back of the instrument panel. A bombardier's chair and set of rear guns and radio panel make up the very cramped interior. The kit provides a bomb bay in case the builder wants to open the main doors, but there are no shackles, bombs or door braces provided.
I have to say that the molding of the engines is really first rate. No generic engines on this one and I'm sure you'll be pleased with them as well. You'll also be pleased with the clear parts. Though a tad thick, they are superbly done and provide enough of a 'lip' on the framework to properly mask them. All of the airfoil attachments are butt joined, but this should not be a problem as this is not a heavy aircraft.
Valom's instructions are quite well done with nicely drawn construction steps that are not a vague in some respects as have been previous versions. There are even some photos of the inside of the aircraft for those who wish to add even more detailing to the model. Decal and painting instructions are in full color and provide a variety of paint manufacturers on the back. There are markings for three planes. Two of them are the Swedish Hampden during 1938 and 1942, differing in unit markings and which set of insignia one uses. The other is a standard RAF painted plane as used by the Soviets during 1944. The decals are superbly printed and appear to be very thin.
A fine new kit of this important, yet often overlooked aircraft. If you want something better than the old Airfix kit, this is it.
My thanks to Valom for sending in the preview kit.
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