Airfix 1/72 Firefly U.9

Kit Number: 2018

Price: $3.00 (in 1980)

Decals: Two versions, one RN and the other RCN

Date of Review: 11 February 1998

Review and Photos by: Scott Van Aken

The Fairey Firefly was another of the RN's two-seat strike fighters wherein the guy in the back was basically the radio operator as he had no gun (that I know of). I guess it was figured that is nice to have company.  Anyway, the Firefly was a very successful aircraft and was used as a strike fighter, ASW platform, and as a drone or drone controller.  The Firefly U.9 conversion was made from Mark 4 and 5 Fireflys. Thirty two Mark 4's and forty Mark 5's were converted; most were operated by 728B squadron in Hal Far, Malta in the late 1950s.

Airfix's kit of the Firefly 5 has been around for ages and will probably not be improved on in this scale by a large-production manufacturer, although if anyone does it, it will be Hasegawa. Typical of the kits of the day, interior is there with the basics, but little thought was given to accuracy.  For my purposes, that was fine as I have always maintained that my models are a canvas for a color scheme.

Molded in a nice grey plastic, the kit rapidly went together with putty needed in only a few areas, mainly the wing/fuselage join and some areas of the fuselage. Those of you afflicted with AMS will find a number of great aftermarket brass sets for this kit.  You'll also have to box in the wheel wells and may want to get an aftermarket canopy set (from Falcon, I think) as the kit offerings are rather thick with large frames. The only thing I did different from the stock kit, was to add the wing tip pods and drill out the exhausts.

The wingtip pods are really what make this kit different.  The U.9 carried extra radios in the pods as fit it's job as a drone or drone controller. Careful hunting through the spare parts bin gave me a nice set of rocket pods (from a Hasegawa weapons set) that were about the right size.  I then clipped the wing tips and butt glued on the pods. A bit of putty later and the aircraft looked a lot like that in the Scale Aircraft Modelling issue I was using for a reference.  

I used mixed up both paints as this kit was built in 1987 and there was not a huge selection as is available now. Actually, I think I got it pretty close, although the cream might be a bit dark.  Anyway, the decals are all from various Modeldecal sheets of letters, numbers and roundels since the kit decals are inappropriate for this model. In case you were wondering, the tail hook was kept on the drones.

This is an easy kit to build and this simple conversion, requiring nothing more than your spares box and odd decals, adds a very interesting and colorful aircraft to your collection.

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