|KIT:||Special Hobby 1/72 DH.108 Hornet F.1|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Short run kit with resin bits|
In early 1941, Geoffrey deHavilland was asked to develop a long range fighter based on his Mosquito to use in the Far East. Though it was originally a private venture, it was assigned specification F.12/43 once a wooden mockup was examined in early 1943. The Merlin was chosen to power this aircraft due to its slim lines and proven reliability. Though a smaller airframe than the Mosquito, it was similar in construction, using mostly wood laminates. First flight was in July of 1943 with Sir Geoffrey at the controls, as he often did with company prototypes.
All who flew the prototype through its various tests were impressed with the speed and handling of the aircraft. The first production plane was delivered in January of 1945, but the aircraft was too late to take part in any actions during WWII. The first squadron to equip with the new aircraft was 64 Squadron and it did participate in the victory flyover in June of 1946. Next units to equip with the new plane were 19, 41, and 65 Squadrons.
By 1950, the Hornet F.1 had been declared obsolete but the later F.3 was used in Malaya and Singapore as a ground attack aircraft. The plane was fully withdrawn from RAF service by 1956 and all examples were scrapped. There are none left for museums and thanks to its wooden construction, the odds of finding one in the jungles of Malaysia that could be restored to flying condition are extremely remote.
When I opened the box, I had a bit of deja vu. This looks very much like the Classic Airframes 1/48 Sea Hornet that I built a bit earlier this year. This shouldn't have been a surprise as MPM did the molding for the CA kit and apparently used most of the drawings for this version.
Anyway, this is a full blown multi-media kit with photo etch (not shown) for some of the interior bits like instrument panel and seat harness as well as for the landing gear oleo scissors. Resin is used for the tail wheel well, wheels, exhaust, instrument panel backing, tail wheel, seat. forward lower gun section, and a few other things. Like the plastic sprues, there are bits only used for other variants that can be consigned to the spares bit.
The plastic parts are very well done, as one would expect from a modern MPM kit. A nice touch is that the canopy is injected plastic vice the usual vacuformed one. There are really no options unless you want to leave off the bomb and rocket racks on the underside. Depending on the decal scheme you are going to use, you may want to consider leaving these off until after decaling.
Instructions are very good with color references provided throughout the construction sequences. References are in generic names other than the overall color scheme which also provides Humbrol paint numbers. The builder will have to scratch build the pitot tube and any radio aerials that you want to include. This kit also has the dreaded single prop blades and one has to be quite careful when assembling the props as they each turn in a different direction.
Markings are provided for three aircraft covering two of the four squadrons that operated the type. First is the box art airplane in overall silver from 1948 with 65 squadron. Next is another 65 Squadron scheme in 'Light Grey' uppers and 'Petrol Blue' undersides with the two color insignia from 1946. The final scheme is in a similarly colored plane from 19 Squadron in 1946-47. This last aircraft has a Blue spinner with a white band that should be fun to paint.
Overall, I'd have to say that this will be a good build with minimal problems. Probably the most difficult part will be cutting the forward fuselage to install the gun section.
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