Airfix HO/OO Airfield Control Tower
KIT: Airfix HO/OO Airfield Control Tower
KIT #: 03380
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1988 re-issue


Most airfields of any size have a full time staff whose job it is to properly direct air traffic in and out of the field as well as those aircraft desiring to enter or leave the runway. Nowadays, the operations at major airports is quite complex, though there are hundreds of smaller fields where the pace is considerably slower. At minimum an airfield control facility should be able to provide weather information and short time forecasting, as well as the condition of the runways and taxiways.

This was equally as important during World War II, when there was a huge construction boom in air fields throughout southern England. This was due to the need to find spaces and facilities for the increasing number of squadrons, both British and American, who needed space for the vast air fleet poised against Germany. The 'heart' of these operations was the field's control tower. This space provided radio contact with the aircraft, weather information and general ground control during operations. These control buildings were generally quite similar to each other and housed several rooms aside from the one on top that had direct control over the aircraft on and around the field. The weather office was there as was the room that provided power for the various runway lighting and other aids. There were generally block-shaped structures of three stories and had a balcony on the second and tip floor.

Several are still extant in the UK, though the number has been steadily dwindling over the years as room is needed for other uses of the land. An excellent place to see one of these is in the movie '12 o'clock high'. 


First thing one wonders is why pick HO/OO gauge for a building? Well, I can tell you two things. One is that OO gauge is about 1/76, though British OO gauge trains run on standard HO gauge track. Sort of a narrow gauge deal. Second is that much of Airfix's military vehicle range is in 1/76 scale so this building and the other RAF vehicles done by them over the years are in scale with each other. For those working in 1/72, the difference is scale isn't that big a deal, especially when it comes to buildings.

This kit is rather parts intensive as kits go. There are the usual separate walls and roof along with separate windows. No floors are provided so those wishing to detail the interior will have a clean slate from which to start. The sprues all show a bit of their age so parts will need some clean-up prior to use. No acetate is provided for the windows, but that should not be a problem for most of us. There are a number of ladders and newel posts that have to be cemented in place. I assume that one is supposed to run string to complete the rails for the upper floor items. The upper storey does have a few figures and furnishings as this area is quite visible.

All the usual 'stuff' that one sees atop a control tower is present. This includes a pair of sign boards alleging to show the runway in use. Now I don't know how things were in WWII, but generally a runway has two numbers, each 180 degrees from each other to show the direction of the wing. In this case, the number 23 is give for both runways. 23 means 230 degrees from magnetic north. I'd think that the other number should be 180 degrees from that or 5 for 50 degrees. Then there is the possibility that these boards were interchangeable and showed the runway in use at the time. Anyone know?

Instructions are standard Airfix pictogram variety in several steps. Color information is provided with Humbrol paint numbers to force us to go out and use Humbrol paint. Or we could use a conversion chart. Humbrol caught on to that and over the years, has renumbered a lot of paints. I'm hoping those used in 1988 are the same as today, 20 years in that future.


This is one of those kits that you either think are pretty cool or have no use for whatsoever. Doesn't seem to be a middle ground and I know few people (actually none) whose main interest is buildings. Yet, it seems like a fairly easy build and is definitely a change of pace.

I bought this one so you could see what it is like.

May 2008

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Previews Index Page