Valom 1/72 Handley Page Harrow III

KIT #: 72057
PRICE:  ~$55.00 by the time it reached my door
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run with resin and p.e. parts


The H.P. 54 Harrow was the production version of the earlier Handley Page H.P.51 design, itself a monoplane conversion of the three-engined Handley Page H.P.43 biplane. The two monoplanes were both designed by Dr. G.V. Lachmann. Initially Handley Page intended to offer the H.P.51 to Air Ministry specification C.26/31 for a bomber-transport, then saw the H.P.54 as a more likely winner. In the end neither type was a candidate for C.26/31, since in June 1935 the Air Ministry, anxious to expand and modernise the RAF wrote specification B.29/35 around the Harrow, emphasising its bomber role though retaining its transport capability. On 14 August, months before the first Harrow flew, the Ministry put in an order for 100 aircraft. Powered by Bristol Pegasus X engines of 830 hp (620 kW), the first Harrow flew on 10 October 1936 from Radlett. The Harrow was designed to have powered nose and tail turrets, with a manually operated dorsal turret. The nose and dorsal turrets were armed with a single Lewis gun, while the tail turret carried two Lewis guns. (These guns were later replaced by Vickers K machine guns). A bombload of up to 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) could be carried under the cabin floor, with the aircraft being able to carry a single 2,000 lb (910 kg) bomb.

Valom has been producing short run kits for quite some time now. They get mixed reviews with some modelers finding them 'impossible' while others (likely those with quite a bit of short run experience) simply considering them as being challenging. I have built a number of their kits over the years and can agree that they seem to be more challenging than shake and bake. The kits no longer use vacuform clear bits, but still rely somewhat on resin and photoetch for parts, this kit being no exception.

Many of you might consider this to be an odd choice and in some ways it is, but it was produced in different variants and variants are what help a kit to be produced. I like it as I used to live in Harrow in the mid-late 1950s so have a fondness for the aircraft simply because of the name.

It is not a small kit, being considered a heavy bomber at the time of its introduction. The kit is molded in a tan plastic with very nice external detailing. The 'hills and valleys' of fabric planes is subdued and looks quite nice. Resin is provided for two of the seats and for the engines. Photo etch is provided for things like instrument panels, antennas, hinges, control wheel and some other interior and exterior bits.

As is the norm with Valom, the sprues have parts for every boxing so there are spares. You get several fore and aft gun greenhouses as well as the faired over ones for the pure transport versions. The interior sub-assemblies are built up of mostly flat parts cemented together. There are injector towers that will need to be removed in some instances so that parts will fit.

While I wish that companies would mold engine cowlings as a single piece, that is not the case here with these items being in two pieces. As this is the bomber version, you have to deal with the turrets. One option is without the guns, though the turrets are still on the plane in the front and back. The upper turret has a fairing to cover it for this version. To complicate things a bit more, there is an insert to be installed between the front turret and the rest of the aircraft.

A nice touch is a wing spar that runs through the fuselage. This will be needed to hold up the large wings. Wings are in upper and lower halves while the horizontal stab is a single piece. There are small indentations in the stab for the upper and lower fins. Main gear consists of two piece wheels which fit into two piece wheel pants. The three struts on both sides are separate with again, small indentations showing where they fit. Note that the gear are the only wire braced parts of the kit. Interestingly, all but two of the aileron/flap actuator hinges are in plastic. Guess they miscounted when doing the sprues.

Instructions are fairly well done with a detail image of the interior. Generic color information is provided along with color numbers for five other paint makers. Both planes are dark green/dark earth over black. Markings are for two planes. One is the armed box art plane from 115 squadron. The other is a near identical plane that is unarmed from 214 squadron. Decals are superbly done and should work just fine.


Interwar bombers have not been kitted very often and so it is quite nice to see these being done. It is short run so don't expect an easy build of it. However, the finished product should stand out on your shelf.


September 2017

Copyright Scott Van Aken

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