Airfix 1/48 Hawker Hurricane I (tropical)

KIT #: A05127
PRICE: $24.95 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


First appearing in 1935, the Hawker Hurricane was the first modern monoplane fighter to equip the RAF, and was one of only three RAF aircraft to operate in first‑line service from the first day of the Second World War to the last. (The other two being the Spitfire and the Swordfish) 

Though the Spitfire gained the glory in the Battle of Britain, it was the tough Hurricane that won the fight.  Three‑fifths of the squadrons of RAF's Fighter Command were mounted on Sidney Camm's fighter that summer of 1940.  Though  outperformed by the Bf‑109E, the Hurricane had the benefit of being “primitive” enough in its construction that shot‑down Hurricanes could be quickly repaired and returned to service, which was the RAF “secret” that really won the Battle of Britain - fully 60 percent of the Hurricanes shot down over England that summer were repaired and returned to operational use during the battle, a fact that Goering's Luftwaffe missed as they confidently predicted that on September 15, 1940, there would be no RAF fighters over London.  It was a scandal when reports came out that production Hurricane I's could barely make 305 mph at 10,000 feet ‑ the height at which most combat occurred ‑ and that the airplane could not be flown over 20,000 feet, the altitude from which the Messerschmitts dove out of the sun on their targets.

          Following the success of the Battle of Britain, the RAF could allow the Hurricane to be sent to other theaters.  The defense of Malta had been so important that a squadron had been diverted to that island at the height of the Battle of Britain.  Now, in the fall of 1940 and early 1941, the Hurricane I, which was outclassed by the new “Friedrich” version of the Bf-109 could be sent to Egypt, where it outclassed the Italian C.200 “Saetta”, the most modern Italian fighters, and was clearly superior to the C.R.42 biplane.  By March, when the British were preparing to move into Greece to bolster that country’s fight with the Italians, the Gloster Gladiators in the squadrons sent had all been replaced by Hurricanes.

          After diverting squadrons to Greece, the RAF was short of fighters in Egypt.  The Fleet Air Arm squadrons 805 and 806 now found themselves without a carrier from which to operate with the near destruction of HMS Illustrious and that ship’s subsequent departure via the Suez Canal for major repairs in the United States.  805 Squadron was issued the F4F-3 Wildcats that the Greek Air Force had ordered, which were still in Egypt at the time Greece fell, while 806 Squadron was issued Hurricane Is, with both squadrons operating as the Naval Fighter Wing North Africa.  They took part in the fighting around Tobruk in the summer of 1941, and other fighting in North Africa up to January 1942, when the RAF was able to send sufficient squadrons to what was now known as the Desert Air Force that the FAA squadrons were no longer needed.  Both were repatriated to the UK where they returned to their naval roles.


 Airfix first released an accurate Hurricane I in the late 1970s, which can still be made into a very acceptable model.  This kit, released this past Spring, makes that kit obsolete and outshines the 1/48 Hurricane Is from Hasegawa and Italerei the way the sun outshines the moon.

 The kit has the most accurate surface detail of any Hurricane kit other than the Airfix 1/72 ragwing Hurricane.  There are no fabric “hills and valleys” on the fuselage and the rest of the fabric effect is equally correctly muted.  Both the Rotol constant-speed and deHavilland two-position propellers are provided.  The kit has an option of having the canopy displayed open.  The cockpit provides an excellent representation of the “old fashioned” Hawker cockpit.  Decals are provided for two Battle of Britain aircraft.

 Additional parts are in the box to allow the modeler to do a Hurricane I (Trop) and a Sea Hurricane Ib, which marks the first time either of these two aircraft could be created OOB in a kit. This review is of the Trop version.


Construction is very straightforward and is made much easier by the excellent new Airfix instruction sheet, which provides a logical path of assembly that is clearly marked in each illustrated panel.  Following the instructions is guaranteed to result in an excellent model.

The only “glitch” I found is that it is a good idea to clean up the main spars that form the basis of the kit’s construction.  If you scrape them down on upper and lower sides, they will fit inside the wing without problem.

To modify the kit for the tropical version, a modeler only has to assemble the two halves of the Vokes filter and glue that to the lower fuselage nose part, then take a razor saw and cut out the central part of the lower wing forward of the landing gear, following the two panel lines to either side of the carb intake. I then glued the foward section to the lower wing so I could work the joint from inside and outside to get it right.

I painted all the cockpit parts before cutting them off the sprues, using Xtracrylix British Grey-Green for the rear bulkhead and Tamiya Flat Aluminum for the rest of the cockpit.  The instrument panel decal takes care of all the added detail needed.

I used home-made seat belts made from used fabric Band Aids, with details drawn on them with a pen.  Theese “drape” perfectly.  One could do this with an unused Band-Aid, and the sticky side would allow even easier attachment.  Proof that model parts can come from anywhere.

I also decided to use the “closed” canopy part in the open position.  Test-fitting the parts, the “open” canopy part is a bit big and sits a bit high.  The “closed” part can fit exactly where it should in the slid-back option, and doesn’t look oversized.

By taking care in assembly, I had no need of using any filler anywhere on the model.  Parts fit throughout is superb.

Once I attached the wing sub-assembly to the fuselage, I glued the lower rear fuselage part in position, then attached the horizontal stabilizers and posed the elevators and rudder in “dynamic” positions.


 The Hurricane I (tropical) first arrived in the Middle East still painted in Dark Earth/Dark Green/Sky.  By the summer of 1941, many of the surviving aircraft were having their Dark Green areas repainted in either Middle Stone or Light Earth, to adapt them better to the desert environment.  Also, many Hurricanes were painted with an “Italian” camouflage on the wing leading edge and nose, to confuse their opponents when approaching.  This has long been though to have been a color such as Middle Stone or Light Earth, and might have been on the DE/DG/Sky painted aircraft.  However, recent research has shown that those Hurricanes that received the “desert” camouflage repaint used aluminum lacquer on the leading edge and nose, which “glinted” in the bright desert sun and contributed to difficulty in initial identification when entering combat, a few moments that could make the difference between success and failure.  Photos clearly show that the Dark Green (or perhaps Dark Earth) splotches and “spaghetti” were brush-painted.

In making a model of an airplane repainted in the field, I painted the lower surfaces Sky, and the upper surfaces Tamiya “Flat Earth” - a good approximation of faded Dark Earth - and “light earth, which was done with a mixture of Tamiya “Flat Earth” and “Desert Yellow.” This was all done freehand to approximate an “in the field” repaint.

I used decals from several old Aeromaster decal sheets for the national insignia, the serial number and the “Royal Navy” marking. 

I applied a coat of Xtracrylix flat finish to the model, then attached the landing gear, deHavilland prop, and positioned the canopy in the open position.


 The.  Best.  Hurricane.  Kit.  In.  Any.  Scale. 

The kit is remarkably easy to assemble and presents no problem.  The only item lacking in the kit are seatbelts, a problem for which there are multiple easy solutions.  The kit decals are superb.  The price is so right you’ll be able to afford more than one.  If you take care in assembly, you will not use putty or filler anywhere.  

These new Airfix kits are a joy to build and result in excellent models.  Any modeler with the experience of doing a couple of kits can take one of these and by following the instructions have a really nice model of an important airplane to add to the collection.  Highly recommended for everyone.

Tom Cleaver

 September 2015

Thanks to Hornby America for the review kit.

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