Pacific Coast Models 1/32 Hurricane I (early)
KIT #: ?
PRICE: $69.95 MSRP
DECALS: Six options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES:  Short run with photo etched details


             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.

            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.  Outclassed or not, the Hurricane I was there when it was needed, in numbers sufficient to change the outcome of a battle nearly everyone expected Britain to lose.  As such, it is a model deserving of a place of distinction in any collection.

 The Hurricane in Finland:

             The Russo-Finnish War, known better as “The Winter War,” was the result of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact signed between Hitler and Stalin in August 1939.  The pact had given Hitler his assurance of a free hand with Poland, in return for German acquiescence in Stalin’s moves to “rationalize” borders and political control in Poland and the Baltic States.  This had resulted in the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland following the German defeat of the Polish armed forces, and would later result in 1940 in the Soviet takeover of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.  That fall of 1939, Stalin demanded that Finland cede the Karelian peninsula, moving the border westward so that Leningrad was not within artillery range of the border, as it currently was. The Finns refused and that November the Soviets invaded.

             “Plucky Little Finland” not only held out against the Red Army, but amazed the world by defeating the Soviets for several months.  This created something of a dilemma for the Western Allies, who had substantial conservative, anti-Communist political forces in their governments who saw this as a chance to declare war against the Soviet Union and join another anti-Bolshevik crusade.  There was actually a strong current of opinion in both the French and British militaries to conclude an anti-Soviet alliance with Finland. The larger political view, however, was that the Allies did not want to antagonize the Soviet Union, since anyone could see that the Hitler-Stalin alliance was something that could not stand; sooner or later war would break out between the two dictatorships, and at that point, even a staunch and dedicated anti-Bolshevik like Churchill would make common cause with his archenemy Stalin to defeat the Nazis.

            Thus, Britain and France had the delicate necessity of placating public opinion - which was strongly pro-Finnish and demanded aid be sent to “Plucky Little Finland” - with the realpolitik need not to antagonize the Soviets sufficiently to poison future relations.  It was obvious the Finns would eventually have to give in once the Soviets applied the necessary level of force.  Any aid given would come from their own military equipment, which might soon be needed in large numbers to counter the attack in the West everyone knew Hitler must make sooner or later.

             For the British, the result was the provision of airplanes that were already obsolete, as being enough to be seen at home as giving aid, without giving the kind of aid that Stalin would see as serious.  The Finns had already obtained a license to produce the Blenheim I, and so another 12 of these obsolete bombers were provided.  The Hurricane was in the process of being updated with metal wings and different engines, so 12 early Hurricane I aircraft with fabric wings were set aside to be sent to Finland. So that this would not be seen as an “official” government act, the 12 Hurricanes were sold to Gloster Aircraft, which then sold them to Finland.

             The Hurricanes did not arrive in Finland until late January, only six weeks before Finland would sue for peace in March 1940, and thus took no meaningful part in the Winter War.  With only 10 Hurricanes in service - two having been lost during delivery - the Finns assigned the aircraft to HleLv 32, where pilots became familiar with them over the next two years of peace.  Only limited spare parts had been sent and after the fall of France the British were reluctant to divert any Merlin spares from their own needs.  Following the Finnish decision to enter the war against the Soviet Union as a German ally in June 1941, there was no further possibility of spares being obtained. 

             Combat use of the Hurricanes appears to have been limited to their use in the tactical reconnaissance role; with the provision of Hurricanes to the V-VS by the RAF in August 1941, with their primary use being on the Northern Front against the Finns, this was a good idea, since the Finnish Hurricanes could be mistaken for Soviet aircraft.  In 1943, the airplanes were in severe need of overhaul.  Spare parts had been obtained from shot-down Soviet Hurricanes, and the 10 Finnish airplanes were overhauled with new fabric and a new paint scheme that differed from the previous RAF finish, being the black-green/olive-green/light blue scheme adopted for all Finnish aircraft camouflage.

             Surprisingly, all 10 Hurricanes survived the war, though they were fairly quickly disposed of in the immediate post-war period.  They had been the longest-serving early Hurricanes.


            This early Hurricane Mk. I by Pacific Coast Hobbies (molded by Sword, photo-etch from Eduard and decals by Cartograf, designed by Richard Caruana) is the second “rag-wing” Hurricane released in injection plastic, the other being the 1/48 Hurricane by Classic Airframes that is now long out of production. (Editor's Note: Sword also produced a fabric wing Hurricane in 1/72)

             The kit features some of the best surface detail for a fabric-covered airplane I have yet seen; other manufacturers should look at this when designing their own releases of fabric airplanes, particularly for World War I models.  Both the early “kidney” and later ejector exhausts are provided, as well as the two-blade Watts prop, and the deHavilland and Rotol 3-blade controllable-pitch props, along with two different styles of main wheels with 4 and 5-spoke hubs.  You should be careful in deciding which of these items to use with which airplane you are doing, because things changed rapidly during the period covered.  For instance, the boxart option is shown with a 3-blade prop - which is correct per photos of this airplane - though the instructions would have you do it with the 2-blade prop. The cockpit gives about as much detail as one finds in the 1/48 Hasegawa kit, which is more than enough since the Hurricane had a very simple cockpit.  The instrument panel is a photo-etch “sandwich,” and the Sutton harness is also provided in photo-etch. 

             The excellent Cartograf decals include markings for no fewer than six different airplanes, including one each from the Belgian and Finnish Air Forces and an ex-Yugoslav Hurricane that was test-flown by the Regia Aeronautica.  All three RAF aircraft are from the period from the Munich Crisis in September 1938 to just before the end of the Battle of France in May 1940.

            The parts option for the armored windscreen has a serious molding flaw in it that I have not been able to correct in two different attempts.  Fortunately the Finnish, Belgian, and one of the RAF options are for Hurricanes without the armored windscreen.  I think one could fake this using the unarmored windscreen and attaching a piece of clear plastic sheet cut to shape.  Ken Lawrence of Pacific Coast Models has already stated that this problem will be solved in their future release, which will have the armored windscreen as its only option.


            This is my first Hurricane model, and I want to re-emphasize here the best way I know of to get the important parts of assembly right, because this kit was done wrong

            So to repeat: overall, this model is not difficult, but there is a “big secret” to overall assembly which can have a major effect on the way your model turns out.

            The kit instructions and a modeler’s experience would have one build the kit as two major sub-assemblies - the fuselage and the wing - and then mate them once otherwise assembled.  DO NOT DO THIS!

            Here’s the trick to doing this kit with a minimum of hassle and a maximum of good looks when finished: You have to approach the model as a collective whole.  There are not two major sub-assemblies to this project, but rather one overall process. 

            The first thing to do is to assemble the fuselage, including the lower rear part.  While that is setting up, assemble and paint the cockpit and install the seat belts. I strongly urge that you attach the rear cockpit headrest bulkhead and the instrument panel into the fuselage separately.  Once you have the rest of the cockpit assembled, slip it inside and glue it in position.  At this point, you need to test fit the canopy if you plan to pose it open, and to sand down the area of the fuselage immediately aft of the cockpit so the canopy can sit down properly.

            Once the fuselage is done, you want to attach the upper wing parts.  You will immediately notice that the curvature of the upper wing differs from that of the fuselage joint.  You’re going to need to engage in a bit of industrial-strength bending and curling to get the upper wing to fit - don’t be afraid to stress the plastic, it is soft enough it won’t crack or break. Once everything fits nice and tight, work the joint from inside, to lessen the amount of glue that is used on the exterior.  If you trim and get it just right, you should need only a very little bit of Mr. Surfacer along the upper wing joint to get it smooth, which means you won’t be losing any of that wonderful surface detail.

            When you cut the molding block off the main gear well, be sure to dremel down the roof of the well to where you can see light through the outer areas on each end, and then round down the piece fore and aft on the top.  Assemble the interior parts for the gear well and attach it to the lower wing.

            You then need to test fit the lower wing to the rest of the model. Trim as necessary to get a nice smooth fit to the fuselage fore and aft.  Then take the leading edge gun port for one wing, test fit it to the upper wing, trimming the cutout in the wing as necessary to get good fit, then glue it in position.  Test fit the lower wing, and trim that cutout as necessary to get good fit.  Do the same on the other wing.  Then fit the lower wing and be sure the cutouts for the landing lights are aligned.  Glue the landing light parts into the upper wing, then glue the lower wing in position.  If you have done this right, you will only need a little Mr. Surfacer along the joints to the fuselage, and a little sanding down of the wingtips so they match up.

            All that might sound like a lot of work, but it is really very minor fiddling, and the end result of not having harmed all the wonderful surface detail is well worth all the effort taken.

            What I did with this model was to follow the “common wisdom” and assemble it as two sub-assemblies - wing and fuselage, then join them.  I had a huge gap on the upper wing and fuselage joint, and poor fit on the area of the lower nose.  As you can see from the accompanying assembly photos, I used a fair amount of red Bondo putty, and the result was a severe loss of surface detail on the upper wing and fuselage.  I rescribed the fuselage, but had to end up using thin Evergreen strip to recreate the wing rib detail, which I sanded down to approximate the original.  From a distance of 18 inches or so, it looks nice, but up close and in comparison with the kit that was done right, the degradation of detail is obvious.

            The joint of the horizontal stabilizers to the fuselage will need a little filling with cyanoacrylate glue and then some Mr. Surfacer.  The lower fuselage strake will need a little filling with cyanoacrylate when you attach it.

            As regards the landing gear, assemble the three-part gear doors before attaching them to the gear legs, to insure proper fit.  For all the Hurricanes presented here, you will want to use the 4-spoke wheels.



             First, I painted the gear wells, landing gear and gear door interiors with Tamiya “Flat Aluminum. I then painted a white primer for the areas that would be done with yellow, then applied Xtracrylix “Yellow RLM04" when dry that was masked off.

            The Caruana profile in the SAMI Hurricane book showed the dark upper color as being “black green” rather than the black most of us commonly think is right for Finnish aircraft.  I did some further research and discovered that the color is really a “dark black-green,” so dark that the green tone can only be noticed in good light.  No wonder the mistake as made to consider this color black!  I made my own mixture of Tamiya “Black-Green” and “NATO Black.”  The Olive Green was done using Gunze-Sangyo modern RAF Dark Green.  The lower surface was painted with Xtracrylix RLM76 light blue.   

            When everything was dry, I unmasked the model and gave it two coats of Xtracrylix Gloss Varnish.


             I used the kit decals, which went on without problem.  I did note that even these decals were not opaque enough that you cannot see a bit of yellow through the national insignia on the lower wing, which is mounted halfway on the yellow tip.  I would suggest either masking off a circle after painting the white undercoat, or using a circle from a white single-color decal sheet to deal with this problem.


             I saw from photos that this Finnish Hurricane had the early radio mast, which I made from Evergreen strip.  It used the ejector exhausts, underwing pitot tube, and three-blade prop, all of which I attached, with the canopy in the open position.

            Assembling the landing gear presents no problems, though you need to drill out the wheels a little deeper to take the entire axle.  With the gear doors assembled previously, there was no problem presented in attaching them.  I then attached the navigation lights to the wing tips and the rudder.


            This is an excellent kit of the Hurricane.  While it is a limited-run kit and therefore requires some extra attention in assembly, there is no problem presented that cannot be solved with a bit of “some modeling skill required.”  If you don’t assemble the model the way I did with this one, the result will be a very good-looking model.  I have always thought the early “rag wing” Hurricane was interesting, and am glad that PCM has started their line of Hurricanes with this version.  The Finnish markings are particularly striking.   

Tom Cleaver

February 2010

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