Airfix 1/72 P5 Hampden

KIT #: 491
PRICE: 9/6 (1968 price).
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Torben Plesberg
NOTES: A classic kit with hopeless transparencies


When the prototype HP 52 Hampden flew for the first time in June 1936, it was an advanced bomber for its time. The success of the flight trials were so promising that Air Ministry ordered 180 machines within six weeks after. The configuration of the aircraft was very special: the fuselage was very slim – only 3 feet – and deep with space for a large bomb bay and a rear ventral and dorsal gunner position. The fuselage behind the wings was minimal and the aircraft had twin fins and rudders. Seen from the side the aircraft looked like a frying pan or a tadpole. The vision from the cockpit was excellent and the aircraft was a pleasure to fly, highly manoeuvrable and with a remarkable speed range.

No wonder that Flygvapnet – the Swedish Air Force – was very interested, as the Swedes needed a modern bomber plane to substitute the biplanes. A Hampden was ordered, and it should have some modifications to fulfill the specifications of Flygvapnet. However, these modifications would take a lot of time to apply. The Swedes actually asked for a new prototype. In the end to get the aircraft as soon as possible the Swedes agreed to buy a standard Hampden from the production line (aircraft no 5). This aircraft was flown to Sweden in September 1938.

According to Björn Karlström the Hampden should be tested together with a Junkers Ju 86 to decide which of these planes should be the standard bomber of Flygvapnet. However, this can’t be true, because the Ju 86 entered service with Flygvapnet in 1937! There might have been political reasons for choosing the Ju 86, or simply because it was available for export immediately. Besides: the Ju 86 offered far better crew comfort compared to the cramped interior of the Hampden.

However, the Hampden was tested as a bomber plane by the bomber wing F 1 at Västerås, 90 kilometers north west of Stockholm. In 1941, the Hampden was transferred to the reconnaissance wing F 11 at Nyköping, 90 kilometers south west of Stockholm. The Hampden flew reconnaissance missions during the rest of the war. The plane was well suited for this role thanks to its range of 2000 miles, and the extensive glazing meant an easy built in of cameras. Sweden is a rather large country, larger than Germany, smaller than Spain, roughly 1000 miles from north to south, and on an average 175 miles from east to west. The Hampden could reach any point in Sweden and the Baltic and return to its base on internal fuel.

After the end of WWII the Hampden was sold to the SAAB company and got a civil registration: SE-APD. The aircraft – the longest flying Hampden – was finally broken up in 1947, probably because of shortage of spare parts. The Swedes should have preserved this unique aircraft, as they normally do! The Swedes might have offered the British to take over the plane, but in these years, the UK was flooded with surplus aircraft from the war only waiting to get scrapped. The British forgot to save some of the important aircraft from WWII to show to the future generations. Among these the Hampden and the Stirling bombers.


This is a classic Airfix kit from the late sixties – released in 1968. It was made of black styrene, as it was common at that time for bombers of WWII, which all had black undersides. The clear parts are rather thick and there are big scratches on the inner side of most of them. The decal options are for just one aircraft belonging to 49 squadron of the RAF, and in return, two versions of the same aircraft. The quality looks OK, but I never applied the decals, so I can’t know for sure.

The parts fit well together, with the clear parts as the exception. They need some corrections, and it is imperative to remove the scratches. An advantage during this process is the thickness of the clear parts. They are so strong that they won’t break easily. The wing tips are too thick, and there are no navigation lights as clear parts. The ailerons and the elevator, should be glued in place to avoid a too large gap to the wings. However, this depends on viewing the model as a toy or as a scale model.

The instructions are four pages: Page one with the story of the H.P. Hampden, page two and three contains three exploded views with numbered parts and 52 steps for the construction of the model. The last page shows the color scheme for the Hampden B Mk 1. The instructions offer some options: undercarriage up or down, dorsal transparency open with guns or closed without guns, bomb doors open showing bombs or closed, propellers with or without spinners, short or long exhausts, streamlined or early D.F. loop. The instructions are good and do not leave anything to the circumstances. 


Since I wanted to make the Swedish edition of the Hampden, I had to make myself clear, which parts of the kit I should not apply. The Swedish Hampden was unarmed and used as a long-range reconnaissance plane with the F 11 wing at Nyköping. Apart from no arms, the Swedish Hampden was a standard Hampden, and the identity comes from the color scheme and the national markings.

It was quite easy to put the model together, but I will mention a few items. When assembling the tail parts, be sure to place the small hole for the tail wheel on the underside. The fuselage end is symmetrical. That’s why I succeeded in placing the hole on the upper side! However, it was no problem to fill the wrong hole and drill a new one in the right place – 1.5 mm gauge. As the tail wheel leg seemed too fragile, I replaced it with a brass wire leg gauge one mm, and put a 1.5 mm gauge brass tube into the fuselage. With the inner gauge, one mm it was easy to place the tail wheel leg, which was replaced by a piece of 1 mm gauge brass wire, and get the right distance from the fuselage.

The scratches on the inner sides of the transparencies was a major problem. My angled mini drilling machine with a teardrop shaped silicone sander did the job very effectively. This sander leaves a surface as sanded with grain 1000 wet sanding paper. All I had to do next was to polish with toothpaste to regain transparency. For this purpose, I made two different sizes polishing sticks with rounded ends to be used as tools for the polishing cloth.

Cleaning up the transparencies was not a simple job, and if you can get a set of transparencies for the Airfix Hampden on the after-market, this would be a much better solution to the problem. One of the windows in front of the ventral gunner’s position had a very bad fit to the opening in the fuselage. A lot of filing was necessary to solve this problem satisfactorily.

The wing tips were too thick and had to be sanded to obtain the right thickness. The lights in the wing tips were not parts of the kit, and I made them of 2.5 mm acryl. The problem was to handle the tiny bits of acryl. Careful planning was a vital part of the procedure. Thinking in squares was another part. The square philosophy was a method to secure the lights being glued properly in place. If not, they would fall off during the final sanding process! The milling cutter secures that all angles are exactly 90 degrees.

First thing to do was milling the openings in the wing tips for the lights. Now I was able to figure out what square size the four acrylic work pieces should be, and the thickness of the material. The thickness showed up to be 2.5 mm. In my stocks, I found a small piece of 2.5 mm acryl. This piece was milled exactly in square. Now it was time to mark the small squares to simulate for the lights. Before cutting them out, a 0.5 mm hole was drilled exactly in the middle of the thickness of the four marked pieces. These holes should be the bulbs, and I filled them with transparent paint for the navigation lights. At length I could cut the four tiny squares ( 3 x 5 mm) from the larger work piece, using a small circular saw. I now glued the four small workpieces in place in the openings of the wing tips with super glue. Now it was possible to sand the acryl squares to match the curving of the wing tips, and finally polish them with toothpaste. When the navigation lights were finished, they got a small piece of Tamiya tape for protection during the paint job.

The front transparency and the ventral gunner transparency both had openings for guns. These openings should be closed with acrylic plugs – to avoid a heavy draught in the cabin during flight! I milled the openings to get a convenient shape for the plugs.

The kit is from the generation where oversized rivets and raised panel lines were normal. It was a time consuming job to sand the rivets and panel lines down to a size hardly noticeable. If looking carefully you can see the pattern of the rivets, and this is not a bad thing, contrary to full size rivets. These may cause problems for the decaling, another very good reason to eliminate them.

The oval retractable antenna of the kit has to be replaced by a new circular one to match the Swedish Hampden. With a brand new circular saw blade, I cut 0.5 mm from the end of a 7 mm gauge brass tube. A used saw blade cannot perform this job! In this way, I got a perfect ring with the correct thickness and size.

The antennas for the wireless gear were of brass, too, and with a very small piece of tube in the top to fasten the wire. The wire tube piece was 0.5 mm gauge with a 0.3 mm hole. It was just possible to get the two 0.1 mm wires through this small hole, but not an easy job! The two wires were fastened in a similar way to the top of the fins. However, I have later realized that this is not entirely correct, only according to Björn Karlström’s drawing. Photos are always the best documentation, as drawings may be incorrect!

The exhausts should be the short ones, but modified to match the Bristol Pegasus 24 engines.


The paint scheme of the Swedish Hampden is quite simple: Dark green on all upper surfaces, Model Master acrylic RLM 71 dunkelgrün, and light blue-grey on the under surfaces, MM acrylic RLM 65 hellblau. Interior, wheel wells and doors (inner side) cockpit green HB 78 enamel. Front ring of cowlings three parts bronze HB 55 and one part black HB 33. Exhaust pipes, three parts gun metal HB 53 and one part antique bronze HB 171. Propellers, cooling gills and undercarriage legs aluminum HB 27002. Propeller tips trainer yellow HB 24, tires matt black HB 33. There are no spinners on the Swedish Hampden. I found the acrylic paints very suitable for the painting job. Actually, they work better than the enamel paints. The masking must, however, be more carefully done, because the acryl paint is thinner and might easier flow under the masking tape!

The national roundels – the three crowns markings – came from a sheet from Flying Colors with Swedish roundels. The size is 1800 mm for the wings and 1320 mm for the fuselage. The white numbers 75 came from a special sheet covering PBY-5a, Dornier Do 24 and Heinkel He 115 in Swedish service. The black 11 wing marking was on a special decal sheet for Pembroke in Swedish service. All of the decals were first class print quality and not too thin. All decals got a layer of HB Satin Cote for protection. The finish of this product matches that of the acrylic paints from Model Master. 


I bought the Airfix kit of the Hampden among a trunk full of other kits when I visited London in 1968! Plastic kits were at less than half the price compared to the hobby shops in Copenhagen, so I saved a lot of money in this way. 48 years later, I finally decided to build the Hampden kit. The price was probably 9 s. 6 d. It is a kit of the early generations and compared to modern kits from this century rather bad. However, I took the challenge and tried to get a reasonable model out of this ancient kit. Don’t do it, unless you want to challenge your skills, especially concerning the clear parts! The kit is not recommended, unless you can find other transparencies on the after-market. 


William Green: Famous Bombers of the Second World War – second series.

McDonald & Co Publishers Ltd. 16 Maddox Street London W.1 London 1960

Björn Karlström: Flygplansritningar 6 1991

Allt om Hobby AB, Box 90133, S-12021 Stockholm. ISBN 91-85496-35-1

Wikipedia: Handley Page Hampden

Air International/Nov.1984: Hampden – Defender of Liberty.

Torben Plesberg

13 December 2016


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