Airfix 1/72 Short Sterling
KIT #: 07002
PRICE: Around €30 in 2005
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas
NOTES: 1992 reissue of 1966 tooling


Being the first four-engined bomber to be introduced into service with the RAF, the Stirling was wisely designed during the late 1930s as a result of promising foreign developments in the 4-engine field, contrary the RAF’s intention back then to focus on increasingly capable 2-engine designs.

By entering squadron service In early 1941, the Stirling was praised for its ability to out-turn enemy night fighters and its favorable handling characteristics in general. The low altitude ceiling for which the type was often criticized, together with some other negative performance aspects, might, at least partly, have been the result of questionable decisions by the Air Ministry on certain performance requirements (most significantly restricting the wingspan to 100ft).

The Stirling had a relatively brief operational career as a bomber, due to the increasing availability of the more capable Halifax and Lancaster, which took over the strategic bombing of Germany. From late 1943, the type was relegated to second-line duties, including mining German ports, towing gliders and providing supplies during the Allied invasion of Europe. It was rapidly withdrawn from RAF service in the aftermath of the Second World, with several ex-military examples rebuilt for the civilian market.


Prior to the 2014 Italeri new tool, this elderly 1966 Airfix mold was the only option for a 1/72 Stirling. Its last reissue took place in 2013 with the molds (and even the schemes!) totally unchanged. The specific kit is the 1992 edition, bought from one of my hometown’s hobby shops at what seemed like a fair price. It comes in a typical Airfix big and nice top opening box, featuring the same nice box art that featured in 1966, depicting a Stirling being prepared for a mission by its ground crew.

Upon opening the box, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number (to the neighborhood of 250)  light gray styrene parts. The fuselage and wing halves are provided separately, whereas all the rest are arranged in 5 quite busy sprues. Molding is very old school with thick sprue gates which at areas penetrate to the parts. Details are of course raised all over, with the surfaces full of rivets, something common for the era, as are the working aerodynamic surfaces and rotating wheels. A big amount of flash and a good number of quite severe sink marks were found at places you do not want them to be (the latter, possibly, being the result of not allowing the sprues to sufficiently cool, before removing them from the molds).

The interior is very sparse and at places almost nonexistent. The cockpit is very basic, with the kit suggestion to cut a printed paper on the instruction sheet that represents the instrument faces and affix it onto the instrument panel sounding like a joke. The three turrets are averagely represented, as are the crew figures provided.

The engines, cowlings, exhausts, oil coolers and props are adequately molded, but the top air inlet ducts feature some horrendous sink marks that have to be filled. Landing gear parts are not bad, but the bays are practically nonexistent. A gear-up option is also provided and the bomb bays can be posed either open or closed (for the closed bomb bay option, a handy one piece central bomb bay door is supplied). A quite good looking tug and three bomb carts are also molded, adding a diorama style to your build.

Transparencies are overly thick, with all small side windows featuring a sink mark right in the middle: since they are very small, maybe omitting them and replicating them with Clearfix might be a good idea. Instructions are typical old style Airfix and come in the form of a 12-page A4 booklet, containing a history of the type in 10 languages, with the main model construction is spread in 21 quite clear steps, plus 6 additional steps dealing with the tug and bomb carts build.

Color callouts are only partly provided during construction, with some of them being questionable (for example, you are instructed to paint the guns black). To my understanding, even the 2013 rebox has the same instructions pictorial-wise, so, some extra research will be ahead of you, including consulting the Italeri new tool Stirling ones (but I noticed that they propose aluminum landing gear and bays, where, to my understanding, those areas were painted underside black).

Two decal options are provided. The first is Mk.I N3709 “MG-K”, belonging to 7Sq, 3 Group, having performed 1000 bomber raids, as it stood at RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire, May 1942. The second is Mk.III LJ582 “EXL”, of 199Sq, 3 Group, as it stood in RAF Lakenheath, July 1943. Both schemes are identical, with dark green / dark earth over flat black. Decals are reasonably well printed and, despite being almost 30 years old, still look usable (though you never know till you try them on).

Instructions want you to first assemble the cockpit and turrets, then attach all side windows from the insides and finally join the fuselage halves, trapping the cockpit and turrets in-between. All aerodynamic surfaces are then assembled and attached, followed by the engines and props. The bomb bay doors are then attached (open or closed), followed by assembly and installation of the landing gear (extended or retracted). The main antennas’ installation is next, followed by assembly of the moto tug and the three bomb carts, onto where the bombs might be optionally placed.

Clearly, construction presents the degree of complexity typically found on four-engine bombers, amplified by the expected fit issues, deeming the kit unsuitable for the novice modeler.


This elderly kit that has been faithfully accompanying us from the 60’s decade, with correct general shapes of parts. The raised external detailing is heavily riveted and, whereas it might look good with some light sanding, a good amount of it will inevitably be lost during filling and sanding. (of which a significant amount is expected to be required). The interior is sparse and detail in other key areas (like engines and bays) is average, with the moto tug and bomb carts provided being a nice touch, should you want to accompany your Stirling. Transparencies are average, instructions are clear and decals look good.

Clearly superseded by the more expensive but vastly superior Italeri offering, this vintage kit can provide (with some effort) a good representation of the iconic bomber.

Happy Modeling!

Spiros Pendedekas

February 2023

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