Airfix 1/72 Hunter F.3
KIT #: 02073
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Pavla set U 72-79


Back in August 1953 there was a time at the Hawker Company when it was decided to press ahead with work on a reheated engine. The prototype Hunter WB188 was being reworked to incorporate wing fuel tanks, side-mounted air brakes and a re-heated Avon engine. The Hunter was to take an engine R.A.7R that was a virtual ‘racing’ Avon with a challenge in mind for the World Absolute Air Speed Record. At the time this stood at 717.75 mph to the credit of North American F-86D Sabre flown by Lieutenant Colonel William F. Barnes on July 16th 1953.

 The new Avon exhausted through a two-position final nozzle developed 7,130 lb thrust ‘dry’ and 9,600lb with re-heat lit. Hunter WB188 was modified accordingly and ready for flight at the end of August and flown to Tangmere in Sussex where preparations were in hand for the record attempts.  Several practice flights were made over 3-kilometer course off the coast of Rustington.

 On 7th September conditions seemed ideal and Neville Duke, Chief Test Pilot flew the bright red Hunter, now designated the Mk3, along the course to attain an average speed of 727.63 mph which in the temperature and humidity prevailing, represented a Mach 0.92 at sea level. For record purposes a shapely pointed nose cone fairing was fitted to the Hunter, but a windscreen fairing of increased rake, originally fitted was discarded prior to the record flight.

 On 19th September Duke flew WB188 round a 100 Kilometre close circuit to establish a new world record for this course at 709.2 mph. After this Hawker was advised to discontinue work on re-heated engines with WB188 coming to the end of its useful life. It passed to the hands of the RAF. After a period it spent as a ground instruction machine, it languished outside the main gate at RAF Melksham in Wiltshire before being rescued for eventual preservation.


 The Airfix kit has been reviewed before and to convert the kit into an F Mk3, the Pavla Models resin set U72-89 was to be used. Strictly speaking the conversion set is intended for the more recent Revell Hunter kit and a quick dry fit revealed that the resin parts are cast so that they are straight replacement for the equivalent part in the kit, making this an easy conversion. In spite of all I have once again reverted to using the Airfix Hunter kit that I had at my disposal, for which I found that the parts were also adoptable.

 The conversion parts that are all cast to the usual Pavla high standard of intricate detail consist of the following: a pointed nose fairing, a tail reheat outlet, two narrow streaks, wing tip parts, leading edge parts, separate ailerons, and a half horizontal nose with faired over gun ports with a detailed nose wheel well. A decal sheet less the roundels also included in the conversion kit. A streamlined vac form cockpit canopy of increased rake is also included and a detailed drawing instruction completes the set.


 All the resin parts are first separated from their casting block and each part shaped at the cutting section using a smooth file. The Hunter fuselage was then taped together and nose cut at a section of same dimensional length as the resin nose cone fairing. Another cut was made at the rear fuselage so that the Hunter will have a reheat rear outlet in place of the kit one. The fuselage parts were then untapped and work was done to detail the wheel wells that were sparingly devoid of any structural detail. This consisted of adding sidewalls and a few cross spars made from plastic card strips. Lead weight is added to a forward nose compartment just aft of the crew seat area. The fuselage halves could now be glued together.

 The fuselage nose is then cut horizontally so that the wheel well is replaced with the resin one, therefore replacing the nose guns with the new resin piece that does not have them. The resin parts are then joined to the fuselage and any small gaps are attended to by fairing with Plasto filer. We have now a complete fuselage and one is left to detail the crew office to one’s desire. In my case I also added an RAF pilot figure, as I tend to take picture of the kit in flight configuration.

 The wing leading edge was then modified eliminating the dogtooth leading edge. This action will not be necessary if one is using the Revell kit, as there are direct replacement resin parts that fit.  Before assembling the wing halves, the through locating holes for the pylons are first blanked with filler and smoothened down flush. Finally I preferred to fit the clear vac form canopy that has an increased rake since at one time it was flown with it.  At this stage more prominent surface panel lines on main planes and tail planes were restored with a scriber.


 With the cockpit masked the kit was given an overall coat of semi gloss white and any blemishes and other surface marks were removed or smoothened.  The wheel wells and undercarriage legs were silver while the rest of the model painted in Model Master ‘Guards Red’. The gloss red allowed the decals to merge to the surface very well. The Pavla set decals has very opaque white and this showed up in good contrast. Roundels came from Model Decals selection. 


 Any Hunter fan should go for this version of the Hunter which seem to be the missing link before the whole set of a wide selection and marks is complete. I enjoyed building this kit conversion and the Pavla resin set made the procedure involved to go much smoother. 


Hawker Hunter by Francis K Mason. Squadron leader Neville Duke.

Carmel J. Attard

June 2013

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