Matchbox 1/72 Hawker Hotspur

KIT #: PK-11
DECALS: one option
REVIEWER: Brian Baker
NOTES: Conversion


In 1935, the RAFís leaders decided to seek a replacement for the two seat Hawker Demon fighter, and basically, there were two contenders, Boulton and Paul, who had developed a four gun .303 armed power turret small enough to be installed on a fighter airframe, and Hawker, who was developing the Hurricane single seat fighter and who had gone on to develop a two seat light bomber, known as the Henley. Hawker used a Hurricane airframe as the basis for their conversion, and after significant modifications, emerged with a Boulton Paul turreted version, which they named the Hotspur.

The RAF specification, F.9/35, called for a two place interceptor, and the original prototype flew on June 14, 1938, with a wooden mockup of the power turret. Powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin of 1,030 hp., the plane had a maximum speed of 316 mph, slightly faster than the Boulton Paul Defiant, and had no forward firing wing mounted armament. The pilotís job, apparently, was to maneuver in such a way as to give the turret gunner a good shot at the enemy aircraft. Dimensions were similar to those of the Hurricane, and after initial test flights, it was decided to continue development of the Defiant, as Hawker was just beginning to produce the Hurricane in large numbers, and the Hurricane was thought to be much more important at that time. Eventually, the Hotspur prototype was abandoned, resulting in large scale production of the Defiant, which proved to be a disappointment for the RAF. Only one Hotspur fighter was built, and the name eventually was re-assigned to the Airspeed training glider.


Since the aircraft was so closely related to the Hurricane, I used a Hurricane kit from Matchbox for the conversion. The Hurricane kit has been reviewed many times, so for the basics, I would refer you to kit reviews of Matchboxís PK-11 kit review. It probably isnít the best and most detailed kit on the market, and certainly is no longer in production, but it is basically accurate in outline and certainly a relatively easy conversion to either a Hotspur or Henley aircraft. There are some parts that need to be modified or replaced, but nothing that requires major surgery.


I began construction by removing all of the major parts from the sprues, and trimming off the joining scrap. This model was constructed back in 2015, so I hope I can remember all of the details. Major parts requiring no real changes included the wings, which only required removal of evidence of wing armament, as the Hotspur had none. The elevators needed replacements, as they werenít exactly the right shape, and I took these from my spares box, although I donít know what kit they were taken from. The fuselage required some major surgery, however. Forward, the plane has a large scoop which houses the radiator under the nose, whereas the Hurricaneís unit is under the trailing edges of the wing. The rear fuselage needs to be cut down, and rounded out, as the turret required some clearance for the machine guns. This section then needs to be filled in and finished after the fuselage halves are joined. The pilotís canopy is slightly smaller than that of the Hurricane, and the one I used was fairly thick, making it impossible to see much of the cockpit interior. I put in a pilotís seat and instrument panel, but they are not visible through the canopy. I used a turret from my scrap box, but I donít know what model it came from. It is approximately the correct shape, and since there were no interior details, installing it was a snap. There is no detail in the rear gun turret, mainly because on the real airplane, it was only a wooden mockup, so my model has no turret interior detail. The rudder is slightly larger than that of a Hurricane, so I had to extend both the fin and the rudder using putty, but this turned out to be a relatively simple job. Since the whole airplane is silver, I assembled the rest of the parts, including the new elevators, landing gear, gear doors, and tailwheel. I masked off the windows on the main canopy and the turret. I then added the propeller after painting the rear surfaces of the blades black and applied masking tape to them. Now the plane was ready for painting.


One thing about this airplane was that it had an aluminum finish, meaning that all surfaces were silver, including the wheel wells and landing gear. I masked off the canopy windows, and gave it several coats of aluminum enamel. I then painted the radiator intake on the scoop black, and constructed the decals. The plane had no tail stripes, only roundels, and these came from the spares box. There were four serial number displays, two on the rear fuselage sides and two on the wing undersides, reversed in typical RAF fashion. I made the number decals on my computer, and they worked very well. I used two strips of black decals for the wing walks, and that was about it.


I think that the essence of a good model collection is the variety of aircraft presented. You can build lots of Spitfires, Hurricanes, Messerschmitts, Focke Wulfs, Mustangs and Lightnings, but to produce some of the more unusual variants takes some ingenuity, but the information is available, and if you can find it, you can build some of the one-offs that make a model collection interesting. Of course, on your display, you should identify each model and indicate what is different about it, and this allows the viewer to walk away saying ďI learned something from that.Ē I had a lot of fun with this model, and Iíll do a few more RAF experimental types in the near future. Try one.


There is really very little information available on the Hotspur, and the best source Iíve found is the book Fighters, by famous authors William Green and Gordon Swanborough, MBI Publishing Co., Osceola, WI, 1994, ISBN # 0-7603-1194-3. This book has information on virtually every fighter plane ever built or flown up to publication date, and should be on every serious modelerís bookshelf. In addition, most aircraft described have three view drawings alongside the descriptions.

Brian Baker

4 July 2022

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