Trumpeter 1/48 Fairey Firefly I

KIT #: 05810
PRICE: $47.00 delivered from PRC
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2018 release


Development of the Firefly can be traced back to pair of specifications issued by the British Air Ministry in 1938, calling for new naval fighter designs. Designed to the contemporary FAA concept of a two-seat fleet reconnaissance/fighter, the pilot and observer were positioned at separate stations. In flight, the Firefly was superior in terms of both performance and firepower to its predecessor, the Fairey Fulmar. Due to a protracted development, the type only entered operational service towards the end of the conflict, at which point it was no longer competitive as a fighter. The limitations of a single engine in a relatively heavy airframe reduced its performance, but the Firefly proved to be a fairly sturdy, long-ranged, and docile aircraft during carrier operations.

The Fairey Firefly served in the Second World War as a fleet fighter. During the post-war era, it was soon superseded in the fighter role by the arrival of more modern jet aircraft, thus the Firefly was adapted to perform in other roles, including strike operations and anti-submarine warfare. In these capacities, it remained a mainstay of the FAA until the mid-1950s. Both British and Australian Fireflies routinely performed ground–attack operations from various aircraft carriers during the Korean War.

This is not the first 1/48 Firefly I that has been kitted. Back in 2001, Grand Phoenix released a kit that required a lot of resin for detail parts. This kit was reboxed by AZ Models in 2007. Special Hobby was next in 2013 with the first in a series of variants. Then there was this one in 2018. Of the batch, this one is probably the most 'mainstream' of them all and doesn't rely on resin or a lot of photo etch. In fact, the small p.e. fret is for radiator grilles and a radio mast.

As with all modern Trumpeter kits, the tooling is superb with lots of nice detail, but not really overdone as it can be with newer kits. The cockpit and gunner's positions are nicely done, making into tubs complete with sidewalls, that can be easily installed the fuselage halves. Both areas would benefit from some seat harnesses. Once those and the radiator intake are done, they can be closed in the fuselage halves along with the prop. On the underside of the fuselage are a radiator outlet piece and the two side intake pieces.

Wings are a single lower section with two upper pieces. One piece main gear well pieces insert into the lower wing before wing assembly. Holes for the bomb racks and missile racks are already opened up. Instructions then have you install the ailerons and cannon. Then the wing is installed along with all the main landing gear pieces and doors. Flaps are then installed in the lowered position. As a note, period photos do not show the flaps lowered on the ground so you may wish to make an adjustment in this area. This is followed by the bombs and rockets along with the tail wheel and tail hook.

Next, the horizontal stabilizer is built up and the elevators installed. This is placed on the aft fuselage. The clear bits are then attached. This is followed by the fin and rudder along with the exhaust and the kit is done.

Instructions are well drawn with Gunze paint information. Four markings options are provided covering all of those used by the aircraft. One is the prototype in green/dark earth over yellow. Then the dark sea grey/green over sky option. Third is the dark sea grey over sky option with the low fuselage demarcation line followed by the box art plane with the later higher demarcation line. Decals are nicely done and include the invasion stripes of one option though these are really better painted. There has been some comment that the fonts used for some of the options are incorrect, so you may wish to consider aftermarket.

Compared to the other kits that have been released, this one is sure to be the easiest to build. Trumpeter has a reputation for well engineered kits, though they sometimes get shapes a bit off. This one look great in the box and has had good reviews.


August 2022

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