Special Hobby 1/72 Meteor NF.12

KIT #: SH72360
PRICE: $24.30 plus shipping
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2021 tooling. 'Defending the UK's Skies' boxing


To replace the increasingly obsolete de Havilland Mosquito as a night fighter, the Meteor was adapted to serve in the role as an interim aircraft. Gloster had initially proposed a night fighter design to meet the Air Ministry specification for the Mosquito replacement, based on the two seater trainer variant of the Meteor, with the pilot in the front seat and the navigator in the rear. Once accepted however, work on the project was swiftly transferred to Armstrong Whitworth to perform both the detailed design process and production of the type; the first prototype flew on 31 May 1950. Although based on the T.7 twin seater, it used the fuselage and tail of the F.8, and the longer wings of the F.3. An extended nose contained the AI Mk 10 (the 1940s Westinghouse SCR-720) Air Intercept radar. As a consequence the 20 mm cannons were moved into the wings, outboard of the engines. A ventral fuel tank and wing mounted drop tanks completed the Armstrong Whitworth Meteor NF.11.

The NF.12 was a longer nosed version of the NF.11 with American AN/APS-21 radar, this was balanced by a slightly larger fin, first flown on 21 April 1953, 100 built by Armstrong Whitworth. All examples were operated by the RAF.


Prior to the release of this kit, the Meteor Night Fighter in 1/72 was only available in injected plastic from Matchbox. This kit was one of their later kits and aside from the need to fill multiple sink marks and the very Spartan interior detail, built into a very nice model. However, the hobby moves on and detailing increases. Special Hobby has already had a lot of experience doing 1/72 Meteor kits having released the variety of single-seat versions from the F.4 to F.8 as well as the T.7 trainer (and variations on these themes).

What is a bit surprising is that all of the sprues in this kit are marked as 'NF.11/NF.14 so Special Hobby did not dip into the earlier toolings for this or the other boxings for the night fighter version. In fact, this kit has a different sprue just for the NF.12 that includes new fuselage halves and tailplanes.  Construction starts with the interior, with good detailing, but little will be seen as cockpits of these planes were black. Give you an opportunity to do some dry brushing. The nose gear is built into the underside of the cockpit and interestingly, the instructions show the gear well to be painted in the underside color. This then fits into one fuselage half.

Then the halves are closed. No weight is indicated, but I'd add some just to be sure. Engines are next, and again, a lot of black paint and dry brushing. When built, these fit into the single piece lower wing. During this time, the intakes are added to the lower wing. Moving to the upper wing, which is also a single piece, the forward wing/fuselage section has to be cut more open to fit. When done, the main gear wells are built up and installed and then the wing halves are closed. Intakes and exhaust  are added and then attached to the fuselage.

Tailplanes are then added and construction then moves onto the landing gear. When that is done, then all the rest of parts are added. This includes a belly and two wing tanks along with radar altimeter antennas. on the upper side some antennas, the canopy, gun barrels and pitot are glued on. Note that you also have separate clear wing tip lights to install.

Instructions are standard booklet printed on glossy paper with sections in color. Gunze paints are the usual color references. Two options are medium sea grey and dark green. These are with 25 and 46 squadron. The third replaces the medium sea grey upper surface with ocean grey and is with 64 squadron. The sheet also includes all the stencils.

Looking over the instructions, I decided to follow them as there are a LOT of quite small parts. Indeed, the interior seems to harbor 30-40 of these things. Building it up doesn't help when SH decides that we need to have a number of the black parts (the interior is supposed to be black) printed in solid black so there is NO detail shown on just how the bits assemble. One has to look ahead at other steps where there is a line drawing to help us out. Eventually, I got all the parts in place and after adding a bit of nose weight and doing some sanding on the cockpit assembley, Trapped the cockpit within the fuselage halves. I did not get the front instrument panel assembly attached before closing the fuselage and that was a major mistake as it was a real chore to install later.

Next I built up the engine items. In hindsight, you can leave off pretty much all the parts aft of the front engine pieces as you won't be able to see them unless you shove a flashlight in the exhaust and it will help the other pieces fit better. Note also that the diameter of the piece you do keep should be thinned down to help the wing halves fit better. When attaching the intake pieces D5/6, ensure that they are slightly recessed or you won't get the intake rings to fit. I didn't do any of these and getting the wings done was a bit of a nightmare that was only 'solved' with filler and a lot of sanding.

Another note is that the upper wing center section opening has to be widened and made deeper so that the interior will properly fit. The fit of the four piece wheel well was not good and it was fussy to get it assembled in the first place. This is because there is no positive locator for the gear well. Once the wing was done, it, along with the horizontal stabs were attached. Then followed the usual filler/sanding routine for the wing as the forward attachment area was quite poor. Next, the canopy was masked using Special Mask 72031 and the canopy was attached., Fit is not good and I had to use Cemendine to help fill some of the gaps.


At this juncture, it was off to the paint shop. This plane was in dark green and medium sea grey. For the two shades I used Model Master enamels. I first did the grey as it covered most of the airframe. Next a massive amount of masking was done and the dark green sprayed on. When dry, the radome area was masked around and that was painted black.

Meanwhile the landing gear was taken care of. The fit of the main gear isn't very good. The issue is the placement of the gear wells. When these are installed, they need to be installed onto the upper wing sections with the gear attachment points so positioned that they are a fair distance from the edge of the well on the lower wing. Not doing so will result in insufficient room to attach the inner door. I'll have to remember this for future builds.  Interestingly the gear wells were in the underside color, but the gear was aluminum.

With the gear in place, the airframe was given a coat of clear gloss acrylic in preparation for decals. Generally, I found the decals to be rather brittle. I had issues with several of the insignia and other color decals chipping while moving them in place. I was able to replace the damaged insignia from an ancient Microscale sheet(72-18) that I recoated with Microscale Decal Film prior to using. The others are very thin and I had issues with them folding on the larger markings.

Once the decals were on, I sprayed on a semi-gloss clear coat as these planes came glossy from the factory and weathered a bit in service. Then a myriad of smaller bits were attached like the gear doors, gun barrels, pitot tube, upper and lower antennas and a rather poor fitting centerline fuel tank. The wing tanks were attached and the impossible-to-attach wingtip lights were replaced with Cemendine clear glue. Finally, the masking was removed and the inevitable bleed under was scraped clear best I could.


As I initially guessed, this was a fairly fiddly build. Fit was problematic is several areas, the worst being the canopy, lower fuel tank, interior, and the engine interior components. Little can be seen in the interior so next SH Meteor NF I build will be 'missing' several bits. I have to say that despite the sink marks in the Matchbox kit, it is an overall easier kit to build, though it has a very basic interior. As often happens, I'm fairly pleased with the results and know what to do better when building the next SH Meteor.



8 April 2022

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