by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Hot from the moulds at Airfix comes their eagerly awaited new-tool Hawker Hurricane Mk. I. Released to coincide with the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, this latest kit of the mainstay of Fighter Command during the Battle looks to be the most accurate and detailed yet in 1:48 scale.
Of course, this isn’t the first 1:48 Hurricane from Airfix. Their 1970s vintage kit is still widely acclaimed for its general accuracy, but it’s definitely beginning to get a bit long in the tooth, so the completely new-tool model is very welcome indeed. The new kit arrives in an attractive top-opening box, with the main sprues and clear parts bagged separately for protection. The kit comprises:
116 x pale blue-grey styrene parts
11 x clear parts
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
The moulding is really pretty good. There are a few mould-lines to clean up, but no real “flash”. The only small sink marks I've found in my kit are where the plastic is thickest at the tailplane fillets, and they'll only take a moment to sort out. Ejector pins have been placed inconspicuously for the most part, with only those on the optional gun servicing panels being a problem.
The surface finish is undoubtedly a strong point for me, because this is the first Hurricane kit I’ve seen with a convincing depiction of taught, well-maintained fabric covering on the rear fuselage. It’s such a relief not to be faced with the tedious chore of filling a ghastly “saggy sackcloth” effect. The designers have also captured the elusive scalloped fairing behind the pilot’s headrest (I well remember producing a small correction insert for this as part of my old Blueprint fabric-wing conversion set). Elsewhere, the metal panels are neatly engraved, and have crisp Dzus fasteners. Some may argue these are a tad too prominent, but you could equally say there should be some raised riveting which is omitted in the kit. Overall, though, Airfix have really nailed the look of the Hurricane in my opinion.
Test fitThe main parts fit together beautifully, with good tight joints on the fuselage, wings and tail. I'll want to do a little work thinning the trailing edges of the wings, but there’s some clever engineering apparent too, because Airfix have avoided the awkward transition from metal to fabric surfaces under the rear fuselage. The whole of the lower rear fuselage is separate, which also allows for a Sea Hurricane option for a future boxing. Similarly, the inclusion of a tropical filter shows what Airfix have up their sleeve.
A few detailsThe cockpit is very nicely detailed with over a dozen parts included. The instrument panel layout looks accurate and a decal is provided for the faces. The decal instruments do look rather simplified and stylised, though, so I’ll use Airscale decals instead. No seat harness is provided - and, to be honest, this is really the only addition many modellers will feel is required.
The wheel well is a multi-part assembly that should capture the look of the original nicely. The kit includes wing spars which form the basis of the wheel well and gun bays, and also should help ensure the finished model doesn’t suffer from the lack of dihedral that has plagued many previous kits.
There’s the option to build the kit with open gun bays. To do this you need to trim out the closed covers. Separate open ones are provided with good internal detail, but they are spoiled by prominent ejector pin marks, so there'll be some awkward filling needed if you want to show the inner faces. The guns and feeds are quite simple, but should make for very neat diorama possibilities.
The kit features weighted wheels (definitely a plus in my book), and the option for raised landing gear. No stand is included (this is available separately), but Airfix do provide a very nicely sculpted pilot figure for an in-flight model. The tailwheel is one-piece and maybe a bit basic, but it should look fine with a little highlighting to bring it to life.
There's a choice of de Havilland and Rotol propellers, and the shape of the spinners looks good.
The transparencies are excellent - really thin and beautifully clear. The canopy is moulded with a separate windshield, and two alternative parts are provided to capture the way the full-sized canopy “pinched” slightly as it slid on its runners.
instructions and decalsConstruction is broken down into 59 stages in a 16-page A4 pamphlet. That’s arguably overkill in what is, essentially, quite a straightforward kit, but each stage is clearly drawn and the sequence is logical. The only thing I can’t get used to in Airfix’s recent instructions is their rather distracting habit of highlighting each preceding sub-assembly in red. Red to me means “warning” or “remove”, so it throws me constantly.
Colour matches are given for Humbrol paints throughout. That’s fine (I’d expect any manufacturer to highlight their own range), but I do wish Airfix would also include a chart with the name of each colour.
Decals are provided for a pair of Battle of Britain aircraft:
a.Hawker Hurricane Mk. I, s/n V6799, 501 Sqn., October 1940
b.Hawker Hurricane Mk. I, s/n R4118, 505 Sqn., September 1940
The decals look excellent quality - crisply printed with minimal carrier film. The finish is semi-matt and the colour accuracy and opacity looks very good.
conclusionAirfix’s new Hurricane looks to be a real gem of kit. It’s straightforward enough for anyone to tackle with ease, while including enough detail to satisfy experienced modellers. The design lends itself to aftermarket upgrades, so you can expect a wealth of etched and resin sets soon. Keenly priced at just £16.99, Airfix's Hurricane deserves to be a big seller. Highly recommended.
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