by: Tim Hatton [ ]
BackgroundFollowing the Gloster Meteor, the Vampire was the second jet fighter to enter service with the RAF. Although it arrived too late to see combat during the WWII, the Vampire served with front line RAF squadrons until 1953 and continued in use as a trainer until 1966. The Sea Vampire F.20 was basically a navalised version of the Vampire FB.5. Eighteen were built by English Electric. Although deemed unsuitable for front line service because of their limited range, the aircraft provided valuable experience for flight crews using carrier born jet fighters.
Sea Vampires were used in trials from 1947 to 1955 to develop undercarriage-less fighters that could operate from flexible rubber decks on aircraft carriers. The theory behind this was to reduce the weight of the aircraft by removing the undercarriage. Despite demonstrating that the technique was practicable, with many landings being made with undercarriage retracted on flexible decks both at RAE Farnborough and on board the carrier HMS Warrior, the proposal was not taken further.
The KitFirst impressions The kit is based on the Cyber Hobbyís previous release of the Vampire FB.5. The use of slide mould technology is evident with some parts. The most impressive part of the kit is the upper and lower fuselages halves with the wings attached. The quality of the parts on the two grey sprues is first class with some crisp detail. The Cartograf decals look good also. ButÖ
The cockpit opening is far too small. The one piece cockpit tub has a very odd looking instrument panel. There is some fine detail on the right hand side of the panel, but there are blank faces on the central and left hand side consoles. For some reason the control stick is offset to the left were the left foot well is located. The hood over the instrument panel is far too high. The distinctive tank is missing from behind the pilotís seat. You do wonder if whoever has designed this has ever seen the inside of a cockpit let alone a Vampire.
The canopy is split so it can in theory be displayed open, although there are locating pins and holes which suggest it was designed to be displayed closed. The windscreen is too short in length and the canopy is not high enough. The plastic is thick with a fair bit of light distortion, but it will hide the lack of detail inside the office.
The profile of the fuselage is incorrectly shaped, although the length is pretty spot on. The nose looks far too long, but this is possibly because the forward part of the cockpit opening is too far back. The panel lines seem inappropriate on the forward fuselage as this was built mostly of plywood. The engine nozzle looks like nothing Iíve ever seen before on any aircraft, very odd. I am really not sure why the cannon access panel beneath the fuselage is a separate one piece part. Just seems unnecessary. The cannon cartridge ejection ports are depicted as raised detail rather than recessed. One of the distinctive features of the Sea Vampire is the shapely fairing over the jet pipe. This at least is rather well done and fits snuggly into the fuselage.
The air intakes are cleverly produced, but the vertical braces should look like narrow strips. The air intakes themselves should bend into the fuselage, not head off into the flaps as these seem to do. There is some shrinkage on the surface of the lower wing bounded by the area of the air intake. The separate flaps can be attached dropped, but there is no internal detail. The Sea Vampire flaps were larger in area than the FB.5 so should extend beyond the wings trailing edge. The undercarriage bays have some nice internal detail. The one piece tail booms are nicely done and should be easy to fit. There are two pitot tubes on the vertical fins, only one was fitted to the port fin on the Sea Vampire. The wing fuel tanks are unusually made; they are split vertically fore and aft, with the join falling on a panel line. Unfortunately they are too bulbous. On the underside of the box the fuel tanks are referred to as 500lb bombs that fit under the fuselage.
The front undercarriage leg looks pretty good. The representation of the distinctive de Havilland tyre is also not bad at all if a little wide. The front undercarriage bay is far too shallow and the dimples seen on the inside of the gear door are depicted as bumps. The main undercarriage bay has some fine raised detail. The two sets of under carriage doors is a thoughtful inclusion. If you want to display your Sea Vampire wheels up then there is a one piece door to glue rather than a two part door.
Marking options-W150, 503, No.771 Squadron, RNAS Ford, 1953.
-W 151, No,712 Squadron, RNAS Ford, 1956.
-W 153, 582, No.728 Squadron, RNAS Hal Far, 1954
All aircraft are painted upper surface dark sea grey and lower surfaces are sky. W151 has an interesting badge either side of the cockpit featuring three naval pennants, which translate as 764.
Decals are produced by Cartograf. There may not be many but the look excellent quality. No step areas are included on the decal sheet.
The instructions comprise of a six page folded sheet featuring black line drawings and symbols. The three stage build is more than enough for the number of parts. There is no indication in the instructions regarding colours. There is a presumption on the part of Cyber Hobby that everyone building this kit will know that what the upper and lower colours are, as they are not indicated in the painting guide. The decal application instructions are easy enough to follow all the decals are individually numbered. Colour references are for Mr Color, Aqueous Hobby Color and Model Master paints
Kit fit It goes together extremely well and the build is held together using small amounts of liquid glue and PVA for the purpose of this review. The cockpit tub and air intakes fit very well indeed. The separate upper rear fairing and cannon breach hatch fit beautifully. The tail booms and tail surface can be built onto the upper fuselage/wing half, which makes the lining up of the booms very easy. The flaps do not fit at all well if you want to depict them raised. So the answer is to drop them. There are ejector pin marks that need cleaning up around the inside of the flap area. The gap at the wing tips will disappear when gluing proper. The canopy is a bit of a fiddly fit as the moulded pins donít quite reach their locating holes. The kits jet pipe just looks plain daft, just replace it with a small length of a drinking straw. What you see in the photos took me a couple of hours one evening. With the simple two colour scheme, this kit could be built out of the box over a long weekend.
ConclusionsCyber Hobby have really missed an opportunity to produce a definitive 1/72 injected plastic Sea Vampire. Anyone comparing the model to just a few images of the real thing will quickly realise the shortcomings regarding the looks of this kit. Cyber Hobby strength is producing high quality plastic components. It does go together extremely well with no fettling at all [except sprue attachment points]. But what lets the Companies products down is their research and this is shown in the shape of the fuselage, canopy, air intake, etc. If you want this kit then the price does vary a fair bit on the internet so a bit of surfing will see you make some big savings. I would mark this 95% for the build and quality of components and 50% for accuracy.
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