Airfix 1/72 Vampire T.11 Kit First Look
|Date of Review||February 2016||Manufacturer||Airfix|
|Kit Number||2058||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Excellent detail||Cons||Some delicate parts|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (BP)||£8.99|
The de Havilland DH.100 Vampire was the second jet-powered fighter to enter service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and, although the prototype (LZ548), powered by a 2,700 lb st DH Goblin centrigual jet, flew on 20 September 1943, it did not see service during the Second World War. The first production Vampire F.1 flew on 20 April 1945 and entered RAF service with 247 Squadron in April 1946. From then the Vampire saw widespread service over a number of variants with the RAF, the Fleet Air Arm (navalised for carrier operations) and many international customers. Some 3,300 Vampires of all versions were built, a quarter of them under foreign licence. Switzerland was the last operational user of the Vampire Mk.55 trainer derived from the RAF’s T.11, being withdrawn in 1990.
The Vampire trainer evolved from the two-seat DH.113 Vampire NF.10, which was equipped with a new forward fuselage housing an Air Interception (AI) Mk.10 radar, four 20 mm cannon and a two-man crew in a side-by-side configuration. The prototype NF.10 first flew on 28 August 1949, while the DH.115 Vampire T.11 variant’s maiden flight was on 15 November 1950. The radar was not fitted and two of the 20 mm cannon were removed, while dual controls were added, as well as the ability to carry underwing fuel tanks and/or bombs and rocket projectiles. The first of 530 Vampire T.11 trainers, powered by a 3,500 lb st DH Goblin 35 jet, entered RAF service in 1952 and the type made its last operational flight with the RAF on 29 November 1967.
The Airfix Vampire T.11 was released in 2013, with two decal options: WZ507 / 74 of 219 Sqn RAF, as restored and flown by the Vampire Preservation Group at North Weald airfield in 2012; and WZ590 / 49 of 5 Flying Training School, RAF Oakington in March 1962. Shortly thereafter, the same kit appeared as a Medium Starter Set (A55204) with a single, different, decal option, depicting an aircraft of 14 Sqn Royal New Zealand Air Force, plus six pots of paint, two brushes and cement.
The kit, comprising 55 parts moulded in light grey plastic with no obvious, is one of the ‘new wave’ toolings in the Airfix renaissance. Surface detail is fine engraving and there is a fully detailed cockpit (with instrument panel decal) and two excellent ‘jet jockeys’ to sit on the Martin Baker Mk.3B ejection seats. Careful painting should allow a realistic ‘office’ to be depicted.
The canopy is the later variety (with minimum framing) and can be assembled in the open or closed mode. One potential hiccup (highlighted in a review seen on an online blog elsewhere) is that the bottom of the ejection seat may require some trimming to allow the canopy to be ‘shut’ correctly. I cannot, as yet verify this. What I can observe, however, is that the much more exact mouldings of this kit leave some delicate parts that will require careful removal from the sprue. These include the pitot tube (moulded onto the fin – part C6), elevator mass balances (two parts both numbered B14) and the outer undercarriage doors (parts B19 and B21).
The model only offers one variant but there is an option to add underwing fuel tanks (provided) and, as noted above, display the model with canopy open or closed. These are clearly marked in the instructions, which also feature full colour guides to painting. The 219 Sqn aircraft is silver with yellow training bands, while the 5 FTS aircraft has much day-glo orange trim to be applied. Of particular note is that for the underwing serial decals, alternative numbers are provided for the undercarriage doors, if modelled with wheels down. One no longer has to carefully cut decals with new scalpel blades! A full set of stencilling is also provided.
Overall, the Vampire T.11 kit should build into a splendid model (when I get to it). Indeed, the aftermarket decal manufacturers could (and probably are) having a field day to provide other markings and colour schemes. I have already noted that Pavla Models offer replacement ejection seats and a full ultra-detailed cockpit, including the ejection seats. One idly wonders how soon it will before Airfix will offer the NF.10 variant (with 23 Sqn RAF and Swedish Air Force decal options, please).