Airfix 1/24 Hurricane Mk.I Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||October 2007||Manufacturer||Airfix|
|Kit Number||3503||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Excellent detail for 30 years ago||Cons||Too big a box and folded over trees|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$70.00 (but Out of Production)|
Operational on all fronts during WWII, the Hawker Hurricane came to be recognized as one of the most rugged and reliable fighter and ground attack aircrafts in RAF service. Undoubtedly, it was to the defensive role during the Battle of Britain in 1940 that forged it’s distinct niche in aviation history.
Designed by Sydney Gamm to Air Ministry Spec. F 36/34 for a new monoplane fighter for the RAF, the Hurricane prototype – powered by a Rolls Royce P.V. 12 engine, later named “Merlin”, made it’s first flight on November 6, 1936, in the hands of test pilot George Bulman. Handling trials at Martlesham Heath followed and resulted in a production order of 600 aircraft. The first of these entering service with 111 Squadron at Northolt in December 1937.
The original fabric-covered wings gave way to the metal stressed-skin type in 1939. The Merlin III replacing the earlier Merlin II and the fixed-pitch two blade Watts propeller being changed to the two-pitch D.H. type and later still to the Rotol constant speed. At the outbreak of war on September 3, 1939, the RAF possessed 19 Hurricane squadrons and the type saw action in France and Norway. During the Battle of Britain between July 10th and October 31st, 1940, the average strength of Fighter Command was 1,326 Hurricanes, compared with 957 Spitfires.
It was on August 17th that a Hurricane pilot; flt. Lt. J.B. Nicholson gained Fighter Command’s only Victoria Cross of the war, when he shot down a Me-110 from his own blazing aircraft. The P2798 coded LK-A was the personal aircraft of the Flt. Lt. (later Wg. Cdr.). I. R. Gleed (DFC) of 87 Squadron, based at Exeter, allocated P2798 on May 18th, 1940, in France. Gleed scored many of his 15 victories in it. He made his last flight in the aircraft on June 26th, 1941. (This aircraft is the subject of the kit’s box art and the markings on the decal sheet).
The Hurricane Mk. 1 was powered by a 12-cylinder, 1,030 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin III engine, giving a maximum speed of 324 mph at 15,650 ft. and a range of 505 miles. For armament, it had eight 303 in. Browning machine-guns in the wings. Its span was 40 ft and its length 31 ft 4 in.
Airfix got the assistance of the Hawker Siddeley Aviation Company and Francis K. Mason Esq. in producing this Hurricane kit.
The kit comes in a large tray and lid type box. Unlike their kit of the Bf-109E, that came in a very oversized length box, the contents of this kit fill the box. The box art shows Flt. Lt. Nicholson’s Hurricane downing a Me-110. Side panels of the box have a line drawing showing various features of the kit: removable body panes allowing viewing of the detailed Merlin engine, sliding canopy reveals the detailed cockpit, operable landing gear and control surfaces and removable wing panels allowing display of the 8 Browning machine-guns. The kit has over 150 parts in it and is not for the beginning modeler. The wingspan of the kit is over 20” and the length over 15”.
At the time that I bought my kit at the Target store, over 30 years ago, Airfix was with MPC a subsidiary of General Mills Fundimensions Group, who also was marketing Craft Master and Lionel items too.
Inside the kit in a large cello bag was six trees of chalk white parts. I suspect these trees were at one time parts of larger trees, as they look like they have been chopped apart from something larger. There were 20, or more, loose parts floating around – that had busted off these trees in shipment. Two fuselage halves and the lower wing half (full span) were loose in the box and not in the large cello. There was also a tree of clear parts loose and a tree of black vinyl tires.
The decal sheet and instruction book complete the kit’s contents.
The instructions consist of a stapled book of 8 ½” x 11” format page sizes. It is 20 pages long.
Page one has a line drawing of the Hurricane head-on. Around this drawing MPC- Airfix has a lot of superlatives about the kit and it’s features.
Page two gives the history of the Hurricane and “Read these instructions before you start”, followed by some symbol explanations and drawings of some hobby tools and paints.
Page 3 through 17 has no less than 40 assembly step drawings.
Pages 18 and 19 give a 4-view of the only marking offered on the decal sheet. It is Flt. Lt. Nicholson’s (already described above). However, I think the side profile drawings of each side are in error. Both sides show the fuselage code the SAME – as A (roundel) LK. This would be (in normal RAF practice) shown as LK (roundel) A on the other side. Upper surfaces are in a wave pattern of tan and olive, with light blue undersides. There is a character of a black and white cat under the cockpit on the right side. Various stencil marks are supplied too.
One of the large letter “A’s” got left off the large decal sheet. There was a small square decal sheet with just that missing “A” on it in the kit.
Page 20 only has the address for MPC/Airfix, Division of General Mills, that was in Mount Clemens, Michigan 30 years ago.
I usually list what parts are on what trees in my kit reviews. I will dispense with this, this time, due to all the stuff that broke off trees and the great number of parts. Readers can look at the images of the trees and see what all is there.
The trees have the parts numbered. However, they are not alphabetized. This means that you first try and identify a part by it’s shape in the assembly drawings, then look all over the place for it on the trees and confirm it’s right looking at the part number on the sprues. This makes for a very tedious build. Bad move MPC/Airfix.
This is one neat kit, size-wise and detail wise. Only some seat belts would be needed to dolly up the interior further. It has all the detail as engraved and was pretty state of the art or more 30 years ago.