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Classic Airframes 1/48 Venom FB.4 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2008 Manufacturer Classic Airframes
Subject de Havilland Venom FB.4 Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4142 Primary Media Styrene, Resin
Pros Nice detailing, especially with the resin castings Cons Decals
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


When the UK Air Ministry developed a requirement for a replacement fighter-bomber to the de Havilland Vampire series, what better choice (at the time) than an evolutionary development of the Vampire - the de Havilland Venom. This new type was designed to exploit advancements in turbine engine technology which was embodied in the de Havilland Ghost engine.

Where the Vampire was severely limited by its early de Havilland Goblin engine rated at a mere 1,400 pounds of thrust, the Ghost produced over three times more thrust (4,800 pounds) which could be translated into an airframe that could achieve greater performance. Indeed, the Venom's Ghost engine allowed the aircraft to carry the same payload to roughly the same combat radius, but do so at nearly 100 knots faster and with a far more impressive rate of climb.

The Venom saw combat in service with the RAF and RNZAF during the Malayan emergency between 1948-1960 well as during the Suez War in 1956. The RAF retired Venoms from front-line service in the early 1960s though they remained in service through 1983 in the Swiss Air Force.

Classic Airframes continues to tell the de Havilland jet fighter story that started with the Vampire and continues with this new installment in the Venom series. This kit differs from the FB.1 kit (reviewed here) with one very visible difference. Where the FB.1 has no ejection seat, the FB.4 was equipped with the Martin Baker Mk.1F seat.

This kit is molded in medium gray styrene and presented on three parts trees. The canopy and windscreen are also injection molded styrene. And just like the previous kit, this release also features an impressive set of resin castings to really set off the details in this kit.

The cockpit naturally starts off this project and the tub is a combination of the resin floorboard/rear bulkhead part and the two resin curved sidewalls. The instrument panel, rudder pedals, control stick, and Martin Baker Mk.1F ejection seat round out the interior.

The completed interior is trapped inside the fuselage halves along with the engine exhaust duct. The resin intake inserts are installed in the wing roots and the assembled wings are fitted to the fuselage. Next come the tail booms and the horizontal stabilizer to round out the basic airframe.

Once you add the landing gear, external stores, and the clear parts, you've got yourself a Venom. External store options are a pair of external fuel tanks and four rockets.

Decals are provided for four examples:

  • Venom FB.4, 2A34, 34 Ftr Sqn, Venezuelan AF, mid-1950s
  • Venom FB.4, WR535, 60 Sqn, RAF Tengah, Singapore, May 1957
  • Venom FB.4, WR397, 208 Sqn, RAF Eastleigh, Kenya, 1960
  • Venom FB.4, WR410, 6 Sqn, Benson, 1957

Here is my only problem with this release, and it is only a minor annoyance. Classic Airframes usually has their decals printed by Microscale, and over the years that company has had growing problems with print registry. This is why many of Classic Airframes' decals started doing two-part decals, letting us do put the red dot in the British roundel (or similar work). This time, Classic Airframes has done what several other decal makers have done - moved their business to Cartograf. The print quality of Cartograf is excellent, but for some bizarre reason, the decals retained their separate red dots. That isn't Cartograf, that was the decal artist still thinking he had to produce artwork for Microscale. So once again, we get to do the two-part decal. Ironically, the Venezuelan markings which would also have registry problems were done as one decal. Go figure.

This is another typically nice release from Classic Airframes. This will surely be another favorite with 1950s era RAF modelers.

This kit is definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to Classic Airframes for this review sample!