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Classic Airframes 1/48 Hudson Mk.I Build Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2001
Updated April 2019
Manufacturer Classic Airframes
Subject Hudson Mk.I Scale 1/48
Kit Number 0448 Primary Media Styrene, Resin
Pros Excellent side window fit, nice details, only production kit available in 1/48 Cons Limited run kit, for experienced modelers only
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

Build Review`

Here's a project that I built nearly 14 years ago and I decided to pull it off the shelf and clean it. Before I knew it, I wound up applying a variety of washes and other effects on the model. Since this review was written back when 600 pixel images were still huge, I though a new photo shoot and update would be in order. So here's the original review and I'll mark my update below. As always, click on an image to see a larger view.


The Hudson started life as the Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra and was designed to compete in the civil aviation world against the new series of Douglas DC-X aircraft. The Model 14 was designed to operate with a variety of powerplants including the Wright Cyclone, Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp and the Pratt & Whitney Hornet. The prototype Model 14 first flew in July 1937, powered by the Pratt & Whitney Hornet.

As war was approaching in Europe, the RAF sought out aircraft that it could press into service almost immediately. The Model 14 was adopted with some modifications as the Hudson, first flying in December 1938. Thousands of Hudsons were produced between 1939 and 1943, with examples delivered to Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, China and the United States.

There were a number of variants of the Hudson. In British and allied service, there were the Marks I - V which were designed as patrol bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. All were equipped with a Boulton Paul dorsal turret and differed primarily in engine and propeller combinations. The Mark VI was designed as a transport version of the Hudson with the dorsal turret deleted.

Lockheed Photo

In US operations, the Mark IIIA version (which was a Mark III with bench seats installed) served as the A-29 by the USAAF and as the PBO-1 by the USN. A transport version was also designated as the C-63. The Mk.VI transport version was also adopted as the A-28.

Two unique versions of the Hudson were also produced for the USAAF: the AT-18, which had a Martin dorsal turret in place of the Boulton Paul, which served as a aerial gunnery trainer; and the AT-18A, which had a US-styled bombardiers nose with the Norden bombsight installed for bombardier training.

Among the most notable historical tid-bits in the Hudson's operational history, it has the distinction of being the first US-built aircraft to achieve an aerial victory in WW2. Another incident involved a RAAF Hudson that was discovered by a flight of six A6M2 Zeros, one of which was flown by ace Saburo Sakai. While the Hudson was eventually shot down, the aggressive dogfight put up by the Hudson pilot amazed even veteran Sakai.

The Classic Airframes Hudson Mk.I kit consists of 67 light gray and 28 clear injection-molded plastic parts for everything but the aircraft interior. The interior is comprised of 35 nicely molded resin parts. This kit provides all of the parts for a standard Hudson Mark I as well as the civilian version, the Lockheed Model 14. There are only a few parts not used for either version, as many of these parts trees are common to the upcoming later Mark Hudson kits. The styrene has only a minimal amount of molding flash on the trees and no injector pin marks in visible locations.


The Classic Airframes Hudson Mk.I kit consists of 67 light gray and 28 clear injection-molded plastic parts for everything but the aircraft interior. The interior is comprised of 35 nicely molded resin parts. This kit provides all of the parts for a standard Hudson Mark I as well as the civilian version, the Lockheed Model 14. There are only a few parts not used for either version, as many of these parts trees are common to the upcoming later Mark Hudson kits. The styrene has only a minimal amount of molding flash on the trees and no injector pin marks in visible locations.

For those of you who are about to get one of these great kits, you'll want to know that the kit provides markings for two aircraft - a Lockheed Model 14 in UK civil registry and used by Neville Chamberlain to try and forge peace with Nazi Germany in 1938, and a Hudson Mk.I of 206 Sqn used in 1939-1940.

The days of cool decals from aftermarket companies being released before or immediately after a major kit release are over (for now). It is now months (and sometimes years) before decent decal options are available for a new kit subject. Not for Classic Airframes kits - in a new direction for this company, they are releasing additional decal sets to provide the builder with more options when you buy the kit. Another kudo for CA!

The trick to a trouble-free build of this (or any other) kit is preparation. The first step was to study the instructions and get a feel for where any surprises might lurk. One of the advantages of armor building is gaining the sense of subassemblies where different parts of the kit can be built in parallel without later complications. I decided how to do the same with the Hudson and pushed off.

The first step was to break out the cutting disk and my trusty Flexi-Shaft Dremel tool and get after the resin parts. All of the parts had to be removed from their molding bases and a few of the cockpit bulkheads thinned down a bit. Whenever I grind on resin, I always use protective eyewear and a surgical-type paper breathing mask to keep from inhaling the dust. Of course I am still covered in resin dust at the end of this step so it's off to the showers for a clean up.

Next I wash the styrene parts to remove any remaining oils or other contaminants that would interfere with modeling paints. Then I shoot all of the mating surfaces of the major kit components (fuselage, wings, tail, nacelles) with Tamiya acrylic Flat Aluminum. I also shoot the areas inside the outboard sections of the wing halves and what will be the inside of the wheel wells Flat Aluminum as well. Note: the slots on the outboard sections of the wings are the predecessors of today's leading edge flaps/slats. At slow speeds/high angles of attack, air is drawn into the scoops on the underside of the wing and is blown out over the top of the wing and over the ailerons providing enhanced roll control at or near stall speed. Since the inside of the kit wing is visible through these slots, the Flat Aluminum is better than bare plastic!

When the aluminum has dried, I removed each part and sand each mating surface on a sheet of sandpaper taped to a sheet of glass. As you sand each joint, any remaining silver highlights a flaw or other problem that would otherwise cause a gap during assembly. When the silver is gone from the edges, you'll have a smooth assembly.

Once all of the major parts have been sanded, I painted the interior of the fuselage and all of the resin parts Model Master RAF Interior Green.

First up was the cockpit. I assembled the resin parts per the instructions and painted the details as I went along. The rear cockpit bulkhead (R12) and the lower bulkheads that form the nose access crawlway go together with no problems. The cockpit floor (R1) mounts upon this assembly and overlaps above the floor on R12. Take a good look at the diagrams in step three to see how this works. The forward bulkhead (R11) mounts against the crawlway wall (R3) and cockpit floor. Once you get this structure together, the rest of the details are a snap.

While the interior was drying, I jumped ahead to the wings. I glued the upper/lower wing halves together with Testors Liquid Cement to ensure a solid joint. While one wing matched up perfectly at the wingtip and wing root, the other was slightly off. No problem - I matched up the wingtips, as I'll deal with the wing root later.

One of the critical assembly areas will be the engine nacelles and the nacelle/wing subassemblies. I assembled the nacelles and the engine mount bullet fairings. As these dried, I began to dry-fit the underwing nacelle fairing that also doubles as the main wheel well. Careful sanding and fitting resulted in a good match.

There are three molded-in dents in the underside of the wing where the main landing gear is supposed to attach. There are mounting pins on the main gear struts, but no holes in the wing. No problem - I drilled out the dents and made a few adjustments to get a solid join with the main landing gear struts. Please do this before gluing the underwing nacelle fairing into place, as you won't be able to reach this area easily afterwards.


Now for the wing roots. I initially didn't sand the wing roots on the fuselage halves, as they looked flat and smooth. You know what they say about assuming. I went back to the sandpaper on the glass and gave the fuselage wing roots a quick rubbing down. Sure enough, there were still shiny spots in the areas where the wing would attach. A little more sanding rendered a smooth flat surface. Next, I set up a square sanding block and a good surface where I could prop the wing up to its proper dihedral angle. I sanded the wing roots on both wings until I achieved good flat joints. Please check your work frequently as you could overdo the process! When I was finished I had a solid wing-fuselage joint that would require little or no filler. I installed the underwing nacelle fairings and set the wings aside to dry.

Back to the fuselage - I finished assembly of the cockpit interior, painted any remaining details that needed attention, and dry-fit the assembly inside the fuselage halves. It is hard to tell how the interior is supposed to sit inside the fuselage, but the rear bulkhead actually goes behind the first side window and the pilot's armor plate/seat mount sits about flush with the rear edge of the cockpit opening. This puts the forward (bombardier compartment) bulkhead about half an inch inside the front of the nose. With the interior in place, the fuselage halves should go together as easy as if the interior wasn't installed.

Something was obstructing the fit on my example, so I peeked up the tail toward the cockpit to see where the problem was. In this case, the right side of the aft bulkhead and the instrument panel needed sanding/reshaping and the forward bulkhead was being obstructed by a molded-on ridge in the left fuselage side for the cockpit floor. A little creative sanding and filing rendered a good interior fit.


One major compliment to Classic Airframes - this is the first kit that I have ever built where the fuselage side windows - all of them - fit without fuss into the corresponding holes in the fuselage. I was actually dreading this part of the construction, but I was simply amazed at the ease of this step. Note that the thickness of the windows is thinner than the fuselage, so ensure that the windows are flush with the outside of the fuselage before cementing these into place. I used a needle applicator to apply Tenax 7 into the window edges.

With the windows and interior ready to go, I glued the fuselage halves together. Once again I used Testors Liquid Cement to get the strongest bond. You'll see that once half of the fuselage is slightly longer than the other. I aligned the halves at the cockpit and radio antenna mast. The resulting slight step at the nose was easily sanded into a good surface for the forward nose assembly. The dorsal turret hole will take a little work to compensate but we'll deal with that later.


The bombardier's nose is comprised of three clear parts (top (C4), bottom (C2) and forward blister (C8)) with resin details installed inside. While the simplest approach would be to mask and paint the exterior of C2 & C4 RAF Interior Green and install the details, you'd still likely see the shine from the clear plastic where there should be none. I decided to hand-paint the interior walls RAF Interior Green except for the window frames. This knocks off almost all of the improper "interior reflections" while the window frames will be dealt with from the outside. A work table goes in near the forward top edge of C2 while the bombardier's seat assembly goes in over one of the lower windows.


Two machine gun barrels are supposed to protrude from the top half (C4). You'll need to drill two holes, then use the drill bit to create a trough for the barrels to lie in. I finished the troughs with a small needle file to get the barrels into proper orientation. Remember to cut the barrels down to the lengths described in the instructions. With the top and bottom halves of the nose ready to go, I used Tenax to assemble them together and to mount this assembly to fuselage.


The tail section was really simple. With all of the pieces subjected to the sandpaper on glass, the horizontal and vertical stab halves all went together nicely. Each vertical stab has a cut-out that mates to a corresponding cutout on the horizontal stab. The tail literally snaps together. Take care that the cut-outs on each piece are perfectly aligned when gluing the halves together. Once the parts are dry, you'll need to file the openings in each cut-out to get a good fit (they're molded slightly undersized). Dry-fit the parts frequently as not to create too large of a slot. If all goes well (and it is hard not to), the tail section goes together perfectly squared.

The tail section goes onto the fuselage with no problems either. I had used a clamp on the tail to keep the fuselage mounting surface for the tail section aligned while the fuselage halves dried. This worked out great as the tail section mounts to the fuselage perfectly horizontal. Due to the earlier issue with the differing length fuselage halves, there is a small gap on top of the fuselage/tail section joint. This is filled in with small bits of styrene strip and cyano.


The engine cowlings were assembled next and the resin engines painted and installed. Sandpaper was wrapped around the cowlings and the underside of the resin carburetor intake scoops were then sanded to shape. Once a good fit was achieved, the scoops were cyanoed into place.


The engine nacelle fairings and engine-mount bullet fairings were installed on the wings with Testors Liquid Cement. The resulting joints, like all of the others, is strong and tolerant of being flexed. I did have to apply a little cyano filler in a few spots, but this blended all of the parts into one good-looking assembly. I took both wing subassemblies along with a sanding stick and buffed all of the seamlines smooth/invisible. I dry-fitted the landing gear struts once again just to ensure that there won't be problems in final assembly.


The nose section was another matter. As I mentioned earlier, the nose halves are molded as top and bottom. This allows for some height adjustment to align to the height of the nose. In this kit, the height alignment is great. It is the width that needs a little adjustment - the nose is a little too narrow for the front of the fuselage. I was able to easily compensate with a little filler and sanding to adjust the profile, but on the next kit (and what I suggest to you) I will narrow the width of the front of the fuselage to match the nose. This will prevent the loss of some scribed details and also eliminate the slight width problem with the one-piece cockpit canopy/windscreen. This part is also fractionally too narrow for the fuselage.

When I sand the mating surfaces of the fuselage halves, I will also focus more on the nose to adjust the width at the nose. Taping the nose halves together and doing frequent dry-fits with the fuselage halves should render a perfect fit. As I said, this one step will also improve the fit of the windscreen as well. There will be some minor width adjustments required for the resin interior, but this should provide a better overall model.


It was time to join the wings to the fuselage halves. I used Testors Liquid Cement to get a solid join, but what was this? The dihedral was steeper on the right wing while the left was fine. I quickly removed the right wing, re-assembled the sanding jig and adjusted the wing root accordingly. This time the wing dihedrals were correct on both wings. The best I can figure is that since I had sanded the same angle on both wings using my jig, I either altered the angle of the fuselage wing roots when I sanded them flush or there is a minor difference in angles on the kit. In any case, this is easily adjusted by sanding the wing at the wing-fuselage joint until you obtain the correct dihedral. This challenge took all of five minutes to conquer.


The openning for the Boulton-Paul turret needed attention next. As you saw in an earlier photo, the openning was slightly misaligned, but the openning is also too small. I searched around for a bottle cap that was approximately the size of the turret. I wrapped medium grit sandpaper around the lid and sanded the openning until it fit the lid. This eliminated the stepped openning and rendered a good fit for the turret.

All of the preparations for the landing gear struts paid off handsomely. There is indeed no way to drill out and install the gear after the wing and engine nacelles are assembled. After I installed the oleos onto the main gear struts, I dry-fit them into the wheel wells and attempted to install parts 7 and 8. These two parts represent the early speed brakes that were mounted on the landing gear struts of some aircraft types to help slow the aircraft down and provide enough drag for the pilot to maintain some engine power on approach. These parts do not fit into the openings on the nacelles. I pulled my plastic nippers out and adjusted the openings to where parts 7 and 8 would slip ahead of the main gear struts when the gear was installed. I never did figure out how the triangular gear doors (parts 9 & 10) worked in this configuration so they were discarded.


The rest of the remaining parts/subassemblies went into place without problem. Now it was time to mask & paint the aircraft! I used plain old Scotch transparent tape, cut into shape with a sharp X-Acto knife, to mask the windows on the cockpit, nose and the Boulton-Paul Turret. The side windows were masked with liquid latex. In order to provide a hint of wear and tear, I first painted black lines along all of the upper wing and fuselage panel lines. No point doing this to the underside since it will be all-black anyway. When this had dried, I gave the aircraft the once-over with Testors Model Master RAF Dark Earth. I was torn between two masking techniques that I wanted to try. One is to enlarge the color profiles to 1/48 and cut out masking templates. The other involves the use of liquid latex as a camouflage mask. I decided on the latter.


My local hobby shop had a large bottle of liquid latex in stock, which I had already used on the windows. I applied the latex onto the upper surfaces of the aircraft and applied Testors Model Master RAF Dark Green. So far, so good. I re-applied the latex to provide the demarcation lines between the upper and lower camouflage. One of the words of warning was not to use the liquid latex over acrylic paints, but since I had used enamels on the upper surfaces, no problems. Since I wouldn't be masking over the underside paint, I used Tamiya's acrylic NATO Black, which is a few shades lighter than normal black.

Once all of the paint had adequately dried, I began the process of removing the latex masks. The instructions on the latex bottle suggested using warm water to soften up the masks so I took the model to the kitchen sink and worked a section at a time. The masking came off with no problems though I did wear the paint thin in a few areas. After the model had dried, I touched up the paint, masked the leading edges of the wings and tail with Tamiya masking tape and applied flat black for the de-icing boots. As predicted, the difference in color between the boots and the underside camouflage was negligible. The whole model was treated to a gloss clear coat using Future thinned 60-40 with Isopropyl Alcohol. This provides a solid base for the decals.

I chose to use the markings provided in the kit and they went on flawlessly. At first I didn't use any decal setting solutions as they settled down nicely and without silvering. They just didn't settle into the scribed details. I added a single coat of Solvaset and after all had dried, the decals had settled beautifully into the details.

I applied one more gloss coat over the decals, then applied Tamiya masking tape over the de-icing boots. I then sprayed on a mixture of 33% Future, 33% Tamiya Flat Base and 34% Isopropyl Alcohol. The result is a beautiful dull finish. With the Tamiya masking tape removed, the de-icing boots now stand out against the rest of the aircraft.

The turret was painted an overall RAF Dark Gray, as was the main landing gear struts.

Now it was time to apply the remaining detail parts and to remove the window maskings. I installed the HF antenna using a fine dark-tinted fishing line. The Hudson is finished!

I decided to pull this model off the shelf and give it a good cleaning. I didn't review my build notes in this article so my first mistake was using some of my homemade acrylic thinner

to wipe down the first wing. When it had dried, the wing was still dull finished but the surface was now milky. I wiped the milky surface with Windex sprayed onto a paper towel and the clear flat finish was restored. Seeing now that this was finished with a combination of Future and Tamiya Flat Base, I'm surprised Windex worked but I'm not complaining. This is worth some experiments later.

So now that the model was clean, it reminded me that I hadn't washed the flight control outlines nor any other panel line for that matter. I started with my homemade wash

of lamp black oil and started building up the darkness in the hinges. Then I remembered the inaccurate elevator pattern molded into the horizontal stabilizer. I pulled out a scribing tool and carefully connected the left and right elevators into one single large elevator as on the full-scale Hudson. I painted the new line and then applied the wash.


I tried some commercial washes for panel lines and while the results don't really show up on camera, they do work. I think the results would be more dramatic if the panel lines were deeper but they are rather fine on this kit. Next was a commercial wash for engine oil and grime which I applied with my Iwata airbrush. This was followed by exhaust stains that were also applied by airbrush at the exausts that exit at the outboard rear of each nacelle fairing.

I really did enjoy building this model may years ago and I have another stashed away for the eventual do-over. This clean-up is a nice opportunity to bring the finish of an old model up-to-date as well as trying some new products and skills that weren't available back then. If this hadn't worked out, it would have made that do-over happen sooner.


I'm surprised nobody has produced the Hudson since Classic Airframes did so over a decade ago. I know MPM released the Hudson in 1/72 scale but that was the only one. With so many of Classic Airframes' kits reissued under other brands in the Czech Republic or retooled in China, it would be nice to see this subject again available.

My sincere thanks to Classic Airframes for this review sample.