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Classic Airframes 1/48 Defiant Mk.II Night Fighter Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2004 Manufacturer Classic Airframes
Subject Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.II Night Fighter Scale 1/48
Kit Number 481 Primary Media Styrene, Resin, Photo-Etch
Pros Detailed resin cockpit, intakes, wheel wells Cons One-piece canopy
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


The Boulton Paul Defiant was designed as a new tactical concept by the British Air Ministry. Rather than have an eight-gun fighter like the upcoming Hurricane and Spitfire concepts have to dogfight their way through a fight, a two place fighter with a powered turret could 'trap' an opponent in the Defiant's rear and the turret would take care of business. In the competition for this fighter concept, Boulton Paul competed and won against the Hawker Hotspur.

The Defiant first flew in August 1937, with the Mk.I entering service in December 1939. In service with 264 Sqn, the Defiant's concept was initially a terrific success, with 65 kills credited in a period of just 19 days, 38 of those were killed on a single day! It didn't take the Luftwaffe long to figure out what was going on and Defiants began falling shortly thereafter as they were being attacked from below or head-on.

With the advantage lost, the Defiant was moved into night fighter operations, where it enjoyed a period of success between 1940-1941, after which it was withdrawn from front line service and used for air/sea rescue, target towing, and gunnery training duties.

This is actually the second release of the Boulton-Paul Defiant from Classic Airframes. The first one, kit number 95-404, was released in 1995 and represented the first time that the Defiant had been kitted in styrene in 1/48 scale. As with the current release, the kit was molded in light gray styrene and used a mixture of resin and photo-etched parts for detailing. Unlike the current release, the original kit had vacuformed transparencies whilst the current transparencies are clear styrene.

One of the principal reasons why Classic Airframes created a new-tool Defiant was to correct some shape discrepancies in the original kit, but the benefit of a new tool Defiant some nine years later is that the new kit benefits from improved molding and casting technologies. The differences between the two kits are striking.

In this current kit, not only has the shape problems been rectified, there is much more detail in the cockpit, turret ring, and especially the main wheel wells. Detailing in the kit is Classic Airframes' current standard of finely scribed panel lines and details.

You will have noted that there are actually two versions of the Defiant in this latest round of releases. In this version, the Mk.II night fighter, the differences are with the cowling, chin scoop, propeller blades, underwing radiators and rudder. Also, this kit includes a fret of photo-etched parts for the Sutton harness and radar antennae, whilst the Mk.I kit does not include photo-etch.

The only downside to this kit is the one-piece canopy/windscreen. This means you won't be able to pose the model with the canopy open. Quite a shame considering the beautiful detail inside.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • Defiant Mk.II, 125 Sqn, VA-P, 1942
  • Defiant Mk.II, 151 Sqn, DZ-V, 1941

The kit is another milestone in model quality by Classic Airframes. The detailing is crisp and clean throughout the styrene and resin parts. With the nice selection of color schemes provided, you can add an interesting subject to your scale flightline. If you have a little experience with multimedia kits, this project should be an easy build.

If you have or can find one of the old Defiant kits, by all means hang on to it. The photo-etch parts, including an instrument panel with acetate instruments, and the vacuform transparancies will be needed if you wish to pose your aircraft with the canopy open. The one-piece styrene canopy precludes this option out of the box.

My sincere thanks to Classic Airframes for this review sample!