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Italeri 1/72 Sunderland Mk.I Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2012 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject Sunderland Mk.I Scale 1/72
Kit Number 1302 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Newly tooled version of this subject, nice detailing Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $78.95

First Look


The Short Brothers were awarded a contract by the Royal Air Force in the mid-1930s to develop a flying boat that could provide long-range/long-endurance patrol aircraft. Developed from the S.23 Empire flying boat, the Sunderland (designated model S.25) was revised for military applications including defensive armament, offensive bombs/depth charges, and radar. In the early days of World War II, the initial offensive armament was ineffective and anti-submarine warfare was still in its infancy. Nevertheless, the Sunderland demonstrated its versatility early in its service by rescuing the entire 34-person crew of the Kensington Court torpedoed by the Germans.

As newer weapons and lessons learned were brought together, the Sunderland design evolved to incorporate more powerful engines, better radar, and far more effective weapons as it served Coastal Command in the North Atlantic and was deployed into other theaters as well as into other wartime and post-war air arms including Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, and South Africa.

I remember building the Airfix 1/72 Sunderland many years ago and the kit was impressive for the amount of detail in the box. I also remember how thick many of those parts were. When Italeri announced a new-tooled Sunderland, I wondered what would be different/better and now that it is here, let's take a look:

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus one fret of photo-etched parts and one photographic reference manual. Unlike the Airfix kit, the detailing is scribed and the thickness of the wings and fuselage is much thinner. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed flight deck with photo-etched instrument panel
  • Pilots' seats have photo-etched seatbelts, shoulder harnesses, and structural framing
  • Radio compartment (behind flight deck) has radio operators station visible through doorway
  • Detailed nose compartment with plank floor, anchor and winch, and other gear
  • Detailed weapons bay
  • Weapons bay doors can be positioned open or closed
  • Dorsal gunners' hatches can be positioned open or closed
  • Dorsal gun stations equipped with Vickers guns
  • Starboard rear fuselage door is positionable open or closed
  • Detailed nose and tail turrets
  • Nose turret can be positioned retracted for access to nose compartment
  • Optional beaching gear and tail trolley included
  • Movable ailerons
  • Movable rudder
  • Movable elevators
  • Weapons racks move in and out of weapons bay

As you can see in the images, the kit isn't really complex but is rated as experienced skill level due to the photo-etched parts. Even in 1/72 scale, this is still going to be an impressive model!

The 24-page reference manual has a nice combination of period photographs along with a few shots of the Sunderland in the RAF Museum to highlight a variety of details and features of the aircraft to help the modeler achieve the correct look with the model. If one picture is worth 1000 words, you'll find a tome of useful images at your fingertips.

The decal sheet provides markings for six different examples:

  • Sunderland Mk.I, L2163, DA-G, 210 Sqn, RAF Oban, Scotland, 1940
  • Sunderland Mk.I, L5798, DA-A, 210 Sqn, RAF Oban, Scotland, 1940
  • Sunderland Mk.I, L6802, SE-F, 95 Sqn, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1941
  • Sunderland Mk.II, T9072, KG-F, 204 Sqn, Bathurst, Gambia, 1941/42
  • Sunderland Mk.I, N9029, VN-M, 230 Sqn, Eastern Mediterranean, 1940
  • Sunderland Mk.I, T9071, M, 230 Sqn, Eastern Mediterranean, 1941

This is a very nice looking kit of the early Sunderland and is produced with the new CAD-based technologies that make these new Italeri models far more detailed as well as far easier to build. You can see the difference these CAD designs also have with the quality of the instructions as well. After building Italeri's recent Wessex HU.5 kit, I'm very impressed with these new kits. We'll see soon how well this latest release goes together as well.

For a look at this kit built-up, look here.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!