by: Mal Mayfield [ ]
When Airfix started their line of 1/24th scale models it was, so legend has it, intended to produce the Mosquito as part of it. The legend goes that it was produced as a 1/48th scale version instead. With the near demise of Airfix for the 3rd, or was it the 4th time who would have thought that their latest saviours, Hornby, had the nounce and courage to actually produce something which I can imagine many modellers were hoping for.
I was lucky enough to be able to get one of these beasts at the wholesale price because where I work has an account with a supplier of model accessories. Another employee also took advantage of this fact so the models arrived together in one box and it is no exaggeration that the courier struggled to get it through the door, it’s that big and heavy.
I didn’t open the box until I got it home and I wasn’t disappointed, it is packed with plastic and everything is wonderfully big. There are 16 light grey plastic sprues, containing 575 parts, 1 clear sprue, containing 18 parts and 1 rubber sprue with 7 parts, a total of 600 parts. The sprue containing the wings is almost as big as the huge box, and the wing tips are separate. The instructions are the size of a news paper and are 52 pages long with 253 stages. They are very well laid out but do seem to go a little astray on page 40/41, 40 shows the fitting of the bomb bay doors, but 41 shows a stage before, fitting the sides of the bomb bay (not a real issue as it’s pretty obvious). Left loose inside the instructions are the colour and marking guides, in colour on glossy paper, for the standing and seated crew figures and the 4 main decal options, which consist of:
A. De Havilland Mosquito FB.VI No. 487 Squadron, (Royal New Zealand Air Force) Operation “Jerico”, 18th February 1944 (this is the aircraft depicted in the striking box top art, overflying the prison at Amiens).
B. De Havilland Mosquito FB.VI No. 143 Squadron, Banff Strike Wing, Coastal Command, 1945.
C. De Havilland Mosquito FB.VI “Bondi Blond”, No.1 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, 1945 (plus a second aircraft of the same unit with a different serial number).
D. De Havilland Mosquito NF.II No. 157 Squadron, Royal Air Force, December 1941.
The colour notes call for Humbrol paints, for the camouflage (exterior) colours they are also descriptive, “Dark Green”, “Medium Sea Grey”, but throughout the construction guide they are simply Humbrol paint numbers. This is not a major problem, all model manufactures do this but, for those buying the kit and not knowing what the colours actually are, Humbrol 78 isn’t the best representation of, in my opinion, “Interior green”. Having said that I would probably use Humbrol for any hand brushed elements so it isn’t a complaint, merely an observation.
The decal sheet is, as you would expect, huge but very well printed by Cartograf and is in perfect register. The colours are very good also apart from the sky EG-F codes for the 487 Squadron machine. Carrier film on decals is always a problem and on decals of this size even more so. However Cartograf have minimised this as far as possible by keeping it to the very edge of the markings. This is only possible because of the accuracy of the printing. However there are still unavoidably large areas of backing film on some of the codes and serials, and of course the radiator “Keep Off” markings. The decals are matt and include all stencils and markings for the ordnance as well, although this is note 100% accurate as the fill bands on both the bombs and 60lb rocket war heads should be light green not yellow. The bombs do have the red HE fill band but the rocket war heads do not have their red/white fill bands (see my article, “Storm Bringers”).
The parts are very well detailed and moulded, with no flash that I have been able to find, apart from delicate joint lines and round parts actually looking round. There are of course ejection pin marks but they seem to be placed out of the way as far as possible. There are some in the undercarriage bays, but they aren’t very pronounced and should be relatively easy to hide. There are delicate raised and engraved rivet details in some areas, but none in other areas, such as the engine nacelles. I personally am more than happy with this approach as there are plenty of ways to add this detail if you like it and if you don’t you won’t be offended. As the Mosquito was made of wood and had a very clean airframe there isn’t a lot of rivet detail to add any way. I have only been able to find a couple of very small sink marks and these are on the back of internal items and won’t be seen anyway.
All areas look to be well catered for in the way of detail and I think that the aftermarket guys are going to find it difficult to come up with something that warrants paying out more modelling tokens for. I may go with turned gun barrels for the four machine guns, not that there is anything wrong with the kit ones, just that they are so prominent it might just be worth it. The cockpit is, as far as I can tell, complete, apart from seat belts, but using the crew would solve that. I have plans for making my own belts though. There are 2 instrument panels, 1 for the FB.VI and 1 for the NF.II, they are both well detailed and the instruments are pre-painted onto the clear part. This is a novel approach for Airfix but I’m not sure that it’s the best way. Don’t get me wrong it works and will save a lot of time, but I just feel that the instruments need to be behind “glass” not on it. This may be one area that the aftermarket boys could improve but for the average modeller Airfix’s solution will be good.
The crew figures are quite well done and if painted well will look good. There are 2 complete, and I mean complete Merlin engines, I don’t have a Merlin to compare them with but they certainly appear to be complete. There are 2 different propellers, a paddle blade for the FB. VI and a narrow cord one for the NF. II. The complicated undercarriage is also very well detailed; a point to note with the Mosquito’s undercarriage is that it is not handed. If built as per the instructions there should be no problems but I’m not completely sure about the wheel hubs; these are the same on both sides of the wheel, in the kit, but I am sure that this changed later in production to the none brake drum side having slotted detail, this meant that the slotted side was on the same side on each wheel. I haven’t got access to my full references at the moment so just be aware, (it is highly probable that Airfix have it bang on).
Another area that the one reference that I do have to hand sheds doubt on is the radio fit, which appears to be for early aircraft and is the same as found on all(?) models of the Mosquito. Just be aware of this and check it out before committing. The aerial included in the kit is consistent with the early radio fit contained in the kit, however the undercarriage doors are of the later variety, with an inspection hatch. The lower wing outer panels also seem to be missing a strengthening spar which may have been raised, and differed slightly from the early and later models. So to model an early aircraft all you need to do is to remove the inspection panels on the undercarriage doors and add the strengthening spar which, if raised, would only require a strip of thin plastic card. There would also be an antenna wire. If engraved only 2 parallel lines are required. I'm uncertain at the moment whether the aircraft include in the decals are early or late, but I am 99% certain that they are later ones. So for later aircraft, leave the undercarriage doors as they are, replace the aerial with a wip antenna (but I think that it is in a different location), add the strengthening spar (if you like), but it is of a slightly more complicated shape with a wider section with angle ends. The radio fit would also need changing.
The only detail that I believe to be wrong is the shape of the 60lb rocket warheads, they are too pointed. A nice touch though is that the rockets look as if they will slide onto the rails realistically. The tyres are made from rubber of the block pattern type; they have a weighted flat and bulge moulded in. At first I thought that the block pattern was far too pronounced but I now think that it represents a new tyre. Go over the tread with emery paper and it will look more “used”, so you have the option of a just out of the factory or well used look. The tail wheel tyre and .303 machine gun feeds are made from this material too.
ConclusionI’ve tried to point out the areas that might need a careful look at or some consideration, so it might have seemed like I was criticising at times but I can assure that I was not. I for one am delighted that Airfix didn’t bring out the Mosquito in 1/24 scale back in those heady days of the original releases of big scale kits, the long, long wait has been well worth it and this deserves to sell by the container load. Don’t listen to all the doom and gloomers that will, inevitably, be out there, Hornby really do deserve for this to do well. If like me you don’t normally opt for displaying the engines, gun bays and bomb bays on aircraft models open, you will be hard pushed to decide to close everything up due to all of the wonderful detail that Airfix have included in this magnificent kit. I hope that Airfix see fit to down scale this to 1/32.
I will more than likely buy another, and several if they do appear in 1/32.
"Aviation Guid, Mosquito FB.VI Airframe, Systems and RAF wartime usage by Dave Brown SAM Publications".
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