If the Hawker Hurricane were human, it would take super-human effort for it not to be jealous of its more-famous co-combatant, the Supermarine Spitfire. Given almost total credit for winning the “Battle of Britain,” if not the entire war in the air, the superb Spitfire has been the subject of two fine kits in 1/32nd scale from Tamiya (the Mark V and Mark IX variants). Yet, you might be surprised to find out that the “Battle of Britain” ended with a British victory mostly because of Sidney Camm’s Hawker Hurricane, Britain’s first combat monoplane, and the workhorse of the RAF. Hurricanes destroyed more German aircraft, overall and in the Battle of Britain, and served in every theater of war.
Surprisingly, in 1/32nd scale, Battle of Britain RAF planes have been poorly-served. Revell of Germany issued its excellent JU-88A a few years back, and Eduard, Trumpeter and now Dragon Models are falling all over one another to bring us every variant of the Bf109 Emil that ever flew. Yet those who want a Battle of Britain Spitfire in 32 scale have to scrounge around for the old Revell/Hasegawa Mk.I-II kit (which builds up very nicely with a little AM upgrading and scribing the fuselage’s raised panel lines).
Fortunately Pacific Coast Models has issued two Hurricane Mk. I kits, allowing us to recreate the workhorse of the RAF in WW 2. Their first offering was a fabric-winged Mark I early version with extensive decals for service with foreign air forces. Now they have released a metal-winged version complete with decals and paint schemes for what they call the “Battle of Britain Aces.”
The model comes in Pacific Coast’s usual attractive pasteboard box with a CGI-generated cover illustration of Sqd. Leader J. “Ginger” Lacey shooting down a hapless Heinkel HE-111. The box contains:
4 sprues of 66 blueish styrene pieces manufactured by Sword Models
15 medium-gray resin parts
2 sprues of clear parts
1 fret of color photo etch by Eduard
1 sheet of Cartograf decals
A large six-page instruction book
A four-page painting guide with actual plane profiles by Richard Caruana
The kit represents the Mk. I version with metal wings. This variant was powered by the Merlin III engine (rated at 1,030 HP), with either a de Havilland or Rotol three-bladed propeller (the initial production model had been fitted with a two-bladed one). Like most short-run kits, there’s a lot to like about this release, but also some things that the “big boys” do better. I have great admiration for Ken and Mary Lawrence for undertaking the project at all. At a time when many retailers in the hobby are throwing in the towel, they are bringing out a series of excellent, often obscure kits in large scale.
But a short-run kit usually means challenges, especially in the area of fit. Having built their excellent Macchi 200, I found the same issues in this one, especially the thickness of the control surfaces and the fit of the wing root to the fuselage. The control surfaces on this model really cry out for some thinning, so you should be aware of that as you go through the assembly process. I regret that Sword Models (who made the kit) chose to have the rudder, ailerons and flaps molded-on. Those who want them other than in the “neutral” position will have some tricky sawing and cutting ahead. The good news is that the Hurricane’s control surfaces did not “droop” as severely as on other aircraft of the period, especially the Bf109, so you can get away with avoiding that kind of major surgery.
The casting on the resin and the molding on the styrene are both very good, and flash is minimal, though seam lines hearken back to a simpler modeling era. Pacific Coast has wisely chosen to use resin for things like the cockpit details and the landing gear bays, but this will possibly discourage some younger modelers. There are no styrene substitutes, either, so you must deal with resin if you want to complete this build. Fortunately, the resin parts are cast with clean "cut lines" that reduce the likelihood of mangling the job.
The Hurricane was a composite of wood and metal, with a cockpit resembling a tubular scaffold more than the inside of a modern interceptor, and the kit nicely preserves that eccentric construction method. Interior detailing is up to that of most major-manufacturer kits. The one area that has attracted an AM upgrade is the landing gear struts and tail wheel bracing by G-Factor. I recommend adding the set in white bronze to your shopping cart.
The model is intended to be assembled “buttoned-up,” so there is no engine, no wing armament compartments, nothing you can show in the “open” position except the cockpit. This might disappoint some, but holds down the overall cost. No after-market PE manufacturers to my knowledge have brought out any upgrades for PCM kits, likely because of the limited number of potential buyers. If only a portion of consumers buying a kit will purchase a PE upgrade, then that number must be very small indeed for a kit like this one.
But sometimes life intervenes and saves us from ourselves.
Both the Spitfire and the Hurricane were relatively straightforward airframes, and the construction of this kit is no exception, though the inclusion of several key parts only in resin makes me think beginners might be discouraged undertaking this build. Things start with the cockpit’s tubular frame, which includes a mix of styrene and resin pieces, plus a superb PE pre-painted instrument panel from Eduard. Once you’ve experienced a pre-painted Eduard instrument panel, you will never be satisfied with decals on plastic again. The styrene frame needs a little bit of sanding and dry-fitting, but drops into the assembled fuselage extremely well. The stick is a bit simplified, and I have seen some nice scratch-building done to it. One strange construction method is to add the seat AFTER the fuselage has been assembled. This might strike most modelers as odd, but again, it’s the tubular cockpit structure that’s more like a WWI biplane. Dropping the seat in after the fuselage is together works reasonably well, so don't fret with that.
The fuselage itself goes together well with a minimum of fit issues. The molding is generally crisp, though I noticed some softness to the fabric texture and a few of the panel lines on the starboard half. A call to Ken Lawrence confirmed this was likely a deliberate choice on Sword’s part to show the variability of texture on the real doped linen employed on the Hurricane. The rudder and rear stabilizers fit fairly-well, though there are no guide pins to make sure they’re properly-centered. Again, the molding is a bit thick. But the real life Hurricane’s control surfaces look positively squat in comparison to leaner craft like the 109. We should keep in mind this was Britain’s first effort at graduating from biplanes, and that it was the two-winged Fairey Swordfish, after all, that sank the Bismarck.
Another area that will challenge builders is the props. The kit offers two choices: a de Havilland and a Rotol constant speed propeller (a two-bladed prop is included from the fabric-wing kit's basic parts, but is not appropriate for the metal-winged Mark I). The spinners and their bases don't seem to fit the propeller blades indicated. I chose the path of least resistance and assembled the de Havilland prop with the pointed spinner. The base was too small (the spinner should be slightly fatter than the nose), so I built the kit part up with some styrene sheeting.
But the real crisis point in the build is attaching the wings to the body. The instructions recommend building the wing sub-assembly, then marrying it to the body.
That's a recipe for disaster.
The only sensible solution is to attach the upper halves of the wings to the fuselage first, then manipulate the single-piece lower wing part to the upper parts. This runs entirely counter to conventional practice, but I did not discover this technique until I had followed the directions, and it resulted in a LOT of filling and sanding. The risk, of course, is that you will lose the delicate detailing on the wings' upper surfaces.
The wheel wells are handled with a single main resin part supplemented with three additional resin pieces. Be careful to remove some of the upper portion of the wheel well assembly or it will interfere with marrying the wings to the fuselage. Given the price of resin wheel-well sets, this is another feature making this kit worth the money. The resin wheels are in a four-spoke pattern, and do not bulge, so you fans of weighted tires will be disappointed (actually, photos do not seem to show much of a bulge).
The clear parts covering the wing landing lights, and the canopy are all well-molded, though the canopy calls out for mounting rails, which I scratch-built from the same sheet styrene I used to build up the spinner's base. These are clearly-shown on photos of the real thing, and interestingly, the canopy won't fit properly without them, though they are not mentioned in the instructions, nor provided in the kit.
When finally assembled, the model looks excellent, and I'm very pleased with it despite its challenges.
painting & decals
Six actual planes are profiled in the decals & camouflage:
J. “Ginger” Lacey, 1940
AA. McKellar, October 1940
R.R. Tuck, October 1940
W. Urbanowicz, September 1940
D.R. Bader, September 1940
J. Frantisek, September 1940
Don’t get too excited about the camouflage options: by “camo,” I mean type A or type B in dark green and dark earth. Only purists can tell them apart without a “cheat sheet.” More-colorful variants can be found in the new book from Histoire & Collections, Hawker Hurricane from 1935 to 1945 reviewed on Aeroscale by me here
. Not only did the Hurricane serve throughout the war with the RAF in both tropical and naval versions, but also flew for the air forces of numerous countries, especially the Soviet Union.
If you’re doing a “Battle of Britain” build, though, it’s brown and green with a “sky” underneath.
However, the profiles supplied with the kit are wrong: Tom Cleaver has pointed out that the profiles list four odd-numbered airframes with the Type “A” camo, and two even-numbered ones with the “B” pattern. Historically, the protocol was for even-numbered aircraft to get the “A” pattern and odd-numbered ones to get the “B” pattern. While hardly a catastrophe to reverse the two (they look very similar to the uninitiated), it’s an unfortunate mistake to those who expect accuracy.
The decals are from Cartograf, so you know they’re good, and include the stencils needed in a kit this scale for the final touches. Unfortunately, the lower wing roundels are too large, and you will need either to scrounge up smaller ones from the spares box, or purchase the after-market set from Zotz Decals #32036.
Despite the challenges I've mentioned, it’s hard to find fault with a small company like Pacific Coast Models that is working hard to bring less-glamorous or rare airframes to modelers in the rapidly-growing 1/32nd scale. Given the huge role that the Mark I Hurricane played in the early part of WW 2, it’s a cause for celebration the company is offering high-quality kits in styrene (supplemented with PE and resin upgrades at no extra cost). In fact, the overall price of the kit compares favorably with a Hasegawa, Trumpeter or Dragon build, especially if you include the resin and PE upgrades in your computing. Giving this kit a numerical rating seems beside the point, and I leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions whether this kit is right for them.
Finally, just the availability of planes in this scale from perhaps the most-crucial struggle of the entire war in the air makes me rejoice. Had Goering not shifted his tactics from bombing the RAF's airfield to attacking London, the war might have had a very different course. The “big boys” should turn red with embarrassment that they can’t offer a stalwart of the Battle of Britain in a kit at all, much less one this good.
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