by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Revell delighted WW2 modellers in the run-up to Christmas with their Arado Ar 196, and now they look set to do the same for fans of modern jets with a similarly low-priced new-tool BAe Hawk. In a way, in the UK at least, it's even cheaper, because it's been released at the same price despite the rise in VAT.
So, for penny less than £20, what do you get? The first impression is how surprisingly compact the attractive end-opening box is. Yes, end-opening not my favourite style, but the sides and rear do include some useful reference photos of the real aircraft. Opening it reveals it's pretty tightly packed with the sprues in several separate bags, with everything present and correct in my kit.
The next impression, for me at least, is one of slight disappointment on seeing that Revell have predictably moulded this Red Arrows version in, surprise, surprise, red styrene. This may well appeal to younger modellers who perhaps don't want to paint their finished kit, but I find it a bit of a pain, being more hassle to work with than conventional grey. As you can see in the accompanying photos, it's hard to pick out the details. (I'm not even convinced of the supposed benefits when it comes to final painting on a scheme like this - you could maybe argue that it provides a solid base for the overall gloss red, but you could equally say it makes it harder to see where you've actually painted.)
Anyway, enough moaning and believe me, on first inspection, there is little else to gripe about! The kit comprises:
132 x red styrene parts (plus 5 spare)
12 x clear styrene parts
Decals for any of 14 aircraft of the Red Arrows team
The parts are very cleanly moulded, with just a few fine mould lines to clean off. Ejector pin marks are light and the designers seem to have done a good job keeping them out of harm's way. So far I've found just faint sink marks next to the moveable control surfaces that might disappear under a coat of paint, plus a couple of deeper ones beneath the wing root fillets. The exterior finish of the main airframe is best described as "satin", which seems slightly strange as most interior surfaces are polished, so you may well want to polish the exterior in preparation for the high gloss paint scheme of the display aircraft. Panel lines are precisely engraved and quite lightly done.
A test fit of the main component is very encouraging. The fuselage halves are quite thin and flex a bit when removed from the sprues. But taped together with the cockpit floor in place, every firms up for a solid assembly. The wings are a good fit, but will need taping while the dry to ensure they don't sag (note, this is without the benefit of the mainwheel-well liners, that may help).The trailing edges at the landing flaps will need a bit of work thinning them and ensuring there's no gap. The stabilizers fit together perfectly and slot in firmly. The rudder and ailerons are separate and designed to hinge.
A few details Construction starts with the nicely detailed cockpit. The 27 parts include well moulded main instrument panels and side consoles, and multi-part Martin Baker Mk.10 ejector seats. Decals are provided for the instrument displays, but I have to say the layout doesn't quite match the moulded details, so I'll punch out the individual instrument faces to apply them individually.
Revell have wisely refrained from attempting moulded-on seat harnesses, instead supplying decals. Trimmed out carefully and attached dry with their backing paper still on, these should look quite reasonable, and of course it leaves the way open for superior scratchbuilt or aftermarket harnesses. The seats are quite well detailed, but judging by photos of the real thing, you could add a fair amount more, with more convincing cushions, lifting straps and leg restraints plus the most important item that Revell have missed
the firing handle.
Effort spent on the cockpit won't be wasted, because it'll all be visible under the crystal clear canopy. I have to say, of all the parts in the kit, this held the biggest "wow factor" for me. To someone most used to working in 1:48, it's enormous and beautifully moulded without a blemish. It's designed to be posed open or closed, and a decal is provided for the detonation cord. Clear parts are also included for the navigation and formational lamps, along with the nose headlamp.
As far as I can see, there's no mention in the instructions of the need for any weight in the nose to balance the finished model. If it does turn out to be needed, there's a little room over the nosewheel well and under the floor between the cockpits, but you'll need to plan ahead, because there's no access to either after the fuselage halves are closed up.
There's some extensive trunking running back from the jet intakes to a dummy engine front to avoid a see-through fuselage, and likewise a nice deep tailpipe. The wheel wells are simply, but effectively detailed. The mainwheel wells are boxed in with some good structural details. Aftermarket wells may become available, but to be honest, there's very little room to squeeze in a resin replacement, so etched additions may be the best solution.
The undercarriage itself comprises unweighted wheels with well moulded hubs. The gear legs are each built up from three main parts and look sturdy enough to support the model without any problems. The kit is designed to be built with the gear raised or lowered, and the mainwheel doors are moulded closed. This should make applying the white underwing striping easier before slicing them apart to attach for the lowered landing gear.
Instructions & decals The assembly guide is clearly drawn in Revell's usual "international" style and presented as a 16-page A-4 pamphlet. Construction itself is broken down into no less than 51 easy stages, which seems a little excessive as many are simply left/right mirror assemblies, but it's always best to err on the side of caution. Colour details are keyed to most items throughout assembly, linked to a list of Revell's own-brand paints.
The kit's decals are designed by The Aviation Workshop /Model Alliance and are printed in Italy. The quality looks excellent, with the glossy items printed in excellent register on my sheet. The extensive white trim is broken down into a number of elements. Of course the crucial thing will be how opaque the white ink proves to be when applied over the red background. I'd have preferred to see items like the union flags and badges also supplied as separate elements to give you the option to mask and paint the white as it is, you'll have to cut them out very carefully, along with the fuselage roundels.
Conclusion Revell's new Bae Hawk is a real cracker of a kit and represents stunning value for money. At a time when kit prices are creeping ever higher, it's refreshing to see just what one the major manufacturers can produce without charging the earth. It's also very clever marketing by Revell because, in the UK at least, this Red Arrows version should deservedly sell like hot cakes. With the start of the airshow season fast approaching, there are going to be countless kids (and parents!) inspired by the Red Arrows who'll want to build one of their aircraft and at £20, Revell's new kit will be just the ticket. Highly recommended.
I just wish it wasn't moulded in red plastic ohh, there I go again!...
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