by: Tim Hatton [ ]
The DH 100 Vampire had the distinction of being the second jet fighter to be operated by the RAF, after the Gloster Meteor, and the first to be powered by a single jet engine. The prototypes were originally called the Spider Crab. Work on the Vampire commenced during 1941it was quickly decided to settle on a single-engine, twin-boom aircraft, powered by the Halford H.1 turbojet engine. The Vampire quickly proved to be an effective aircraft and was adopted as a replacement for many wartime piston-engined fighter aircraft. During its early service, it was recognised for accomplishing several aviation firsts and various records, such as being the first jet aircraft to traverse the Atlantic Ocean. The Vampire had been exported to a wide variety of different nations and was operated across a plethora of different theatres and climates across the world. Several different countries deployed the type in combat during several different conflicts, including the Suez Crisis, the Malayan Emergency, and the Rhodesian Bush War. By the end of production, almost 3,300 Vampires had been manufactured, a quarter of these having been manufactured under licence in several countries.
The contents are contained in a side opening box. Inside you will find:
-3 x Grey coloured plastic sprues
-1 x transparent plastic sprue
-1 x sheet of decals.
-1 x Instruction booklet
The origins of the plastic sprues are interesting: sprue A and B has MPM stamped on them and sprue C has Special Hobby’s name on it. The clear plastic sprue has MPM on it. The recessed panel lines are finely executed. There are helpful locating points on the fuselage, booms and wings.
The cockpit comprises of a floor, rear bulkhead, head rest, seat, control stick and instrument panel. the instrument faces are represented as a decal. The floor has rudder pedals moulded onto it. There is a set of decal harnesses for the seat. The completed cockpit fits around the front undercarriage bay in the lower half of the fuselage.
The canopy and windscreen are separate so they can be posed open. The parts are very clear and pretty thin. They came off the sprues with no problems.
The fuselage is split horizontally and there is some good detail including cannon troughs, and engine access panels. The cockpit and engine detail needs to be installed before joining the halves. The part representing the compressor fan is interesting in the way it’s been designed, not that it matters as it can’t be seen once the fuselage halves are joined and the wings attached. There is also a coupled of curved pieces attached representing the rear of the air duct. The detail for the rear of the engine looks fine, but again little will be seen. The tail booms are each split In two, the rudder is an integral part of one of the halves.
Each of the wings is made up from two pieces. The wing tips are created in clear plastic, so it’s a simple matter of masking out the navigation lights. The internal detail of the main wheel well in the lower wing looks good. The tail plane is one piece and has separate horn balance. There is not much in the way of things to hang of the wing. There is just a couple of under wing fuel tanks for the two Swedish J-28A’s. If you want the under wing slipper fuel tanks for the Swiss Vampires then you will need CMK aftermarket fuel tanks [Q72306]
The main undercarriage comprises of one piece wheels with a separate hub. The oleos are also one piece and fit snuggly into their locating holes in the undercarriage bay. The front undercarriage is a little more complex. The wheel is made from two parts and the distinctive tread of de Havilland tyres is represented. The oleo is created from two parts and fits on both sides of the wheel. The inside of the wheel bay door are nicely detailed.
The decals are printed by Cartograf so it wont surprise you to know that they look excellent. The quality, colour density and the definition of even the smallest print is superb.
The instructions take you through thirteen building stages. The Vampire Mk.1 is very similar to the Swedish J-28A making for much easier construction guide. The paint guides are very good featuring colour profiles.
The kit goes together pretty well, I used extra thin plastic adhesive throughout including the clear parts. I have not altered and of the parts to make them fit. All I have done is trimmed any excessive sprue attachment points. The fit of the parts is not too bad, but some filling and blending will be needed to achieve good looking joints. The wing/fuselage join needs some care as it is easy to develop a step. The nose fairing also has a bit of a step too. Just be careful fitting and gluing some parts. I found that some of the tighter fitting parts such as the boons into the wing and the clear wing tips into the wing actually split the plastic when the glue was applied. A bit strange as the fit was tight, but not so tight I was forcing the parts in. Anyway the couple of cracks that materialised were easily fixed. Getting this model to sit correctly is a problem; I crammed the nose with lead and it just about sits on all three legs. Other than that it’s very satisfying to see the completed kit. It took me a couple of evenings to put it together.
With a bit of care and attention this will be a really good representation of the DH Vampire Mk.1. Parts generally fit pretty well and some filling will be required in places. Detail is nicely executed and the four marking options are of interest.