Fans of British naval jet kits look set to be in for a real treat later this year with the release of Airfix's 1:48 Sea Vixen. Of course there have been 1:72 Sea Vixens over the years, but never a mainstream quarterscale kit, so the excitement is understandable. Judging by the photos of the test-shot
it should be excellent, with the option of folded wings, dropped flaps and, of course, nicely setailed cockits. Excellent... but what if you want to pile extra detail into your build - if nothing else, the Sea Vixen's generation of fighters were wonderfully "busy" compared with the ergonomic and almost clinically clean present day aircraft.
In terms of good modelling references the Sea Vixen has been rather overlooked, but that's all changed with the publication of #1 in a new series of Flightline books by Roy Sutherland's Barracuda Studios. Quite simply this is one of the best "walkaround" books I've ever seen - it's packed with photos and illustration covering the Sea Vixen from nose to tail, inside and out. A real goldmine of detail for modellers, most of it previously unseen by the wider public.
The book measures 11.25 x 8.5 inches and is softbound with 115 pages printed on high quality glossy paper in a landscape format. Apart from a short historical introduction, the photography is colour throughout, with over 200 shots by a number of photographers as well as Roy himself. Interestingly, many of Roy's colour photos are 20 or so years old and taken on film, and he's taken great care cleaning and balancing them in Photoshop to maximize their value. The great thing in my opinion is that, far from the all too common shots in walkarounds of pristine museum exhibits that are often re-painted (not always as accurately as one might hope), these pics show a really "lived in" Sea Vixen - somewhat weathered and tatty - and overflowing with character. Just the ticket for most modellers!
The book breaks down the coverage logically, and a really nice touch is "phonebook-style" colour tabs on the pages so that you can quickly navigate to the section you want. The broad contents are:
, by Steve Buchoitz
Intakes and Exhausts
Sea Vixen D.3 XP9234
Along the way, beyond the obvious titles these sections have detail of the radar, wingfolds, airbrakes and flaps, plus a section devoted to underwing stores.
The photos are very well printed, usually two per page and are an ideal size for modelling purposes - i.e. you can make out all the detail easily, but the book doesn't swamp your workspace. Each photo is accompanied by a very useful caption that draws attention to the pertinent details with what can best be described as a "modeller's eye". Backing up the photos are numerous illustrations taken from the original operating manuals, and this extra clarification will be a real boon to anyone looking to superdetail their model.
Roy Surtherland is quick to stress that Flightline #1 is just the start of a series that will evolve both in style and content. I'm tempted to say "Don't change the mix too much."! I don't give 100% in Reviews, simply because I don't believe anything is literally perfect in life, but think the balance here is as near as darn it perfect for a modelling reference. #2 in the series will cover the Fairey Firefly and I can hardly wait - but meanwhile, Flightline #1 is possibly the definitive modelling for the Sea Vixen. I've no doubt that aftermarket resin and etched upgrade producers are already poring over it in preparation for the Airfix kit. Unreservedly recommended.
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