by: Tim Hatton [ ]
BackgroundThe DH. 110 was designed initially for the FAA [Fleet Air Arm] and the RAF [Royal Air Force] as an all-weather interceptor. The original design was to have cannons installed. However the RAF decided to go for a rival design in the Gloster Javelin. The Admiralty continued to show interest and chose the DH.110 to be its carrier based fleet defence fighter. The DH.110 first flew on 26 September 1951 by John Cunningham. The aircraft was later involved in the dreadful accident that killed 31 people including the two crew members at the Farnborough air show in 1952. Many modifications were carried out and it was not until July, 1959 before the Sea Vixen FAW 1 [Fighter All Weather] entered the FAA. 78 FAW 1's were built initially, followed by another order for 40 in 1959. Another 16 FAW 1's were to be built in 1961, but these were converted to FAW 2's and 67 existing FAW 1's were also converted to FAW 2's. The main external difference between the two marks is that the FAW 2 tail boom extends forward of the main wing leading edge. This extension was used to accommodate more fuel. Eight squadrons of the FAA were equipped with the Sea Vixen before being replaced by Phantoms in 1972. As well as a fighter the Sea Vixen could be used as a bomber and also as a tanker. A number of Sea Vixens were converted into drones, being re designated Sea Vixen D3. The drones were notable in that they were capable of supersonic speed in level flight, something the FAW 1 and 2 could not do. This was because the D3's had improved engines and all unessential equipment removed. Other Sea Vixens became target tugs and were re designated TT.2. There is currently one airworthy Sea Vixen [G-CVIX] and this was formerly a D3 [XP924].
ContentsThe box art on the top opening box depicts a Sea Vixen next to the Optical landing System about to launch from its carrier, joining the two Sea Vixens flying off to port. On the side of the box are colour illustrations for the six marking options available with this kit. Also on the side of the box and underneath are various CAD views of the model during it design.
Included in the box are:
-4 x light grey plastic sprues.
-1 x transparent plastic sprue.
-2 x small decal sheets.
-1 x extending sheet of construction, painting and decal placement guide.
All the contents are individually wrapped, except for two sprues which share the same bag.
Cockpit: the first obvious thing to notice are the undersized MB Mk4 ejector seats. It would seem that Dragon have taken the idea from the Xtrakits 1/72 Sea Vixen FAW. 2. The Xtrakit seats are also undersized. Out of interest I compared the Dragon seats with Pavla’s excellent MB Mk 4 seats, and if Pavla seats are considered the correct size, then the Dragon seats are around 25% to small. I am even more puzzled with this idea of the under sizing of the seats, because I tried the Pavla seats inside the cockpit within the fuselage and the canopy fitted without any problems. Very odd!
The cockpit floor has the forward and rear bulkheads moulded in place. There is a slight notch on the side of the floor that helps in its positioning when fixing it to the lower fuselage half. The wall dividing the two crew positions and the two side consoles are all separate parts. Also separate are the two part pilot’s instrument panel and the two part navigator’s instrument panel, one of which is the radar scope. The instruments, switches and general detailing within the cockpit are finely done with low relief detail. The instruments on the pilots control panel are represented by circular depressions. I do like the representations of the screws that hold the instruments in place. The colour inside the cockpit is predominantly flat black. To finish the cockpit the navigator’s side window need to be fixed in position. The clear plastic part for this is pretty thick, but I suspect it will not be noticeable when the fuselage is buttoned up.
Canopy: the windscreen and the canopy are separate items and both are beautifully thin and clear. The frames are sharp which makes masking a lot easier. There are very small pins located at the contact points on the airframe which will help the location of the canopy and the windscreen enormously. The whole of the navigators hatch is transparent plastic so all you need to do is mask out the small window.
Fuselage: is split horizontally and each half includes the inner wing inboard of the wing fold line. The recessed panel lines, vents and fasteners look very good. I do like the look of the fairing that runs along the upper port side of the forward fuselage. There are some very positive location points inside the fuselage halves and offering up the two halves results in a good fit. Before the fuselage halves can be joined you do need to attach the three undercarriage bays, the cockpit, the air ducts for the engines, the jet pipes, and the navigator’s window and drill out the holes for the fuel tanks/armament. You will notice that there is frame detail on the trailing edges of the upper wing. A nice touch as these will be seen if you display the separate flaps down. The flaps if you want them positioned lowered are butt joined to the wing, there are no actuating rods included. The instructions advise the use of the one piece flaps, whether you want to display the flaps lowered or not. There are split flaps included on the sprue and these are used if you are displaying the wings folded.
There is a recess on top of the rear fuselage where the auxiliary power unit is located. The turbine, which looks like a lollipop, can be displayed if you wish.
The two separate auxiliary air intakes under the fuselage look very good with a deep recess for the intakes. There is a retracted refuelling boom to add to the leading edge of the port wing. There is an extended boom on the sprue which is not used.
The one piece nose is separate and captures the shape of the radome nicely. Dragon advises that a weight of 9 grams will be sufficient to prevent this model from sitting on its tail.
The two parts that create the air ducts are split horizontally. A test fit results in a very positive click as the pegs engage the holes. Some careful filling and sanding will be required to eradicate the joint on the inside of the ducts. There are also two parts that make up the fairings that are part of the fuselage just forward of the air ducts. There are two pairs of braces to add to the ducts before joining the two halves. The fit of the ducts to the inside of the wing is very good. Finally to finish this are off there are some very nice looking representations of the compressor blades for the engines. Oddly there are no paint references at all for the ducts or compressor blades.
The airbrake can be set in three positions: closed, partially open and fully open. To achieve the fully open and partially open positions, there are two different sized actuating rams. Unfortunately if you want to show the air brake open, then I am afraid there is no bay to prevent you from seeing into the fuselage. The air brake itself has some good detail and the two distinctive perforated re-enforcing plates are separate items. One of the plates is miss-numbered in the instructions.
Moving to the rear of the aircraft, each jet pipe is moulded in one piece. They are attached to a set of turbine faces, with some lovely detail on them. There is a fairing for the rear most part of the fuselage that the jet pipes are attached to. The fairing also has a recess for the tail hook. I like the attention to detail around the rearmost parts of the fairing. The jet pipes, give the impression that the walls are thin.
Undercarriage & arrestor gear: main bays are separate parts and feature nicely detailed features inside. Each oleo for the main undercarriage legs is one piece. The actuating ram and arm are moulded separately. Wheels are one piece with some good detail on the spoke side and the brakes on the other side. Undercarriage doors look good as well although there are some obvious recessed ejector pin marks that will need to be cleaned up. The front undercarriage bay is again separate, but features no detail at all. The nose wheel oleo is two parts, with the one piece wheel sandwiched between the two parts. The detail on the oleo is particularly good. There are a couple of doors to add to the front of the oleo, the rear gear doors are closed, only opening when the gear is cycling. I will include the arrestor hook here as it’s worth a mention. The hook and the arm is finely moulded and some will be needed detaching it from the sprue. There is a door to attach to the arm and if you display the hook down, then there is some fine detail to be seen on the inside of the door.
Outer wings: are two piece with separate elevators and flaps. The outer wings can be displayed extended or folded. For the extended position there are a partial wing spars that are attached between the upper and lower wing pieces. This provides a very positive support for the joint. If you want to display the wings folded, Dragon provide three hinges for each wing. The hinges set the wing at the correct angle as well as providing adequate support. The hinges are glued to parts that provide the detail on the ribs. The low relief detail on the ribs and on the hinges is very good. As with the inner wing there is some rib detail on the inner surfaces of the upper wing half. The flaps if you want them positioned lowered are butt joined to the wing. There are no actuating rods included. The short wing fences fitted on the outer wings are separate items. Finally there are the pitot tubes to fit to the wings. If you are displaying the wings folded Dragon has included braces to secure the outer wings. Where you attach the braces is a little vague in the instructions, but its thoughtful inclusion.
Tail boom & stabiliser: the use of slide mould manufacturing is evident on the tail booms. The whole of the tail boom and fin is moulded in one piece. The inner face of the vertical tail is a separate piece; the reason for this is probably to avoid ejector marks on the surface of the boom unit. The boom starts from the trailing edge of the wing and there is a good size lip at the attaching point on the boon for the joint to the wing. The rudders are separate and positionable. The stabiliser is one piece, with four small pins to add its location into the fins. The whole stabiliser moves on the real thing and this can be replicated if you elect not to glue it into position.
2 x Matra rocket pods.
2 x 150 gallon fuel tanks.
The Matra launchers are made up from three pieces. The detail on the front is superb where each of the SNEB warheads is finely moulded. The pylons for the Matras fit under the inner wing. Each fuel tank is moulded in two pieces. Unusually the two pieces are not split along the length. The fuel tank pylons fit under the outer wing. There are six pylons included on the sprue, all of which are one piece. Only four pylons are used with this kit.
Interestingly there are a couple Red Top missiles on a sprue. They are one piece and nicely done. The fins will benefit greatly with some thinning of the plastic. They are not used with this release and as far as I know the FAW 1 did not carry the Red Top missiles, they carried Firestreak missiles. Maybe it is a hint that there may be a FAW.2 on the horizon.
Markings: there are six options for this kit, all Royal Navy of course as no other nations operated the Sea Vixen.
XN650 893 Squadron, HMS Centaur, 1963.
XN691 892 Squadron, 1963.
XJ482 766 Squadron, 1967.
XJ576 899 Squadron,1962.
XJ525 890 Squadron, 1961.
XJ526 890 Squadron, 1964.
All the aircraft are have white under surfaces and dark slate grey upper surfaces. Some aircraft have the nose radome painted black. If you find the camouflage scheme uninteresting there are some interesting Squadron badges applied to the tails of some of the aircraft.
Paint references are for Aqueous Hobby Color, Mr Color and Model Master. There are no FS references at all. Included in the instructions are stencil guides showing port and starboard side profiles as well as upper and lower plan views as well as frontal nose view. The painting guide illustrates the port side profile of all the aircraft with the exception of ‘XN650’ which has a starboard side profile as well. Upper and lower plan views are provided for all aircraft.
Decals: the two small sheets are packed with decals. Colour depth and registration is spot on and there is minimal carrier film around most of the decals. The only areas where there is a lot of carrier film, is around the code letters for the under wing serials and inside the red no walk zones. We would not expect anything else from those decal masters from Cartograf. The numbers for the serial codes underneath the wing are separate. Although you will have to be a little careful lining the numbers up, there is the advantage that they are more likely to conform to the surface. There are lots of stencils and ‘no walk’ areas bordered within red boxes.
Instructions: building instructions take the form of exploded line drawings and symbols. Generally pretty clear, just a couple of wolly areas, eg. Wing braces. Also a couple of parts are miss-numbered in the instructions. Stencil guide and painting and decal placement diagrams are a bit on the small size if your eyesight is not 100%.
ConclusionsWell despite my grumbles about the seats and the lack of a bay for the air brake, I like this kit a lot. After all the problem with the air brake bay won’t exist if you keep it closed. I would have liked to have seen a tanker version with this release, but that just being greedy. Dragon seemed to have taken a leap forward in new mould technology and have used it with this kit to good effect. There has been a good amount of thought put into the design and breakdown of the parts.This is an excellent kit, components fit very well, the recessed detail is spot on and the overall shape is very good. As I have built the Xtrakit FAW.2 and the MPM FAW.1 1/72 kits previously I can say that this is the best Sea Vixen kit so far.
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