|MODEL DESIGN CONSTRUCTION|
by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
MDC's Hawker Typhoon has been available for a while now, and it's a kit I've always hankered after. So, when I spotted it on the shelf at Hannants on a trip to buy myself something special for my birthday last month, I couldn't resist it!
The Typhoon arrives packed in a solid white cardboard box with all the parts secured packed in bubble-wrap and two main zip-lok bags. Opening those innocuous looking bags is a real adventure, as it soon becomes clear that this almost a kit-equivalent of a Russian doll, with bag after bag after bag of detail parts emerging. The explanation lies in the fact that many of the parts in this kit are available as aftermarket details for the old Revell car-door Typhoon (in fact, MDC's current kit grew from their superdetail sets into a full model in its own right).
All told, the kit comprises:
87 x Resin parts
2 x White metal parts
26 x Etched metal parts
2 x Vacuformed canopies
7 x Clear resin parts
3 x Sheets of decals, with markings for 5 x colour schemes, stencils and instruments.
The main airframe parts comprise fuselage halves, cast very much like conventional styrene kit parts, plus solid-cast wings. The quality of these major parts is pretty good, with minimal casting points and not much flash, but one or two awkward mould separation marks to sort out. I found a few bubbles to take care of and the exterior has a slightly textured surface which will look better polished smooth. The detail consists of scribed lines, plus raised details such as fasteners and the infamous fish-plate strengtheners around the rear fuselage. Some of the panel detail on the right fuselage has been lost at some point and there's a general "softness" overall, with rounded edges, so a fresh pass with a scribing tool won't do any harm.
The fuselage halves are cast quite thin, so they have a tendency to flex and the designers have added a stepped locator running around each half to keep things lined up. The downside to this, of course, is that it makes more difficult to sand the mating surfaces flat - and you will need to do this, because the joint is a bit loose with gaps all the way. If the fuselage parts are flexible, the wings could hardly be more different, being cast as two solid one-piece units. This means they are heavy - very heavy - and the white-metal gear legs are going to earn their keep supporting everything. The sheer weight of the wings could be a problem in assembly the kit, so the spars interlock within the fuselage, but it'll still be worth adding some extra support for a tongue and groove joint. The solid casting obviously means there's little clean-up required and the trailing edges are already nice and thin, but the real surprise comes when you turn the wings over to reveal the integral wheel-wells... they are quite superb! Full depth, with wonderfully detailed ribs and stringers, plus a girder-style main spar.
Sadly, on my kit at least, there's a price to pay for these solid wings. This became evident when test fitting them to the fuselage. Both sides need a bit of adjustment, and the roof of the wheel wells flattens slightly, meaning the airfoil doesn't match the fuselage wingroots - but the real trouble lay with the starboard wing, which is cast approximately 2mm thinner at the root than its counterpart, leading to a nasty step and a gap with daylight visible, because the difference is greater than the thickness of the fuselage shell. Because the wings are solid, you can't just insert a spacer between the halves as you would with a styrene kit, so the only solution looks like it'll be to re-skin the wing at the root and replace the detail.
Note: The wing fit does seem to vary between individual kits; Andy Brazier (Betheyn) has also bought the Typhoon recently and hasn't found the same problem. MDC have an excellent reputation for their aftersales service, so I'll contact them to try to get a replacement wing ready for my planned On-Line Build.
Some DetailsTurning to some of the smaller parts, it's clear that MDC's Tiffie is going to be a real treat in the detail department.
The cockpit of the real aircraft followed Hawker's standard practice of the time with a complex framework supporting the interior fittings - so no floor or sidewalls, as such. The kit's cockpit is no different, and the framework is built up from individual sections, plus heelboards, a firewall and rear frame, onto which are added the flying controls, instrument panel and seat - 19 parts in all. The detail is excellent, but all the parts will require a fair degree of clean-up to remove some flash. I found a couple of parts distorted - but they returned perfectly to the correct shape after I followed MDC's helpful notes and immersed them briefly in hot (not boiling) water.
The instrument panel is nicely cast and MDC provide individual decals for the instruments themselves. Sealed under a coat of varnish to"glaze" them, they should look excellent. The seat features realistic padding, plus adjustment mechanism and is complete with a Sutton harness that can be modelled in two ways:
1. Complete etched brass straps
2. Etched buckles with straps cut from foil using the templates provided.
The undercarriage is equally nice, with an amazingly detailed (and cast!) retraction mechanism. The mainwheels are weighted and the anti-shimmy tailwheel is very neatly done. The maingear legs are quite cleanly cast in white metal, with the oleos under compression to reflect the considerable weight of the Tiffie.
The landing flaps and control surfaces are separate. The rudder has beautifully subtle rib tapes.
Up front, there's a set of individual hollowed-out exhausts and a choice of De Havilland or Rotol propellers. Oddly, they're cast differently - while the 4-blader is fine, there's a slight scar on the 3-blade spinner where it looks like the mould has torn. The blades are nice and thin and accurately profiled. Last, but certainly not least, there's the chin radiator - always a focus on the Tiffie, with its gaping maw. MDC's version is a beauty, with a finely detailed core.
TransparenciesThe kit includes a vacuform canopy, plus a spare in case of accidents. They are very good quality - thin and superbly clear. The canopy framework is very faint, so representing it with painted tape or decal will be a good option in this scale. Details such as navigation lamps are cast in a clear resin. In fact, "clear" is something of a misnomer because, as supplied, the parts are frosted and translucent. It'll be interesting to see how they polish up - otherwise the usual fall-backs of clear perspex or styrene will always come in handy.
ArmamentOut of the box, MDC's Typhoon just carries its 20mm cannons, but there's a choice of extra armament sets available for £8.25 each:
CV32035 : Armour Piercing Rockets
CV32036 : High Explosive Rockets
Seeing as the kit is partly built-up from separately available detail sets, it might seem odd not to include the stores too, but this would inevitably mean a more expensive kit. Offering different armament configurations as separate boxings would be a logistics nightmare for retailers, so giving modellers the choice of extra sets is probably the best compromise.
InstructionsI have to admit I'm not a fan of the kit's instructions. This is largely down to the modular nature of the model so, rather than one integrated set of overall instructions, you have the sheets that accompany the aftermarket sets. This means a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to form a clear assembly sequence. The numbering isn't sequential (I actually wondered if sheets were missing from my kit to begin with) and things aren't always helped by rather small B&W photos, some of which are blurred and unclear. Captioning is very sparse, so you'll really need to study the instructions thoroughly to form an overall assembly plan.
Painting and decalsThe kit comes with a full-colour painting guide for 5 x schemes. Surprisingly, no details at all are provided of the aircraft, so some extra research will be needed to which type of propeller each machine carried, but cross-checking the fuselage codes reveals the following basic identities:
1. MR-?, (s/n JP432), 245 Sqn.
2. PR-M, s/n MN130, 609 Sqn.
3. I8-E, s/n MN659, 440 Sqn
4. 7L-C, s/n SW593, 59 O.T.U.
5. BR-M, s/n RB382, 184 Sqn.
The decals are printed by Fantasy Workshop and are excellent quality - thin and glossy with excellent registration and accurate colours. There are two sheets - one for the RAF insignia and a second for squadron codes and stencilling.
ConclusionMDC's Typhoon is a very impressive kit - but it's certainly not one for beginners. The tricky construction will really make this into a major modelling project to make the most of the kit's potential. But boy, should it be worth it! The finished model looks set to be an absolute stunner!
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.