by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Airfix's series of quarterscale Canberras have rightly proved a huge success, so it was no surprise to hear immediate calls for new-tool mainstream 1:72 versions based on the larger kits. Well, the wait wasn't too long and this summer saw the release of a B(1).8 and PR9.
The PR9 arrives in a very sturdy and attractive top-opening box. I really like Airfix's new-style packaging - not only is it distinctive on the LHS shelves, but the extra-tough bottom tray is ideal for holding parts while you work on the kit, and it also features a full-colour generic modellers' guide on the basics of assembling an aircraft kit. Innovative and very useful for newcomers and youngsters.
The sprues are all bagged together, with the clear parts in their own small bag inside. The kit comprises:
108 x grey styrene parts
17 x clear styrene parts
Decals for 4 x colour schemes
The moulding is pretty good; there's no flash, but I did find a few shallow sink marks on the wings where locating pins are on the reverse side of the parts. The designers have managed to keep ejector pin marks mostly out of sight, but there are a couple of awkward ones in the wheel wells.
Surface finish is "silky" rather than full gloss, and details are engraved for the most part, with a few raised items like vortex generators. The panel lines vary somewhat - they're rather heavy for this scale on the fuselage, but a bit lighter on the wings.
Test FitThe parts breakdown is almost identical to Airfix's quarterscale Canberras from which this kit is essentially scaled-down. The first thing that strikes you when go to start assembling the kit is that a number of the sprue-attachments are really chunky, and have a bit of a tendency to "bleed into" to surface of the parts, so you'll need a razor saw and some care separating some of the pieces - and then be prepared for a little extra clean-up.
With that done, everything is much more encouraging. The fuselage features cockpit and camera-bay sections that fit very positively, matching the surrounding contours. The wings and tail have substantial locating tabs - ironically, they don't stop the flying surfaces from drooping, but the actual fit at the roots is very precise, and the fit will be perfect when cemented. In my kit, one wing had taken a hefty knock at some stage, resulting in a turned-down tip. It had folded so neatly along a panel line, it actually looked deliberate, and I was scratching my head thinking "Anhedral? I don't remember that seeing in photos!"
All the control surfaces and separate, and you can drop the flaps too. Sadly the rudder mimics it's quarterscale big brother with heavy scribed plank-like panel lines.
A few detailsThe cockpit and navigator's compartments are reasonably well equipped. A pair of different style ejector seats are provided, along with crew figures with separate arms. Eight parts form a "tub", with slightly soft raised details on the instrument panels and consoles. To be honest though, with the overall black interior colour, not a lot will be visible in the navigator's "coal hole" unless you open up the nose and escape hatch - but the cockpit is more visible and, like the 1:48 kit, seems to be a bit of a compromise in using parts appropriate to the bomber version.
The undercarriage is handled neatly enough, with simple but quite adequate legs and weighted wheels. The wheel-wells are separate parts and have a reasonable amount of detail - certainly a good starting point to add some cables and pipework to.
This being the PR version, two alternative belly sections are included with different camera/sensor arrangements, although you're left to figure out for yourself which is appropriate for the featured colour schemes. The kit also includes a pair of pylon-mounted chaff dispensers. Their fins are a bit chunky, so you may want to replace them with plastic card.
Lastly, the transparencies. These are excellent quality - crystal clear and quite thin. The cockpit canopy can be posed open and separate wingtip navigation lamp covers are provided. The windows for the belly section can be attached after overall painting, but the tiny navigator's "port holes" attach from the inside, so a drop of Kristal Klear or similar might be easier than messing about masking them.
Instructions & DecalsThe assembly diagrams are very clearly drawn in the form of a 6-page A-4 booklet. Construction is broken down into 32 stages, which seems a bit excessive for what is quite a simple kit - but better too many, than cluttered diagrams.
The paint schemes are depicted in full colour on a separate sheet with the following options:
A.s/n XH135, No. 39 Squadron, RAF Marham, July 2006.
B.s/n XH134, No. 1 PRU, RAF Wyton, November 1985.
C.s/n 343, grupo 2, 2nd Air Brigade, Chilean Air Force, 1983.
D.s/n XH168, No. 58 Squadron, RAF Wyton, September 1963.
The decals seem very good indeed. It's great to see that Airfix have listened to the criticism of some of their recent sheets, so gone are colours printed as a series of dots in favour of conventional decals. The registration is spot on, and the thin glossy items have minimal, crystal clear, carrier film.
ConclusionLike its big brothers, Airfix's 1:72 Canberra deserves to be a great success. The detail is certainly a bit softer and heavier than one might hope for in a "Tamigawa" kit, but where it really scores is with its price; at just £12.99 it represents great value for money - probably 1/2 what we might expect to pay for a new-tool jet twin from some other manufacturers. Recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.