by: Ben Micklem [ ]
Originally published on:
IntroductionIn 1937, Sydney Camm was already thinking of the next generation of fighter-interceptors. Two aircraft were designed: both with large water-cooled engines that were expected to easily exceed 2,000 hp. One was the Typhoon, with the Napier Sabre motor, the other- powered by a Rolls-Royce Vulture- was the Tornado. Both engines had development issues, and the Vulture was eventually axed by Rolls-Royce.
The Typhoon's design featured a large chin radiator to provide adequate cooling for the Sabre. Add to this the very thick wings, and limited supercharger, it can clearly be seen- with hindsight- that this aircraft would not become the ultra-fast mid-to-high altitude interceptor it was conceived as. The hoped-for top speed of 460 mph was never reached, and performance over 20,000 ft was particularly poor. The future of the Typhoon was in question, until the appearance of the Fw 190 in late 1941. The Typhoon was rushed into service to intercept low-level raids by this new Luftwaffe type.
Once in service, the Typhoon had to updated frequently to correct flaws as they were found: reinforcing the tail, anti-vibration seat, cockpit vents to prevent carbon monoxide build-up, updates to the rudder mass balance, four bladed prop, larger tail planes, and many more. By the end of the war the engine was quite reliable (developments included a new alloy for the sleeve valves- on advise from Bristol, who were also using them on their high-performance radial engines- and new rubber seals from the US that prevented the leak of CO into the cockpit). One of the biggest outward changes was the move from a fixed rear canopy with a car-style door (complete with window lowered by a winding handle), to a sliding bubble canopy.
While not completely unsuccessful as a low-level interceptor (in late 1942 the Typhoon claimed the first two Me 210s shot down over Britain, and they had some victories over the Fw 190), the real success of the type came as a ground attack aircraft. Wing Commander Roland Beamont was one of the aircraft's strongest supporters, and he used experience from his night raids in Hurricanes on trains to obtain much success with 609 Squadron in the heavier type. Later, rocket projectiles became the most iconic weapon used by Typhoons. While they were of limited use at actually destroying tanks and land vehicles (their accuracy was simply not good enough for small targets), their psychological effects enabled allied ground troops to capture targets with less resistance. The strong wings of the Typhoon were eventually put to use carrying a pair of 1000 lb bombs- four times the original planned weight.
In the BoxAcademy's 1/72 model kit of the Hawker Typhoon was released in 1998. Before this, the Airfix and Frog kits were the only major releases on this type in this scale. Both were primitive kits by modern standards (the car-door Frog, I have heard, may be better than their bubble-top).
The kit comes in a well-made conventional box- just wide enough to allow the part-assembled kit to fit in.
The three main sprues, containing 49 grey plastic parts, are very well moulded- no flash at all, only the slightest traces of sink marks on the undercarriage doors.
The clear parts are packed in a separate bag to prevent scratches. The canopy is in two parts, making it easy to display open. There are also two landing light covers included.
In DetailThe surface of the of the aircraft has a mixture of recessed and raised details- the rivets on the small raised access panels are themselves raised, while all other rivets and cowling fasteners are recessed. In the case of three small raised panels on the underside of each wing near the wheel wells, there are raised rivets on the starboard wing, and no rivets on the port.
The engine cowlings are not accurate- there is supposed to be a panel join in line with the exhausts, which is completely absent. The remaining panels have far too many fasteners. See the photo comparison to the Pavla engine cowlings, which I believe to be generally accurate. I would also have liked the exhausts to be a separate part- for easier painting, if nothing else.
The use of raised detail for many of the panels is not appropriate- almost all of these are actually flush with the surface in the real aircraft. Another case is the raised rectangles around the shell ejector ports (which are not recessed at all). Next to the nice, deep, wheel wells, they are a disappointment. The most noticeable and questionable raised details are the fishplates around the tail. These were the external part of the strengthening programme to prevent the tails falling off. I understand that these were almost flush- only being around 1mm thick. As you can see in the photo, Academy have made these very prominent.
All the panel lines look nice, and control surfaces have rounded edges where they are hinged- rare in 1/72 aircraft of this size. The fabric effect on the rudder is overdone.
The detail of the instrument panel and control column are as good as can be achieved with injection moulded plastic. The side-wall detail is a adequate at representing the tubular structure, especially at this scale and price, and considering how visible it is, even with the canopy open. The chair is simple, and doesn't represent the quilted cushioning that I think should be present on the back rest.
The airscrews are very crisp and have a nice shape- hardly any sanding will be required. The spinners and back plates are separate. You get both three and four bladed propellers.
I like the fact that the wheels are single parts- and while they are fairly close to the originals, the detail moulded on the sidewalls is not obviously present from photographs. The spokes of the hub are recessed from the rim of the hub, which should not be not the case. I shall probably try to correct this by adding five small trapeziums made from styrene sheet to replace the spokes, or maybe shape them from putty.
Supplied with the kit are eight rocket projectiles and their launching rails. The location points for the rails are not present on the outer surface of the wing- you have to simply punch or drill through from the inner surface of the wing, where they are moulded. This has the advantage of not requiring filling of the holes if you are not using the rockets, and requires very little effort if you are. The rockets hang a little low- they should be closer to the rails. This would not be too much trouble to correct. The tails of the rockets are separate, and have square locating pins to ensure correct alignment of the fins.
The landing gear looks like is has been well designed to give an accurate looking representation, and yet not require too much fiddling with small parts. I have read some criticism of the angle and which the gear legs sit when assembled- requiring a spacing block to achieve the correct nose height after increasing the forward rake of the legs.
The clear parts look good, particularly the three flat parts of the windscreen- they are very flat, with sharp framework and excellent clarity with no distortion when looking through them. The rear part, due to the complex curves it has to make to move from a fairly squared shape at the front, to a completely rounded shape at the rear, creates some distortion. This is worst when viewed from the side- from directly above, you get a very clear undistorted view.
Marking optionsYou get only two aircraft options in the instructions and transfers. The instructions don't list references for either aircraft.
The first aircraft is from No. 175 Squadron, August 1944: HH-A, MN582. You are instructed to use the three blade propeller. The painting diagram could be clearer- for example, it shows the prop blades in white, with no paint labels in the four view, but has a separate painting guide for the prop which shows they should be black. A similar treatment of the gear doors- they are grey in the side views, but from the underside and in a separate diagram, they are shown with D-Day stripes. The stripes are provided as transfers, which should be a great help to beginners who may be daunted by painting them. This squadron was rocket-equipped, so you could use the rockets provided.
The second aircraft is DP-S, SW493, from 193 Squadron, August 1945. This uses the four blade prop. This squadron would definitely have been fitted with the large Tempest tail planes (they were a bombing squadron, and the larger tail surfaces were introduced to provide stability with the 2x 1,000lb bomb load). I cannot advise using these markings without buying after-market horizontal stabilisers (Airwaves do a set that has the same size and placement of locating tabs fro this kit, at least two other companies also make sets which include them- all would require putty to blend them into the smaller root section). Alternatively, a Tempest kit could be used as a donor. I don't think this squadron ever used rockets, so they should not be fitted. It would have been great to see bomb racks and 1,000 lb bombs included. The squadron insignia of a Montagu's harrier carrying a grenade is not particularly well drawn- it looks more like an eagle, and the wings have lots of white patches as highlight details, which I don't think are visible in photographs (although I admit to not having seen a photo of this particular aircraft).
The three and four colour roundels are provided with separate red centres- as the transfers don't show any signs of being out-of-register, I think they should have had more confidence in their printing, and done them as single transfers. The sky colour looks quite close, though a little too yellow, in my opinion. What may seem at first glance to be printing errors on the serial numbers, are actually areas of overlap with the sky code letters.
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