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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby Tempest Mk. VI
1:32 Scale



In the latter part of the Second World War, the British Hawker Tempest turned out to be one of the fastest and most lethal airplanes of the war.  Originally starting out on paper as an improved Hawker Typhoon, the design evolved into a significantly new airplane that proved capable of taking on any target, from the V-1 buzz bomb to armored trains, tanks, and the Me 262 jet fighter.  Special Hobby released its 1:32 first Tempest Mk. V in 2016. Since then, we’ve seen four additional boxings of the Mk.V and Mk.II, and in 2018, the Mk.VI has been released.  Let’s take a look.     

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The Hawker Typhoon was one of the RAF’s most famous airplanes during WWII but it had some limitations.  The Typhoon’s performance was particularly poor at both high altitude and high airspeeds. Engine troubles and structural flaws also plagued the Typhoon. Hawker engineers, led by Sydney Camm, developed a Typhoon variant in 1941 that incorporated a thinner, laminar flow wing design that was first known as the Hawker P. 1012 or Typhoon II. The wing was redesigned into a near-elliptical shape with a 43-foot span and wing surfaces were very purposefully flush-riveted to optimize laminar flow. The wing also was designed to incorporate 800 rounds of 20 mm ammunition for four Hispano cannons.  Additional internal fuel tanks were added to bring internal fuel capacity to 162 gallons.  The heart of the new deign was the powerful Napier Sabre IV powerplant.  The accumulated changes prompted a new name for the new design, and the Typhoon II became the Tempest. 

Six prototype Tempests were built as a single Mk.I, two Mk.IIs, one Mk.III, one Mk.IV, and one Mk.V variant.  Each example featured a range of different airframe and powerplant configurations.  Delays with the other prototypes saw the Mk.V take to the air first in September 1942.  Tempest flight tests validated the new design than indeed overcame the Typhoon’s performance shortcomings.  The RAF knew it had on its hands one of the most powerful fighters of its day.  From about 10,000 feet down to the deck, the Tempest was fastest low-altitude propeller-driven aircraft of the war.

Tempests soon flew fighter sweeps and reconnaissance missions.  Leading up to D-Day, Tempests frequently flew into northern France, Holland, and the Netherlands to attack German airfields, radar installations, ground vehicles, coastal shipping, and “vengeance-weapon” launch sites.  Further, the high-speed performance of the Tempest made it an excellent interceptor of the V-1.  Tempests brought down no less than 638 V-1s inbound to England.  In September 1944, Tempests supported Operation MARKET GARDEN and by the end of that year, their missions were generally focused on systematic destruction of northern German railways.  By 1945, the Tempest’s speed and tactics had begun to accumulate kills against the Me 262, and by the end of the war, the airplane had accumulated an overall kill-to-loss ratio of 6.5 to 1.  Indeed, what had started out as a redesign of the Hawker Typhoon lead to an airplane that produced a definitive contribution to close the Second World War in Europe.

The final production variant of the Tempest was the Mk.VI.  It featured an even more powerful Napier Sabre V engine that required a required a larger radiator which displaced the oil cooler and carburetor air intake, the air supply for which was now drawn through intakes on the leading edge of the inner wings.  The end of the war cut back production and only 142 Mk.VIs were produced.  It was the last piston-engine fighter in operational service with the RAF.

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Special Hobby’s 1:32 scale Tempest Mk.VI is an injection molded plastic model kit.  It contains 378 medium gray parts distributed across nine sprues (approximately 39 parts will go unused) along with an additional 16 clear parts on one sprue.  Also included in the box is the color instruction booklet with assembly of the Tempest Mk.VI proceeding over 59 steps. Markings are provided for four Tempest Mk.VIs:

Strengths:  Over the years, Special Hobby has been steadily improving their game in terms of molding quality, detail, and fit.  Their large-scale Tempest kits truly show how far Special Hobby has come.  Pretty much all of the accolades I gave to their standard issues and Hi-Tech Tempest kits apply here as well (see our reviews HERE and HERE).  This kit is on par with any high-quality modern manufacturer, and I would probably draw the closest comparison with Hasegawa and their peers.  Overall size and shapes appear to be very accurate.  The surface airframe detail is excellent, featuring crisp and restrained panel lines.  Recessed screw, rivet, and fastener detail is likewise very well executed, and also captures the details of the different sized and shaped fasteners on the engine cowling and wing roots.  The rudder and elevators are separate parts and can be positioned deflected though the instructions only show them to be placed in the neutral position.  It quite true that Special Hobby has been steadily improving their game in terms of molding quality, detail, and fit.  This family of kits bears witness to the current state of this evolutionary process.  

The cockpit is excellent.  The level of detail and intricacy that is provided translates into the potential for most scale modelers to produce a small masterpiece here.  The detail provided just by the kit is excellent, and one can tell the thinking that went into the parts breakdown, from the control column to the throttle, rudder pedals, seat, and surrounding airframe structure, was very careful indeed.  To be clear and expose my personal bias, I love using aftermarket parts – as a builder, resin and photoetch represent a big part of my enjoyment of the hobby.  But there’s not much need here for anything else because the kit parts are just that good.  Instrument bezels look great, but there is no detail on the instrument faces, as they are to be represented by very nicely detailed decals.

The Mk.VI parts come on Sprue G contains parts for the wing leading edge intakes.  Engine cowling halves are also found here, as are the parts that build into the intake outlet and flap assembly at the rear of the main engine intake.  The cowling halves do not appear to be retooled for the Mk.VI version of the kit.  This problem is discussed below. 

Elsewhere, scale modelers will also be very impressed by the fidelity of detail in the main gear and tail wheel wells and gear doors.  The structures of the main gear wells appear to be very well represented, only lacking wire bundles or plumbing.  The main gear themselves and their retraction cylinders and other struts are very nicely detailed and crisply molded.  Further, ejection pin marks are nowhere to be seen.  Other smaller details are to be commended, too, including the exterior lights and very nicely printed decals that represent the straps on the drop tank pylons.

The kit also comes with a pair of drop tanks, two air-to-ground bombs, and eight 60-pound unguided RKT/A/C3” rockets.  The stencils allow you to model the either the HE or the SAP versions.  Should you choose to hang anything off your Tempest, pay attention to the holes that will need to be drilled from the inside of the lower wing half to mount the pylons.  Also, two tire styles - bulged and flattened and non-bulged tires - are also provided.  I also like the internal propeller hub plate that helps one align the props correctly.  I snipped off the fuselage, wings, and tail parts for a test fit.  Everything fits rather precisely, and you’ll not likely need much filler here.  Also, the full-span wings allow the builder to achieve the proper dihedral angle right out of the box.

The markings options are all well chosen, between two silver painted and two camouflaged Mk.VIs.  Cartograf printed the decals for the individual airframes on two sheets.  Their colors are accurate, vibrant, and in perfect register.  Carrier film is thin and quite well restrained.  The print fidelity, including for the finest airframe stencils, is excellent.  Eduard printed the airframe stencil decal sheet, and AviPrint did the stencils for the rockets.  Their quality is equally high.

Weaknesses:  There are only a few critiques that can be entertained for this kit.  The pour gates are still a bit large proportionally speaking, and for almost every part, a few moments of extra clean-up will probably be necessary.  While the rudder and elevators are separate pieces and can be positioned, the flaps and ailerons are integrally molded into the trailing edges of the wings.  There are no shoulder harnesses and lap belts for the seat, and the tires are basic, lacking sidewall grooves and the Dunlop imprimatur.  Of course, these last two omissions were probably purposeful, as CMK (the sister company of Special Hobby) already produce resin sets that include these details.

The one big issue that has dogged this kit involves the shape and size errors that are present in the engine cowling.  Indeed, careful comparisons that have been drawn by others indicate there are a few accuracy errors with the kit nose.  The issues involve the fact that the spinner baseplate diameter is too large which visibly throws out of whack the taper and shape of the forward cowling and the spinner.  The shape and size of the radiator is also too big.  I know many people including myself had been hoping for a retooled nose in the Mk.VI, but alas, it’s the same nose.  Certainly, some scale modelers can tolerate this shape problem.  Fortunately, for those who can’t live with it, Barracuda Studios produces an accurate single-piece, drop-in resin nose correction set for the Mk.V that can be used here on the Mk.VI just as well.

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Special Hobby’s 1:32 scale Tempest Mk.VI joins the excellent injection molded kit family of Tempests.  It’s a great kit, and the the uncorrected errors in the shape of the nose really represents its one and only strike.  Most scale modelers will find this to be a pretty superb kit.  For those interested in upgrading the kit even further, there are a range of detail parts from CMK proving super-detailed parts for the control column, gun sight, sitting and a climbing pilot figure, cannon barrels, strengthened main landing and a resin starboard side gun and ammo bay.  Enjoy this one.  Kits like this are meant to be built.

Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby for the review sample.  You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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