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KIT REVIEW


Revell of Germany # 03934
Vampire F Mk. 3 -- 1:72 Scale

 

The dawn of the jet age saw a number of unique, unconventional, and pioneering aircraft coupled with this revolutionary form of propulsion – from the swept-wing Me 262 to the P-59, P-80, MiG-9, and Yak-15.  Great Britain was one of the most important pioneers in early jet development, and the Gloster Meteor was particularly successful.  Another British first-generation jet, the de Haviland Vampire, blazed new paths as well.  Here, we’ll take a look at the Revell of Germany kit of the Vampire F Mk. 3 in 1:72 scale.

By the early 1940s, jet engine design progressed to the point at which one turbojet engine alone could produce sufficient power for a high-performance aircraft.  In 1941, engineers at de Havilland in Great Britain developed a single-engine design that eventually came to be designated as the DH.100.  It featured wing-root mounted intakes that fed a centrally mounted centrifugal turbojet powerplant with an output of about 3,000 pounds of thrust.  The design also used a twin tail boom that allowed the exhaust pipe to be short and avoid the loss of thrust that comes with longer exhausts. 

On 20 September 1943, the first DH.100 prototype took to the air and soon was designated the Vampire.  In May 1944 an initial production order for 120 Vampire Mk I aircraft was received that kicked off a production run of 3,268 airframes spanning more than three dozen variants.  The first operational Vampire Mk I did not fly until April 1945, and the jet soon came to equip the RAF, Royal Navy, and dozens of export customers from Norway to South Africa.  It was deployed widely with the RAF in the early days of the Cold War and saw combat attacking ground targets during small conflicts in Africa (e.g., the Mau Mau rebellion, the Rhodesian Bush War) and during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and the Malayan Emergency in the late 1940s and 1950s.

The Vampire was a well-regarded airplane.  Its controls were light and responsive, and the airplane possessed an innate aerobatic capability.  It featured a good thrust-to-weight ratio and had a maximum airspeed of 548 mph, but above Mach 0.7, transonic buffeting became a problem.  I’ve seen the Vampire fly on a few occasions, and it can really zoom!

Upon entering service, the Vampire quickly replaced many WWII-era piston-engine fighters. By 1953, the new and more capable Meteor 8 took over front-line fighter duties from the Vampire.  Vampires then transitioned to training and ground attack roles.  During its time, the Vampire had many achievements.  It was the first jet to land and take off from an aircraft carrier.  It held several speed and altitude records of the day, and was the first RAF fighter with a top speed exceeding 500 mph and the first jet to make a transatlantic crossing.  Today, quite a few Vampires can be found in museums and a number of flying examples still exist in the hands of collectors.

 


Revell of Germany’s 1:72 scale kit covers the Vampire F Mk. 3.  This variant was a single-seat fighter Vampire, of which 202 were produced for the RAF and another 20 were purchased by Norway.  The kit itself is a re-boxing of the 2014 MPM/Special Hobby injection molded kit with new instructions and decals. 
The kit contains two medium-gray injection molded polystyrene sprues containing a total of 49 parts.  An additional nine clear parts are present on one clear sprue.  About 10 will go unused.  Panel lines, rivets, and fasteners are all represented by engraved, recessed details.  The full color instruction booklet details the build over 27 steps.  Decals and the markings guide cover two jets:

Strengths:  If you're not expecting a lot from this little kit, you will be pleasantly surprised. While it may be a rather simple kit thanks to the low parts count, the kit demonstrates great detail, from the surface details to the wheels, cockpit, gear wells, engine face, underwing HVAR rockets, and more.  Construction looks to be straightforward with upper and lower fuselage halves, booms, and tailplane serving as the primary subassemblies. Underwing stores include the aforementioned air-to-ground rockets (x4) and a pair of drop tanks.  It should make for an easy assembly. From what I hear, the kit fits together well.  I also snipped off the fuselage, wings, and tail boom parts.  Dry fitting shows very nice alignment right off the bat.  

The choice for markings is great.  I’ve liked for a long time the natural metal schemes on the Vampire, and these are quite colorful and distinct.  Decals are by Zanchetti, and they are perfectly in register and the colors look great. Decal carrier film is very thin and very restrained.   

Weaknesses:  Only a few things to note here.  Be cautious when removing the smallest parts from the sprues.  You’ll find the characteristic MPM/Special Hobby large sprue gate that attaches to even the most delicate of parts such as the landing gear, control column, and other items.  There are no parts for harnesses or lap belts for the pilot’s seat.
The canopy and windscreen appear to be a bit thick in cross-section, but it’s not too egregious.  Also, the entire left and right outboard wingtip panels (including the position lights) are molded in clear plastic. It’s an odd choice since one cannot get to the back of the position light to paint the light itself.

Overall, this is a neat little kit.  It received high marks all around and can build into a solid replica of the Vampire F Mk. 3 right out of the box.  While there’s aftermarket detail parts out there for other 1:72 scale Vampire variants, there does not seem to be much of anything specifically for this version of the airplane.  Hopefully, that will change over time.  

Sincere thanks to Revell of Germany for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at http://www.revell.com/germany.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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