Airfix Defiant Mk.1


Airfix 1/48 Boulton Paul Defiant Mk 1


Review by David Harvey

 

Review Type

Build review

Scale:

1/48

Price:

 

Contents and Media:

4 x plastic sprues and one sheet of decals

Advantages:

Good options and an easy build

Disadvantages:

Not enough rivets and the lack of detail in a few components eg Machine Guns and Turret.

Recommendation:

Highly Recommended

 

History
Born out of specification to replace the Hawker Demon in the RAF the Defiant was to be used to provide defence from bomber formations by flying alongside them and firing from the side of the bomber formation. The plan was that the Defiant was to operate in conjunction with normal fighters when intercepting both bombers and fighter formations.
On 11 Aug1937 the prototype Defiant, K8310, first flew with a Rolls Royce Merlin I engine. The aircraft featured several differences from other aircraft as it had a tubular frame with metal skins wrapped on to the frame and riveted to the stringers. Corrugated sections were also used to give strength in the wings, cockpit sides and rear fuselage, it also featured wooden components for the upper fuselage. Due to the modular manner in which it was designed it was later found to be well suited to be manufactured by various companies and the components brought together.

The first production Defiant, L6950, was flown on the 30th July 1939 and was powered by the Rolls Royce Merlin III. It was put in to Squadron service with 264 SQN receiving a full compliment. As is well known, the Defiant found initial success due to the opposition not realising that attacking from the rear was not a good option unlike other fighters. Unfortunately for the Defiant, due to the lack of conventional fighters it was put in to battle without any fighter support and suffered the consequences once the Luftwaffe worked out the weakness of the design.

The model

Up until the release of the Airfix kit, the only available model of the Defiant in 1/48 was from Classic Airframes who had released a Mk 1, Mk II and a TT Mk I/II version. As with all of the Classic Airframes kits there were difficulties in building them due to the limited run nature of the kit. The release of the kit by Airfix has made making a Defiant a much more pleasant activity. Since the release of this AIrfix kit there has also been a release by Trumpeter which does not rate anywhere near as good as this kit by Airfix due to various inaccuracies.

The kit comes in the, now usual, Airfix red box which is stout enough to survive the trip through Aust Post and arrive safely from the UK. The kit comes with a few options and a few extra bits that shows they will be doing the Mk II at some stage in the future. Some of the options are:

 

The decals cover the following aircraft:

The decals appear to be well printed ie in register etc and even come with stencil markings.

The Instructions

The instructions are the new style from Airfix and give good detail for putting the components together. The decal placement pages are in colour and are also good for the job.

The components

The model comes in a sturdy new style Airfix box with all components sealed in sturdy plastic bags. As it is a new kit there is no flash on the parts and the seam lines are not too bad and only required a little clean up. There are a number of ejection post marks on the various large components, some of which may become visible.

Here are the wheel bays with Airfix in light gray and Classic Airframes in olive. In comparison with the images from the Mushroom publications Defiant book the Airfix components are vastly better despite the CA items being resin. The Airfix parts correctly show the various indents in the top of the wheel bay and is a better and more accurate starting point to those wishing to detail a little more.


The instrument panel is nowhere near the standard I expect these days. The main instruments were recessed and not standing proud as done by Airfix. I would probably replace them with one of the Eduard colour etch sets.

The tail on the real aircraft has a series of overlapping panels that leaves a ridge on the surface. To represent this both CA and Airfix have used trenches to represent this despite it being wrong. I would have thought with the technology today that Airfix would have been able to easily represent the overlapping panel lines properly.



The fairing at the bottom of the fuselage (a strengthening plate?) is an overlapping plate which CA has used a panel line to represent it, Airfix has done the correct way and represented it as a raised panel on top of the fuselage.

The lack of panel lines on the fuselage is technically correct for the Defiant but this is one aircraft where "Rosie the mad riveter' has gone to town with thousands of rivet dots all over the whole aircraft. So while both CA and Airfix have done the right thing with panel lines neither of them would have the right look for the fuselage as it needs lots of rivets on it.

 

Building the model
As I bought three of these kits my intention for this one was for it to be straight out of the box with little or no modification and using kit decals.

Prior to any construction work beginning I checked out the kit and found a few ejection post marks that required filling eg on the throttle quadrant in the cockpit. Once these were filled in I gave it a base coat of Humbrol Hu78 Interior Green followed by a wash of very thinned black paint to highlight the detail on the interior and wheel wells. Once dry I painted the instruments with matt black, highlighted them by drybrushing some Hu67 then placed the instrument decal as supplied by Airfix. The cockpit of the kit is very basic and could use a fair bit of detailing if you are after that degree of accuracy. Eduard does make a Photo Etch set that supplies pre painted instrument panels, seat belts and replaces various boxes and instruments in the cockpit, this is to be used for the next Defiant I build.

For the most part building the interior was a relatively easy job but I ran in to difficulty trying to get the instrument panel to fit and close up the fuselage halves. For some reason I could not get it to fit and ended up trimming and eventually breaking off one small part of the panel to get it to fit properly. I am hoping it was just me having a blonde moment as it was frustrating and I spent some time trying to work out where I was going wrong. Airfix doesn’t supply anything to represent the seat belts so I decided not to make anything, though the PE set from Eduard supplies etch seat belts. My next build will be done using this PE set to see how much difference it makes.

Once interesting feature provided by Airfix is the upper decking in the rear cockpit. To make it easy to get the two sections in evenly they have cast the parts with two joiners that are removed after the fuselage is put together and the deck is glued solid. These joiners should be cut initially with a saw if possible and then trimmed flush so the turret can fit in properly. The fuselage halves went together using minimal filler and only a little filing to remove the join mark now the instrument panel fitted.

Next up for construction was the wing section. This was a very easy job that leaves you with a very solid set of wings. The wing section goes on to the fuselage easily and, once again, little filler or filing was required. The only area of concern was the gunners escape hatch that is moulded on to the rear of the wings section as you need to take care with the alignment of the wings or this area will look out of place. To aid the painting process I used the one piece undercarriage doors to protect the wheel wells and painted the multi part ones that would go on later. I had another blonde moment when I painted the inner doors as I painted the silver and sky on the wrong sides, easily rectified but annoying none the less.

 

The tail planes and ailerons are adjustable but as this was to be one the ground they were glues in the neutral position. The ailerons (parts B10/B11) are marked incorrectly on the instructions and need to be swapped around to fit in to the wing, the attachment points also needed trimming to fit correctly. The deep trenches on the tail planes are supposed to represent overlapping panels but look nothing like it. I chose to leave them as is as it would be hard to make it look right.

Moving on to the turret, this is where you need to make several decisions as it can be posed with the turret back open, in flight position, firing forward or to the side due to the number of options included. Little detail can be seen in the turret below the turret ring as it is all black and hidden by the machine guns so you can detail it, but for the most part this would be pointless. I painted the interior and machine guns black and gave them a slight weathering with dark gray then silver paint to give some depth. Once it was complete I used the Eduard mask set to cover the turret and then airbrushed it Humbrol Hu85 Coal Black. I prefer the mask set over cutting up tape and masking it myself as it is so much easier and only costs a few dollars to purchase, a small cost compared to the stress involved in masking all those small windows.

The position you wish to pose the turret in impacts on how you do the pilots canopy and other components (parts D22 and D15) as they need to be raised or lowered depending on the turret position. I chose to have the turret in the rear facing position so both parts were in the raised position. Part D15 behind the turret was left off until final construction after painting but it still requires to be masked off when doing the camouflage paint job as there is a demarcation line on it.

Once all the main components were assembled it was time to move on to the paint job. I generally use Humbrol paints for my models as they work well with my airbrush and my style of painting. I was making the aircraft as KO*I of No II (Army Co-operation) SQN in the Dark Earth, Dark Green and Sky camouflage scheme. For this I used Humbrol Hu90 Matt Beige Green for the undersides, masked that off when dry then airbrushed the top in Hu30 Dark Earth. I was planning on using Hu 30 Dark Green to finish off the scheme but found I had none so I tried Hu116 US Dark Green that looked the part after it dried. My method of masking is to cut out paper masks that are then taped in such a manner so that the mask is just above the model so it leaves a tight edge without ridging of paint. In some areas such as the tail plane I have to use Tamiya tape as it is too hard to use the paper masks. There are also masks available from AML (purchased from Hannants in the UK p/n AMLM 49027) that I have now bought to see how they go on the next Defiant I build.

Once all was dried I gave the paint a light sanding with very fine wet and dry then put on several coats of Pledge One Go, also with a light sanding between coats so the decals would have a smooth surface to adhere to. This worked for most of the decals but in some areas I had a little silvering that I could not get rid of and I ended up using a fine brush and painting over the silvered area. I then sealed all the decals with One Go and then used a thinned black paint to highlight the panels and give a small amount of weathering to the airframe.

Once all was painted and weathered only the small parts, undercarriage and propeller were added to the model. The antenna at the rear of the lower fuselage needs to be trimmed if the plane is to be on the ground and it was simply trimmed to the 8mm as recommended on the instruction sheet. I then added the turret and removed the masks off the wing lights and the Defiant was complete.

The Airfix kit is a simple build of a generally forgotten aircraft. For those that like to add extra detail there are several PE sets from Eduard, resin MG barrels and assorted other bits as well as scope for scratch building missing parts such as the roll over bar behind the pilot. I chose the simple build this time and it still looked the part.

 

Reference

The model was courtesy of my wallet from Hannants in the United Kingdom.