HighPlanes Mk 21 Canberra A84-201
Highplanes plugged a gap in 1/72 post-war jets when their
Mk20 kit emerged a couple of years back. For a review
and build article on that boxing, have a look at Mick Evans’ work
over on Hyperscale.
The Mk21 issue provides the trainer’s unique cockpit
and nose pitot along with a very comprehensive decal sheet
that covers all the RAAF’s “twin stick” Canberras. Included
in the instructions are details of which vents and panels
need to be filled for this mark. My only reservation
is regarding the seats provided, which look like standard “bang” seats. No
seat is present for the navigator, but even if I had opened
up the solid windows in the fuselage top and side I doubt
it could’ve been seen.
Thanks to David Soderstrom I had the old
Airfix B(I)6 /Mk20 kit for comparison. Long out of
production, it pops up on ebay or at swap meets for around
$30. Mr Airfix
gave us a way too big nose cone and fuselage nose to match
along with finely raised surface detail, clear wingtip nav
lights and a fair representation of the bomb bay. The
Highplanes offering has the usual nice recessed surface detail,
an accurate outline, solid wingtips, closed bomb bay, no
detail in the main undercarriage wells, vac form canopies
and the usual slog required to get a good fit and fill gaps. Both
kits could do with some added detail such as elevator actuators
and fuel dump vents. Pappy’s excellent
on AMI are a useful guide to such bits and pieces.
The wings seemed like a good place to start. After
cleanup the main parts went together fairly well, but adding
the fronts and rears to the nacelles left some bit gaps to
fill and the exhausts a bit uneven and short. Even
after a fair bit of sanding the engine starter cones look
like they poke out a tad too far from the intakes – more
like a later Mk20.
The fuselage also got a bit of cleanup before
assembly. Biggest challenge here was getting the resin
nose wheel bay to fit and more than a few rude words were
said. I glued a fair bit of weight behind the aft bulkhead
but it proved to be not enough. Another foolish error
followed. A smart modeller would’ve glued some
location tabs into one or both halves to let everything line
up properly. I neglected to do so and after clamping
the halves together I disappeared to the Gippsland fires
for a week. On return, a nasty “step” had
appeared in various places.
My next bit of excitement was getting the
wing roots into the wells provided in the fuselage sides. Lots
of trimming and grinding was required here, and a “nose
on” view to help with wing and tailplane dihedral would’ve
been handy in the instructions. While I had the power
toys out I opened up an underwing landing light.
Once the tailplane was added it was time
for the usual filling, sanding and rescribing before gluing
on the resin tip tanks. Their exact location was a
tad vague, check your references. A quick shoot of
primer and I was feeling a sense of achievement (or maybe
Yet another bit of foolishness followed. This
would’ve been a good time to add the canopy and nose
cone before filling and smoothing any gaps then masking for
painting. Instead I left these until post-painting,
silly boy that I am.
Before painting I cleaned up the undercarriage
doors and glued on some thin lengths of sprue to provide
locators during painting and assembly.
For the fuselage top I used Humbrol gloss
white (sprayed on a bit thick). I masked this off then
followed with the black leading edges. More masking
and then for the overall silver I used my favourite Gunze
The decals supplied are very nicely printed
and based on earlier experience with Highplanes decals will
go on without fuss. I had the Aussie decals sheet and
used it simply to compare. The Aussie decals are as
thin as Paris Hilton’s resume, which means they are
a bit tricky to handle but do stick down like the proverbial
to a blanket. The white in the roundels is a touch “see
through” (I’ll resist a wet t shirt joke) and
could do with a backing disc.
Post-decals I just had the undercarriage
and antenna to add. No great dramas here, but I couldn’t
find a HF antenna mast in the nice PE sheet provided. Said
sheet does have a heap of stuff that will be handy for other
models such as ADF towel rails and other goodies.
On fitting the undercarriage I found every
modeller’s nightmare – A84-201 was a tail sitter! I
cracked the nose cone off and stuffed about 20g of lead into
the compartment. The end result was a Canberra that
sits properly but with a nose cone that doesn’t quite
fit as nicely as it should.
The end result is a Canberra that will look reasonably nice
in a cabinet, which is about par for most of my models. Shortcomings
in my finished model are due to my own lack of skill and
forethought rather than the kit. If you’ve got
a few limited run kits under your belt and don’t mind
a bit of that cutting/filling/sanding experience you won’t
have too many dramas.
Thanks once again to Steve from Highplanes
for this kit.