I hadn’t intended on building any more kits right now, but when the urge comes it’s hard to resist. I’m stacking up a little pile of planes that need painting, but with the current low temperatures, it’s unlikely to happen for a while. Consequently, a “Flying Suitcase” arrived on the bench, in keeping with my 1940 Air War/Battle of Britain interests.
Incidentally, I’ve spread my metaphorical wings with my ambitions there. I have decided to include the Phoney War and Battle of France in my collection, so a few Belgian, French and Dutch planes are on the horizon!
I recall building the Airfix Hampden in the late 1970s, when it was already ten years old. I loved the original box art, too. So much so, that as a budding teenaged artist I copied it in watercolours - now, sadly, long lost to time.
Ages ago, I acquired a Humbrol era re-issue of the kit. I kept the box in my stash, with the idea that one day I would build it with after-market detailing, perhaps going so far as to remove the raised details and scribe some panel lines. The faint hope a new tooling might emerge kept the box on the shelf, but with the prices of other kit makers’ versions being quite steep, there seemed little point in jumping ship. I am waiting for a better Fairey Battle to arrive, though. The old Airfix one commands high prices, for an allegedly compromised shape, so I’m content to wait for a new tooling to turn up. So, I dug the Hampden box out to survey the contents. After all, if it didn’t seem worth the effort, I could always eventually stump up for an alternative version.
Well, considering when I bought this kit the original moulds must have been all of 40 years old or more, it acquits itself well. There are obvious signs of age with the amount of flash around some parts, but overall it doesn’t look too bad. A hard light grey plastic was used for this moulding. Some sink holes will need filling, and some care with fitting parts will be required. I can see areas that might benefit from some careful upgrading and tweaking, too.
I had a scoot round on the internet to see how others have tackled the kit, and it seems evenly split between leaving the rivets well alone and sanding everything off completely. While prominent, the rivets are not exactly overpowering, but I felt the build might look better without them. Having a few reference books about, I dug into them and found a three-position line drawing with indications of the main panelling. I correlated that with the rivets, and carefully scribed lines into the plastic on the wings and fuselage. I then sanded all the rivet detail away. I still need to tackle the tailplane, but I was pleased with my efforts.
I believe I need to modify the shape of the wing tips, so I’m looking into that, but I’ve ordered a photo-etch detail kit (Airwaves) and a sheet of better transfers. The ones in the box are okay, but the printing leaves a fair bit to be desired.
So, this is where I am with my Hampden. I haven’t settled on a particular aircraft yet. That’ll wait for the transfer set to dictate to me, my only rider being it has to fit into my 1940 interest bubble. Like all my models, it’ll be planted on the deck, and I think I will model it with the bomb bay doors open and the full bomb load fitted. More to come, as they say!