As usual with the new Airfix offerings the Cartograf decals went on well with minimum carrier film and no silvering. However I think there may be some confusion with the two options given with this kit. Both are said to be from 888 NAS at the time of Operation Torch, aboard HMS Formidable. But if the aircraft are from the same Squadron at the same time for the same operation why do they have different Squadron codes in different font styles, and one has the 'Torch' US stars and the other roundles? Some research needed I think!
After trawling the internet for a while I think I have soime answers. first parent carrier, the 'Ø' at the start of the code represents the ship. This is the Greek letter for 'F' for Formidable, so the carrier is correct. (At the time of the Second World War most naval Officers were public school educated and liked to show off their Greek and Latin skills!).
Next the squadron identifier, which is the second figure in the code, either a '7' or '9'. From my research I found that at the time of 'torch' Formidable had two Martlet squadrons, 888 NAS, who had the code number '7' and the short lived 893 NAS with '9', so I'm guessing option 1 on the paint guide is actually from 893. There is always the chance however that 888 borrowed the aircraft without changing codes however.
Finally the different national markings. As all aircraft involved in the 'Torch' landings had US stars it is probable that the photo that the scheme is based on was taken during preperations for 'Torch' during early November, and not during the operation itself in later November1942. Again however there is always the exception that proves the rule!
Here is the model with decals applied. One of the small underside windows was missing from my kit, but this was replaced with clear glue and a cocktail stick as seen here.
After the decals a couple of coats of flat varnish went on, followed by the last detail painting and a little weathering and the kit was done. Another thing I found from my research was that there should be a small individual letter at the bottom of the nose cowling in black. I added one from an old Modeldecal sheet.
This was a lovely little kit to build, and I would recommend it to anyone with a little modelling experience. It may not be an ideal first kit as the undercarriage is a little complex. There is some talk on other forums of the rear fuselage being not quite right, but it looks okay to me, and that's what matters after all!
As a postscript I have also found out what happened to the actual aircraft after 'Torch'. After active service it was issued to a training unit, 759 NAS at Yeovilton. While on a training flight on the 19/12/43 at 1005 it entered into a 45 degree dive at high speed. It didn't pull out and the wings failed, the aircarft came down near Frome, Somerset and the pilot, Midshipman (A) Basil John Charlton, R.N.V.R. Age 19. was Killed.