More Heretical Thoughts: Airfix’s 1/48 Hurricane Mk. I

I’m beginning to think I just can’t be happy with new kits. First it started with Eduard’s 1/48 Spitfire Mk. IX. Now it seems that I’ve run afoul of the new 1/48 Airfix Hurricane.

It almost feels as if I’m in a movie about a bad relationship.

Scene: A rainy night on a lonely street. 
Hurricane: “It’s me isn’t it? It’s me…”
Me: “No, really, it’s me. You’re great and all, I just… I …. I’m just not good enough for you.”
Hurricane: (with emotion) “Don’t tell me that! You are good enough for me! You’re more than good enough for me! I know when it’s me!”
Me: (forlornly) “No, it’s not you. I just… I just…..” (runs into the darkness while Hurricane stands crying.)
Dramatic music
Fade

I’m sorry, I just really am not enjoying this new Airfix Hurricane.

All’s well that ends well….

I did finish this kit up, and was quite happy with the final result, despite the issues outlined here. You can read the full build report over at ApapeModels.com.

Now, it has gobs of detail. Its cockpit is the most complete Hurricane cockpit out of the box of any kit I’ve built. (I’ve built the old Airfix, Pegasus Hobbies, Hasegawa, Hobbycraft and Italeri. Pretty much all of them.) And it gets those details right- the “bottomless” floor, the tube structure of the cockpit, the finely restrained fabric detail. It has separate control surfaces, comes with a tropical filter and a tailhook for a Seafire, flattened wheels, nice decals…. it has the works.

But in my opinion, it’s over-engineered to the point it’s taken the fun out of trying to get the thing assembled.

I suppose I’m a bit of an odd modeler. Most clamour for detail, for accuracy, for scale fidelity. But I’m perfectly happy with a nice, simple build. As long as it looks like the subject, I’m OK.

And it’s not that it’s too hard. Good grief- I built the Special Hobby Il-10 and CA-13 Boomerang! Those were nightmares that literally almost drove me from the hobby. So I’ve built difficult kits.

I guess what really disappoints me is a feeling that it doesn’t need to be like this.

The cockpit is built up of a number of parts into a nice framework. But while it all fits, generally, it’s not the type of structure that works best fitting generally. It needs to fit specifically. Precisely. This type of assembly calls for Tamiya precision.

Airfix has made great strides in their models since Hornby took over. They’ve produced some wonderful kits. Yet the area I think they’re still playing catch up in would be precision. Tamiya is the king of that. Eduard is getting very close. Hasegawa flirts with it. Even Trumpeter has flashes of brilliance- even if it is horribly researched, inaccurate brilliance.

The cockpit is built on top of the wings, and then mated to an already assembled fuselage. But it just doesn’t quite fit. It’s close…. but the amount of clamping and filling to hide the tiny imperfections is almost on the order of what I’ve had to do with ICM Yak kits or anything Special Hobby.

The control surfaces leave large gaps. The radiator opening isn’t quite fitted properly. There’s a hole in the tail. Yes it’s a casting imperfection, but there it is, just staring at me.

And like the Eduard Spitfire, I came into this build with such high hopes. I’d seen several write-ups of it, and all looked to be wonderful builds.

Yet I sit here building it wondering “Is it me, or is it the kit?”

It will get finished, and it will look fine. Probably better than fine. Because I’m a stubborn modeler. I will make it work out.

But the disappointment over building this kit has really deflated me. I hope this is not an example of the type of engineering Airfix will do from now on.

Airfix, I love you. I really do. Of the nearly 200 models I’ve built since February 2006, 31 have been Airfix. The next closest manufacturer is less than half that number. I’ve built every Spitfire you’ve produced, in every scale. But I have to say- I think you stretched a bit too far. Your level of engineering finesse just isn’t up to this type of structure. Yes, it’s buildable. But Airfix is about fun. That’s your marketing slogan.

And to be honest, I don’t get that from this kit.

6 comments

  1. I can certainly understand what you mean, there is definitely a point where the engineering of some of their kits ruins the fun of the build – this is precisely why I haven’t attempted my new tool Lancaster yet, as I’ve heard a few horror stories in regards to the fit.

    I have a few new tool Airfix kits in the stash – it’ll be interesting to see how they go together.

    And even though it’s been a challenge, you’ve done a great job so far Jon.

    Cheer!

    Stuart

  2. Enjoyed your comments on the new Airfix Hurricane. I have exactly the same thoughts. Totally over engineered for what is an essentially a “High Street” brand. I have tried the Blenheim in 1/72nd, Spitfire and Hurricane in 1/48th scale and all 3 aren’t simply worth the hassle! Which is a shame…….makes you wonder how casual buyers being a kit which is “Airfix” would fair? It will totally fluxom them as a casual modeller and that wont help Airfix`s future much like the marketing of their old knackered kits in shiny new packaging.

  3. I’m just in the last stages of finishing mine at the moment and to be honest I’m happy enough with the outcome and yes I would build another.

    But I agree with your comments on the precision of the cockpit structure. I had to cut away a lot of the frame work at the front lower end to stop it from fouling the wing spar.

    And on the wing spar. This a major problem even with a lot of sanding and eventual clamping to get the top parts of the wings on to bottom section anywhere satisfactorily.

    And finally, where is the rear view mirror, how can you forget that on a hurricane!

    James

  4. I’ve seen and read it all now. After reading this I think the comment ” A bit dramatic” is all I can think of. There’s me thinking that the hobby of plastic modelling should be fun. Still there’s always a shake and bake Tamiya kit if you think that Airfix have over engineered this beauty. Imagine if Airfix had produced a heap of phoo, I think you would have out done Shakespeare.

  5. I have to tell you, I was incredibly excited about the Airfix “new tools” — especially the Spitfire and Hurricane kits. I acquired the Hurricane first, and was fair gobsmacked when I saw the detail — I begn to believe the hype that claimed that this was the best Hurricane kit ever produced, in any scale. Then I started building it….

    Now, mind you, I had no problems with the cockpit assembly — went together so easily it almost fell together. I was in heaven! I said to myself, “Self, this truly IS the best Hurricane kit ever produced, in any scale.”

    Things started going south when I attempted to attach the cockpit/spars assembly to the lower wing half, and things just wouldn’t line up properly. A half millemeter here, a quarter millemeter there, nothing huge, and with enough jiggling and twiddling I got the spars to set down in the shallow grooves cut for them in the bottom wing, but things were just sufficiently off to throw the assembly far enough out of whack that when I tried attaching the upper wing panels, they simply refused to fit. So, sanding and filing, sanding and filing. Then when I finally got the upper edges of the spars ground down enough to allow the edges of the top and bottom wing panels to mate without having to resort to extraordinary — and probably illegal — measures, the top half of the wing panels overhung the bottom by a good millemeter! The ports for the landing lights would not square up, and the trailing edges would not align.

    Well, that was that. All of the bits and pieces went back into the box (I kept the decals — no fool I!) and the box went into the rubbish bin. What I thought was the best $28.00 I’d spent on a model turned out to be $28.00 utterly wasted. Worse, I now have no intention of buying the Airfix “new tool” Spitfire in 1/48 scale — which is a shame, in a way, as apparently it’s the only kit in that scale that gets the outlines of the Spitfire “right.” I’ll have to settle for the Tamiya kit, which is close, but not exact — but at least I’ll know that it will be buildable.

    They say that misery loves company, so I’m somewhat mollified to see that I was not alone in my trials and travails. Or, to put it in your original metaphor, “It wasn’t me, Airfix Hurricane, it was you….”

  6. I can’t believe the complaining that almost borders on whining come on guys for years modelers have been complaining about accuracy and attention to detail that has been lacking in the Airfix kits and now that we have it it’s suddenly over done I guess I am in the minority here when I say that Airfix is definitely hitting the mark with their retooled new kits I am currently building two Hurricane Mk.1 ‘s and am thoroughly enjoying building what looks like two real Hurricanes

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