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Classic Airframes 1/48 scale DeHavilland Sea Hornet

Kit: No. 459
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Classic Airframes, P.O. Box 577580, Chicago, IL 60657-7580, 773-665-7817
Price: $59.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 114 parts (41 resin, 10 vacuum-formed plastic), decals
Pros: Excellent resin parts, good detail, good fit
Cons: Some part locations unclear, butt joints require careful alignment while glue sets
Some aircraft look fast even sitting still. DeHavilland's Hornet is one of them. Introduced to service just after World War II, the Hornet bettered the speed of its sire, the Mosquito, by a considerable margin. The Royal Navy liked what it saw in the RAF's new Hornet and placed orders for a naval version. In addition to many single-seat Sea Hornets, a two-seat, radar-equipped night fighter was developed. Sea Hornets in their many forms served admirably at sea during the transition period from piston- to turbine-powered aircraft.

Classic Airframes' kit can be built either as a single-seat F.20 conventional fighter or as a two-seat NF.21 night fighter. Beautifully-cast resin items are included for the cockpits, radiators, exhausts, exhaust shrouds (for the NF.21 only), main gear wheels and details, complete tail-wheel assembly, lower nose with cannon recesses, and the NF.21 radar nose. Two sets of vacuum-formed clear parts are provided.

Classic provides markings for an F.20 in aluminum and an NF.21 in extra dark sea grey over sky. Having an aversion to silver aircraft, I chose to build the NF.21. The kit is molded as the single-seater, and you have to graft on the resin nose and cut through engraved lines to open the rear cockpit. The instructions list the steps needed for both this kit and Classic's RAF Hornet, so check them carefully.

The resin cockpit components fit well, but be gentle with the fragile control column. Part R23 is a pan-shaped item for the radar operator's position that is attached at one end to a bulkhead, but the other end floats in space. Since I couldn't see it through the rear canopy, I just left it out.

After opening the radar operator's position and the optional lower entry hatch, the fuselage was ready to glue together. I inserted the tail-wheel bay, but left off the beautiful resin tail-wheel fork until after painting. The fuselage needed only a couple of minor spots of filler near the openings. The fin and rudder are separate from the fuselage, and they fit well with a small amount of trimming.

After the fuselage was assembled, it was time to cut off the nose and install the resin replacement. This was easy, and the fit was good. The lower nose with its cannon ports was installed and trimmed to fit at the same time. The stabilizers fit to the fuselage with butt joints, but they posed no problems. Be careful removing the tiny control actuator fairings from the resin pour stubs.

The wing components fit well and were easy to construct. Be careful with the resin radiator inserts, though. The instructions seem to show them installed behind ledges in the radiator bays, but they should go right on the ledges.

The engine nacelles fit great on the wings. I left the propeller shafts off because one of the spinner back plates had an off-center shaft hole. The blades are separate and required cleanup. The blades and spinners were painted separately to avoid difficult masking.

The butt-joints of the wings to the fuselage required only a touch of filler. The landing gear assemblies needed a little persuasion to get them into the nacelles. I had to trim about 1/16" from the axles to allow the wheels to be positioned properly. There are pins on some of the landing gear braces, but no holes for them in the struts.

I painted my model with Testor Model Master sky and an old bottle of Floquil extra dark sea grey. The painting instructions and boxtop illustration show the spinners as extra dark sea grey, but photos of this aircraft show light-colored spinners - I painted mine sky.

Classic's decals are well-printed and opaque. The red centers of the roundels are separate, leaving it up to the modeler to center them. I did some minor trimming of the fuselage to get the pilot's canopy to fit just in front of the instrument panel.

I enjoyed the 22 hours I spent building this kit. It's easy if you've had some experience with resin components and minor plastic surgery.

- Chuck Davis

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