Britain's Gloster Aircraft Company produced three fighter designs that were mainstays of the Royal Air Force. The Gladiator of the 1930s was the last British biplane fighter. In the 1940s, the Meteor became the RAF’s first operational jet.
The Javelin, the last of the three designs, and Gloster’s last aircraft, was the first British combat aircraft designed for all-weather and night operations.
The big delta-wing, twin-engined interceptor was capable of meeting incoming bombers at altitudes in excess of 50,000 feet. It served with the RAF from 1956 to 1968, including deployments to Singapore during the Malaysian Confrontation as well as Hong Kong and Zambia.
Although the Javelin has been reasonably well served in small scale, the only 1/48 scale offerings have been vacuum-formed. After Airfix released its terrific 1/48 scale Sea Vixen a couple of years ago, I hoped they would follow up with the Javelin. They have and it was well worth the wait. This kit represents the FAW.9, the ultimate version of the fighter.
Typical of modern Airfix kits, the blue-gray plastic parts show crisp lines, no flash, and the majority of the ejector-pin marks will be invisible on the finished model. Color callouts throughout the instructions refer to Humbrol paint numbers, but no mention of color names.
The three-part nose-wheel well features structural and mechanical detail. It attaches under the cockpit tub, which has molded-in instruments and controls on the side panels. Each ejection seats comprises six parts including separate cushions and rings. No harnesses are included. Decal dials embellish molded detail on instrument panels.
The cockpit gets sandwiched into a two-part tub which is itself swaddled in the nose halves. The intakes impressed me. They extend all the way to the front fans and attach to either side of the cockpit. A bracket aligns them, helps position the whole assembly inside the lower fuselage, and serves as spars for the large wings. Another bracket does the same for the exhaust trunks, adding a second set of spars. By the time the upper fuselage is added in Step 32, and the wings in Step 53, the airframe is sturdy and handling reveals no sloppiness. Bonus points for engineering and buildability, Airfix!
Speaking of the wings, you need to decide early whether to pose the airbrakes extended or retracted. Airfix provided parts for either option, but they must be glued in before the wing halves are assembled. I chose closed.
Other options include ventral slipper tanks, refueling probe, open or closed flaps, open or closed canopies, and raised or lowered landing gear. Many of these options involve using different parts or opening locators. These are clearly marked in the instructions, but it pays to mark the options you want to use before you start so you don’t get caught short.
The kit features movable ailerons and posable rudder, elevators, and trimming tailplanes that can be left movable, although the instructions don’t show it.
One of the nicest touches in this great kit is the inclusion of a boarding ladder and FOD covers for the intakes and exhausts.
I filled the radome with lead sinkers to ensure the nose stayed grounded.
The basic airframe went together easily. I used a little putty around the base of the vertical stabilizer and along the wing roots to eliminate minor gaps.
With the landing gear, flaps, underwing stores, and canopy off, I airbrushed the model with decanted Tamiya spray can colors — RAF dark green (AS-30) and RAF ocean grey (AS-31) on top, and gloss aluminum (TS-17) underneath. I masked the with Silly Putty and Tamiya tape.
The Cartograf-printed decals applied pretty well over a coat of Pledge FloorCare Multi-Surface finish (PFM, formerly Future) and a little help from Micro Sol. When a couple of the larger markings resisted settling into panel lines, I used Walthers Solvaset. The aggressive solution caused the ink to run in a couple places.
After a coat of PFM, I applied a dark brown artist’s oil wash to panel lines and recesses. I sealed that with a mix of gloss and semigloss, as RAF Javelin’s appear to have been kept pretty clean.
The rest of the small parts went on without a hitch, although the main landing gear is a tad fiddly as you have to thread various bits and pieces through internal structures.
After about 40 hours, split about evenly between construction, painting, and decaling (there are a lot of stencils!), my Javelin was done. The finished model captures the look of the brutish fighter perfectly. Airfix has done a terrific job producing a well-engineered model with lots of options and features that goes together well.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2014 FineScale Modeler.