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Airfix 1/72 scale Bristol Blenheim Mk.I

Kit:A04016 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$18.99
Good fits, particularly for an inexpensive kit
Multipart cowlings; decals resist setting solutions
Injection-molded, 117 parts, decals
Seemingly determined to update its entire old catalog with new toolings, Airfix now presents a Bristol Blenheim Mk.I light bomber. This new kit has all the standard features you would expect — loads of detail in the cockpit, nice landing gear, engraved panel lines, even the option of dropped flaps. The kit’s engineering ideas are first class, allowing for multiple variants by swapping a few detail parts and the forward fuselage. Though they’re not used in this boxing, six parts for a Mk.IV are already on the sprues, including the nose.

This particular version has two decal options: a common-looking earth brown and dark green over black with a very interesting historical story, and an unusual Romanian air force bird in overall dark green over light blue. All color callouts are by Humbrol paint numbers only, so you’ll need Humbrol paints or a conversion chart.

Construction starts with the wing’s center section; front and rear spars provide both support and gear-bay detail. Airfix offers the option of a gear-up build and sells a stand as a separate item. Careful attention to the pictogram-style instructions for build options will be required for inexperienced builders. Many part edges and joins had to be scraped or have mold lines removed. But the plastic is soft and takes these corrections well, allowing fits like the wing center section and fuselage to be easily adjusted. A full interior is included, along with a simple instrument panel decal that fits well.

I followed the instructions and attached the clear parts to the nose prior to attaching the entire assembly to the rear fuselage; I had determined this gave me the best chance of aligning the clear parts without gaps. Even though I made sure I trimmed all corners square, I did have a small gap to fill at the nose-to-fuselage join.

I was impressed by having the option of deflecting all control surfaces. I mounted these surfaces prior to painting, including the dropped flaps. I left off the nice representation of the Blenheim’s complicated main landing gear until after painting, since the attachment points are readily accessible.

I decided to build my Blenheim all bombed up. But I used the closed bay doors for masking, so I know they fit reasonably well. The open outer bomb-bay doors are rather thick — surprising because the inner doors are wonderfully thin.

Airfix went to great lengths to detail the engines, including the option of open (Part D11) or closed (Part C2) cowl flaps and tropical (Part E5) or normal (Part E11) air cleaners (although these descriptions aren’t included in the instructions).

The multipart cowlings turned out to be the hardest part of the build, with alignment of the three arc segments a bit imprecise. I assembled the cowl without the engines or the front-mounted exhaust collectors to make masking easier for painting.

For the same reason, I left the gun turret off. I cracked the glass on the taller turret (Part G3), so I had no choice but to use the shorter version (Part G6), even though the instructions don’t say what goes with which decal option.

Prior to applying Testors dark earth, I needed only a little bit of filler at the wing roots and the previously mentioned spot by the nose. A bit of thick-gel Elmer’s glue took care of a small gap at the rear of the upper clear part. I enlarged the side and top decal plans from the instructions — both by 150 percent, conveniently — and used the copies to cut paper masks for the camouflage. A bit of Testors RAF dark green and some black on the undersurfaces and it was decal time.

The decals were disappointing — they appear accurate, and the color is dense, but they refused to settle into panel lines without being sliced by a blade.

Overall, I’m pleased with Airfix’s effort – it scales out accurately, has a pleasing amount of detail, and offers
plenty of options, some of which you wouldn’t expect from such a reasonably priced kit. I spent a little more than 22 hours on mine and, apart from the decals, I had a great time. This kit should be a winner, and is not beyond a modeler with a couple of kits’ experience.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the January 2015 FineScale Modeler.

Airfix molded a lot of detail, but there is a lot of clean up needed, with many ejector-pin marks, flash, and minor mold mismatches.

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