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Trumpeter Fairey Albacore

FineScale Modeler reviews the easy-to-build 1/48 scale aircraft kit
One of the pleasures of modeling is learning the history about the subjects we build. Before this, I knew that the Fairey Albacore was designed to replace the aging Swordfish torpedo bomber. However, Swordfish outlasted the Albacore and I assumed that meant the Albacore didn’t measure up and was relegated to second-line duty. I was wrong. Fairey built 800 Albacores that served on the frontlines from the Arctic to the East Indies. Albacores participated in the invasions of North Africa, Normandy, and Madagascar. 

Trumpeter’s Albacore comprises six crystal clear canopy sections with well-defined framing, and 112 light gray plastic parts with fine recessed panel lines and rivets. I appreciated the thought that went into the locations of the sprue gates; not one is in a spot that risks damaging a part.

Unfortunately, the surface of the light gray parts has a sandpaper-like texture that required priming and sanding to smooth before painting.

Construction jumps from smaller components to the main airframe and back.

The pilot’s area is adequately detailed including decal instruments. However, the aft crew positions look sparse. The sides should be full of electronics, but only one small radio and a compass are provided. Worse still, the rear gunner only has a seat — no gun, mount, or ammunition. 

The fuselage halves sandwich the instrument panel, cockpit, and tail-wheel strut. I’m not a fan of mounting the strut this way as I always break it during painting.

I found construction of the main gear a bit unusual. But, the fit was outstanding, until I mated the subassembly to the fuselage. The fit was so tight, it produced a small step at the rear seam. Several coats of Mr. Surfacer smoothed the join. The fit of the lower wings and struts is nearly perfect. 

However, the canopy needed adjustment. I clamped the aft section while the glue dried, but it popped during painting.

When I test-fitted the ailerons to the upper wings, the joint was so tight they would not come off; no glue required.

The upper wing is split left and right, leaving a seam to fill and sand in a spot surrounded by canopy glass. After setting up a fan to dispel fumes, I used a drop of super glue followed by accelerator to join the left and right wings without gluing them to the fuselage. Then, I removed the entire wing, reinforced the joint, and eliminated the seam. Now I could add the top wing after painting.

Both of the engine’s cylinder banks are split into front and rear halves, but the seams are hidden by the cowl. Take note when joining the cylinder banks as the  hex-shaped connecting pin allows several different alignments. The correct position should have the rear cylinders evenly spaced between the front ones. 

The cowl is not split vertically as usual, but in a manner that made molding the exhaust easier. The shape of the cowl is wrong. The exhaust collector ring was mounted at the front of the engine and formed an integral lip for the cowl. Instead, Trumpeter’s molding makes it look like the ring was bolted to the front of a complete cowl. Correcting the kit parts would require a lot of cutting, filing, and sanding. I left mine as is and may replace it with aftermarket resin later. 

Vallejo putty blended the horizontal stabilizers and chin scoop into the airframe.

The instructions show a torpedo, six 250-pound bombs, and what I assume are rocket stubs all mounted at the same time. The real aircraft could only carry 2,000 pounds of ordnance, so I mounted the torpedo and bomb racks but not the bombs or stubs. The shape of the racks is questionable and you may wish to replace them with aftermarket items.

I painted the Albacore’s subassemblies with Vallejo Model Air acrylics. The kit instructions do not show a bottom view, but research indicated that this plane did not have insignia on the lower wings.

The thick decals conformed after four doses of Microscale Micro Sol, but some of the markings were slightly out of register. 

I rigged it with airfoil cross-section struts from my spares bin and wires from a drummer’s jazz brushes. 

Trumpeter’s kits often confuse me and this one was no exception. Petite panel lines, fine details, well thought out attachment points, and terrific fit show excellent engineering. But, it’s offset by the rough surface texture and lack of detail in the rear cockpit. However, I thoroughly enjoyed building this kit. Aftermarket sets surely would turn this good kit into a great model.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2019 issue.
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