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HK Avro Lancaster B Mk.I

Build review of this HUGE 1/32 scale aircraft kit

An iconic heavy bomber, the Avro Lancaster won fame in a series of specialized attacks while also providing the heavyweight backbone of the Royal Air Force’s night-bombing campaign against Germany in World War II.

Almost large enough to warrant an actual hangar, Hong Kong Models’ 1/32 scale Lancaster B Mk.I kit comprises 824 parts, including, in this limited-edition boxing, two complete fuselages, one gray, the other clear. Plans for further releases are apparent from unused parts, such as the large belly H2S radar housing.

Thanks to the inclusion of clear fuselage halves, the molded interior framework of the Lanc is devoid of any flaws or ejector-pin marks. However, many other parts are marred by raised and indented pin marks. Clean up of these and trimming of alignment pins to improve fit are not difficult.

A full bombload of a 4000-pound “cookie” and eighteen 500-pound bombs is included. Three decal options are provided, although they are pretty much identical given the RAF’s standard night-bomber scheme. Note: Pay close attention to the presence or overpainting of the side windows in each scheme — I didn’t catch that nuance until too late, forcing some adjustments to the placement of the code letters.

Clean up, assembly, and painting of the detailed interior takes up a good portion of the build and leads to the discovery of the kit’s most annoying feature: There are no instrument panel or other interior decals. Blank instrument faces are molded on the panel, but you’re left to your own devices to fill them. I added RAF WW2 instrument decals from Airscale. No detailed painting instructions are given, just basic color call outs; references fleshed out the details. I added a rear plate to one of the black boxes (X17) because it is visible through one of the windows.

Photo-etched seat belts are included for all positions.

All three gun turrets have full frame and control details and seats. I left off the bomb-bay side panels until after the fuselage was assembled. The fuselage builds from long rear halves and separate nose halves. HK has designed this join with interlocking tabs, so alignment is easy and the joint strong.

I built the wings, complete with flaps and landing gear, prior to attaching them to the fuselage. HK includes four fully detailed Merlin engines and mounts. I built up only one completely. Even if you don’t expose the engines, you still need to install a handful of parts in order to mount the radiator and the separate exhaust stubs. For some reason, HK included fuel tanks and mounts for the inside of the outboard nacelles that are completely invisible; I left them out.

The wings themselves are astonishing — each is molded as one piece, somewhat like a book with the leading edge of the wing as the spine and opening at the trailing edge. The wingtips are separate, hollow one-piece moldings. There are clever internal wing supports (parts K47 and L47) that reduce flexing and help mount the nacelles.

The robust landing gear is well detailed but keep track of the parts as they are handed. And be careful assembling the wheels, as they are molded with flat spots that must be aligned with the ground.

The wing-root join is particularly noteworthy, with large tabs and slots providing strength and perfect alignment — outstanding, HK!

The stabilizer and rudder assemblies include many mass-balance weights and control actuators. Be careful not to break them off during assembly and finishing. The stabilizer-to-fuselage and the rudder-to-stabilizer joints are tight enough that they can be painted and decaled, then installed at the end of the build.

All clear parts are exceptionally molded and fit well — in fact, the cockpit canopy can be removed on my kit. Thankfully, Eduard released a mask set (JX225). If you use it, be aware that the masks for the rear turret interior glass (Cc19 and Cc20) only include one side; I used leftover areas of the masking material to create an additional pair.

After painting with Tamiya spray cans and airbrushed shading, I applied the decals. While tedious, all the many walkway and trestle lines are included, and all went on with minimal silvering. HK has included a tiny stencil addendum decal to correct a misspelled word — however, my copy was missing an “m” in “Emergency,” so I used the original stencil instead.

Fit throughout the kit is commendable ­­— many parts don’t even require glue — but careful fitting and trimming goes a long way to easing frustration.

Other than the lack of instrument decals, this was a fun but extremely involved build. I spent just over 100 hours on my Lanc, and it makes a huge impression — literally.

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