by: Chuck Shanley [ ]
Originally published on:
Included are the de Havilland DH-114 Heron II, de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, and FORD 5-AT Tri-Motor. These aren’t only vintage aircraft, but as you will see later in this review these are also vintage kits.
First off a few general comments about the kits included: Yes, they are Classic Airfix, raised rivet detail and minimal interior detail. But, I’m not afraid of this “dreaded” detail (being a little vintage myself). Airfix has long had the reputation of getting the “outline” of the aircraft right, and sometimes Airfix is the “only game in town” for certain aircraft. Of the three in this boxing, I believe only the Tri-Motor has been offered by others and it is long OOP. The parts for all three aircraft are crisp with clear detail (all be it raised), and virtually devoid of “flash”. Each aircraft is bagged separately. The decals have good color density and appear to have good registry, except for the decals for the “Beaver” where the yellow over white U.S. ARMY decals appear to be shifted slightly. The decals are not in the kit bags, but loose in the box (with protective sheets).
Ford 5-AT Tri Motor (4009) original release 1968
The Ford Tri-Motor, also known as the “Tin Goose”, was the standard in air transport until replaced by the DC-3. A company, formerly known as the Stout Metal Aircraft Company, bought by Henry Ford in 1925, produced the Tri-Motor. The AT-4 was the first in the Tri-Motor series in production from 1926 to 1929, replaced by the larger airframe (12 passenger) AT-5 in 1928, upgraded to the AT-5-B (17 passenger) and then the AT-5-C (17 passenger), production ceased in 1933. More modern aircraft such as the Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-2 replaced the Tri-Motor in airline service, yet the aircraft remained in use by “bush” pilots until the 1960s.
Of all the kits out there this one is probably a perfect example of justified raised detail. The airframe is corrugated sheet metal. The kit appears to be an outstanding replica of the 1928 Airliner. No real options are available in the kit as in real life the same airframe was used for a multitude of services, as is. The decals do provide for two versions of the aircraft an American Airways Colonial Division airliner or an early U.S Marines transport.
DHC-2 Beaver (03017) original release 1971
The DHC-2 served with some 20 air forces all over the world, along with its civilian uses, having first flown in 1947. The US Army and Air Force both used this aircraft under the designation L-20A (later changed to U-6A). Capable of carrying 7 passengers or a half-ton of cargo, this aircraft too was popular with “bush” pilots. I have a special place in my heart for this aircraft, as it was the first one I was allowed to pilot, in the US Army, in 1965 (later got to pilot Otters, and then flew second seat in Mohawks).
The kit provides for building the Beaver with Skis, Pontoons (Floats), or Fixed wheel landing gear. The decals allow for markings of both British and US Army versions. Of the three kits in this boxing, the raised detail on this one is quite bold; however, after a coat of paint and a coat or two of Future, or whatever other clear coat you use, I think most will find it acceptable. This is a fairly ruggedly featured aircraft in real life.
DH-114 Heron II (3001) original release 1958
The return of a true Classic, take note of the release date.
The Heron II entered service in 1952, as a replacement for the Heron I (fixed landing gear), and DH-104 Dove Devon (twin engine) short haul airliners. The Heron II was in service with several short haul, European airlines, until 1961. The Royal Navy operated retired civilian Heron IIs until 1990, as part of their air transport arm, one of which is depicted in the kit, the Duchess of Brittany (originally operated by Jersey Airlines).
The kit is crisply molded with “acceptable” raised detail. There is little to no interior detail, save the cockpit, which is very spartan. I have seen reviews / articles elsewhere, from the 1960s and 1970s, where individuals have put great effort into adding interior detail to this kit, due to all the large “windows”. The decals and painting instructions in the kit provide the markings for one specific aircraft, the “Duchess of Brittany” G-AORG, restored by the company Duchess of Brittany (Jersey) Ltd., a group of former Jersey airline employees. I did find reference materials readily, after a quick Internet search, which would allow one to build this kit as a “Sea Heron” of the Royal navy. I am sure this kit will be an unintended “tail setter”, and some thought will have to be given to the placement of “nose weight”. The story is told, “The aircraft is so delicately balanced, that one day two passengers arrived, before the flight crew, and decided to board. As soon as the passengers stepped onboard, the aircraft fell onto its tail skid”.
One extra with this kit some may find whimsical, is the inclusion of 4 passengers in addition to the pilot figures. Not that including passengers is rare, but these figure are “Classic” 1950s, most would not want to include them in a diorama, as they are a bit flat, for people from anywhere, proportioned much like cardboard (pressboard) cut-outs. I have however seen articles that describe these figures as “well documenting how air passengers of the late 1950s early 1960s looked, particularly in the British Isles”. For example, the Gentleman wears a suit and a bowler hat and a young lad wears short trousers?
Yes, these are old kits but they hold up well even to “today’s standards” considering the subject matter and availability of alternatives. The raised rivet detail (almost an Airfix trademark now) is not enough to make me disregard these kits; they are nicely done, and cleanly molded. Call it nostalgia or whatever you like, but these classic kits will make for very nice replicas of those classic aircraft. Having just finished building another of Airfix “classic” kits, (their B-29 released in 1966) I am not afraid of the challenges Airfix may inadvertently put in my path. If you are interested in these or other “vintage”, “classic”, okay OLD aircraft, don’t be dissuaded by the fact they have “raised rivets” or are not up to “today’s standards”. If you are a “builder” or a “collector” these are fine examples of what a model kit manufacture can produce, they don’t have all the tiny widget bits of added detail of some of today’s kits, but remember these kits were originally produced when PE, for most of us, meant Gym Class.
Thanks to Airfix for providing us with this Review Sample.