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Model Talk 2 - Alternative Hurricane Kits

Alternative Hurricane kits...



As the title of this column is ‘Model Talk’ I suppose it wouldn’t go amiss if I actually did TALK about MODELLING and models...


The actions of some kit manufacturers sometimes really does beggar belief. The reason I say this is, in keeping with last month’s ‘theme’ of the Battle of Britain, where I may have mentioned that I recently had the pleasure of building some 1/48 scale Hurricanes for a display of Battle of Britain models for a Battle of Britain Special Interest Group display at last November’s Scale Modelworld at Telford...


Despite having a loft FULL of unmade kits, of course I hadn’t got any 1/48 scale Hurricanes – well at least no Hurricane Mk Is which is the sub-type that I needed. No problem I thought, a quick e-mail to my favourite on-line kit supplier, (our dear old Graham) would soon elicit a Hasegawa 1/48 scale Hurricane Mk I...


Imagine my horror when I got the response,

"Hi Neil, The Hasegawa Hurricane was discontinued this year! What do you know about the Ark and Pegasus Hurricane kits? Are they any good?"

I couldn’t believe that Hasegawa, in their oriental wisdom, (or lack of it), had discontinued the best 1/48 scale Hurricane Mk I kit available in the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain year... Have they no sense of history... obviously not European mid-20th Century history anyway!


The old Airfix Hurricane kit is still a good option but is starting to look its age and has raised panel lines – not a problem in itself I know but I’m used to engraved panel lines now and it’s a bit of a chore to have to re-scribe them all...


However, as mentioned by Graham in his reply to me, there are two other 1/48 scale Hurricane Mk I alternatives available – from Pegasus Hobbies, California USA, in their ‘E-Z Snapz’ range and the Russian Ark Models 1/48 scale kit (48026) – so let us have a look at them.


Pegasus Hobbies E-Z Snapz Hawker Hurricane Mk I



Obviously and unashamedly designed as a basic ‘snap-tight’ (no glue required) kit, aimed at the younger/occasional purchaser end of the modelling hobby market, and whilst it may not be up to the standards of mainstream ‘enthusiast’ manufacturers’ offerings, a surprisingly good model can be made from the 26 parts – especially if a little ‘modelling experience’ can be employed and brought to bear!


The cockpit interior detail is integrally and very heavily moulded on to the inside of the fuselage halves, and the rear bulkhead, rudder pedals and slide boards and pilot’s seat are moulded together as as a single one-piece item. There is a separate (somewhat basic) instrument panel and a rather crude control column with ‘solid’ spade grip. However, when all these interior parts are suitably painted, given a wash and lightly weathered, and once the fuselage halves are together, the curvature of the Hurricane’s interior side walls is such that not a lot of the detail can be seen, or is at least readily apparent – especially so once the canopy is fitted in place. Putting a well painted pilot figure (from another kit as no pilot figure is supplied with this kit) is a further ‘distraction’ option.


The detail on the kit parts look as if it has been based upon the excellent Hasegawa Hurricane, with very similar undercarriage mainwheel bay detail, (albeit MUCH simplified and cruder), and engraved exterior panel lines. The rib detail on the fuselage sides is also nicely done.


The major deficiency with the kit is the undercarriage – the main oleos (moulded integrally with the leg covers) and the retraction struts are very basic and crude. The tailwheel is also very crude. Replacement with parts from, say and old Airfix or HobbyCraft Hurricane kit (if you have one stashed away in the loft) is an option – but does rather defeat the object of buying the low cost (£7.99 in the UK at the time of writing) Pegasus kit in the first place...


As for the decals – they’re adhesive ‘stickers’ so replacement markings will have to be sourced from your spares box(es)! Overall though, by applying a little ‘modelling experience’ a very reasonably acceptable model can result.


Ark Models Hawker Hurricane Royal Air Force Mk I (48026)



Moulded in a ‘soft’ medium grey plastic with nicely engraved panel lines, even on first inspection I couldn’t help noticing some very obvious ‘similarities’ to both the Airfix AND the Hasegawa Hurricane Mk I kits!


They say that imitation is the finest form of flattery, but put crudely, the fuselage halves appear to be based upon the Airfix kit’s, albeit with engraved (instead of the original’s raised) panel lines, whilst the cockpit interior, wings, tailplanes and undercarriage parts bear more than a striking resemblance to those of the Hasegawa kit!


If that is what Ark Models have (allegedly, me lud) done, at least they have copied the best parts from these two manufacturers’ kits and ended up with, for all intents and purposes, a new tool (sic!) 1/48 scale Hurricane Mk I!


Also, and presumably so that they did not feel left out of this ‘homage to flattery’, the two pilot figures are pure Tamiya – one in Northern European flying kit and the other in Tropical kit with short sleeve shirt and shorts.


The construction sequence is very similar to that of Hasegawa’s kit, and the instructions, printed on two separate A-4 sheets, feature many identical illustrations from the Hasegawa kit instructions as well as a couple from the Airfix kit instructions – all carefully spliced together!


In fact the only major constructional difference, that differentiates this kit from those of either the Airfix or Hasegawa offerings, concerns the mainplanes – which in the Ark Models kit are made up of a pair of wing upper surface halves, with a pair of underside outer wing panels, with a separate mainwheel well under surface centre section.


The cockpit interior parts are not quite as crisply moulded as their Hasegawa ‘originals’ and the fuselage halves’ mating surfaces are ‘a bit uneven’ (!) and will need firmly taping together, and leaving overnight for the glue to cure. There also appears to be some shrinkage within the plastic of one of the halves, (at least on my sample), and the leading edges of the fin didn’t quite line up. Filler, followed by some gentle sanding, will probably sort everything out, but it isn’t something you expect to do to a ‘new tool’ kit!


The parts may look very similar, but the fit is certainly NOT Hasegawa standard. There is a considerable gap between the fuselage wing roots and the mating edges of the wings. The parts look superb on the sprues but they just don`t fit together very well and these gaps at the wing root are really unbelievable...


The nose cowling underside is ‘open’ and there are two separate undercowling parts provided – either the standard plain curved underside or one with a Vokes tropical filter. However when the fuselage halves were placed together, the underside of the nose cowling looks to be too narrow and will need to be prised apart with a piece of sprue glued inside the nose so that it matches the undercowling part.


Other ‘alternatives’ in the kit include de Havilland; ‘blunt’ Rotol; or ‘pointed’ Rotol spinners, with separate ‘metal’ Hamilton Standard or ‘compressed wooden’ Jablo propeller blades. Completely circular or ‘under weight’ mainwheels and Lockheed ‘straight leg’ or ‘knuckled’ Dowty tailwheels are also included.


On the clear sprue tree there is the one piece canopy, reflector gunsight, covers for the wing landing lights, under fuselage centre line formation light, dorsal spine formation light, rudder formation light and wing tip navigation lights – for which the recesses will have to be cut out of the solid plastic wing tips first. There is also, an under fuselage camera fairing for a Hurricane PR Mk I!


Two decal options are included, although there are no painting details nor marking placement instructions – other than the illustration on the box top, which shows Sqn Ldr Bob Stanford Tuck’s ‘first’ Hurricane, coded DT•A, V6555, when he was CO of No 257 Sqn in September/October 1940 flying over a backdrop of London with Tower Bridge in the foreground and HMS Belfast moored in the Thames! The other option is for Sqn Ldr Douglas Bader’s V7467, LE•D when he was CO of No 242 Sqn in August/September 1940. The colours of the national markings and code letters look okay but for some reason the blue on the fin flash for Bader’s V7467 has been printed in a very light (Armée de l’Air) shade! The small cartoon of Winston Churchill, and the small Burma flag for Tuck’s V6555 look fine but the twenty-five white swastika ‘kill’ markings are printed upside down and if applied need flipping over. The No 242 Sqn boot kicking Hitler up the rear looks fine and there is enough standard stencilling for one aircraft.


The kit is due to be released (has already been released?) in several other versions, and the rear fuselage underside is ‘open’ to allow the choice of either the standard Hurricane fuselage underside or an alternative part with cut-outs for an arrester hook for a Sea Hurricane Mk Ib option. The Sea Hurricane’s ‘A’ frame arrester gear and hook are included in this kit.


Whilst it’s not the easiest of kits to put together, again with a bit of time and effort a very good looking replica of a Hurricane Mk I can be achieved, but whether your time and effort might be better spent on the old Airfix offering – with suitably engraved panel lines – is open to question. In any event, Hasegawa’s deplorable lack of historical foresight need not necessarily stop us building Battle of Britain Hurricanes, eh!?!


Tally Ho!