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In-Box Review
de Havilland Vampire FB.5
de Havilland Vampire FB.5
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by: Richard West [ RAYPALMER ]

Originally published on:

The De Havilland Vampire was Britain's second operation Jet Aircraft. Too late to see service in WWII it served in the Malayan Emergency, Suez Crisis, Tunisian War of Independence, Dominican Civil War and many other conflicts and with 32 different air forces.

The Vampire was powered by the Goblin axial flow turbojet. A first generation jet engine, its limited thrust and high fuel consumption were persistent issues. The second generation engines that followed hot on the Goblin's heels soon rendered it obsolete.

The Vampire typified De Havilland's often unique approach to engineering challenges. To keep the jetpipe short a twin-boom configuration was adopted. To keep the horizontal stabilizer clear of the exhaust gases the booms angled upwards above the flow. To control cost, De Havilland's mastery of advanced wood ply techniques allowed lightweight, non-strategic wood to be incorporated in its design.

To this day over 80 examples are still considered airworthy. An indication of the ruggedness of the airframe.

The Box
Great box art, as I would expect. When you open it you see three sprues. The two large ones are medium grey styrene, and the third is the canopy. There's also a Cartograph decal sheet about the size of a recipe card.

The Kit
The flash situation is great, none to be found. Ejector marks are delicate and in inoffensive locations. Modern injection moulding technology showing its pristine face here.

The landing gear bays are spartan, only plain ribs evident inside. The cockpit suffers from a similar affliction. There are some grossly out of scale knobbly bits on what looks like an adding machine.

Panel lines are good. Not totally crisp but will likely register nicely. Both the raised and engraved surface details are very nice, the belly of the aircraft in particular is very eye catching. Wheels are a bit smooth looking but otherwise good. The landing struts are offered both compressed and uncompressed. A nice thought but it seems like a great deal of effort to appease what is presumably a very small minority who wish to display the aircraft flying with wheels down.

The booms and vertical stabilizers are very nearly a show stopper. Dragon has used their slide moulding magic to form them as one piece. Not having to put two halves together to make the booms in this scale saves a good deal of unpleasant sanding and potential for misalignment.

Finally there is the canopy, split between bubble and windscreens it allows both open and closed display. The plastic is far too thick for scale, but to this reviewer's mind that simply ensures it won't crack or break during installation.

The Instructions
Are very much old style Dragon. Black and blue coloured renderings, extremely little text and very rushed. So rushed in fact that the aircraft is shown built in three steps. Certainly saving paper, but would it hurt to show less than ten parts going on at once?

Full colour marking guides are more and more the norm today, and these instructions are somewhat vague about colouring the various schemes.

The Decals
The small decal sheet provides markings for an astonishing eleven individual aircraft. All are RAF and can be broken into three groups, Silver, Medium Sea Grey/Dark Green over silver undersides, and Medium Sea Grey/Dark Green over PRU Blue undersides. The lack of non RAF options is bit of a disappointment. The Vampire served with 32 nations in numerous interesting schemes which warrant display.

The Marking options provided are for:

-502 Sqd. RAuxF, RNAS Sydenham, Iraq, 1953
-202 Advanced Flying School, 1953
-186 Sqd. RAF Habbaniyah, Iraq, 1953
-16 Sqd. RAF Celle, Germany, 1954
-603 Sqd. RAuxF, RAF Turnhouse, 1954
-603 Sqd. RAuxF, RAF Turnhouse, 1954
-602 Sqd. RAuxF, RNAS Abbotsinch, 1954
-605 Sqd. RAF Gibraltar, 1955-56
-607 Sqd. RAuxF, RAF Ouston, 1956
-118 Sqd. RAF Fassberg, Germany, 1953
-98 Sqd. RAF Fassberg, Germany, 1953

The Cartograph decals look okay, not extremely crisp in the fine detail department but the colour layers are all perfectly aligned. The real disconnect here is that the trouble was made to give eleven, albeit very similar marking options. But absolutely no stencils at all save the two large "Keep Off" crosses.

The Conclusion
It's actually a pretty nice looking little kit. It has some irritating idiosyncrasies; a dearth of stencils, poor cockpit, etc. But these can be overlooked and overcome. The basic model demonstrates surface detail creating interest without being grotesque. Ease of construction, options for open flaps and canopy, and good wheels and struts make up for other issues.

This new kit promises to deliver a smooth build for the less advanced modeler. And a great platform for the more advanced modeler to build upon.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: one-piece booms, surface detail, lots of marking options
Lows: no stencils, no diversity of marking options, instructions not terribly useful
Verdict: A good little kit, some minor detail issues aside it is extremely well tooled and manufactured. All early indications point to a good fit as well. Issues of fit will be closely examined in the build review.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:72
  Mfg. ID: 5085
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: May 03, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Richard West (raypalmer)

Copyright 2020 text by Richard West [ RAYPALMER ]. All rights reserved.


Being fair to Dragon, no Vampire anywhere was ever bare metal. The immediate Post War RAF had a policy of painting most of their combat aircraft in "High-Speed Silver" lacquer in an effort to keep all the surfaces polished smooth. Also, it's pretty difficult for an airplane which is partially made of plywood to be bare metal... So "Silver" is actually a pretty good painting instruction and for once it's completely accurate As for the cockpit it's a pretty good bet that someone is going to bring out a cockpit detail set, assuming that the Pavla set for the A Model kit and the Eduard etch can't be made to fit.
MAY 02, 2013 - 03:23 PM

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