AIRFIX 1:72 FAIREY FIREFLY
Reviewer: John Hall (rec.models.scale)
The Fairey Firefly was designed in response to a 1939 requirement for a carrierborne reconnaissance fighter with a better performance than the Fulmar. Fairey's response was similar to the Fulmar but the plane that emerged was smaller and higher powered. A navigator was included in a rear cockpit and in addition to his titled role, had the tasks of spotting, radio operating and other reconnaissance duties. The Firefly proved to be successful in many roles and these most commonly ranged in being a strike fighter, reconnaissance fighter, Drone and ASW platform. There were several operators of the Firefly including UK, Canada and Australia.
This kit comes loose in a small to medium sized Airfix box and is molded in grey plastic with raised panel lines and rivets and marketed for the U.9 drone version. This particular kit is of late 70's tooling and it certainly shows it age during construction. From what I am aware of this is about the only injection mold kit of this aircraft in this scale so you will have to wait for one of the bigger companies to release an updated version before this kit is likely to be bettered. There are a few brass/photo etched sets available on the market and these will enhance the kit if used. A couple of European aftermarket detail sets are available, most notably one who reproduces the canopy, which is much better than Airfix's offering.
The cockpits, both pilot and navigator, are very basic - typical of Airfix tooling of this era - and a closed canopy is probably best advised. Construction is otherwise fairly simple and the kit goes together quite well. Sanding and filling was needed around the wing-to-fuselage joins, fuselage lines and wheel-gear doors. The canopy was not the best fit and proved to be a bit difficult to get on properly and is not completely accurate in shape - thus the aftermarket canopy set is advisable. The wing tips need to be clipped better than what the kit allows and the pods carrying the extra communication equipment for drone control duties are items needing attention.
Airfix allows for two versions to be built, a Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy example respectively. I opted for the RN version and finished it off in medium sea grey and a mix closely resembling light ghost grey colours which looked pretty close to perfect realism. The decals supplied in the kit were thin and easily disintegrated during application and are best ditched in favour of one of the aftermarket decal sets from Modeldecal, Aeromaster (?) or Propagatem.
Overall this is quite a nice kit that is easy to build and only needs a small bit of filling and sanding. It's really the only game on the market in this scale and if built in conjunction with the aftermarket products will result in a pretty good reproduction of this uncommon and interesting aircraft. Recommended for all skill levels.
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Kit Review Index: 1/72 1/48
Credit of photo to Dave Stewart - This is not the same version reproduced in the kit but is a good example of the lines and shape of the Fairey Firefly including the clipped wings