The crop of Airfix kits in the years since their near-demise and purchase by Hornby, has been a curious bunch. Some, especially the early ones, were miserable in terms of fit. But as the Hornby philosophy – and presumably, investment capital – began to have an influence, the results have gotten better and better. I’m heartbroken that the TSR-2 in 1:72 belongs to the earlier category, but my modelling output this year has had a number of new-tool Airfix kits included, and I have to say I’ve been very happy with most of what I’ve built so far.
Though I have nearly no interest in some of their choices this year (I’m perfectly satisfied with the Tamiya version of the 109E and P-51 and the Fujimi A-4) I did raise an eyebrow when they announced a new-tool Swordfish. I periodically would take out the Matchbox rendition of this type, eye it dubiously, and then put it back in the stash. Now, of course, with the advent of this new kit, all former Swordfish kits can be sent to the superseded kit pile.
The new Airfix Swordfish is complex, detailed, engineered with interesting options, and since the aftermarket companies have started to supply decals and resin for it, you should be able to do just about what you want to with the finished model. I can’t say the model was a Tamiya-esque engineering marvel – the cockpit is a tough fit and the lower fuselage piece requires near-lethal force to keep it in place while it dries. Still, the way they molded the wing bits makes for one of the most solid biplanes I personally have ever built. Very often modellers will leave the top wing off until the painting and decaling is finished, but that isn’t necessary with the Airfix Swordfish. Even a ham-fisted fellow like me can handle the assembled model all day long and not twist or break a strut. Time for a follow-up Albacore, Airfix.
Xtradecal was first out of the chute with a decal sheet. While the SEAC version covered by handwritten graffiti was tempting, I couldn’t resist the 822 NAS example (HMS Courageous) with a red fuselage stripe and upper wing band. There was some tricky painting involved. Not just the Cerrux Grey (which is close enough to Lt Aircraft Grey for me) forward fuselage, but a Black dorsal area and fin. Worse, I had completely forgotten about the need to paint the upper fuselage Black when I unmasked the model after painting it silver. I had nightmares about paint pulling up if I tried to remask, but decided the paint scheme was unique enough to take the risk. Great care was taken in masking, and I was sweating when I peeled off the paint. Thankfully all was well with no areas to repair. Decals and even rigging went smoothly. Time to buy a lottery ticket.
I think that the Swordfish embodies all those things that the IMC claims it wants from a kit, and it deserves to do well in sales.
This is completed model #399 (#24 for the year), finished in May of 2012.