Classic Airframes 1/48 Boulton-Paul Defiant
Model, Article and Photos by Joe Frazier
One of the lesser known, but nonetheless significant aircraft of the Battle of Britain in the Second World War, the Boulton Paul Defiant was a strange combination of streamlined appearance combined with a huge rear machine gun turret mounted at the rear of the cockpit area. This turret, housing four Browning .303 machine guns, was thought to be a very effective and flexible way to direct massive firepower against enemy aircraft. Flying in formation, the firepower of several Defiants proved deadly against slower flying bombers and even occasionally against the nimble Messerschmidt BF109, but once the enemy figured out that the Defiant could only fire from the rear, losses of this aircraft mounted quickly and it was removed from front-line daytime service by August of 1940. A modified Mark II version using the early war radar equipment which was just becoming operational achieved noteworthy successes as a night fighter through mid- 1943, being replaced at that time by the Bristol Beaufighter. The sturdy but outdated Defiant then served both as an air-sea rescue aircraft and target tow aircraft until the end of the war.
The Defiant’s finest hour occurred on 27 May 1940 when 264 Squadron claimed 37 German aircraft destroyed and an unknown number damaged compared to no Defiant losses. During the Battle of France and the terrible days of Dunkirk, 264 Squadron claimed 67 aircraft destroyed together with unknown damaged aircraft losses compared to 14 Defiants and 7 aircraft lost.
The outdated and frequently disastrous flying formations rigidly enforced by British Air Command also served to hamper the effective use of British aircraft early in the war, and were particularly harmful to the slower flying Defiant with its total lack of forward firing capacity. The aircraft clearly deserves a more respected place in the history of British World War Two aircraft than it has been accorded.
The re-released and re-worked Defiant Day Fighter (Kit 471) is a marked improvement over the earlier version of the same model, and features very nicely molded resin pieces for the cockpit, wheel well, and turret areas. Parts are cleanly molded and feature fine recessed panel lines. The clear parts are nicely framed, although they are a bit thick. However, with several coats of Future clear polish, they look fine and allow a good view of the interior detailing. The turret is formed in two parts and requires careful gluing and sanding to turn out well.
Construction of the kit went very smoothly from start to finish, but there are several areas where care has to be taken:
Fuselage and Rudder
I found that gluing a strip of plastic to the inside of the two cowling pieces made it much easier to line these up with the main fuselage pieces and in addition it added strength to the forward area of the fuselage.
The instructions recommend that the builder dry fit and check alignment of parts throughout construction. Strongly recommended! Some care will need to be taken to be sure that the rear deck behind the turret is placed close to the turret opening so as to not leave a big gap.
Some filling of sink marks needs to be done on the forward fuselage and I found I needed to do some filling in order for the windscreen to blend in. These are easy tasks.
The insert pieces 46 and 47 will require a bit of trimming allowing the fuselage sides to fit smoothly. I used the “fit and sand “ method until they lined up. They give a lot of strength to the fuselage.
I found it helped to make a little plastic card insert for the tail wheel and once glued in place, it give a lot more support for the tail wheel to be glued later on.
A little care and filling will be necessary to get a good fit on the nose scoop.
BE SURE to glue the strips furnished with the kit (parts 21 and 22) for the inside of the exhausts! If you don’t I can almost guarantee you will lose one or both down inside the fuselage!
The rudder is a separate piece and fits fine, but has several indentations which should be filled and sanded before you paint the part.
The cockpit components are a work of art, featuring crisp resin parts. No photo etch came with this kit, so seat belts were used from the spares box.
It is too bad the forward canopy was molded as one piece, since opened up it would have let the interior be really shown off. However, the parts are clear and a lot shows through even with the front office closed up.
The turret presents some challenge, since the two parts have to be glued without leaving smudges. I used jeweler’s cement – not as strong, but it dries crystal clear and does not mar the plastic. If I had it to do over again, I think I would have used clear epoxy, because the first time I tried to sand the center seam (which has to be done!) the two pieces came apart and I had to start over. The center seam does require sanding and it is a good idea to mask off the clear areas on both sides in order to protect them. Once smoothed out, the clear part fit perfectly to the resin and plastic base parts, and the finished turret looks great when placed in the fuselage. The machine gun barrels are particularly well done. Leave them until among the last things you glue on! There is almost no attachment point for them, and they disappear like magic if you drop them on the floor!
Wings and Radiator
The Wings fit together with no problems and are very nicely detailed. Some minor fitting and filling was needed to get a smooth fairing to the fuselage
The under wing radiator inserts are too small to fully cover the front and rear openings. I glued some plastic card stock behind them to close the gap and keep from having a space between them and the wing bottom. Once painted, it is almost impossible to see. If you don’t do this, you will be able to see through the radiator front to back.
The wheel wells are nicely done, but the top will have to be sanded down almost paper thin to get the wings to close fully. Again, not a problem, but necessary for a good fit.
The wing light area was filled with thin plastic stock and the light insert then placed at the rear of the light area. More about the landing light inserts later.
As with most Classic Airframe kits, there are no locating pins for the elevators, and it worked very well for me to line up the elevator to the fuselage, make a pencil mark, and then drill holes in both the fuselage attachment area and the end of the elevators in order to insert a metal rod. This gave good alignment, and again, made a very strong glue joint. Be sure to fit and double fit parts before drilling out your alignment holes. The nice thing about a hollow metal rod is the fact that you can bend it some and make the parts fit if you need to!
Landing Gear and Covers
The landing gear struts are well done and pretty sturdy. The support struts are well represented, as they were complicated on the rear aircraft.. I did drill out a hole on the main struts to get a better glue joint between them and the support piece which attaches to them. I sanded down the landing gear covers to get more of a scale thickness. They are not easy to attach, since there is very little to glue them to!! I knocked the lower covers off this model several times during final construction. I recommend leaving them for the last thing to be glued on!
Thanks to a fine earlier review of this kit by Phil Hale, I took his advice and trimmed the resin sides of the turret ring so it could fit down more accurately inside the fuselage. Otherwise, it will sit too high. Do this a little at a time until the straight-sided area of the ring of the turret is level with the roof of the forward canopy. This will let the “rounded” upper part of the turret be a little higher than the roof line, which is pretty close to the plan outline and other references I used (see below).
Painting, Weathering, Decals, and Finish
Model Master paints were used inside and out, along with Windsor Newton water based oils and pastel chalks for weathering. A coat of Future was used before decals were placed and then after all weathering, two coats of 85%-flat to 15% matte clear was lightly misted over the painted areas. The decals were in register and went on with no problems at all.
All the remaining parts were now added. I filled in the spaces around the prop base where it met the spinner openings and sanded them smooth to cover some small gaps. Machine gun barrels were painted gunmetal, and exhausts were painted rust. Red, brown, grey and black pastels were brushed on to create a burnt finish and exhaust stain.
The lower aerial mast was thinned down and a metal wire rear mast added in order to depict the lower fuselage radio aerial. Smoke colored thread was used for the aerial wire.
The wing landing lights are really thick! I simply used clear Scotch tape cut to fit over the light area.
I cannot say enough good things about this model kit. What few items there might be which need some correcting are well within the skills of even novice modelers and certainly will not cause even minor construction problems.
The attention to detail, cleanness of molding, and accuracy of outline make this a singularly attractive addition to the line of Classic Airframe kits which continue to make lesser known aircraft available. I have wanted a good 1/48th Defiant for literally 50 years, and finally have one. Kudos and thanks to Jules Brulinger and his staff, not only for molding it, but for redoing it into a much better second offer.
A word of thanks to the other reviewers whose writings helped me build a better model based on their recommendations. I have listed them in the references below. Also, many thanks to Brent Theobold at Roll Models for asking me to do this review.
Fort Worth IPMS
Batt, David. Detailing the Defiant. Probably the best build review for the modeler who wants to super detail this kit. 8000 words and 27 photos. January and February issues of Scale Aviation Modeler International, January-February 1997.
Eisemann, Steven “ModelDad.” Defiant kit review with comments about the actual parts, construction, and outline. kits.kitreview.com. 7 October 2005
Hale, Phil. Boulton Paul Defiant Mk. I and Mk II. Reviews for www.hyperscale.com, 8 November 2005.
Van Aken, Scott. Classic Airframes 1/48 Defiant Mk II. www.hyperscale.com Review, 6 October 2005.
Waligorski, Martin,. Boulton Paul Defiant in Detail. Photos of the Defiant Mk II night fighter at the Royal Air Force museum, Hendon, London. 11 July l999. Internet source unknown.
Camoflage and Markings, RAF Northern Europe 1936-1945. Boulton Paul Defiant. No. 8. Ducimus Books Limited, London England.
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