Revell 1/32 Hawker
Model, Text & Photos by Mike O'Hare
Ask a group of jet-heads what was the most beautiful fighter ever to grace the skies and chances are, more than one will tell you it was the Hawker Hunter. There's just something so 1950's about it, the stereotypical sleek, swoopy, graceful lines of a first generation jet fighter, largely unencumbered by bumps or blisters, it's just pure aerodynamics. The most export-successful British fighter of the post-war era, the Hunter has served in some 19 air forces in its lifetime. Though largely retired now, it is still possible to see them fly under numerous civil owners, as well as a handful of civilian contractors providing adversary aircraft for armed forces around the world. Initially produced as an interceptor only, the FGA.9 version saw the addition of air to ground capabilities, making it the most versatile Hunter produced.
While there have been a number of Hunter kits over the years, it's hard to say it's been well covered, at least until recently. The last few years have seen a veritable flood of new Hunter kits: from Academy in 1/48, a comprehensive series of resin kits by PJ Productions in 1/72, while Revell Germany released models in 1/32 and 1/144. And as I've got the soapbox at the moment, I'd be remiss if I didn't do a bit of begging and pleading for Revell to scale the 1/32 kit down to 1/72, as they've done with so many other recent releases. (pleasepleasepleaseplease) The kit itself is up to the usual high standards one would expect from Revell Germany - accurate shape, fine recessed panel lines, good detail throughout, a sensible parts breakdown and some very modeller friendly extras. The breakdown of the kit makes it pretty clear that Revell intend to issue more versions eventually. The dogtooth leading edges on the wings are separate parts, making it easy to tool straight wings; the exhaust area is separate, allowing for an eventual small-bore/non-parabrake tail; and the forward fuselage and spine could be swapped out to do a two-seater. Even though rumours of future re-releases have been limited, hopefully Revell hasn't abandoned these plans. The basic kit represents an FGA.9, and while the Revell Germany release includes an additional sprue to build a Swiss Mk.58, including revised gun blisters and Maverick missiles, these are not included in the Revell Monogram boxing seen here.
For those looking for a relaxing build out of the box, the model is quite well detailed for a 1/32 jet, however detail oriented modellers should consider the KMC cockpit set which was recently re-released by True Details. The kit 'tub is more than adequate, particularly since it's painted black - detail largely disappears - but the KMC item can and will improve things. Unfortunately, I missed out on it the first time 'round, and True Details announced they were re-releasing it just after I'd sealed up the fuselage halves (so you're welcome, anyone else who was waiting for a re-release), and so an out of box build it was. Airwaves also do a resin seat, which is extremely nice and well worth considering, while Paragon used to produce a resin seat, and as they're about to re-start operations, it's entirely likely it will be re-released.
As always, construction begins in the cockpit. Revell did an excellent job here, and there's only a few niggles to note. First off, the belts are moulded into the seat pads, and they're pretty poor representations. As there's no pilot figure included in the kit, it's wisest to remove the belts and make a new set out of tape or lead foil. Also, all of the levers and knobs are done integrally with the cockpit tub, sort of smooshed flat against the surface. I guess it's meant to be a trompe l'oeil effect, but it just looks bad: chisel them off and replace with styrene rod. It helps to paint the cockpit with an off-black overall, then pick out the various components in pure black as well as other mixes of dark grey, otherwise it will just be a big, black hole. As well, fit of the glare shield is slightly tricky.
Next in line are the intakes. There's a few ejector pin marks that need filling and sanding before they can be glued together, but this is a simple matter. Once joined, a heavy application of Mr. Surfacer 500 was applied to the seam lines and when dry, this was smoothed out with acetone on a Q-tip. The turbine face was primed with Mr. Surfacer before being sprayed with Alclad Aluminium. A final wash of clear smoke adds depth to the turbine, highlighting the blades.
Prior to joining the fuselage halves, I added the rear empennage halves to each fuselage side. Test fitting showed it could be a tricky, and very visible seam, and I felt it best to join them this way, on a flat surface, so that any fit issues would be along the top and bottom of the join, rather than all along its circumference. When gluing the exhaust to the empennage, it's absolutely vital to make sure it's VERY secure - some bands of styrene strip securing it inside the fuselage wouldn't be a bad idea, nor would a heavily re-enforced bulkhead. You don't want to have it pop loose once the fuselage halves are joined (another one of those "ask me how I know" words of advice ). Also, resist the urge to glue the forward fuselage parts to each fuselage half. While with most kits, it's better to work with full left/right halves than fore/aft sections, because of the way the intakes clip in to the fuselage this can not be done with the Hunter. The fuselage goes together well provided you take your time to line everything up properly, and work in sections. I used small dots of thin CA to tack things in place before securing them with lacquer thinner, my liquid glue of choice. Because of the separate spine, there's no need to worry about this seam line on the fuselage halves. The spine itself simply clicks into place, and is a press fit over the cockpit's rear bulkhead. Once the fuselage halves are dry, add the intake and forward fuselage assemblies. Again, everything clicks into place neatly for a near-perfect fit. The completed wings (don't forget to open all the mounting holes for the pylons, antennae and bulges) simply slot into place on the fuselage and the tailplanes on the tail. Quite remarkably, for a 1/32 kit, it builds up about as quickly and easily as a 1/72 model.
Seam work was pretty minimal, as the joins were all very good. Basic application of Mr. Surfacer to smooth everything out, but there weren't any gaps or fit issues to correct. The drop tanks, rocket pods and pylons were also built and filled, and the assorted bits such as the ammo tubs, tail bumper and airbrake mounting hinge added to the fuselage in preparation for paint.
I wasn't particularly keen on building a British Hunter only because that's what most modellers do, and as the type has served in so many small air forces, I felt it an excellent opportunity to do something out of the ordinary. It was actually a tough choice narrowing down the selection, and I'd pretty much decided to do an Omani Hunter in two-tone grey, but unfortunately the Aeromaster sheet with those markings wasn't available locally. After a request on one of the major modelling discussion boards however, a very kind modeller sent me not only the Omani markings I was looking for, but rather the full sheet. And as I had all the markings now to do a Hunter from Abu Dhabi, I decided to go with it instead - as the model is built OOB, there's not a lot of aftermarket detail to look at, so I felt the camouflage would help hide this.
The clear parts were masked off with thin strips of masking tape and maskol, bits of tissue paper wadded up and jammed into the intakes to avoid overspray, then the model was ready for paint. This came in the form of Model Master II's WWII British shades - sand, dark earth and azure blue. Each was applied first out of the bottle, then was lightened and sprayed again in a light, misty, random pattern to simulate fading and weathering. It shouldn't be anything that stands out, just a subtle, blotchy appearance. As always, masking was done with paper templates scanned from the instruction sheet.
The base camouflage done, detail painting commenced: the nose and tail were masked and sprayed black, the gun plates and exhaust masked and sprayed with Mr. Surfacer then Alclad Steel, the wheel wells masked, primed with Mr. Surfacer and sprayed Alclad Aluminium. I also painted the drop tanks and pylons in a variety of finishes to simulate the mish-mash of styles typically seen on aircraft ordnance. That done, the model was glossed with Future in preparation for the decals.
As mentioned above, major national insignia were from Aeromaster, Hawker Hunter Pt. 3. I'm particularly pleased with the red cheat-line decals - they're dead straight, and didn't tear on me. As the model looked somewhat barren with JUST these major markings, I also added the stencil data from the kit. These are silk screened "Invisa-Clear" decals, and were an absolute joy to use - very thin, no silvering, and easy to move around the model's surface. Oddly enough though, while the decals themselves are nicely printed, the "Pro Modeller Invisa Clear" logo on the sheet is blocky and out of registration. Go figure.
Weathering and Final Details:
Once the decals were dry, the model was re-Futured to prepare for the wash. Once again, I used watercolours mixed with dish soap and again, different wash colours were mixed for the sand, dark earth and azure blue areas. They're just dark enough to suggest shadows and dirt without jumping out at you as being visible. This done, the model was matte coated with Testor's Dullcote, to which I had added a touch of Humbrol Linen. This give the model a slightly dusty, faded look and helps level out the surface, so the decals melt into the background more. Again, I didn't want these to be particularly noticeable, but rather another part of the overall impression. The airbrush was loaded up with a slightly more concentrated Dullcote/Linen mix and this was sprayed in a blotchy manner over the surface to simulate further weathering. I also sprayed some patches of Future here and there, to simulate areas burnished by the wind in-flight.
Vents and intakes were picked out with my mixture of Future and ink to add more depth, and this was also done to the natural metal areas - this is the best way I've found to weather metal, as washes tend not to look good. The smoke pools up in the corners and recesses, giving a nice, and perfectly blended shadow effect. The various antennae were also added at this point, the blade aerials on the spine being scratchbuilt with styrene sheet per my (very limited) references of ADAA Hunters.
The landing gear was next, and these are a complicated affair because of the breakdown of the doors and the many individual struts. Fortunately everything goes together easily. The wells were given a light once-over with clear smoke to bring out the details and add a bit of grime. Also underneath, a fairly heavy coating of clear red, orange and smoke paints was added to various panel lines, as hydraulic and fluid leaks. British aircraft have a reputation for being leaky, and the Hunter is no exception, so this is a crucial bit of weathering.
As a final touch, some of the access panels were picked out in different colours, to look like they'd been repainted, and a few simulated "repairs" were applied with zinc chromate and Pale Green paint. These help to break up the surface a bit and add some visual interest. Paint chipping was kept to a minimum, as my reference photos of African and Middle Eastern aircraft show they're prone more to extreme fading than paint chipping. I also added some hydraulic leaks to the upper surface, streaking dabs of clear smoke with a finger. The final touches were the two outer pylon ejector fairings, the bulges on top of the wings. Using Aeromaster's decal placement guides, these mount in the middle of the text portions of the roundels, which seemed wrong to me. I wasn't able to find any references showing whether the text was continued over the bulges, so the text looked "normal" when viewed from above. IF the roundels are in the right spot, and IF the bulges to indeed cover the text, I would imagine they are painted, but it's really more of a guess, and I didn't want to gamble. I'm not particularly happy with how they look though, to be honest, and might just paint the bulges aluminium, or something COMPLETELY different, so they look bolted on. Were I to do it again, I'd probably cheat and move the roundels inboard slightly. It might not be accurate, but at least it would solve the dilemma! But then, this is part of the fun(?) of modelling the more esoteric Air Forces.
A thoroughly enjoyable build. I don't venture into such large scales often, but it makes an enjoyable change from a steady diet of smaller scale models. It forces one to look at things differently, try new techniques, and allows one to practice and hone basic skills on a larger canvas, resulting in better work on future models in smaller scales. Revell's Hunter is a truly excellent kit, an enjoyably simple build that's just begging to be scaled down to 1/72, so that modellers can build shelves full of them.
Special thanks to Bill Clark and Wally for their help.
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