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de Havilland Sea Vixen

by Phil Brandt


de Havilland Sea Vixen

images by Milton Bell


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Do the British build some esoteric aerochines or what?

Although the first prototype of this twin-boomed, asymmetrically canopied fighter suffered a disastrous crash into a Farnborough Air Show crowd in 1952, the program recovered, and the type served on active duty with the fleet for twenty years, even then soldiering on in retirement as a technical school trainer and drone.



Dynavector's 1/48 Scale Sea Vixen


Bondo's 'weirdness quotient' is always stoked by unusual Bloke birds, but you'll excuse me if I passed on doing the elderly, problem-plagued 1/72 Frog kit that has now had a rebirth--Airwaves has even done two PE detail sets for it--under the aegis of Modelcraft of Canada. 



It was a whole new ballgame, though, when, three years ago, the talented Taro Tominari of Dynavector announced a multimedia 1/48 Sea Vixen FAW.2. Since I'll buy sight-unseen anything Taro-san produces, I couldn't wait for its release, and, again, I wasn't disappointed.

The molding, engraving and numerous white metal parts are excellent as usual, plus, as an aftermarket bonus, Roy Sutherland of Cooper Details has released a beautiful set of resin intakes and trunks with engine compressor fronts.

This is a large airplane, with a significant expanse of Extra Dark Sea Gray on the top surfaces, so I made the plunge to scratchbuild wingfolds which would not only provide welcome contrast with the white undersides of the wing exposed, but would add complexity to the overall display. I lucked out in having an old magazine article which featured a great color picture of a row of Sea Vixens with wings folded. Enlarged to ledger size on a color laser printer, I was able to obtain most of the detail information to build all the subassemblies. A British mag furnished sketches of the interiors of both crew positions, while another included excellent three-views and detail line drawings of the airframe. To top it all off, then out came the Warpaint Series No. 11 with it's excellent reference pix and color profiles. Plus, there are always the various websites with very helpful walkaround shots.



The wingfold captured the bulk of building effort, but the prominent bulged observer's hatch on the FAW.2 also came in for some structural detailing. I simulated the hatch's smoked glazing with darkened film from an optometrist's office. Also scratchbuilt were the black boxes aft of the pilot's seat, the twin pitot tubes on the folded wings and the smoked acrylic divider between the pilot and observer. The only real glitch in the kit itself is the failure to mold the pilot's canopy in a vertical position; instead, the canopy base is molded so that if no adjustments are made, the canopy is tilted about ten degrees to the left side. Trimming the canopy's right front and side was a delicate operation, but it comes with the vacuform territory! Although sufficient gloss was airbrushed over the gray acrylic, the numerous and large topside "No Step" warning "X" panels silvered in many places, even with repeated applications of Solvaset and firm pressing. I was forced to laboriously wet and drybrush extra dark sea gray onto the offending decal areas....which were numerous.



Bondo's Adrenaline Check


As so often happens to Bondo, an 'adrenaline check' will almost always occur at the very end of a multistep finishing process. This time it was in applying what I thought was some black wash to the topside panel lines of the folded wings. When I attempted to wipe off the 'wash' with my normal enamel thinner, nothing happened, even when I tried alcohol (I wasn't about to drag out the lacquer thinner!). 



Turned out that what I had applied was some permanent ink that for some reason I had stored in a wash bottle. I had visions of having to reshoot the wings in multiple coats to cover the black, but decided, instead, to use a series of extremely fine wetsanding grits--up to 8000--and that finally worked. Then, just a slight clearcoat touchup. Let me assure you, it took a lotta cursing and elbow grease!





I have always found Dynavector's subject matter to be exciting, and this finished model has fulfilled that feeling in spades. 



In fact, although I must have a backlog of at least twenty injected projects/conversions, some of which have been abuilding for years, I've gone through the vacuform revolving door right back to another Bondo-lusting aircraft, Dynavector's reeel beeeg BAC TSR.2.

Phil Brandt IPMS 14091

Model and Text Copyright 2001 by Phil Brandt
 Images Copyright 2001 by Milton Bell
Page Created 10 May, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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