Havilland Sea Vixen
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.
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
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.
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
Images Copyright © 2001 by Milton
Page Created 10 May, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007
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