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Blackburn Firebrand TF.Mk.5


Aki Products, 1/72 scale

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Aki Products AKI003 - Blackburn Firebrand TF.Mk.5
Scale: 1/72
Contents and Media: 34 parts in cream coloured resin; 10 parts in clear resin; three parts in black vinyl; one poly cap; markings for one aircraft
Price: USD$80.00 plus postage online from DMC Models' website
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Beautifully cast and detailed; amazing engineering; includes rockets, torpedo and full engine; crisp and consistently recessed panel lines; razzor sharp trailing edges; no casting blocks; simple parts breakdown; large locating pins for precise fit; high quality decals.
Disadvantages: Some minor flash to clean up; tricky alignment of engine cowlings
Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Reviewed by Brett Green

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We all know the limited-run kit mantra: "Significant cleanup and constant test fitting is essential to ensure a good result. Experience is required".

Well, here is the exception.

The Blackburn Firebrand was a big, brutal but beautiful British Fighter / Torpedo bomber which was ultimately underpowered and suffered a long gestation period. The prototype flew in 1942 but the type only entered limited Fleet Air Arm service after the Second World War.

Aki Products is a limited run manufacturer from Japan. Kit number AKI003 is a 1/72 scale Blackburn Firebrand.

The design of the box top seems to offer a nod in the direction of Airfix packaging from the 1970s, but any similarity ends there.

Under the lid, Aki's 1/72 scale Firebrand looks very different from most limited run resin kits. For a start, the parts are attached to fine resin runners which look very much like conventional plastic kit sprues. There is also an amazing amount of detail cast on to individual parts. For example, the lower wing has rocket stubs cast in place, and the fuselage halves feature sidewall and tail wheel well detail on the inside.



Another major leap forward is the provision of large locating plugs (they are too big to be called pins). There plugs work very well, ensuring perfect alignment for the fuselage halves and the wing parts. The other major component, the one-piece horizontal tail surfaces, slot into a positive recess in the empennage.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Very little conventional cleanup is required. Just snip the parts off the one or two fine connection points and tidy up any residue with a hobby knife or a sanding stick. Some of the parts do suffer from light flash, but this can easily be eliminated with a sharp blade or even a small stiff brush.

Surface detail is exquisite. Panel lines and selected rivets are perfectly consistent and crisply engraved. Control surface hinge lines are appropriately emphasised, as are various raised lumps and bumps. Trailing edges of all flying surfaces are razor sharp.

The wheel wells are cast on the underside of the top wing halves. These are fully boxed in and feature full structural detail.

The cockpit looks deceptively simple on the sprues, but its full detail is revealed under a coat of paint.

Another highlight of the kit is the gorgeous Bristol Centaurus engine. This is made up of just six parts, but they deliver an authentic miniature of this complex powerplant. Some of the construction looks a little scary, such as the two delicate manifold parts hugging the cylinders, but the parts literally clip into place. In the photo below, the parts are not even glued together - just fantastic.



Not surprisingly, the kit provides separate engine cowlings so that the engine may be displayed. The engine cowls are supplied in clear resin so you could close the cowls and still admire your engine if you are that way inclined. Interestingly, the landing gear is also supplied in clear resin. Separate canopies are provided for open and closed configurations. The clear resin is a little cloudy on the sprues, but should sparkle after a bath in Future floor polish.

Markings are supplied for a single Firebrand in FAA service. Registration and colour saturation are excellent.



Instructions are supplied on one piece of A3, folded paper. The three construction steps are well illustrated and quite straightforward despite the scarcity of English text. A full colour marking guide contains callouts for all the decal numbers.





We modellers live in fortunate times to be presented with such a great choice of niche subjects.

The price we usually pay for these niche subjects in limited run kits is extra effort in preparation, alignment and assembly. Most of this heartache has been eliminated by Aki's clever engineering and incredible casting in their Firebrand kit. In this case, the price we pay is actually the price. At USD$80.00 for a 1/72 scale kit, it is certainly not cheap. Even so, value is in the eye (or perhaps the wallet) of the beholder, and this remarkable level of detail and innovative engineering could easily justify the price tag.

Over the last few days I have made significant progress toward finishing the kit. I can advise that the kit is as impressive to build as it looks in the box. Here is a sneak peak of the state of the model right now.



Aki's 1/72 scale Blackburn Firebrand Mk.V sets a new high-water mark for a beautifully detailed resin kit that could be built by a modeller with only moderate experience.

Highly Recommended.

Review sample kindly supplied by DMC Models

Review Text Copyright 2007 by Brett Green
Page Created 06 August, 2007
Last updated 24 December, 2007

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