Airfix B-26B/C Invader

With the release of Italeri and Revell's B-26B and C, the vintage Airfix B-26is unlikely to top anyone's favourite kit list, although it will likely have the advantage of being cheap! The kit suffers from heavy rivet detail, thick trailing edges, overdone separate control surfaces, a general lack of detail in the cockpit and other areas, and I've heard rumours that the rear fuselage is quite badly off (I haven't checked that myself). In its favour, the kit provides options to build either the eight-gun nosed -26B or the glass nosed -26C. Both the upper and lower turrets are provided with plugs to cover up the holes if the turrets aren't installed, and underwing gun pods are included. This allows pretty much any combination of armament to be modelled, though you'll have to check your references as the armament fit varied from plane to plane (For an attempt to systematically categorise the armament see the AAHS article listed in the references section). The gun nose lacks detail, and the glass nose lacks an interior and suffers from poorly moulded plastic parts (some of the older issues of the kit suffer from short-shots). The rear gunner's compartment is also quite empty.

Carpena includes markings for 2 Invaders on their Indochine 1er Partie set, a natural metal B-26B from GB 1/19 Gascogne and a black RB-26C of ERP 2/19 Armagnac. Model Art cover a couple of Indochina-based Invaders on sheet 72/018, another RB-26C of ERP 2/19 and a B-26C of GB 1/91 Bourgogne.

Overall, this kit is certainly not up to current standards, and it will require a lot of work to be brought up to an acceptable detail level. For this you'll need references aplenty. The book Foreign Invaders has a chapter on the French aircraft. Squadron-Signal's A-26 Invader In Action is a typical piece of work, with only passing mention of French use of the type. If you can find a copy, Crosnier and Gill's book on Transport and Bombing operations in Indochina has excellent coverage of the B-26.

Scott Van Aken, who runs the excellent Modeling Madness Webzine provided the photo below of the Airfix kit with Carpena markings.

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Airfix H-19 (Westland Whirlwind)

Recently reissued, Airfix's Whirlwind has certainly been around for longer than I have. Given the availability of the far superior Italeri and Revell H-19 kits, this is really one for the masochists only. The fuselage halves feature relatively restrained rivet detail, with adequate definition to the air intake screening on the sides. The screening across the nose is less well-defined. The cargo door is molded shut, as are the pilots' doors/windows (the framing of which is totally missing). The rotor head and undercarriage detail is minimal, and the rotor blades are thick and lack an airfoil shape. Interior detail is basic, with a floor, two seats, two collectives (but no cyclics), an instrument panel coaming (with no panel), and a representation of the transmission housing behind the seats. There is no cargo bay detail. The transmission housing parts feature a grid texture, which is supposed to simulate quilted insulation. Transparencies are typical vintage Airfix, thick and highly distorted. The windshield framing is particularly suspect. Decals in the latest release cover a USMC HRS-1 and a FAA Whirlwind HAS22. Model Art's French markings from sheet 72/038 are best saved for something a little more accurate.

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Airfix L-19 Birddog

Airfix's L-19/O-1 is an oldie but not a bad little kit. It's very simple in construction, with the biggest problem to watch out for being the upper cabin windows in the wing. These are all provided in the kit as very thick, distorted parts. All had molding flaws inside the part (likely due to the thickness), making them unusable. The first time I built this kit I tried using Krystal Klear to replace the windows. The result was an improvement over the kit parts, however the large windows sagged in their centres, and remained soft after setting. For my second kit, I replaced each window with a section of clear styrene cut to size. I also polished the molded-in braces out of the windscreens and replaced them with stretched sprue.

The other problem with the kit is ejector pin marks on the horizontal stabiliser. These are right in the middle of the rib detail on the elevators, and hence can't be removed without losing all the detail. On one kit I built, I rebuilt the ribs with sprue (very tedious). You can avoid this by using Pavla's resin replacement control surfaces. Pavla also offer a cockpit detail set, which includes replacement vacuformed front and rear windscreens.

Kit markings are for a pair of Vietnam war a/c (a FAC grey USAF machine "Ronnie's Racer", and a VNAF bird with a checkerboard fuselage stripe), so you'll have to scrounge for markings.

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Airfix L-20 Beaver

Airfix's L-20 is one of their nicer kits, and Hobbycraft demonstrated the sincerest form of flattery by apparently using it as the basis of their kit. The Airfix kit has raised rivet detail, and features a separate fuselage roof, to inclued the upper cabin windows. All clear parts are moulded separately. My kit lacks decals, but I believe the originals were US and Royal Army, with alternatives available from Carpena again.

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Airfix Mosquito FB.VI

One of the nicer kits in Airfix's stable, this kit has been overtaken as the best fighter-bomber Mossie by the Hasegawa and Tamiya kits. Raised panel details are restrained (the beauty of a wooden airplane). The canopy is a little thick, and the interior is a couple of boxes and some undersized looking seats. Lots of optional parts, including narrow and paddle-bladed props and shielded and exposed exhausts. My refs show the exposed five stack exhausts on the French FB.VIs. Apparently there are problems with the scribing of the inboard flaps and the stance of the finished product on its gear. Carpena provides markings for a sharkmouthed example of GC Corse on their Indochina 1er Partie sheet.

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Airfix SB2C-4 Helldiver

Until the release of the Sword and later Academy kits, the Airfix kit could have been described as the best of a poor bunch (Matchbox and Aoshima also producing kits). Tons of raised rivets, nothing in the cockpit, a canopy that always looked squashed to me, etc., etc. The perforations in the dive flaps are indicated by raised circles, though I think someone must have covered this in photoetch. Again, decals are available via Carpena's Indochina 1er Partie for a SB2C-5 of Flotille 9F.

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