1/32 De Havilland DH.103 Hornet HpH Catalogue# HPH32024R Available from HpH €184,00
Some aircraft are born destined for greatness, revered as classics or even given legend status. Aircraft like the Spitfire, Mustang or Zero are part of their respective nations identities and are celebrated in the mainstream by people with relatively little knowledge of aircraft; others have a cult following amongst enthusiast, celebrated by those more informed on such matters. The De Havilland DH103 Hornet is one such aircraft. Effectively a scaled down Mossie it borrowed much from its larger sibling and as such inherited its flying qualities and improved them further, had the war continued it would have taken the fight to the “Japs” as a long range escort fighter. Looking to repeat the success of the Mosquito De Havilland stuck to their proven formula of using bonded wooden composite and developed it further by incorporating aluminium into the airframe such as with the wing spars. Further innovations came from the experience gained with the Schneider Trophy Racers of the 1930’s and this resulted in possibly the tightest most aerodynamic cowling ever fitted to a Merlin powered airframe.
Described by Legendary aviator Captain Eric “Winkle” Brown as a Grand Prix racer for the air, it made a huge impression on him and is at the top of his list of all-time greats, no mean feat when you consider that during his illustrious career he flew and tested almost 500 different types! The Hornet went on to serve the RAF well into the mid 50’s until it was unceremoniously scrapped while serving in Hong Kong due to deterioration accelerated by the Far Eastern climate. Sadly this is probably the chief reason we don’t have a surviving airframe, the nearest we have is an excellent cockpit section currently being reproduced using original parts; you can follow the progress here
The Hornet has received its fair share of attention from kit manufacturers, with several excellent if challenging kits being produced in 1/48th by Classic Airframes and Dynavector, a more recent release by Trumpeter received a panning from the critics but is a certainly a much easier prospect to build than the Limited run and Vac form offerings. Now HpH come to our rescue with a 1/32 Hornet family, Jim Hatch recently reviewed their DH Sea Hornet NF.21 and gave it the thumbs up, let’s see how its land based counterpart compares.
Don’t let the slim yet sturdy box fool you, this is crammed to capacity with some of the best resin I’ve ever had the pleasure to fondle, it’s so tightly packed that after photographing the parts for the review I seriously struggled to get the lid back on! Inside the box we find that everything is carefully swaddled in bubble wrap and after close inspection everything has survived the trip to the UK from the Czech Republic. All the main parts of the airframe have their own compartments and the smaller components are in ziplock bags, on top is a larger ziplock containing the generously sized decal sheet and wallets containing the photoetched parts, HGW laser cut fabric seat belts and CD containing the instructions. Another small ziplock contains the turned metal components BUT NO BELGIAN CHOCOLATE!
Let’s start with the fuselage, this is split vertically in the conventional way and is a significant chunk of resin which I’m told is reinforced with glass fibre; this makes sense as despite being relatively thin the fuselage halves feel rigid without being brittle. As with any resin kit there will be some cleaning up for you to do but HpH have kept this to a minimum and the casting blocks will require little more than a few passes with a fresh scalpel blade, things like the cockpit aperture or openings for the wings are only flashed over with a wafer of resin so clean up time should be too much of chore.
Being of plywood construction surface detail is fairly minimal as on the real aircraft, detail such as the cannon access panels on the belly is represented by fine panel lines and rivet detail which is as crisp as you would get from any current Tamigawa offering. Inside there is no detail to be seen as the cockpit sidewalls are inserted once the fuselage has been joined, HpH have thoughtfully included locating holes but you will have to add your own pins to them from plastic rod.
The wings are again a substantial piece of resin and have a very glossy appearance when compared to the fuselage halves; I believe these are also reinforced with glass fibre which is reassuring considering the weight of the completed model. Split into top and bottom halves they have a thin casting block running around their outside but as the waiter in Monty Pythons meaning of life would say “Its wafer thin”!
The upper wings have minimal surface detail, due again to the wooden construction, what is provided is to the same high standard as the fuselage and even features subtle raised detail such as where the engine nacelle meets the wing. The inside of the upper wing incorporates the ducting for the carburettor which should look very realistic once the sliding shutter is added from the etched brass sheet, the ribbing for the landing flaps is also cast onto the inner surface.
The lower wings give us a little more to look at as the real aircrafts were constructed of Alclad reinforced by extruded Duralumin stringers to provide ridigity, as such the lower wings feature full rivet detail which is superbly done and far subtler than you would see on a Trumpeter effort for example. They also have the same wafer thin casting block around the edges which no doubt prevents any warping during the casting/curing process and certainly makes the parts more robust for postage. The lower wings also incorporate the roof of the undercarriage bay, this is fully detail with the ribbing structure represented and the recess for the wheel itself, as Jim Hatch observed this will only require some hydraulic lines and wiring to make it utterly life like! The wings build up into one piece with a substantial resin spar running the length of the finished component and are designed to slide into the fuselage in one whole piece.
As I mentioned at the beginning the Hornet featured the most tightly fitting cowling of any Merlin powered aircraft and every effort was made to reduce the front cross section to aid the aerodynamics, as is often the case precise engineering makes for beautiful lines; HpH have replicated this perfectly and have really captured the petite lines of the Hornets nacelles. All the catches and access panels are depicted with subtle rivets and recessed panel line detail. These parts feature more flash than any other part of the kit but this seems to be due to the more complex shape of the nacelles, HpH look to of used various casting blocks (most of which they seem to of removed for us) to ensure the shape is not distorted during the casting/curing process.
The inner undercarriage bay is represented by raised ribbing and when mated to the wing will look superb, the rear of the nacelle is solid and has a large locating peg to aid with alignment along with locating holes as such we saw on the fuselage.
Moving on to the small components, these are spread over four zip lock bags, for simplicity ill describe the contents of each bag rather than trying to group cockpit parts etc. together. All of the smaller parts are cast on a thin wafer of resin (Mr Creosote would approve) which I’m sure is very useful for HpH when mass producing their kits, admittedly this does add some thickness (not even a millimetre )to the parts but this won’t be an issue and only a few parts will need thinning down.
Bag A is mainly cockpit parts such as the side walls, instrument panel and other structures. The cockpit detail is excellent and well on par with an aftermarket set from someone such as Eduard, a resin instrument panel is supplied which is intended to be used with the coloured photo etch and will look very convincing when complete. Other parts include firewalls for the undercarriage bays, matrix for the radiators, landing flaps, exhausts and a superb set of wheel hubs which must surely be the product of 3D printing?!
Literally a mixed bag here! Let’s start with the control surfaces, the tail fin, rudder, tail plane, and elevators are all here and all are separate for those who like to inject some life into their builds, they all feature full rivet detail and recessed panel lines, some cleaning up will be necessary as they all have casting blocks on their leading edges. We also have the spinners and propeller blades which are superbly thin and free from distortion, just take your time when fitting them as the Special Merlin 130 series engines fitted to the Hornet were handed so both propellers could rotate towards the cockpit.
Of note are the tyres which again must be tooled using 3D printing?! The tread detail is so fine and well defined it hurts my eyes if I stare at it too long! A pair of bombs is included, undercarriage doors and under wing pylons. The only casting flaw I have noticed on the whole kit is a very slight short shot on the cockpit floor, this won’t be noticeable in the depths of the cockpit and I’m amazed at the quality HpH have achieved.
Far fewer bits in here, the under carriage legs are worthy of mention as they are cast with an integral metal rod which will be a relief with full resin kit! Same goes for the tail strut. Two pilot seats are provided, one in the style also seen in the DH Vampire the other is the more familiar type seen in Spitfires etc. both are commendably thin. We also have the tail fins for the bombs, ribs for the inner surfaces of the flaps, inner hubs to seat the spinners on and some more cockpit details.
Even fewer parts here! The characteristic Drop tanks of the Hornet are produced as one solid piece and have a large casting block to remove, fear not as it’s attached by only thin web of resin.
And lastly the resin wing spar which will be necessary to give the required strength to the model and also help with alignment.
As you can probably tell from the photos these are beautifully cast and virtually free of flaws! Care will be needed when removing them from the rather large casting blocks, but once separate they are the equal of any injection moulded effort and any minor imperfections will be invisible once given the Johnsons Clear treatment.
Wing tip lights are also included although it’s a shame the gun sight lens isn’t included as it is in the Sea Hornet kit.
Eduard has handled the etched here and it’s as good as you would usually expect from them, three frets are supplied, two in traditional old skool brass and one nickel plated pre-painted fret. The brass frets handle most of the external detail and larger parts such as radiator matrix and fins for the rockets.
The smaller pre-painted fret handles most of the cockpit detail including the buckles for the seatbelts, instrument panel dials and ancillaries.
HpH have also collaborated with HGW who have produced a Hornet specific set of their excellent micro fibre seatbelts, once combined with the etched buckles these surely must be the most realistic solution to scale seat belts!
A modest set of vinyl masks are provided for the windscreen and canopy, you will have to fill in the the centre of the canopy as the masks only cover the edges, the Hornet Canopy isn’t an especially difficult shape to mask but this is a welcome inclusion all the same.
TURNED METAL PARTS
With Eduard handling the brass and HGW doing the seatbelts it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that Master had a hand in these parts, they certainly appear to be of the same quality as Masters offerings. The warheads for the rockets are turned aluminium and are perfectly finished and ready to paint, the body of the rockets are produced in brass and even have slits on the ends for the etched tail fins. There are some larger brass tubes but I can’t find them in the instructions so they will be resigned to the spares box.
A single decent sized sheet contains all the national insignia and stencils for the two options provided, to me it’s very reminiscent of Eduard’s own decals that they produce for their kits stencils, hopefully they will perform the same way too.
All markings are in register with strong colours and even the smallest of stencils is perfectly readable.
Two schemes are provided:
HpH provide a CD that contains the instructions in both JPEG format for ease of printing or PDF/Acrobat if that’s your preferred medium.
These are very clear and concise and distinguish between etched and resin parts, both colour options are given in profile and top down views.
We’re big HpH fans here at LSM I think that much is obvious! Their previous releases have all been given the thumbs up by us and it’s clear they are at the top of their game, the fact they can produce resin kits that in many ways exceed injection moulded levels of quality and detail blows my mind! Their Hornet is certainly not for the faint hearted but I think it could still be a good choice for your first resin kit if you already have experience working with the medium and a good few kits under your belt, despite the Size and price of this kit once it’s cleaned up it’s a relatively simple model. I have heard a few grumblings about the shape of the nose and windscreen but I’m struggling to see the issue and feel it captures the delicate lines of the Hornet beautifully. I think this is going to have to jump to the top of my stash; you’ll be able to follow the build on the LSM forum.
Definitely highly recommended
My sincere thanks to HpH for the review sample. To purchase directly, please click THIS link