Airfix 1/72 Avro Shackletin MR.2

We have seen some excellent new releases from Airfix in 2015, all a huge improvement with kits of the latest standards, including a number of subjects where some f their older subjects have been completely re-tooled to modern standards.  They have been a world apart from those early kits first done int he 1960's.  As we get to the end of the year though we have an all new subject for Airfix and what a beauty.  One of the classic RAF aircraft of the Cold War era, the Avro Shackleton.  There was the old Frog kit done many years ago but what we now have is a modern tooling that is simply a pleasure to see.  Not only for the quality of all the external detailing, but for the additional detailing you will find that will be largely hidden away inside the fuselage.  Not just the pilot's seats and controls, but back in the main body of the fuselage the work stations and seats for the rest of the crew members while they undertook their maritime search operations.  Add of course internal detailing to the undercarriage bays and, if you want to make it with the bomb doors open, detailing to the inside of the bomb bay and the provision of two of each of two different types of torpedo (2x Mk. 30 and 2x Mk. 44).  There is a lot to this one, and perhaps an easy illustration of that is to point out that the instruction booklet stretches to 113 stages in the build process, plus then the quite extensive task of applying the transfers and airframe stencils.

Externally you see the 20mm cannon in the nose, and if you go for the version with the top turret, two more in there as well.  The Griffon engines mount contra-rotating propellers on each station and you have the distinctive look of the Shackleton, along with the clear heritage lines back to the Lancaster bomber from which it evolved.  As with most of their kits these days, you need to start by deciding which of the two variants that are catered for in the markings provided, as there are differences in detail to be incorporated in the build.  This also means you need to keep a careful eye on the instructions as you make your way through the build, opening up the appropriate holes for the different fittings.

Two sets of markings are provided. The first is for a machine with 224 Sqn based at RAF North Front in Gibraltar in September 1967.  This has medium sea grey upper surfaces and the rest of the airframe is in gloss white.  This is the version that mounts the top turret as well.  The alternative is for an aircraft of 204 Sqn at (ex-RAF) Tengah air base in Indonesia during 1972.  This one lacks the top turret but has other 'lumps and bumps' on the top of the fuselage and while it has white panels on the top of the fuselage and in the centre of the upper wing surfaces, the rest of this airframe is finished in dark sea grey.  In both cases, the other element that also marks out modern Airfix kits, there is a host of airframe stenciling to be applied, all of which is provided on the large transfer sheet.  So many that additional diagrams are provided for each of the marking options to show exactly where they all need to be positioned, and that is in addition to all the national and squadron markings of the individual aircraft.

All in all Airfix have produced another first class new model and so good to see they have got round to making a Shackleton at last.  I still remember them in their final days of service when they were given individual names of Magic Roundabout characters.  All of their recent releases have been very good, but I think this one edges it as my favorite of the year.  All that attention to detail both inside and out, marks these new generation Airfix kits as models for modellers who will tend to be adult customers, these are so much more now than the 'toys' that plastic kits were once considered.  If that were not the case, I am sure there would not be the attention to the interior detailing we are now seeing in these kits today.  If there is one thing that I think Airfix might have done differently, perhaps it would have been an idea to do the starboard side fuselage in clear plastic, rather than the grey opaque plastic of the kit as a whole.  That would have given the modeller a chance to leave part of it unpainted so all that super detail inside the main fuselage could be seen clearly in the completed model.  Maybe there is a chance for them to do another 'special edition' release in future with just such a clear plastic fuselage half, who knows.

Our thanks to Airfix for our example and these are available now.

See the Airfix website for more details of their ranges