Kit preview: Airfix’s 1/48 TSR-2

tsr2afxShortly after Hornby purchased Airfix in late 2006, rescuing the iconic British model-maker, I had the chance to talk to Airfix’s product manager, Martyn Weaver. At the interview’s conclusion, I wrote “Mr. Weaver concluded his answers by saying that under Hornby Hobbies LTD., the ‘future looks bright for Airfix.'”

Since that time, Hornby has guided Airfix through some great releases, all stepping up the quality of Airfix kits. So when I heard they were releasing a 1/48 TSR-2, I was very excited.

Just before Airfix went into receivership under the Humbrol ownership, they had released a 1/72 scale TSR-2 that made quite an impact on the market. For an aircraft that never made it into production, it caused quite a stir. Every UK modeling magazine I read here in the US had articles about it. Various companies released aftermarket sets of resin and decals. Though the kit itself was met with only lukewarm  reviews, it sold quickly. And even after Airfix went through all it did in 2006, the 1/72 scale TSR-2 commanded very high prices on Ebay.

Obviously, the “new” Airfix took note of the interest in the kit, as well as the criticisms of it. And in releasing another boxing of it- as a 1/48 scale limited edition- I’d have to say they got it all right for the most part!

The first thing I noticed when I saw it at my favorite hobby shop, Hayes Hobby House of Fayetteville, NC, was the sheer size of the box. It’s a monster…. about 22 inches long, 15 inches across, and about 4 inches deep. The second thing I noticed, and really, really appreciated was the price: $50.75.

Now, certainly that’s not a small amount for a kit, in my opinion. But the prices I’ve seen on large kits like this often go well above $100- so the fact that Airfix produced a new tool kit, of such an unusaul subject, and of good quality- for this price- I’m impressed. Thanks Airfix!

More than a few sites have covered the plastic in the box, so I’ll not go into a lot of detail on the general kit. Suffice to say, it’s big. In scale, the fuselage is about the length of a B-17, and the wingspan is about like a WWII fighter. The tail surfaces seem near as big as the wings on an F-86- only wider. You’ll definitely need some shelf space!

Some parts certainly are worth looking at though. The seats are multi-part, with adequate detail. I’m sure it won’t be long before someone releases a resin replacement, if they haven’t done so already. Still- dressed up with some belts, these seats will look good.

The instrument panels are fairly basic. I think the inclusion of some IP decals would’ve helped, since there is not a lot of detail cast in. Of course, with some dry brushing, they’ll look good. I may actually try scratch-building a replacement, just to get that experience. If it doesn’t look as good- I can always fall back on the kit parts.

The main gear/bomb bay areas is tremendously detailed. The casting of the parts that go into it are as good as anything on the market. In fact, if I had any criticsim of the kit, it would be that so much effort was placed into the gear area, but not near as much in the cockpit.

The landing gear are monstrous- the main gear being about 2 inches long, and very thick. Not out of scale- just another indication of the size of the aircraft, even at 1/48 scale.

The panel lines are recessed, and well defined. I prefer panel lines to be a little on the larger side, and these would fall in that category.

I think one of the best improvements I see Airfix has made is in the decals. The first new kit released under Hornby’s ownership was the Spitfire Mk. I, which had been tooled and produced under the previous management. While the kit itself was very nice, the decals left a bit to be desired. They appeared to be printed on a dot matrix printer, to a certain degree. Not with these decals- they are very nice. I was actually surprised they did not say “Printed by Cartograph” they looked so good. (The decals with the Airfix Club Kit- 3 FAA subjects- are Cartograph printed.) I suppose these could be Cartograph and they just don’t say so…. in any case, they look very nice.

Overall, I really like this kit. I can’t wait to get started on it. It’s such an unusaul subject, even if it has a few issues detail-wise, it’s worth a look simply because it’s different. And the what-if possibilities are endless. Hannant’s has already released two decal sheets along those lines, and the number of do-it-yourself schemes that modelers will likely come up with mean we’ll see quite a few interesting builds.

Thanks Airfix- if this kit is any indication, the future certainly is bright for Airfx! (And modelers!)