Build report: Trumpeter’s 1/48 Westland Whirlwind

1-48-trumpter-westland-whirlwind

When it comes to Trumpeter kits, there only seem to be two opinions. You either love them or hate them.

The distinction seems to be how you feel about accuracy. Trumpeter aircraft kits are not known for their accuracy. Interior detail is often fictitious, at best it’s sorta kinda close. Shape is often suspect, and while the models generally resemble what they’re intended to look like, those with a sharp eye for shape rarely like what they see.

But Trumpeter does sell a whole lot of kits.

And I happen to be one of those folks who love them. Well…. mostly.

Apart from shape and detail, they’re actually not bad kits. The fit is usually quite good, and assembly is not difficult. The prices generally are not too bad, though they do seem to have been creeping up.

If the folks at the Huaxin plastic products factory, where Trumpeter kits are made, would just put a little more research into their work, they could really have some great stuff. (Cool maps, huh?)

Classic Airframes released a Whirlwind a few years ago, and it was considered accurate, if a little difficult to build. (According to what I’ve read.) I’ve always wanted to build a Whirlwind, but given that the CA kit is out of production, and after building their CA-13 Boomerang kit I swore off ALL Classic Airframes kits, I was happy to see Trumpeter release this one.

If you keep up with online modeling forums, you’ve seen the criticism- the cockpit detail doesn’t have much basis in reality, the shapes of the nacelles, spinners, canopy and a few other parts is not quite right, and the landing gear bay detail is entirely made up. And I can’t argue with those criticisms. BUT….

I’m one of those (weird?) modelers who doesn’t mind all that. Call me a Barney Builder. I’m OK with that. 🙂 All I know is when I completed this kit, it isn’t mistaken for a cheese grater or a cereal bowl or a can of soup. It pretty much looks like a Westland Whirlwind. I’m OK with close enough.

Anyway…. on to the kit.

The cockpit, while not accurate, is reasonably busy. With some paint and drybrushing it looks, well, like a cockpit. I added some seatbelts to liven things up. It would be nice to have a good resin aftermarket set, but given how much criticism the kit has received, I don’t know if anyone will tackle it. Eduard does make a nice looking photoetch set that does improve the cockpit and rear deck area, but I’m photoetch averse, so I simply went with an out of the box build. There is a decal supplied for the IP, but it in no way, shape or form fits or even resembles the kit part it is supposed to fit on.

Assembly of the major sections is quite uneventful. I assembled the cockpit, slipped it into the fuselage, and glued the fuselage together. There no gaps to fill, just the usual seam cleanup. The wings and nacelles built up easily, and with good fit too. The instructions direct you to build the landing gear with the nacelles, but I simply cut a notch in the alignment hole where the forward “fork” slips in place, and was able to add the gear later in assembly.

The kit comes with two marking sets, one in Dark Earth/Dark Green/Sky, and the other in Dark Green/Ocean Gray/Medium Sea Gray. I chose the former, and based on a few photos of other aircraft from the same squadron, decided to paint one of the wing undersides black, just to be different.

The decals are good news/bad news. The good news is they work flawlessly, and settle in nicely. The bad news is the colors are very off… the reds being too bright, the aircraft codes the wrong color…. if things like that drive you crazy, the decals may just send you over the edge. I just shrugged and put them on.

Painting was done with a mix of Tamiya (Dark Green, Sky and NATO Black) and Gunze paints (Dark Earth), and weathering was done with artists oils, and airbrushed shading and fading.

From an engineering, fit and assembly standpoint, I had no complaints with this kit. And I guess that is what is so frustrating for many- they actually do a pretty good job on the build experience. But Trumpeter seems to continually fall flat on its face when it comes to accuracy. I don’t know why, certainly. I’ve read conjecture… “the product of a communist system”, “profits over product”… who knows. I’d guess it may entail a little of both, but probably more of a hefty dose of simply not spending enough time in the R&D, and focusing on simply squirting out plastic.

I can say this… if Trumpeter does address their accuracy issues, they’ll be quite a force in the modeling industry.

If you don’t mind some shape issues, you’ll enjoy this kit. If you have a good eye for shape, this may not be a kit you’ll enjoy. In any event- I can recommend it for a nice build experience, if nothing else. And it does look kind of cool, warts and all.

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