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Classic Airframes 1/48 scale Boulton-Paul Defiant Mk.I

Kit: No. 95-404
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Classic Airframes, P.O. Box 5775870, Chicago, IL 60657-7580, phone 312-327-6088
Price: $39.95
Comments: Multimedia, 88 parts (43 injection molded, 29 photoetched, 9 resin, 4 vacuum formed, 2 steel tubes, 1 acetate sheet), decals.

BORN FROM A 1935 Royal Air Force request for a two-place turret fighter, the Defiant first flew in 1939, just in time to fight in the Battle of Britain. Unfortunately, it had no forward-firing guns and was outclassed by Messerschmitts.

The 360-degree traversing turret with its four .303-caliber Browning machine guns was better suited against bombers, so Defiants were next employed as night fighters, where they saw moderate success. They ended the war as escorts for search-and-rescue forces over the English Channel.

This Czech-made kit features limited-run injection-molded parts for the main structures and vacuum-formed canopy, turret, and landing-light lenses. The cockpit tub, turret base, machine guns, and control stick are resin, while details such as the seat, instrument panel, seat belts, and control wheels are photoetched brass. Decals are provided for a day-fighter and a night-fighter Defiant.

The instructions are pictures only and require study before you begin. The parts map helps a lot. The plastic parts are attached to heavy sprues, so carefully separate them with a razor saw to prevent damage. Panel detail consists of fine recessed lines. The edges of the plastic parts have flash and there are no alignment pins. Sanding the mating surfaces will help the fit. Drill shallow holes into the inside of the top wing halves and the rear fuselage for the landing-gear struts.

I like the film reproduction of the instruments. Paint the back of this white, then carefully fit it behind the black-painted photoetched panel.

The instructions show the already-completed left side wall and instrument panel (steps B and C) going into the cockpit in step A -- obviously, complete steps B and C first.

I painted the cockpit sidewalls and floor interior green with black boxes. The Sutton harness (PE-1) should not attach to the seat, but into the slot in the armor plate behind the seat. You'll have to refine the fit of the resin sidewalls. Align the rear of each side square against the back of the cockpit tub. Once assembled and painted the cockpit is impressive.

I had difficulty getting everything to fit correctly inside the turret. The guns may be slightly oversize. Remove about 1/16" from each end of the pair of PE-14s to fit them on the gun-elevation mounts.

Be careful removing the gun slots in the turret greenhouse -- the plastic is thin and you don't get a spare.

The major subassemblies went together well with a couple of snags. My fuselage halves were slightly warped, so I glued the front first, let it set overnight, then clamped the rear and applied cement. The main gear well needs a little adjustment at the corners to fit the bottom half of the wing. Only a little filling and sanding was needed on the wing/fuselage joints.

The landing gear features photoetched oleo scissors that must be folded and attached to the struts, so be careful. Paint the struts, doors, and wells black. It's difficult to follow the assembly of the photoetched strut retractors, and some of the parts are better replaced with wire.

I painted my Defiant in the flat black night-fighter scheme. The decals are thin and react well with Solvaset, but they fracture easily. My set was slightly out of register and the red circles in the roundels were too large. The night-fighter markings lack the eyes that accompany the shark mouth, and a digit in the serial number is missing -- it should read N3328.

Compared with photos in several references, the fuselage seems too fat at the turret and the trailing edges of the wing appear too thick. Otherwise, the model is a convincing scale replica of the Defiant. I spent 25 hours on my model, the minimum needed to make the fit and finish adjustments. You should have experience with multimedia kits before building your Defiant.

Ross Whitaker

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