The “Flying Flatiron” – the 1/48th scale Airfix Javelin F(AW)9/9R
The Javelin F(AW)9 was the last of the Javelin family; rather than being a new-build airframe, it was in fact a Javelin F(AW)7 rebuilt to F(AW)8 standard. Some 114 airframes were thus rebuilt, and within that total around 40 were further modified for inflight refuelling, being able to carry an enormous (20 feet long) detachable refuelling probe. These Javelins were designated as Javelin F(AW)9R. This last mark of the family equipped squadrons in Fighter Command, RAF Germany and the Far East Air Force, with Javelin squadrons in the latter posting being the last to disband; with 60 and 64 Squadrons based at Tengah, Singapore finally disbanding in 1967. Javelins were detached to several hot spots; to Zambia to enforce the
British blockade of Rhodesia following that country's illegal Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) as there was concern that the Rhodesian Air Force might have a crack at the fuel pipelines running through Zambia – a threat that never materialised. The longest overseas posting was to Singapore to help deter Indonesian forces
after that country decided that it rather liked the notion of taking over Borneo following the independence of Malaysia in the 1960s; both 60 and 64 Squdrons were based at Tengah in Singapore and along with other RAF (and RAAF and RNZAF) aircraft took on the job of keeping the Indonesians at bay and supporting Commonwealth forces on the ground. The Javelin's one and only “kill” occurred when an Indonesian C-130 Hercules flew into the jungle trying to evade a 60 Squadron Javelin. On another occasion, the crew of a 60 Squadron Javelin was trying to photograph an Indonesian A.F. Tu-16 Badger bomber (there was concern that these aircraft were being modified to carry Soviet AS-4 Kelt anti-shipping missiles, so photos were required) when they realised they were being tracked by the twin 20mm cannon in the tail turret. The Javelin pilot rolled his plane inverted to show off his four – live – Firestreak missiles. When he returned to upright flight, those cannon had been smartly moved to a non-threatening position – it later transpired that said Badger bomber had the Indonesian Chief of Air Staff aboard..... and the guys got their photos!
The Javelin was never an easy aeroplane to fly and a crew could get into trouble horribly easily in the wrong circumstances – but with four 30mm ADEN cannon and four Firestreak missiles from the Mark 7 onwards, it packed some serious heat and was the RAF's all-weather fighter for many long years. Despite nicknames like “The Flying Flatiron” and “Dragmaster” the Javelin was quite capable of going supersonic in a shallow dive as the citizens of South London found out one night – not to mention any number of infiltrators who regularly got “boomed” in the jungles of Borneo!
images below to see larger images
First impressions are of a large box in the distinctive Airfix red packaging with superb artwork; upon opening the box a large plastic bag packed full of sprues of light grey plastic parts leaps out at you (figuratively speaking...). The clear parts are packed in their own little bag, but unfortunately are then packed within the main sprue bag, which can still lead to scuffing – note to Messrs. Airfix and Humbrol – please keep the clear parts in their own bag and separate from the main sprue bag – thankyou!! Even in this state, the sheer size of the finished model is apparent. The instruction booklet is very thorough with colours called out
throughout in Humbrol paint numbers; a list of these numbers along with the colour names at the beginning of the instructions would be a good idea; not everyone is like me and has grown up with Humbrol paints since “forever”! The Cartograf decals are excellent with good opacity and are suitably thin – all kit decals should be this good. Full colour painting guides are included in the instruction booklet and a separate (and rather daunting) stencil guide is also provided.
Construction starts as per usual with the cockpit – well, actually, no. Not this time – it starts with the nose wheel well, which attaches to the cockpit floor. Then, we start in on the cockpit... this is pretty well appointed, complete with sidewalls – the whole lot builds into a self-contained tub. The ejection seats are quite nice out of the box, but as is typical with most kits, they lack the harness and webbing that are found on the real thing. Neomega make a very nice replacement resin seat if so desired. Like pretty much all post-war British fighter cockpits, this one is black – the only colour comes from the ejection seats and a few knobs picked out in colour. I used Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black in the cockpit; this is a nice “off-black” colour, which means that one can then pick out instrument faces and knobs in “pure” black for added interest.
The completed 'pit along with the nose wheel is enclosed in the two forward fuselage halves, which are split vertically – the main fuselage is split horizontally – anyone who has ever built an F-14 Tomcat or F-15 Eagle will be familiar with this way of doing things! The (full length) intake trunks – marked Port (left) and Starboard (right) are then made up and attached to each side of the forward fuselage, the ends of the intake trunks with the compressor blades slot nicely into the forward bulkhead/wing spar – also marked port and starboard. The whole setup looks vaguely like one of those nutty Star Wars speed racers from “The Phantom Menace”! But not for long, as the completed nose/intake/bulkhead assembly is then mated to the lower half of the main fuselage. This is followed by the construction of the two exhaust trunks and afterburner cans, both of which slot into the rear bulkhead/wing spar – this lot in turn drops into the lower fuselage half as well. At this time, one has to decide as to whether or not the huge refuelling probe will be fitted – locating holes for said probe are flashed over in the top main fuselage half and will have to be opened before the top and bottom halves are brought together. This also applies to the twin ventral fuel tanks on the underside of the fuselage – although they can be left off, it's rare to see a photo of a Javelin of any mark without them. Once complete, the fuselage is pretty strong, although the area between the two wing spar/bulkheads is large and a bit “springy”. A third spar from thick scrap plastic would not go amiss and the next time I build one of these birds, I'll be adding that third spar.
The assembly of those huge wings is very straightforward, the nicely detailed wheel wells are a good drop-fit into place and the option of closed or extended airbrakes is given; I chose closed for mine as (A) one never sees them open on parked Javelins and (B) they would be a sod to mask off for painting! The ailerons are also moveable – as are the elevators on the horizontal tailplane – but they were firmly glued into place on my Javelin. One is also given the options of closed or extended flaps – I opened mine, which shows off their unusual positioning well forward from the trailing edge of the wing – the airbrakes are between the flaps and the trailing edge of each wing. The completed wings fit quite well against the fuselage – those two wing spars are really essential!
The rather large (anyone sense a theme here....?) tailplane assembly is also very straightforward and also fits nicely on to the fuselage with little hassle – excellent. Next up is the undercarriage and this is mostly straightforward, apart from a tricky little “under, through and up” move to locate the retraction jack for each main gear strut – I just sucked it in (breath, that is...) and got on with it – phew! Because everything on the undersides is going to be painted silver, one can get away with assembling the undercarriage, flaps, undercarriage doors etc, as they will all be painted at the same time and there is no need to faff around carefully scraping away small amounts of paint here and there to assemble
everything after painting is complete. I also added the underwing pylons for the Firestreak missiles as well – the missiles were built and painted separately and added after everything else was done.
As mentioned above, the Firestreak missiles were tackled separately; the kit provides four Firestreak
missiles and four drop tanks to hang under the wings. I originally planned to have the drop tanks on the two inboard pylons with Firestreak missiles on the outboard pylons. Accordingly two of each item were assembled; the missiles were sprayed with Humbrol enamel gloss white – once this was thoroughly dry (after two coats) I masked off the raised bands around the front section of each missile and painted them matt black. The clear seeker heads were given a coat of Tamiya X-19 smoke to darken them as per my reference photos. Note that Airfix provide red decals to cover the bands that I painted black; the real things look to be proximity fuzes that had red protective covers over them when on the ground – the seeker heads were normally covered with a red “Noddy Cap”. The two drop tanks were assembled and painted Dark Sea Grey over Silver. Once I'd finished all painting of the main kit, I attached said drop tanks and missiles. Then I realised that those tanks looked seriously odd hanging under the wings; the drop tank pylons were cranked to angle the drop tanks away from the undercarriage doors and the end result looked like really sloppy work on my part, with those tanks at a rather crazy angle. Sooo – off they came, along with the cranked pylons and another pair of Firestreaks was made up as above – once done, these were popped into place instead of those drop tanks – much better!
The Javelin was finished in the standard RAF tactical scheme of the day; namely gloss Dark Sea Grey with a disuptive pattern of Dark Green on the upper surfaces, with Gloss Aluminium (known after 1953 as “High Speed Silver” or Speed Silver”) on the undersides. That big black nose radome was flat black (the real thing was coated with black neoprene). I used Xtracolour enamels for the gray and green; the hard-edged camouflage pattern was achieved by laying the wide (40mm) Tamiya tape over the model, drawing on the pattern, removing the tape, cutting out the pattern with a fresh, sharp knife blade and then repositioning the tape in place on the model. Tedious and time-consuming to be sure, but I'm more than pleased with the results. Once this was done and the paint had thoroughly dried, I masked off the entire topsides (that's a heck of a lot of Tamiya tape there!) and sprayed the undersides with Humbrol no.11 Silver. Very. Bad. Idea. The silver dried dead flat with a rough, grainy finish – two coats of gloss varnish were just soaked up by the paint. Mikey was Not Happy. The mix for this colour paint appears to have changed and I've heard complaints from other modellers about this colour as well. After rummaging around in my paint stash I chanced upon a pot of Xtracolour High Speed Silver and sprayed this over the “other stuff”. This also dried flat (grrr....) but had a good fine grain and it took a couple of coats of gloss varnish quite well. Problem solved –
Decalling was done in two sessions; one hour or so one Thursday evening to do all the main markings and walkway striping, and another three hour “brunch” session the following Sunday to do all those gazillions of stencils. The Cartograf decals performed beautifully throughout and any issues were entirely the result of my own ham-fistedness at times. I was very impressed with the way the top wing roundels settled into place – plonking those suckers on to the model was something I had viewed doing with great trepidation, but in the end they behaved and settled into place wonderfully.
The finishing touches were a coat of Testors Glosscote and the addition of the canopies – done!
The Airfix 1/48th scale Javelin is a good example of just how far the company has come in recent years in terms of quality. Sure the panel lines are a little heavy, but given the size of the model and the fact that most of it is in dark camouflage, I can live with that. This is a well thought-out and fairly easy to assemble kit; at pretty much each construction stage you will find the majority of the parts required for that stage on the one sprue, which really makes life easier – a well designed and thought out kit for the most part. The only real trouble I've had was with the silver paint – when I build another Javelin, I won't be using Humbrol no.11 Silver – it's just not good enough – I would recommend Humbrol 191 Chrome Silver or Metalcote Polished Aluminium instead.
The Javelin is a classic post-war British fighter design, introduced at a time of great change and innovation in the British aircraft industry nd this new Airfix kit entirely does it justice – highly recommended!
Now, puh-leese Messrs Hornby and Airfix, scale up your gorgeous 1/72nd scale Supermarine Swift to 1/48th scale! (And while you're at it; an accurate 1/48th scale Hawker Hunter would be nice...)