Boulton Paul Defiant Mk I
The Boulton Paul
Defiant was a competently designed aircraft that more than met the
requirement to which it was produced, but it was a failure none the less.
It failed partly due to the fact that no designer could design a
fighter handicapped by the weight and drag of a bulky powered
turret and at the same time match the speed and agility of contemporary
fighters employing the same sized power plant. It's most serious
problem with its concept was the division of responsibility between the
pilot and the gunner as the aircraft had no forward firing armament
which required the pilot to think in abstract terms of getting the
gunner in the right position to make a shot. It was all too easy for an
enemy to get into the blind spot behind and below the fighter and
deliver a killing blow.
The Defiant prototype first flew in August of 1937. Except for a few
minor changes the Defiant was pronounced an excellent flying machine
with few vices. The first production aircraft flew in July of 1939. The
Defiant had a brief period of glory during the Dunkirk evacuation when
they were credited with fifty-seven kills in a two day period, claiming
that the Germans had mistaken them for Hurricanes. While all of this
was accepted at the time and it garnered some good publicity for the
Defiant it was subsequently found post war that the claims were highly
exaggerated. In further actions the Defiant did not fair nearly as well
and with losses mounting and the fact that the RAF could not afford to
waste aircraft, it was shifted to the night interception role.
The Defiant made its mark in history as the first fighter to have a
fully enclosed power driven turret and though it proved a failure in
daytime operations it found success filling a gap in Britain's night
time defense until more advanced night interceptors became available.
Airfix kit is one of their new generation kits released since Airfix
was taken over by Hornby. The kit arrives in a top opening tray type
box made of thing cardboard. The bottom has had the sided and ends
folded over to make it more sturdy. Inside the box in one large bag are
all the parts with the clear parts enclosed in a smaller bag. There are
four sprues molded in a pale blue color. The parts have a smooth matte
finish and are cleanly molded with no flash found. The surface detail
consists of recessed panel lines and rivets in a couple places and
raised fastener and other detail as appropriate. I found no surface
defects on my kit and ejector pin marks appear to be limited to areas
that won't be seen. Some of the sprue attachment points do seem a bit
heavy to me. Mold alignment seams are minimal.
From a detail
standpoint the control surfaces are molded separately and the fabric
detail on them is very well done. The main gear bays have some
structural and piping detail. The wings have an internal box structure
that is built up that will act as a stiffener/spar for the wings. The
cockpit has enough detail to satisfy most and I'm sure the after market
folks will take care of any missing items. The instrument panel has
raised dials and the larger ones have internal detail. A decal is
provided as and overlay for the panel. The main wheels are weighted and
feature separate hubs to make painting easier. Separate gear doors are
supplied for gear up and down configurations. The turret also has a
most complete interior made up of 14 parts, not including the clear
parts. Two different styles of exhaust stacks are supplied but one set
is for the night fighter version which I assume will be offered at a
later time. Lets look at the parts.
The clear parts are reasonably thin and clear with minimal distortion.
The decals appear thin, appear to be sufficiently opaque, have a semi
gloss finish and are in register. They also have minimal excess film
except on the larger letters. I have not tried any of these from the
newer kits so I can't comment on how well they work. Markings are
supplied for two aircraft, one from 264 Squadron, July 1940 and the
other from No. II Army Cooperation Squadron, September 1940.
The instructions are a large 16 page booklet stapled at the spine. Page
one has multilingual history and specifications, page two has some
general assembly instructions and an icon chart. Pages three through
thirteen are the assemble diagrams in 71 steps. The diagrams are cad
like in half tone the part being added shown in red which makes for a
very clear and concise way of illustrating what needs to be done. Pages
14 and 15 have full color profiles of the aircraft supplied on the
decals with colors called out by name and Humbrol numbers. The last
page has line drawing showing the placement of the common stencil
decals. These new style instruction sheets are most impressive.
After Market Goodies
Eduard has released a mask set and several photo etch sets when I have the PE set I will add a photo here.
most impressed with these newer Airfix kits, much better than the
Airfix of old. The kit looks very nice in the in the box and should go
together much easier than the older Classic Airframes kit which is
reviewed in the Night Fighter section. I don't see any issues that would keep this from being doable by modelers of any skill level.
Links to kit build or reviews
A review / build can be found here, and another in box review here.
A Famous Fighters of the Second World War by William Green
Boulton Paul Defiant by Mark Ansell
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