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Fixing the Fangs

Improving the Intakes of Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Vampire FB.5

 

by Brett Green


Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Vampire FB Mk. 5  may be ordered online from Squadron

 

Introduction

 

Sometimes, plans just do not convey the look of a three dimensional object.

Classis Airframes' new 1/48 scale Vampire is a very attractive and well detailed kit of this important early jet fighter. The overall shape of the model is excellent - vastly superior to the horribly misshapen Hobbycraft Vampires of the early 1990s.

The only real issue with this kit is the shape of the intakes.

When the resin parts in isolation are compared with plans in the Warpaint book on the Vampire, the shapes appear to be okay. However, when the part is fitted to the model and compared to photographs, something is not right.

Vampire intakes are a particularly tricky shape. I decided to visit a local aviation museum to take some photographs of the intakes on a Vampire T.11 from several angles.

Please note on the FB.5 the small intake on the port side is also round, not the wider shape of the T.11.

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


The unique shape of the intakes was not entirely captured by the plans, nor by the Classic Airframes resin kit parts. The good news, though, was that the resin parts could be significantly improved with a few modifications.

 

 

Intake Improvements

 

The tasks required to improve the shape of the intakes can be summarised as follows:

  1. flatten the leading edge of the resin intake parts

  2. fill the outboard area of the main intakes and extend the leading edge of the bottom intake lip (forward)

  3. reshape the main intake

  4. add small secondary intakes

  5. extend the "bullet fairing" forward and reshape its profile.


 

Tools and Putty

The tools employed were:

  • Milliput, a fine grain two-part epoxy putty, was used for the filling and building up of the parts.

  • a wooden rod and a staple remover to help apply and shape the wet putty

  • a Dremel Motor Tool fitted with several different shaped dental burrs for grinding and shaping when the putty was dry, and

  • sanding sticks for fine tuning and smoothing.


 

Step by Step
 

As supplied, the resin intakes have a bulge on the front edge. This bulge was sanded down and the top lip was also cut back. This helped to start a more prominent bullet fairing.
The underside of the top intake lip was thinned to maintain a nice sharp leading edge.
Milliput was mixed and packed into the outer half of each resin intake. The wet putty was roughly shaped with the metal staple remover and the wooden rod.
When the Milliput was dry, a wedge of scrap plastic was glued onto the bottom lip of each intake. In retrospect, I might have achieved a better result with a thin rectangular strip instead of the wedge shape.

A second batch of Milliput was used to build up the bullet fairings.

When all the putty was dry, the intakes were cut from their casting blocks using a razor saw.

The Dremel Motor Tool was used to reshape the main intake openings, and to hollow out the solid putty interior.

The bullet fairings were shaped with a sanding stick.

Secondary intakes were drilled on both sides.

 

The new extended and curved profile of the bullet fairing can be more easily seen in this comparison photo.
Note how much more prominent the bullet fairing is in relation to the top lip of the intake.
The top of the resin main wheel well and the inside of the wing should be thinned to improve the fit.
I actually sanded the angle of the outboard lip a bit too steep. A few swipes of the sanding stick will improve the angle.
These fairly straightforward changes will make a noticeable difference to the shape of your Vampire intakes.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Vampire FB.5 builds up into a very attractive replica, as we have already seen in Kevin Martin's Construction Feature. Even straight from the box, Classic Airframes' offering is a vast improvement over the old Hobbycraft kits.

However, if you want to address the shape of the intakes and the bullet fairings, you can do so fairly easily based on the reference photos in this article using some epoxy putty, a motor tool and some sanding sticks, .

I am not sure that I entirely captured the look of the intakes myself, but I believe that it is an improvement. With the benefit of hindsight, I should probably have used a strip of rectangular plastic, not a wedge shape, to extend the leading edge of the bottom intake lip.

Even so, I found this little project to be enjoyable and worthwhile.

Now all I have to do is build the rest of the kit!

 


Model, Images and Article Copyright 2005 by Brett Green
Page Created 15 February, 2005
Last updated 22 February 2005

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