The Vixen was originally developed for the RAF, but was turned down in favor of the Javelin for a missile-armed interceptor. The Fleet Air Arm picked it up and it was tailored to their needs, replacing the Sea Venom. The later versions, the FAW 2 (FAW=Fighter, All Weather) had saddle tanks added to the two booms to increase fuel capacity and thus range as well as better electronics. At the time, it was the heaviest aircraft ever operated by the FAA and was twice the size of the Venom it replaced. Due to all that weight, it only managed to be about 75 mph faster than the Venom, but it did carry the Red Top missile for air-to-air combat, which the Venom could not, as well as the Bull Pup air-to-ground missile. It served with the FAA from 1959 'til 1974.
The Cyber Hobby kit has around 120 well molded and mostly flash and mold seam free parts on six sprues, two of which have clear parts. The detail is finely engraved and is pretty extensive and the clear parts are very nicely done. The decals take up two sheets and give you markings for six different aircraft. I'll deal with the instruction sheet as we go along.
Cyber Hobby first released the earlier version of this aircraft. To make the later FAW 2, they just added some parts, like the saddle tanks for the tail booms. These are very nice one-piece moldings that fit down over the booms. There are other smaller detail differences, but nothing of any real significance visually.
Assembly began with the interior. The pilot and weapons officer's positions are basically detailed with raised instruments and switches, but the seats are way (read WAY!) too small. The chute on the top of the pilot's seat does not even clear the cockpit rim, so his head would be far below that. Sort of like a little old lady driving some huge boat-mobile down the highway while clinging to an over large steering wheel. How this got by them is hard to fathom. As this build was for a review, I just forged ahead, but any other builder will want to get replacement seats.
Intake trunks are provided and are molded in two pieces, top and bottom, with a third at the end with the fan detail. The instructions don't tell you what to paint the inside of them (as a matter of fact, they don't mention painting them at all). The ones I've seen in museums and in photos have the trunks the same color as the top of the aircraft, so extra dark sea gray is called for. (Note, Only Humbrol makes a color really called Extra Dark Sea Gray and it's hard to find, however Testers Model Master Gunship Grey is a pretty close match and is easily available.) Also, the instructions call for you to install the grills before you put the trunks in the fuselage. Don't do it. They are much easier to get right if you wait. Oh, and they are "handed" as well. Only the left one fits on the left and the right the right. Which brings up the point that many of the parts in this kit are "handed", down to the pylons for the weapons. To get a good fit, make sure you get the correct ones in the correct locations.
The fuselage in molded in top and bottom halves and has some pretty heavy attachment points to the sprue, so care is needed to get a clean separation. The instructions call for 9 oz. of weight in the nose cone to keep the Sea Vixen from tail sitting. I used just a little over that in lead fishing line weights cut up to fit and it worked fine. If you care going to do the aircraft with the wings folded, you need to drill out the locator hole in the top of the fuselage for the prop rods before assembly. The instructions do not tell you to do this; they left it out. Also, if you are folding the wings, you will need to add the wing fold detail. This just magically appears in the instructions, it's never shown as an assembly step and the two parts are "handed", so some study of the instruction pictures is in order to get them right, cause if you don't, your wings will not fold correctly. Finally, you are able to position the speed brake in three positions, closed, half open and fully deployed. However, unless you are doing you model "in flight", you cannot open the speed brake as the aircraft will not sit correctly with it open. Also, the part that holds down the hinge needs to be trimmed to fit down flush. Oh, and if you do pose it open, there is no interior, just a gaping view of the inside of the model. Another reason to close it up. One final thing at this point. You have to install the weapons officers' side window before you assemble the fuselage halves. However, you can install the top window after. If would have made masking a lot easier if that side wind could have been installed after assembly, which would have been easy to engineer.
Next come the wings. If you're doing them unfolded, they get a sort of spar. If folded, they get a wing fold detail part, this time shown in the instructions. However, unless you are paying attention, it would be easy to put both in, as once again the instructions are not really clear. In addition the locator hole for the "whateveritis" that hangs down at the tip of the port wing is not called out for drilling out and there are no locator holes at all for the props that go in place if the wings are folded. They just sort of go up against the small wing fences.
Flaps and ailerons can be molded up or down as can the tail hook, but the parts are again "handed" so get the left on the left, etc. The main landing gear are only basically detailed and getting them into place and aligned is a bit fiddly. Make sure everything fits beforehand. No colors are indicated for the wheel wells, but most of the time I've seen them as white.
A final piece is a strange microphone/fan looking thing that can be put on the top of the rear fuselage. It pops up between two doors (again handed and only go on one way). There's no explanation of what it is or when/how it would be used. A friend of mine informed me that it is an auxiliary power unit possibly used in case of flame out, etc. I suppose it would pop out and the fan would spin in the slipstream, generating enough power to get the pilot through the emergency. I installed it deployed just to show it off.
Now we're ready for painting and decals. Only two main colors are used, EXSG (or Gunship Grey) and white. These aircraft were glossy when first painted, but that faded fast at sea, so a semi-gloss finish is probably most accurate. There is no color called out for the SNEB rocket pods, but some Internet searching showed them to be an aluminum color with darker tips and ends. Also, there are no painting instructions for the Red Top missiles. They are shown as a color other than white on the painting diagram, but no color is called out. I have seen them in white and a medium grey. For a little variation, I used the medium grey. For one of the aircraft options, the under wing tanks have a sort of crown painted on one end, although the pictures are not clear with the shape. This is shown as a different color in the diagrams, but the color called for, H13, is not explained anywhere. I went to the Gunze Sanyo web site, which are the paints called for, but no H13 was listed. A quick consult with a paint conversion chart yielded that H13 is red.
There are a lot of decals on the model. 83 of them are stenciling common to all the possible marking options and in 1/72 scale these can get pretty small. One decal is identified twice, once as "18" and once as "19", but there no "19" on the decal sheet, so go by "18". Another is called "16" when it should be "5". All of them went down nicely but make sure the red striping on the engine deck settles into all the little vents and dents so you don't get any silvering. One final instruction problem is that the last two digits of the aircraft's number is shown on an inset as going on top of the wing, but the exact location is up to your best guess.
When all is said and done, it looks like a Sea Vixen FAW 2, but getting to the end product takes some patience and close examination of the instructions. Over all the kit is well molded and engineered and fits well, but Cyber Hobby needs to get someone to proof read their instructions while actually building a sample kit.
Thanks to Cyber Hobby, Dragon Models USA and IPMS/USA for providing this review copy and the opportunity to take a look at their model of this little represented aircraft.
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