Vickers Valiant BK. Mk 1

Published on
July 9, 2011
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Airfix - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Hornby America - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

Airfix. This iconic manufacturer that has come and gone, and returned throughout the years; they have returned under the support of Hornby, a well-established, forward thinking company, delivering what can only be described as world class kits. Reasonably priced, detailed far better than the old days, and coming back with models we have asked for; In this case, we have yet another example of what Airfix/Hornby can do; the Valiant! I have walked around underneath the surviving Valiant back in 1984 when visiting IWM Hendon, and it is a lot bigger than it looks in model form!

Included are 142 parts molded in medium gray plastic and clear. The overall texture is perfect for any of the required finishing options, and engraving is set so that after a coat of paint, it will still be there, not overpowering, but appropriate to scale. Marking options are for four jets; two overall anti-flash whites, one with dark green/dark sea grey over white camouflage, and one overall “speed silver” aluminum paint representing the prototype. Kit engineering is one factor I noticed right off the bat; flight control surfaces are two-part, utilizing a long tongue and groove for alignment purposes; Kind of hard to misalign control surfaces now! The rest of the parts all fit perfectly; only the intakes required filler.

Parts are included for underwing tanks, an open or closed bomb bay with a full load of 1000 Lb. bombs, a “Blue Danube” gravity nuclear device, (yeah, a really big bomb), or closed doors. The bay looks correct; stringers, bulkheads, and bay doors, and door actuators (which I had to replace with brass rod because they had broken in transit) but not a lot of plumbing, which can be added if you can find references. The cockpit is basic; the pilot and co-pilot seats almost look half matched between 1/48th and 1/72nd scale, but I shall defer to those who have been inside the remaining example. Painted up, they look fine. Control yokes are included, and can be seen through the crystal clear canopies. Unless you are really masochistic, there isn’t much point in overdetailing something that won’t be seen! Decals are used for instrument and other cockpit panels. One other note: There is a clear part for what has to be the bomb bay door camera ports for the valiant PR 1; the cutouts in the bomb bay doors are provided or mentioned in the instructions, but hint that there will be a possible future release with this option. These ports were part of a pallet of cameras which were carried in a strategic reconnaissance role, much as the RB-47 and later B-52B which had a similar capability.

The one question on everyone’s mind with one of the V-bomber kits is: How are the engine intakes? Well, not bad! These are split upper and lower halves; the forward lip is beveled to fit closely to the wing inner surfaces, and fit is darn near perfect. If you use liquid cement and a bit of careful alignment, you can almost eliminate the seam beforehand. I painted them flat primer white, then gloss lacquer white before assembly; I then used adjustable pressure woodbuilding clamps and tape to gently hold everything in line. Hold off installing the compressor fans; they can be installed after the wing halves are assembled, using a wet finger to put them in place while holding the wing, and a bit of liquid cement to lock them in; This makes masking a non-requirement for the white intakes, as the fan blades are far back from the front of the intake.

Install the assembled lower wing halves first (You did remember to open up the flashed over mounting holes for the external tanks if you are using them, right?) then install the simple, one-piece gear wells, and then trap everything together. A bit of filler may be required for the forward part of the intake inlet, but this is minimal compared to past V-bomber kits. Once you are happy, spray everything white, using several coats to hide the seams (now you can see why I told you to leave off the compressor blades; the spray or brush paint isn’t interfering with the steel-colored intake fans).

The upper wing has an integral spar molded in; this, along with the stiffener ribs and bulkheads make for a sturdy model. Great engineering Airfix…. The wing to fuselage fit is excellent, just take your time and you might get away without filler requirement, just a touch of sanding stick to knock off the excess glue seam. Exhausts are single nozzles inserted into dual-socket fairings; tough to mess these up, and they fit just fine into the trailing edge root notch for their installation.

The horizontal stab and elevator assembly lock into place; upper and lower halves, and two-part elevators which can be posed in a “nose down” position for an at-rest jet. Simple!

At this point you will be installing the cockpit canopy and lower bomb aimers position into the fuselage; paint the lower fuselage forward section flat black beforehand, or you will be looking at bare plastic seams through the extremely clear parts. Same for the canopy; paint the sill area flat black to avoid the unfinished look.

Mask the clear parts, primer and check for missed seam work. I masked off the flat black radomes, then the gray aft radome area on the nose. (I forgot to include the black anti-glare panel in front of the canopy and the intake black panels, and had to paint these later as an afterthought… so far they haven’t cracked) Last coat of flat black for the now-masked windows, and then it’s time to break out the white paint. I used a flat primer coat, then Rustoleum© lacquer gloss white rattle can for finishing. Works great, but be careful because it’s a “hot” paint and will eat plastic. As hot as it is (101 right now in Oklahoma) this stuff dries almost too fast. Mist coats!

After the paint cured overnight, decals (Cartograf) are next. There are myriad stencils, all legible and in register. Roundels are provided for each marking option; the low-visibility markings are extremely well done and appear to be the correct colors. The only difficult area was over the strakes one the vertical fin where the tricolor flash is painted; I resorted to removing part of the pink and mixing my own paint to finish the flash. It’s no big deal. Various radomes and walkway decals are also included.

Final finishing is landing gear and wheels/tires. The main gear is robust, but the nose gear is a one-socket affair. If SAC releases a metal set I’ll be buying one for the next build. The main gear tires and wheel assemblies are separate, one-piece, items; paint the tires, paint the wheels, and press them together. Nice. Everyone ask for these on future models; sure saves the seam issues, and fit was such that only a slight bit of cement was needed to lock them in place. Best part: painting the wheels is easy, as are the tires. No messed up bits. HOWEVER, the nose gear tires are integral with the mud guards, and the wheels are not engraved deeply to ensure a clear seam between the tire and wheel. Take your time or do it three times like I did.

Final bits are the odd oval crew door, option open or closed, two pitot tubes, and the option for an extended or retracted aerial refueling probe. This is not noted in the instructions either, but they are there.

I have to have a rave about this kit. I have wondered who would do a valiant instead of my having to build my vacform version; then came Mach 2, which was good but rough (I finished it), and now we have a state-of-the-art valiant. I highly recommend this kit! Thanks again Airfix, you are leading the pack in inexpensive, user-friendly, “what the customer asked for” modeling! Also a thank you goes out to Hornby America, Inc. and IPMS/USA for my review sample.


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