|Hasegawas 1/48 Car Door Typhoon
By Tom Cleaver
As his Hurricane was entering service as the RAF's first modern monoplane multi-gun fighter, legendary Hawker Aircraft designer Sir Sydney Camm was already hard at work on the design of the Hurricane's successor, an aircraft that continued the emotive weather tone of "Fury" and "Hurricane" with "Typhoon." This massive fighter, the heaviest, most powerful singer-seat single-engined warplane ever created at the time of its design, was pressed into operational service before it was fully developed, and in consequence, it gained a worse reputation among its pilots than any fighter preceding it in RAF service, and was fated to be rarely employed in the interceptor role for which it was originally designed. Despite these setbacks, it blossomed into a close-support fighter that would turn the scales in many land battles and upset many conceptions of land warfare.
As the first single-engine fighter designed from the outset to carry four 20mm cannon as its main armament, the Typhoon was over-built, with a wing that likely could have carried 40mm weapons successfully. This thick wing would prevent the design achieving its true aerodynamic potential until it was redesigned and became the Tempest, the best RAF air superiority fighter of the war. It was also saddled with an untested 24-cylinder, 2,000 h.p. Napier Sabre, an engine that had the unfortunate reputation of frequently bursting into fire on starting, and which filled the cockpit with exhaust gases to the point a pilot had to go on oxygen as soon as he closed the canopy. Not only that, but the airplane also shed its tail feathers in dives at the outset, due to harmonic vibration in the airframe at certain engine speeds; this was solved by bolting fishplates around the end of the fuselage to keep things together.
Nevertheless, the Typhoon, introduced into combat in late 1941, was successful at catching Focke-Wulf Fw-190 fighter bombers on their tip-and-run raids due to its high speed at low level. Armed with two 250-lb,. bombs, the "bomb-phoon" established a reputation for itself as a potent fighter-bomber. By the time of the Normandy invasion, the Typhoon was carring eight rockets, giving it firepower equal to the broadside of a light cruiser, which it used to deadly effect against German armor in the Falaise Gap. Flying over the battlefield in "cab-rank," waiting to be called on any target ahead of the advancing armies, the Typhoon ended the war as the infantryman's friend.
Hasegawa's Typhoon is the early "car-door" variety. Heretofore, the only way a modeler could create this version was with an early resin conversion from Missing Link Models, or in the past year with a very nice conversion set from KMC that was three times the cost of the kit it was meant to modify! This new Typhoon, thoroughly state of the art, may cost five times as much as the earlier Monogram kit, but the modeler will not have to buy KMC's cockpit update in order to end up with a very acceptable Tiffy.
As is usual with Hasegawa, the overall fit is good, but it is still a good idea to test-fit things before making any final decisions. With the Typhoon, this is particularly true with the sections of separate upper-central fuselage, the parts that show Hasegawa is going to proceed with a bubbletop Typhoon in the future. While the forward sections are separated on panel lines, the rear sections are not; in fact the lower line of connection runs between two panel lines! This is something like the way the chin intake fits on the Hasegawa P-51D, and something that could have been solved in the original engineering, since there is no reason why this section has to be shaped the way it is and it could have been modified to separate along panel lines.
What this means is that the modeler is going to need to fit those sections to the respective fuselage halves before any further fuselage assembly, so you can work from inside and outside to get the pieces to line up as cleanly as possible. Given that you have to putty this join line and sand it out of existence to get an acceptable model, this fit has to be as good as you can get. The result on my kit was that when these panels were lined up this way, there was a .010mm gap along the centerline join. This is easily solved, either with a piece of .010 thickness plastic sheet cut as a shim or with zap-a-gap. It is considerably easier to fix than getting the outer join lines wrong, which would involved a lot of puttying and filing and puttying and filing and not-nice words emanating from the work area as frustration builds. As it is, you will need to putty and file and putty and sand lightly to get these rear fuselage join lines to disappear, but this is the only such difficulty the kit presents.
The kit-supplied cockpit is at least as detailed as the Hurricane's, which was more than acceptable to this reviewer when it came out last year. One thing I would do in retrospect would be to use a piece of plastic card to cover the large open area where wings and fuselage join internally. If you are doing a black-cockpit Typhoon, this area will not be that noticeable once the cockpit is installed; if, however, you are doing an early green-cockpit Typhoon, as I did, it is noticeable and should be blocked off.
The rest of the airplane goes together well according to instructions. When joining the wing subassembly to the fuselage sub-assembly, I found it helpful to use rubber bands to raise the wing and hold the butt joints of upper wing and fuselage tight until the glue set. Don't worry that this makes the wing look like it will end up raised too high and be out of alignment; once the glue sets hard and the rubber bands are released, the wing will assume its proper slight anhedral, while the joints stay tight with no gaps. The horizontal stabilizers slip into position without need of putty if you test-fit first. After this, you are ready to paint.
After December 1942, the Typhoon carried very prominent black and white identification stripes underwing to differentiate it from the Fw-190, which had a very similar planview when seen from below. Typhoons were chasing tip-and-run Fw-190s across southeast England at low level through 1942 and 1943, and it was disturbing to say the least to have the flak shooting at the wrong target. As with other models that have D-Day stripes, this can be a bit of a pain to do, shooting white, masking off, shooting black, masking off, etc. Fortunately, Hasegawa provides very nice black stripes as decals, so all you have to do here is shoot the entire area white, mask it off, and proceed with the rest.
There is a hard demarcation line between the lower and upper camouflage, so masking off in the normal way here will be no problem. As to the upper surfaces, the RAF used masking mattes on the full-size airplane, which resulted in very little overspray. Masking in the traditional way here, however, will result in paint lines between the two colors, which can be seen when decals go over both colors. The solution is to cut your masks, then run thread along the pattern line, about 1/16 inch from the edge. When you put the masking tape down, the edge will be raised, which will allow a bit of overspray while keeping the hard edge, without the paint line. For the sky band and spinner on my airplane, I took a bottle of Tamiya Sky - which is quite a bit more green than it probably should be - and mixed in a bit of Tamiya Flat White and Tamiya Sky Grey until I got the color to match the sky codes in the decals I was using.
Once the model was thoroughly dry, I shot it with three light coats of Future, and let that dry thoroughly. I was then ready to do the decals.
The kit decals are fine and eminently useable, though I agree with the criticism that the red in the RAF roundels on Hasegawa kit decals is too dark. I opted for the Aeromaster sheet 48-373, "Storms In The Sky - Part IX", and did the 181 Squadron early Typhoon flown by Squadron Leader Dennis Crowley-Milling. I chose his airplane because of the description of his "Auxiliary attitude" in Johnnie Johnson's book, "Wing Leader."
I used the Hasegawa kit decals to do the underwing stripes, which resulted in nice smooth lines, better than I would have gotten with masking tape, and also used the few stencil decals from the kit. The Aeromaster decals went down as they always do, with no problem. I used Microscales Yellow sheet for the wing leading edge stripes, cut to shape.
Once everything was dry I washed the model to get and decal solution stains off, then shot another coat of Future overall. When that was dry I shot Testors Dullcote Lacquer overall to get a dull finish that still had a bit of sheen to it. These aircraft were kept quite clean, since they needed every mile per hour of speed they could get a low altitude to either catch Focke Wulf's over England or get away from them over northern France. I installed the bomb pylons at this time, and then assembled landing gear and prop. One thing I do with wheels is to get them dirty - these airplanes were mostly flown off grass strips, and there would be a light coating of mud, which I drybrush on since it also brings out tread detail nicely. I shot some exhaust stains on the fuselage sides and along the lower fuselage per photographs in the old Camouflage and Markings monograph on the Typhoon/Tempest (still the best Typhoon reference for the modeler - if you find it, get it) then added antenna wire made from nylon thread for the radio mast and IFF wires.
I've liked the Typhoon since I first saw photos of it. It reminds me of an English bulldog, which when considering its operation history, is an apt metaphor. This kit is a definitive replacement for the Monogram version. Super-detailers will likely want to get the KMC resin cockpit, which I am told will fit, or perhaps wait for the cockpit interior Roy Sutherland of Cooper Details has just completed for Jaguar. Even without these goodies, this kit is more than acceptable out of the box, and would have looked nearly as good with the kit decals.
I am sure there will be more than one of these sitting on my shelves in the future. This kit is excellent value for the money.