At the end of the Second World War, the focus of aviation went from fighting to setting records. The biggest challenge was to see who could break the speed of sound first. Lots of designers jumped on this bandwagon, and de Havilland wasn't going to let it go by without tossing their design into the ring. Enter the de Havilland DH108 Swallow. A swept wing tailless design that greatly resembled the Me163 Komet, the Swallow looked fast just sitting on the ground. Two were made, and both were flown, but unfortunately they never performed as expected.
In fact, both DH108s were lost in flight, the second one killing Geoffrey de Havilland in 1948. While the DH108 looked fast, the plan of flying it at low altitudes kept it from being the record-breaker it intended to be. With knowledge of compressability and shockwaves still in its infancy, not enough was known at the time to fly the Swallow to its fullest potential. The information gained from the flights and final accidents was not lost, though, as it helped the US team focus on high altitude flight, resulting in the X-1 breaking the sound barrier.
Planet Model's kit of the de Havilland Swallow is a fairly simple kit, which coincides with the rather simple layout of the original plane. The kit is molded in a light tan resin and comes with a vacuformed canopy. The detailing is very crisp throughout, and no air bubbles are visible.
The breakdown of the parts lends itself well to the design, with the fuselage and wings being split horizontally in two pieces. This model has the potential of being a tail sitter due to its stance, but Planet Models has answered this problem by molding the cockpit floor into the bottom section of the fuselage, giving a nice big solid resin plug to help weight the nose and keep this model on all three wheels.
The rest of the parts make up the landing gear, interior, canopy and tail. The interior is somewhat sparse, but the canopy is tiny, with very little clear area, so not much is going to be seen anyway. The landing gear is nicely done, with the main gear struts looking very sturdy and the one piece nose gear and wheel lends strength as well. The vacuformed canopy, as mentioned, is small but clear. Only one is provided, though, and the small size and shallow curve might make it a difficult one to remove safely.
There's only one way to paint the DH108 up, and that's silver overall. The decals are printed by Propagteam, and while thin, my copy was slightly out of register on the fin flashes. Nothing major, though, and a little trimming is all that will be needed there. The decals provide markings For VW120, which is the second DH108. A full set of roundels are provided, as are the essential 'Circle P' brand.
The de Havilland DH108 was Britain's first research plane designed specifically for the attempt at breaking the speed of sound, and as a research plane it did quite well. While only two were made, having a model of this dimunitive plane is essential for anyone with an interest in research planes, and will look quite nice sitting next to an X-1. The Planet Model's 1/72 DH108 is an excellent little kit, and with its simple construction and few parts would make a perfect introduction to the world of resin modelling.