Valom 1/72 Handley Page Hampden

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

Overview

Designed to the same specification as the Vickers Wellington, the Handley Page Hampden had a distinctive appearance. Its slab-sided fuselage was only three feet wide, giving it a small frontal section that reduced its visibility and improved its top speed. First flown in June 1936, the Hampden proved a capable bombing platform. By the beginning of the Second World War, though, fighter technology had superceded the Hampden and it was relegated to nighttime raids.

The Kits

Valom has released two versions of the Hampden, and they differ only in decals. The first comes with standard RAF markings, while the second provides decals for the two foreign nations that operated the Hampden, Sweden and Russia. Molded in gray plastic, the kits feature finely recessed panel lines and delicate rivet detailing. A small photoetch fret provides some additional interior detailing, and the injection-molded clear parts cover all the various windscreens, windows, and turrets.

Starting with the interior, this is pretty good straight out of the box. The cockpit has a photoetch instrument panel, rudder pedals, throttles, and seat belts. In plastic, the control wheel is decent, as is the seat. For the front section, there is not much, just like the real thing. A stool on an arm is about all that there is, and this too has photoetch seat belts. For the rear gunner, there is another stool with seat belts, a radio set, and a pair of guns. Although the bomb bay is not opened on this kit, there is a box piece for that bay, as this will be visible through the various windows. Interestingly, there is no representation of the wing spar, which would also be visible. Some additional research should take care of that, and would be a simple thing to add.

That said, one of the major areas of additional work involves the wings, specifically the wing root indentations on the inner fuselage halves. Due to the requirements of injection plastic, these are deep pockets on the inside of the fuselage. On the actual aircraft, they would be flush with the rest of the fuselage. The best solution is to mix up a bit of Apoxie Sculpt and fill these in, using some water and your finger to smooth it out even with the rest of the fuselage sides.

Moving on to the wings, these are as expected, presented in upper and lower halves. The engine cowlings are split halves, with detailed engines. Moving slightly aft, the landing gear is both sturdy and detailed, with the wheels split in halves and the struts made up from three pieces each. Inside the nacelles, there is an insert that provides the mounting location for the main gear, while also replicating the lower curve of the wing. I am not sure how accurate this is, as I have never seen the main wheel well of a Hampden, but it is much better than having a big blank spot there.

Final assembly should be quick. The wings butt up against the fuselage, although there is a slight lip to provide additional support. The tail section fits onto the rear fuselage (take care with alignment here; in fact I would recommend adding this piece after the wings are on, just to make sure it matches up), and the remaining details are the various antennae, provided in photoetch.

As noted earlier, the decals are the only difference between the two kits. For kit number 72033, there are two British examples. The first is P1333 of No. 49 Squadron in mid-1940. Finished in the standard bomber camouflage of Dark Earth and Dark Green over Night, this aircraft has fuselage codes of EA-F. The second option is AT225/E from No. 1404 (Met.) Flight, Coastal Command in January 1943. This aircraft is finished in the standard Coastal Command scheme of Dark Sea Gray over white.

For kit number 72045, the decals cover a VVS example and the sole Swedish example. For the VVS Hampden, this was a former RAF No. 144 Squadron aircraft that served with 24 MTAP. It is finished in Dark Earth and Dark Green over Night, and carries a white 30 on the rear fuselage. For the Swedish example, the decal sheet provides additional markings to show this aircraft at various points in its career with the Flygvapnet. These include a white 46 for the nose and tail, with yellow-outlined national insignia, and the earlier style roundels with a black 1-90 code for the fuselage. The aircraft was camouflaged in green over gray. The decals in both kits are nicely printed and should have no problem in application.

Conclusion

While the Airfix kit was good for its day, it is nice to finally have a new-tool Hampden available in 1/72. Although the price might prevent many from building a fleet of Hampdens, the quality of the tooling and decals will make this kit a fun one to build. My thanks to Valom for the review samples.

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