The de Havilland Vampire was one of the world's first jet fighters. Developed by the team that brought us the Mosquito, the Vampire incorporated much that was learned in designing the Mosquito, including the use of wood in the fuselage. The Vampire departed from other designs in that it incorporated a twin-boom setup, with the pilot and engine in a center pod. A straight wing was added and after a short test period it entered service with the RAF.
Early on the need for a two-seat trainer of this early jet was apparent. With the short fuselage it was deemed easier to set the trainer up in a side-by-side arrangement, rather than the more typical inline setup. This was accomplished by lowering the cockpit sides to widen the opening, making space for the two seats. A new canopy was added, the vertical tail was changed, and the two-seat Vampire took to the air.
The Vampire T.11 found immediate success in both the RAF and abroad, with dozens of countries using the plane as their first step into the jet age. The robust airframe and excellent flying characteristics kept the Vampire T.11 flying for decades, with some countries still flying them as late as the 1970s.
Czech Master Resin is no stranger to the Vampire, having produced a kit of the Vampire F. Mk. 1 a while ago. This kit is set up similarly in that it has the wings and fuselage molded as one, with a separate piece for the top of the fuselage. This construction is an interesting way to do things, but it does make for a heavy model when done.
With the fuselage split sideways, Czech Master Resin incorporated the cockpit floor and other details into the lower half of the fuselage, making construction simpler. Two seats drop right in, and the rest of the interior comes in various fiddly bits. The upper fuselage decking also has interior detailing molded on, making the cockpit of this plane really look good. As an added bonus, the nose bay is fully detailed, allowing you the option of opening it up and showing it off.
The wings also are well detailed, with all the flaps provided separately, allowing you to position them up or down. The landing gear is to scale, which means that it's thin and almost frail-looking. The detail on the gear is very nice but I'm not sure if it will be up to holding this kit up. Perhaps the best solution would be to rob some struts from a Heller Vampire kit and use the resin wheels and landing gear doors.
The decal sheet for this kit is another shining point, with no less than five countries included. You get a colorful RAF example plus Japanese, Austrian, Swiss and Australian. All are silver overall so there isn't much choice in finish, but at least the Vampires were painted aluminum so you don't have to worry about multi-hued natural metal finishes with this kit. The decals are nicely printed and in excellent register.
This is an outstanding resin kit and will fill a large empty hole in anyone's RAF collection. With the huge number of Vampire users over the years, you have plenty of choices for markings, both in the kit and out. With the Heller Vampire FB.9 and the Czech Master Resin F.1, this kit helps complete the Vampire range. All that's left is the night fighters, and perhaps these guys will come out with those next.