iModeler Review: 1/48 Airfix Gloster Javelin FAW 9
Gloster Aircraft, having developed and produced the only Allied jet aircraft to be operational during the war, the Gloster Meteor, sought to take advantage of its expertise, and responded to a 1947 Air Ministry requirement for a high-performance night fighter under Air Ministry specification F.44/46. F.44/46 called for a two-seat night fighter that would intercept enemy aircraft at heights up to at least 40,000 feet, it would also have to reach a maximum speed of no less that 525 kts at this height and able to perform rapid ascents, it was expected to attain an altitude of 45,000 feet within ten minutes of engine ignition.
By the end of 1956, the Javelin was up to a FAW 7 variant, which was the first to actually meet the specifications of the original Air Ministry requirement, becoming the only jet aircraft equipped with an afterburner to remain completely subsonic even using afterburning. The FAW7 became the definitive version of the aircraft, with most of this mark later altered to the FAW 9 standard. The Javelin was evolving so quickly that deliveries of the FAW 8 began before FAW 7 production had ended. As a result, the final 80 FAW 7 aircraft went straight from the factory into storage, eventually flying after being re-manufactured as FAW 9s. A total of 427 Javelins were produced in all variants, plus seven prototypes.
The closest that the RAF's Javelins came to combat was during the Malaysian Confrontation with Indonesia from September 1963 until August 1966. Javelins of 60 Squadron, later joined by 64 Squadron operated out of RAF Tengah, Singapore flying combat patrols over the jungles of Malaysia. In 1964, an Indonesian Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules crashed while trying to evade interception by a Javelin FAW 9 of 60 Squadron. During June 1967, following the disbandment of 64 Squadron, 60 Squadron was deployed to RAF Kai Tak, Hong Kong because of unrest in the colony during China's Cultural Revolution. Javelins were also deployed to Zambia during the early stages of Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence, to protect Zambia from any action by the Rhodesian Air Force.
This reviewer actually saw Javelins at Kai Tak during visits to Hong Kong in 1964 and 1965 while in the U.S. Navy; the airplane was as interesting-looking in person as I had thought it was when I first saw pictures of the prototype in William Green's "All the World's Aircraft, 1954", my first "serious" airplane book.
The last of the type was withdrawn from service with the disbandment of 60 Squadron at RAF Tengah at the end of April 1968. The Javelin was the last aircraft to bear the Gloster name.
Previous to this release by Airfix, the only other 1/48 kit was a very good vacuform by Dynavector, which is no longer available.
The kit brings Airfix kits to the Hasegawa/Tamiya production and design standard. Engraved detail is petite and accurate looking, while all parts are clean and crisply molded. The kit allows construction of either a Javelin FAW9 or FAW9R with inflight refueling capacity, of which 60 were operated by the RAF. All joins are on panel lines, and if a modeler takes care, no putty or other filler is needed. The kit is listed at skill level three by Airfix; any modeler of moderate experience should have no difficulty with it. I had the kit assembled over several hours in an afternoon.
The kit offers the option of dropped flaps and open air brakes, but I have yet to find any photos of Javelins parked in that configuration, so I closed things up. Unlike many kits, where such "options" are really the only way the model can be assembled without a lot of additional effort, the flaps and brakes fit in the closed position without trouble. I also opted not to use the intake and exhaust covers, since it is dark enough inside that one doesn't notice any seams in the intakes or exhausts. A boarding ladder is also included, which I may use later in displaying the model.
One thing to take note of is that only the FAW 9R variant carried drop tanks, though both versions carried the under-fuselage slipper tanks.
Decals are by Cartograf. The upper wing roundels are printed with openings for the air fences, which makes application much easier. I used the kit decals for the national insignia and the stenciling.
Hannant's has released two decal sheets for the kit in their Xtradecals line. I used Xtradecal 48125 to do an FAW9 of 25 Squadron flown by Wing Commander J.H. Walton in 1960. The sheet includes markings for an FAW 8 Javelin, which could be made from this kit by shortening the nuselage about 1/4 inch immediately behind the radome.
Perhaps the only place where aftermarket items would really improve things is to get resin ejection seats. I used the kit seats, which are acceptable if one doesn't look at them too closely.
Overall, the kit is accurate and easy to assemble. It is easily the best Airfix kit yet released in any scale, and bodes well for future releases. It's a fact: Airfix is back!
Highly recommended for anyone who likes 50s jets.
Thanks to our editor for providing the review copy.