Review: iModeler Review – Airfix 1/72 Bristol Blenheim
Hot off the press – the new tool 1/72 scale Bristol Blenheim Mk1 by Airfix (£14.99 converts to $25 US). These, thankfully, bear no resemblance to the old tool Airfix Mk IV in terms of engineering, detail and, hopefully, build. The Blenheim as a modelling subject has been largely ignored by the “big” manufacturers; with only – to my knowledge – the limited run producers such as Classic Airframes, MPM & Special Hobby offering a series of Mk 1's and IV's in 1/48 & 1/72 which came out a while back (1990's?), and are very expensive by comparison. Airfix, Frog, and Revell are the only mainstream manufacturers who have produced the type over the years with the Far Eastern companies ignoring it completely, which is a shame as I'd like to see Tamiya produce one in 1/48.
This is the first of Airfix's all new Blenheim releases, with a Mk IV version coming out later this year as an overall black night fighter variant. The kit comes in the new style packaging sporting an Adam Toobey illustration on the lid, reminiscent of the exciting Roy Cross artwork of yore, depicting a Blenheim under attack from Japanese fighters. Test shots of an unpainted model on the box sides give the prospective buyer an idea of the quality of plastic within.
With a parts count of 141 pieces, two colour options (RAF & Rumanian) and a 6 page construction leaflet this model will keep you busy for quite a while. The level of detail as with many of their more recent releases is very nice, with fine recessed panel lines, and restrained raised moulded detail. The mark IV will doubtless use the bulk of the Mk 1 kit with the crew/nose compartments being interchangeable. The mostly glazed nose section of the Mk 1 will allow you to see the well detailed interior (see instructions pics) that Airfix provide for this model, which will look good OOTB in this scale. The radial engines are not the old one piece slot into the nacelle but miniature productions in their own right.
The bomb bay may be displayed open or closed with or without ordinance. There are external racks with smaller anti-personnel or incendiary bombs available also. Wings with built in undercarriage bays come in the two piece slab construction with separate landing flaps, which can be displayed lowered if you wish. Tyres come as flattened options. The main gear is well reproduced with some nicely engineered parts that maybe fiddly to assemble in this scale. The rear gunner's position does not come with a crew member, and looks a bit sparse compared to the cockpit's level of detail but this aside the kit has not got many omissions that I could identify. Finally the glazed nose/cockpit comes in 3 clear parts – I've not dry fitted any pieces yet but obviously error in this part of the construction could prove fatal! Looking at all the sprues and detailed parts, and going by my recent experiences of building new Airfix products (Tiger tanks excluded – Grrrrr!) I expect this one to be another winner for the company.
Hopefully my pictures do this kit justice, and have whetted you appetite for a Blenheim build! Having studied the parts and instructions I'm sure it won't be long till I start building my one. The aftermarket firms have already produced decal sets for the Blenheim if you don't fancy the kit options. The Blenheim served in many air forces and theatres during the war, notably the Finnish, so you may be spoiled for choice. Recommended to those of you who: indulge in 1/72; like Airfix; and want an early version of the Bristol Blenheim.