Boulton, Paul, Thorn, and Barker.
Welcome to the Whipple Special (named after a notorious contest attendee who built nothing unless he could build at least two of them) of the Airfix and (newer) Classic Airframes Defiants. As we live in the Golden Age of Modeling, kits are seemingly constantly being made obsolete, with newer and newer versions coming out. Airfix released a new version of this misunderstood interceptor, and while I usually sell my obsolete kits, my CA version was already tampered with and missing parts, so here we go:
The Airfix version was done as the most successful Defiant of them all, L7006/PS-X, with its crews being credited with 15 aerial victories on the machine. The first team, Flt Lt Nicholas Cooke and air gunner Cpl Albert Lippett claimed a dozen victories in a little over two weeks over the beaches of Dunkirk. On the extraordinary day of 29 May, the duo was credited with 10 victories; 1 Me 110, 2 Bf 109, 5 Ju 87,
and 2 Ju88s.
After Cooke and Lippett went missing on 31 May (in L6975), L7006 was manned by Sgt Ted Thorn and
air gunner LAC Fred Barker. On 26 August, 1940, damaged earlier in an engagement by
escorting 109s, Thorn was bringing L7006 in for a crash landing. Another 109 moved in to finish off
the crippled fighter, but Barker shot it down with his remaining ammunition. PS-X may have been
returned to flying status but would be shot down with a different crew on the 28th. Thorn and Barker
would continue flying Defiants as night fighters, claiming 12 victories on the type. Barker would
become the most successful air gunner of the Second World War, something I did not know the Defiant claimed before building these models.
The CA kit was done as a Defiant Mk.II, specifically AA420, which supposedly on the night of 17/18 April 1942 was used to destroy the type’s last victory. The gunner was supposedly Flt Lt Mervyn Maggs DFC, who flew Camels in WWI and scored two gunnery kills in WWII. This aircraft is a bit more unclear. Thorough searching only reveals it to be “AA420” of the 264th squadron. Details are thin and no photos.
The Airfix kit is a dream. Not much to say other than it’s the best kit of the type. It’s a bit tight on the fit, but if you dry and test fit it’ll be fine. Added brake lines, seatbelts, and not much else. In fact, a lot of spare parts were used in the CA kit.
The newer CA kit is not bad, just outclassed. It fits fine but it’s clunky: thick parts, thick edges, just overall a thicc boi. It has its inaccuracies, that makes it completely irrelevant by the Airfix kit. Be mindful of the inaccurate windscreen (it doesn’t have that lower frame), landing gear legs too tall (oleos molded completely extended), and overall not-as-good shapes and lines of the real thing. Oh, and the turret sits too tall, I had to grind down the ring to get it to fall in. Not as abysmal as the Flashback kit (egads), but there is no reason now to buy the CA when the Airfix exists (it’s even cheaper). The Air-Intercept radar aerials were a pain in the a*s, each PE part being separate and I had to scratch build the mounts.
Keen-sighted observers will note AA420 is missing it’s individual aircraft code. That is correct. There are no known photos of this aircraft or other records I could find. This sat on my shelf at the decal phase for a year before I said screw it, I’ll finish it without the code. If I ever find the code, I will paint it on after the fact. It also has no guns, as I am lazy and wanted to get the photos done now.
TL:DR; The Defiant is misunderstood. Airfix good, (newer) CA eh. Thanks for looking.
15 additional images. Click to enlarge.