Profile Photo
George R Blair Jr
72 articles

1/48 Trumpeter Vampire FB Mk 9

March 22, 2021 · in Aviation · · 21 · 2.8K

I actually started this model around 5 or 6 months ago for the De Havilland Group, but life jumped up and bit me on the backside. The virus got bad here in Texas and really slowed things down. Then my daughter had a baby (our first and probably only grandbaby). We found ourselves traveling to Austin (about 2 hours away) at least once a week to visit, which burns a lot of time. Then I suggested we move to Austin (I didn't think my wife would leave our house that we had been in for 30 years), but now we are waiting to move into a house that is being built. Unbuilt models are much easier to move, so I packed up all the models except for a few. In the midst of going through 30 years of collected stuff, I got back to working on the Vampire. Then the Arctic blew through Texas, everything froze solid, and we had no electricity and no water for a week. All of you who live in cold climates can laugh, but south-central Texas isn't supposed to get so cold. Things are finally back to sort-of normal and I finally finished the Vampire.

I have wanted to build something from RAF Cranwell for a while. Cranwell is the military college where the RAF provides the initial training for their future flying officers. Back in the 1980s I was an Air Force Captain, and I got a call from the Air Force Personnel Center. They were looking for someone with very specific requirements to fill an exchange assignment to RAF Cranwell. Apparently my background as a T-37 Instructor Pilot, a current C-141 Instructor Pilot, and a classroom instructor in pilot training was what they were looking for. When they submitted my name to Airlift Command for the assignment, they refused to release me from my current assignment because there was a shortage of C-141 instructors. So, this assignment was the one that got away.

I thought this would be a fairly simple kit to build. Early in the planning stage my friend Spiros (@fiveten) mentioned that this kit isn't exactly a Mark 9 Vampire. It seems that De Havilland added a Godfrey air conditioning unit to a Mark 5 so that it would be more suitable for desert operations. The a/c unit was housed in the right intake, which was extended about 9 inches to accommodate the air conditioner. So, the Mark 9 is basically a Mark 5 with an air conditioner.

Spiros pointed out that the Mark 9 had assymetric intakes, but he thought no one would notice that the kit didn't have the correct starboard intake. Once you know about the different intakes, I knew it would bother me not to fix them. I figured it would be an easy fix, and indeed it took little effort to add the revised starboard intake. The kit was also missing the pitot tube located on the port fin, but that was also easy to fix.

The build was problem free until it was time to add the decals. I planned to use some decals I had purchased from Euro Decals. I had used their decals before and really liked them. These seemed to be thicker than previously, and they were very brittle. I managed to shred several of the decals trying to get them into position. Luckily I could replace the broken decals with the kit decals, which performed very well. The other problem area was the light blue bands that wrap around each boom. The decals for these bands were too small to wrap around the booms, so I chose to paint them instead. The sky blue bands, along with their thin black stripes on each end were masked and painted without too much drama (much to my surprise).

Finally done, and I have a reminder of the assignment I almost had in the 1980s. Everyone stay safe.
Reader reactions:
18ย  Awesome

5 additional images. Click to enlarge.

21 responses

  1. Whatever the shortcomings of Trumpeter's kit it sure looks like a Vampire to me, definitely liked.

  2. Great work, George. You made that kit into a much better model than what's in the box.

    And I for one will be looking forward to the Airfix 1/48 Vampire this summer. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Thanks, George (@chinesegeorge) and Tom (@tcinla) for the kind words. The new Airfix are tough to beat, so I am also waiting for the new Vampire, and Beaufort. :o)

  4. Nice work, George. Glad to hear things are getting back to normal.

  5. Very tidy build. Great choice of colour scheme.

  6. Hello George, @gblair
    You did a magnificent job building your Vampire. I'm happy to hear that things are returning back to normal out there. You guys got pounded with an unexpected winter storm. I learned something today, thanks to you... the asymmetrical intakes and the reason behind them.

    Back in the early 1980's / late 1970's, a man I knew named Harry Doan had a Vampire. He flew it on several occasions at our local air shows. He also owned 3 F4U's, with one of them being the F2G Race 57. Sadly he was killed at an airshow flying his Skyraider. He flipped it over upside down on landing. He suffocated hanging upside down in his harness.

    His wife then sold off his collection, which included a Panther Jet and a B-25, plus he had just picked up a "basket case" SBD that he had planned to restore.

    I definitely pressed the "liked" button. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Thanks John (@j-healy), Haslam (@Haslam55), and Louis (@lgardner). I can't imagine what it would be like to own a bunch of warbirds and fly all of them. I suspect that the Vampire shared similar characteristics with the T-37: engine(s) with long spool-up times, poor power to weight ratios, fairly high fuel consumption, but were really fun to fly. The T-37 had an air conditioner that would only pump out cool air at altitude, so I wonder if the Vampire's worked the same.

  8. Congratulations on your grandbaby and new house, George. @gblair
    Your Vampire turned out great.
    Really like the scheme you have chosen.
    Heard from some of my colleaugues in Austin about the extreme cold. An unbelievable situation it was. Lukcily everyhting is back to normal.

  9. Wow, what agreat job, my friend @gblair!
    The chosen scheme is absolutely amazing!
    I can imagine the Vampires flight line in RAF Cranwell, back in the 60's.
    A very imposing flight line it would be!

  10. That Vamp came out looking way better than what I think is in the box. Love the orange panels. Got one of those to make a J 28 Vampire of the Swedish Air force. Way too many things to correct shapewise to be worthwhile. Iยดm glad I got rid of mine and hope for a better in the near future. No more Trumpeters for me.

  11. Thanks, John (@johnb) and Spiros (@fiveten). Thanks Spiros for the info on the assymetric intakes! It turned out to be a fun and easy modification to the kit. I have really wanted to do a paint scheme with some hi vis panels, so this was perfect. I think the paint on modern training planes is usually kept in good shape, except hi vis colors which are notorious for fading. I wanted to depict some light fading for the red, so I painted white first, then an "eyeball" mix of fluorescent orange and bright red. Once all of that was dry, I wiped over the paint with a paper towel damp with some 70% alcohol. I like how it came out, but that is due mainly to luck since there is very little control over the process. Better lucky than skilled?

  12. Well - you are a glutton! Not only the stress of covid and glacier conditions, you choose to migrate across the state! And on top of that, a Trumpeter build...

    Great-looking Vampire - nice scheme I'd never seen. Well done!

  13. Thanks Greg (@gkittinger) and Stellan (@stellan). I'm not sure what happened. The contract we signed when we moved to San Antonio guaranteed that there would be no glaciers.

  14. Really nice Vampire, George. You know, I really like the look of this Trumpeter kit, in spite of the supposed shape "issues". Comparison with photos of the real thing reflect well on the shape IMHO. In any case, your paintwork and decal application is flawless (no sign at all that you had any problems with the latter). The color scheme is bold and eye-catching with the red panels exactly the right tone. I am inspired to pick one of these kits up. I love the variety of markings the vampire carried in the 50s.

    Sorry to hear about your stressful experience in Texas. Glad that you are beginning to put that behind you. We Canadians are used to winter but, of course, much better prepared for it in home design, infrastructure etc. Getting around can be a drag though and still makes for dangerous driving and needing to take care to stay safe outside. Hopefully this will be a learning experience for service providers in your part of the States, since climate change is bound to inflict more drastic extremes on all of us.

    • Thanks, Colin (@coling). I really like hi vis schemes, but they can be hard to achieve. The paint tends to fade quickly, and you can get all sort of colors and patterns. I did a lot of flying in Canada when I was an airlift pilot in the Air Force. I have several Canadian planes on the build list, such as a couple of F-5s, an F-101, a WW2 Harvard, and a Tutor. Cheers

  15. Nice build, looks great in the scheme you have chosen.

  16. Lovely work George!
    Interestingly the new airfix 1/48 vampire has the additional elongated intake on the sprue - for future versions no doubt.
    Best wishes George hope the winter is kinder this year! @gblair

  17. Thanks, David (@davem). I need to checkout the new Vampire for the extended inlet. I like the Vampire and plan to build some more. Winter has been mild, so far. Temp is supposed to be near 80 today. We are trying to move into a new house, which we bought 13 months ago. I has been horribly delayed by the pandemic, and supply problems, and labor problems, etc etc. We hope to move by the end of the month. My model-building has ground to a halt as I start packing up my model-building stuff. I hope you have a great holiday. Cheers.

Leave a Reply