My thoughts on this new kit:
For the purposes of this review I will be using the following references:
AP4360B Volume 1 Sea Venom FAW 21 General and Technical Information
AP4360C Volume 1 Sea Venom FAW 53 General and Technical Information
AP4360C Volume 6 Sea Venom FAW 53 Structural Repair Manual
1/72nd Scale plans by G.A Cox
Former Royal Australian Navy Sea Venom FAW 53 WZ-907, currently with the
Thomas Aircraft Collection, Harrington Park NSW.
The kit comes in Dragons trade mark packaging. Three grey sprues, one clear and a set of etched brass wing fences are individually packed with the clear sprue and etch in separate bags taped to a cardboard header. For photo's of the box art, sprue's and decals please refer to Mr AH's reveiw in the aircraft review section.
The instructions are Dragons usual pictorial format.
Initial inspection shows the parts to be finely moulded with no flash evident. Surface detail is quite subtle around panel lines etc but over done in other area's i.e. fuel fillers. These will be discussed later.
The fuselage and inner wings are split horizontally with the tail booms as separate assemblies. This will ease the usually tricky job of aligning the booms. Comparing the major airframe components against Mr Cox's plans reveal several issues.
Using the trailing edge of the wing in the plan as a datum point the fuselage appears to be 3 millimetres to short. this is not including the radome. The rear cone and deck hook fairing is 2mm to long.
The fuselage is poor in cross section being to flat along its upper surfaces from the upper nose right back to the rear cone. Compare the kit parts to the photo of WZ-935, the missing curvature can be clearly seen.
WZ-935 wreck NAS Nowra 2006
The arrestor hook fairing is to wide. The kit measures 24mm at the arrestor hook mount and 14mm at the jet pipe. The plan measures 19.5mm and 10mm respectively.
The booms appear to be 2mm to long and the fin is 1mm to high. The curvature in cross section of the booms has been missed making them appear slab sided and to thin.
Outer wings are 4mm to long out board of the aileron.
Construction would have you start by installing the undercarriage, flaps and arrestor hook into the fuselage halves. Great for those who enjoy breaking stuff!
The landing gear is extremely well detailed. The wheel hub detail is spot on, the gear legs feature fine and accurate detail. The main gear wells have adequate detail but the shape is suspect, as are the gear doors. The nose gear well completely misses the recess for the wheel and is overall far too shallow.
Main Gear Well WZ-907
Main gear leg WZ-907
Nose gear well looking aft - WZ-907
The flaps and arrestor hook are excellent, the included insert for the arrestor hook fairing is most welcome, as are the included drop tanks.
The fairing over the main wheel well is poorly defined and the shape is off. On the prototype the fairing is a sheet metal section riveted to the upper wing. Dragon have portrayed it as integral with the wing skin.
WZ-907 Starboard wing
As can be seen the kit fairing is to wide compared to the prototype.
There has been some discussion that the kit is of an "Export" version of the Sea Venom. The FAW-21, FAW-22 and FAW-53 are all the same airframe, the only differences being the avionics fit and engine (Ghost 104 in the 21 & 53, Ghost 105 in the 22)
The fuel filler caps on a Sea Venom are flush with the wing skins and have four small holes in them to allow the use of the fuel cap spanner in opening them
Number 1 tank filler cap (Right hand round panel)
Dragon has molded the caps as deep recess's that are in the wrong position.
Most of the access panels seen on the prototype are missing or poorly shaped. The heat exchanger panels are missing the large exhaust vent.
Left wing heat exchanger vent WZ-907
The radio/ammunition tank access panels have their opening handles moulded as deep circles where in they should be a thin metal handle, on the left hand side the panel has been missed entirely.
Radio /Ammunition tank access panel is in the lower right of the photo.
On the underside, only two link chutes have been molded, strangely they are on the center line. There should be four, two on each side of the gun bay doors.
Link chutes viewed from the left WZ-907
Dragon have supplied a rendition of the DeHavilland Ghost 104 turbo jet. made up of 16 parts including the firewall and intake ducts. The engine is the high point of this kit, the detail is first class right down to the twin Rotax generators mounted on top of the wheel case. The intake duct is complete up to the engine face, thankfully no blade detail is included (it is a centrifugal compressor after all) The only let down is the misshapen firewall, it is far too short and lacks the circular shape of the original.
WZ-895 derelict at NAS Nowra, note the circular shape of the fire wall
The cockpit is composed of a base and aft bulkhead, two side consoles and an instrument panel plus two ejection seats.
Starting with the floor / bulkhead the detail is ok if a little heavy. Dragon have missed the area behind the seats (a nightmare of black boxes and wiring on the original) choosing to mold the seat mounts ala Matchbox's 1/32 scale kit. The right hand console is totally devoid of detail while the right has the throttle box and wing fold included but has the area forward of the throttle box far too high, this in turn throws out the sit of the instrument panel.
The instrument panel is wildly inaccurate but does come with some nice (but inaccurate) decal instruments. The panel bears no relation to the actual aircraft.
The seats are undersized and are missing the characteristic horse shoe shaped parachute pack. The control column has the brake actuator handle mounted half way down its length. Very handy for the longer fingered pilot but not accurate.
Behind the seats Dragon have molded a quite accurate voltage regulator and hydraulic tank. Unfortunately they are in the wrong position and the left hand voltage reg / main circuit breakers have been omitted. They have also missed the housing for the canopy gun that is quite prominent in this area but they have molded the cover at the front of this part that was only seen on the FAW-20 and early FAW-21's
Right hand voltage regulators WZ-907
Hydraulic tank and main circuit breakers WZ-907
Aft canopy frame WZ-907, note the canopy gun tunnel in the center of the shot.
The fuselage halves are now joined and the tail booms, stabiliser and separate control surfaces are added. Other than the previously mentioned issues with the booms, the stab is this area appears ok. The clear lens for the formation light is a nice touch.
Dragon give the builder the two radome side access doors as separate parts. No interior detail is provided. The doors again feature recessed locking handles but these again are flush mounted on the prototype.
Left hand radome access door WZ-907 note the flush mounted handles.
The engine access cover has the generator air intake molded separately, this has the intakes molded open. Nice touch but the shape is off, being too wide.
The outer wings are next, though to long they can be fixed by cutting off the tank and removing the unwanted length before refitting the tank.
The separate ailerons and etch boundary fences are next. The ailerons are fine but the fences are somewhat oversize, by somewhat I mean if they were any bigger Roger Waters would have to be forcibly stopped from projecting large images of marching hammers on them and performing very good concerts in front of them! Replace them with 10 thou sheet. The leading edge slats are separate parts and beautifully done.
The builder has the option to display the aircraft folded or spread. The wing fold inserts are not 100% accurate but are fine in this scale.
The last stage of construction is fitting the one piece canopy. This distinctive part of the aircraft is badly out, being some 3mm to narrow compared to Mr Cox's plan. The Falcon aftermarket canopy appears to fit with some brute force and profanity. The builder will need to supply her own canopy centre beam as it is missing from the kit.
There are no antennas nor aerials supplied in the kit, this is from the radio section of the relevant AP for the FAW 21
The decal sheet gives two schemes
XG693 of No 894 Squadron, HMS Albion (I believe this aircraft is a FAW22)
WW189 of 892 Squadron, HMS Ark Royal."Operation Muskateer"
I have since been informed the Ark didn't attend the Suez.
The decals are nicely printed with accurate colours and register.
Unfortunately another disappointment for those of us looking for an accurate Sea Venom in any scale. While this kit is state of the art in molding and presentation it is sadly lacking in accuracy. In fact the ancient Frog kit is far better in outline. If your not that fussed with accuracy then go for it, it should be a nice build.
With a bit of scratch building and leaving everything open then it may be possible to build a reasonable model from it. Or you can wait for the other one.
(Also posted on Britmodeller)