Aircraft Illustrated 1976-04
The first Vixen
When the de Havilland 110 night fighter prototypes first started flight trials they were the fastest British military aircraft flying and were certainly the first British military aircraft to fly faster than sound. The RAF, however, adopted the larger Javelin, the rival F4/48 design, as the new night fighter replacement for the Vampire NF10, Venom NF2 and 3 and Meteor NF11 and 14, largely because of the Javelin's ability to house the bulkier American radar in certain versions. The Navy was quick to realise the undoubted potential and aerodynamic qualities of the DH110 and the Sea Vixen was developed as a navalised version of the twin-boom swept-wing fighter. In, naval service the Sea Vixen became one of the Navy's most important aircraft, performing the strike, reconnaissance and all-weather interception roles.
In view of the Vixen's importance it is all the more surprising that, apart from the early, now almost unobtainable, Frog kit of the DH110 prototype, this distinctive-looking aircraft has been ignored by kit manufacturers. Now, however, Frog has a 1/72-scale kit of the de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW Mk 2. Although Frog is to be congratulated on its choice of subjects, my enthusiasm for this kit is sadly dampened by the many undesirable features.
First of all, the moulding standard is poor and well below the quality that one would expect on a present-day product. The fit of parts is bad; for example, the outer wing thickness was greater than the centre wing section, which required packing out with plastic card. The rear boom sections did not match those integral with the wing centre section and necessitated considerable filing down. The quality of plastic is soft and cleaning up often results in a loss of sharpness on certain contours. Frog pioneered the plastic kit with the Penguin range introduced many years before any similar kits became available, and its present-day range has always seemed to me to show more imagination, and in some cases courage, in choice of subjects than has been shown by some manufacturers. Where other manufacturers have orientated their subjects towards the lucrative markets of Stars and Stripes and Swastikas, Frog has given us such neglected types as the Hornet, Wyvern, Firefly I, Vampire, Venom and Javelin, as well as some lesser-known types from other countries. I have always been a fan of Frog's kit programme and my criticism is made in a spirit of wanting to see its standards rise to the high point that they should occupy.
Now to the model itself, which I also find disappointing in many ways. In general the model has an impression of thickness and clumsiness about it, which is quite out of character with the sleek lines of this transonic aircraft. Part of the trouble lies in the moulding quality, but insufficient attention has been paid to getting the subtle contours right — which can make or break a model. The worst fault is in the tail booms and fins; the twin booms should taper aft of the wing and merge into fins that should be approximately half the thickness of those on Frog's model, particularly on the lower parts. As the fins are roughly parallel in chord their thickness should also remain generally constant. The wing on the Sea Vixen is 10 per cent in thickness/chord ratio over the basic wing geometry, but slightly thinner immediately outboard of the leading edge fence, due to the leading edge extensions, and it is probable that the fins are of similar thickness/chord ratio. The tailplane is probably about eight per cent thickness/chord ratio, and the one on the model looks to be accurate. The wing is about the right thickness and the basic section is reasonably accurate (although the leading edges could have been a little sharper). The outer wings should have had increased camber and sharper contours on 4he leading edges, but these can be improved by filing.
During the course of development the windscreen of the Sea Vixen was provided with a special fairing at the base, presumably to assist in rain dispersal and demisting, and in the model this forms part of the windscreen and hood base and is a separate part. It is, however, much exaggerated in size and makes the windscreen and hood look too prominent. It is possible to reduce the depth of the seating, with much improved appearance, but much careful filing is necessary and the height of the rear fairing has also to be reduced. Some Sea Vixens have a bulged roof and hatch over the observer's compartment and this is included in the kit.
Two sets of outer wings are provided; one set is for a model with wings in normal position and the other set is designed to fit the special, included, mountings for wings in the folded position, which is an excellent feature. Three hard-points are provided under each wing and centre-section. They are for the stores included, which are four very convincing Red Top air-to-air missiles, two SNEB rocket packs and two tanks. The two tanks are mounted on the outer pylons, but the inner positions may house either four Red Tops or two Red Tops and two rocket packs.. The flight-refuelling probe is included.
External engraving is good, giving a reasonable degree of definition without being too heavy. The criss-cross lines engraved on the engine bay doors are puzzling, as these are surely not structural features, but red warning lines painted on the doors to warn against standing on these components, and as such should have been included on the transfer sheet and not engraved on the model. The transfer sheet gives markings for Sea Vixen FAW2s from 899 Sqn (HMS Eagle) and 829 Sqn (RNAS Yeovilton).
This then is the first Sea Vixen kit: to me, a disappointing model, but one that, with care and quite a bit of work, can be made into a good replica of a very worthy subject.
AIRCRAFT ILLUSTRATED 1976-04
AT LAST A SEA VIXEN!
Long awaited model produced by Frog
THE Hawker Siddeley Sea Vixen has been one of those models that none of the recognised manufacturers has ever seemed to get around to producing. How may times have enthusiasts asked for a kit of this type over the last ten years we wonder? But now the waiting is over as the often requested twin-boomed naval fighter is now available from Frog and they have made quite a passable job of it too.
The version in the kit is a Sea Vixen F(AW)2, the one with the bulged forward section to the twin booms, that extend forward of the wing leading edge. Frog have really tried hard with this model and for the first time have included detailed wheel well interiors. There is still a lack of detail in the cockpit interior but this can be made up by the enthusiast who will also have to cut the forward and rear parts of the cockpit canopy if it is desired to have this in the open position.
Another innovation found in the model is the facility within the kit parts to make the model with the wings folded. Parts are provided to blank off the inner wing panels and give a location stub for the wings to be placed in the stowed position — a very useful addition for the navy minded modeller who would often make this amendment to give his aircraft that added authenticity.
The overall feel of the constructed model is one of heaviness. The plastic seems to be much thicker than in many kits we have made recently and with weight added in the nose to keep the model on its undercarriage it becomes quite a heavy item.
The general construction is a little complicated as there are a number of parts involved. Cockpit detail is completed first and any additions felt necessary by the individual, added. We took the trouble to add an instrument panel, cockpit wall detail and some additions to the ejector seat before finally placing the completed section into the fuselage halves.
These are split horizontally and contain the upper and lower sections of the forward parts of the booms. The booms themselves and the tailplane are broken at the wing trailing edge and it is here that the first major snag was encountered. Those who remember the dim and distant past, when Frog first produced the DH. 110 prototype, will recall that the booms slotted into the rear section of the wing trailing edge and made a much better fit. Probably because of the boom extensions the designers have chosen the alternative method of a clean vertical break aft of the wings but the resultant fit is very poor.
This we found to be a general comment about the model. The fit of the radar nose section, for example needs a fair amount of body putty to retain its smooth external lines. The join of the boom's upper and lower section forward of the wing are of similar poor fit and needed attention.
On the other hand the surface detail of this model is reasonably good. The panel lines are finely engraved both on the fuselage and the wings and one has to take care not to rub too many of these off when cleaning up the model after the body putty has dried out.
Both the jet intakes and orifices are blanked off though without great detail. The orifice is particularly shallow in that the blanking off part comes within a sixteenth of an inch of the outer surface and can easily be seen even though painted black.
The Sea Vixen's multiplicity of underwing aramament and fuel tanks are provided in the form of Red Top missiles and rocket packs in addition to the drop tanks. These all fit satisfactorily and can be used whether or not the wings are folded. The undercarriage just comes within scale bounds though we suspect that if it were tried up against the real thing it might be on the 'heavy' side. The legs are well hidden, however, under the wings and should not detract the casual viewer. We found the canopy to be rather thick and were of two minds as to whether or not to cut it at the windscreen join to allow sight of the cockpit interior. There's no point in trying to rub it down and the only other course is to mould yourqwn, but here again difficulties become apparent as the cockpit rim to which it is attached is also on the overscale side and the join would obviously show.
GREY AND WHITE
The basic colour scheme for all Sea Vixen F(AW)2s is white undersides with gloss extra dark sea grey on the upper surfaces extending over the leading edge of the wing. It is not a terribly difficult paint scheme to apply but problems do arise in that spray painting needs to be carried out in, two parts, particularly if the wings are to be folded.
The advantage of being able to spray the white outweighs the fact that the outer wing panels have to be treated separately and attached later. When the wings are folded the angle does not allow masking to be done and it is therefore easier to do this job without the wings being added.
As usual two sets of decals are provided in the kit. These are typical of the several squadrons that used the Sea Vixen and features XJ580 of 899 Sqdn. when on HMS Eagle in 1972 and XN690 of 829 Sqdn. stationed at Yeovilton when the squadron formed Simon's Sircus, the FAA Sea Vixen aerobatic team in 1968.
Both machines differ slightly in that the 899 aircraft had the bulged observer's position to the right of the cockpit and that from 829 did not. Frog have provided the parts to differentiate between these two which we though was very useful particularly for someone making up their own squadron markings and being stumped because the machine they wanted to do differed in this detail from the kit offering.
Problems are presented however in that the manufacturer has not been able to overcome the thin red crossed lines that feature on the central upper surfaces of the fuselage denoting the engine panels. Panel line detail is provided in this area but the lines, which are very thin, need hand painting.
The decal sheet was accurate in all respects. The separated parts adhered well and added greatly to the model. Many of the small panels such as those on the drop tanks were provided which does make one wonder why the engine panel lines already mentioned were left off: Perhaps this, once again, was the result of budgetary restrictions.
;The Frog Sea Vixen was enjoyable to build and in spite of some of the points made about badly fitting parts and missing decals there should be no reason why an average modeller cannot make a really good replica out of these parts. The retail price of the kit is also reasonable at 75p.
Aviation News Vol 5 Num 3 9 - 22 July 1976
"Frog Sea Vixen
RECENT RELEASES of modern American Navy fighters must have made some devotees of the Fleet Air Arm and its aircraft despair, not only for the sad demise of a great service but also the lack of kits of some of its more popular aircraft with which they could capture for ever its days of glory.
Happily one of these aircraft has at last appeared and appropriately enough it has come from Frog who over the years seem to have become something of specialists when it comes to aircraft with sea boots.
The Sea Vixen is one of those aircraft which hasa magic all its own and the kit now generally available will be welcomed by all modellers of jet fighters.
Originally designed to meet the same specification as the Javelin, the DH 110, from which the Sea Vixen evolved, had an unhappy start to its career and it looked to be doomed when the Gloster delta was chosen by the RAF. But extensive redesign turned it into a much better aircraft than the Javelin and the Navy — so often the poor relation — gained a first class strike fighter.
Moulded in the now familiar dark blue plastic used by Frog in many of their recent releases, the Sea Vixen is a first rate kit and makes up into an accurate model of the twin-boomed carrier-borne aircraft.
There are several innovations, including two sets of wings for aircraft with everything folded or in the flying configuration, and an alternative domed cover for the observers 'coal hole' — as it was called.
The wings and tailplanes benefit from attention to their trailing edges which are a little on the thick side and similarly replacement of undercarriage doors also improves the final overall effect. The tailpipes are blanked off and the intakes have solid walls which prevent a see-through fuselage but it is best to spend a little time in these areas and improve them by thinning down the intake splitters and drilling out the tailpipes, blanking the fuselage off further inside. Wheel wells and oleo legs are well detailed but it is rather sad that Frog chose to mould the nose wheel as an integral part of the nose wheel leg. The Matra pods are best replaced with similar parts from another kit, but once the Red Top missiles have their fins reduced in thickness they are as good as any available. The ejector seat is poor and Nelson must be rotating in his grave at the representation of the Naval pilot.
Decals for aircraft of No 899 and 829 Squadrons are up to the expected high standards set by Frog but it is worth recording that XJ580 went to the RAE at Farnborough not the RAF as claimed on the box art.
The Sea Vixen kit provides a lot of scope for detail work, especially if the wing folded version is chosen, but to convert it back to an FAW 1 would be a major conversion which no doubt some of the keener types will try during the dark winter evenings. This model is highly recommended and it would be nice to see Frog give their Naval treatment to an updated Attacker or Scimitar.
Airfix magazine 1976-09
NEW TO YOU?
FROG H.S. F.A.W.2 Sea Vixen. 1/72nd scale. Price 75p.
AMONGST the plethora of Mustangs, Phantoms, Zero's, Harriers and Spitfires kitted almost ad nauseum by most of the plastic manufacturers, there are still a few firms that will push out the rarity, the one off, the neglected subject that everyone wants, but few producers invest tooling money on. One of these firms is FROG, who have boldly kitted a model of the Hawker Siddeley Sea Vixen - an oft requested kit. To say FROG have done the aircraft complete justice would not be totally true but they do provide the basis for a good replica to be made. Overall impression is one of heaviness, and most of the parts, while being finely detailed, suffer from poor joint lines due to the plastic being very thick.
The breakdown of assembly does not make the building of this kit any easier either, indeed some of the parts fit very badly and considerable filler was required around the boom and wing/fuselage joints. Cockpit detail is restricted to the usual "Frogman", a seat and a floor, with no sign of an instrument panel or side consoles.
The fuselage halves are split laterally and the joint is only apparent on the forward fuselage where this can be smoothed out reasonably well. But poor joints which do need filling, sanding and filing are the forward parts of the booms where there is about 1/32nd of an inch overlap on the joints. The method of boom attachment is a poor one, again we have the boom tacked on to the trailing edges of the wings whereas full length booms slotted or sandwiched between the wings would have been much better,
Answering recent criticism of "see-through" fuselages, FROG do blank off air intakes and orifices. The trouble is that they are closed off far too close to the outer edges as to defeat their purpose - a great pity. Wheel well detail is applied, albeit far too shallow, but it is there all the same. Many underwing stores in the form of Red Top missiles and rocket packs are supplied as well as fuel tanks and these can be fitted to the model whichever wing position is opted for. Undercarriage assemblies are sturdy but look a little too heavy for absolute
authenticity, though they are finely detailed.
So far this has sounded like a thorough "nit-pick", but, these are only niggling faults that can be remedied, and are certainly using while in view of the fact that, as yet, this is the only Sea Vixen, and a basically accurate one at that.
Decals are supplied for two versions, XJ580 of 844 Squadron Fleet Air Arm on HMS Eagle and XN690 of RNAS Yeovilton which formed part of the Navy's display team, "Simon's Circus". The decals, although thin, are up to the usual FROG standard, well printed and in perfect register. Oddly enough no decals were provided for the thin red crossed lines that appear on the upper fuselage. Instead these are moulded as fine lines on the model and will have to be hand painted. The machines differ in that XJ580 had a bulged observer's fairing, and FROG are thoughtful enough to provide one.
Overall the Vixen appears to be an accurate if somewhat chunky replica of this well known aircraft, a little more planning in kit design would have elevated it into the top notch bracket.
Scale Models, november 1976
Inside Story 17
De Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2
In 1975 Frog released an FAW Mk2 Sea Vixen, and this only very shortly after a Gloster Juvelin FAW 9/9R. The mouldings were somewhat heavy, ruther chunky in appearance yet they retained the Frog hallmark of commendable accuracy.
Scale Aircraft Modelling Vol16 n°08