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KP 1/72 DH-88 Comet (KPM0099)


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De Havilland DH-88 Comet

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For me, one of the De Havilland's stable most appealing designs, an unmistakable shape and an unforgettable sight when airborne. Winner of the MacRobertson race in 1934, three airframes were ordered and bought for the discounted price of GBP5000 and G-ACCS was the eventual winner in its scarlet livery. The other machines were G-ACSR and G-ASCP. When looking at some of the other participating aircraft, then comparing them with the performance of the DH-88 it looks a little like taking candy from a baby, but let's not forget that in those days it was a considerable feat to fly any aircraft from the UK to Australia. Speed was of the essence, but so was reliability.

There have been several kits available over the years, notably from Frog and Airfix in 1/72, but these are ancient and dated in their engineering and detailing. More recently there were excellent 1/72 resin kits from SBS, quite expensive, but well appointed. There have also been some resin kits in 1/48, but nothing that strikes me as particularly memorable. Pride of place goes to the 1/32 Aerotech kit, this is a considerable investment, but if you're brave enough and can afford it... The old Airfix kit has been re-released in recent years in three boxings representing the three Comets that took part in the MacRobertson race. I bought one of the G-ACSS editions when it was going silly cheap on the Airfix website, along with some Whirlybits upgrades - vac canopy and resin cockpit insert, the reasoning being that if you regard the kit parts as limited run, then some nice accessories would make it worth the effort, although that still leaves you with the naff kit undercarriage and nasty props. All that has changed.

The KP kit is typical of their recently issued kits, good looking main components and lots of tiddly detail parts. The downside is that they are not shake 'n bake, patience and a little modelling skill will be required - locating pins? Pah, they're for wimps! So let's have a look at the plastic.

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I have no drawing references to make comparisons, even if I had the references there are always the usual caveats about how legit they are. There's nothing about the major airframe components that strikes me as looking wrong, but the aircraft itself is a glorious rendition of subtle curvature, so if you were to go through everything with a fine tooth comb you're bound to find some flaws. I'd be happy to build everything as supplied out-of-the-box with one exception. Three nose cone options are supplied, one with the landing lamp that was a late-ish addition. The lamp transparency is very bulbous and nothing like the original parts that more or less conformed with the shape of the nose, so this will need some attention. There are also optional spinners, I believe this is in relation to the original (and unreliable) constant speed props that were fitted, but replaced with a two setting fine/coarse unit for the race. There is nothing in the instructions to indicate in what context or chronology that these optional parts are required, so you will need to do some research. As previously mentioned, there are no locating pins, other than those on the spinners to position them on the nacelles. If you want the props to rotate, you will need to extend the pins and scratch build a retaining collar. The parts are cleanly moulded in the main, but there are tiny areas of flash and mould lines that need cleaning up, along with some larger ejection pin towers. The main wing/fuselage joint might benefit from some sort of pin or spar if you're feeling fastidious, I would go with a liberal helping of tube glue.

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The three MacRobertson machines are illustrated on the box reverse side, there is plenty of information to show you how to complete which of the three you want to depict with your model. Paints are referenced to Humbrol and Agamaand you shouldn't have any difficulty using online resources to X-ref the paints with different ranges/brands.

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The decals are superb, although mine has suffered a little bruising in the packaging. KP might consider packing them in their own polythene envelope and separating them from the runners packaging. The registration numbers and cheat lines are beautifully printed in gold and silver inks, in a glossy finish. The ancillary decals are also very nicely printed.

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Instructions are printed on a single, folded sheet of double sided A4. Aside from the aforementioned lack of describing the optional parts, these are clear and concise and shouldn't leave you in any doubt as to how the kit goes together.

I was really hoping that Airfix might revisit the Comet, a re-tooled kit from them would undoubtedly be a very nice thing, but when I saw this one was available I had to buy one! I haven't been disappointed, because I'm already aware of the KP kit philosophy and I'm happy to live with it. I'm close to completing one of their Avia S-199 kits and provided you take a bit of time and care with putting them together they will turn into nice little models and the extra effort gives you the greater satisfaction with the end result. If you're a Comet fan, give this one a go. KP are also issuing two further editions, "Prototype to Silverbirds" and "in RAF and Foreign Service", both of which have interesting and unusual schemes, so if you're not interested in a MacRobertson racer look out for these.

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