Jump to content

KP 1/72 DH-88 Comet (KPM0099)


Recommended Posts

De Havilland DH-88 Comet

41838391055_212fae8f1e_b.jpg

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.

41838390775_eea8242c5d_b.jpg

41838390685_fca7899826_b.jpg

41838390275_a1cbe29e46_b.jpg

41838390075_017715ecbc_b.jpg

41838389905_0a90d9a6cf_b.jpg

41838389695_537b0a3f19_b.jpg

41838389505_dd88b92a7d_b.jpg

41838389335_10419b88c5_b.jpg

41838389155_f6237ed6fc_b.jpg

41838388975_ac511e380b_b.jpg

41838388735_517942ef5a_b.jpg

41838388545_32f3eca3d5_b.jpg

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.

41838390905_5d409ec479_b.jpg

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.

41838388325_6f9c417964_b.jpg

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.

41838387175_6d2413702e_b.jpg

41838386355_1ffe5bb450_b.jpg

41838385135_d92f568e04_b.jpg

41838384205_eebf846232_b.jpg

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.

41842879135_52eaba50ff_b.jpg
 

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 years later...

For what it's worth I recently published a modest book on the Comets, based on the historical researches of the Comet Racer Project Group who are restoring G-ACSP "Black Magic" to flying condition. There were five Comets in all, several having multiple registrations and liveries. Some of you might appreciate an update on the 1:72 kit situation.

First, on the older kits, the Frog is overall more accurate than the Airfix. It also includes little things like seats, the pilots' bodies as well as their heads, and the nose light. However it is let down by other details such as the canopy and mudguards, not that the Airfix canopy is easily distinguished from a diving bell's observation port. In fact, canopies are the bane of the 1:72 Comet modeller; the Kelloggs cereal packet kit doesn't even have one, just a moulded frame, while the Whirlybird vacformed offering is equally awful, being way too short. Plastic Passion also marketed an aftermarket detail set, but I have never come across it in the flesh.

The KP offering is definitely the best injection-moulded Comet kit around, having a decent canopy and all the rest. The glass nose dome did bulge a bit on some Comets, less so on others. Only a fanatic need check out the specific machine and date for their model, but a little judicious grinding down can make it less noticeable. My only other gripe with the mouldings is that the props are in three pieces, i.e. separate blades, and a little coarsely shaped. While on this subject, beware the change of type on different Comets and restorations. The Ratier type used for the race (and for the RAF, French and Portuguese Comets and G-ADEF) had a fairly small spinner, with a crank shaft adapter and fairing behind it, which made it look as if it sprouted half way down the spinner. A 20-30 thou (0.5-0.7mm) washer behind the Frog or Airfix spinner will set you right. The prototype in its early flights had Hamilton Standard props, while G-ACSS in its grey livery and its Shuttleworth restoration (and American replica) has de Havilland ones. The Kelloggs props are the best for both these types, or find some Aeroclub P008 white metal DH 1000 2-bladers. Otherwise, KP offer both options if you are happy to fiddle and cuss a lot.

Decals are the other bugbear. Historical accounts have gotten in various muddles, some even longer-standing than the browned and brittle Frog and Kelloggs decal sheets you just lit the fire with. KP have produced a very mixed bag across their several variations. Suffice to say that the G-ACSS and G-ACSR registrations were in fact white, and an Airfix reissue is one way forward here; JBOT or Whirlybird decals are also OK. The prototype was E.1 not E1, so a little creative snipping is required. KP are good for the RAF, Portugal and for G-ACSS as "The Orphan". For the remaining grey G-ACSS and the French machines, SBS are your only option - and they even include the typewriter in the back of "Australian Anniversary".

Phew! Happy to answer any queries.

Edited by steelpillow
minor clarifications
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 7 months later...

Hello to all, as said by Paul Brown the kit in question is very nice and the quality / price ratio is good. I as a fan of this model, I can say that I have the Airfix kit, SBS, and the latter KP, except the SBS which is in resin and is excelled, the KP from various photos of the time, and as steelpillow also said , has a big defect, the decals printed in silver, I believe they were white, also because when the first airfix DH-88 kit was put on the market, surely then there were several people who still had the original color in mind, and for Airfix to do something right or wrong would have cost the same. Then also the Mikro model in 1/48 makes the decals in white, but except for this the model with a little good will comes out a Mr. model !!!

Cheers

Linus

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

In respect of the silver lettering and stripe, I have seen a reference that suggests this was originally done in silver, then changed to white after the Shuttleworth restoration. Unfortunately I presently can't find this reference, neither do I know whether or not it's authentic/evidence based. I find it difficult to believe that the folks at Old Warden would have something as fundamental as this completely wrong and in view of the comments above I'm happy to accept that white is correct. It could be that KP were using such a reference. As it happens I have one of the relatively recent Airfix re-releases with a nicely printed set of decals. Another thing that has come up in discussions about the colours is that the comet stripe should fade out.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, Paul Brown said:

I find it difficult to believe that the folks at Old Warden would have something as fundamental as this completely wrong...

A great deal of myth and fancy has accumulated round the Comet over the years. Careful and objective comparative analysis of the source materials is essential in uncovering the truth of this and many other matters. Respectable sources who should know better will ascribe the wrong propellers to a Comet, list flights that never took place, record liveries that were never applied, even credit the wrong aeroplane. Shuttleworth had little but these collected myths and a few genuine source documents to go on. David Ogilvy was heavily involved, may even have led the restoration, and the muddle goaded him to research and write the definitive work on the Comets. Since then, more myths have been manufactured and other contemporary sources uncovered. Hence my monograph published last year, to bring the facts up to date.

Silver was never more than a speculation on one machine, elevated to a certainty by others and then applied to more Comets by yet more enthusiasts. Somewhere along the way, KP got misled by the babble. Nothing unusual there. But it has never had the slightest basis in historical records and would be extremely difficult to weave in and out of the few gaps they still leave; as an extraordinary claim, it would require extraordinary evidence.

Edited by steelpillow
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Col. said:

Is your monograph still available @steelpillow and if so what title and author can I search for?

Guy Inchbald; The Comet Racers Uncovered

https://www.lulu.com/en/en/shop/guy-inchbald/the-comet-racers-uncovered/paperback/product-28kqyp.html?page=1&pageSize=4

Can be ordered from any good bookshop, if you don't want to buy direct.

 

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi guys, on the internet I searched far and wide for photos of the G-ACSS and tried to make comparisons between the writings and propeller ogives or wheel rims, and for what I can deduce in my opinion the writings are white, I also contacted a model maker who lives in japan who turned me some dated drawings that spelled out the writing in white. A model maker here who also has the KP claims that the writings are in silver according to him because in the '30s many aircraft were in M / N, and so he also said the DH-88, so they masked what was to remain M / N and painted the aircraft red, I pointed out that it could be, but from the photos in the light, you should perceive at least a couple of different shades on the writing!!!

Linus

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Linus said:

A model maker here who also has the KP claims that the writings are in silver according to him because in the '30s many aircraft were in M / N, and so he also said the DH-88, so they masked what was to remain M / N and painted the aircraft red

The model maker is plain wrong. Nobody ever did that; explicitly, de Havilland never did. Yes, undercoats were often silver to absorb UV light and prolong the life of the aircraft skin. The painters would then cover the whole plane in the main colour and afterwards a specialist signwriter would chalk-mark out and paint the registration on top of that. No timewasting mask cutting and taping required. (Ask Ken Fern, he's building a full-scale flying replica of G-ACSR, I made some masks for him a year or two back because he thought it would be more accurate, but in the end he just chalk-marked in the old fashioned way because it was so much quicker and easier, and quite accurate enough). The idea that a large and established manufacturer such as DH would change their paint shop methods just for one or two machines is exactly the kind of nonsensical myth and fancy that has grown up. Somebody made a stupid call. this modeller fell for it and is now thrashing around to try and invent a story to save face. Please forget them, they are just ignorant.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Just last week @Che Guava and I were talking about this aircraft. He was surprised to hear me say that despite it having flown in military markings, if I were to build the kit it would have to be in civvy markings as it just doesn't look right with serial and roundels

https://static.thisdayinaviation.com/wp-content/uploads/tdia/2017/03/large_000000-1.jpg

I didn't know about your book so have now ordered one.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we'll have more trouble like this over the coming years. While researching for my recent Proctor build, on-line I found a rather attractive colour pic of a Proctor MkIV in an unusual (non-standard) cream with a black stripe. Something struck me as odd though. There are people in the pic and there is a little boy looking into it wearing pale blue shorts. Now, I was brought up in the 1950s, and mine were always khaki or sand coloured. Unusual I thought, then I realised that all the colours appeared very 'flat', especially the foreground.
What I was looking at was a Photoshop 'colourised' b/w pic. Very nicely done, but probably complete fantasy.
Beware.

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, steelpillow said:

The model maker is plain wrong. Nobody ever did that; explicitly, de Havilland never did. Yes, undercoats were often silver to absorb UV light and prolong the life of the aircraft skin. The painters would then cover the whole plane in the main colour and afterwards a specialist signwriter would chalk-mark out and paint the registration on top of that. No timewasting mask cutting and taping required. (Ask Ken Fern, he's building a full-scale flying replica of G-ACSR, I made some masks for him a year or two back because he thought it would be more accurate, but in the end he just chalk-marked in the old fashioned way because it was so much quicker and easier, and quite accurate enough). The idea that a large and established manufacturer such as DH would change their paint shop methods just for one or two machines is exactly the kind of nonsensical myth and fancy that has grown up. Somebody made a stupid call. this modeller fell for it and is now thrashing around to try and invent a story to save face. Please forget them, they are just ignorant.

I totally agree with what you say steelpillow, even today I found a review of the KP kit made by https://www.kitreviewsonline.de/dehavilland-dh-88-comet-racer-in-172-von-kp-models -kpm-0099 /   and they also say what we claim, I found the drawing sent by the Japanese, dated July 1938, where he says white codes !!!

The model you published K-5084 is very beautiful and original, but is it fictional or was it a real project?

Cheers

Linus

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Comet itself is real. The RAF always hoped to acquire the race winner and evaluate it. They did manage to, and had it repainted and re-registered. As you can see above, it really is a racing thoroughbred that needs a top-class experienced pilot to match! It proved too much the optimised racer to do anything else.

They scrapped it and it was later bought, repaired by Essex Aero and re-registered G-ACSS. But it was painted in grey with blue flashes and was variously known as The Orphan, The Burberry and Australian Anniversary before rotting and being restored back to its original red livery, as it is today.

The Merlin-engined beast is my "what if" they had taken that idea of a fighter variant to the next level.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...