Upon opening the box, you will find 3 grey sprues, plus one clear sprue, instructions and a medium size decal sheet stencils included, for two finishing options, one in overall high speed silver and a camouflaged one.
The part count is, relatively speaking, low with a total of 59 parts. The only real assembly option is the external tanks type, either conformal tanks from the Mosquito or drop tanks. You have to either choose which one to install or to fill in the holes in the lower wings.
Perhaps the “main” issue with this kit is that the Vampire Mk.9 had an asymmetrical wing root (to accommodate an internal AC unit), but the plastic parts have symmetrical wing roots, making the kit a Mk.5. Personally, I am not all that worried about that, but some modelers might want to take note of it, or get aftermarket decals for a Vampire Mk.5
Actually, in my eyes, a bigger issue is that the air intakes are blanked off. It would be possible to drill them and open them, but honestly, I was not feeling the call of AMS (Advanced Modeling Syndrome) when building this kit. It also lacks of a pitot tube in the port rudder, but that one is easy to scratchbuilt, if you are so inclined.
Having said what the shape issues are in this kit, I will focus the rest of this build review in the “buildability” aspects of the kit. And let me tell you that the assembly and finishing of it was a lot of fun.
Construction begins with the cockpit and nose wheel assembly. They are simple and sturdy. However Trumpeter instructions lack information on the interior colors. I’ve used a shade of green for the cockpit, with a few details in black and red, for variety. Please note that the lower instrument panel piece is actually molded together with the nose wheel assembly. Just beware of that when you are painting the nose wheel assembly, or you will have to do some touch up paint, as I had to do!
This kit is engineered with ease-of-assembly in mind. Top wings and top-fuselage are molded as a single part, with another part for the bottom-wings and bottom-fuselage. That minimizes the number of gaps and ensures proper alignment of wings to fuselage.
The twin tail booms and horizontal stabilizer goes together very easily as well. I had a small gap in the join between the tail booms to the wings. With a bit of sanding I was able to overcome that gap. However my Vampire might then be a scale inch or two too short. Once again, I was having so much fun with this kit that I did not worried about it.
Be sure you put plenty of weight in the nose to avoid a tail sitter. I placed two lead sinkers under the cockpit, but they were not enough, so I had to add some extra weights to the drop tanks, to have a stable “nose-sitter”. Consider adding weight further into the nose area when you are building yours.
When you are assembling this kit you will notice a step in the air intake to the wing join. Looking at online pictures, the step should be there, but not as prominent as in the kit. You could file the back of the part to minimize the step, or just go ahead and assemble it with the out-of-scale step.
I decided to finish this model in the high speed silver scheme. I’ve painted the model in Chrome Silver enamel from Model Master and Gloss Red for the rudders. A coat of Future went on about 48 hrs later and the model was ready for decaling.
The decals have good color density, but then tended to stuck where placed. I needed to use lots of water to be able to float the decal to where I wanted them to be. On the plus side, the decals snuggled down without the need for setting solution. The decals seemed to be a bit out-of-register for the red roundel in the markings. Honestly, it is so small that it might be an optical illusion.
Also, when decaling, take your time and make sure you understand how the decals are applied on the landing gears cover. Those decals are “handed” –one for the left cover, one for the right cover) and to make things a bit more challenging the decals represent a “6” and a “9” number, making them been just a rotation from each other. Take your time, look at the decal placement map and you’ll be fine. But remember to take your time!
Once decaling was completed, I’ve applied a restrained wash to highlight the panel lines and surface detail. These airplanes were peace-time warriors, so I would imagine they had little in the way of weathering.
Is this the best rendering of a de Havilland Vampire? Probably not. Does it looks like a de Havilland Vampire when finished? Yes. Is this a fun and simple model to build? Absolutely! Trumpeter continues to release models that are easy to build and have a high “fun-to-parts ratio”, as I like to call it.
I’ve spent about 10-hrs total working in this model. I’ve put it together while working on a much complex build, and it was actually relaxing to have a simpler model to work on, and take breaks from a challenging build.
Recommended to modelers of all skill levels, based on the “fun-to-parts” ratio and easy of assemble.
I would like to thank Stevens International, Trumpeter and IPMS/USA for the review sample.