De Havilland Comet 4B

Published: January 4th, 2016     
Product Image
Boxtop
Reviewed by: 
Jim Pearsall, IPMS# 2209
Scale: 1/144
Company: Airfix
Price: $18.99
Product / Stock #: A04176

The Comet was the basis of the rebirth of the British civil aircraft industry after World War II. Development began before the war ended, but the first comet didn't fly until 1949. The Comet 1 had a serious problem, however. About a year after the first commercial flights began in 1952, Comets began breaking up in the air. The problem was traced to the repeated pressurization and depressurization of the fuselage, which caused metal fatigue. The square windows provided a focal point for the stress, and the fuselage would rupture at the window corner. The eventual fix was to make the windows oval, with no corners. The Comet 4 was the model with this fix. The last Comet flight was in 1997. The Nimrod, a reconnaissance and ASW version of the Comet remained in RAF service until 2011

This is a reissue/rebox of the 1960s Airfix Comet 4B airliner. It also has new decals and instructions.

Building the Kit

The Airfix box is pretty standard, and all of the parts are in a sealed plastic bag. The instructions and decals are loose in the box. I noticed later that parts 1 and 3, the passenger doors, are outside the sprue, and one of them had been knocked loose. It was still in the bag. This is far better than the original Airfix Hampden kit, where the propellers were outside the sprues and one of the prop blades would break during shipping. Airfix has fixed the Hampden, and the doors just come off, they don't break on the Comet.

Assembly is fairly straightforward. You put in the doors, insert the internal bulkheads and put the fuselage halves together. The instructions call for 12 grams of weight in the nose. That would be six US pennies. It turned out to be overkill, as 3 or 4 would have done the job nicely. The instructions call for inserting the clear windscreen, but I waited until after I had painted the plane. There is some flash on the fuselage, especially on the thin parts of the vertical stabilizer. It's pretty fine, and I used a crude tool, my thumbnail, to remove this flash. Fit of the fuselage halves required some scraping and filling to get rid of the seam.

Step 3 assembles the wings, which are 2 complete sections, top and bottom. The wings are then added to the fuselage in Step 4. The wings needed a little filling around the intakes and exhausts, and there were gaps between the top of the wing and the fuselage after assembly. A little filler and some sanding were all that were needed here.

Step 4 also calls for adding the horizontal stabilizers. I held off on this, since it would have taken some extra masking to get the fuselage bottom gray, the fuselage top white, the vertical stabilizer blue and the horizontal stabilizers silver. It was easier to paint the stabs off the plane. But I was ready to paint now.

Painting

Painting was pretty simple. I chose the Olympic Airways markings because I didn't want to paint the wings red for the BEA Airtours plane. I used an Iwata single-action airbrush as kind of a test. I did the vertical stabilizer in dark blue, and then masked it. I painted the underside of the fuselage gray. I had to make the assumption that it was gray, as the BEA scheme showed the fuselage bottom as gray, and the drawing for the Olympic scheme was similar, the color callout was for silver in one part of the drawing and an unspecified color #40, which was not on the color list, in another. And since #40 was gloss pale gray on the BEA scheme, I made that assumption.

After painting the fuselage bottom and sides gray, I masked the fuselage along the length of the blue line and painted the top of the fuselage white. I then added more masking to the gray along the wing roots, both top and bottom and painted the wings silver. I also painted the landing gear doors, landing gear, wheel hubs, and horizontal stabilizers silver at this time. I then put a coat of Future on everything in preparation for decals. Also, the Testors Metalizer Aluminum I used tends to come off on my hands if I don't seal it.

At this point I had to install the front windscreen. There was some flash around the opening which had to be dealt with, and the windscreen was a little shorter than the opening on the left side. Easily dealt with, using Krystal Kleer.

Decals

The decals were very good. I usually cut a decal, then put a bit of water on the spot with a bit of white glue, just in case. By the time I did this, the decal was ready to install. I am also really grateful to whoever did the decal design, as the side stripes were long enough to provide a bit of overlap where the three sections came together. This made it easy to get things to fit along the fuselage sides, and is SO much better than having to deal with a too-short decal. On the downside, the decal for the front has clear spots which show that the decal window openings are larger than the clear parts. Perhaps just keeping the dark blue right on around would have been better?

I had no problems getting the decals to move around, none of them tore or folded. Considering my past experiences with decals, particularly with fuselage stripes, these made me look far better than I really am.

Finishing Touches

Once the decals were set and another layer of Future applied, I finished the building. Looking back, I am even more happy with my decision to hold off on the horizontal stabilizers, as leaving them off made the fuselage stripe decals far easier to put on. I brush painted the tires and installed them on the landing gear legs, then installed the gear legs and doors. The last thing I did was to put the jet exhausts on the back of the wings. They were painted jet exhaust, and painting before installation was far easier, as I didn't have to mask them.

Overall Evaluation

Highly recommended. It's not a 21st Century kit, but overall it makes up into a fine model. Also, I had a lot of help from modern technology, which made this build easier.

When this kit came out, we didn't have Squadron putty, CA glue, Mr. Surfacer, acrylic hobby paints, Tamiya Extra Thin Cement, kabuki tape, Testors Metalllizer, 3M low-tack blue masking tape, Micro Krystal Kleer, Micro Sol, Micro Set, or sanding sticks. All of these things contribute to making better models.

Many thanks to Hornby/Airfix for the review model, and IPMS for the chance to build it.

  • Finished front
    Finished front
  • Finished left
    Finished left
  • Finished right
    Finished right
  • Finished top
    Finished top
  • Tail flash
    Tail flash
  • Comet painted
    Comet painted
  • Ready to paint
    Ready to paint
  • Comet with decals
    Comet with decals

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