Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

De Havilland Vampire
Single Seat Export Versions


Classic Airframes

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: 495 - De Havilland Vampire Single Seat Export Versions
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: 42 parts in gray styrene, 23 parts in gray colored resin and 2 clear injection molded parts. Instructions, decal sheet and painting guide for 6 aircraft.
Price: MSRP USD$45.00
Review Type: Another Look
Advantages: Fine panel lines, highly detailed cockpit sidewalls, crisply printed decals, additional resin parts to make different Marks; re-designed intakes.
Disadvantages: Some missing decals for the RAAF “Red Vampire”, fuselage pod.
Recommendation: Recommended


Reviewed by Steven "Modeldad" Eisenman

Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Vampire Foreign Version may be ordered online from Squadron




The Vampire Chronicles

Chapter I, “The Good Intentions"

Sit back my friends, and allow me to narrate the saga of the infamous Vampire Chronicles - a gentle tale of how the seekers of truth and accuracy were able to live in harmony with those for whom what was in the box was good enough. This tale has been handed down from modeler to modeler over the ages, and today we gather once again to recount the adventure of the Vampire. 

Now where do I begin?  

Ah yes, first the earth cooled. Then there were the dinosaurs, which died out.  This mass extinction gave mankind the raw material necessary for the rise of injection molded model kits. In the medieval times of model making, there was a Vampire kit. But, it was found to be badly deformed.  Modern modelers gave it the Latin name of Hobbycraftus Vampiremisshapenensis.  There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth that nothing better existed. 

Then along came a man out of the City of Broad Shoulders, who single handedly tried to improve upon what had gone before.  Without benefit of vast sums of money, or an R/C cash cow business on the side, but with good intentions, this man went forward and took a risk.  Lets us refer to this man as “Uncle Jules”, for that is what all the villagers called him when he appeared at their annual gathering.  It is at this gathering that praise is given to the gods of styrene and resin and etched metal. 

Now Uncle Jules, of limited resources and good intentions, had come upon some drawings of the elusive Vampire.  But were these drawings accurate?  Was there reason to disbelieve the dimensions printed upon that much revered ancient parchment?  Could they be relied upon?  No one had raised a voice to declare them false or declare them merely the scribbling of a mad man.  Could he? Should he?  No matter, he did. 

It was done. The Vampire was produced.  This was to be the best model to date of this classic airframe.  Lo and behold, in the box it looked good.  Even at first sight, no voices were raised declaring it to be, at best, screwed up, or, at worst, evil incarnate. 

Then some began to apply glue to plastic and resin, and something seemed amiss.  It just didn’t look right!  It looked a bit off, and those intakes, those poor misshapen intakes, what was to be done. 

Now the villagers scurried for pictures and drawing and plans. A Viking from Norway was one of the first to come forth with comparisons.  There was further comment and Photoshopping, and the drawings used and the model made from them were now declared suspect.  As for those intakes, solutions were proposed.  Even the bald headed Magus from the mythical land of Oz took from his magic bag file and putty to seek a solution. 

As in the tales of old, the reasoned voice of a noble craftsman, honest and true, and from the Guild of Aftermarket, came out of the mists, from the Isle of Great Britain.  This Guildsman goes by but the name of “Johnadams of Aeroclub”. 

Johnadams, after giving thoughtful consideration to all that mankind knows of the Vampire and having spent time with the real beast, truly and honestly declared the kit to be short in fuselage and cockpit and the intakes bollixed.  Drawing upon his deep well of knowledge, he did also declare that Uncle Jules’ Vampire was still far superior to the medieval Hobbycraftus Vampiremisshapenensis. 

Even knowing that there were angry villagers armed with number 11 blades, scribing tools and razor saws, Uncle Jules stepped forward and let his disappointment be known to one and all.  Notwithstanding his good intentions, Uncles Jules declared that he now understood that the drawings he used were not accurate.  But, sadly, he knew the die was cast for the styrene of this kit, but not for the resin. 

Johnadams, in a collegial effort to see that those who wanted a near perfect Vampire get one, literally beat the sword of criticism into the plow shear of styrene and resin.  In barely a fortnight, Johnadams created new resin intakes and a new injection molded fuselage pod to be offered to those amongst the villagers who were true believers in the Vampire.  And at a fair price no less.  The villagers now had options, either to build the best out-of-the-box Vampire to date, or the most accurate Vampire model to date. 

Oh the joy!  The villagers could choose of their own free will. Now they had information. As for Johnadams of Aeroclub, after all that he had said and done, he was not declared a heretic, a destroyer of hobbies, and was not subjected to the Modelers’ Inquisition for speaking the truth.  No one ever expects the Modelers’ Inquisition!





The Vampire Chronicles

Chapter II, “The Foreign Version” 

Now we enter the second chapter of the Vampire Chronicles with the release of the “Foreign Version”.   

Upon opening the box one discovers an extra bag of resin goodies.  After opening the bag, and spilling out its contents like rune stones on the desk, one finds a second set of intakes. Four intakes?  What manner of Vampire is this? 

Holding them up next to the intakes that are in the other bag of resin, which was included in the previous boxing, one can immediately see the new intakes are different.  Based on the work of the Magus of Oz and others, it appears that Uncle Jules had the intakes recast into a more pleasing shape.  Of course, such shape had to remain appropriate with the existing fuselage pod and wings, for which the die was cast, as noted in Chapter I.  We must await the reaction of those villagers for whom building this Vampire will be an out-of-the-box effort. 



But what of the other resin bits and pieces of which I spoke?  There is a new nose and gear door so that one can make a FB. 6 of the Swiss Air Force. 



There are the fuselage intakes and nose “blister” so that a FB. 31 of the RAAF can be made.  It should be noted that the instructions for the Australian version show the blister as more of a scoop but the shape of the resin part is correct.  Reference photos of the RAAF FB. 31 should be used to determine its exact placement. For example, A79-308 pictured at this web site: http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/MEGGS_vampire.html.  It also should be noted that one of the fuselage intakes is packed loose and not in the bag of additional resin.  Take care, for the feared carpet monster has been known to devour resin bits. 

Finally, the new resin provides for the more modern MB ejection seat.  The parts include the seat, cockpit base and bulkhead and nose wheel bay. 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

All the other pieces in this version of the Vampire are the same as in the first FB. 5 boxing.





The Foreign Version of the Vampire contains markings for six different aircraft from four different air forces.  We begin with the markings for the Vampire pictured in the box art. 


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Mexican Air Force – Vampire FB. 3,

200 Escaudron Aero de Pelea.  This aircraft is over-all Dark Green with Yellow bands around the booms and around the wings. The auxiliary tanks are also in yellow. No FS. approximation is given for either color. The red at the top of the forward tip of the fin must be painted. I have heard some rumblings that the squadron badge is not accurate, but I am unable to determine whether this is true or not.

Royal Norwegian Air Force – Vampire FB. 52 

VO412 / ZK-J, 337 Squadron, circa mid-1950s.  This aircraft has a RAF Dark Green top surface with PRU Blue undersides.  There is an Orange horizontal stripe across the nose gear door. 

Royal Australian Air Force – Vampire FB. 31

Two different markings for the same aircraft: A79-215, No. 25 Squadron (City of Perth).  The first set of markings are for an all Aluminum painted aircraft circa 1959.  The second set are for the same aircraft in the all Post Office Red special scheme that was applied for the Squadron’s stand down from flying duties, at the end of 1959 or early 1960. 

There does, however, seem to be a number of problems with these markings.  I will first deal with the issue of making the FB. 31.  It appears that the FB. 31 had a large, oval panel on the starboard / right side, just below the cockpit.  This panel is neither on the fuselage in the kit nor on the Aeroclub fuselage pod.  It will need to be scribed.  

As to the markings for the Aluminum painted aircraft, the marking instructions show the Squadron’s black swan on the port / left side only.  Based on a recent article by Mick Mirkovic in the January 2005 issue of Scale Aviation Modeller International, the black swan was also carried on starboard side of the nose at one stage.  Also, for the time period in question, the Type 2 badge was used, where the swan was placed over a red “25” and was surrounded with the stenciling “City of Perth Fighter Squadron”.  The Swan on the decal sheet, #25, is a Type 1 badge used to early 1957, and the number and writing should be in red.  To properly do A79-215 in its pre-1957 guise, a second badge would be required, the writing would need to be in red. 

For the special Post Office Red scheme, the kit’s marking diagram shows the swan applied to both sides of the nose, as was actually the case.  The painting instructions indicate a Squadron Leader’s pennant on the starboard side, but there is no decal provided for this. However, later in this aircraft’s career the pennant was removed and the oval panel – mentioned above – was stripped back to natural metal, so this will be another option. The radio housing blister on the nose was left in the Bakelite brown.  According to Mirkovic, the serial number was simply in Sky Blue, whereas the kit markings have the Sky Blue serial on a white background. Some photos support the blue theory, while a color photo seems to suggest a white outline. The decals are supplied in two parts each, so the modeler can consult his references and make up his own mind. 

Swiss Air Force – Vampire FB. 6

markings for two aircraft:

J-1156, Zeilfligercorps, circa 1960s.  This aircraft is in over-all Aluminum with orange bands on the booms. 

J-1102, Zeilfligercorps, circa 1960s.  This aircraft is in Aluminum with Dayglo Red-Orange and Black bands applied to the wings and fuselage.





What can one say? We now have quite a good Vampire kit, even if we know that it is not perfectly accurate.  Modelers will have to make decisions, as they have in the similar case of the Hasegawa Mk. IX Spitfire.  For those that want a Spitfire or Vampire and for whom the 3mm of shortness, approximately the same in both kits, is not a big issue or the end of the world, then they will decide to buy and build right out of the box. 

For those modelers who have a passion for either of these aircraft and who want a more accurate Mk. IX Spitfire or Vampire, then they have other options.  In the case of the Spitfire, it is either the ICM kit or the Loon Models correction fuselage.  In the case of the Classic Airframes Vampire, there is the correction fuselage pod and intakes from Aeroclub. 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

As for me, not being a “Vampirephile”, building the Vampire OOB, would have been perfectly fine. Then again, I bought the Aeroclub sets primarily to see and understand the real nature of the issue, and I will use them as long as I have them. I have shown the CA / Aeroclub parts in the photographs accompanying this review.  As to the Spitfire, I love the lines of that aircraft, so I have chosen to forgo the far better engineered Hasegawa kit, having built one, in favor of the ICM kits.

Very simply, if you want a good out-of-the-box representation of the Vampire, then the Classic Airframes kit is it.  If you want a better representation, then you will get the Classic Airframes Vampire and the Aeroclub sets.  Still recommended. You make the decision. 

Thanks to Classic Airframes for the review sample.

Classic Airframes kits are available worldwide through hobby retailers and from Squadron.com

Review and Images Copyright © 2005 by Steven "Modeldad" Eisenman
Page Created 02 May, 2005
Last updated 02 May, 2005

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Reviews Page