Thunder & Lightnings

English Electric Canberra - Scale Models

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A brief rundown of the various model kits available of the Canberra. There are a fair few out there, most of which haven't been covered on this page yet, but sadly there isn't - so far - a really good, accurate and comprehensively detailed kit to be found in the mainstream injection moulded options.

1/72

Xtrakit 1/72 Canberra PR.9 box

Xtrakit Canberra PR.9

1/72

Injection moulded plastic

Price ~£20 (second hand)

Released 2007

3 stars

One of Xtrakit's better efforts, this one. Largely accurate in outline (based upon plans from Aeroclub's John Adams), and with nicely done surface detail, this is a short run kit so not an easy build but with care can be built into a very nice representation of the real thing. Cockpit detail is a little soft but there are a couple of very nice resin ejector seats included, and having any detail at all for the navigator's position is to be applauded. The elevator tips and fin base are more accurate than the Airfix kit below.

On the negative side there are awful sink marks on the gear doors, the main gear bays have some detail but it's marred by ejection pin marks right in the middle. As a short run kit it lacks locating pins and the butt joints for the rear stabilisers don't look to be much fun - definitely a good idea to reinforce with a pin through them. You'll not be getting away without filler for this kit either! No underwing stores are provided. There is a missing vortex generator from the rear fuselage below the fin, but the 3 on the fin are present and correct. The wing is entirely absent of vortex generators but does have slightly raised airbrake fingers for some reason. There is no representation of the 'see through' part of the rear fuselage under the tailplane. The pilot's canopy shape is simplified somewhat, and not bulbous enough to the sides.

Decal options are a little disappointing in that two near-identical schemes are offered - both for hemp and light aircraft grey 39 Squadron jets, with no mission markings for instance. A decent selection of stencils are included though. I guess it left the field clearer for Xtradecal to offer alternative colour scheme options.

Airfix 1/72 Canberra PR.9 box

Airfix Canberra PR.9

1/72

Injection moulded plastic

Price ~£25-50 (second hand)

Released 2009

3 stars

Following on a couple of years after the Xtrakit release, Airfix could have made it obsolete with a superior kit, but snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in some ways. While this is a much more polished effort, and is also mostly accurate in outline (indeed this and the Xtrakit plastic match up very well in most respects - possibly the same plans used?), there are some absolute howlers to be found. In comparison, the Xtrakit falls short in various areas. Airfix's detail is sharper, and many items missing from the other kit are included here - aircrew figures, wingtip tanks (rarely carried but nice to see), underwing BOZ-107 pods, seperate mudguards for the nose gear and even a representation of the numerous vortex generators on the upper wings. There's even a tail prop to keep the tail off the floor if you don't manage to squeeze in enough nose weight!

Drawbacks - well the rudder has a load of deep panel lines on it that are actually lines of flush rivets on the real thing so best filled in entirely. The base of the fin at the leading edge could do with a little filler to smooth it into the fuselage more, and in profile view it should have less of a curve towards the base, so needs some adjustment to match photos of the real thing. The elevators have a similar issue with their tip curvature - they need more rounding off at the aft end. The 4 vortex generators on the lower fin should be 3, with 1 on the fuselage. As with the Xtrakit, there's no representation of the 'see through' part of the rear fuselage under the tailplane. Panel lines are a bit deeper than most would like, but they are nowhere near as bad as has been made out by some online reviewers. A few - notably the reinforcing panel on the rear fuselage sides - are in the wrong place. However, the really big howler is the cockpit - it's not a PR.9 one! It's pretty clearly the same layout as in the B(I).8 kit, and while you can just about get away with that for the pilot if you don't look closely, the navigator's position is utterly, totally and completely wrong. Xtrakit did this right, Airfix have utterly cocked it up. The solution, sadly, is just to close it all up and forget about it - modelling the nav's nose cone open really isn't an option on this kit without replacing the entire nav's cockpit with a resin part or a lot of scratch-building. While we're on the cockpit, the pilot's canopy shape is rather too bulbous on top and not bulbous enough to the sides - this is probably a deliberate decision, because moulding it correctly would have been more difficult - and thus expensive - and probably ended up with a mould line down the top. There are various intake scoops and vents on the engine nacelles that don't seem to match up with reality too - careful comparison with photos needed on that score.

Decals are provided for 4 airframes, 3 RAF ones (39 Squadron hemp/light aircraft grey, 1 PRU green/grey, 58 Squadron overall silver) and a Chilean Air Force example in green and grey). Stencil coverage is OK but not entirely complete - on this score the Xtrakit edges ahead too.

Airfix 1/72 Canberra B(I).8 box

Airfix Canberra B(I).8

1/72

Injection moulded plastic

Price ~£35 (second hand)

Released 2009

4 stars

This kit shares a lot of its DNA with the PR.9 kit reviewed above, and as such most of the same comments apply. The differences are considerable of course - different wings and fuselage for a start - but both kits are very similar in detail level and construction technique. A full bomb bay is provided, with a fuel tank and bombs to hang in there. Of course most B(I).8 modellers will go for the gunpack option instead, and that is of course provided too. For under the wings we have AS.30 missiles (oddly - they weren't carried by B(I).8s, only by B.15s), rocket pods, bombs and wingtip tanks.

Drawbacks are all as per the PR.9 kit, including that bizarre cockpit layout which also doesn't quite match up with what a B(I).8 cockpit should be like. However, in this instance it matters little as most of it is entirely hidden inside the fuselage and the nose cone doesn't open up on a B(I).8 (and nor does the pilot's canopy, which is accurately noted in the instructions).

Decal options aren't quite as generous - only 3 options this time - covering a lovely green/grey/silver sharkmouth example from 16 Squadron plus a pair of foreign customers - a green/grey/silver Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft from 14 Squadron and an overall silver South African Air Force jet from 12 Squadron. Stencil coverage is good but not complete.

1/48

Airfix 1/48 Canberra B(I).6 boxAirfix 1/48 Canberra B.2 box

Airfix Canberra B.2/B.20/B.62/B(I).6

1/48

Injection moulded plastic

Price ~£20-30 (second hand)

Released 2009

3 stars

A rather old model now, but overall this is not that bad of a kit, unless you are looking for accuracy and detail, in which case stay away. The build is very straightforward making it easy to put together with little filler required. There are some areas that are difficult to fit, but nothing challenging. The model does need an awful amount of nose weight in it (100g!) to stop it from sitting on its tail, there is room behind the pilot's seat where you can put some weight, along with putting some in the engine nacelles. If more weight is still needed (don't be surprised), then there is the option to add more in the front end of the bomb door, however this will require the bomb door to be closed. The other option is to fashion up a tail stand for the back end to rest on, keeping the nose wheel on the ground. Unlike their 1/72 PR.9, no stand is provided.

The kit comes with a selection of bombs to fit out the bomb bay, along with fuel tanks that are mounted under the wing tips.

This kit is not one for detail as briefly mentioned previously. The panel lines are way too wide and deep, making them stand out far more than they should. It also doesn't include all the panel lines on the real aircraft - just the basic ones, and some are even in the wrong place. This can make lining up decals a bit tricky at times. The canopy has two DV windows on it, and is therefore only suitable for a T.4 - which you cannot make from this kit as the nose and cockpit are different.

The decal sheet is huge and has decals for 4 different colour schemes; these include 10 Sqn RAF, 213 Sqn RAF, 2 Sqn RAAF, and II Air Brigade, Air Group No.2 FAA. The decals themselves are to a decent standard, but they aren't as flexible as some newer decals these days.

Caution - this kit has been reboxed in a more recent release as the B(I).6/B.20 with decals for 1 OCU RAAF and 213 Sqn RAF; it was also reboxed again as recently as 2019, supposedly as a B(I).6/B.20/T.4 - in this case the T.4 option is entirely rubbish, as the cockpit is unchanged (real thing has side by side seating for two pilots), and neither is the nose (you are told to paint over the clear nose - with its flat panel - when the T.4 nose is solid, has no flat panel, and has panel lines in different places). There have been other 'limited edition' reboxings since, but none correct any of the faults or omissions.

Airfix 1/48 Canberra B(I).8 box

Airfix Canberra B(I).8

1/48

Injection moulded plastic

Price ~£15-35 (second hand)

Released 2009

3 stars

So, see that review of the 1/72 B(I).8 kit above? Just read that. Seriously. It's the same kit in a different scale, and shares all the same positives and negatives. It even has the exact same decal options. The sprue layout is a little adjusted, but each part is clearly the same, even locating holes are scaled up. Sadly, so are the panel line depths and widths - not Matchbox style trenches, but still much more obvious than they need be. At the end of the day with a little work you can have a nice model but it's a clearly a budget production and a world away from Airfix's more recent 1/48 output.