Fonderie Miniatures 1/48 Handley Page Halifax Mk. III

Kit #6042                                            MSRP $105.00
Images and text Copyright © 2006 by Matt Swan

Developmental Background
        A contemporary of the famous Avro Lancaster bomber and the Short Stirling, the Handley Page Halifax was one of three primary front line heavy bombers used by the British during the Second World War. Powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlin X engines the first version of the Halifax went into service with the RAF in November of 1940 and saw its first operational mission in March of 1941. Several modifications were made to the initial Halifax design over the next two years with the nose turret being removed, the engines being upgraded (now Bristol Hercules double row units), wings lengthened, wingtips being redesigned and the addition of DH Hydromatic propellers which resulted in the Mark III model. The Mark III was the most numerous variant built with 2091 examples rolling off the assembly line.
        Initially used as a day bomber the Halifax was found to be vulnerable to Luftwaffe fighters and was then restricted to night operations. Halifax bombers operated over Germany, France, Italy and the Mediterranean theater. The Halifax was also used as a glider tug for missions into Norway, Amhem and Normandy. The Halifax served in many other roles also; it was operated by Coastal Command for Anti-Submarine Warfare, reconnaissance and meteorological missions. As with most successful military aircraft during the war years demand far exceeded production and plans were distributed to other manufacturing facilities. Not only did Handley Page manufacture the craft but so did English electric, Fairey Aviation, Rootes Motors and the London Aircraft Production Group. At the peak of the production cycle it was reported that one Halifax was being completed every hour. In November of 1946 the last Halifax was delivered, unit number 6176.

The Kit
        Resting on my doorstep was a large fat box that seemed to have some considerable mass when I picked it up. I had been looking forward tot his moment since FM first announced the release of this new four engine bomber and that moment had arrived at last. With pieces of shipping box and packing material scattered far and wide I lifted the lid and gazed upon a wealth of white plastic sprues sealed in plastic bags Ė the box was completely filled with plastic joy. It wasnít all good though; there are some bumps on this road Iím traveling today.
        First letís look at the plastic components of the kit. The plastic itself is pure white and reminds me of what I would see in a large vacuform kit but it is indeed injection molded material. Fuselage and wings are packed in the bottom of the box with eight large sprues of parts holding them down. All the pieces display crisp, clean engraved panel lines, no visible sink marks and some medium sized injector pins on interior pieces. Unfortunately there is a very heavy degree of flash evident on all the plastic pieces. Windows are skinned over, the cockpit area has large flaps of plastic over the canopy area and along the edges of each wing panel is a fine film of flash. Itís more than apparent that plenty of clean-up time with razor and sanding stick will be needed. Flaps are provided as separate pieces and large wing spars are also included. Fit is generally okay with some twisting and clamping being needed to make the largest pieces align properly. In white injection molded plastic we have one hundred forty eight pieces.
        Hidden within the package is a small fret of photo etched pieces with bomb door hinges, seatbelts and some other odd details included. The fret consists of twenty one pieces. Clear parts for the kit come as a mixed bag of vacuformed and injection molded pieces. Depending on who packed you kit you may get extra sets of vac sheets to compensate for potential damage of gun turret pieces but with mine only a single set was included however these at least include duplicates so the risk levels are lowered somewhat. Main canopy glazings, nose piece and gun turret pieces are all vacuformed while the small fuselage windows are all injection molded. All of the clear parts show good clarity and well defined frame lines and the vac pieces do not have those pesky vacuforming dimples that are often found in vac kits. We get fifteen injection molded pieces and twelve vacuformed pieces. Next up is a small bag of white metal pieces. Here we have the main landing gear struts, crew seats, interior control panels, gun barrels and several other goodies. The detail level on all these pieces look good with small pour stubs and very little flash and it looks like we have thirty five pieces in this bag.
        Weíre not done yet, remember Ė I said this box had some mass to it. Next we have a medium sized bag of resin goodness. Once again, depending on when and who packed your box you may have some different pieces here. I have heard of kits where the engines came as separate banks of cylinders and some where they came as complete sets, mine came with complete sets of engine cylinders. These resin pieces are all cast in a light tan, almost yellow resin and show a good level of detail along with a minimal level of flash. In this bag we have four engines, landing gear bays, pilotís instrument panel, some side walls, hedgehog exhaust manifolds and the tail gun position. A few small detail pieces were broken from my tail gun position but were still in the bag Ė this is the only piece of damage I found in the kit. So there we have it; one hundred forty eight white plastic pieces, twenty seven clear pieces, twenty one photo etched parts, thirty five white metal pieces and twenty three resin pieces for a grand total of two hundred fifty four pieces in the box.

You may click on these small images to view larger pictures

Instructions and Decals
        Instructions for the kit come as four A-4 sized sheets printed on both sides. They open with a reasonably good historical background on the Halifax in general in both English and French. Next are eleven exploded view construction steps each accompanied by written instructions with the order of assembly. There are no color call-outs for any of the interior assemblies or even for the exterior paint scheme so the modeler must rely on outside reference material. The last two pages are devoted to decal placement and squadron markings.
        The kit include two sheets of decals, one large sheet that covers most of the various markings and a second smaller set with alternative lettering and tail markings. You may click on the small images to the right to view larger pictures. The decals appear to have good print registry and color density. They also appear to be adequately thin and I have heard no reports of any difficulties with them. Markings are included for both RAF aircraft and French aircraft. While we seem to have adequate decals for the basic markings we get few service stencils or warning markings.

        It sure is nice to see a new four engine bomber model hit the market, especially such a significant aircraft yet often overlooked within the modeling world. Under no circumstances would I consider this to be a Ďshake and bakeí type of kit, considerable clean-up work and test fitting will be required to put this beast together. Like many short run kits there are no alignment tabs on this kit so some assembly skill is necessary. At this time there is very little on the aftermarket for this kit, Engines and Things makes a few resin engines that could be used to model various marks with the hood open. There are two vacuform kits by Sanger; one of the Mk. II and one of the Mk. III.
        I would not consider this a beginners model but certainly something that any aficionado of World War Two bombers should have in the collection. I canít wait until I have time to build this and display it next to my Lancaster, of course that means Iíll have to find time to build the Lancaster also Ė DOH!

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