Red Arrows 40th Anniversary Set – Airfix 1/72

The Red Arrows are known worldwide for their professionalism and vibrant red scheme. What many don’t recall – or these days I guess even know – is that the Red Arrows are the the survivors in a long line of British display teams. We’ve had teams made from Hawker Hunters, English Electric Lightnings, and Jet Provosts.

The Red Arrows themselves have a direct lineage from the Yellowjacks display team (you can see an article on the Airfix Yellowjacks Gnat here). It’s the weird reality of the Red Arrows, that they were originally yellow rather than Red.

The Gnat was remembered more so for being the first mount of the Red Arrows however, and its a fantastic aircraft in it’s bold red against the bluest of skies. They established their revolutionary aerobatic movements and formations in this aircraft…going from national display team, to internationally renowned display team.

After the Gnat had reached the end of it’s training usage, however, the Red Arrows would look to the BAe Hawk (formally Hawker Siddley) for it’s replacement. This is the mount they continue to use to this very day – the Hawk T1. It is expected to remain as their aircraft for many years despite the RAF itself moving on to the more modern Hawk T2.

This set celebrates the 40 years of the red Arrows. Looking at their past with 2 Gnat kits, and their present, with the Red Arrows Hawk. Today this kit is very outdated, with both aircraft receiving new tooling’s from Airfix (making the old kits pretty redundant – but more on that later).

Opening the box, providing you got a ‘complete’ set, you’ll have 2 things besides the kits and instructions. There’s a little pamphlet that details the history of the Red Arrows and goes through the line up of the 2004 season (yes, this box is that old). There is also a DVD about the Red Arrows. Do not purchase this for these alone, as they’re not worth it- but they’re a nice little bonus if you manage to snag this set at a reasonable price (aka under £15.00).

The Gnats

The Gnats in this box are the original Airfix tooling. From what I could find, it appears this means they’re from 1963. Many of you are probably unphased by this, but as I left modelling and returned when Airfix started doing it’s fantastic new toolings…I wince at these a little.

For the price I got the set at – £12 – I think 3 kits with decals and dogfight double stand is worth it. However, these kits ar extremely basic. To top it off, for my luck I had only 1 canopy and 1 set of decals. This led to one of my kits being donated a canopy from a newer Gnat kit that doesn’t fit, at all, and having to use some decals from this kit, some from the new one.

The Decals contain Red Arrows and Yellowjacks specific decals. However, I only got one set one set…

The kits go together super quickly, with little to no effort. I built both at the same time and it is definitely a kit you could do in a weekend. Thing is though, you could do the new toolings in just as little time and get an infinitely better result.

The reason I got this kit is because Ii had it as a kid. I remember painting the stand a gross green and the vertical elements of the stand as a pale blue….I wanted to remake it but actually want to keep it this time. The old kits were binned some time ago when I was removing the last remnants of my stuff from my childhood room (even though I moved out 11 years ago). What does this mean? It means I did NOT paint the stand – I just gave it a coat of matt varnish to stop it stealing attention from the models!

As I said before, the kit had only one set of decals so I had to use the RAF roundels from a donor new Gnat kit I got on eBay for £2.00. The canopy doesn’t fit properly, but given that I had already painted it and applied decals I refused to destroy the gloss finish. If I ever get donated one I’ll swap it out for an older Gnat cnaopy – but for now I’ll just keep it as it is.

I had some issues with the Red Arrows decals too. The little white ‘lighting’ stripes disintegrated a little bit meaning I had to paint them instead. However, the whites were different shades and so this looks a little odd now. Overall, if the decals hadn’t had disintegrated, I would generally say the decals are great.

The Hawk

I’ll start this by saying you won’t see any images of the complete Hawk. I am ordering another older Hawk so I can still complete this, as I love the old paint scheme perhaps more than the modern one…but alas the Decals failed me here.

Let’s start with construction though…it’s actually great. Despite this kit being a 70’s tooling – the difference between this and the Gnat are night and day! It has an actual cockpit with dials and screens to paint, seats, control columns…and importantly pilots that don’t look like they were melted in the furnace of Mt Doom.

The kit went together almost flawlessly – though some force and tape was needed to make sure the nose section went together smoothly.

Ultimately though I was left saddened by the decals all disintergrating and litering my model with specs. As this is an old display scheme that no-one appears to make decals of, I could not just buy new decals either…so, I was left with an unfortunate decision of either abandoning the kit or finishing it with white parts painted.

I decided to abandon it. The whites don’t match, in part due to the age of the decals, and they just never look perfect. I’m not skilled enough to paint all the white lines myself either – so buying a new-old kit was my only real option.

Once I’ve made the new-old kit I’ll pop a link here.

Buy of Fly?

I’m proud of what came out of this kit, and for the price it was…fine. But I whole heartedly would not recommend this kit. You can buy new Gnat toolings for £5-9 and Hawks for £7-12. They’re significantly better, and will have new decals that won’t fall apart as soon as they have to be moved. The cheapest I could make this kit for without paint today was £26 (without using eBay). I’d rather spent £26 on this than the £15-30 that I’ve seen for this set on eBay/at model shows.

You can see the construction and video review after the last few images of the Gnat below.

Also, can we take a second to appreciate the beautiful artwork? Like, damn, I wish I could order a print of this!

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