I feel like I could start and end this article just by saying “the Hawker Hunter” as it is so renowned that all you need to say is the aircrafts name, and people instantly have the image of it in their head and the sound of the engines in their ears.
The undeniably ‘right looking’ nature of the aircraft made it an icon of British aviation, and until a decade ago, a common sight even in the 21st centaury.
The military accomplishments of this aircraft are vast and not to be understated. Serving worldwide up until the early 2000s. I genuinely can’t think of many fighter aircraft that saw such an active and lengthy lifespan.
Of course, the title of this article indicates that the combat effectiveness of this aircraft is perhaps not what we would be looking at here, and instead looking at the lesser discussed aerobatic nature of the Hawker Hunter.
In the post-war years military display teams became ever more frequent, and Britain had arguably and excessive amount at times. Many of these had short life spans and our primary focus today is no different.
Before the war and until entry true entry into the jet age aerobatic teams were common at different squadrons but remaned un-named. It wasn’t until The Meteorites were formed that naming had begun.
The Hunter was used for named and unnamed display teams, but there is are 2 teams that are most well known. The Blue Diamonds (which received this lovely box art for the Matchbox kit) and the Black Arrows (that had an Airfix release).
The Blue Diamonds were a large display team containing 16 aircraft, often doing a loop of all aircraft or doing a 7 abreast loop. They dazzled audiences in their pristine blue and it is clear to see why they were loved in their short lifespan.
The Matchbox production of the Hunter is great as it allows you to chose either the single seat or dual seat aircraft. By sheer luck I somehow have ended up with 2 of these kits, and so I built both. But as I have a goal to build as many display teams as possible, I decided to build 2 different display teams. The cover art Blue Diamonds for one, and the single seat Black Arrows Hunter for the single seat version. I opted not to hunt down the Airfix kit because it isn’t the easiest to get hold of and, in my opinion, is not good value to money.
The Matchbox kit is very simple in construction. It features the ‘traditional’ 3 colour layout – green, light grey, dark grey. You will need some filler – but if you’re approaching these older kits it’s expected (and given the cost I imagine this is something you’ve already invested in).
The cockpits as you can see are extremely basic. They have flat seats and a control panel that is just a decal on a smooth surface. It doesn’t look bad, and I am someone who believes that with a closed canopy it doesn’t necessarily need to be super detailed.
The wings and other surfaces have some engraved panel lines but my opinion on them is that they are ‘fine.’ more than anything else. I will say the instructions don’t make it super clear how urgent it is that you do some parts before others – a lesson I learnt on the landing gear which I was going to leave until last (something that has become standard process for me). Turns out you should definitely do it when it tells you to.
They may look clunky at first, but once you have an undercoat on it, it looks much happier.
The construction didn’t take very long at all, and I managed to knock out both models in a couple of hours to a point where I was ready for assembly. On the Blue Diamonds kit (the dual seat model) I did miss off a single part on the bottom, and you can see this in the finished photos – but I couldn’t put it on due to the decals that I had already varnished on.
Painting was relatively easy. I used Revell Aqua Colour 06 for the Black Arrows and Humbrol 25 for the Hunnter after a layer of Tamiya’s primer – my go to. I used Revell Aqua Color’s for the reamainder of paints, which was pretty much just metallics for the engine from what I recall.
All paints were diluted with what turned out to be a slightly stained aqua colour mix (which reacted with the varnish and led to repainting several times).
Decals….ah. Now this was a point of irritation, frustration, and sadness. One set of decals were just ‘passed their best’ and were unable to be removed from the transfer sheet at all. Another came off, but you had to scrape of paper that was also coming off with the transparent decal part. This meant that I had to order a separate decal sheet that by dumb luck someone was selling on eBay for £2.
I finished both models with Humbrol Acrylic Spray Varnish in Gloss to give them their metallic sheen.
Buy or Fly?
I feel that not recommending this kit would frankly be a crime. Not only is it an excellent rendition of the Hawker Hunter, but it is also a beautiful memory of a long forgotten British display team (or 2, with some creative decal cutting).
The kit tends to sell between £10-30, where the newer Revell boxing is about £20.00. Due to the unique decals, which I cannot see for sale elsewhere, the kit has value for this alone. The kits are old however – the most recent boxing being from 1992. When you add to this that Hunter models are in relatively short supply anyway, I feel it’s definitely worth buying. This definitely gets a buy from me!
As usual see the video below for the construction and audio review, with further images of the completed model below that.