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DeHavilland Hornet /
Sea Hornet


Classic Airframes


S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number : 459 (Sea Hornet)
458 (Hornet)
Scale: 1/48
Price: Sea Hornet: USD$60.00 RRP
Hornet: USD$55.00 RRP
Contents and Media: Low-pressure injection plastic - 63 grey styrene and 2 each clear vacform canopy, rear canopy, fuselage side windows and access door window. 41 parts in pale cream-colored resin. Instructions, decal sheet and painting guide for 2 aircraft. (Contents list applies to the Sea Hornet)
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: The first injection molded 1/48 scale kit of the RAF’s last piston-engine fighter to see active combat. Probably CA’s finest kit to date, with beautifully engraved panel lines and raised reinforcing strap around the fuselage. Keyed prop blades. Full resin rear observer / radar operator’s cockpit. Well designated cutouts for the rear cockpit opening, rear access door, and fuselage windows.
Disadvantages: Poorly engineered sprue gate at inner trailing edge of lower wing caused some damage. Exhaust stub broken off in transit.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for moderate to experienced modelers who enjoy modeling the less well known aircraft of the post-WW-2 era.


Reviewed by Steven Eisenman

Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Hornet and Sea Hornet kits
are available online from Squadron.com

Special Note

While many kit maker will acknowledge the help of various individuals, I am pleased to note that Classic Airframes has dedicated the Hornet/Sea Hornet kit to Mr. Derek Pennington in recognition of not only his help in developing the kit, but also in recognition of his personal involvement with Hornets whilst in service to Queen and Country in the Far East.



Usually referred to as the worthy successor to the de Havilland Mosquito, the Hornet was probably one of the best looking piston-engine fighters developed. After the successful introduction of the Mossie, de Havilland began work on the jet-engine Vampire. But, not wanting to put all its eggs into one basket, de Havilland responded to the Air Ministry’s request for a high speed, twin engine, unarmed night bomber. But due to the lack of Sabre engines, the project was terminated.

De Havilland continued to privately work on a scaled down version of the Mosquito using the small profile Merlin engine with the intended purpose being a long-range fighter for the Pacific theatre. Even though the prototype was developed in 1943, the Hornet did not see action in WW-2. It was not until 1955 that the Hornet was removed from combat, nearly a decade after it was first assigned to Number 64 Squadron.


The Hornet, while resembling the Mossie, was a completely new design. It was that design that allowed to Hornet to play a variety of roles: High-speed interceptor, long-range escort fighter, and long-range, low level intruder. When the Royal Navy was desperately in need of new carrier based fighter aircraft, the Hornet’s design made it a logical choice. With its powerful Merlin engines turning four bladed props in opposite directions (rotation towards the aircraft’s centerline), the Hornet was fitted with folding wings, a tail hook and strengthened fuselage.




Whilst I have the Sea Hornet kit, it seems that it uses the same injection moldings and main cockpit resin as the basic Hornet Kit. The difference is that the Sea Hornet kits comes with an additional package of resin and rear canopy to be used for the NF.21 night-fighter version.



This extra package includes a full rear observer/radar operator’s cockpit and bulkheads. Also included in the package is the thimble-dome radar replacement nose and the exhaust shrouds. The arrestor hook and the rear cockpit access door are on the injection molded sprues.

Regardless of the kit you get, you have the option to depict either the early or late style fin and rudder and horizontal tail planes. Also, whilst the kit does not include any ordnance, it does include two resin bomb racks and four injection molded rocket rails. This appears to be the standard ordnance configuration on both the Hornet and Sea Hornet.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Construction appears to be very straight forward. You will, however, need to remove a fair number of injection molding stubs on the inner surfaces of all the major components of the kit. This is not a real problem but a chisel blade will be of great help. The propeller blades are handed, so you will need to pay attention when assembling the props. Thoughtfully, they are keyed so setting the proper pitch will not be much of a problem.

One of the first things you will need to do is the fuselage cut outs. The first one, and applicable to all version, is to cut out the lower nose for the resin gun package. Luckily the cuts needed for this are to be made along clearly marked panel lines. Although the instructions show the cut being made after the fuselage is together, I would recommend doing it as a first task. You will also need to open the side fuselage ports, as applicable.



Finally, if you are doing the night-fighter (as I plan to do) you need to cut off the nose and open up the rear cockpit, and lower access door.

The instruction sheet is well laid out and clearly show what parts and work will be required to make each of the four Hornet/Sea Hornet variants.

Markings are included for two Sea Hornets. The first, a silver doped F.20 of 728 Squadron, FAA, at Hal Far, Malta in 1954 (Note: The Hornet was wood, so it is not a natural metal finish). The second is a FAA NF.21 night-fighter in Extra dark Sea Gray over Sky, which was assigned to 809 Squadron on HMS Vengeance in 1951.

For the Hornet kit (No. 458), there are also marking for two aircraft. The first is for a silver doped early style F.1 assigned to Sqn. Ldr. Haw of No. 65 Squadron, Linton-on-Ouse, 1947. This aircraft has bright red chevrons on the fuselage and wing-tops. The second is an F.3 in Dark Green, Dark Sea Gray with PRU undersides and a silver rudder. This aircraft served with No. 80 Squadron at Kai Tak, Hong Kong in 1954.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:





No question about it, you don’t have to be one of Her Majesty’s Subjects to appreciate this great looking aircraft. And whilst the instruction are quite explicit in stating that the kit is for experienced modelers, I believe the term experienced can be given a bit of latitude. Just take your time in making the necessary cuts, and even a “less experienced” modeler will be rewarded with a fine model.

If you are at all interested in the Hornet/Sea Hornet, I would recommend that you get Warpaint Series No. 19; de Havilland Hornet by Tony Butler.

Thanks to Jules Bringuier of Classic Airframes for the review sample.

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

Review Text and Images Copyright © 2002 by Steven Eisenman
Page Created 06 January, 2003
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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