|Kit:||Airfix (Vampire) + Revell (Mistral), 1/72. Model completed on 2022-04-09|
|Aircraft:||VA-5, c/n VO695, HävLv 13, Ilmavoimat, Pori, mid-1950s|
The Vampire was the first jet aircraft to serve with the Finnish Air Force. This model represents an aircraft that served with HävLv 13 (Fighter Squadron No.13) and subsequently with several other units. It entered service in November 1953, and flew its last flight in December 1962.
VA-2 at the Halli AB in July 1979; note the poor condition of the fuselage.
The model was put together from two separate kits: Airfix's Vampire FB.5 (a re-boxing of the old Heller kit from late 1970s) and Revell's Sud-Est SE 535 Mistral (also a re-boxed Heller kit). The Mistral was a French version of the Vampire; it had a different engine, so the fuselages are different, as are the engine air intakes. Revell's plastic was better (harder and somehow crisper), so from that kit I used all those parts that are common to the Vampire and the Mistral, and took Vampire-only parts from the Airfix kit. The shape of the fuselage in the Vampire kit was slighly inaccurate, too straight on the underside, so I built it up a bit using bits of Evergreen sheet and Squadron's Green Putty.
I used an Eduard/Kuivalainen photo-etch sheet for various wheel well and cockpit details. Finnish Vampires had many different types of main landing gear wheels, so I used the kit's "spoked" ones and did not use the photo-etch parts I had. Pictures of this particular aircraft (there are many) do not reveal which type of wheels the aircraft actually had. A note about the landing gear: The kit nose gear leg is too short, and as a result the aircraft would not sit right. Vampires have a characteristic look on the ground, and the tail booms are either horizontal or sloping down towards the tail. I cut the leg and added about 1 mm from Evergreen styrene rod, using CA glue. I also sanded the main landing gear tires for a slight "weighted" look, and these modifications made the model look a lot more like an actual Vampire.
I sprayed the model first with Tamiya's flat white, and then with Alclad II Aluminum. Vampires did not have a "natural metal" finish, being mostly constructed of wood. Instead, they were painted with something called "High Speed Silver". Applying a mixture of Testors Dullcote and Glosscote (mostly dull) provided a suitable change to the Alclad finish to make the model look accurate. Decals came from a GalDecal sheet, which unfortunately did not provide the small tactical number for the nose gear door. I scanned the larger number, reduced it to correct size, and used the result to cut a mask with a Cricut cutter. Squadron emblem (a stylized duck) was cannibalized from Broplan's kit of the Valmet Vihuri.
Several years ago I wrote a blog post about one Vampire, namely VA-2 whose picture is shown above. The article lists good reference sources that are more than sufficient to build a detailed Vampire. Also, if the reader is planning to build a Vampire in 1/72nd scale, there are now better kits available. This project was too much work.