"A Story of Stripes"

Classic Airframes 1/48 Vampire (Target Towing)

Classic Airframes 1/48 Vampire - RAAF Target Tug

by ©Jeremy King


In early September 2005 I picked up the export version of the Classic Airframes single seat Vampire with the intention of replacing the rather poor Hobbycraft kit that represented the type in my collection.  Upon opening the box I initially thought of completing the overall red aircraft and so proceeded to the workbench.  A day or so later whilst searching the net for reference pictures I stumbled across the RAAF Museum's Vampire, resplendent in its target towing markings. That looks different, even more so than the red.   A change of plan, now to build.

The need for more reference was instantly apparent, so I turned to the AMI 'discussion board' with a cry for help.  I was ably supported by Roger Lambert and Paul Mason with photos and ideas, (as well and a well placed warning about the difficulties of this particular aircraft). But I still needed more to be able to locate all of the stripes on the airframe. Fait however intervened the next day, my wife had to travel to Melbourne so armed with camera I dropped her off and whipped out to the Museum at Point Cook and took all the reference I needed.

Before I go much further I must put in a disclaimer:  I readily accept that the result I have produced is not 100% accurate.  Many out there will pick a few faults, and by all means do so, however for me this hobby is not about the finished product but the challenge of the build.  I enjoy this aspect the most and so build lost of multi media kits and those that are showing their age.  So in this instance I have made an attempt and produced a result I am happy with, but the key being I finished what I started. 

The build

The kit is very similar to most of CA's offerings.  There are plenty of inbox reviews out there so I will not repeat their words. I experienced no major difficulties in the build, I did however learn from the experience of others.  Fuselage went together without to much hassle. I did not attempt to correct the error in the length department.  I left the cannon access panel off until after the wings and booms had been added in order that additional nose weight could be added. I also left the additional air intakes till later.
Wings:  I wanted to pose the aircraft as that on display at the museum which meant flaps down and speed breaks in the deployed position.  These items were cut from the kit before the wing halves were joined.  I found no problems with the resin intakes or wheel wells; they fitted with the aid of some filler. Once the two halves were joined my first real hurdle was encountered, the wing fuselage join.  A simple butt join is required but in each instance significant gaps would result, the dihedral was poor as would have be the strength of the join.  My solution was to fashion two short box spars either side of the wheel well. Plenty of dry fitting and super glue later I had a good join.  Milliput and sanding completed the join and I moved onto the booms.  I again used a spar to aid the butt join.  This also helped greatly with the achievement of alignment.  I worked sufficiently for no filler to be required when the tailplane was attached.  At this point I checked nose weight (more required) and then closed the hole in the fuselage.  Plenty of sanding, re-scribing and the fitment of many of the minor parts and we were ready for paint.

Painting and finishing

Humbrol gloss yellow was sprayed over the primer and the kit was left for a week to cure properly, as I could see there would be lots of handling during the masking process. I used this time to study the layout of the black stripes.  I made at least 4 attempts to draw the plan on paper, but each ended in frustration (something Roger and Paul warned me of).  I sat on it for a few more days until in a far from thunderous flash of inspiration I realised that all I needed was one stripe and the remainder would be parallel, and so like a good advert for 'Nike' shoes, I just needed to "do it!".  Using my photos I laid out the strip that ran from the right speed break to across the cockpit.  With this achieved, I moved outboard.  After a number of attempts I found that 11mm of black to 14.5mm of yellow put the stripes in all the right places according to my pictures.  The top of the aircraft complete I laid out the underside.  Plenty of complex curves make the job frustrating, but achievable.  The nose of the aircraft was then completed.  This was the hardest one, many failed attempts and a short tempered modeller settled on what you see in the photos.  When the tape came off I was not happy with this stripe, but it wasn’t that bad as to make me go through the process again!  Modelmaster aluminium finished the booms and it was sealed. 

Decals:  National markings are from the box as is much of the stencilling in red and black.  “876”, yellow stencilling and a few others came from the spares box.  The result is not 100% accurate as there is insufficient “keep off” markings to do above the outboard flaps and to mark the speed breaks, but it looked all right to me.

Finishing touches

Speed breaks and flaps were scratch built.  If I had my time again I would have added a bit more detail to the inside of the wing in the vicinity of the flaps.  You will note that the main gear is not from the kit, which comes with the original DH wheels that were not fitted to Aussie Vampires.  So armed with a single wheel and photo I walked through the 'Victorian Hobby Centre' aftermarket collection until I found the best representation I could find.  For those interested they are actually for a Morane Saulnier 406. 

Final finishing details come from the Red Roo vampire conversion kit. Those of you who know this aircraft will note that the drop tanks are not fitted to the model.  There was a limit to my patience and I reached it here.  To produce the curves in the stripes and achieve an acceptable join to the wings was just a little too much.  I justified my decision by knowing that when they are fitted they spoil the lines of the vampire anyway, well I reckon they do. 


I very much enjoyed the build as it presented a few challenges and produced a result I am happy with.  An accuracy man would find a few areas of concern, but for me it looks good next to my Classic Airframes F8 Meteor and 'Red Roo' Avon Sabre. 

© Jeremy King 2006

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