1/72 HighPlanes Mk 21 Canberra A84-201

by David Edwards


Highplanes plugged a gap in 1/72 post-war jets when their Mk20 kit emerged a couple of years back.  For a review and build article on that boxing, have a look at Mick Evans’ work over on Hyperscale.

The Mk21 issue provides the trainer’s unique cockpit and nose pitot along with a very comprehensive decal sheet that covers all the RAAF’s “twin stick” Canberras.  Included in the instructions are details of which vents and panels need to be filled for this mark.  My only reservation is regarding the seats provided, which look like standard “bang” seats.  No seat is present for the navigator, but even if I had opened up the solid windows in the fuselage top and side I doubt it could’ve been seen.

Thanks to David Soderstrom I had the old Airfix B(I)6 /Mk20 kit for comparison.  Long out of production, it pops up on ebay or at swap meets for around $30.  Mr Airfix gave us a way too big nose cone and fuselage nose to match along with finely raised surface detail, clear wingtip nav lights and a fair representation of the bomb bay.  The Highplanes offering has the usual nice recessed surface detail, an accurate outline, solid wingtips, closed bomb bay, no detail in the main undercarriage wells, vac form canopies and the usual slog required to get a good fit and fill gaps.  Both kits could do with some added detail such as elevator actuators and fuel dump vents.  Pappy’s excellent pics here on AMI are a useful guide to such bits and pieces.

The kit

The wings seemed like a good place to start.  After cleanup the main parts went together fairly well, but adding the fronts and rears to the nacelles left some bit gaps to fill and the exhausts a bit uneven and short.  Even after a fair bit of sanding the engine starter cones look like they poke out a tad too far from the intakes – more like a later Mk20.

The fuselage also got a bit of cleanup before assembly.  Biggest challenge here was getting the resin nose wheel bay to fit and more than a few rude words were said.  I glued a fair bit of weight behind the aft bulkhead but it proved to be not enough.  Another foolish error followed.  A smart modeller would’ve glued some location tabs into one or both halves to let everything line up properly.  I neglected to do so and after clamping the halves together I disappeared to the Gippsland fires for a week.  On return, a nasty “step” had appeared in various places.

My next bit of excitement was getting the wing roots into the wells provided in the fuselage sides.  Lots of trimming and grinding was required here, and a “nose on” view to help with wing and tailplane dihedral would’ve been handy in the instructions.  While I had the power toys out I opened up an underwing landing light.


Once the tailplane was added it was time for the usual filling, sanding and rescribing before gluing on the resin tip tanks.  Their exact location was a tad vague, check your references.  A quick shoot of primer and I was feeling a sense of achievement (or maybe relief!).

Yet another bit of foolishness followed.  This would’ve been a good time to add the canopy and nose cone before filling and smoothing any gaps then masking for painting.  Instead I left these until post-painting, silly boy that I am.

Before painting I cleaned up the undercarriage doors and glued on some thin lengths of sprue to provide locators during painting and assembly.

For the fuselage top I used Humbrol gloss white (sprayed on a bit thick).  I masked this off then followed with the black leading edges.   More masking and then for the overall silver I used my favourite Gunze rattle can.

The decals supplied are very nicely printed and based on earlier experience with Highplanes decals will go on without fuss.  I had the Aussie decals sheet and used it simply to compare.  The Aussie decals are as thin as Paris Hilton’s resume, which means they are a bit tricky to handle but do stick down like the proverbial to a blanket.  The white in the roundels is a touch “see through” (I’ll resist a wet t shirt joke) and could do with a backing disc.

Post-decals I just had the undercarriage and antenna to add.  No great dramas here, but I couldn’t find a HF antenna mast in the nice PE sheet provided.  Said sheet does have a heap of stuff that will be handy for other models such as ADF towel rails and other goodies.

On fitting the undercarriage I found every modeller’s nightmare – A84-201 was a tail sitter!  I cracked the nose cone off and stuffed about 20g of lead into the compartment.  The end result was a Canberra that sits properly but with a nose cone that doesn’t quite fit as nicely as it should.
The end result is a Canberra that will look reasonably nice in a cabinet, which is about par for most of my models.  Shortcomings in my finished model are due to my own lack of skill and forethought rather than the kit.  If you’ve got a few limited run kits under your belt and don’t mind a bit of that cutting/filling/sanding experience you won’t have too many dramas.

Thanks once again to Steve from Highplanes for this kit.

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