1:72 Canberra PR.9s: Airfix vs. Xtrakit

Let’s get ready to rummmmmmble – as though a couple of Rolls Rocye Mk. 206 turbojets were spooling up for takeoff! It’s our first ever head-to-head battle of the ‘berrys – the Canberra PR.9, to be exact. In the last 24 months we have two contenders for the crown of best 1:72 PR.9, the Xtraparts kit and the Airfix kit.

This will be a 12-round bout, with the mandatory 10-point rule in effect. Your judge is me

1. Box

Nice art on both of our competitors. Theres’ a hemp-colored PR.9 on the Xtrakit box, and a photo-realistic image of a camouflaged PR.9 on the Airfix, amid the new red border graphics that the brand’s recently rolled out. But right there! The Airfix box is a sturdy box with an actual top and bottom, vs. the end-opening Xtrakit box. Score it 10-9 Airfix!

2. Surface Detail

Xtrakits comes into this one strong, with refined recessed panel detail over the entire airplane. Airfix also has recessed detail, but it’s a little thick – and oh! Sinkmarks on the wings! That’s gonna cost Airfix! And, at the bell… it’s Xtrakit, 10-9!

 3. Fidelity of Outline

The wings of both competitors line up with each other almost exactly. The fuselages have similar proportions, too, and the top of the rudder has the distinctive flare at the upper rear corner on both contenders. The Xtrakit gets the fin fillet more right, but the Airfix nose more closely captured the shape of the PR.9’s swinging nose. As the official separates the two, it goes in the books – 10-10. A draw!

 4. Little exterior details

The details here aren’t so little. Airfix comes out swinging, with separate belly sections for different camera layouts and clear covers for the camera wells, and follows up with tip tanks – which are shockingly missing from the Xtrakit! Oh Nelly! Next, Airfix busts out some chaff pods of uncertain heritage and utility, but makes up for it with separate control surfaces – flaps, elevators, and rudder! Also, the wings have the vortex generators, while Xtrakit has small flat squares where the vortex generators should go. The vortex generators on the vertical fin are present on both models – Airfix has four, and Xtrakit has an accurate three, this avoiding the knockdown. As it is, Airix takes the round 10-9!

5. Wheel wells

Both contenders trip into the ring in this round – Airfix has nice boxed wells with accurate rib detail, but there are ejector pin marks inside them! Ouch! Xtrakit has boxes for the main wells but – Sweet Zombie Angelo Dundee! – there’s a gigantic knockout pin mark in the center! It’s the biggest knockout pin mark this observer has ever seen! The nose gear well is made of four parts and is adequate, but Airfix is all over this round. Score it 10-9 Airfix!

 6. Cockpit

A haymaker by Xtrakit – two identical resin seats – which are jingling around loose inside the bag. It fails to connect, only because the pilot had a Mk. 2CAI seat and the nav had a Mk. 4QS! Airfix has multi-part plastic seats that have little detail, but they are different. The cockpit structure is a single piece in the Airfix kit but it has a floor that projects out the front beyond where the swinging nose breaks from the fuselage. Xtrakit provides the cockpit as two sections, but the overall detail is nicer in the Xtrakit, which wins the round, 10-9.

 7. Wheels and landing gear

Nose wheels are rough in both cases, with the Xtrakit wheels molded with the mudguard and some fairly soft detail but the Airfix wheels have the largest sprue gates I’ve ever seen. Airfix has the edge, and opens up the lead with much nicer main wheels. The Airfix struts are more refined, and as mentioned earlier the nose wheels have separate mudguards. Round goes 10-9 to Airfix.

 8. Approximate fit

Xtrakits’ short-run nature reveals itself here. Test fitting reveals a gap at the wing root’s mid-way point, and the fuselage has no locating pins, but the shock bullet on the vertical tail is provided on the rudder. The Airfix kit’s bullet is provided as a separate part, and the wings have nice slots, vs. the Xtrakit’s near butt joins. Only building the models would give an accurate account of which one’s on top, but Airfix clearly has an edge. 10-9 Airfix.

 9. Clear parts

Both are admirably clear, but Airfix gives you a separate canopy and windscreen, vs. the single part in the Xtraparts kit – plus a mess of lens covers for the cameras. Airfix, 10-9.

 10. Instructions

Very even – both rely on exploded view drawings, and Airfix uses more individual step-by-step drawings. Both have decent (and quite different) historical summaries. Airfix includes full-color painting and markings instruction – giving Airfix (and its bigger budget) the round 10-9.

 11. Decals

Airfix throws out a gaudy collection of four planes (Chile? Really?), but Xtrakit counters with two hemp-colored Canberras, and a more comprehensive set of data decals, including a mess of “walk outboard” lines that are missing from the Airfix kit. It’s a highly-technical round – but you have a highly-technical judge. 10-9, Xtrakit.

 12. Extras

Xtrakit nails a lot of the small surface details, and it avoids errors like the misplaced intake atop the starboard engine in the Airfix kit. The antenna layout is more comprehensive in the Airfix kit, and the engine faces look nicer. Airfix provides the exhausts in single pieces, while Xtrakit gives you halves you have to join. Round goes to Airfix, 10-9.

And we have a winner! By a 107-103 score, the bout goes to Airfix! Sure, it’s not perfect – and I am strongly thinking of bashing these two together to get a super PR.9 – but the Airfix kit has an edge – and it’s certainly cheaper than the Xtrakit offering.

And there you have it! Airfix takes it! If you’d like to see a rematch – buy your own models!