British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 by Airfix

1/48 scale
Kit No. A10105
Cost: $29.99
Decals: Markings for any one of three experimental prototypes, XR219, XR220 and XR 222
Comments: Detailed cockpit includes two crew figures; engraved panel lines; detailed landing gear and intake trunking

“ All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height, and politics. TSR-2 simply got the first three right. ”
— Sir Sydney Camm


The British Aircraft Corporation TSR.2 was an ill-fated Cold War strike and reconnaissance aircraft developed by the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) for the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the early 1960’s. The first prototype (XR 219) took its maiden flight on September 27, 1964. The plane’s very intitials signalled its intended role: tactical strike and reconnaissance. The TSR.2 was designed to penetrate a well-defended forward battle area at low altitudes and very high speeds, and then attack high-value targets in the rear with nuclear or conventional weapons — a true precision strike aircraft.

Another aspect of its combat role was to provide high-altitude, high-speed photo reconnaissance, requirements that demanded “state-of-the-art” aviation technology to make it the highest-performing aircraft in these roles, able to avoid enemy missile defenses. Although only two prototypes were completed and of these only one was flight-tested, those test flights gave all indication that the aircraft would be able to easily meet its stringent design specifications.

Fed by variable area intakes ahead of the 60 degree swept delta wing, the TSR.2’s navigational-attack system was a highly advanced Doppler and inertial guidance unit, backed up by a SLAR (Side Looking Airborne Radar) providing contour-following capability under automatic or manual control, which kept the aircraft at a predetermined height at all times. Moving map displays indicated the TSR.2’s position to the two-man crew (an early version of GPS) and the pilot had a head-up display. The TSR.2 had a battery of cameras in the bomb bay and a TV system to transmit the pictures to mobile ground stations day or night.

The TSR.2 was the most high profile victim of the Defence “White Paper” that, along with inter-service squabbling over Britain’s future defence needs, led to the controversial decision to scrap the programme. The White Paper was influenced in part by the belief that the manned bomber was obsolete, against the backdrop of the spiraling costs of the program. With the election of a new Labour Government, the TSR-2 was ostensibly cancelled due those rising costs on April 6, 1965 — in favour of purchasing the General Dynamics F-111, an “off-the-shelf” procurement decision that itself was later rescinded as costs and development times skyrocketed.

The instrument panels are well detailed, as are the bulkheads for the wheel wells which are adjacent the intake trunking.

The interim replacements included the Blackburn Buccaneer and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, both types which had been previously considered and rejected early in the TSR-2 procurement process. It was not until 1979 with the introduction of the Panavia Tornado, developed and adopted by a European consortium, that another type appeared to broadly fulfill the same requirements that the TSR-2 was already meeting during tests in 1965. At the time of the project’s cancellation in what some have called the saddest day in British aviation history, a second prototype, XR 220, had been completed and was ready to begin flight testing. Five more aircraft, including XR 222, were nearly complete.

The Kit

The first impression of this kit upon opening the box is that you will need to go to Ace Hardware for the paint. The TSR.2 in 1/48 scale is massive compared to its predecessor and stablemate, the same Airfix kit in 1/72. The kit is molded in white and has 117 parts, many of them sporting an abundance of engraved panel lines. There is a highly detailed cockpit with two aircrew, as well as detailed intake trunking and landing gear, which include an option for realistically flattened tires.

The kit includes what appears to be a 1,000 lb. bomb (middle left), but the instructions give no clue as to whether it is of the conventional or nuclear variety.

There are separate canopies for the two aircrew, three parts in all as the pilot’s postion has a separate windscreen. The delta wing consists of two parts only, and should not present any major construction difficulties. Armament consists of what appears to be a single 1,000 lb. bomb, and there are four detailed airbrakes which can be displayed open or closed.

The decals consist of markings for three prototypes:
1) XR 219: Actually built and flown during 1964-65
2) XR 220: Completed but never flown at time of project cancellation
3) XR 222: Under construction at time of project cancellation
A note about the decals: they appear to be unusually faded, but when I checked color reference photos, I realized that the decals reflect the actual look of the markings on XR 219.


This is a beautifully detailed model and should be a fine build.


  • Airfix instructions


The TSR.2’s markings may appear to be too faded. Nonetheless, they are an accurate reflection of how they looked on the actual aircraft.


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