Dragon 1/700 HMS Illustrious

Reviewed by Timothy Dike
HMS Illustrious is the second of three Invincible Class Aircraft carriers. She was laid down at Swan Hunters Ship Builders Yard  in 1976 and commissioned in her base port of Portsmouth in 1982. Measuring about 685' she displaces 22,000 tons and can top 30 knots with her 4 gas turbine Olympus engines. That speed was needed as a relief for the HMS Invincible that had been on station for the duration fo the Falklands war. So immediate was the need that she was commisioned enroute. She stayed on station until the airfield was repaired and then returned for workup and a formal commissioning on  March 20, 1983 almost a year after entering service.

The Illustrious operates the GR-8 Harrier and the Merlin EH101 Helo. Refits have increased the aircraft complement to 22. This Premium Edition kit from Dragon represents the carrier after her latest refit that gave her a new ski jump and include the goal keeper and other newer parts not included in the original kit release.

The hull on this kit is molded in two halves in full hull style. The is the way the original kit was produced by Revell. Dragon aquirred them molds and added some parts and improved others. The hull molding and the level of detail is still pretty good. But it will be a chore to cut the hull down if you want to do a waterline version. Click images
to enlarge
This sprue includes the flight deck and some mast parts.These are nicely cast overall, but the flight deck includes raises deck markings that would have been better represented by decals. Most modelers will probably sand these off.
SPRUE C (x2)
There are two of these sprues in the kit. They include some Harriers, Helos, and boats. Propellers, shaft and rudders are also included.
A stand is included for full hull display.
The new ski jump is included on this sprue as well as the bow insert and related parts.
This sprue is new for this kit and includes new radar domes and bow parts.
SPRUE b (Weapons)
A weapons sprue is included with many of the parts you will need for this kit. There are a whole bunch of spares, so tuck them away for other projects. This is the same weapons sprue you will find in many Dragon British ship kits.
A brass photo etch fret includes some radar, mast, and safety net details. There is also a large bow insert, but I can't find it mentioned on the instructions.
The decals by Cartograf include the ships and aircraft markings. These are well registered and sharp.
The instructions are an eight page booklet showing the assembly in a step by step process that is easy to follow. Very thorough and well illustrated. Photo etch locations are noted in color. A painting guide is included on the final page showing the ship in plan and profile.
This new Dragon kit is a welcome upgrade of the old kit. It is nice to see these old kits given new life and new details. I do wish that the hull had been changed to allow for easier waterlining. But this still a nice kit, especially when you consider you can get it for only $28.50 at DragonUSA online.