Post by chbessexboy on Sept 12, 2021 16:59:55 GMT 12
The Airfix Bristol Blenheim IV.
One of the good things about concentrating on one scale when building kits is that you get a good idea of relative sizes. The Blenheim is not a large aircraft when compared to the later four-engined heavies, but must have seemed so to the RAF when it was introduced. How quickly technology is developed in times of war.
I was able to see a restored MkIV nose (actually a Bolingbroke) next to the “Blenheim MkI” reconstruction at Duxford in 2011 and was struck by how small it was then.
The distinctive lowered glazed section in front of the pilot’s seat cleverly gave a better forward view for landing, but I wonder how many times bomb aimers hit their heads on it.
When viewed up close like this it brings it home how vulnerable the crew were to fighters, anti-aircraft guns and even small arms fire. These were brave men.
My Blenheim has a gun pack under the belly where the bomb bay doors would be, so I suppose that means it was used as a ground attack machine. It has survived almost intact and is not a bad kit; however I have a new mould MkI in the stash that might show up its flaws. It will be interesting to build the earlier variant and see how far kits have come in the intervening half century.
Last Edit: Sept 12, 2021 18:18:57 GMT 12 by chbessexboy
Post by chbessexboy on Sept 12, 2021 19:15:05 GMT 12
I just looked for some replacement decals for the Blenheim and discovered the gun pack was fitted to the night-fighter version. So it looks like the MkIV will get a make-over with a sand down, repaint into correct colours and new decals.
Post by chbessexboy on Sept 18, 2021 17:40:10 GMT 12
This Gloster Gladiator MkII has taken me a little research to identify.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s an Airfix MkI that I have painted as a MkII in the Norwegian campaign. This would have been inspired by my “Fighting Colours” book (internet image).
How I acquired a three-bladed prop for it will remain a mystery.
It deserves a sympathetic restoration with some new decals and rigging to bring it up to standard. I’ll make sure to retain its identity though and maybe learn more about it when I can lay my hands on the elusive book.
Post by chbessexboy on Sept 19, 2021 7:24:30 GMT 12
Airfix’s “Me Bf 110D” was introduced in 1959 and soldiered on with the codes “5F+CM” for forty years. During that time the box art depicted it as solid green, mottled green or mottled grey, so some research is needed to see which is correct.
Under the Luftwaffe code system we know that 5F refers to a long range reconnaissance unit (Aufklärungsgruppe) the F denoting Fern, the German word for "far". The yellow C is the individual aircraft within the Staffel, and M the Staffel itself.
It’s difficult to understand the role intended for the 110. The “Heavy Fighter” concept must surely have been proven unsound if the 110 had been tested in mock combat with 109s. It would make more sense if they had been used as close bomber escort to defend attacks and then rejoin the bombers – that would have allowed the 109s a more aggressive role. All good in theory, but formations get broken up when attacked and individual 110s soon proved vulnerable.
I guess the Luftwaffe found they were not equipped to fight a type of war they had not been prepared for. The 110 would have been a formidable machine for ground attack with its four 7.92mm machine guns and two 20mm canon mounted in the nose, but these are useless against other fighters if they cannot be brought to bear.
In 2009 I was able to see what remains of Rudolf Hess’s Bf 110D at the Imperial War Museum in London. An incredible artefact and a tangible link to the famous event in 1941 when he flew it to Scotland. VJ+OQ may be a good subject for a future 1/72 build.
The Airfix 5F+CM is a pretty basic kit but we must remember the market targeted in 1959 – mums, dads and other relations buying these as presents, or kids saving their pocket money and treating themselves. I can’t remember being disappointed by a lack of interior detail – more likely relieved that I could move quickly to the fun part of gluing the fuselage halves together and seeing it take shape.
It must be recognised as something of a manufacturing and marketing achievement that a cheap toy aimed at five-year-olds can still give pleasure to the same individual sixty years later.
Post by chbessexboy on Sept 19, 2021 21:55:53 GMT 12
The Yak 9 is very small when compared to a Spitfire, and is even smaller than a Bf 109. No wonder they go particularly well!
We are very lucky to be able to see the type up close here in NZ and have demonstrations of its performance. The Luftwaffe must have got quite a shock when this generation of Russian fighters appeared. They thought they’d neutralised the Russian air force when their blitzkrieg destroyed hundreds of aircraft on the ground, but they were mostly obsolete machines anyway.
This Airfix kit was my sole Russian fighter, but I have other types to build this time around. Also my palette was very limited in the ‘70s so I’m looking forward to painting more interesting colour schemes in future.
Post by chbessexboy on Sept 21, 2021 19:41:36 GMT 12
The FM-2 Wildcat was offered by Airfix with decals for a Fleet Air Arm machine, where earlier versions were known as Martlets. I chose to build the alternate US Navy version in keeping with my “country of origin” markings policy.
This is another kit that could benefit from being “de-riveted” and perhaps some better drop-tank mounts. All in good time.
There’s a new tool version in the stash that will be built with wings folded, and another to represent an FAA machine – just to be different.
In the meantime I had a little fun with the hairdryer and ran up the Wright R-1820 Cyclone (after pulling it through of course).
Post by chbessexboy on Sept 24, 2021 19:19:33 GMT 12
If the Spitfire were a whippet, the Typhoon would be a bulldog.
It’s as if Hawker knew that they could not compete in a field dominated by Supermarine, so they designed an aircraft for the offensive close support role that was to come. It’s not entirely true because the objective was an all-round fighter, but it was soon realised that the thick wing was not ideal for the sort of altitudes that had become normal.
Thus it found its niche as a ground attack machine also capable of mixing it with the Bf109s and Fw190s where their superior thinner air performance was nullified.
This Airfix IB manages to capture that aggressive attitude perfectly. What a beast!
Here is the only complete survivor on display at Hendon in 2009.
Post by chbessexboy on Sept 26, 2021 7:58:36 GMT 12
What can one say about the French war effort in 1939? Perhaps a Gallic shrug of the shoulders will suffice.
But we must make allowance for the fact that in the1920s and 30s, France was still recovering from the enormous cost in lives, materials, damage and financial hardship of the Great War. It is little wonder that resources were stretched to build up and modernise an air force. It’s a miracle that they produced aircraft at all.
The Morane Saulnier MS406 was one of their better efforts. A little more horsepower and a lot more firepower would have closed the gap to the Bf 109, but that could be said about most of its contemporaries.
This MS 406 is a FROG kit – the acronym reputed to stand for “Flies Right Off the Ground” when the company started with balsa models - which did just that. This would have been of the “Penguin” series that were obviously not intended to fly.
The model is in the April 1940 markings of the celebrated pilot Pierre le Gloan. He had the dubious distinction of being the only “Ace” to have shot down German, Italian and British aircraft – the latter when flying for the Vichy forces opposing Operation Torch.
A product of the 1960s, the detail and accuracy leave a lot to be desired. For that reason it will get a makeover, and because I’m not a great fan of Vichy markings (or those pilots who went on to fly under them) it will get a new identity in the process.
As an aside, and to those who think “political correctness” is a recent phenomenon, I will quote Wiki:
“In France, due to cultural disquiet over the word "frog", these kits were sold and marketed under the "Tri-ang" brand, whilst in North America, for similar reasons, the Frog name was thought unacceptable and the kits were repackaged as "Air Lines" – an allusion to Lines Brothers Ltd – the founders of IMA / Tri-ang.”
It seems this petty assumption could not be dismissed with a Gallic shrug of the shoulders.
Continuing with the de Havilland theme is this Vampire F.B. Mk5.
It’s a FROG kit from 1971 in the markings of a 502 Sqn. machine “WA309” from RAF Aldergrove, Northern Ireland. Like many of my kits it suffered undercarriage damage while boxed. This thread has provided the impetus to match the loose parts I saved with the models and restore them.
This example has not been particularly well constructed, and when I discussed the sub-standard effort with my son he said, “Give yourself a break – you were only a kid”.
As usual, he is right. I photograph and present them here “as built”. I have to remember that not every kid had the interest or patience to build models. Indeed, my CFI tells me he hung his up in a tree and shot them with his slug gun.
At least mine have survived and can receive some sympathetic restoration and upgrading if I see fit. The new builds I have nearing completion are taking many more hours to reach the point where I’m happy to post them here.
Post by chbessexboy on Oct 10, 2021 10:05:31 GMT 12
The Westland Whirlwind is one of those “if only” stories.
What I’d read about its shortcomings centred on the Rolls Royce Peregrine engines. In service these proved unreliable and prone to overheating. As the ultimate development of the Kestrel, was it a stage too far?
I’d often thought they should have fitted a couple of Merlins instead, but the argument was that the Whirlwind had been designed around the Peregrine, and anyhow all Merlin production at that time was going to the Spitfires and Hurricanes. I still thought it would have been possible to fit the Merlin, and they had what remained of 2200 obsolete Fairey Battles to raid the engines off – some of which went straight from the production line to “storage”.
I recently learned that a Whirlwind was successfully repowered with Merlins, but the problem was not the Peregrines but the propellers the production aircraft had fitted. These differed from those of the prototype and were unsuited to the Whirlwind’s performance parameters, especially at altitude.
It is very easy to be wise after the event, from the comfort of my home office here in Godzone. To be fair, the RAF had a bit to deal with at the time.
My Whirlwind is a very early offering from Airfix that represents P6984 “HE-H” of 263 Sqn based at RAF Exeter in 1940. I hope to add another one to the collection and have acquired some very nice ESCI decals in preparation.
Post by chbessexboy on Oct 15, 2021 6:17:08 GMT 12
This thread has developed a very RAF bias of late, so I thought it had better live up to the “eclectic” title.
My North American F-100D Super Sabre is a FROG reboxed Hasegawa effort from 1970. Decal options were Royal Danish Air Force or this Armée de l'Air “42284” from EC 1/11 at Roussillon on the Southern border of France.
Post by chbessexboy on Oct 23, 2021 9:44:16 GMT 12
The obligatory Fokker Dr.1 in von Richthofen’s colours.
The Airfix example in red plastic was introduced in 1957 and soldiered on for 30 years before appearing with decals for Werner Voss. Along the way Revell picked up the reins to market their own “Red Baron” moulding, which is still available new. For some reason they’re not as cheap as other Great War kits, so I pick up the old Airfix ones second hand whenever I can. Having said that, they’re not without faults – I’ve counted thirteen ejector pin marks. Quite an achievement!
Build time should not be excessive as they are very small in 1/72 scale, so a production line approach might work. A few of them in authentic JG1 schemes will look impressive and won’t take up too much space.
This one has lost a wheel but until I find a replacement I thought I’d make a simple wooden “field repair stand” to support it while a “tyre was replaced.” At least it adds a little life to the subject.
Post by chbessexboy on Oct 26, 2021 15:20:42 GMT 12
The Mureaux 117, and its predecessor the 113, fell into the category of early 1930s aeroplanes that were virtually obsolete by the time they reached squadron strength – such was the rapid advance in technology and design.
Despite this the Armée de l'Air was still using them in considerable numbers in reconnaissance, light bomber and eventually night-fighter roles in 1939. Of the 239 operational at the start of the war only 62 survived when France fell. One hopes that the majority were destroyed on the ground by the speed of the Blitzkrieg, as being caught in the air in one by a Bf109 could not have ended well.
My example is I think the only Heller kit I built in my youth, and I can remember being quite pleased with it - despite the gun mount being a bit toy-like.
I’ve photographed it here on my new “Woodlands Scenic” Dark Green Grass. Designed for the railway modeller, I hope it will come to represent the airfields many of my subjects would have operated from. Like the aircraft in the collection, it is a “work in progress”.
The kit is still readily available second hand, new from Heller or reboxed by SMER. As this one depicts a pre-war example (despite the box art), I’ve acquired another to paint in war-time guise.
Post by chbessexboy on Oct 30, 2021 18:11:23 GMT 12
Those of you following this thread may have noticed a dearth of Luftwaffe fighters. I have them, but I’ve been reluctant to feature them for a few reasons.
Bf109s and Fw190s very often had dappled paint on their fuselages that I found impossible to replicate with a brush. I was never happy with the results. To compound it, my later purchases were affected by European laws that prevented the portrayal of swastikas, which compromised their inclusion in kits. This also had a detrimental effect on realism.
I have plenty of swastikas now, and could apply them, but it would seem a bit of a waste.
Since I began modelling over fifty years ago, the bar has been lifted by some absolute artists who can now display their skills on the ‘net. To be quite honest I feel a bit intimidated.
I purchased an air brush a few months ago, with the intention of repainting some of my earlier efforts, and using it on my future models where appropriate. It‘s been sitting in the packaging as a constant reminder of my cowardice.
But I’m fast running out of excuses, and procrastinating won’t make it easier. I’ve painted a few cars in the past, but they were 1/1 scale. The principle can’t be very different surely. I will practise on plenty of bits of scrap before committing myself to a model.
And I’ll record my childhood efforts before reworking them. To that end I submit my Bf109 G6 “Yellow 2” and Fw190 D “TD+X1”. Both are by Airfix.
I had a bit of trouble identifying the 109 because contemporary bag header art shows it as “Yellow 3” with underwing rocket tubes, but mine has cannon pods. It turns out it was an option and I converted the threes into twos for some long-forgotten reason.
The Fw190 artwork of the time (by Roy Cross) shows it engaging with either RAF Spitfires or a Russian Sturmovik depending on the issue so I guess the markings are fictional. Two more reasons for repaints and upgrades.