From an entirely personal perspective, it was a real pleasure, some two years on from 2014, to have witnessed modellers around the globe produce numerous beautiful builds of Airfix’s epic Typhoon, while in tandem with this, the aftermarket industry had diligently added more and more goodies to augment and enhance an already ground breaking kit.
There was little surprise in 2016 therefore, when the long expected news finally broke from the Airfix camp – their astonishing ‘bubble top’ Hawker Typhoon was to be revamped as a ‘car door’ production and added to their 1/24 range. This was great news to me for three reasons; the ‘car door’ configuration allowed vastly better visual access to the cockpit than the ‘slider’ version, rewarding any and all extra time spent further detailing this area. Then there was the quirky, quintessentially British design and appearance of the early Tiffie, particularly around the driver’s part of the airframe. Finally, I was hoping Chris would offer the pre-production sample to Castle Croydon, as my appetite for another Typhoon banquet was fairly raging! Happily he did, when we spoke at Scale Model World in 2015.
The subject of schemes naturally arose and I mentioned that for me, there was only one game in town – it really had to be one of the three aircraft sent to North Africa for filter trials in 1943. The notion of that wide expanse of plastic, smothered in Dark Earth, Middle Stone and Azure Blue was compelling, particularly as a contrast to the European scheme on the test shot I’d built in 2014. Xtradecal cemented things with their lovely sheet, X24002, that included ‘DN323’, one of three airframes I was considering. As was the case with the ‘bubble top’ Typhoon, Chris Thomas (‘Mr Typhoon’) was once again a huge and pivotal help in this project and sent me over the following images of DN323.
At Boscombe Down, 1943 – immediately before being crated up for Africa.
Before application of the individual aircraft letter.
After application of the individual aircraft letter.
The three trials aircraft garaged outside in North Africa, 1943.
When the trials ended in October 1943, DN323 was repainted in what looks like the standard European scheme, before being repatriated back to Britain.
The sprues included a new turtle deck and other parts specific to the ‘car door’. The original fuselage needs the appropriate plastic removed to allow the new deck in and the amount of plastic to eliminate is clearly delineated. Subsequent fit of the replacement deck was nigh on perfect.
The lower wing is a fine, purpose made jig for the dry alignment of the spars, cockpit tubing and bulkhead / firewall before resorting to glue. This way, the core structure can be assembled accurately, preventing fit issues further down the build.
The cockpit tubing was ‘beaten up’ via dry-sponging in Humbrol 66 Dark Grey, with random Humbrol lighter greys and a little of their silver. This broke up the finish suitably but in truth, the lower tubes become barely visible even with a cockpit door open.
Eduard’s interior etch and Airscale’s lovely decal set were used en masse, together with some wiring to the column.
The early style pilot’s seat was undercoated in Tamiya Black, then protected with Johnson’s Klear. Once overcoated with Tamiya Sky Grey and then AK Interactive’s Worn Effects, the paint was attacked with a quarter inch chisel brush with fairly stiff bristles. This chipped the paint some but the range of tones was deemed insufficient, so a further quick application of Tamiya Sky Grey and Worn Effects was laid over, obscuring the existing chips some 50% – it was NOT re-applied as a solid colour coat. More wet scrubbing left the seat exactly as I wanted it.
Radu Brinzan etch and Roy Sutherland resin carb cone adorn the radiator.
With careful preparation, your new turtle deck will fit exactly. Please be aware that most car doors had the anti-collision beacon (clear part 06) fitted. Check your references; there is a hole under Z22 (the new turtle deck) to be drilled out for the beacon to fit through – the item was missed out of the instructions and it seems there is no errata slip in the production kits.
Despite queries to Chris Thomas and extensive personal scrutiny of records at the National Archives in Kew, England, no photographs of the ‘wet type’ under fuselage air filter ultimately used in the North African trials were found. I believe the ‘dry type’ filters readily caught fire through fuel running back down the inlet system. The ‘wet type’ somehow obviated this, although I have no information to explain how. The actual filter was likely longer than that seen here (which was confiscated from the ‘bubble top’ kit), as an easy expedient for readers as well as myself!
Who could resist ‘winding down’ one of the windows, when you’re on a tight ten week build schedule, realise the clear plastic is brittle and only have one set of clear parts? Taking a deep breath, it was a tweak too inviting to resist and just looks so cool. Airfix don’t provide door winders, so these were cobbled together from a punch and die set and plastic strip.
Both uppers and lowers were ‘scribbled’ with the airbrush, in the wake of laying in the base colours. This simple technique was first advertised by the author in early 2008, in an article published on Hyperscale. It has since been dubbed ‘mottling’ and other terms but the principles are the same – one to three lightened mixes of the base colour at 20% colour to 80% thinner are ‘scribbled’ over the base.
Imagine trying to get an errant biro working again, as you scribble it randomly on paper – this is the basic action. It’s important to let go of conscious control; you can even write names, words, phrases as you go; the paint is so thin you will (or should) only get trace marks where lines intersect. Scribble in 10-20 second bursts. If marks are too prominent, simply drift a 20% mix of the base colour over the top, to knock it back. Once the lightened tones are on, apply one to three darker mixes as above.
You can also use other colours of course but application remains the same. Work in layers, building up the effects slowly. Above all, avoid following geometric structures, panel lines and so forth – be ‘organic’. By all means follow rules of sun and weather exposure, as well as gravity and so forth but don’t wind up with any geometric symmetry.
The uppers ‘scribbled’ in three stages.
Decals in full swing.
The only thing I had no access to at the point I reached this stage, was any imaging of the door limiter. There is now a dedicated ‘car door’ Eduard set that includes the guide rail I believe.
The second photo below was passed to me after all was signed, sealed and delivered!
Some useful details – note the ‘edged’ window glass.
This was another Tiffie that swallowed the whole ten weeks I had to expend on it. The pleasure on its completion was even greater than that of the ‘bubble top’. I guess the advantage of knowing what the kit required, made dealing with the parts that differed easy. It was also great to go full tilt at the cockpit and be able to appreciate it through the open door.
On the bench, immediately following completion.
Out on the flight line. The model now resides with my earlier ‘bubble top’ build at the Airfix Visitor Centre, in Margate.
Issue 70 of AMW – available through the Key Publishing Shop or Airfix Model World links in the sidebar on the right.