“A Voice From The Stars – a pathfinder’s story”

Hi folks:

Here’s a brief mention of ‘Altair’, one Liberator of (I believe) more than 19,000 built that after initial service with the USAAF, was passed to the RAF and found herself a Pathfinder aircraft with 614 Squadron in Amendola, Italy.

She was piloted by Australian Tom Scotland, who I had the pleasure and privilege of corresponding with over the project until he passed away on August 15, 2012. Regrettably, all his wartime photos of ‘Altair’ were stolen in a satchel he had in a car outside his home in Oz, so the rendition here is compiled from my detailed quizzing of Tom’s memory, who fielded my persistence with remarkable patience.
My brother Nick commissioned the build more years ago than I can bear to admit to here, the motivating factor being that ‘Altair’ was the home to our uncle, Ted Budd, while he trained under Tom in the Pathfinder role.

Tom, in the cockpit of his Halifax.

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Ted successfully completed his training and was assigned to another crew. It was a routine flight in February 1945, that headed out over a winter Adriatic, that his Liberator iced up and began to auger in, seemingly out of control. The pilot clearly felt as such and gave the order to bail out. The great irony was that Liberators were not particularly easy aircraft to exit in an emergency but Ted and a crew mate nonetheless made it out. Almost as soon as they popped silk, the pilot rescinded the order when the Libby came back under control (presumably the de-icing boots finally succeeded in shifting the ice) but it was too late for Ted and his crew mate who’s life expectancy in winter waters would have been measured in minutes. Despite considerable efforts, their bodies were never found. I recently visited The National Archives at Kew, England with Nick and found the official 614 Squadron record of the icing incident.

Happily, Tom has three sons living in Australia and Nick and I have been in touch again to confirm their dad’s bird is now in print (Chris Clifford, editor of Airfix Model World, kindly agreed to publish the piece, which appeared in Issue 74, January 2017).

Issue 74

As my brother Nick remarked on Facebook –

“Well, here is my late relative Ted Budd’s 1944/45 Liberator in 2016 glory. Massive thanks to my brother Steven Budd, who has faithfully replicated ‘Altair’ in tribute to Flight Sergeant Ted Budd and Flying Officer Tom Scotland. This is essentially the end game to a 10 year research of one ordinary guy’s contribution, amongst hundreds of thousands of ordinary guys contributions, who were caught up in this momentous time in our history. If I would have known at the outset what I would subsequently find out about a little known relative I would never have believed it.

It’s not beyond exaggeration to say it’s fairy-tale like in what I have been so fortunate to have learned. Our family’s vague understanding of Ted’s sad death passed down the decades, only to be resolved by a one in a million response by someone who had read the privately published Australian book ‘Voice from the Stars’.

Voice From The Stars

That was the introduction to late Flying Officer Tom Scotland DFC and an emailed response saying ‘Hi Nick, yes I knew your relative’….’I talk about him in my book’. Ted’s previously misunderstood death being resolved in the chapter simply entitled ‘Budd’. This was and continues to be an emotive journey and one that has now come to an end. I do wish our Aunt Eve, Ted’s mother was around to have learnt all this. But, given the almost spiritual-like guiding nature of where this story took me and Tom’s book being called ‘Voice from the Stars’, I don’t think I need worry too much on this last sentimental postscript.”

Ted Budd (on the right).

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Ted enjoyed his last Christmas with the squadron in December, 1944. Here, the printed menu for 614, as the notion of victory in Europe finally started to gain real traction in allied minds.

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‘Altair’, finally on the flight line.

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The nose markings were created by Mike Grant, quite some time ago and I acknowledge his great kindness here, in temporarily coming out of ‘custom decal retirement’ to respond to my pleading.

The tail codes were sourced from a generic Xtradecals sheet and the national markings and individual aircraft letter, were created from home spun masks and sprayed.

Weathering the olive drab will form the subject of a separate ‘How To’ at a later date.

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The otherwise plain and unadorned waist interior was given a gentle leg up with a little scratched and patched plastic nic nacs.

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If my pursuit of Nicolson’s ‘Red Devil’ or Roscoe Brown’s ‘Bunnie / Miss Kentucky State’ has taught me anything, it’s this; the machines are nothing without the stories and experiences of the men and women connected to them. Whether it’s an aircraft, ship, tank, car, motorcycle or something else, all are the product of human endeavour, all have a story to tell, perhaps more than one, perhaps several or thousands.

Modelling can, if you let it, become the catalyst for explorations and adventures far beyond that attractive box art and catapult you in directions you never imagined and bring you into contact with people who might otherwise have remained strangers.

Until next time…

Wingnut Wings 1/32 Fokker E.III (Late)

The impending advent of a brand new model company, comparatively infrequent though it is, always causes a tsunami of excitement amongst plastaholics. That this one pertained to WWI aviation, in arguably that genre’s ideal scale – 1/32 and was backed and bank rolled by Peter Jackson and underpinned by the world class expertise of PJ’s The Vintage Aviator Ltd, was pure jam on top of jam, swamped in cream, with a side order of a bucket of custard.

The launch advertisements gave promise of a ‘Hisso’ engined SE5a, Bristol F2B, Junkers J.1 and an LVG C.VI. WWI modellers were beside themselves when the kits were announced and many in need of hospitalisation in the immediate wake of kit reviews of the extant plastic, brass and sundries. Wallets were emptied and non-essential body parts sold (not all of which, legally owned by the vendor) to fund the hunger for these exquisite jewels of the kit maker’s art.

More remarkable still, there was no real teething issues with the kits (beyond a minor and resolvable query connected to the J.1’s aileron length). It was as though they had been in business for decades – right from the outset. Fit and engineering were exemplary. Accuracy beyond reproach. Quality the equal of Tamiya. The instructions were a revelation; heavy, glossy paper, colour coded directions and reference photographs! Wingnut Wings did not merely feed the appetites of existing WWI buffs – they drew in many new converts and remain today an object lesson for all other companies, established and fledgling, in delivering top drawer kits at fair prices.

It wasn’t long before I had a dozen or more of these beauties in the stash and when editor, Chris Clifford offered the late Eindecker E.III for my third AMW build I snapped his hand off, simultaneously discovering that mild concussion nodding ‘yes’ is indeed a medical reality.

The build was a joy and our courtship, a flurry of rose petals and softly whispered sweet nothings, until we both lay back on consummation of our lust, sated and happy. “I wonder if she has a sister?” I naughtily pondered and indeed she has – three, an E.I, an E.II / III (early) and an E.IV. All this might suggest that that concussion should’ve received medical attention but ‘once a Wingnutter, always a Wingnutter’ and I remain incurably and incorrigibly smitten.

Laminated wooden propellors have several methods of creation. This may be the first and only time AK Interactive’s ‘Track Wash’ has been used in this capacity. The first layer dried rapidly and just one more application (and the Mk.I steady hand) created the dark lamination seen here.

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The kit readily lends itself to sub-assembly methods of construction.

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There are various ways of approaching Fokker’s signature ‘beaten metal’ cowl decoration but I chose Alclad II ALC103 Aluminium as a base with Tamiya’s Chrome Silver brushed on top. From ‘viewing distance’ (not as close here) it works effectively to convey that type of finish.

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Rigging was a combination of Bob’s Buckles, Gas Patch fittings, and Japanese Reflo monofilament fishing line (very soft, flexible and strong).

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It’s not many kits that include a teddy bear in the presentation…

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Even Wingnut’s rigging diagram wasn’t enough to convince me of the correct rigging layout, so a trip to the Science Museum in London was a suitable excuse to unravel the conundrum via their E.III example.

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Bad Wolf

 

1/48 Zoukei-Mura McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II

Chris is a fellow Airfix Model World (AMW) contributor and as you can see, a great modeller! ‘Crisp, controlled and characterful’ define builds from CJ’s stable and his delicious Phantom is a prime example of that.

It’s a privilege to call him friend and I recommend you look out for him in future editions of AMW!

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Bad Wolf

1/48 Hasegawa Hawker Typhoon

Jon is a great friend and a wonderful guy. He’s also a very accomplished modeller with a wide clientele of loyal commission purchasers and this, coupled to his amazing output, means he’s also very practiced.

Given a predilection towards experimentation, Jon has given himself huge opportunity to explore what he likes and to push the boundaries with commission subjects he might not otherwise have covered. It’s been a sincere joy to see his abilities and the quality he produces just go skywards and that looks set to continue, as he incorporates aspects of the ‘Spanish School’  of finishing into his models. Here’s one I really love from his current crop – a quarter scale Tiffie in the European scheme.

The other thing I particularly enjoy about this build, is that it was underpinned by the human element and involved (during the commission process), research into the pilot, Squadron Leader Patrick Glynn Thornton-Brown of 609 Squadron and his ultimate fate.

Here’s the link to Jon’s page and the other images – 609 Squadron

I do hope you enjoy this and Jon’s other lovely models.

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Bad Wolf

Tamiya 1/72 F4U-1a

Back in the day my model photography was restricted to a 5mp Canon S50 ‘compact’. A minimum aperture of f8 on manual meant there was little depth a field to play with but the limited technical abilities it had taught me how to wring its neck in squeezing every ounce of performance from it.

Today the S50 is no more and model photography is via Canon’s superb 5D MkIII, usually mated to their 100mm f2.8L Macro MkII. Here’s the S50’s ‘swan song’, a selection of shots of Tamiya’s diminutive Corsair – the first kit to receive more than a token attempt at weathering. Although this was 15 odd years ago, I recall use of oils in breaking up the tone, along with dots of enamel dissolved with a little white spirit.

It reminds me of a wish to return to the ‘bent wing bastard’ again, this time with Tamiya’s cutting edge 1/32 kit.

Happy days.

 

Biggin Hill – 18 August 2015 – ‘The Hardest Day’

When Biggin Hill announced it was convening 17 Spitfires and 5 Hurricanes, as a salute to ‘The Hardest Day’ of the Battle of Britain (September 15, 1940), there weren’t enough wild horses in the world to keep me away. This magnificent turnout was however fewer than the aircraft booked, although memory fails to recall how many Spits and Hurricanes were unable to show on the day.

The participants:

Spitfires

  1. Mk I – AR213
  2. Mk I – X4650
  3. Seafire III – PP972
  4. Mk V – EE602
  5. Mk V – BM597
  6. Mk V – EP120
  7. Mk IX – RR232
  8. Mk IX – MK356
  9. Mk IX – TA805
  10. Mk IX – MH434
  11. T IX – MJ627
  12. T IX SM520
  13. T IX – ML407
  14. Mk XI – PL965
  15. Mk XIV MV293
  16. Mk XVI RW382
  17. Mk XVI – TE184

 

Hurricanes

  1. Sea Hurricane I -Z7015
  2. Hurricane I/X – AE977
  3. Hurricane I – R4118
  4. Hurricane IIc – PZ865
  5. Hurricane XII – P3700/Z5140

 

Wildcard

  1. P-51D – G-SHWN

Airfix 1/24 ‘Car Door’ Hawker Typhoon

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.

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Before application of the individual aircraft letter.

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After application of the individual aircraft letter.

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The three trials aircraft garaged outside in North Africa, 1943.

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When the trials ended in October 1943, DN323 was repainted in what looks like the standard European scheme, before being repatriated back to Britain.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Eduard’s interior etch and Airscale’s lovely decal set were used en masse, together with some wiring to the column.

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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.

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Radu Brinzan etch and Roy Sutherland resin carb cone adorn the radiator.

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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. 45.jpg

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!

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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.

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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.

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The uppers ‘scribbled’ in three stages.

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Decals in full swing.

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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!

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Some useful details – note the ‘edged’ window glass.

Car door window

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.

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Out on the flight line. The model now resides with my earlier ‘bubble top’ build at the Airfix Visitor Centre, in Margate.

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Issue 70 of AMW – available through the Key Publishing Shop or Airfix Model World links in the sidebar on the right.

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