Red box ramble – Airfix’s 1/72 MkI Blenheim – Part One

Hi folks.

A little soirée through Airfix’s MkI Blenheim in 1/72 has beckoned, after I went up into the loft recently to look for a side project I could run parallel with a current AMW build. Scanning through possible selections from several manufacturers, those red boxes and their beautiful artwork proved, as they often do, too much to resist and this occasion was no exception.

The kit was originally bought with Xtradecals X72202 sheet and it’s inclusion of the ‘UQ’ desert scheme option, which promised to be great fun and a fine weathering target.

As many will already know, these kits, lovely as they are, need meticulous clean up of every edged surface before committing to glue – something that happily goes hand in hand with a newly acquired bluetooth speaker and an extensive modelling playlist on the iPhone.

As an aside, I routinely hang the entire kit out on pins tacked into the surrounding shelves – it makes for quick and easy parts access. More complex kits have their sprues marked with their individual letters via taped fluorescent Post-It notes, again for quick ID. I find the practice space saving, as the kit parts don’t hang over items necessary for building as a rule and if exceptionally they do, then it’s easy to keep said item on the bench itself.

A kind soul on Britmodeller posted the following pair of images of ‘UQ’ he’d retrieved from IWM archives.

1 and 2 – After circumnavigating all the edges and levelling out the imperfections, a taped test fit of the rear fuselage into the wing section was useful in throwing up the overly tight marriage that was clearly going to need easing.

3 – The consequence of this was visible underneath, with a gap between the rear and mid bomb bay sections.

4 – In tandem with this, the upper fuselage carries tabs that need to slip over the ‘spar’ when the fuselage is able to slide further forwards.

5 – Changing tack briefly, this deliberately lit shot shows a raised lip of plastic that needs filing flat, as per the nacelle front face below it. These occurrences of surplus plastic are a feature of the kit and need to be ruthlessly eliminated.

6 – Seen from above, the mating surfaces along the wing join have been slowly adjusted with a little scraping from a No.11 blade and 1200 grit abrasive. Even so, comparison with the wing trailing edge and fuselage wing fillet still shows the need to enable the fuselage to slide forwards just a little more to produce a smooth curve, one into the other.

7 – A small surprise to discover the wing tip lamp covers are solid plastic. This will never do, so the errant portions will be amputated and clear sprue blocks glued in and filed and polished to shape a bit later down the build.

8 – Call me old fashioned but Francois Verlinden was advocating removal of the so called ‘alignment pins’ back in the late ’70s and I still do it today. With everything ‘loose’, fit can be tweaked with much more abandon. In addition, the parts were rotationally sanded on a piece of 1200 grit on a heavy sheet of bevelled plate glass. This always leads to the closest possible joint and minimises the need for glue.

9 – A small incremental improvement is the removal of the moulded rudder actuators. A small hole will be drilled in the fairings and fine, stretched sprue used for a fully 3D rendition.

10 – The alignment pin massacre extended to the wings and gave an immediate improvement in fit.

11 – As the chosen decal option is a desert bird and carried tropical filters, some Barracuda Cast resin, along with their replacement wheels and a black vinyl mask set have since flown in from those folks in Lowestoft.

Expect glue and paint in the next thrilling instalment!

 

TTFN

Steve

 

Big Red

One of the attractions in writing for Airfix Model World, is not knowing quite what might be heading down the ‘next project pipe’ that points in my direction. When you’ve just dressed up the big Tamiya Mosquito with a selection of brass and resin, why would Airfix’s 1/72 Autocar and F1 fuel trailer in civilian ‘Esso’ guise, seem a likely choice?

And therein lies the joy – a sharp change of pace, a departure (at least in part) from weathering and the chance to re-visit a kit previously built in US military service and refine it some.

The results are out now in the September edition of AMW.

 

AMW Sept 17

 

 

 

Bad Wolf

 

 

Airfix 1/72 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I

Mask-meister Mal Mayfield joins the guest list today with his diminutive Spitfire Mk.I from the Airfix revised tooling. Mal has championed the cause of masks over decals for many years and can be rightly considered the hobby’s number one choice for custom masks.

His top drawer skills are married to his preferred choice of masking material, a closely guarded secret for its ability to be cut in fine, intricate patterns, without shrinkage (a common problem with other vinyl options). Mal has created many bespoke masking sets for modellers that appreciate being able to apply the finishing markings just as they were created on the full size originals. Of course, it’s one thing to have the mask creation aspect sorted, you also need instructions…and Mal’s must be among the most explicitly clear and comprehensive you’ll find anywhere.

I’ve used home spun masks myself in 1/72 and am long since sold on the inherent superiority of paint over decals. With several of Mal’s sets in the bunker, I can’t wait to re-visit the pleasure they provide, when you sit back and enjoy the results.

In Mal’s own words.

“Spitfire Mk I, K9998 QJ-K, the 211th Spitfire built out of the first order for 212. Pilot was Geoffrey Wellum, the youngest pilot to fly spitfires during the Battle of Britain and this was the first Spitfire that he flew. All markings are painted on (of course).

Geoffrey Wellum lives just up the road from me and I have had a conversation with him about this spitfire and I am currently building a 1/32 scale version which will incorporate the details that he has told me about. Actually it will be the second one that I have built as the first one is wrong; that one resides in the Mullion heritage centre.

This aircraft still had the pole type antenna, so this model is wrong in that respect, it also still retained the pump up undercarriage mechanism. Geoffrey Wellum mentions this in his book, “First Light” which is a great read and I have a signed copy.”

 

Bad Wolf

“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.

614 Xmas 1944

‘Altair’, finally on the flight line.

91Altair

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…

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.