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

Hi folks.

A little soirĂ©e 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!