Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Airfix new-tool B-17 G Flying Fortress in-box first look - 214 Sqd, 100 Group RAF "spooks"

Just got back from Turner's Models in Dover with the latest addition to the stash - the new-tool Airfix B-17 G Fortress. Inspired by Tony O'Toole's build on BM I'm planning this one as a Bomber Command aircraft; a 214 Sqd Fortress III with H2S radome and ABC aerial. Note the H2S radome on the clear sprue  above - this replaced the chin turret on the Forts used by Bomber Command in the comms jamming role. So it certainly appears that Airfix are planning a Bomber Command version at  some stage. In the meantime I will be building this as 214 Sqd Fortress III "BU-W" serial KH999 mounting an ABC aerial and the H2S radome. Decals for this machine are available via DK decals "100 Group" set..

Other than a brief flirtation with the Fortress I in 1941 Bomber Command showed little interest in the B-17 as British types could carry greater loads - even the twin-engined Mossie could carry a bigger load to Berlin than the Fortress! However the B-17 had good endurance and could fly high so was considered for a new role in the RAF - radio counter measures (RCM). The US 8th AF supplied surplus Forts to Bomber Command's 100 Group and in January 1944 the first machines flew into Sculthorpe in Norfolk to begin RAF crew training, 214 Sqd being one of the RAF's last Stirling units. The first ops were flown during April 1944. Bristling with aerials the Fortresses flew at 25,000 ft jamming enemy radar and disrupting the voice comms used to direct Luftwaffe night fighters.

In total some 80-odd Fortress IIIs were assigned to the RAF (some of which were reassigned back to the USAAC). Working principally from Freeman/Osbourne and the wonderful 214 Sq website, but also other sources like the Streetly 100 Group book it has been established that some 43 Fortress IIIs were assigned to 214 Squadron.

Below;  a Fortress Mk II, B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number KJ118) in RAF service. Handwritten on reverse : 'KJ118'

Sunday, 27 November 2016

new tool 1:72nd Revell F4U Corsair - build review (2) - Jim Streig VF-17 ace

well, it was a new-tool when I first started this build in January 2015 - I guess no longer, now that I've just finished it in November 2016! ..another one rescued from the 'shelf of doom'..a neat kit, one or two little inaccuracies but nothing too major to worry about and apart from the nine-part wing went together quite well. finished in the markings of 'ace' Jim Streig of VF-17

As usual I've missed something out before proceeding to the 'photo-shoot' (prop stencils)  but still. I'm not much of a 'weatherer'  - this has been finished with some light oil washes ...especially to tone down the decals.

Part I of this build including the box/sprue shots is here If you want to watch a 'pro' modeller build and finish this kit then watch Dusan's video below, a single click to view here..

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Airfix announce new-tool 1:72 Scale McDonnell Douglas FG.1 Phantom II HMS Ark Royal McDonnell Phantom FGR 1 892 NAS

Airfix in latest 2017 announcement shock, the 1:72 Scale McDonnell Douglas FG.1 Phantom II. " Seen here as a 3D CAD render and also as our first Stereo lithography sample..We announced this new addition to the Airfix 2017 range Live at the IPMS Scale Model Work show at Telford on 12/11/2016..."


Great to see details like the separate leading edge flaps and open radome along with a great load of rocket pods! From BM forum, " ...a quick chat with the designer earlier confirms they are designing with a view to several releases. Mock up on stand had both types of tail planes, RAF specific load out and rounded tail fin. Expect all variants of Spey phantom at some point.."

Phantom FGR 1 XV 567 892 Naval Air Squadron, Malta 1973. Fantastic load-out of rocket pods. Rare to see anything other than tanks on the outer pylons. Photos by David's World on Flickr

HMS Ark Royal McDonnell Phantom FGR 1 892 NAS with Blackburn Buccaneer S.Mk.2B XT286 809 NAS 1972

HMS Ark Royal (R09) Operating with USS Forrestal (CV59) 1972

David's World Flickr page is here
My own British Phantom page on this blog (over 80 photos) is here

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Night-fighting 'porcupines'! Lt. Klaus Bretschneider´s Focke Wulf 190 Nachtjäger of 6./JG 300 - Airfix Fw 190 in 72nd scale

Another new-tool Airfix Fw 190 A in the markings of JG 300 ace Klaus Bretschneider with added FuG 217 aerials (from florists wire) and markings from EagleCals. I haven't tried any of the small scale Eduard 190s yet, but this new-tool from Airfix is probably just as competent and a much easier build.  Bretschneider  flew through the 'wilde Sau' (wild boar) night fighting period with 6. Staffel. JG 300 and his machine was 'Yellow 1 N',  a 'porcupine' as the pilots referred to them - a FuG 217 Neptun radar-equipped Fw 190 A-7.

Above;  'Yellow 1 N', seen at Rheine during early 1944.  Note Bretschneider's victory markings on the rudder and the absence of head armour in the cockpit. The photo above was one of the many photographic highlights of Vol I of the two volume history of JG 300 written by Jean-Yves Lorant and Richard Goyat - the authors kindly sent me a copy as thanks for my contribution to their work. (See my 'wilde Sau und Moskito-Jagd' article in Model Aircraft Monthly, June and July 2014, some details here ) The image depicts  II./ JG 300 mechanic Wilhelm Beissel seated on the horizontal stabiliser. Camouflage netting has been partially unfurled over the forward fuselage and the wings. The ground crew have carefully avoiding covering the antennae of the FuG 217 Neptun radar which are set obliquely across the upper wing surfaces and in the MG cowl cover. The JG 300.de website has the '1' in red and this is obviously not the case for 6.Staffel machine. A few questions though; is there a II.Gruppe bar present on the fuselage band - in yellow? Probably yes -as per the drawings on the Eduard site for their 'Dual combo' Fw 190 nightfighters posted below - although not visible in the photo because the yellow appears 'dark' on the type of film used. I should perhaps have added it, although EagleCals don't - and they were obviously working with the authors who located the original photo of this machine. Did Bretschneider's A-7 feature outer-wing MGs - almost certainly yes, but could the armament have been retained with the aerials in situ? I've also painted the tips of the antennae in red, although perhaps this is not correct.

Below; Fritz Krauze's NJG 10 FuG 217 equipped A-6/7. A well-known photo to help with the placement of the aerials

Above; close-up of the wild boar emblem from EagleCals as seen on this 6./JG 300 night fighter. Note the red letter 'N' for 'Nacht' (or Night) utilised by JG 300 during the wilde Sau period. M. Lorant wrote to say that as it happens he has recently spent some darkroom time on this same image  The original wartime print measured just 2,5 cms x 4 cms (!) and was slightly out of focus. M. Lorant has been able to 'clean up' the photo in good enough quality to be able to identify the Werknummer. Close examination of the digital version of the photo negative allows the viewer to discern the last five digits - 40300. For Bretschneider's A-7 this gives us a WNr. of 340300. The 'enhanced' image is reproduced here courtesy M. Lorant. Click on the image below to see a close-up.


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Airfix Grumman Martlet in 72nd scale - Operation Torch (2) No 888 Squadron Fleet Air Arm

Below; a Grumman Martlet naval fighter of No 888 Squadron Fleet Air Arm taking off from the deck of HMS Formidable in the Mediterranean during 1942. 'FN 142' - the subject of the Airfix kit - may have been a 893 Sqd machine, also on Formidable. The Imperial War museum's 'Fleet air Arm archive is here 

Another neat Airfix new-tool. Buy one..and build it! The only slightly tricky area was joining the fuselage halves. The wing fold option was a little awkward with no real positive location points. I thought it would be interesting to feature one wing fold and leave the other deployed which was possible on the Martlet and quite often seen. From the earlier Wildcat which I built at the start of the year here, Airfix have provided parts to lengthen the forward fuselage and these fitted well but a little filler was needed - I don't think there was a visible seam line here on the real aircraft. One detail I've missed is the engine crank case which must be fixed with the `attachment' facing upwards and not down as it shows in the instructions. Otherwise, having stared at pics of the real thing, I think the windscreen is a little too long and the fuselage spine behind the cockpit a little too 'fat'..but not enough to detract from the appearance of the finished model. The windscreen also needs a rear view mirror - I fabricated mine by simply leaving the plastic sprue tab attached to the part..

Note the carrier code isn't 0 (zero) or O (Latin alphabet) but Ø (Greek letter Phi) Phi is F;  F for  carrier HMS Formidable.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

new-tool Airfix Grumman Martlet - Operation 'Torch' build review (1)

summer's over here in ' the garden of England' after a good two months of fine and dry and at times very hot weather - time to get back to the bench. Easing myself back in gently with another new tool from Airfix in 72nd scale..

The Martlet is an excellent choice of subject by Airfix (market gap) and features nice decals and, like the F4F-4, a lovely degree of detail. I've seen some comments about the accuracy of the transparency of the Airfix Martlet/Wildcat, apparently some can't see past the the incorrect profile of the cockpit canopy (it flattens towards the rear rather than being parallel like the Hurricane's). But to be honest it doesn't bother me overly. There are two engine cowlings in the kit; the correct cowling and the fuselage extension that is required for the Mk.IV are on a new sprue.

There's at least one thread running on Britmodeller, plus the Airfix website that show the modified cowling. The initial release was a Martlet Mk.III/F4F-4 with the twin-row Pratt and Whitney engine, and a longer narrowing cowling. The new one is a Martlet Mk.IV with the wider single-row Cyclone engine, with a shorter more cylindrical cowling, and an adaptation piece lengthening the forward fuselage.

Fuselage parts prepped and ready to be closed up. In the images above I've slightly departed from the construction sequence for the undercarriage- which is very fiddly -  to make sure everything is lined up correctly. The wings are fairly straightforward - building this with one wing folded as could be seen with Martlets. Kit markings options for operation Torch..

If you suffer from AMS and want to dismember the rather 'disappointing' (their words, not mine) new Airfix Wildcat/Martlet then check out this link. Some superb references, artwork and modelling here!