Saturday 10 December 2016

Airfix Sea Vixen 48th scale - fitting the undercarriage (7)

Part 7 of my Sea Vixen build.  This build has been sitting on the 'shelf of doom' since February 2011!   Nearly six years since this kit was released and I last touched it here ...err, what happened ?! Still, I'm on a roll with kits from the 'shelf of doom' this year, this is the fourth to be retrieved and with this post I've equalled last year's post count..

Last time I put the Vixen down I was struggling with the flaps, where the fit is poor and then the wing-fold option - a kit like this with so many options left me struggling to make up my mind how I wanted it to look. But now I have the lower surfaces painted and masked up for the EDSG and the gear is fitted - so far so good with the 'weighted' nose.

Completed model is here

Monday 5 December 2016

AZ Model Martin Baker MB 5 in 72nd scale in-box first look build review

The Martin Baker M.B. 5 or "V" otherwise known as the MB F.18/39 has been described by some as possibly the pinnacle of UK piston-engine fighter design during WWII. Resembling a 'P-51 on steroids' it was a quite large aircraft, much bigger than a Mustang (37 feet long vs 32 feet) and somewhat longer than a Thunderbolt (36 feet long). It had shorter wings than a P-51. Despite its outward apparent similarity to the Mustang it adopted some of the aerodynamic elements used on that aircraft, but was entirely its own machine. It could easily have been a world-beating fighter. But the fact that it was a piston engine fighter in late 1944 was largely its undoing. A one-off late-war prototype, it was swept away by the new jet fighters, being test flown just as the Meteor was entering service.  James Martin and 'Val' Baker developed five aeroplanes between 1929 and 1944 before specialising in the ejection seat technology for which they are still renowned today. This followed the crash of the M.B. 3 in which pilot 'Val' Baker was killed. The M.B. 5 was developed from the M.B.3, which in turn had been built in response to Air Ministry Spec F.18/39. The aircraft was powered by an enormous Rolls-Royce Griffon 83 V-12 engine developing some 2,340 h.p and had a maximum speed well in excess of 400 m.p.h. The Griffon though was not the most reliable of engines and the story goes that the Griffon engine failed during a demo in front of Sir Winston Churchill which didn't do much for its chances. But this was 1945 and with the end of the war in sight, the writing was most definitely on the wall for all new piston-engine fighters. Ultimately though of course piston engine fighters and other types were still in service for the next war - Korea.

According to the box blurb this is a "Limited run technology" kit.  After a first look at the parts and some dry-run fitting based on a build thread over on BM a few specific points to note ;

1/ the undercarriage bay surrounds seem to be a poor fit. I think the part numbers in the instructions may be incorrect, so make sure you check before applying glue.

2/ Check the rear cockpit bulkhead is square when seated - the modeller is supposed to put the rear bulkhead behind the cockpit floor, not on top of it. If you do that it all seems to fit fine ..

3/  Some comments suggest that the slot for the starboard tailplane had to be raised a bit to match the port, but on my model there seems to be no problem here. Note there are two sets of tailplanes (small and large) and two sets of fin/rudder including the early M.B. 3 -style 'triangular' fin/rudder.

4/ The fuselage halves fit pretty well and, apart from the rear cockpit bulkhead, so do the interior part. The  instrument panel looks neat with some nice raised detail, see the photo of the actual cockpit below. The starboard console seems to have been molded the wrong way round, but otherwise looks pretty neat. It should be possible to replicate the array of dials on this console with some slithers of sliced clear sprue.

5/ The intake below the spinner is very poor, not sure what to do about this. The wing halves are butt-joined as is the wing to fuselage join.

6/ The single piece canopy is rather thick and may not fit very well. The solution here would appear to be to cut it open..

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 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.