New 1:72 Jet Provost T.3/T.3a, Beaufighter and MkVII Whitley


Welcome to this seventh edition of the Airfix Workbench blog, where we allow the modeller an insight into all the latest news and information from the exciting world of Airfix. In this latest edition, we are pleased to be able to bring you more new model tooling news, along with updates and upgrade information on two other recently announced model kits.

We are now two weeks closer to the IPMS Scale Model World Exhibition at Telford, which is only five weeks away. As you already know, members of the Airfix team will be in attendance on both days of the show and there will definitely be something of interest for you on the Airfix stand. As well as displaying new model prototypes that have appeared in previous editions of Workbench, we will also be making a BIG new tooling announcement to mark our attendance at the show! We look forward to meeting many of you at Telford and think that we will have something extremely interesting to show you!



New for 2016 - Jet Provost T.3/T.3a in 1/72nd scale (A02103)

By their nature, aircraft used in the training of new pilots tend to come into contact with many more people from the world of aviation than other types of aircraft, and as a consequence are generally viewed with great affection. It is usual to find that pilots both young and old will have a particular affinity with the training aircraft in which they learned to fly, but these machines also tend to be the ones most likely to allow members of the general public to simply experience the delights of flying, further increasing their popularity.



Attractive computer rendered 3D image of the new 1/72nd scale Jet Provost T.3 model


Over recent years the Airfix catalogue has benefited from a number of new model announcements, many of which fall squarely into the description of classic British training aircraft – we have seen new tooling releases of the de Havilland Tiger Moth, the Vampire T.11 and the Folland Gnat, all in 1/72nd scale, with the Gnat also appearing in the larger 1/48th scale. To continue this highly successful series, we are proud to announce the new Hunting Percival (BAC) Jet Provost T.3/T.3a tooling in 1/72nd scale (A02103), which will be a superb addition to the Airfix range of British training aircraft.

For aviation enthusiasts of a certain age, the unmistakable profile of the BAC Jet Provost will be extremely familiar to them, as the aircraft served the RAF faithfully in the role of pilot trainer for well over thirty years. In the days when the Royal Air Force was much larger than it is today and a large number of air bases were dedicated to the training of future front line pilots, the Jet Provost was a familiar sight in Britain’s skies. Even though these days are now sadly long gone, there are still a number of these classic training aircraft being operated on the civil register and available for Airshow bookings, as either a flying or static display item. With over 740 Jet Provost trainers constructed, the T.3/T.3a version(s) of the aircraft was the most produced variant of the type, which went on to equip RAF training command. Distinctive by the rather roomy side-by side arrangement for pilot and student, the fuselage of the Jet Provost was rather wide and actually resulted in the engine needing to be mounted on a secondary internal structure of steel tubing. This seating arrangement was seen as being much more appropriate for RAF pilot training and followed on almost seamlessly from the cockpit design of the earlier Piston Provost trainer.

Classic 1960s RAF jet trainer – Airfix Style



Rear three-quarters view of the computer rendered 3D Jet Provost


Even though the new 1/72nd scale Airfix Jet Provost T.3(a) tooling will delight modellers with an interest in classic jet training aircraft, there is absolutely nothing classic about the production techniques used during the new model's development. Utilising the very latest CAD design technology Airfix have at their disposal, this new Jet Provost will be a highly detailed, highly accurate model of one of Britain’s most important post war aircraft. Since Workbench began describing the impressive design processes now used during the development of new models at Airfix, we have received lots of complimentary feedback on how interesting you find these details. In order not to continually re-affirm these details in future blogs, we intend to let the pictures do the talking unless anything specific requires further explanation.

As with all of the new model development projects, the Jet Provost kit began life as a series of research files which are exhaustively produced, ensuring that they contain as much information as possible. In this case, the design team were fortunate enough to have access to highly accurate technical drawings from the Hunting Percival design department – this information was then digitised to produce the critical base model files, which are used as a template for the entire project. These files can be checked, altered and verified for accuracy, before they are used as a template to produce each individual part of the new model, ensuring that they not only incorporate the required levels of detail, but also to make sure the parts are produced specifically around the strict manufacturing tolerances associated with the injection moulding industry.

Fortunately for the Airfix team, there are a number of preserved Provost airframes still in the UK and they had the ability to check the accuracy of their base model files by measuring an actual example of the aircraft, to ensure that their new model tooling would be as accurate a scale representation as they could possibly achieve.



1/72nd scale Jet Provost T.3/T.3a base model screen grab


The image included above shows one of the base model screen grabs and really does illustrate the high level of detail that these impressive files contain. Every facet of the design and shape of the Jet Provost is accurately represented in digital form and can be checked against the technical drawings, photographs, or the scaled down dimensions of the actual aircraft as required.



Computer rendered 3D image of the new 1/72nd scale Airfix Jet Provost



Computer rendered 3D image of the new 1/72nd scale Airfix Jet Provost


As interesting as these images may be, it is when the designers release the fantastic computer rendered 3D images of their new model that things really begin to take shape and the model begins to seem real. These images are an important step in the design process and not only provide an illustration of what the finished model may look like, but are also now used for catalogue purposes, if box artwork has yet to be completed. Again, it is important to stress that we are sharing this information much earlier in the design process than was previously the case and are actually allowing us to see images of their new models at the point when they have only just been released for tooling production.



Image G – The new Jet Provost T.3/T.3a will be a welcome addition to the range


The new 1/72nd scale Jet Provost T.3/T.3a is a spectacular addition to the range of RAF training aircraft models that have been produced recently by Airfix. The model will benefit from detailed cockpit section, alternate canopy positions, choice of undercarriage positions and the distinctive wing tip-tanks associated with the JP. It will certainly be an extremely popular addition to the Airfix 1/72nd scale kit range. As the model is currently scheduled for a September 2016 release, we look forward to bringing you regular updates as the model advances through the production process.




Bristol Beaufighter Mk. X (late) version announced (A05043)

Computer rendered 3D image showing the late model Beaufighter Mk.X


A great many modellers will have been delighted to see that this year's Airfix catalogue included details of a newly tooled example of the mighty Bristol Beaufighter Mk.X, which was arguably the most effective heavy fighter/strike aircraft of the war. As is often the case with these new projects, the catalogue included computer rendered 3D images of the new model, which really raised the excitement levels as it highlighted the impressive levels of detail that had been incorporated into this new 1/72nd scale tooling.

Although the Bristol Beaufighter actually entered RAF service as the Battle of Britain was just beginning and it was originally intended as a heavy fighter, it was to blossom as a long range maritime strike fighter for Coastal Command. The Mk. X version of the Beaufighter was the last major development of the aircraft and armed with rockets and torpedoes, it took a heavy toll of Axis shipping, operating in large formations and developing aggressive tactics which proved so effective, that shipping movements were restricted to night sailings only.


Beaufighter Mk.X Tooling Updates



The darker areas of this computer rendered 3D image show the new, alternative parts for the late model aircraft

Although still a Mk. X version of the Bristol Beaufighter, the later production aircraft of this series included a number of improvements and alterations which gave the aircraft a very different appearance. The most distinctive of these was the addition of a large dorsal fin fillet, which greatly increased the directional stability of the aircraft. There was also a ‘thimble’ nose A.1 Mk.VIII radar, which gave the aircraft much enhanced target acquisition capabilities.

Other improvements associated with this version of the aircraft included new rocket rails, which carried the projectiles in two banks of two, one rocket above the other and increased the accuracy of rocket attacks. There was also an additional 200-gallon drop tank, a new tail wheel suspension system and large spinners on the propeller hubs. A re-positioning of the gun camera to a new position high on the fuselage, just behind the cockpit canopy was the final improvement which visually altered the appearance of the late mark Beaufighter X aircraft – each one of these modifications has been faithfully produced by the Airfix designers to allow this distinctive version of the Beaufighter to be modelled. This beautiful collection of computer rendered 3D model images clearly highlights the newly tooled pieces for this version of the Beaufighter and will have modellers desperate to get their hands on this attractive new kit.



Test sprue image details of the Bristol Beaufighter Mk.X kit



Test sprue image, showing the alternative parts for the late mark version

Although the decal options for the new Beaufighter kit have not been finalised yet, we know that one of the options will be for an RAF aircraft which was involved in Operation Firedog – between 1948 and 1960, the RAF were involved in mounting strike operations to counter a Guerrilla uprising in Malaya, which involved a number of late mark Beaufighter Mk.X aircraft. Again, as we are sharing this information with you rather early in the production process, we hope to bring you a number of project updates in future editions of Workbench, before the model is released towards the middle of 2016. Until then, these rather appealing CAD images will have to keep us going!



Stunning computer rendered 3D image detailing the alternative parts for the late Mk. X version of the Beaufighter



Whitley Mk.VII Coastal Command



Profile artwork of Whitley Mk.V Z9226 of RAF No.10 Squadron


The Airfix Roadshow attended a number of enthusiast events over the summer months, which allowed us the valuable opportunity to speak to modellers and listen to their comments. As we displayed a number of the newly announced future models on our stand for modellers to view, it was interesting to see which ones seemed to be attracting the majority of the attention. Proving to be particularly popular was the impressive 1/72nd scale Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.V bomber – this much anticipated model has now been released and is an extremely welcome addition to our 1/72nd scale WWII bomber kits.

Perhaps not the most famous RAF aircraft of WWII, the Whitley was one of three British medium bombers in service at the outbreak of the Second World War and although it was withdrawn from front line bombing duties following the introduction of heavier, four-engined bombers, it was to see service right through to the end of the war. Certainly displaying design characteristics of aeroplanes from a previous era, many enthusiasts would probably describe the Whitley as being an ungainly, somewhat ugly aircraft, but it certainly is a case of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. The new Airfix kit is a magnificent scale representation of this important RAF aircraft and seems certain to bring the Whitley to the attention of many more enthusiasts.

New Whitley Tooling Updates Announced



Computer rendered 3D image of the Coastal Command Mk.VII Whitley


As modellers are now building the first Airfix Whitley models, we are pleased to announce the future release of a modified tooling version of this fantastic kit, which will allow the modeller to produce some of the later incarnations of the Whitley. The Mk. VII version of the aircraft proved to be a highly successful, dedicated patrol aircraft for Coastal Command, in their battle against the U-boat menace. The aircraft was adapted to carry significantly more fuel for longer-ranging patrols to be undertaken, but also included the installation of the ASV Mk.II radar (Air to Surface Vessel), which greatly increased the ability of the Whitley to detect U-boats.



Computer rendered 3D image of the Coastal Command Mk.VII Whitley



Computer rendered 3D image of the Coastal Command Mk.VII Whitley


Externally, the MK.VII Whitleys were quite different from their predecessors. The rather slab-sided construction of the Whitley made it an ideal recipient of the array of side mounted radar antenna aerials, which were augmented by four distinctive ‘stickleback’ dorsal radar masts – the Coastal Command Whitleys were certainly rather distinctive aircraft. In November 1941, a Coastal Command Whitley sank U-206 in the Bay of Biscay, which proved to be the first success for the ASV Mk.II radar.



Test sprue image, showing the alternative parts for the Whitley Mk.VII


This new Whitley upgrade will not only allow the modeller to build the distinctive Coastal Command version of the aircraft, but also includes additional parts to finish the Whitley as a troop transport, or freight carrying version of the aircraft.



Rendered 3D Image showing the unusual transport version of the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.VII



Rendered 3D Image showing the unusual transport version of the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.VII



Rendered 3D Image showing the unusual transport version of the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.VII

As you can see from the computer rendered 3D image above, this version has faired over front and rear turret positions and is a really unusual version of the rather unusual looking Armstrong Whitworth Whitley. This additional tool will certainly appeal to many modellers and we look forward to bringing you further details of this project as it progresses towards release, which is scheduled for August 2016.

That’s it for our latest edition of Workbench. Some of our readers may already be building the new Whitley model and it would be great to have your feedback, or better still, images of your finished models on one of the Airfix social channels.

We now have a Workbench thread on the Airfix Forum for you to get involved with all the latest Airfix developments, news and suggestions. Alternatively, you could also drop us a line on either Facebook or Twitter using #airfixworkbench - the Airfix team are always interested to hear what you think.

See you next time


The Airfix Workbench Team


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