2016 - Review of the Year

A look back at a feature packed year for Airfix Workbench

We would like to extend a very warm and festive welcome to this 37th edition of our Airfix Workbench blog. We hope you have all had an enjoyable Christmas holiday and that Santa managed to increase your kit stash just a little over the past few days. As we find ourselves on the brink of a New Year, this latest edition will be taking a look back over another busy year for Airfix and in particular the previous 25 Workbench blogs we have posted over the past twelve months. We will be looking at some of the many modelling highlights, as well as looking forward to bringing you another year of all the latest developments from the world of Airfix. Before we begin, may we take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very happy and prosperous New Year from everyone on the Workbench team – may your own workbenches be filled with exciting modelling projects in the coming year.

 

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As Workbench looks forward to the new year, we are humbled to say that we continue to attract new readers from all over the world with each new blog posting and we are extremely grateful for your continued and extremely loyal support - the Workbench blog has had nearly 400,000 views during 2016! We would like to extend special thanks to those readers who have helped in the production of our blogs by sending us their build reviews, or allowing us to use pictures of their latest modelling project - your fellow modellers love to see this kind of feature, so please do continue to send them in. We are also interested to receive your Workbench feedback and any suggestions on what you would like to see featured in future editions of our blog. We already know that new tooling announcements are very much top of the tree, but there can only be so many of these in any one year and there is so much more to our beloved hobby. If there is anything you would like to see covered, please do let us know and we will certainly consider every suggestion – our main e-mail address at workbench@airfix.com is always available, as are all our social media channels.

 

From the Victor to the B17-Gimageb

Workbench revealed this rendered 3D CAD image of the Victor B.2 back in 2015

 

There is no doubt that as far as the Workbench team are concerned, 2016 will certainly be remembered as a significant year. Marking the first full year of our development blogs, the past twelve months have allowed us to bring you news and information relating to both new tooling announcements and a full programme of development updates from existing projects. Much of this information has been released exclusively to our readership, who are now not only the first people to find out about these exciting projects, but are also getting the information much earlier in the development process than was previously the case.

Perhaps the model that best illustrates how Workbench has transformed the way we release new tooling project information is the recently released 1/72nd scale Handley Page Victor B.2. Announced at the 2015 Scale ModelWorld show at Telford, the Victor is proving to be one of our most popular new models of recent years and many of our readers will be hoping that their own Victor will be landing on their work station this festive period. Our regular blogs allowed us to keep modellers informed at every stage of this model's development, bringing you updated rendered CAD images, the first test frame component shots, decal scheme details and the much loved box artwork reveals which are usually a clear indication that a model is fast approaching its release date. In the case of the Victor, this proved to be so successful that the initial shipment of kits completely sold out on release, with a second recent shipment looking likely to follow suit in the coming few days.

 

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The 1/48th scale Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I has proved a big hit with modellers

 

Over the past year of blogs we have also seen some of the first models to be announced in Workbench go on to become established features of the Airfix range, and highlight an interesting growth in the popularity of 1/48th scale modelling. At the head of this group and proving to be one of the releases of 2016 was the magnificent Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I, which certainly managed to capture the imagination of the modeller this year. As one of the more interesting aircraft of WWII, the Defiant attempted to combine the manoeuvrability of a fighter with the concentrated firepower of a multi-gun turret more usually associated with the defensive armament of a bomber. Despite some initial successes against the Luftwaffe, the shortcomings of the aircraft as a day fighter were ruthlessly exposed by German fighter units and it was quickly withdrawn from front line units, before proving much more successful as a night-fighter. Whether it is the enigma of the turret fighter concept, or simply the aesthetic appeal of this handsome aeroplane, the detail and accuracy of this 1/48th scale kit ensured that it was an instant hit with the modeller and a fine addition to the Airfix range.

Further new 1/48th scale model kits accompanied the Defiant during 2016, including the Gloster Meteor F.8, the Curtiss P-40B Warhawk and the soon to be released Junkers Ju-87B-1 Stuka, with the promise of more models in this slightly larger scale to come!

 

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The box artwork featured on the new Boeing B-17G release takes inspiration from the Roy Cross original of the 1960s

 

The latest newly tooled model release to hit the hobby stores is something of a WWII classic and marks an aircraft that is very much associated with American military might during the Second World War. First announced way back in the fourth edition of Workbench, the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress is without doubt one of the most famous fighting aircraft in the history of flight and one which has long been a favourite with the plastic modeller. Bristling with machine guns, it was thought that formations of B-17 bombers would put up such a wall of defensive firepower that attacking enemy aircraft would either be destroyed before they could do too much damage, or cause less courageous pilots to break off their attack whilst still out of effective range. Although this did not prove to be quite the case in the skies above Europe, the enigma that was the ‘Flying Fortress’ became established and continues to fascinate to this day.

As with all the latest models to grace the Airfix range, the new B-17G Flying Fortress kit incorporates all the very latest design and tooling advances the injection moulding industry has to offer and is a detailed and faithfully accurate model representation of this famous aircraft. Many modellers will be aware that there has been a B-17 kit in the Airfix range since the early 1960s, indeed many Workbench readers will have probably built the original tooling during their modelling careers and have fond memories of the spectacular Roy Cross artwork that adorned the box lid. Although the new model is a huge improvement over this classic of years past, it does pay homage to the original 1960s release by taking the box artwork as inspiration for the stunning new work, featuring 43-37521 ‘Skyway Chariot’ of 351st BS / 100th BG USAAF Eighth Air Force.

 

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The new B-17G and USAAF re-supply set will have been a popular gift combination this Christmas

 

In a move that has delighted WWII USAAF modellers, the new B-17G kit is also complemented by the release of a superb new bomber re-supply set, which features several support vehicles that were essential to the daily operation of these busy stations during WWII. Adding a new dimension of authenticity to any USAAF diorama display, this set features newly tooled vehicles and equipment that will benefit any WWII US aircraft model build and as 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the first Eighth Air Force bombing raids from Britain, its release could not have been more timely. Both of these new 1/72nd scale kits seem destined to be linked in many a future USAAF model build project.

 

New tooling announcements – Workbench highlights

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Telford collection – the Airfix stand was displaying prototype samples of the newly announced 2017 model toolings

 

There is absolutely no doubt that the most popular feature of our Workbench blogs has always been the exclusive announcement of new model toolings, which is as exciting for the blog team as it is for our loyal readers. Although we would love to bring you this kind of information in every edition, each new tooling announcement represents a significant investment in both time and money for Airfix and with other famous brands in our portfolio also vying for new investment, there are only so many projects that can proceed each year.

As many of last year’s new tooling announcements are now arriving in model stores all over the world, this is an ideal opportunity to look at the latest batch of new model tooling announcements that have illuminated the modelling world over the past few weeks. The first of the 2017 new tooling announcements was made in edition 29 of Workbench, when we unveiled the 1/72nd scale Messerschmitt Me 262 – the world’s first operational jet fighter. Without doubt one of the most important aircraft in the history of aviation, this was joined in subsequent weeks with the announcement of a Supermarine Walrus in 1/48th scale, a P-51D Mustang and Hawker Sea Fury in the same scale and the Telford launch of the new 1/72nd scale British McDonnell Douglas Phantom II. The prototype models from all five of these announcements were available for inspection on the Airfix stand at the recent Scale ModelWorld show at Telford and showed modellers what they can look forward to in 2017.

 

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The Supermarine Walrus is a fantastic addition to the growing 1/48th scale range

 

We know that Workbench readers will have their particular favourites from amongst the recent 2017 tooling announcements, but from enthusiast comments made during the Telford show, it is already looking like our Supermarine Walrus is going to be rather a popular model. In this slightly larger 1/48th scale, the new Walrus is certainly going to be an impressive model and seems destined to transform the reputation of what was one of Supermarine’s most successful aviation designs. Obviously eclipsed by the more famous Spitfire, the Walrus is sometimes viewed as something of an ugly duckling, but was actually one of the most successful aircraft of its type ever produced. Had the helicopter not developed into the most flexible aircraft for search and rescue operations, the Walrus and future developments of the aircraft would have remained in service for much longer than it did. Also excelling as a reconnaissance and naval gunnery spotting aircraft, the single engined Walrus proved to be a robust and reliable workhorse amphibian, which operated in some of the most challenging environments an aircraft was required to serve. Currently scheduled for a July 2017 release, please keep checking future editions of Workbench and the Airfix website for the latest information regarding this exciting new model.

 

Artwork reveals - some Workbench highlights

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This stunning Blenheim Mk.lF artwork was our first reveal of 2016

 

Although new model tooling announcements will always be the No.1 feature of our Workbench blogs, they are run a very close second by another much-loved feature associated with current Airfix model releases – our artwork reveals. Helping to bring our models to life and serving as inspiration on any build project, these artwork reveals show the latest digital masterpiece of artist Adam Tooby who captures the imagination of modellers everywhere with his evocative interpretations. In much the same way that Roy Cross inspired generations of modellers during what are often referred to as the golden years for Airfix, the current box artwork is a valued feature of Airfix model releases and usually indicates that a particular kit is close to appearing in our favourite model shops.

The first new artwork reveal of 2016 came back in January with this dramatic depiction of a nocturnal battle between a Blenheim Mk.1F nightfighter and Luftwaffe Heinkel He-llls somewhere over the east coast of Britain. This was followed by many other pieces of artwork in support of new kit releases, from new tooling and re-issued kits to models featuring alternative parts to previous releases. Whatever the kit, these artworks have now become an established component of the Airfix experience and are incredibly popular features of our Workbench blogs. Workbench readers will be pleased to hear that we hope to bring you many more exclusive artwork reveals throughout 2017.

 

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This fantastic image captures the drama of the Pearl Harbor attack

 

Workbench readers make their mark in 2016

Over the past twelve months, Workbench has been fortunate to include many reader inspired features which have very much enhanced our blog experience - it is clear that modellers like nothing more than finding out what other modellers have been up to and sharing in their build experiences. Throughout 2016 we have included a number of build features for your delectation, along with numerous reader supplied images of their latest project which all underline what a talented bunch you are. It has also been especially rewarding to include build projects which have been inspired by the wartime exploits of former aircrew and how modelling continues to be important to some of our more senior readers. We would like to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who has contributed to Workbench over the past year and helped to make Workbench such an enjoyable read for your fellow modellers – thank you so much.

 

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SEAC Dakota Mk.III build featured in the sixteenth edition of Workbench

 

We hope to continue our Workbench formula throughout 2017, again involving as many of our readers as we possibly can and bringing you new and interesting articles from the world of Airfix modelling. We are going to start 2017 with a little light-hearted feature entitled ‘Flash your Stash’. Many modellers around the world face constant harassment regarding the number of models in the future projects pile and the sanity of amassing so many kits. Desperate to prove that we are not alone, we are looking to share pictures of the most impressive model stockpiles, although under the circumstances, fully understand if modellers wish to remain anonymous with their submissions. Don’t let the dust gather on these plastic pyramids of delights, let’s come out of the modelling room and embrace our beloved hobby – ‘Flash your Stash!’ Please send your pictures to workbench@airfix.com or visit the Airfix Facebook page.

 

An end of year exclusive

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Our first exclusive artwork reveal of 2017 – 1/72nd scale Supermarine Spitfire PR. Mk.XIX A02017A

 

We end this review of Airfix 2016 with the exclusive announcement of a model we can look forward to taking its place in the 2017 kit line-up (A02017A). As you can see from the picture above this also includes the latest box artwork reveal, by way of a little end of year treat from the Airfix Workbench team. The picture features an aircraft that is destined to receive plenty of attention during 2017, as one of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s two Spitfire PR Mk.XIXs has been repainted in this exact scheme for the 2017 Airshow season.

 

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Arguably the ultimate version of the famous Supermarine Spitfire, the unarmed Rolls-Royce Griffon powered PR.XIX reconnaissance aircraft relied on nothing more than speed and stealth to survive in the combat area. The first decal option included with this 2017 release marks a significant aircraft which still holds the world altitude record for a single piston engined aircraft - In February 1952, Flight Lieutenant Ted Powles flew Spitfire PS852 to an altitude of 51.500 ft. during a reconnaissance flight over the Chinese Island of Hainan. Flying with RAF No.81 Squadron out of Kai Tak airfield in Hong Kong, Powles set an altitude record for the Spitfire and indeed for all single engine piston fighters which still stands to this day, serving as an enduring legacy of these magnificent machines.

 

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The alternative decal option supplied with this kit is one of the beautiful reconnaissance Spitfires operated by the Swedish Air Force at the start of the Cold War period. Delays in getting the reconnaissance version of their SAAB J29 jet fighter into production saw the SAF with a desperate need for a single engined reconnaissance aircraft and found an effective interim solution in 50 former WWII RAF Spitfire PR Mk.XIXs. Purchased from the British at an extremely attractive price, the aircraft were given the Swedish designation S.31 and were faster than any other aircraft currently flying with the Swedish Air Force. Serving until 1955, the S.31 Spitfires proved highly successful, but were nevertheless unceremoniously scrapped or used for target practice on their retirement. They are however an important chapter in the Spitfire story.

That is just about it for this latest edition of Workbench and indeed for 2016. It has been another great year for our blog and our ever increasing readership – thank you so much for your fantastic support throughout the year. From the entire Workbench team, may we take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very happy and prosperous New Year. We will be here with all the latest Airfix information throughout 2017.

As always, we are keen to hear from our readers and have a number of different ways for you to get in touch - you can e-mail us directly using our dedicated workbench@airfix.com address, or there is our Workbench thread on the Airfix Forum.  If social media is more your style, you could either access the Airfix Facebook page or our Twitter channel, using #airfixworkbench.  Whichever medium you decide to use, please do get in touch, as it is always great to hear from fellow readers and modellers.

Thank you again for your support in 2016 and we look forward to bringing you much more Airfix news in the New Year.

Sincere best wishes

The Airfix Workbench Team

P.S. Keep an eye on your email and our social media channels for the details of our Airfix 2017 launch - first week in January...

 

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