Airfix Mosquito Museum Tribute
Welcome to this latest edition of Airfix Workbench and our regular look at the always fascinating world of Airfix modelling. With huge numbers of people continuing to keep modelling as one of the most popular hobbies in the world, it is always interesting to hear about some of the stories behind why individuals were attracted to modelling in the first place and the inspiration that keeps them striving to improve with each new build project. Perhaps the most significant factor is that whether you are an accomplished modeller of many years standing, or a first timer eager to produce a representation of the Spitfire you saw displaying at a recent Airshow, the common bond is that no matter how the finished model turns out, as long as you enjoy the experience, that is the only thing that matters.
For some Workbench readers, the Airfix kit laid out on their cutting mat is just a blank canvas to allow their modelling talents to come to the fore, working on a project that may have been some weeks in the planning and aimed at commemorating a particular machine or historical event. The result of their effort can be a source of pride and achievement for the modeller, whilst also serving as modelling inspiration to anyone fortunate enough to see the finished model - in this latest edition of Workbench we are proud to feature two such reader supplied projects. Both builds are based around kits included in the current Airfix model range and whilst they have both clearly required a significant amount of prior planning before starting the project, there are some exceptional modelling skills and two beautiful models for us to admire. Before heading to bonnie Scotland and the latest build from a previous Workbench contributor, our destination is Canada and one modeller's determination to commemorate one of the RAF’s most famous aircraft and one which has something of a tragic link to the city of Calgary.
A most famous Mosquito
As far as aircraft of the Second World War are concerned, there can be few that are held in the same regard as the De Havilland Mosquito which was undoubtedly one of the finest aeroplanes of the conflict. Known colloquially as the ‘Wooden Wonder’ or simply ‘Mossie’, the Mosquito was a true multi role aircraft, excelling equally as a bomber, pathfinder, strike fighter or reconnaissance platform. It is claimed that of all the aircraft hurled at the Luftwaffe during WWII, the one they coveted above all others was the Mosquito and whilst the Germans attempted to copy the design and produce a Mosquito of their own, they were never able to match the performance of this exceptional aircraft.
De Havilland Mosquito LR503 completed more wartime missions than any other Allied bomber
Entering RAF service with No.105 Squadron in November 1941, the Mosquito immediately began undertaking some of the most hazardous low-level bombing missions of the war, and despite having to overcome murderous anti-aircraft fire and a Luftwaffe that was still in control of the airspace above occupied Europe, performed exceptionally well scoring some notable bombing successes. This was just the start of the Mosquito story and for the remainder of the war the aircraft would prove to be one of the most important aircraft available to Allied air forces, performing both offensive and defensive duties by day and night. With over 7,700 aircraft eventually produced, more than 1,000 would be manufactured by De Havilland Canada at their Downsview Airfield facility in Ontario as the Canadian people made a significant contribution to the Allied war effort, becoming Britain’s main supplier or war materials.
The Workbench team were fortunate to receive a recent e-mail which contained details of an interesting 1/24th scale Mosquito build project which not only marked one of the most famous individual Allied aircraft of the Second World War, but one which had a specific and ultimately tragic link to Canada and the city of Calgary. Sent to us by accomplished modeller and former Montreal Aviation Museum researcher and model builder Gilles Pepin, he had been planning a very special model build which commemorated an aircraft that displayed to Canadian audiences in May 1945, in support of the latest war bond initiative – the aircraft just happened to be one of the most famous aircraft in the history of the RAF.
De Havilland Mosquito B Mk.IX LR503 was one of a batch of twenty two aircraft built at the famous de Havilland Hatfield plant in early 1943 and went on to join RAF No.109 Squadron at Wyton performing essential bomber pathfinder duties, helping to increase the accuracy of Bomber Command raids. Making its combat debut on 21st June 1943, marking industrial targets in the Ruhr for hundreds of heavy bombers behind it, the next twelve months would see the aircraft complete 100 missions, including several operations in support of the D-day landings. By the time this Mosquito had completed its final combat mission on 10th April 1945 it had flown an astonishing 213 operational sorties, more than any other Allied aircraft of the Second World War. Carrying the code letter ‘F for Freddie’, this very special Mosquito was adorned with mission markings and nose artwork befitting of its incredible operational record, something which was rather unusual on an RAF Mosquito. Featuring a mosquito (insect) dropping a bomb on a running figure of Hitler, the aircraft commemorated the incredible operational record of LR503 by also including the mission markings completed by this record-breaking Mosquito.
An important overseas assignment
Box artwork of the 1/24th scale kit that was used during this tribute build
In May 1945 there was an official request for an RAF Mosquito to fly to Canada to act as a flying ambassador for the latest Victory Loan Drive, in support of the Canadian and Commonwealth war effort. This task had originally been assigned to ‘D Dog’, another aircraft in the squadron, but it had suffered a number of mechanical issues which prevented it from making the hazardous Atlantic crossing and the crew of LR503 were ordered to take its place. This would be a particularly poignant trip for pilot F/Lt. Maurice Briggs, as he had spent time in Calgary only two years earlier as part of his pilot training for the RAF and whilst he was not the regular pilot of LR503, he had plenty of Mosquito flying experience.
Eagerly awaiting the arrival of their illustrious aviation visitor from Britain, the people of Calgary could not wait to see this veteran of 213 combat operations which was returning to pay tribute to the many hundreds of wartime Mosquitos manufactured in the city, and offering them the opportunity to chalk their names on its fuselage in return for a contribution to the Victory Fund – there would be no shortage of takers. Having safely negotiated the hazardous ferry route from Britain to Canada, ‘F for Freddie’ arrived at Calgary airport on 6th May 1945 and whilst the crew took the opportunity for some well earned rest, LR503 received some maintenance ahead of her busy display fight schedule.
Is this the model diorama, or a wartime picture of the Mosquito at Calgary?
The end of the war in Europe gave the people of Canada and the rest of the Allied nations the opportunity to celebrate in some style and marked the end of over five years of conflict and hardship. As the pilot of one of the most famous aircraft in the European theatre, F/Lt. Briggs knew of only one way to mark this memorable occasion and prepared to take off for a very special demonstration flight. He decided he would mark VE Day and announce his arrival in Calgary in spectacular fashion by heading for the city centre and putting on a flying display, which anyone who witnessed it would have never forgotten. Flying at high speed down the main streets in the centre of the city, the Mosquito was at extremely low level for what was described as a classic beat-up, usually reserved for the open expanses of an airfield but this time performed in the centre of a modern city. Workers in some of the larger buildings reported having to look down to see the Mosquito flying down the streets, with the pilot himself later reporting that he had no idea how he missed some of the hazards sticking out of the taller buildings – some way to announce your arrival, but this was a very special day.
The display only served to draw more people to the airport, keen to welcome the famous bomber and to meet the crew who had thrilled the city with their unbelievable flying skills – little did they know that the visit would end in tragedy just 24 hours later. Enjoying the adulation of the people of Calgary, the crew were scheduled to continue their fund raising tour the next day, performing demonstration flights at Penhold and two RCAF bases before returning to Calgary airport for the night, allowing the Mosquito to be inspected and prepared for more demonstrations later in the week. On the morning of 10th May 1945, engineers were preparing the Mosquito for the day’s events and it was reported that the engines seemed to be giving them a little trouble. With the cowling covers removed, this work delayed the take off time for the aircraft, which did not get into the air until 16.00, somewhat later than planned. The engines certainly did not appear to be a cause of concern though – as the aircraft cleared the airfield and retracted its undercarriage, it promptly returned to the airfield at extremely high speed and at low level and proceeded to buzz the tower in a manner that had never previously been witnessed on the airfield.
It is reported that F/Lt. Briggs was expecting a Canadian friend to be present at the airfield for his take-off, but he was running late. Spotting a car arriving during his last planned pass, he decided to make one last flypast, just in case it was his visitor – reportedly, this final pass was even faster and lower than the others, only pulling up to avoid the control tower at the very last second, which is when tragedy struck. The Mosquito clipped an aerial mast and flag pole on top of the tower, severing the port wing and causing the aircraft to lose control, crashing into a field around 800 metres from the control tower. At such high speed, the pilot had no chance to react and the Mosquito hit the ground with such force that both pilot and navigator were instantly killed. Scattering splintered wreckage all over the field, it was reported that the only sizeable pieces of wreckage to be salvaged were the two Merlin engines that had been receiving so much attention only minutes earlier.
Modelling Tribute to Calgary’s VE Day Mosquito
This magnificent model build marks a famous, though tragic visit to Canada by one of the most famous aircraft of WWII
A veteran of some impressive model build projects, Gilles Pepin was determined that his latest project was going to be something very special and using the Airfix 1/24th scale Mosquito as his base model, he knew it would certainly be impactful. His aim was to produce a diorama scene of De Havilland Mosquito LR503 ‘F for Freddie’ as it tested its engines at Calgary airport on 10th May 1945, just one hour before it was destroyed in a tragic flying accident. Recreating a famous photograph of the scene which was taken from the top of the control tower whilst the airport’s illustrious visitor was being prepared for flight, this would be a challenging build which would not only challenge Gilles’ modelling skills, but also pose some electronic challenges.
Gilles described that the inspiration for the project was not only the famous historical photographs that exist of the Mosquito’s Calgary visit, but also his friendship with the Chief of Operations of the Montreal Aviation Museum, Eric Campbell. Eric’s father, Lionel, was a Leading aircraftman in the RCAF and was at Calgary airport on 10th May 1945 where he witnessed the tragic events that took place. His recollections and the story of ‘F for Freddie’ LR503 gave his son a fascination for all things Mosquito and Gilles thought that this would be a fitting project, which would be unveiled at a future event held at the Montreal Aviation Museum.
‘F for Freddie’ Mosquito build showing engine detail and props static
And with the engines running, with Merlin sound chip in full effect
Using the current 1/24th scale De Havilland Mosquito FB.VI kit (A25001A) as his base model, the project would involve some conversion work to turn the model into a B. Mk.IX Mosquito bomber and would involve the assistance of some of his modelling friends. Trying to recreate the scene photographed in May 1945, he would need several scale figures producing, along with a rather spectacular display case to house the model once it had been completed. Determined to add realism to the build, Gilles was going to install electric motors in the engines allowing the props to turn and utilise a sound card to simulate the sound of the Merlin engines – this was going to be an impressive modelling tribute to the Calgary Mosquito.
Gilles sent us details of his build just as it had been completed and prior to the unveiling at the Montreal Aviation Museum. The images used to illustrate this feature were all supplied by him and he has promised further pictures and even a video of the model in action for inclusion in a future edition of Workbench. As you can see from the pictures, he has produced something really special, incorporating technology into a faithful recreation of a historic aviation scene. He told us that the entire project took around 1100 hours to complete, with much of the work centred around the working propellers and engine sounds requiring him to scratch build components, particularly around the engine mounts and landing gear. The technology works perfectly, with the wiring for the engines running the length of the fuselage and through a hole in the base of the tail wheel – the soundcard, power supply and all switches are contained in a drawer under the display case, with the aircraft itself fixed to its base.
Gilles has managed to beautifully recreate this famous scene from 10th May 1945
We look forward to bringing you further pictures from the unveiling event and access to a file containing detail of the entire build project in a future edition of Workbench, but for now, we would like to thank Gilles for sending us these details and to congratulate him on a most magnificent Mosquito build – a fitting tribute to the amazing and ultimately tragic story of LR503 ‘F for Freddie’, the Calgary Mosquito.
Customer Images competition winner
The winning picture in our latest Customer Images competition
The latest incarnation of our regular competition to showcase the modelling talents of Airfix devotees all over the world was once again a resounding success. We are grateful to everyone who posted pictures to the Customer Images section of the Airfix website between 1st July and 27th August. As so many of you are both accomplished modellers and talented photographers, it is always a difficult task to select a single winner, but those are the rules and the choice has to be made. Before we announce our lucky winner, let’s take a look at the some of the fantastic images he posted.
Our talented winner posted a number of superb pictures of his Messerschmitt diorama build
Recreating a fascinating Battle of Britain crash scene, this beautiful model build and diorama features 1/72nd scale Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 (A01008) ‘Red 4’ of 2./JG26 being guarded by soldiers following its crash landing in England, following combat with RAF fighters during the summer of 1940. Expertly produced by Andreas Fey, this evocative build simply cries out for the viewed to research the subject a little further and is certainly an unusual way to complete your latest build project. We would like to send our congratulations to Andreas on a stunning piece of work and his selection as our latest Customer Images competition winner – we will be contacting you shortly with details on how to redeem your prize - £100 to spend on the Airfix website - plus you can see his work on this month's Calendar Wallpaper.
Martin Wainwright has excelled again with his latest model project
Regular Workbench readers may recall a build feature we included in editions 43 and 44 which showcased the modelling talents of Martin Wainwright and his beautiful 1/48th scale Boulton Paul Defiant Nightfighter build project. Details of this build, especially the superb weathered finish Martin managed to achieve, were extremely well received by Workbench readers and we received a great many complimentary e-mails on his behalf – this was all the more poignant as this was Martin’s first attempt at weathering using this technique. Well, readers will be pleased to learn that he has been at it again and has kindly sent us details of his latest impressive model build.
Box and scheme artwork from 1/72nd scale Typhoon A02041
The subject of Martin’s latest modelling project was 1/72nd scale Hawker Typhoon IB A02041, which was one of the most devastating weapons of the Second World War, yet one which does not really receive the recognition it deserves. Developed as a high-altitude interceptor replacement for the famous Hawker Hurricane, the Typhoon incorporated a great many design improvements, whilst retaining the rugged attributes of its forebear. A troubled development programme and service introduction saw the Typhoon regarded as something of a problematic new aircraft, but one which was certainly unable to live up to expectations as an interceptor fighter. Championed by some influential test pilots, designers persevered with the aircraft and finally produced an aircraft that was arguably one of the most influential of the latter stages of WWII.
A selection of Typhoon build images kindly supplied by Martin Wainwright
Along with the Mosquito, the Typhoon proved to be one of the Allied's aircraft most feared and admired by the Germans and proved to be a devastatingly effective airborne artillery piece, able to surgically destroy specific targets in advance of the D-Day landings, whilst also more than capable of mixing it with Luftwaffe fighters at these lower altitudes. Allowing the RAF to strike much more accurately than with saturation bombing, the Typhoon helped to drive the Germans from the invasion beachheads by removing their ability to move men and equipment to the area during daylight hours, taking a heavy toll of any vehicles that dared to venture from cover. These operations were extremely high risk for the pilots who flew them, with Typhoon pilots definitely classing themselves as a special breed. Often flying at wave-top height across the Channel, before climbing to 10,000 feet over the coast to begin their attack run, Typhoon pilots were targeted by every gun in occupied Europe and as their missions were flown at high speed and at low level, there was little hope of a positive outcome if their aircraft was hit.
It is difficult to see that this beautiful model is only in 1/72nd scale
Martin has done a superb job with his Typhoon build, electing to finish the model as R8281/5V-X, one of the two schemes included with the kit. Once again displaying his impressive modelling talents, Martin decided to add a resin Napier Sabre engine and display the model with the engine panels removed to show the engine detail. Wanting to do something a little different with the rocket projectiles that were synonymous with the Typhoon, he scratch built a little rocket rack to sit at the side of the model, which looks extremely impressive. All the markings other than the serial number and stencil detail were airbrushed on, with the finished model looking absolutely spectacular – there is so much detail on this build it is difficult to differentiate it from our 1/24th scale kit. This is yet another display of Martin’s exceptional modelling talents and we are extremely grateful that he allowed us to share these images with fellow Workbench readers. A very impressive build Martin and well up to standard – a couple of chaps in the office have already started Typhoon builds as a result of your efforts!
That’s all we have for you in this latest edition of Workbench. In the next edition, we will be bringing you a full project update from one of the new tooling announcements made earlier this year, along with news from our recent caricature competition and the chance to win an exclusive advanced example of a forthcoming new tooling release.
As usual, we are always interested to hear what our readers have to say and are grateful for any modelling features or build pictures you may care to send us. There are several ways you can contact us, including our dedicated e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org and of course the Workbench thread over on the Airfix Forum.
If social media is more your style, you could access either the Airfix Facebook page or our Twitter channel, using #airfixworkbench where you will find plenty of modelling news, views and discussion. Whichever medium you decide to use, please do get in touch, as it is always interesting to hear from fellow modelling enthusiasts and the projects you have on the go at the moment.
Finally, the Airfix website is the place where you can always find all the latest model release information, with our New Arrivals and Coming Soon sections all accessed by clicking on the above links.
The next edition of Workbench is due to be published on Friday 15th September.
The Airfix Workbench Team
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