BE2c Defenders of the North

 

We are pleased to be bringing you this latest edition of Workbench and our regular look behind the scenes at the fascinating world of Airfix modelling.  There never seems to be a shortage of modelling information and features to bring you in Workbench and this latest edition is no exception.  You can look forward to some additional decal scheme information regarding several new models added to the 2017 range, the final instalment of our RAF Tucano build feature, along with a slightly different take on our popular ‘Flash your Stash’ section.  We also throw the spotlight on a modelling Special Interest Group and the impressive display of aircraft they exhibited at the recent Huddersfield Model Show, before finishing with a reader competition with a couple of impressive kits up for grabs.  Without further ado, let’s get stuck into the Airfix action.

 


 

New schemes illuminate Airfix range

The launch of any new Airfix model range is always a time of great pride for the Airfix team and is an opportunity for us to showcase all our newly announced model toolings, alongside several re-issued kits featuring new decals and box artwork.  As you may imagine, the period around launch date can be particularly busy and whilst we try to keep Workbench readers informed on all the latest developments, we seem to be running a little behind with some of these scheme updates and decided it was time we put this right.  In the following section, we will look at some of the recently announced kit updates and why these new schemes make these interesting choices for future modelling projects.

 

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Mitsubishi A6M2b-21 Zero (Zeke), X-182, 3rd Air Group, 202nd Kokutai, Imperial Japanese Navy, Rabul, September 1942.

 

European based modellers will be extremely familiar with the aircraft that took part in the air battles over Britain and northern Europe during the Second World War, with many of these types being amongst the most popular model kits ever produced in our hobby.  Aircraft such as the Spitfire, Messerschmitt and Hurricane will be classed as some of the most successful and instantly recognisable fighter aircraft of WWII and therefore appear regularly on modelling workbenches all over Europe, but a contemporary of these fighters was dominating the skies in the Far East and deserves to be held in at least the same regard.  The diminutive Mitsubishi Zero was a strong, fast and extremely agile fighter that possessed the range to allow it to exert its dominance in the Pacific Theatre and become one of the most successful fighter aircraft in the history of warfare.  Operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service from both its carriers and from land bases, as well as by the IJAAS (Army Air Service), the Zero gained a fearsome reputation as a dogfighter and during the early years of WWII achieved an astonishing combat kill ratio of 12 to 1.

The new scheme included with A01005A presents modellers with a classic IJNAS Zero scheme, which operated from Rabul in Papua New Guinea in the Autumn of 1942.  Although the Zero was still an extremely capable fighter at that time, it was it was now facing better Allied aircraft, whose pilots had been trained in how best to combat their feared Japanese adversary.  Aircraft of the IJNAS 202nd Kokutai had scored some spectacular victories against Allied air forces during the early months of the Second World War, in operations against the Dutch in the Netherlands and in the East Indies against Australian forces, but by the middle of 1942, the US Navy had begun to challenge Japanese air superiority in the region.  The air battles during the Guadalcanal campaign were to prove particularly costly for this unit.

Interestingly, the impressive range of the A6M2 Zero would see the aircraft used on some extremely long range strike missions, often requiring navigation over huge expanses of ocean.  Each Imperial Japanese Naval Air Service Unit would have at least one Mitsubishi C5M (Naval designation for the Mitsubishi Ki-15 Babs) reconnaissance aircraft at their disposal, which would be used to lead the fighter strike units on these long-distance missions.  Once in the vicinity of the target, the unarmed C5M would fly high and away from the combat area, before leading the attackers back to their home base.

This fantastic new Mitsubishi A6M2b Zero is scheduled to be available in March and all the model details you may need are displayed on the Airfix website.

 

WB42-ImageDThe spectacular box artwork that has been produced for BE2c A02104

 

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Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c, ‘4207’, Turnhouse Aerodrome, Royal Flying Corps, Edinburgh, Scotland 1916.

 

The much-maligned Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c was simply regarded as ‘Fokker Fodder’ in the eyes of many military historians, but was in actual fact, an extremely advanced aircraft design that excelled in the roles for which it was originally intended.  As a reconnaissance platform, light bomber and training aircraft, the BE2c proved to be a great success and at a time when knowledge of the battlefield and the position of your enemy was vital, having an aircraft that was both easy to fly and extremely stable was a huge benefit in gathering this information.  Accepting that the gathering detailed reconnaissance information was its primary role, it is difficult to criticise the design team who produced such a stable aircraft and intentionally enabled BE2c crews to efficiently complete their mission objectives.  Indeed, had all BE2c sorties been flown in uncontested airspace, or with the benefit of overwhelming Allied air superiority, it would probably have been regarded as one of the Great War’s most successful aircraft.

Situated 7 miles west of Edinburgh and 46 miles east of Glasgow, the RFC aerodrome at Turnhouse was the most northerly of the British air defence bases and was primarily responsible for the defence of Scotland’s Capital.  Opening in 1915, this grass strip was intended to defend the north from Zeppelin attacks, which had begun to raid much further up the east coast of the UK and were thought to be the start of a new offensive.  In the end, Turnhouse proved to be one of the quieter home defence stations, but its existence may have acted as a deterrent to greater enemy activity.

The airfield was located close to the East Coast railway line and many aircraft would arrive at the airfield crated and required assembly before they could be pressed into service.  Turnhouse proved to be an ideal location for pilot training activities to take place and the distinctive black and white scheme applied to BE2c ‘4207’ was adopted to aid airborne recognition of this handsome training aircraft.

 

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Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c, ‘1744’, No.12 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, Marleux, France, September 1915.

 

During its time in France, the BE2c scouts of No.12 Squadron were primarily employed in performing long-range reconnaissance missions, mapping enemy positions and helping to produce artillery bombardment plans.  The Squadron found themselves heavily involved in the preparations for the Battle of Loos, with some aircraft tasked to undertake special operations.  Following a savage artillery bombardment and prior to the infantry attack, 12 Squadron aircraft were tasked with bombing enemy train movements, in an attempt to disrupt the movement of men and supplies to the attack area.

Over the first few days of the offensive, the BE2cs of No.12 Squadron mounted a significant number of these attacks, but suffered their first casualty on 26th September 1915. Flying BE2c ‘1744’, Captain F.B. Binney had just bombed a German train from an altitude of around 500 ft. when his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and he was forced to land behind enemy lines near Phalempin, in Northern France.  Wounded and taken prisoner, Binney and his observer 2nd Lt. A. Lees would spend the rest of the war as guests of the Kaiser in a number of prisoner of war camps, before being repatriated to Britain in 1918.  His aircraft and the subject of this extremely interesting decal sheet, was made airworthy again, given German markings and flown by a Luftstreitkrafte officer, although it still retained its original ‘1744’ serial number.

Scheduled for a summer 2017 release, BE2c A02104 will make a fantastic addition to any Great War air power model collection, although it will be difficult to choose which of these great schemes to finish your model in – ‘1744’ in both RFC and German markings would be an interesting dual build project.

 

WB42-ImageJBox artwork featuring the elegant Messerschmitt Bf 110C

 

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Messerschmitt Bf 110C 2N+DC, Aircraft flown by Helmut Florenz, Staffel II/Zerstorergeschwader 1, Northern France, 1940-41.

 

For many modelling and aviation enthusiasts, the Luftwaffe’s twin engined ‘Destroyers’ were some of the most interesting aircraft of the Second World War and whilst they never actually lived up to their much-vaunted pre-war reputation, it is difficult to argue with the idea behind their design.  In very basic terms, the Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighter was a Bf 109 times two, benefitting from similar (it was hoped) levels of manoeuvrability, greater range capability and much increased firepower.  These mighty aircraft were given the name ‘Destroyers’ as it was thought that no aircraft would be able to compete with its speed and devastating offensive armament, with enemy fighters simply blasted from the sky.  Championed by Hermann Goering, he referred to the Messerschmitt Bf 110 as his ‘Ironsides’ and expected the aircraft to play a significant role in the air battles to come.

Early Bf 110 operations seemed to prove the original Destroyer concept as being sound, but as the Luftwaffe turned their attention to Britain and the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Royal Air Force, the aircraft’s deficiencies were to be cruelly exposed.  Although possessing slightly greater speed than the Hurricane in level flight, the dogfights of the Battle of Britain were rarely fought in straight and level flight and in a turn, the Bf 110 was no match for either fighter.  The Messerschmitt Bf 110 was vulnerable to surprise attack and was slow to respond to power inputs when accelerating from cruising speed.  Things got even worse when the aircraft made evasive turns, with speed dropping off rapidly and the aircraft almost becoming cumbersome, easily falling prey to the fighters of the RAF.  Although the Battle of Britain proved to be something of a disaster for Goering’s ‘Ironsides’, the Messerschmitt Bf 110 would go on to serve with distinction in many theatres of operation, where its range and firepower could be brought to bear – it was to become particularly successful as a nightfighter and saw service throughout WWII.

The scheme detailed above is typical of a Messerschmitt Bf 110 of the Battle of Britain period and features the distinctive ‘Triple Wespe’ nose artwork of II Staffel ZG.1.

 

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Messerschmitt Bf 110C-3 ‘235-5’, 235a Squadriglia, Regia Aeronautica. Lonate Pozzolo Airfield, Italy, Early 1943.

 

This fascinating scheme marks one of the few Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighters to be used by the Regia Aeronautica during WWII.  In February 1942, the 235th Squadron of the 60th Bomb Group were re-assigned to Caccia Notturna (nightfighter) duties and crews were sent to Germany to be trained to fly Bf 110s and Dornier Do217s in this role.  When the unit eventually returned to Italy, they came with three Bf 110Cs and twelve Dornier Do.217s and immediately began working up to operational status.  On 21st October 1942, the unit moved to the airfield at Lonate Pozzolo, where the three Bf 110C-3 aircraft began nightfighter operations, flying patrols over the Lombardy region.

The decal scheme featured above marks an aircraft flown by the commander of 235a Squadriglia, Capitano Aramis Ammannato, engaged in nightfighter operations against Allied bombers.  His aircraft retains the standard Luftwaffe splinter camouflage on the uppersurfaces as supplied by the Germans and even still employs the white Balkenkreuz on the upper wings.  The undersurfaces were painted black and did not include any national insignia, with the Regia Aeronautica unit codes painted in blue on the fuselage side and white crosses on each of the vertical stabilizers.  Capt. Ammannato shot down the sole Allied bomber claimed by the Italian Nightfighters in the last days before the armistice.

Both of these new Messerschmitt Bf 110 schemes have extremely interesting stories behind them and it will be a difficult choice in selecting which one to model when A03080A is released at the end of March.  This latest release of the Airfix Bf 110 ‘Destroyer’ will undoubtedly renew interest in this aircraft, which despite its operational shortcomings was both one of the most important Luftwaffe aircraft of WWII and one of the most interesting.  All three of the new 2017 releases reviewed above make superb additions to our 1/72nd scale kit range and we very much look forward to seeing some pictures of completed build projects in our Customer Images section in the months to come.

 


 

Airfix Tucano takes flight

 

WB42-ImageOClassic 1970s RAF training scheme was selected for Dave’s Tucano

 

In the previous edition of Workbench, we included the first part of an RAF Tucano T.1 build review kindly sent in by Dave Haddican, who rediscovered his love of modelling after suffering a serious injury and finding himself in need of a period of recuperation.  In this final instalment, Dave concludes his review with the finishing touches to his model, including finishing his Tucano in the classic red, white and grey scheme adopted by the RAF for their training aircraft from the early 1970s.  Once again, we had over to Dave Haddican and his beautiful RAF trainer:

‘After a good 24 hours drying time, I removed a small number of surface imperfections with the wet and dry paper before having to finally decide on the livery.  As I had already purchased the paints I went with my original choice, the red/white/grey option from No.7 FTS.  Noting that training aircraft in the RAF are normally pretty clean I refrained from attempting any sort of pre-shading and applied a couple of coats of Humbrol No:166 (Light Aircraft Grey) to the inner wings and main undercarriage doors.  The drying time of the enamel paints was a bit of a frustration but they are readily available and adhere well to the primer, plus it meant that I had time to think about my next model kit.  After masking off the grey areas I painted the upper fuselage, undercarriage legs, wheel wells and wheels in Humbrol No:130 Satin White.  Once the obligatory drying time had elapsed I then set about masking off the white areas using tape and a new scalpel blade before painting the remaining areas of the model with Humbrol No:174 Signal Red.

 

WB42-ImagePClose-up detail of this beautiful 1/72nd scale Tucano build

 

With the main colours now applied and dry I removed the masking tape to reveal a good demarcation line.  Pleasantly surprised at the outcome, I finished painting and fitted the remaining items such as the exhaust ports, undercarriage and doors.  I then left the model for a couple of days so that the undercarriage had well and truly been cemented in place and would provide a sturdy base (for my tail sitter).  Following this, I applied a couple of light coats of gloss paint so as to give the decals the best chance of adhering to the newly painted surfaces.

 

Decals:

 

The decal sheet as mentioned earlier was quite large for such a small kit and included a comprehensive set of stencil data for both the red/white/grey and gloss black aircraft.  There were a couple of very minor discrepancies, namely with the positioning of decal 28 (the bottom view of the stencilling instructions show this to be forward of the engine exhausts whilst the port view shows it to the rear) and the incorrect numbering of decal 82 (the starboard view erroneously identifies it as 83 but this is the port decal).  Neither proved too much of an issue and reference photos quickly confirmed the errors.  It was also at this stage that I noticed that the propeller (which I had spent considerable time masking and painting to get the black/white pattern) actually had a decal to produce the patterned effect which is there to aid identification of a moving propeller to groundcrew.  I guess I should have paid closer attention to the instructions before I started!  Still, the painting of the propeller provided me with a good training opportunity – after all it is a training aircraft.

 

WB42-ImageRThe RAF Shorts Tucano trainer is a particularly attractive aircraft

 

The version I was building included large blue fuselage stripes, lower wing surface stripes and a Toucan motif for the vertical stabilizer, presumably applied to the real aircraft for some sort of display purposes.  I wanted my model to represent a regular RAF Tucano and therefore decided to omit these as well as a couple of other smaller decals that I could not see on reference photos of the real aircraft in service.  The decals all adhered extremely well to the gloss surface and dried without any silvering or blistering at all, conforming nicely to the panel lines.  I particularly liked the inclusion of the Miniature Detonating Chord decals on the canopy, too many models replicate this feature with raised detail which is far too thick and many more ignore it all together – good job Airfix.  Once the decals had dried I added a final coat of gloss varnish to seal everything before bringing out the panel line detail with a heavily diluted oil wash of Paynes Grey.  Finally, using pastels I added a little subtle ‘dirt’ to a few of the more active areas of the aircraft such as the aileron/rudder hinges and the lower fuselage areas to the rear of the exhausts.

 

Conclusions:

 

WB42-ImageSDave’s finished Tucano looks absolutely superb and is a fine addition to his RAF trainer display

 

Although this kit is perhaps a little old (I think it is a re-boxed 1990 kit) and therefore not as refined when compared to some of the new Airfix releases I have been reading about, I found it a really enjoyable build and it certainly has allowed me to reacquaint myself with the hobby whilst also providing me with an outlet through which to channel my energy at a time when I am physically unable to get about and do the things that I normally would.  Sure, there may be a couple of minor issues (some my own making) but the finished product looks to me just like a Tucano T.1.  For the more experienced and hardened modeller there’s plenty of scope to add extra detail, particularly around the cockpit and wheel wells and all this for less than a meal at a fast food restaurant!  One really can’t complain.  Having finished this build, I now have my third dilemma; do I make the gloss black version next or do I add to my training fleet a red/white/grey Hunting Percival Jet Provost T.3 that is getting great reviews all over the internet?’

 

WB42-ImageTThis Great War Centenary Limited Edition Tucano is the only one currently available on the Airfix website

 

We would like to thank Dave once again for sending in his Tucano build review and hope that his recovery is well on track.  Dave has also sent us a review of his latest RAF trainer project and we will include this in a future edition of Workbench.  For any readers inspired to have a go at building the RAF Shorts Tucano T.1, the only kit currently available on the Airfix website is A73011, which is the limited edition 2014 RAF Tucano Display Team scheme and features an attractive WWI Centenary poppy design.  Other earlier Airfix Tucano releases may still be available at your local model store, so it is always worthwhile calling to have a pleasant few minutes rummaging through their available stocks.  With some beautiful schemes applied to RAF Tucanos over the years, this turboprop basic trainer has always been a popular subject for modellers and Dave may have just been responsible for another Tucano build surge!

 


 

For the love of Canberras

 

WB42-ImageUThe impressive IPMS (UK) Canberra SIG display at Huddersfield

 

The recent Huddersfield Model Show proved to be a great way for modellers to start the year and attracted enthusiasts from many parts of the country who were keen to admire the various displays and pick up a modelling bargain or two.  The main sports hall at this impressive venue played host to most of the activities on the day and if you were searching for a little modelling inspiration, it was certainly here in abundance.  One display that will have caught the eye of many at the show was the one arranged by IPMS (UK) Canberra Special Interest Group and with a table full of beautifully finished English Electric Canberra models for us all to drool over – we simply had to find out a little more.

As one of the world’s most successful early jet aircraft and a proud symbol of the British aviation industry, it is no wonder that the English Electric Canberra continues to enthral modellers and enthusiasts the world over and is the reason John Sheehan started his impressive modelling Special Interest Group.  Since meeting John at the Huddersfield Model Show, we have been in contact with him several times and it has been fascinating to discover some of the details behind his passion for the Canberra and the effort behind running this modelling SIG.  He describes how he can’t really put his finger on why the Canberra became such a passion for him, particularly as his father served with the RAF during the Second World War and it seems more logical to have an affinity with the Lancasters and Spitfires associated with this period.  He thinks that it may just have been the appealing shape of the Canberra, with looks like the Gloster Meteor’s big brother, or as John describes it ‘the Meteor development aircraft’.

Once his interest was sparked, the Canberra is such a significant aircraft, there was simply no going back.  With so many aviation ‘firsts and records’ to its name, not to mention the many attractive schemes worn by the aircraft, it is easy to see why the Canberra commands such attention with modellers and enthusiasts.  First flying in May 1949, the Canberra was the most powerful jet in RAF service not to use afterburners and was only withdrawn from service in July 2006.  Indeed, three highly modified versions of the Canberra are still in service with NASA to this day, providing them with an invaluable high altitude research aircraft, keeping this incredible aircraft airworthy some 68 years after the first flight of the prototype Canberra.

 

WB42-ImageVA selection of images featuring the work of the Canberra SIG members

 

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The IPMS (UK) Canberra SIG is a vibrant group of modellers and enthusiasts, who all share a specific interest in this very special aircraft.  With John at the helm, the group currently has around 170 members and can boast at least 30 IPMS members from other countries.  This is hardly surprising, as the Canberra proved to be a hugely successful export aircraft and served with several of the worlds air arms.  The group has its own dedicated website, where fellow modellers can get Canberra related information, or can contact John directly for more detailed technical information about the aircraft.  The group tends to display at around four or five model shows each year and whilst John can usually be found guarding his beloved exhibits, many of the groups modelling contributors may also be members of other IPMS groups and societies and will be dotted at various other displays around the show.  Attending the various model shows around the country is usually the only time that the group’s members have the opportunity to get together in person and discuss all the Canberra issues of the day.

Through our discussions with John, it quickly became clear that the Canberra Special Interest Group is much more than just about model building to him and is a vehicle to preserve the history and legacy of this magnificent aircraft.  He has managed to amass a huge library of technical information regarding the aircraft, including drawings, manuals and photographs.  Using a network of contacts built up over the years, John sources Canberra related material from all over the world and uses this not only to help modellers on their latest build project, but also owners of preserved aircraft who require specific information about Canberra operation and maintenance - information provided by John has been significant in the preservation of several Canberra airframes, most notably in the US and Chile, as well as a number of cockpit restoration projects.

 

WB42-ImageZBCanberra WT333 ‘Triple Three’ is now based at Bruntingthorpe

 

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Regarding his modelling exploits, John described how he built his first 1/72nd scale Canberra kit back in 1976 and since this date, he has built at least another fifty models in this scale and approaching twenty in the larger 1/48th scale.  When not distracted by more mundane tasks, it would usually take John between six and eight weeks to complete a 1/48th scale Canberra build, such as the impressive Royal Aircraft Establishment ‘Treble Three’ in her distinctive raspberry ripple scheme, which is pictured above.

We would like to sincerely thank John for sharing information about the IPMS (UK) Canberra Special Interest Group with us and allowing us to use images of the group’s model display at Huddersfield.  If you have any specific Canberra related questions, please do head for the Canberra SIG website and we very much look forward to featuring one of John’s Canberra builds in a future edition of Workbench.

 

Canberra Competition Time

 

WB42-ImageZDThe box artwork featured on the current Airfix 1/48th scale Canberra kit

 

To mark this special English Electric Canberra feature, we simply had to give Workbench readers the opportunity to win one of our spectacular 1/48th scale kits and allow someone the chance to develop their own Canberra infatuation (although John and the other Canberra SIG members will surely not be able to resist the temptation to enter).  To stand a chance of winning one of two A10101A Canberra B.2/B.20 models, simply head on over to the Competition page and answer the question there.

We will announce the two lucky winners in the next edition of Workbench on Friday 17th March – good luck.

 


 

That’s all we have for you in this latest edition of Workbench, but the world of Airfix modelling never sleeps and there are now various ways our readers can get involved in all the latest modelling chat.  Our dedicated e-mail address is workbench@airfix.com address and the Airfix website is the place to find the Workbench thread 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 with us, as it is always great to hear from fellow modelling enthusiasts.

Finally, all the very latest model release information can be found by checking the New Arrivals section of the Airfix website, which can be accessed by clicking the shop section at the top of the webpage. As work on the website is a constant process, a quick search through all the Airfix web pages will usually reveal new information and updated images in many of the product sections, so this is always a rewarding way to spend a few minutes.

We look forward to bringing you our next Airfix update on 17th March.

The Airfix Workbench Team

 

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