BIG news from Airfix at Scale Modelworld 2019
Welcome to this latest edition of Workbench and all the news, updates and exclusive announcements from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling.
Finally, it is that time of year again, when the eyes of the modelling world are firmly set on a relatively small town in Shropshire and the latest instalment of the influential Scale Modelworld Show, the world’s greatest fine scale model event. With thousands of modelling enthusiasts making their annual hobby pilgrimage over the weekend of the show, a large Airfix team will also be in attendance, with an array of modelling delights for their delectation and our ever popular ‘Make & Paint’ area in full swing. For Telford regulars, the Airfix stand is situated in our usual position in the left hand corner of Hall No.1, but for those making the trip for the first time, just look for our distinctive Airfix banners and hopefully some large crowds.
Importantly, as you will have no doubt noticed, we have delayed the publication of this latest edition of Workbench by just under 24 hours, for one very BIG reason. At the same time as this blog goes live, the Airfix team will be removing the covers from our main display plinth at Scale ModelWorld to reveal an exciting new model tooling project. As this will be one of the most important announcements in our hobby, we did not want Workbench readers to miss out on the breaking news, so for those who are unable to make the show this year, this latest blog is for you, as we bring you an exclusive new tooling announcement special. We will be devoting the entirety of this 112th edition of Workbench to the new tooling project the Airfix team will be announcing at Telford, a model we think will be a BIG hit with modellers everywhere.
This is the one you all wanted!
In what is fast becoming a Scale Modelworld Workbench tradition, here is your first 2020 new model tooling image clue. Can you guess the identity of our new model project from this computer rendered 3D image?
Without doubt, the announcement of any new model tooling addition to the Airfix kit range is the most popular subject we could ever include in a Workbench blog and over the past four and a half years, we have been privileged to bring you news of several such projects. At the same time last year, we were building up the modelling suspense in advance of the announcement of our new 1/24th scale Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat, which was our previous Scale Modelworld reveal. Whilst we are fully aware that you will just want us to ‘get on with it’, please indulge our delaying tactics just a little while longer.
As Workbench readers are now fully aware, the significant work which is behind the announcement of a new model tooling actually begins many months before we are in a position to go live and one of our talented product designers will have already spent hundreds of hours working on the project we are about to confirm. Our designers also have to be a little thick skinned when it comes to new model time, as they all have enough experience to know that it is never possible to please every modeller with any new project announcement, because everyone will have their own opinions on which subject would make the most appropriate addition to the Airfix range and that can often encompass a great many different suggestions.
That being said, in this particular case, the Airfix team had a high degree of confidence that this latest announcement would be met with overwhelming approval for one specific reason – it was the model most people wanted to see produced. Throughout the year and certainly during Scale Modelworld weekend, the Airfix team receive thousands of suggestions from modellers all over the world on which subjects they would like to see benefit from the significant investment of a new model tooling project and with it, offer the prospect of an accurate and highly detailed scale kit representation of that subject at some point in the near future. The new model we are about to announce has overwhelmingly been the most requested addition to the range over the past few years and for that reason, we are hoping that a great many of our readers are going to be quite pleased with this news. What do you think it could be?
We are almost there now and are sure many readers will have already guessed what we are about to announce, but in what is now becoming something of a pre-Telford Workbench tradition, here a few slightly more specific clues as to the new model’s identity. The new kit will be an aircraft and one which will be instantly recognisable to anyone with even a passing interest in aviation. A post war design, the first flight of the prototype aircraft took place from a Lancashire airfield in 1952 and just three days later, this same aircraft performed to great acclaim at the Farnborough Airshow, where it represented a great success for the British aviation industry. Even though only 136 of these aircraft were eventually produced, they are regarded as design classics and one example in particular claimed to represent the very embodiment of the indomitable ‘British Spirit’ – our Scale Modelworld 2019 new tooling announcement is a 1/72nd scale Avro Vulcan B.2.
Airfix ‘Mighty Delta’ delight
Absolutely stunning – this beautiful artwork will be making its debut at Scale Modelworld 2019 and used to announce the existence of our new 1/72nd scale Avro Vulcan B.2 tooling project
The lead up to any Scale Modelworld show can be a rather hectic period for the Airfix team. Not only do they have to get everything ready for their show attendance and quite a significant presence, but all their usual work still needs to be done, which includes preparation for the forthcoming 2020 range launch. With regard to our new 1/72nd scale Avro Vulcan B.2 announcement, this project is still relatively early in its development and the example we have available for inspection on the Airfix stand at SMW will be a prototype model and one which represents a significant investment for the company. For anyone fortunate enough to see it, this unique model represents a fascinating and rather expensive stage in the production of this magnificent new tooling project and will undoubtedly attract plenty of attention over the coming show weekend.
In the next edition of Workbench, we will be including a full early development review of the new Avro Vulcan tooling project, including a selection of images taken during the Scale Modelworld unveiling, the scanning of a full size Vulcan and exclusive computer generated images produced in support of this fascinating new project. For this announcement edition, please enjoy the following selection of images which are being published for the first time, in addition to discussing why the Avro Vulcan will make such a popular addition to the Airfix kit range.
When looking at the rather futuristic delta profile of Avro’s mighty Vulcan bomber, it can be difficult to appreciate that work on this magnificent aircraft actually began back in 1947, just a few short years after its famous predecessor, the Lancaster, had proved decisive for Bomber Command during WWII. At their Chadderton facility near Manchester, the A.V Roe design team began work on this significant project, in response to Ministry of Defence requirement B35/46, which called for an aircraft which must possess an operating range in excess of 3,350 nautical miles, be capable of speeds approaching 500 knots and have an operating ceiling of 50,000 feet. Importantly, the aircraft was also required to carry a ‘special’ payload of 10,000 imperial pounds in weight (a nuclear device), as it was intended to serve as a flying deterrent to any future threat against the UK. It has been described that these specifications represented a 100% increase in the capabilities of any previous bomber aircraft.
The high altitude operating requirement said much about the military thinking of the day and was intended to keep the new aircraft above the effective range of surface-to-air missile defences, making it difficult to locate on radar and too high to be intercepted by current fighter aircraft technology. The range requirement was also significant and clearly pointing to the belief that any potential future military threat would be coming from behind the shadow of the Iron Curtain. Also, with its nuclear capabilities confirming that from a weapons delivery perspective, bombing strategies would never be the same again in this nuclear age.
A first look at some of the development images produced in support of the new Vulcan B.2 project. These skeletal images clearly show the iconic wing shape of the Vulcan and how the designer built up this section of the model. Please note that these represent development images and are being shown for illustrative purposes only
With such demanding specifications as these, the Avro design team were quickly forced to explore revolutionary aviation concepts for their new aircraft and the adoption of a large delta wing configuration, which whilst posing some significant technological challenges, offered aerodynamic benefits which far outweigh these difficulties. They would, however, be breaking new aviation ground in developing their new jet bomber.
As the huge doors of Woodford aerodrome’s construction hangar were pushed back on 30th August 1952 and Avro Vulcan prototype VX770 was wheeled out onto the hardstanding outside, she must have made for a breathtaking sight. Looking absolutely resplendent in its all-over white ‘Anti-Flash’ paint finish and proudly wearing Royal Air Force insignia, what the Avro engineers had managed to produce was not only the world’s first delta bomber, but also the most advanced bomber in the world. As chief test pilot ‘Roly’ Falk embarked on the aircraft’s maiden flight, he brought the county of Lancashire to a standstill, as the population marvelled at the unusual sight of this distinctive bomber and were the first to experience an aviation phenomenon which would later become known as the ‘Vulcan Effect’.
Vulcan 'First Strike' – A nuclear peace keeper
As the Avro Vulcan entered squadron service with No.83 Squadron at RAF Waddington in July 1957, the Royal Air Force had one of the most advanced aircraft in the world at their disposal, which was at that time not only the world’s first delta bomber, but also the fastest nuclear capable bomber in the world. It seems to be something of a strange dichotomy to describe an aircraft which possessed such devastating destructive potential as Britain’s most effective peace keeping asset, but that is exactly what the Vulcan was. During the frosty relations of the Cold War, the Warsaw Pact nations were in no doubt that if they dared to launch an attack against a NATO country, the consequences of the inevitable retaliatory strike would be catastrophic. At that time, nothing represented this doomsday scenario more effectively than the mighty Avro Vulcan.
Produced by the designer responsible for the new Vulcan, these development images will be on show at the Scale Modelworld show and used as a backdrop display for the resin prototype model, which will be sitting majestically in our display plinth
A computer rendered 3D image showing some of the internal detail and wing structure incorporated in the new Vulcan kit
Absolutely central to the deterrent threat of a Vulcan nuclear strike plan was the speed at which Britain could launch an attack. This massive aircraft possessed almost fighter like performance and their crews were trained exhaustively in performing rapid reaction tactical scrambles - A Vulcan could start all four engines simultaneously with little ground support required and could be airborne in less than 5,000 feet of runway.
In this rapid reaction role, Vulcans could be dispersed to airfields all over the UK and Europe and had a launch reaction time only restricted by the readiness state of the crew – typically, a Vulcan could be in the air and heading for Russia in around four minutes, sometimes even quicker. Britain’s early warning system would allow Vulcan crews fifteen minutes notice of an impending Soviet strike, by which time as many Vulcans as possible would need to be in the air and heading for their targets.
Despite being one of the most attractive bombers to take to the skies, the Vulcan was a weapon of war and it was extremely effective in that role.
Avro Vulcan B.2 – The Ultimate Delta
A thing of Cold War beauty, the Avro Vulcan B.2 has been the most heavily requested new tooling suggestion of the past few years and news of this new kit will be welcomed by many modellers
Despite being one of the world’s most distinctive aircraft, the technology behind the Avro Vulcan was highly advanced and as the aircraft settled into service life, a number of unforeseen problems with the original design became apparent. The most significant of these related to the installation of more powerful Rolls Royce Olympus engines and wing instability when operating the aircraft at higher speeds – this concerned designers so much that a re-design of the wing was initiated. Indeed, of the many upgrades and improvements applied to the Vulcan during its service life, the most noticeable was the change in wing size and shape.
By the time the definitive B.2 variant had entered service, the wing area had increased significantly and although still classed as a delta, looked quite different from the first aircraft to enter service. To cope with the increased power availability from subsequent engine upgrades and to cure the stability issues of the original straight wing design, the B.2 wing had two defined kinks in its leading edge, well forward of the profile of the original. Rather than detract from the simple aesthetics of the early Vulcan’s delta wing, the B.2 actually enhanced the profile of the aircraft, even though these changes were obviously made for reasons of operational effectiveness and not the aircraft’s appearance.
The service introduction of the Vulcan B.2 in July 1960 coincided with the availability of more capable nuclear weapons for the V-bomber force, both in number and destructive potential. It would also bring about a change in thinking regarding the delivery of these weapons, as significant advances in Soviet anti-aircraft technology now threatened the successful delivery of a free-fall gravity bomb. A new weapon would have to be developed in order to maintain the deterrent threat of the Vulcan and its V-bomber partners.
This next exclusive trio of images feature the prototype model which will be the Airfix star of the show at Scale Modelworld 2019. Representing a significant investment for the company, this unique model plays an important part in the development of the new model, however, die to the fragile nature of its construction, will probably only ever be seen in public at this weekend’s Telford show
Developed to maintain the validity of Britain’s nuclear deterrent threat, designers at Avro produced the powerful ‘Blue Steel’ air-launched, nuclear stand-off missile, which would allow V-bomber crews to launch their attacks out of the range of Soviet surface-to-air missile batteries and give them additional time to avoid the resultant blast. Further boosting the effectiveness of the V-bomber force the arrival of ‘Blue Steel’ raised the nuclear stakes in Britain’s favour once more and would have caused much consternation amongst the Warsaw Pact nations.
Nuclear equipped Vulcan’s were given an all over anti-flash white paint finish, which was designed to have the dual benefit of making the aircraft extremely difficult to see from the ground and in the event of a nuclear delivery, offer some reflective properties which would help to deflect any thermal energy hitting the aircraft, therefore protecting the aircraft and its crew. Mercifully, this theory was never put to the test and in actual fact, despite possessing incredible destructive power, no British bomber would ever fly with a live nuclear weapon on board, which in itself stands testament to the deterrent threat posed by the Vulcans of the nuclear V-force.
The mighty Avro Vulcan stands as one of the world’s most famous aircraft designs and served the Royal Air Force for 25 years, which encompassed the most dangerous nuclear period the world has ever known. It would also be involved in the longest bombing raid in the history of warfare (at that time) and was held in such affection that the Vulcan Display Flight maintain an aircraft for Airshow appearances for nine years following the type’s service withdrawal. One aircraft, XH558, would go on to be a historic aviation phenomenon and rival such acts as the Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in the aviation affections of the British public, until its enforced grounding at the end of 2015.
This final image is quite magnificent and shows us all what we have to look forward to with the release of this new kit. Described as a computer rendered 3D exploded part view, it splits the new Vulcan into some of its component parts and shows some of the detail incorporated into this exciting project
As an icon of the British aviation industry, we know that the announcement of our newly tooled 1/72nd scale representation of this magnificent aircraft will be of great interest to modellers and the Workbench team are very much looking forward to bringing you regular updates from the project as it progresses through its various development stages. We will begin by featuring the process of scanning a real Vulcan and how this played an important role during the early stages of the project, as well as including the thoughts of the designer responsible for working on this high profile project.
For now though, we are all very much in Scale Modelworld mode and working hard presenting our new Vulcan at this year’s show, however, we hope everyone has enjoyed this special show announcement edition of the blog and a first look at our beautiful new 1/72nd scale Avro Vulcan B.2 project.
We are afraid that’s all we have for you in this latest edition of Workbench, however, we will be back as usual in two weeks’ time with a further selection of Airfix modelling delights for your enjoyment. If you have any suggestions for subjects you would like to see covered in a future edition, please use this email@example.com link to contact us.
In between new editions of our blog, the Airfix conversation continues over on our Airfix Forum Worbench thread, with further discussions taking place on both the official Airfix Facebook page and the Airfix Twitter channel - please do get involved in the discussions and let us know what you think about Workbench.
Whenever you decide to visit, the Airfix website is always the place to be for all the latest model availability information, previous editions of our blog, a selection of modelling tips and much more.
The next edition of Workbench is due to be published on Friday 22nd November, when we return to our usual publication slot.
On behalf of the entire Workbench team, thank you for your continued support our Airfix blog.
The Airfix Workbench Team
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