Exclusive Workbench Wimpy Update

Exclusive Workbench Wimpy Update

We would like to wish all our readers a very warm welcome to this latest edition of Workbench and all the news, updates and exclusive announcements from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling. Even though we are only a few short weeks into the new year, the launch of any new Airfix catalogue ensures that not only have the good people at Airfix been kept extremely busy for the past few months in preparation for the range announcement, but also there is so much new information contained within the 2018 catalogue that the blog team are left feeling like we are playing catch up for a while. Hopefully, by now you will all have had the opportunity to inspect the latest model range and highlighted one or two kits for build projects throughout the coming year and we are certainly looking forward to bringing you plenty of updates and exclusive features over the next few months.

So, what do we have for you in edition 66 of our blog? Readers with an interest in Bomber Command subject matter will be pleased to hear that we have a full project update from the new Vickers Wellington IC tooling, including built sample models constructed from the latest test sprues and exclusive images from a spectacular full test build by one of our talented modelling friends. We have the second instalment of our Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe build, supplied to us by regular German contributor Andreas Fey and we have our first exclusive artwork reveal of 2018, as we mark the triumphant return of an extremely popular model to the latest Airfix model range - Workbench readers certainly love an artwork reveal, so this is something we hope you will all enjoy. Let's begin by looking at the impressive new Wellington and the latest Airfix modelling exclusive for Workbench readers.

A Bomber of distinction

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This early test build of the new Wellington Mk.IC proved popular at Airfix HQ recently 

Arguably, some of the most important aircraft in the history of the Royal Air Force were those which were in service at the outbreak of the Second World War. All of these types will have been designed, developed and introduced into squadron service at a time when aviation technology was going through a dramatic period of change. Traditional manufacturing techniques were having to give way to more advanced methods of construction and the latest breed of aero engines were producing greater power than ever before, allowing fighters to post blistering performance and bombers to carry heavier loads over longer distances. Although many of these aircraft still retained design elements of early 1930s aviation, they would be thrust into the furnace of war and tasked with shouldering a heavy burden of responsibility, as Britain fought defiantly to halt the march of German aggression across continental Europe, often facing a modern and extremely organised foe.

One aircraft which illustrates this more than most was the Vickers Wellington medium bomber, which was originally designed to specifications issued in 1932 and was widely regarded as bordering on obsolescence even before it entered RAF service. Forming the spearhead of Britain's offensive response to war with Germany from the very first day of conflict, the Wellington would go on to be produced in greater quantities than any other British bomber in history, eclipsing the famous Lancaster by a significant margin and was also the only British bomber to be in constant production throughout the Second World War. As far as the history of Bomber Command is concerned, the Wellington is arguably the most important aircraft to come under their control and as we enter this centenary year of the Royal Air Force, it is fitting that this important bomber is stepping out from the shadows of the famous four-engined aircraft which superseded it and basking in the Airfix spotlight.

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The new Wellington kit includes exceptional levels of detail and allow the intricate geodetic construction to be viewed through the fuselage windows

The Wellington proved to be something of an aviation dichotomy as it approached RAF squadron service, on the one hand incorporating some of the very latest equipment and design ideas, whilst also continuing to use many of the tried and trusted manufacturing techniques associated with a previous era of aircraft production. Conforming to the strict weight criteria imposed during the design stage and intending to incorporate the latest and most powerful engine designs on their new aircraft, the Vickers design adopted a method of construction which would give the Wellington one of its most distinctive features and endow the aircraft with a significant benefit in the struggles to come. The geodetic method of construction was developed by famous British engineer and inventor Barnes Wallis, who had perfected this design for use in the construction of airships and the earlier Vickers Wellesley light bomber and utilised hundreds of Duralumin W-beams used to form an intricate metal lattice-work construction on to which wooden battens would be screwed. This would then allow a doped fabric outer skin to be attached to the aircraft, which whilst representing a more traditional type of aircraft manufacturing, made the Wellington much less susceptible to battle damage than more modern stressed skin designs. The resultant fuselage was relatively light in weight but possessed great strength and whilst this method of construction undoubtedly posed challenges for companies engaged in manufacturing the Wellington, the inherent strength of the design would prove crucial when the aircraft was thrust into combat. Capable of withstanding significant battle damage, numerous RAF Wellingtons managed to bring their crews back home, when other bombers may have failed to do so, often sporting gaping holes in their wings and fuselage.

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This Wellington test build illustrates why many modellers are looking forward to the release of this newly tooled representation of a British classic

One interesting feature which many Wellington crew members noted as being significant when operating these aircraft was the fact that the geodetic construction allowed the aeroplane to flex slightly whilst in the air and perhaps more alarmingly for first time crew members, made the Wellington appear to wobble from side to side in a slightly ungainly fashion as it taxied towards the runway for take off. Nevertheless, the excellent flying characteristics and ability to soak up plenty of battle damage earned the Wellington a favourable reputation amongst aircrew posted to operate the type.

As one of Britain's most famous bombers of the Second World War, the Wellington has been a mainstay of the Airfix model range, since it was first released back in 1959. Since that date, despite the fact that this model was always amongst the most popular kits in the entire range, it only ever benefitted from new box designs and alternative decals, later becoming one of the most requested kits modellers hoped would be brought up to contemporary standards and re-tooled. Thankfully for many, that glorious day arrived with the exclusive announcement of the new Vickers Wellington Mk.IC tooling in the special 50th edition of Workbench at the end of June last year and with the latest test samples displayed on the Airfix stand at Telford 2017, it is already clear that the new Wellington will be a popular addition to the range.

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The unmistakable lines of Britain's most capable bomber at the start of WWII

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This test build section shot shows the impressive levels of internal detail which will feature in the new Wellington kit

As we endeavour to keep Workbench readers informed on the progress of this exciting new model, we are pleased to bring you this exclusive update featuring test build images of the Wellington Mk.IC kit. These images mark an important stage in the development of a new model tooling, heralding the arrival of the early test frames, which allow the design team to thoroughly inspect the accuracy of the components, before producing a report on their findings, which will be presented to the Development Manager. Of great interest to us at Workbench and to the wider modelling community, this stage also yields images of the first test builds, which are usually sprayed in a grey primer to identify them as a finished test build and to potentially highlight any fit issues which may need rectifying at this stage. These builds are then often used for catalogue/website marketing purposes and alert modellers to the fact that the new model is advancing steadily towards its scheduled release date. It is also sometimes at this stage that a set of complete components are sent to one of our modelling friends, who undertakes a separate full build of the new model - more on this a little later. For now, we hope you enjoy viewing the latest selection of Wellington test build images above, which have been exclusively released by the Airfix design team for the benefit of Workbench readers.

Vickers Wellington - Workhorse of Bomber Command

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This magnificent built sample produced by Jim Bren will have many readers planning a Wellington build later in the year

As appealing as the latest Wellington test build images may be, there is nothing quite like seeing a beautifully finished example of the model to get every modellers pulse racing just a little faster, even though it may have been constructed using the same early test components from the Wellington IC tooling. By way of an unexpected Wellington bonus for Workbench readers, we have a superbly finished model to show you, which had been expertly produced by Jim Bren who is no stranger to this type of work, having been involved in many similar projects for Airfix over the years. It is always valuable for the design team to gauge the opinion of accomplished modellers and Jim has been a regular supporter for many years - his latest masterpiece is a work of modelling art and beautifully portrays the Wellington as a hard working, battle hardened airborne warrior of the Second World War. As the decal options which will be included in the kit have yet to be produced, Jim was able to use a little poetic licence and his extensive subject knowledge for this build and we think you will agree that he has done a superb job with this Mildenhall based Wimpy.

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A selection of images showing Jim's fantastic work on his Wellington build

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Jim has chosen to complete his model as Vickers Wellington Mk.IC R1593 OJ-N - 'N for Nuts' of RAF No.149 'East India' Squadron, based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk during the spring of 1941 and as can be seen in the attached photographs, the aircraft benefits from rather unusual nose artwork, which features what is clearly supposed to be a stylised firefly. Jim has also given his Wellington a distinctly war weary appearance, which very much adds to the appeal of this magnificent model and underlines the fact that these were extremely hard working weapons of war.

It is thought that this particular aircraft was damaged during a raid on Bremen in July 1941, having been caught in a searchlight cone over the target area. Facing an accurate flak barrage, the pilot attempted to avoid the illumination and subsequent attentions of the flak batteries by diving for the ground, only managing to do so at an altitude of around 2,000 ft, but miraculously, despite the aircraft being peppered with shrapnel holes, the crew survived the experience relatively unscathed. With the radio knocked out, the crew had no means by which to contact their home base and by the time they arrived back at Mildenhall, they were seriously overdue and posted as probable MIA. Once on the ground, the damage to P1593 was classed as serious enough to render the aircraft beyond repair and it was thought that the 'Firefly' left the airfield in various component pieces.

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Underside view of the Wellington showing the bomb bay detail incorporated into this new kit

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Jim's Wellington build inspired one of our graphic design team to allow his creative juices to flow. If only we could have a sight like this at Duxford - great work Mike

Another interesting fact involving the Mildenhall Wellingtons of No.149 Squadron was that they were the stars of the famous wartime film 'Target for Tonight', which was released in the summer of 1941 and was watched by huge audiences at cinemas in Britain and the US. No actors were used in the production of the film, which followed an RAF bombing raid on an oil storage depot in Germany, with everyone appearing on screen being serving RAF personnel, with no actors involved. The flying footage was either captured during actual wartime operations, or by using a particularly battered old Wimpy which was residing on the outer perimeter of the airfield.

Clearly, the new 1/72nd scale Vickers Wellington Mk.IC is going to be an incredibly popular addition to the Airfix range and a fitting tribute to one of the RAF's most significant aircraft of WWII. If the above images are anything to go by, this unsung hero of Bomber Command is about to receive plenty of modelling attention during 2018, as this new kit will inspire many to discover the virtues of this exceptional aeroplane. Wellington (A08019) is currently scheduled for a May 2018 release and we look forward to bringing you further updates from the project over the coming few weeks.

The Messerschmitt jet menace

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A modelling representation of a Messerschmitt Me 262 being prepared for flight

In the previous edition of Workbench, we featured the latest build project completed by regular German contributor Andreas Fey, his magnificent late war Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow). Andreas is not only incredibly proficient in his modelling skills, but he also possesses a talent for including diorama settings for his builds and photographing them in spectacularly evocative scenes, which really do bring the models to life. He decided to finish his model using one of the scheme options included with the relatively new Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a kit (A03088) - 'Yellow 3', of 9./Kampfgeschwader(J) 54, which was based at Neuburg an der Donau in Bavaria, during March-April 1945, the scheme which is featured on the magnificent artwork which adorns the box of this fantastic model.

As well as supplying us with a host of magnificent build and finished model images, Andreas also sent us a short description of the project and his views on this 2017 new tooling release.

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A selection of images from Andreas' latest Luftwaffe build project

The Build - The Model itself is a lot of fun to build, because fitting is very good and there was no minder flash or sink marks. Compared with the academy model, the engraved details are slightly rougher, but nicely done. Then still a problem arose in one place - I had some problems to get the engines in place, cause I had to remove some edges on the underside of the wing first. After that, everything went very well and as one can see, I used a rivet-maker tool to add some extra life to the skin of the plane.

For an open presentation of the cockpit, it is worth to use the appropriate photo-etched parts from Eduard, as they are a very nice addition. This also applies to the wheels of this manufacturer, they are very nice moulded and look more authentic in my opinion. I was not sure if I really had put enough weight the models nose, but luckily it was enough.

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Although expertly finished, Andreas adds extra realism to his builds with his diorama photography

Painting - The Model was painted with Mr Hobby colours, diluted 1:1 with alcohol and applied with low pressure. Decals used were from the kit. I don't use a clear gloss varnish or something before adding the decals. Instead of this, I polished the plane with micro-mesh (6000). My motto is: as few paint layers as possible and also as thin as possible. The black air intakes are just the primer for the silver paint that follows next.

Decals - From the beginning I have some difficulties to place the big decal to the tail of the plane, but with some help of Mr. Mark-Softer and Mr Mark-Setter, it goes right in place. I left the decals to dry till next morning and the result was very pleasing - The rest was just fine-tuning with a razor blade and color from Mr. Hobby (H25 sky-blue) and white of course.

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With its shark like profile, the advanced Me 262 must have been a fearsome sight for Allied airmen

Although the Messerschmitt Me 262 stands as one of the most significant aircraft in the history of aviation, its impact on the air war during WWII was thankfully limited by many contributing factors, such as the ridiculous delays in introducing this ground-breaking aircraft as a fighter and the overwhelming superiority of the Allied air forces at that time. It has proved difficult to accurately corroborate the number of aerial victories scored by Me 262 fighters in the final months of WWII, but it is thought to have been around 735 aircraft destroyed. What we do know is that 27 Luftwaffe pilots went on to be classed as jet aces, however even on their most productive day of the war, their successes accounted for less than 1% of the Allied attacking force and when accepting that attrition to their own number was having a significant impact on operational strength, it is no wonder that this superlative aircraft was unable to stem the inexorable tide of Allied aerial domination.

Thank you once again to Andreas for sending us this beautiful Me 262 build and we look forward to featuring another of your extremely imaginative projects in a future edition of Workbench.

Spitfire Zenith

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The recently announced 2018 model range included the welcome return of the magnificent Supermarine Spitfire Mk.22/24 kit in 1/48th scale and as this year will mark the 80th anniversary of the first Spitfires arriving at RAF squadrons, we are proud to have this magnificent Spitfire artwork as our first exclusive reveal of the year. Representing the absolute pinnacle of Spitfire and indeed piston engined fighter design, these late mark machines were totally different from the cultured fighters which arrived at Duxford airfield in 1938, taking the basic Spitfire design and turning it into a flying beast. Using the latest Rolls Royce Griffon engine and a huge 11ft diameter five bladed propeller, these final Spitfires were almost 100 mph faster than the first machines and could boast an increased climb rate of 80% over the prototype aircraft. At double the weight and possessing more than twice the power of the first Spitfires, these magnificent aircraft remained in production throughout the Second World War and effectively ushered the Royal Air Force from the age of the biplane, to the dawning of the jet age.

The Supermarine Spitfire is not only Britain's most famous aircraft, but also potentially one of the most significant aeroplanes in the history of flight - for this reason, the Spitfire has been a constant feature of the Airfix range since our very first aviation kit was released in 1953 and over the past 65 years, Spitfires in various marks and scales have inspired modellers all over the world. The enduring popularity of the Spitfire is illustrated by the fact that the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight are still operating the aircraft from a front line RAF station to this day, almost 82 years after the first flight of the prototype aircraft, retaining this important link with Britain's most famous fighting aircraft.

The stunningly evocative artwork pictured above will be used in conjunction with the release of A06101A Supermarine Spitfire F.Mk.22/24 in 1:48, which is currently scheduled for a June release. The two scheme and decal options which will be included with the kit are:

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Profile artwork for the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force Spitfire scheme

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Full scheme details, which will be included with this 1/48th scale kit

Supermarine Spitfire F Mk.24, VN318/E, No.80 Squadron, Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force, Kai Tak, Hong Kong, 1955.

The mark 24 was the final variant of the Spitfire and was a very different beast from the aircraft which took part in the Battle of Britain. With almost double the available power from the latest Rolls Royce Griffon engine, these machines did not purr and whistle like the cultured Merlin engine of the first machines but growled menacingly and demanded to be unleashed. With a top speed of around 454mph and incorporating the larger tail from the Supermarine Spiteful, these Spitfires were the ultimate performers, with an exceptional rate of climb and excellent performance at altitude, easily matching the best contemporary piston powered designs in the world. Although the dawning of the jet age was closing in on the Spitfire, these mighty machines ensured that R.J. Mitchell's classic fighter did not pass into aviation history quietly.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk.24 VN318 was produced at Castle Bromwich in early 1946 and issued to RAF No.80 Squadron, where it would fly patrol and reconnaissance missions from Wunstorf in Germany as part of the British Air Force of Occupation. The Squadron was later posted to the Far East, which saw the Spitfire shipped to Hong Kong, where it would fly air defence sorties from Kai Tak airfield - this must have been quite a challenge for the pilots, as the airfield was always extremely busy and is notoriously difficult to operate from. Situated at the base of a particularly mountainous region, landing this powerful Spitfire, with its long nose and massive propeller must have been a hair-raising experience. Following the disbandment of RAF No.80 Squadron, VN318 was transferred to the Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force, giving them a huge upgrade in both their offensive and defensive capabilities. It is reported that this Spitfire was forced to make a wheels up landing at Kai Tak in April 1955, although a definitive record of its eventual fate is not known to us at this time.

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This profile shows the No.607 Squadron Spitfire which took part in the 1948 Cooper Trophy air race

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Supermarine Spitfire F Mk.22, PK553 RAF No.607 (County of Durham) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, RAF Ouston, England. Aircraft took part in the Cooper Trophy air race of 1948.

This late version of the Spitfire can be identified from the earlier Mk.21 by virtue of its shallower rear fuselage and teardrop canopy, with most also benefitting from larger fin, rudder and tail surfaces, similar to those used on the Supermarine Spiteful and in an attempt to tame the power from the mighty Griffon engine. Spitfire PK553 was produced at the Castle Bromwich factory as part of contract B981687/39 and issued to No.607 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force. The RAuxAF was a force of paid volunteers who acted as a reinforcement reserve force for the Royal Air Force, giving up their evenings, weekends and holidays to train and serve in this essential force, following the end of the Second World War. RAF No 607 Squadron reformed on 10th May 1946 as a RAuxAF day fighter squadron at Ouston, in Northumberland, initially flying the Spitfire Mk.XIV and later the Mk.22, before eventually entering the jet age with the de Havilland Vampire.

This scheme option allows the modeller to produce Spitfire PK553 in one of two guises, either wearing her standard No.607 Squadron colours, or those she wore during her participation in the 1948 Cooper Trophy air race. In the years following the end of the Second World War, there was an attempt made to revive the incredibly popular air race scene in the UK, which had regularly seen huge crowds flocking to events during the 1930s. The Cooper Trophy was a competition arranged for Royal Auxiliary Air Force units to contest and would have resulted in the sight of some of the world's most powerful piston engined fighters blasting around the skies of Britain, as they attempted to claim glory for their squadron. Unfortunately, the toils of war appeared to leave the British public a little apathetic to the prospect of Griffon powered Spitfires racing each other (perish the thought) and they did not turn out in sufficient numbers to see a return of the glory days of air racing. In its Copper Trophy livery, Spitfire PK553 carried a red rear fuselage band and its racing number 4 - it also had a representation of the squadron crest on the front port side of the fuselage, positioned underneath the exhaust stack.

These two interesting Spitfire schemes will undoubtedly be popular with modellers looking to produce an example of the ultimate Spitfire, particularly in this larger 1/48th scale, which lends itself perfectly to illustrating the size and power of these mighty machines. Supermarine Spitfire F.Mk.22/24 (A06101A) is currently scheduled for a June release and is an ideal way to mark the 80th anniversary of the Spitfire's entry into RAF service.

 

That's all we have for you in this latest edition of Workbench, but we look forward to seeing you all here again in two weeks' time for more Airfix action. As you know, we are always keen to gauge the thoughts of our readers and there are several ways in which you can contact us, which include our dedicated e-mail address at workbench@airfix.com 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.

As always, the Airfix website is the place to go for all the latest model release information, with our New Arrivals, Coming Soon and Last Chance to Buy sections all accessed by clicking on the above links. As updating the website is a constant process, a quick search through each section of the Airfix web pages will reveal new information and updated images in many of the product sections and this is always an enjoyable and rewarding way to spend a few minutes.

The next edition of Workbench is due to be published on Friday 16th February, when we look forward to bringing you all the latest news, updates and exclusives from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling.

The Airfix Workbench Team

 

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