Fleet Air Arm Martlet and Jet Provost Updates

Fleet Air Arm Martlet and Jet Provost Updates


Welcome to the latest edition of Airfix Workbench, where as usual we have a feature-packed update on everything that is happening in the world of Airfix modelling. We will be bringing you updates on two highly anticipated kit projects due for release later in the year, along with some interesting reader and forum features. We end with one of our ever popular box artwork reveals, which as usual is absolutely stunning.

Before we begin, we would just like to let our readers know that Workbench will be taking a short break following the release of this latest edition. The next edition of our Airfix blog will not be published until Friday 15th July, but we will be looking to bring you a bumper edition when we return as it's our first birthday! In the meantime, please do continue to send us your photographs and build features, as we are always pleased to receive this information and we will have many more blogs to bring you during the remainder of 2016. Right, on with this latest edition.


RAF Pilot Training goes ‘All Jet’


The unusual long undercarriage arrangement of the Hunting Percival Jet Provost T.1


By their nature, military pilot training aircraft tend to be amongst the most popular aircraft in the history of any nation's air arm, both with enthusiasts and with the pilots who go on to fly them. As these aircraft tend to be amongst the most numerous in any air force, simple logistics dictate that more people come into contact with this type of aircraft than any other, whether flying them, working on them, or simply watching them from an enthusiast’s point of view. From the modeller's perspective, training aircraft are always popular build projects and over the past few years the Airfix range has benefited from a number of newly tooled RAF training aircraft model releases. The latest model in this successful series is the beautiful new Hunting Percival Jet Provost T.3 (A02103), which occupies an extremely important position in the history of the Royal Air Force and has been extremely well received since it was originally announced in Workbench.



Airfix De Havilland Vampire T.11 - this was the RAF advanced jet trainer waiting for students at the OCU (Image Colin Duckworth)


As the world entered the jet age, the Royal Air Force were amongst the first service to incorporate this new technology, and in the years following the end of WWII it soon became apparent that their pilot training programme would have to reflect this change. Initially, student pilots would be trained on some of the classic piston engined aircraft still in RAF inventory, such as the Tiger Moth, North American Harvard, or the new Hunting Percival Piston Provost. The transition from these older aircraft types to the advanced jet trainers now in service, such as De Havilland Vampire T.11, was proving to be more than a little problematic. Having completed their training satisfactorily on piston engined aircraft, the early 1950s highlighted the fact that large numbers of student pilots were proving to be unsuitable for more advanced jet flying. Indeed, with a significant number of jet training accidents being suffered and up to one third of newly qualified pilots finding themselves being rejected by the Vampire T.11 flying RAF Operational Conversion Units, something had to be done and quickly.



Computer rendered CAD image of the new 1/72nd scale Hunting Percival Jet Provost T.3


The answer was to introduce student pilots to jet aircraft much earlier in the training programme, and a jet powered version of the successful Piston Provost aircraft was developed by Hunting Percival. With the adoption of this ‘All Jet’ pilot training programme, it was thought that OCU rejection rates would be reduced to just one or two percent, with significant cost savings and a reduction in flying accidents being extremely welcome anticipated benefits. The Jet Provost T.1 entered service trials with the RAF in 1955 and different versions of the aircraft remained in service until 1993 – in a rather strange turn of events, this classic jet trainer was actually replaced in service by the turboprop Short Tucano T.1.



The Short Tucano was the eventual replacement for the Jet Provost trainer


Clearly, an aircraft possessing the impressive heritage of the Jet Provost will be a welcome addition to the 1/72nd scale Airfix range, and since the announcement of this new tooling was made last year modellers have been keen to receive updates on this project, which seems destined to be an extremely popular model. We are pleased to be in a position to bring you confirmation and supporting artwork of the decal scheme options that will be included with this impressive new kit when it is released later in the year:


Scheme Option 1


Full Airfix decoration layout for the No.2 FTS RAF Gaydon Jet Provost T.3

Hunting Percival Jet Provost T.3, XM413/24, No.2 Flying Training School, Royal Air Force, Gaydon, Warwickshire, England 1967.


Following construction by Hunting Percival, this particular T.3 was initially delivered to No. 27 Maintenance Unit at RAF Shawbury in March 1960, before being flown to the Central Flying School at Little Rissington just a few days later. At the end of its first full year of flying training, the aircraft suffered a CAT 3R flying accident – this usually meant that the aircraft was repairable, but the work was severe enough to require the manufacturer to complete the work. A contractor would either be sent to the airfield where the aircraft was stored, or it would be temporarily repaired, before being flown to the manufacturer's facility for the actual repair work to be carried out.

Following repair, XM413 was flown to No.7 Flying Training School at Church Fenton in January 1963, where it served without incident for the next three years. At the end of June 1966, the aircraft went on the serve with No.2 FTS at Syerston, where it was coded ‘24’ and eventually went on to RAF Gaydon, proving to be an extremely reliable aircraft in the training of RAF student pilots.

In July 1969, Jet Provost T.3 XM413 began a lengthy period of storage, before being declared a ‘non-effective’ airframe in 1976 – it was transported by road to the Army Apprentice College at Arborfield, in Berkshire, where it was later scrapped in around 1992.


Scheme Option 2


Full Airfix decoration layout for the No.1 FTS RAF Linton-On-Ouse Jet Provost T.3

Hunting Percival Jet Provost T.3A, XM461/11, No.1 Flying Training School, Royal Air Force, Linton-On-Ouse, North Yorkshire, England 1984.


As with the previous aircraft, XM461 was delivered to No.27 Maintenance Unit at RAF Shawbury in May 1960, before being flown to the Royal Air Force College Cranwell a few weeks later. Following almost seven years of flying training service with the RAF, the aircraft returned to Shawbury for a lengthy period in storage.

In August 1973, XM461 was flown to the British Aerospace factory at Warton, where it was converted to T.3A standard, first flying in this configuration on 4th January 1974. Over the next few months, the aircraft provided pilot training support at RAF Leeming, Little Rissington and back to Leeming, before eventually arriving at No.1 FTS Linton-On-Ouse in August 1974. This magnificent aircraft stayed at Linton for the next seventeen years, with just a short interruption when XM461 served as a trials aircraft at the British Aerospace Warton factory.

In 1991, this Jet Provost was put up for sale by the Ministry of Defence and was acquired by Richard Lake and his Global Aviation company, which was based at the former RAF Binbrook airfield. Quite a number of RAF Jet Provosts were to end up at Binbrook, where they were stored and prepared, before onward sale to new owners all over the world. The old Lightning ‘Q Shed’ at Binbrook was utilised as a temporary paint shop for the Jet Provosts, many of which received a smart new coat of paint before being despatched to their new owners. Interestingly, as the Jet Provosts were flown in, this once vibrant station would spring into life, as the airfield would need fire and air traffic control cover for the arrival of the aircraft. The Jet Provosts would usually fly in to Binbrook accompanied by RAF Tucano trainers, so the ferry pilots could quickly return to their base, following delivery of the former RAF jets.



Stencil data layout graphic for the new Jet Provost T.3


Jet Provost T.3A XM461 was sold to a US collector and exported to Griffin Spalding County Airport, in Georgia in 1992. Carrying the registration N6204H, the aircraft still wears the classic RAF 1 FTS scheme from its time at Linton-On-Ouse, including the white rose of Yorkshire and the number markings 11 and 19. It is thought that the aircraft is not currently in airworthy condition and as it had been stored outdoors for many years, it is now in need of some much needed TLC.

The new Airfix 1/72nd scale Hunting Percival Jet Provost T.3 kit is obviously attracting a lot of interest from modellers and many will be looking forward to adding this to their 2016 build schedule – it is currently on track for a late August release, but it is advisable to keep checking the Airfix website for all the latest information.



Diminutive American Fighter Finds Home with The Fleet Air Arm


Computer rendered CAD image of the new Grumman Martlet Mk.IV project


In the months before America entered the Second World War, the European Allied powers were desperate to obtain as many modern US aircraft as they could get their hands on, which would allow them to continue challenging the German war machine. Britain’s Fleet Air Arm had an effective long range heavy fighter, in the shape of the Fairey Fulmar, but this aircraft was unsuitable as a manoeuvrable fleet defence, and as Spitfires were currently required by the RAF, they looked across the Atlantic for help. The Grumman Aviation Company had been producing effective naval fighters for many years and the latest incarnation of their barrel-bodied fighters was the F4F Wildcat – even before the US Navy had placed an order, both the French Navy and Fleet Air Arm ordered the aircraft, requesting some configuration changes to better suit their requirements.

Although the F4F was definitely not the most capable naval fighter of the Second World War, it undoubtedly proved to be one of the most important for both Britain and America. In Fleet Air Arm service, the F4F was known as the Martlet and the arrival of large numbers of these aircraft proved to be instrumental in early war naval operations – inheriting all of the aircraft ordered by the French Navy, initial FAA Martlets were stationed at RNAS bases around Britain, before going on to serve valiantly during the Battle of the Atlantic. This diminutive fighter proved to be perfect for operations from Britain’s smaller escort carriers - in an interesting turn of military fate, the former German merchant vessel Hannover (HMS Audacity) was converted to escort carrier configuration and carried the new FAA Martlets. Aircraft from this vessel were responsible for destroying several Luftwaffe Focke Wulf Fw 200 Condor long-range bombers, as they proved highly effective convoy fighters.



This computer rendered CAD image clearly illustrates the naval heritage of the Martlet


Although more capable fleet fighters eventually entered service with the Fleet Air Arm, the rugged little Martlets were to see service throughout the Second World War, with no fewer than 1,123 aircraft being supplied by Grumman. Proving to be particularly effective during the Battle of the Atlantic, in Norway and in the Mediterranean theatre, Navy Martlets were to adopt the American Wildcat name from January 1944, as British and American forces began to operate more combined naval operations. As a hugely important British aircraft of WWII, modellers will be interested to see the scheme options that will accompany the new 1/72nd scale Airfix Grumman Martlet Mk.IV tooling, which is currently scheduled for release towards the end of August. We are pleased to be able to bring these details to you now:


Scheme Option A


Full Airfix decoration layout for Fleet Air Arm Grumman Martlet Mk.IV FN142

Grumman Martlet Mk. IV, FN142/09-P, No.888 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, on board HMS Formidable, November 1942, ‘Operation Torch’.


Operation Torch was a British-American joint invasion of French North Africa, which had long been requested by the Russians, hoping that the opening of a ‘second front’ would reduce pressure on beleaguered Soviet troops engaged in fighting the Germans. Interestingly, there were some sensitive issues regarding French public opinion and the potential for British troops on French territory, so for propaganda purposes the operation was described as a landing by US forces, supported by British warships and aircraft – this was thought to be more palatable to the French people. As can be seen from the profile above, Fleet Air Arm aircraft replaced the standard British roundel with the US ‘star’ roundels, again in support of this propaganda rouse.

As far as the actual landings were concerned, the beaches were attacked without experiencing much in the way of defensive opposition, as the French resistance fighters had effectively neutralised all the coastal defence batteries prior to the operation. Also, the feared U-boat threat to the invasion convoy did not materialise, as they were tempted into the Atlantic by a large merchant convoy.

Wearing standard Fleet Air Arm camouflage, but the altered US ‘star’ roundels required by British Operation Torch aircraft, this Martlet would have been involved in numerous sorties to ensure the landings remained unopposed by Axis air forces. FN142 would be lost on 19th December 1943, whilst engaged in a cloud flying exercise from RNAS Yeovilton – forty minutes into the flight, the aircraft was seen emerging from heavy cloud at high speed and heading towards the ground at a 45-degree angle. At approximately 1,000 ft. the wings appeared to be ripped from the fuselage, before complete structural failure of the aircraft occurred. The aircraft continued earthwards at the same angle, without any attempt by the pilot to abandon the Martlet – tragically, nineteen year old Basil John Charlton R.N.V.R. lost his life in this incident.


Scheme Option B


Full Airfix decoration layout for Fleet Air Arm ‘Operation Torch’ Grumman Martlet Mk.IV FN112

Grumman Martlet Mk.IV, FN112/0-7D, Lt. Denis Mayvore Jeram, No.888 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, on board HMS Formidable, November 1942, ‘Operation Torch’.


Lt. Jeram was flying this aircraft on a combat air patrol from HMS Formidable on 6th November 1942, just prior to the ‘Operation Torch’ Allied landings in North Africa. He was ordered to intercept a Vichy France fighter aircraft which was operating in his sector – he managed to catch what he thought was a Potez Po.630 heavy fighter (it was later confirmed as a Bloch MB.174 reconnaissance bomber of GR.II/52) on a reconnaissance flight off Cape Khamis, in Algeria. The aircraft was searching for an Allied convoy which had been spotted as it passed through the Straights of Gibraltar on its way to North Africa. After a brief dogfight, the Bloch was shot down and Jeram recorded his fifth confirmed victory, making him an ‘Ace’. Three days later, he also shared in the destruction of a Junkers Ju88 over Algiers – the aircraft had a German crew, but carried Italian markings.

Interestingly, Jeram was previously one of the Fleet Air Arm pilots loaned to the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain. He was transferred on 15th June 1940 and flew Hurricanes with No.213 Squadron at Exeter – during the Battle, he claimed four Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed and at least one more as ‘probable’. At the end of the Battle of Britain, he returned to the Fleet Air Arm and on to No.888 Naval Air Squadron from December 1941, ending the war with six confirmed victories.

The new Airfix Grumman Martlet Mk.IV (A02074) is scheduled for release at the end of August, but as published release dates can change for a number of different reasons it is always advisable to check the Airfix website for the latest information.



Readers Pictures – D-Day Revisited


Andy Morgan sent in these images of his Spitfire with less than perfect identification markings applied


As usual, we are extremely grateful for the reader pictures that have been sent to us over the past few weeks and it is really pleasing to see that modelling brings so much pleasure to so many people. Please do keep your pictures coming because it really is interesting to see them and some of the accompanying stories are absolutely fantastic. For this latest edition, we begin with a selection of images sent in by Andy Morgan, who was interested in our feature on the application of D-Day identification markings on Allied aircraft. He sent us some pictures of a recent Spitfire build project he recently finished, where he intentionally tried to replicate the less than perfect application of invasion stripes to many aircraft. We also have to say that Andy apologised for the quality of the photographs he sent us, as he only had his camera phone available at the time.

Andy is clearly interested in the subject of Operation Overlord and the D-Day invasion of occupied France and also sent us pictures of this beach landing diorama he created. The pictures very much illustrate what a bit of imagination and some Airfix kits can produce, as these diorama scenes carry much more impact than the individual models alone.




D-Day beach landing diorama created by Andy Morgan


Staying with the subject of imaginative diorama scenes, we were also pleased to receive the following images from Harry Birchall recently, which show some of his latest model builds and how he likes to display them in wartime airfield diorama schemes. The first picture shows a busy Battle of Britain scene, with an RAF Hurricane being readied for its next sortie in the protective surroundings of its blast wall revetment.



Harry Birchall still enjoys modelling at the age of 87


In the second image, Harry has produced a rather interesting scene which includes a Fleet Air Arm Fairey Swordfish and a Spitfire Mk.I being prepared for action. The more observant will spot the rather ingenious use of what looks like an IKEA pencil masquerading as a torpedo on its trolley at the back of the diorama. Harry hopes we all enjoy seeing his models as much as he enjoys making them. At the age of 87, he told us that modelling helps to keep his hands from going stiff and his mind active – keep up the good work Harry, your models look great!



Harry has created an interesting diorama scheme for his Spitfire and Swordfish


We would like to thank both Andy and Harry for sending us their model pictures and for their support of our Workbench blog. We hope that you enjoy seeing your efforts on the Airfix website and that you have many more years of modelling fun. We will have more readers pictures for you in the next edition of Workbench, so keep sending us your images and modelling stories at workbench@airfix.com .



Exclusive Artwork Reveal - Hitler’s Shipping Strike Heinkel


One of the new scheme options on the new Heinkel He111 H6


Since we posted our very first edition of Airfix Workbench back in July last year, our exclusive box artwork reveal features have proved to be extremely popular with our readers and we really have been able to unveil some absolute crackers. Serving both to inspire the modeller from a scheme detail perspective, whilst also helping to bring any modelling project to life, these beautiful pieces of artwork are now very much part of the Airfix product development of any new model release and are clearly much loved by the modeller. Over the past few editions, we have been lucky to have almost consecutive artwork reveals and we are in no mood to break this impressive streak this week.

As one of the most distinctive aircraft of the Second World War, the Heinkel He-III was a heavily used Luftwaffe medium bomber, which saw service in most theatres of operation contested by the Luftwaffe and in a variety of different roles. Highly advanced for an aircraft designed in the mid 1930s, the He-111 was very much showing its limitations by the time of the Battle of Britain, but the lack of a more effective replacement resulted in production continuing right through until September 1944. Indeed, many historians have argued that the lack of an effective Luftwaffe heavy bomber during WWII was one of the contributory factors as to why Germany was eventually defeated. The Heinkel was also quite a challenging aircraft to fly and required the pilot’s full attention at all times – even though it was correctly trimmed, the Heinkel would drift off course as soon as the pilot received any distraction and he would certainly be feeling the strain after every mission.



The magnificent new artwork that will adorn the box of the new A07007 Heinkel release


This new Airfix Heinkel He-111 H6 (A07007) release presents the modeller with arguably the most interesting variant of this ubiquitous Luftwaffe bomber, with a number of newly tooled parts including different weapons configurations. Worried about potential supply problems with the DB 601 engines, the Heinkel He III ‘H’ series aircraft utilised the more readily available Junkers Jumo 211 powerplants and despite its greater size and weight, allowed this important aircraft to continue rolling off the production lines in large numbers. The ‘H’ variant of the aircraft would become the most heavily produced version of the Heinkel bomber, seeing more action during the war than any other version of this important Luftwaffe bomber.

As if this new Heinkel He111 H6 kit was not interesting enough for the WWII modeller, the release of this magnificent box artwork will only serve to raise the interest levels still further – this powerful image shows a Heinkel of 6./KG26 attacking Allied shipping in the Mediterranean and using one of its under-fuselage mounted LT F5b air launched torpedoes. Showing the distinct differences between this H model Heinkel and the machines that took part in the Battle of Britain, this model will make a fine addition to any collection of WWII models and we are very much looking forward to announcing its arrival in model shops all over the country. It is currently scheduled for an early August release, but we always advise that you check the Airfix website for all the latest release news.



Close up view of the new Heinkel He-111 H6 artwork


We are afraid that is all we have for you in this latest edition of Airfix Workbench. Just to confirm, we will not be posting our next edition of Workbench until Friday 15th July, where we will be celebrating our First Birthday! We are very much looking forward to bringing you a bumper edition of Airfix indulgence.

Don’t forget that you can find out all the latest model release information by heading to the New Arrivals and Back in Stock sections of the Airfix website, although spending a little time searching through all the various sections of the website is certainly time well spent. Please do support our Airfix ‘First Flight’ feature, as it would be really interesting to see which Airfix kits played an important part in your formative years, or helped encourage you back to modelling after a period of kit building inactivity. For all contact, please use our usual workbench@airfix.com e-mail address and you may find yourself immortalised within the modelling annals of our Airfix Workbench blog.

As usual, you can also get involved in all the latest Airfix modelling chat via our dedicated Workbench thread on the Airfix Forum, or if you prefer, by logging onto our Facebook or Twitter social media channels and using #airfixworkbench.  Whichever medium you choose to use, please do get in touch with us, as it is always great to hear from fellow modellers.

Until next time, we wish you success with your latest modelling project.

The Airfix Workbench Team


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