‘Fresco’ advances to test shots stage
Welcome to this latest edition of Workbench and all the news, updates and exclusive announcements from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling. As usual, we have another feature packed edition awaiting your inspection, with a host of exclusive Airfix images and the latest in our incredibly popular series of reader supplied modelling features to bring you. Available to Workbench readers before anyone else gets to see them, we have exclusive first pictures of the new 1/72nd scale MiG 17 part test frames, along with confirmation of a significant build option incorporated into the tooling of the new Blackburn Buccaneer S Mk.2 kit. To mark this month’s release of the highly anticipated 1/48th scale Griffon powered Spitfire FR Mk.XIV, we have pictures of a beautiful advanced sample kit build, which has been finished in the markings of the lead scheme option included with this highly anticipated kit, the first time this camouflaged beauty has featured in a Workbench blog. We also have two reader supplied articles to bring you, one looking at a fascinating Airfix decal display from this year’s Halifax Model Show, the other featuring a well-travelled Airfix modelling fanatic and his classic 1956 Hurricane kit build. Before we begin, if anybody would like to send in any interesting Airfix related features for future inclusion in our blog, or to suggest any particular subjects you would like to see covered in a future edition, please send details to our usual firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address, where we would be only too pleased to hear from you. Right, let’s head straight for a little exclusive MiG ‘gunslinger’ action and the latest update from one of our 2019 new tooling projects.
MiG’s mighty bomber killer
A computer rendered 3D image produced from the new 1/72nd scale Mikoyan Gurevich MiG 17 tooling, clearly illustrating the rugged, no nonsense design of this diminutive jet fighter
One of the three new tooling announcements made at the turn of the year, with the launch of the 2019 Airfix range, the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG 17 will have delighted fans of early jet fighter technology and covers a period of aviation which is relatively lightly represented in our current kit line up. Even as the horrors of the Second World War were still fresh in the minds of those lucky enough to survive the conflict, former European allies were succumbing to a sentiment of general mistrust and at a time when the world had so much rebuilding to do, a new arms race developed, with each side fearing the other may introduce a significant new weapon, one which would be used as political leverage against them. With Britain, America and the Soviet Union making full use of captured German aircraft innovations and technical data in their own indigenous aviation programmes, an inexorable quest for greater speed continued through the early jet age, with exceeding the sound barrier being the ultimate aviation prize. The Soviets were highly resourceful, combining existing aviation technologies with those gleaned from the Germans and they were determined that the Western Allies would not claim superiority of the skies over Europe. With their introduction of the magnificent MiG 15 jet fighter, they had an aircraft which forced the West to wake from their slumber of aviation arrogance, having previously assumed that their own aircraft designs were significantly more advanced than those operated by their emerging enemy from the East. The Korean War proved to be something of a chastening experience for the West, with Soviet pilots claiming in excess of a 3:1 victory ratio against their opponents and almost overnight managed to end the practice of sending unescorted bombers on strike missions over contested airspace.
The diminutive MiG 15 jet fighter proved to be such a resounding combat success during the Korean conflict, that it is no wonder the Soviet’s were desperate to improve on its impressive capabilities. Indeed, even whilst the first frenetic jet versus jet fighter engagements were taking place in the skies above Korea, engineers at the Mikoyan-Gurevich company were already at the advanced stages of developing an upgraded version of their capable jet. Despite sharing many aesthetic similarities with its forerunner, the MiG 17 ‘Fresco’ was much more than simply a larger, more powerful version of the earlier fighter and incorporated many design improvements which mark this as a completely different aeroplane. A fascinating combination of the best fighter doctrines from the Second World War and the latest advancements in transonic flight research, this rugged and easy to maintain jet fighter could boast a devastating array of offensive armament and in the days before effective air to air missiles were available, this fighter can be accurately described as the Soviet Union’s last gunslinger. The edition of Workbench where we announced the development of our new MiG 17 and featured the work of a talented young Airfix designer can be revisited HERE.
The Airfix team had the benefit of MiG 17 scan data for this project, which allows them to accurately replicate the iconic shape of this Cold War jet in 1/72nd scale
Having already shown images from the MiG scan data and computer design files produced in support of this new project, Workbench readers have become familiar with the various stages in the production of any new Airfix kit over the years and will have been looking forward to seeing the next major stage in this particular project – inspecting pictures of the first test frames. The first time plastic is shot through a new model tooling block must be a time of great excitement for the Airfix team, if tempered with just a little trepidation. Until they can thoroughly inspect the resultant component frames from the new tool, they cannot check if all the features they planned to be incorporated into any new model have been represented correctly - they will also need to check that the new kit is a logical and pleasurable build for most modellers, at the same time. What is certain, the team will now be facing another extremely busy period of checking and report writing following arrival of the test frames, as they will need to assess every aspect of the new model tooling, usually making a series of modification recommendations at this stage, whilst at the same time thinking about build guidance information for inclusion in the instruction booklet. In a welcome break away from their computer screens, this stage will also allow them the opportunity to indulge their passion for the hobby, as the test frame components all need to be constructed and checked, another essential stage in this fascinating process.
The following series of images are the latest Workbench exclusives and you are seeing them before anyone else outside of the Airfix development team. They feature the first test frames from the new 1/72nd scale Mikoyan Gurevich MiG 17 ‘Fresco’ tooling and serve to reassure us all that this latest new tooling project is advancing nicely towards its scheduled release date – please remember that these are still very much at the development stage and still represent a relatively early stage in this process. We show these images knowing that our readers are now more than comfortable with the various production stages in the life of a new model tooling, accepting that these early test frames allow the Airfix design team to continue their work in ensuring a new model can soon grace the workstations and display cabinets of modellers all over the world.
As the latest image exclusive for Workbench readers, these test frame images represent the first time plastic has been injected through the new 1/72nd scale MiG 17 tool and represent a significant stage in the development of this new kit
These slightly angled views of the component frames give modellers a much clearer indication of what they can look forward to on their workbenches in the months to come
The test frames above serve to underline the relatively simple, yet extremely distinctive design of the MiG 17 Fresco jet fighter, an aircraft type which is destined to receive much more enthusiast attention following the release of this new kit. Indeed, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the MiG 17 from the modeller’s perspective will be the myriad of attractive scheme options which were applied to an aircraft which went on to serve with around 25 different air arms across the world, nations as diverse as Albania and Uganda. Indeed, several examples of this aircraft were even used by the US Air Force, to provide their pilots with dissimilar air combat training, following the end of the Vietnam War, a programme which proved invaluable in preparing US pilots for modern air combat.
Our new 1/72nd scale MiG 17 Fresco A03091 is currently scheduled for a November release and we very much look forward to bringing you further project updates as we approach this date.
Spitfire shows its muscles
The box artwork is such an important feature of any new Airfix kit release and inspires many a modeller during the build itself. Illustrating one of Lazy Lady V’s two Fw190 victories on 2nd May 1945, there is no question that this image will spark a renewed modelling interest in the Spitfire and its Griffon powered variants
It is certainly no exaggeration to say that both Airfix and the modelling world in general have an enduring affection for the Supermarine Spitfire, an aircraft which many people continue to regard as arguably the most famous ever to take to the skies. The association between Airfix and the Spitfire was further enhanced in late September 2018, when the Workbench blog announced our first new tooling project for 2019 would be the 1/48th scale Spitfire FR. Mk.XIV, the low altitude, fighting reconnaissance version of Mitchell’s airborne masterpiece. Although we have already brought you several updates from this highly anticipated new model, we have yet to feature images of a model finished in the lead scheme option to be included with the release of this kit, a dereliction of modelling duty we intend put right in this latest edition of our blog. Courtesy of our talented young Airfix product designer Paramjit, who you may recall featured in a previous edition of Workbench whilst helping to judge the Airfix section of the model competition at the IPMS Nationals, we now have pictures of a fine built example of this new kit to bring you. As this beautiful model is due to be released later this month, this seems a good time to show the thousands of people who have pre-ordered this kit exactly what they have to look forward to.
Airfix product designer Paramjit is also a keen modeller and he recently had the opportunity to build the A scheme from the new 1/48th scale Spitfire FR Mk.XIV kit – this exclusive series of pictures show the fruits of his labours
For the first time, we are able to show built models finished in both of the scheme options which are available with the new Rolls-Royce Griffon powered Spitfire FR Mk.XIV kit
As was the case with several of the Spitfire variants produced during its service career, the Mk.XIV was only intended to be an interim version of the famous fighter, with the later Spitfire Mk.XVIII being fully developed as the next major variant of the fighter. As it turned out, the Mk.XIV would go on to be the definitive Rolls Royce Griffon engined fighting variant of the Spitfire and helped to ensure that this classic aeroplane remained at the forefront of world fighter design throughout the final months of the Second World War. Most of these aircraft were powered by the Griffon 65 series engine, which featured a two speed, two stage supercharger with intercooler, which gave the Spitfire Mk.XIV excellent performance at all altitudes and significantly, made it a match for anything the Luftwaffe had in widespread service at the time of its introduction. The adoption of this new powerplant gave the Mk.XIV a very different appearance to that of the earlier Griffin powered Spitfires, particularly as this latest powerplant was mounted ten inches further forward from the engine bulkhead, with the top angled slightly towards the ground. Producing 2,050hp, the engine drove a huge five bladed Rotol propeller, the torque from which necessitated some lateral stability modifications and the adoption of an enlarged vertical stabiliser and larger rudder. The intercooler also necessitated the inclusion of two larger underwing radiators, although the iconic elliptical wing of the Spitfire was more than capable of accepting these modifications.
Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk.XIV, NH902 VC-P ‘Lazy Lady V’, Flown by Squadron Leader James Bernard Prendergast, No.414 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, B156 Luneburg, Germany, June 1945.
Full scheme details of Sqn. Ldr. Prendergast’s Spitfire FR Mk.XIV ‘Lazy Lady V’ of No.414 Squadron RCAF
No 44 Army Cooperation Squadron was initially formed at Croydon aerodrome in August 1941, where pilots were training in the demanding role of flying fighter reconnaissance missions, a duty they would carry out until the end of the Second World War. Securing vital battlefield information, with the ability to either defend themselves against enemy attack, or switch to an offensive role should a target present itself, this was a job for specialist pilots, who not only recognised the strategic importance of information gathering, but also how vital it was to bring this information back home safely, no matter how tempting it might be to add another strafed aircraft or supply locomotive to your personal tally. Providing vital support during both the Dieppe Raid of 1942 and the later D-Day landings, the squadron would continue their work in the months which followed Operation Overlord, taking their Spitfires across the channel to operate from forward bases liberated from the retreating Germans, as Allied forces began the long thrust into Germany itself.
During the final months of the Second World War, it was becoming increasingly difficult for the dominant Allied air forces to coax more than just a handful of Luftwaffe fighters into the air at any one time. This was completely understandable, as not only were the Luftwaffe running out of men, machines and fuel supplies, but those which did make it into the air faced increasingly overwhelming odds, with as many Allied fighters looking to destroy them on the ground, as those waiting to engage them in combat. For the reconnaissance Spitfires of No.414 Squadron, it could be difficult for pilots to secure anything but a handful of aerial victories, due to the fact that their primary function was to gather information and other strike units would stand more chance of coming across the enemy. What they did have the ability to see was the carnage taking place in the towns and cities below, with tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the advancing Allied ground units and town after town sustaining withering damage, as the ground war continued to sweep across Germany. Pilots from the squadron were also amongst the first to spot Soviet armour moving into Norther German towns as the net was finally closing on the soon to be vanquished Third Reich.
Squadron Leader J.B Prendergast had arrived in Britain from his home in Canada during the summer of 1943, where he was assigned to fly armed reconnaissance missions with RAF No.430 Squadron. Even at that stage (although clearly unknown to squadron pilots), these vital missions were paving the way for D-Day, gathering essential information on troop concentrations, fortifications and supply channels, as well as taking out targets of opportunity as and when they presented themselves. After D-Day, Prendergast and the rest of the squadron operated from bases in Europe as their essential work continued in support of final Allied victory. He took command of No.414 Squadron in the middle of April 1945, at about the same time as the unit were trading their old Spitfire Mk.IX fighters for the new Griffon powered FR Mk.XIV – he would ultimately prove to be the units final C.O. A particularly memorable sortie took place on 2nd May 1945, when Sqn. Ldr. Prendergast was flying a reconnaissance mission over the North German coast. He spotted a pair of Luftwaffe Fw 190 fighters below him and immediately pounced on them, firing his Spitfire’s cannon and machine guns into the hapless fighters – both were seen falling to the ground in flames. Just a week later, the war in Europe ended and the squadron moved to a new home at Luneburg and the strange experience of flying peace time operations.
The Spitfires flown by Sqn. Ldr. Prendergast were rather distinctive and sported the name ‘Lazy Lady’ on the port side of their engine cowling, a name which seems completely inappropriate for this purposeful looking Griffon powered Spitfire. As NH902 also carried the Roman numeral V, it can be assumed that this was the fifth aircraft to carry this name. His previous Spitfire, ‘Lazy Lady IV’ was flown by Prendergast after he became the C.O. of No.414 Squadron, but only for around two weeks, as this aircraft was damaged beyond economical repair by flak on 29th April. The Spitfire covered by the attractive scheme above is the aircraft in which he scored his double Fw190 kill on 2nd May and indeed the one he was flying on VE Day. This new 1/48th scale Spitfire FR Mk.XIV A05135 is due to be released at the end of the month and with very few models remaining un-allocated, this could be your final opportunity to secure one of these stunning Supermarines from the initial release.
Buccaneer wing fold update
The first test frame shots from the new Blackburn Buccaneer S Mk.2 tooling were first shown in the 97th edition of Workbench
One of the other new tooling projects announced at the beginning of the year was the Blackburn Buccaneer S Mk.2 in 1/72nd scale, one of the most capable strike aircraft to see British service and a kit many Workbench readers are very much looking forward to getting their hands on. In the 97th edition of our blog, we were pleased to bring you an exclusive update from this project, with the very first showing of the test frame components from the tooling, which clearly illustrated how our designer Matt had cleverly split the individual pieces of the kit to produce a highly accurate scale representation of this famous aircraft. Clearly, as this is a keenly anticipated new kit, the images came in for some close inspection and we were grateful for the many complimentary comments we received in the days following publication, along with a noticeable spike in pre-ordering activity for the kit. One or two modelling forums did carry comments from several modellers who were concerned that they could not see how the parts allowed the model to be constructed with its wings raised in carrier stowage configuration. Whilst these concerns were quickly allayed by fellow forum members, explaining how the frames included additional parts, we thought that we would clarify the situation now, so that Workbench readers can begin to consider in which wing configuration they intend to build their Buccaneer, before the kit is already lying on their workstation. Having discussed our intentions with Matt, he was only too happy to spend a little time away from his computer to produce a quick sample model build to illustrate the steps required. The following images have been provided by Matt and will hopefully be of interest to our readers – please remember that these parts are test frame components from the first plastic injection through the new mould and are only intended to illustrate the wing fold build option.
This series of build images have been produced in just a few minutes by Buccaneer designer Matt, who wanted to show how easy it will be to finish the model in the folded wing configuration. This first image shows where and how the lower wing section should be cut if this option is desired
Lower fuselage section interior assembly, with outer wings removed
Fuselage centre section assembly
Underside of the main fuselage assembly, showing both the wing fold and wheel bay detail
Another angle on the wheel bay detail
Outer wing assembly if the folded option is to be modelled
Outer wings attached to the centre fuselage assembly in the raised position – all parts are included in the kit
Viewed from the front, the Buccaneer featuring its raised outer wing option
Hopefully, the images featured above show how the raised wing option has been planned and how simple the modification procedure actually is. The full span of the lower wing has to be cut down the panel line as illustrated, if you intend to build your model in this raised wing configuration and new lower wing sections are included as an option within the kit itself. The new Buccaneer kit was developed in this way because the feeling amongst the team was that most modellers would be intending to build their model in flight configuration, providing an accurate scale representation of this iconic naval strike jet and in that case, Matt wanted to ensure the correct wing alignment was available to modellers. The appealing wing raised option is very much available and just requires a little prior planning and the use of some additional parts which are all included in the kit. Hopefully, this clarifies the situation and just leaves us all pondering the question, will we finish our Buccaneer with the wings up or down? We would like to thank Matt for breaking away from his busy day to provide these informative build pictures, which we hope you will find informative.
Unusual Airfix display at Halifax Model Show
This imaginative classic Airfix display had been put together by Keighley Plastic Model Club member John Bailey
Anyone who has been fortunate enough to attend one of the many model shows which take place up and down the country over the course of the year, will probably agree that there is so much impressive modelling to admire that it can be difficult to know where to start. This year’s Halifax Model Show was a relatively rushed change of venue for the show organisers, but as usual, an impressive number of clubs and Special Interest Groups turned up en masse and made the event a resounding success. As well as making some new modelling acquaintances, it was great to catch up with some old friends and Workbench regulars and to have the chance to see what they had been working on over the winter months. With their usual impressive model display, there was something a little unusual on the Keithley Plastic Model Club tables which really caught our eye and certainly required further investigation.
Club member John Bailey was standing proudly behind his new Airfix model display and was only too happy to tell us how the project came about. As many modellers do from time to time, John was spending a few moments on ebay recently, looking for anything of a modelling nature which might take his fancy. He came across a listing which was offering a unique piece of Airfix memorabilia, in the form of an A3 sheet of decal masters, which were being sold by an individual who claimed they had been rescued during the old Airfix Hull factory closure. The listing simply described the purchase as rare Airfix decal masters and if John was going to submit a bid, he would not know exactly what he was bidding for, in terms of decal specifics. The prospect of owning this item proved too tempting and John bid for and was lucky enough to win what he hoped would be an interesting piece of Airfix modelling history. When the sheet arrived, he found that the decal masters he now owned related to the classic 1/72nd scale Sopwith Pup and Douglas A4D-1 Skyhawk kits and his thoughts immediately turned to how he should display the items. It did not take him long to come up with the answer and kits of both model releases were sought and build, showing the application of the decals as was originally intended by Airfix. The box artwork was retained to form part of the display and a suitable picture frame was commandeered to allow everything to be placed together – the impressive result can be seen in the picture above. The final display piece was only completed in the days prior to the Halifax show and proved to be a nice surprise for other club members, who had no knowledge of John’s purchase and his display intentions. It certainly attracted plenty of attention on the day and added a little Airfix nostalgia to proceedings. Thanks to John and the Keighley team for spending time with us during the show and for allowing us to include this interesting feature in our blog.
A well-travelled Airfix Hurricane
A modelling classic. This original 1956 Airfix Hurricane was one of the significant models on the Classic British Kits SIG display at Telford 2018
There is no doubting that a shared love of the modelling hobby is not only responsible for providing us with an extremely enjoyable pastime, but in many cases can also result in some lasting friendships, all forged through the smell of glue and paint. The advent of social media has also allowed these friendships to develop amongst modellers who may be in different parts of the world and often brought about by the requesting and sharing of modelling information. At last years IPMS Telford show, we were fortunate to make the acquaintance of an enthusiastic modeller, who was keen to show us his original 1956 Airfix Hawker Hurricane build, which had taken its place amongst the impressive display of the Classic British Kits SIG, whose tables were situated in the next hall along from the Airfix stand. Little did we know at the time that its owner, David Connolly, had brought it all the way from Australia - clearly such modelling effort deserved to be recognised within Workbench. The following words and pictures have been supplied by David himself.
Back in 2017, my wife and I decided to take a holiday in the USA. One of the many benefits of this decision was that it gave us the opportunity to attend the IPMS Nationals in Omaha, Nebraska and more importantly, to finally catch up with a Canadian pen friend I had become acquainted with, initially through eBay. This proved to be a memorable occasion and I met Michael and his wife Janyce (both fine scale modellers from the Ottawa area) after around 10 years of internet correspondence. Having experienced this big American convention for the first time, I had the model show bug and was inspired to attend the famous Telford Scale ModelWorld event the following year.
David’s competition entry in this RAF ‘What if’ scheme, bagged him a bronze award and entry into the IPMS magazine
I had not been to the England since 2000, specifically as this is a long and expensive expedition for an Aussie, so my Telford attendance plans were fleshed out with potential museum visits, catching up with relatives and other internet scale model forum contacts, plus a visit to the Hornby Visitor Centre at Margate. And seeing as this was turning out to be quite an undertaking, I also decided that I would take a long a handful of models for competition and display. Packing models for safe transport to the other side of the world was certainly a challenge, with the prospect of airport security messing about with my models being a major worry, but thankfully, all went well. I took along a 1/48 ‘What if’ subject build for competition entry and a couple more 1/72 items for display on various tables – all these models were secured in a single carry-on carton.
My competition entry was a Lindberg XF-91 Thunderceptor made up as an RAF No. 56 Sqn, Firestreak missile armed F-91 Mk.1A alternative to the English Electric Lightning (which had not gone ahead) and the additional display models for the Classic British Kits SIG table were a FROG Spitfire Mk VIII, and the original Airfix 1956 Hawker Hurricane IV.RP kit build. The Spitfire was constructed many years ago, but the Hurricane was a recent nostalgia build with some very basic improvements to an elderly kit which happened to be missing a few parts - I actually first built the Hurricane back in the early 60s and seem to recall that it was my very first construction kit.
David was hosted by the members of the Classic British Kits Special Interest Group, during his time at the 2018 Telford show
This classic Airfix Hurricane kit made it all the way from Australia, to take part in the 2018 Scale ModelWorld show
Without doubt, my biggest thrill at the Telford show was the opportunity of meeting face-to-face the scale modellers who I had been communicating with for many years on the Unofficial Airfix Modellers Forum, as well as the Airfix Kit Collecting Forum. I spent both days at Telford with the fellows at the Classic British Kits SIG table, taking short breaks to scout the vendor stalls, plus dosing up on all the latest developments from Airfix . My next biggest thrill was winning a bronze award for my F-91 model, which was also later pictured in the IPMS magazine as well! What more could a die-hard Airfix fan on UK pilgrimage wish for?
After the Telford Scale ModelWorld show, I went on to visit the impressive museums at Cosford, Newark, Duxford, Hendon and Tangmere, as well as catching up with relatives, old friends and more scale modelling buddies. I was disappointed that the good people at Newark Air Museum did not remember me after 18 years - I suppose I must be looking a bit older! In any case, I certainly wish I could do this every year!
Whilst at Cosford, David caught up with a rather larger Airfix model, the 1:1 Spitfire which featured in James May’s Toy Stories programme
Thankfully, David’s ‘What If’ Thunderceptor did not take the place of the English Electric Lightning in RAF service, which is just as well, as the Lightning definitely qualifies for aviation classic status
I am afraid it is back to real life for me now, although I try to never be too far away from a modelling project - I am currently constructing both the old and newly tooled Airfix 1/72 Beaufighters side by side, however, that is a modelling tale for another day!
It was great to meet David over the Telford weekend last year and we even bumped into him again at Cosford on the Monday following the show – it sounds like he was having a real aviation indulgence during his visit. We are also glad to hear that he got back safely to Port Macquarie in New South Wales and that Airfix kits are still residing on his workbench. Thank you very much for penning this feature and supplying us with this selection of images. Will we see you at Telford in November?
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. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for subjects you would like to see covered in a future edition of the blog, or ways in which we could enhance your enjoyment of Workbench, please do not hesitate in contacting us. We can be reached via our usual e-mail address email@example.com or by contributing to our Workbench thread over on the Airfix Forum. If social media is more your style, you could access either our Airfix Facebook page or Twitter channel, (using #airfixworkbench), where you will find plenty of modelling news, views and discussion taking place. Whichever medium is your preference, 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 and Coming Soon sections both quickly accessed by clicking either of the links above. As updating the website is an ongoing process, a quick search through each section of the Airfix web pages will often reveal new information and updated images in many of the product sections and this is always an enjoyable way in which to spend a few spare minutes.
The next edition of Workbench is due to be published on Friday 24th May, when we will have more news and modelling features from the fascinating world of Airfix.
On behalf of the entire Workbench team, thank you for your continued support our Airfix blog.
The Airfix Workbench Team
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