Hedgerow hugging hunter

Hedgerow hugging hunter

Welcome to this latest edition of Workbench and all the news, updates and exclusive announcements from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling. There can be no disputing that our Workbench blog has enjoyed something of a rip-roaring start to 2019, with the announcement of a new Airfix model range and news of no less than three fantastic newly tooled models to look forward to over the coming few months. With some incredibly feature rich blogs published since the turn of the year, we are going to be re-grouping somewhat in this latest edition and taking a closer look at some of the other new catalogue details which has so far remained somewhat anonymous due to all the new tooling excitement. We will be bringing you a comprehensive overview of the new 1/48th scale de Havilland Tiger Moth tooling in the near future, however, in this latest edition, we will be featuring two new 2019 releases which are already on their way to the UK and destined to grace our workbenches over the next few weeks. We will be bringing you the beautiful box artwork, which accompanies both releases and looking a little more closely at the fascinating scheme options offered with both kits. We will also be placing the modelling spotlight on an impressive kit which has already been released, but arrived at the height of all the current Airfix information activity and therefore missed out on the usual Workbench treatment – we will be putting that right now. In our new ‘Out of the box’ feature, we will be looking at a rather intriguing modelling challenge undertaken by members of the IPMS Lancashire group, who despite having restrictions placed on them, showed great skill and creativity in rising to that challenge. We also have an unusual time-lapse setup video from the recent model show at Halifax to share with you, which highlights the effort that groups and societies go to in providing our modelling entertainment throughout the year. Clearly, we have another feature packed edition ahead of us, so let’s make a start straight away.

‘Super Hurricane’ pulverizes Wehrmacht

Airfix Hawker Typhoon hedgerow hugging hunter A02041A Sharky on the Airfix Workbench blog

The magnificent box artwork which accompanies the release of the latest 1/72nd scale Hawker Typhoon IB kit features the only known RAF Typhoon to have been adorned with an impressive shark mouth on its distinctive radiator

The aircraft which took part in the Second World War are a source of fascination for aviation enthusiasts and modellers alike, as well as being a fertile hunting ground for model manufacturers when producing their latest scale kit masterpieces. With a great many of these aircraft types appearing in kit form over the years, there is definitely no shortage of inspiration for our next build project, be that a single engined fighter or a four engined heavy bomber. Although we will all undoubtedly have our own particular favourites, it is interesting to note that two of the most famous (or should that more accurately be described as infamous?) aeroplanes of WWII were a pair of close air support strike aircraft, one Axis and one Allied. Even though their spectacular successes and notoriety occurred at opposite ends of the conflict, they both represented the ruthless effectiveness of their respective operators. If the Junkers Ju87 Stuka struck fear into the hearts of European nations, as the Blitzkrieg juggernaut appeared unstoppable during the early months of WWII, so the Hawker Typhoon embodied the industrial might and ruthless effectiveness of the Allies, as they marched inexorably towards their increasingly inevitable victory.

Although always overshadowed by the more famous Spitfire, the Hawker Hurricane could be described as the real hero of the Battle of Britain and a vital component of the country’s war effort. Responsible for destroying more Luftwaffe aircraft during the battle than all of Britain’s other defences combined, the Hurricane was a rugged and reliable performer, relatively forgiving to fly and a stable gun platform. Significantly, its mix of traditional and new technologies, determined that damaged aircraft could be repaired and returned to combat much more easily than the cutting edge and more complex Spitfire. The Hurricane was undoubtedly the right aircraft for the nation, in her hour of need.

As arguably the most important British aircraft manufacturer throughout the 1930s, Hawkers were obviously keen to build on the success of their first monoplane fighter and were already at the advanced stages of producing its successor, even as the RAF’s Hurricanes were engaging in combat with the Luftwaffe during the summer of 1940. Initially describing the new design as their ‘Super Hurricane’, the aircraft was originally intended as a twelve-gun, high altitude interceptor fighter, but its service introduction would be beset with problems, not least of which was its relatively poor performance at higher altitudes and a number of unexplained accidents. Now given the name Typhoon, several early aircraft inexplicably crashed and as these accidents tragically claimed the lives of the unfortunate pilots, the cause remained a mystery for some time and almost brought about the cancellation of the entire project. Thankfully, Hawkers and several influential airmen saw the great potential possessed by the aircraft and persevered long enough for the problem to be identified – a structural weakness in the rear fuselage of this powerful fighter, an issue which designers were able to overcome almost immediately.

Airfix Hawker Typhoon hedgerow hugging hunter A02041A Sharky on the Airfix Workbench blog

This picture perfectly illustrates the muscular stature of the mighty Hawker Typhoon, one of the most effective single engined attack aircraft of the war

Entering service in September 1941, the Hawker Typhoon eventually proved not to be the high altitude interceptor it was originally intended to be, but would instead go on to be regarded as one of the most fearsome ground attack and close air support aircraft of the Second World War, possessing qualities which made the aircraft eminently suitable for combat in the unforgiving low level environment. Initially, the Typhoon was one of the few Allied aircraft fast enough to catch the Luftwaffe’s new Focke Wulf Fw190, however, its real strength was the size and thickness of its wing, which was capable of carrying a devastating array of offensive ordnance and went on to become invaluable in supporting advancing Allied ground units in Europe. During the summer of 1944 and specifically in support of the D-Day landings in Normandy, large numbers of marauding Typhoons would fill the skies over northern France, attacking anything which could potentially be used against the Allied invasion forces – bunkers, artillery emplacements, troop concentrations, rail yards and military vehicles were all to become prey for the Typhoon and the Wehrmacht learned to fear and respect the RAF’s Typhoon squadrons. In the weeks following the landings, on days when the weather was good enough to allow flying operations, the Typhoons would provide close air support for the advancing ground units and effectively prevent German armour from advancing to reinforce combat zones during daylight hours. If they broke from the cover which protected them, they immediately attracted the attention of determined Typhoon pilots, who had become expert in attacking targets at extremely low altitudes. Although the unguided air to ground rockets the aircraft fired were not actually as effective in operation as you might think, the sheer number of aircraft and the destructive potential they possessed ensured that German armour was far less effective during the battles of Normandy than they might have been.

Although these airborne artillery pieces have earned an almost mythical aviation status in the years since the end of the Second World War, flying these low level missions were extremely hazardous for the pilots and would ultimately claim the lives of many young airmen. Flying at tree-top height and at great speed, Typhoon pilots were at constant risk of striking ground obstructions, such as electricity wires and church steeples, or colliding with other aircraft during the melee of an attack. In addition to this, the aircraft were at great risk from being targeted by effective Luftwaffe anti-aircraft units and ground troops taking pot shots at aircraft which were becoming the scourge of their everyday lives – any strike sustained by aircraft at this speed and height would invariably end with disastrous consequences. Undoubtedly, Typhoon pilots were a very special breed of airmen and became fiercely protective of their unique abilities and flying tenacity. Amongst their ranks, they would proudly describe how there were pilots and then there were Typhoon pilots and how you could never truly claim to have tasted aerial combat unless you had spent time flying combat operations on a Typhoon unit. Enduring a relatively high attrition rate, Typhoon pilots would make a significant contribution to the eventual Allied victory.

As one of the most successful Allied aircraft of WWII, the Hawker Typhoon has also proved to be a popular addition to the Airfix range over the years, with the current catalogue boasting impressive examples in both 1/72 and 1/24th scales. As 2019 will see commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the most famous operational hunting ground for the Typhoon’s of the Royal Air Force, the aircraft will surely be a popular subject for modellers in the months to come and our popular 1/72nd scale kit is about to be re-released featuring two new decal scheme options. Continuing the enduring fascination with this rugged aircraft, let’s take a closer look at what we can expect with the release of Typhoon A02041A.

Scheme A – Hawker Typhoon IB MP197 (MR-U), No.245 Squadron, 2nd Tactical Air Force, Germany and RAF Warmwell, Dorset, England, June-August 1945.

Airfix Hawker Typhoon hedgerow hugging hunter A02041A Sharky on the Airfix Workbench blog
Airfix Hawker Typhoon hedgerow hugging hunter A02041A Sharky on the Airfix Workbench blog

Full scheme details of ‘Sharky’, the only RAF Hawker Typhoon to feature this type of aggressive looking nose artwork

Despite the deep chin radiator of the Hawker Typhoon perfectly lending itself to the application of some aggressive looking nose artwork, most RAF aircraft and especially Hawker Typhoons rarely featured anything more than their standard squadron colours. One aircraft which proved to be the exception to this rule was Typhoon MP147, which featured a fearsome array of teeth, which must have left an indelible impression on anyone unfortunate enough to be in the general vicinity of one of its ground attack sorties – friend or foe, you couldn’t fail but to be impressed by the aggressive appearance of this aircraft. Thought to be the only Typhoon to feature a sharks teeth representation on its radiator, MP417 (which we will refer to as ‘Sharky’ for the purposes of this feature), was issued to RAF No.245 Squadron in August 1944, whilst Allied units were engaged in the savage fighting around the Falaise Pocket and remained with the squadron until it was disbanded on 15th August the following year. Logbook entries show that Sharky was flown by successful Canadian pilot Flt. Lt. Harrison Taylor ‘Moose’ Mossip, who had been awarded the DFC for his previous successes flying the Typhoon with No.1 Squadron. Known to have a particularly aggressive flying style, Mossip was one of the pilots who helped to earn the fearsome reputation of the Typhoon in the ground attack role. As he would fearlessly attack anything which he thought could be used to aid the Axis war effort, from canal barges to railway locomotives. It was also thought that the shark mouth markings were applied to this aircraft as a result of his flying style and significantly, that Mossip flew Sharky in these markings on operations during WWII.

Suffering the tragic fate of so many fellow airmen during WWII, Mossip was killed whilst flying a different Typhoon on 7th March 1945, with his aircraft reportedly striking high tension cables following an attack on a train. Sharky would go on to be flown by Squadron Leader Tony Zweigbergk, a pilot of Anglo-Swedish heritage, who hailed from Preston, Lancashire. Retaining the distinctive chin artwork, the aircraft inherited a blue spinner and the blue and white chequered fuselage banding during the summer of 1945, whilst the aircraft was flying sorties with the British Air Forces of Occupation in Germany. With the disbandment of the squadron, MP417 ended its days at No.83 Group Disbandment Centre at Lasham and was eventually struck off charge there in November 1945 – the end of what turned out to be the most distinctive Hawker Typhoon to ever see RAF service.

Scheme B – Hawker Typhoon IB MN666 (C-G), Aircraft flown by Wing Commander Charles Green, RAF No.121 Wing, Holmsley South, Hampshire, England and Le Fresne-Camilly, Lower Normandy, France, June 1944.

D-Day Tank buster Hawker Typhoon A02041A on the Airfix Workbench blog
D-Day Tank buster Hawker Typhoon A02041A on the Airfix Workbench blog

Wearing the distinctive identification markings of a D-Day Typhoon, this aircraft would help to lead the RAF opposition to an attempted German armoured counter attack during the Battle of Falaise Pocket

The subject of D-Day invasion markings is one which has fascinated and confused historians and modellers alike in the (almost) 75 years since they were applied. Needing a highly distinctive method of identifying friendly aircraft to other units both in the air and on the ground for Operation Overlord, a top secret memorandum was issued on 3rd June 1944, instructing ground crews to paint consecutive black and white striped markings on the wings and rear fuselage of most aircraft taking part in the extensive air operations supporting the invasion. With clear instructions and stripe width guidance for different sizes of aircraft, this work had to be done quickly and effectively, using any available paint stocks to hand and in many cases, resulted in compliance rather than finesse – many aircraft received their paint courtesy of a yard brush and a steady hand. Indeed, the poor weather which caused the postponement of the raid also washed these crudely applied markings off many aircraft, resulting in a hastily applied second coat of paint, often with aircrew being forced to muck in. In the weeks which followed D-Day, more time and care could be taken with the application of these markings, however, from the modellers perspective, it has to be remembered that they would begin to fade and reveal the camouflage colours underneath from the first time they took to the air. As paint stocks dwindled and Allied airpower gained a firm superiority foothold in the skies above Europe, the instructions which governed the application of these markings were slowly relaxed, with over-wing and upper fuselage stripes disappearing first, then most aircraft simply not repainting the markings once they had faded. For many modellers who have researched these particular D-Day details a little more thoroughly, it raises a smile when some forum debate gets a little heated over the positioning, size and perfectly painted identification markings applied to model representations of D-Day aircraft, as if they were all destined for museums, as opposed to the combat area.

The Hawker Typhoon was no stranger to benefitting from the application of identification markings and long before their widespread adoption on the eve of D-Day. One of the most disturbing aspects of early Typhoon operations was the fact that several aircraft were lost as a result of friendly fire incidents, with RAF Spitfires intercepting Typhoons mistaking them for Luftwaffe Focke Wulf fighters. A series of identification markings were quickly applied to the aircraft, in an attempt to alert RAF fighter units to the friendly nature of the aircraft and to prevent the proliferation of such incidents. They finally settled on black and white undersurface markings which were not too dissimilar to D-day markings, but clearly different if you look closely – 3 thick white stripes and two thinner black stripes. Importantly, this highly visible identification marking adoption had an instant impact and dramatically reduced the incidence of these avoidable ‘friendly interceptions’.

Wing Commander Charles Green had been one of the airmen who championed the Hawker Typhoon and can claim some credit for ensuring the aircraft to become one of the most effective attack fighters of WWII. He was also instrumental in developing the hedge-hopping tactics which would prove so vital to Typhoon operations in the weeks following the D-Day landings, saving many Allied lives by keeping German armour pinned down and unable to reinforce beleaguered units. In January 1944, he was appointed Wing Commander of No.121 Wing, which comprised Nos 174, 175 and 245 Squadrons (and later, No.124 Wing’s 181, 182 and 247 Squadrons) and proved effective in destroying V-1 ‘Doodlebug’ launch sites and attacking strategic targets in the lead up to D-Day. On 7th August, Green returned from a reconnaissance flight to report a concentration of around 300 German tanks and a possible counter attack in the area. Going into action with 121 Wing and other elements of the 2nd Tactical Air Force, Green led a systematic decimation of this armoured formation, targeting the lead and rear tanks, before picking off the remaining trapped vehicles. Establishing a Typhoon ‘shuttle service’ which saw squadrons taking off every 20 minutes, the aircraft took a heavy toll of German armour in what turned out to be the start of actions which went on to be known as the Battle of the Falaise Pocket and a significant Allied victory in the overall battle for Normandy. Underlining the perilous nature of Typhoon operations, these actions would also claim the lives of 151 pilots.

The Advanced Landing Ground B-5 at Le Fresne-Camilly was one of the first such airfields to be established following the successful Allied landings in Normandy. A strategic objective on D-Day itself, the village was taken by Canadian forces and saw Royal Engineers of the 23rd Airfield Construction Group descending on the area by 10th June. Just three days later, Airfield B-5 was operational, although it remained under constant German artillery fire until 19th July when the nearby town of Colombelles also fell – high ground in the town had afforded German artillery spotters an excellent view of the surrounding area until it fell. The ALG at Le Fresne-Camilly became the permanent home base of RAF No.121 Wing for the remainder of the Battle of Normandy.

The latest release from the 1/72nd scale Airfix Typhoon IB tooling (A02041A) helps to tell the story of the air operations over Normandy following the D-Day landings from a modelling perspective and includes two iconic scheme options carried by RAF Typhoons, including ‘Sharky’. This magnificent new kit is available now and is sure to be an extremely popular release.

Butcher Birds of Scandinavia

Airfix Focke Wulf Fw190 JG5 Eismeer Butcher Bird A01020A on the Airfix Workbench blog

The pilots of JG5 ‘Eismeer’ were engaged in combat with the Strike Wings of Coastal Command, flying from bases around the frozen landscape of Norway

Another WWII aircraft which continues to command huge levels of interest amongst enthusiasts and modellers is the purposeful looking Focke Wulf Fw190, one of the great fighter aircraft of the Second World War and one which made a dramatic impact when it was introduced in August 1941. Aesthetically appealing by the functional nature of its appearance, the Fw190 could be described as an aviation case of ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’, an aircraft designed to excel at waging war. Partnered with the famous Bf 109 series, these aircraft provided the backbone of Germany’s fighter and fighter bomber force during WWII, which is reason enough to attract the interest of modellers, but perhaps even more significant than that, the fact that few survived the war and have gone on to become something of an enigma, has ensured that they continue to enjoy an enduring fascination for many. Always a popular subject in 1/72nd scale, an impending re-introduction to the Airfix range presents the mighty Butcher Bird wearing the famous, if a little unusual plumage of a Jagdgeschwader 5 ‘Eismeer’ machine, a unit which was based in Northern Europe.

Focke Wulf Fw190A-8 ‘Weisse 3’, Feldwebel Martin Ullmann, 9./JG5 ‘Eismeer’, Herdla, Norway, May 1945.

Airfix Focke Wulf Fw190 JG5 Eismeer Butcher Bird A01020A on the Airfix Workbench blog

Luftwaffe fighter wing JG5 was formed to provide air cover in Northern Europe, covering the sea lanes of the Arctic Ocean and German naval bases in Norway. Reorganised in 1942, units based in Norway and Finland were referred to as the ‘Eismeergeschwader’ (Arctic Sea Fighter Wing) and they were mainly employed on operations against RAF and Soviet Air Force opposition. Initially equipped with various marks of Bf 109 fighters, the introduction of better Allied aircraft saw the appearance of the Focke Wulf Fw190 in theatre from early 1943, a year which also brought about the time of maximum strength for the Luftwaffe in this region. The demanding operational conditions and unforgiving landscape of battle resulted in some of the most capable pilots in the Luftwaffe being assigned to JG5 ‘Eismeer’ and whilst the unit may not be as familiar to many modellers as some of the other units operating in the European Theatre, they played a significant and extremely important role in the European air war. A detachment of JG5 fighters were based on the Norwegian island of Herdla, near Bergen and built a reputation for being both fearsome opponents and excellent airmen in the face of ever increasing Allied opposition. Known as ‘The Herdla Bunch’, combat for these pilots would invariably take place over the North Sea and Norwegian Sea, with the increased risk of mechanical problems and combat damage resulting in a sea ditching and the distinct possibility of a watery demise.

As the war progressed, the pilots of JG5 were increasingly pitched against the strike aircraft of RAF Coastal Command, with their massed formations of heavily armed Beaufighters and Mosquitos searching the fjords for Axis shipping and warships, hoping to further reduce Germany’s ability to wage war. These raids were sometimes protected by Mustang fighter cover and ensured that the Eismeer pilots were never short of flying time. The scheme option included with this latest Focke Wulf Fw190 release allows the modeller to produce one of the ‘Herdla Bunch’ machines which were still attempting to hold back the tide of Coastal Command strike attacks at the very end of the war, far away from the equally frenetic battles taking place in their homeland and the defence of the Reich. With the war effectively all but over, it must have been doubly difficult for the pilots of JG5 to continue their futile struggle against a much stronger opposition, not knowing what was happening to their loved ones back home. Fw 190A-8 ‘Weisse 3’ was the mount of Martin Ullmann and carried the name ‘Ingeborg’ under the cockpit, which suggests that the pilot may have had a Scandinavian sweetheart during his posting there. Marking a lesser known sector of the European air war, this is sure to be a popular addition to the range and is scheduled for imminent release.

RAF Mitchell, a B-25 by any other name

RAF North American B-25 Mitchell II No.305 Polish Squadron on the Airfix Workbench blog

More classic Airfix box artwork, this time featuring a North American B-25 Mitchell Mk.II of the Royal Air Force, one of 910 machines purchased by Britain via the Lend-Lease programme

We never really need an excuse to feature stunning box artwork in our Workbench blog and even though the second release from our new 1/72nd scale North American Mitchell Mk.II tooling is already in the shops and the artwork above featured in all its glory on the Airfix website, we have yet to look at this release in the blog, however, it is definitely worthy of closer inspection. The impressive aviation credentials of the B-25 attracted the interest of the Royal Air Force almost as soon as the prototype first took to the air and they became an early customer for the aircraft via the Lend-Lease programme. Significantly, the RAF were the only force to use the B-25 on raids against targets in Europe from bases in the UK, where it was to acquit itself extremely well in the demanding medium altitude strike role in which it was tasked. In all, the Royal Air Force would take a total of 910 B-25s under Lend-Lease, in three production variants – The Mitchell I (B-25B), Mitchell II (B-25C) and Mitchell III (B-25J). Operating in the same role as British Mitchell’s, the USAAF used the B-26 Marauder from their UK bases.

RAF North American B-25 Mitchell II No.305 Polish Squadron on the Airfix Workbench blog

RAF No. 305 Squadron converted from night to daytime bombing operations at the same time as converting to the new Mitchell Mk.II. They would only use these bombers on sixteen operational sorties

The second scheme option included with the release of A06018 is a really interesting aircraft, marking a dramatic period in the European air war and a big operational change for the Squadron which operated these aircraft. Formed in August 1940, RAF No.305 ‘Weilkopolski’ Squadron was made up of a nucleus of Polish airmen who had managed to escape from France and was originally equipped with the obsolete Fairey Battle light bomber. These unsuitable aircraft quickly gave way to the Vickers Wellington and after a period of intensive training, the Squadron took its place in Bomber Command’s night offensive against Germany. After operating the Wellington for almost three years, the Squadron converted to the new Mitchell Mk.II medium bomber and a completely new offensive role – daylight bombing operations. These began in November 1943, at a time when military intelligence had identified a number of sites across Northern Europe which appeared to be launch sites for new German weapons. The order was given to destroy these sites, with both V2 rocket and V1 Doodlebug sites hunted by reconnaissance aircraft, then obliterated by bombing attack. Using the codeword ‘Noball’ for V-1 raids, these operations proved to be particularly hazardous and were not only subjected to determined Luftwaffe fighter attack, but also the murderous attention of accurate ground based anti-aircraft fire. Should the protection of their fighter escort be lost for any reason, the bombers were at severe risk of falling victim to German fighter units waiting for such an opportunity.

Making the switch from night to daylight operations must have been challenging enough, but making this switch having recently converted to a new aircraft type cannot have been easy. As the squadron had previously spent almost three years flying the Wellington, this was surely going to be a long term arrangement. Unusually, that did not prove to be the case and No.305 Squadron would only use the Mitchell on sixteen missions in less than a two month period, before exchanging their aircraft for de Havilland Mosquitos. Equipped with Mosquitos, the squadron were tasked with mounting low level precision strikes against German transport infrastructure in preparation for D-Day and would move to forward operating bases in Europe as the Allied continued their advance towards Germany following the successful landings in Normandy. Having fought their way across Europe to continue the fight against Germany, the brave Polish airmen of No.305 Squadron represented their country with pride as they helped assure the eventual defeat of their enemy.

Although wearing the standard RAF markings from this period of the war, the little Polish Air Force checkerboard just below this Mitchell’s cockpit marks a particularly busy period in the history of No.305 (Polish) Squadron and their short but eventful association with the North American Mitchell Mk.II. This beautifully engineered new kit (A06018) is available now.

Out of the box

Airfix Spitfire Starter Set challenge with IPMS Lancashire on the Airfix Workbench blog

The completed ‘Starter Set Challenge’ Spitfire diorama, displayed on the IPMS Lancashire tables at this years Bolton Model Show

We are extremely pleased to report that our new ‘Out of the box’ feature appears to have been well received by Workbench readers and we are very much looking forward to developing this section throughout the rest of 2019 and feature the modelling talents of many more of our readers. Mr Paolo Malerba certainly enjoyed his starring role in our inaugural edition and we are ready to take aim at another interesting modelling project right now. This time, we are going to be looking at a build challenge we came across at the recent Bolton Model Show, when we were lucky enough to make the acquaintance of Mr Geoff Disley, who was representing IPMS Lancashire at the event. With an impressive selection of models displayed on their stand and clearly illustrating the modelling prowess of the group’s members, Geoff led us to a quiet corner of the display and a little Airfix Spitfire Starter Set build – ‘You will like this’, he said.

Geoff’s little Spitfire build was the result of a recent club competition, something a little different to the usual group or themed build – an Airfix Starter Set challenge. The rules were quite simple, you could only use what came with the starter set itself, kit, brush, tube of glue and paints attached to the packaging. For added creative flexibility, you could also use the kit packaging itself if you wished. The only concessions were that you could use your normal modelling tools and a primer, which obviously precluded the use of any aftermarket gloss or matt varnishes. The excitement began with members drawing a kit from a large bin liner full of starter sets, with Geoff bagging the Spitfire - members were given six months to complete the build and the challenge was on. This was not only going to be a test of modelling skill, but also an opportunity to apply a little lateral thinking, using everything allowable to produce the most striking model possible, whilst using back to basics modelling techniques.

Geoff described how he attacked the challenge with some excitement in his voice, having clearly enjoyed the experience. He said, “Everything you see on the diorama was made from the kit and its packaging. The aircraft itself was quite straightforward, a lovely kit which went together beautifully. I decided part way through the build to attempt a diorama, which did pose one or two challenges. The base is made from the back of the packaging and is covered in a homemade flock of rolled up pieces of the remaining cardboard packaging, grated by hand with a fine cheese grater. The flakes were dropped directly onto the card base, which was covered with what was left of the glue tube, after everything else had been constructed. A liberal coating of neutral grey primer helped attach it to the base before painting. The desired effect was achieved by stippling the base with the paints provided”.

Airfix Spitfire Starter Set challenge with IPMS Lancashire on the Airfix Workbench blog

A closer view of the impressive pilots shed and deck chair, both made from items repurposed from the models packaging – The pilot appears to have gone for a cheeky pot of tea!

Airfix Spitfire Starter Set challenge with IPMS Lancashire on the Airfix Workbench blog

Starting point for this challenge, Geoff selected the Spitfire Starter Set as his challenge kit

Airfix Spitfire Starter Set challenge with IPMS Lancashire on the Airfix Workbench blog

Already an attractive display piece, the story behind this unusual build makes this an extremely interesting modelling feature

He went on to describe how the dispersal hut was formed from the front part of the box, which was covered with thinly cut strips of the instructions and the window was made from the clear plastic which held the glue in place. The blast strips on the inside of the window were made from the tissue covering the decal sheet. Further detail, such as the name ‘Manston’ on the roof of the hut was made up from the letters cut out of the wording ‘Painting Instructions’ on the packaging. The deck chair was made from stretched sprue and covered in a further strip of the instructions, whilst the pilot’s newspaper was once more cut from a piece of the instructions. Stretched sprue was used for the aerial on the aircraft as well as the rope needed to replicate the wheel chocks – these themselves were cut from the sprue. Finally, the 92 Squadron door sign was produced from what was left of the decal sheet.

Airfix Spitfire Starter Set challenge with IPMS Lancashire on the Airfix Workbench blog

A closer look at the ‘Manston Shed’ which is an integral part of this build and a creative application of the challenge brief

Geoff told us that “This was a really fun little competition, which required us all to go back to basics somewhat, but showed what could be achieved with a little imagination, patience and basic modelling tools. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, as did the rest of the club, including hardened "air-brushers" who were forced to get used to using a single brush for painting once more”.

He also described how other members of the group rose to this Starter Set Challenge and managed to produce some really impressive model builds. Although a little too modest to say so himself, we found out that Geoff’s Spitfire was judged to be the overall winner of the competition and as such, proudly took its place on their display stand at the Bolton show. We would like to thank Geoff for the time he spent with us at the show and subsequently via e-mail and we will be finding out a little more about IPMS Lancashire in a future edition of Workbench. This was a really interesting competition to find out about and shows just what can be achieved with an Airfix starter set and a little imagination – great work Geoff.

A little trip across the Pennines

Exclusive Airfix Halifax Model Show images on the Airfix Workbench blog

This stunning WWII North Africa diorama was one of many impressive model displays at the recent Halifax Model Show

We discovered the delights of IPMS Lancashire’s model display at January’s Bolton Show, but last Sunday saw the modelling masses of the North checking their passports and heading across the Pennines (after completing all necessary border checks) for the inaugural Halifax Model Show. This show had originally been marketed as the Huddersfield Model Show, a show which we had attended for the past two years and one we enjoyed very much, however, the organisers had to contend with a rather late venue cancellation and the rapid search for a new and suitable one. Although the lead up to the event was less than ideal for them and must have caused them some logistic headaches, the show went ahead and the people turned up. A chance to meet up with some regulars and to make new modelling acquaintances, the show was a great success and the organising team are to be congratulated. We have arranged to speak with show organiser Geoff Milne in the near future, to find out what it takes to put on a successful model show and how he managed to cope with a significant venue change at such short notice, so please keep an eye out for that. In the meantime and bringing this latest edition of Workbench to a close, please enjoy this short video we shot at the Halifax show, which is mainly an interesting set up time-lapse view of the various displays arranging their tables before the public were allowed access to the hall. Take a look at the table occupying the bottom right section of the picture and the display arranged by IPMS Warrington. Whilst madness ensued all around them, this organised lot were well ahead of the game and were all set up whilst most others were still thinking about it – they had more than enough time for a coffee and a spot of breakfast … most civilized. We were lucky enough to spend some time with this group and they will also be featuring in a future edition of Workbench. We hope you enjoy this short video, which is not too bad for a first attempt.

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 workbench@airfix.com or by contributing to our 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 sections, which are both quickly 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 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 1st March, when we look forward to bringing you all the latest news, updates and exclusives from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling.

On behalf of the entire Workbench team, thank you for your continued support our Airfix blog.

The Airfix Workbench Team


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