Latest Airfix kit range to start New Year
We are pleased to be bringing you the latest edition of Workbench and all the news, updates and exclusive announcements from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling. It has already been a busy start to the new year, with both a new range launch taking place over the past week or so and the announcement of the latest new tooling project to join the growing Airfix ranks, in the form of the heavily requested Hawker Hunter F.6 in 1/48th scale. As our previous edition was exclusively devoted to bringing you all the latest details regarding the new Hunter, we have some catching up to do in edition 65 and will use this blog to look at some of the other modelling highlights in the 2018 Airfix catalogue, although there are simply too many to cover in a single blog. We intend to do our very best with a range which can boast new model toolings, kits which have introduced new parts, new decals and schemes for numerous releases and the re-introduction of two classic Airfix kits. All the latest 2018 models can be viewed by heading over to the Airfix website, but before you do, let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the new range.
100 years of Royal Air Force excellence
The evocative artwork produced for this gift set shows 100 years of RAF fighter technology
In what is already looking certain to be an important year for aviation in the UK, 2018 marks the Centenary commemorations not only of the end of the Great War, but also the establishment of the Royal Air Force, the world’s first independent air arm. With some high profile events already scheduled to be taking place throughout the year and the RAF museum ensuring they mark the occasion in some style, the subject of aviation and specifically the aircraft of the Royal Air Force will be receiving significant media attention this year, as well as coming to the attention of people who may not usually have an interest in such matters. Indeed, as if to highlight the continued importance of the RAF and their current role, as we started working on this latest edition of Workbench, the national news was reporting that a number of RAF Typhoon fighters had been scrambled from Lossiemouth and sent to intercept two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 ‘Blackjack’ bombers, which were fast approaching UK airspace.
Many of the aircraft which have represented the Royal Air Force over the past 100 years have been at the cutting edge of aviation technology, with a handful going on to become some of the most recognised aircraft in the history of flight. The latest Airfix model range includes a new RAF Centenary Gift Set (A50181), which features a trio of iconic fighter aircraft, which represent some of the most famous fighter aircraft to wear the distinctive roundel of the Royal Air Force, from the Sopwith Camel of the Great War, to the latest Eurofighter Typhoon, which protects Britain from unwanted airborne encroachment. Between these two classics comes arguably the most famous aircraft of all time, the incomparable Supermarine Spitfire, which to this day continues to span generations and enjoy almost universal aviation recognition. This new gift set is intended to appeal to modellers of all ages and abilities, who may be looking to make their own modelling tribute to the RAF’s significant centenary commemorations and includes all the items you may need to produce scale representations of three classic RAF fighters.
A50181 allows modellers to make their own tribute to RAF 100
In one of the most significant developments in the history of aviation, 2018 will see the Royal Air Force mark its Centenary year, which also commemorates the establishment of the world’s first independent air arm. Formed on 1st April 1918, the RAF saw the amalgamation of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps into a single air fighting force, bringing to an end many months of planning in an attempt to end the frustrations and wastefulness of operating the two separate air forces. Previously, both had been independently developing and procuring aircraft, engines and technological advances, but as the aeroplane was becoming increasingly influential on the battlefield, a unified force was the only sensible option for the future.
At the time of its formation, the new Royal Air Force became the largest air force in the world, with some 300,000 men and 22,000 aircraft under its control. The first official operation carried out by aircraft of the RAF is thought to have been conducted on the Western Front by the Bristol F2B fighters of No.22 Squadron, as the Allies slowly began to wrestle air supremacy from their adversaries.
Perhaps more than any other aircraft type, the fighter has both represented the constant battle for man’s desire to conquer the skies, whilst also captivating the imagination of the general public, who were in awe of these men and their magnificent machines. With fighter pilots seen as modern-day knights of the sky, engaged in deadly duels to the death in the playground of the gods, their exploits became a source of fascination, with the most successful becoming household names and national heroes. The aircraft they flew were the most exciting machines created by man and throughout the history of the Royal Air Force, its fighter aircraft have come to represent the pride of the nation and some of the most capable aeroplanes the world has ever seen.
The Great War saw the aeroplane develop from a flimsy airborne observation platform to a deadly fighting machine, capable of denying your enemy the ability to fly in the same air space. The Sopwith Camel was without doubt one of the first great fighter aircraft the world had seen and was responsible for shooting down more Axis aircraft than any other type during WWI, despite its relatively late entry into combat. Possessing speed, firepower and manoeuvrability, in the hands of an experienced pilot, the Camel was a formidable opponent and became the mount of many successful RAF aces, helping them to gain air superiority in the skies above the Western Front.
Although the history of aviation is littered with significant aircraft of all types, there can be few that enjoy such widespread veneration as the Supermarine Spitfire. Viewed as the RAF’s ace in the pack during the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire was surely the epitome of fighter aircraft design, with its sleek profile and distinctive elliptical wings making it a particularly beautiful aeroplane to look at, but beneath this aesthetically appealing exterior, it was a ruthlessly effective fighting machine. Remaining in production throughout WWII and with well over 20,000 examples produced, the Spitfire is arguably the most famous aircraft to ever wear the roundel of the Royal Air Force.
Bringing the story of today’s Royal Air Force up to date, the current Spitfire equivalent which is keeping Britain’s skies safe from unwanted incursion is the magnificent Eurofighter Typhoon. As one of the world’s most capable fighter aircraft, the Typhoon possesses all the attributes that made both the Camel and Spitfire so successful in combat, whilst also incorporating all the latest cutting-edge aviation technologies to make this the most effective air defence fighter to ever serve with the RAF. As it continues to develop into a cost-effective multi-role aircraft design, the Typhoon is destined to be protecting Britain’s skies for many years to come and will hope to earn a reputation similar to those of its famous fighting forebears.
The distinctive box artwork of the new RAF Centenary Gift Set will be a welcome site in model shops all over the world during 2018
The new RAF Centenary Gift Set A50181 is scheduled to be available at all good modelling outlets during February.
New Messerschmitt Me 262 night hunter
Although new tooling announcements will always be the headline models in any new range launch, every Airfix catalogue includes a multitude of delights to satisfy any self-respecting modeller, including a number relatively new models which benefit from the inclusion of additional parts, allowing the modeller to build different versions of a previously released kit. The latest range includes several kits released with additional parts, which are all worthy of a little further investigation.
Profile Artwork Note: The announcement of any new model range is the culmination of an extremely busy period for the Airfix team and some of the artwork used within this review feature are not really intended for this purpose. Most of the profile artwork is only intended for use as the small scheme illustrators on the catalogue pages themselves and do not look as crisp as usual when increased in size for other purposes. Regular Workbench readers will know that we make full use of the actual artwork updates within our blog, which are an important component in a product's development and a significant blog feature as the relevant models advance towards release.
Messerschmitt Me262B-1a – 1/72nd scale
Computer rendered 3D image featuring the radar equipped Me 262B-1a/U1 Nightfighter
Released last year to the delight of Luftwaffe modellers all over the world, our new Messerschmitt Me 262 brought the latest design and manufacturing techniques to arguably the most significant aircraft to see service during WWII. As the world’s first operational jet fighter, the Me 262 was a huge leap forward in aviation technology and held the potential of allowing the Luftwaffe to wrestle back air superiority from the Allies in the skies above Europe, which ensured these dangerous aircraft were hunted mercilessly following their discovery. Had the Germans been able to unleash large numbers of these aircraft, piloted by experienced crews, just a few months earlier than they did, the air war over Europe would have claimed many more casualties and potentially prolonged the war significantly.
A montage of images associated with the new Me 262B-1a announcement A04062
The overwhelming superiority of Allied air forces, lack of suitably trained pilots and difficulties introducing this radically new technology into service all reduced the impact of the new Messerschmitt jet, to a point where it made little difference to the eventual outcome, albeit whilst highlighting the technological superiority of the German aviation industry. As the first machines were single seat aircraft, pilots first experience of jet propulsion would be their first solo flight. This would challenge even the most experienced of Luftwaffe airmen and accidents would be commonplace during the service introduction of the Me 262. For the new jet to have any impact on the air war, new and inexperienced pilots would have to fly the fighter effectively in combat and to help speed this process, the two seat Me 262B-1a trainer was developed from the original airframe, with a second rear cockpit for an instructor being added, whilst retaining operational capabilities. All of these aircraft were conversions from the existing fighter versions, even though the addition of the second cockpit and necessary fuselage alterations gave the aircraft a dramatically different appearance – from the modellers perspective, these new parts are almost as good as a new model tooling.
Devastatingly effective, the Me 262B-1a was also one of the best looking aircraft of WWII
As the twin seat Me 262 jet trainers retained much of the offensive capabilities of the earlier single seat fighters, a number of these aircraft went on to be used as interim night fighters, hoping to stem the tide of nocturnal RAF bombing operations over Germany. Equipped with the Siemens FuG 218 Neptun V airborne interception radar with its distinctive stag antler antenna arrangement on the nose, these were without doubt some of the most interesting aircraft of WWII and devastatingly effective fighters in the hands of an expert pilot. Allowing modellers to produce this handsome version of the Messerschmitt Me 262, A04062 will surely introduce many more modellers to the virtues of this historic aircraft and in this centenary year of the RAF, bring attention to one of their most feared adversaries. Scheme details included with this new release feature Me 262 B-1a/U1 ‘Red 12’ (Werknummer 111980) of NJG 11, which was captured by the British at Schleswig-Jagel airfield and was later adorned with RAF markings.
Handley Page Victor K.2 – 1/72nd scale
Spectacular box artwork marks the announcement of the new Victor K.2 tanker
For many enthusiasts, the mighty Handley Page Victor is without doubt one of the most distinctive post war aircraft to see RAF service – it could also be argued that the aircraft does not usually enjoy the plaudits it undoubtedly deserves. As the last of Britain’s trio of Cold War V-Bombers to enter service, the Victor was arguably the most successful, remaining in RAF service for an impressive 35 years, even overshadowing the more famous Avro Vulcan. The final K.2 versions were converted to provide the RAF with an effective air-to-air refuelling capability and saw service through both the Falklands Conflict and the Gulf War of 1990.
With its huge crescent wing and high T-tail, the Victor looks as if it would not be out of place in an episode of Thunderbirds, however this radical design marked an exceptionally capable aeroplane, which proved adaptable enough to take on tasks for which it was not originally intended. Originally conceived as a conventional nuclear capable bomber, the Victor became part of Britain’s primary nuclear deterrent force whilst modified to carry the Blue Steel stand-off nuclear missile and was also used as an extremely effective reconnaissance platform (B(SR).2) and airborne tanker, capable of providing air-to-air-refuelling support for the RAF’s front line fighter and strike force.
XL231 ‘Lusty Lindy’ is one of the scheme options included with this kit
This latest release of the superb Victor kit (A12009) includes additional parts to build one of the nine B(SR).2 strategic reconnaissance variants of the aircraft, which made use of the aircraft’s cavernous bomb bay to include an impressive array of camera equipment, as well as up to 108 photo-flares to illuminate the target, if required. The kit also includes parts to make a K.2 tanker and includes decal options to finish your model as the Yorkshire Air Museum’s famous Victor K.2 XL231 ‘Lusty Lindy’.
McDonnell Douglas Phantom FGR.2 – 1/72nd scale
This iconic Phantom Falklands Defender is one of the scheme options available with this magnificent new kit
Without doubt, one of the most popular new model tooling projects to join the Airfix kit line up has been the new Royal Navy Phantom FG.1, with many modellers already adding this classic to their new year build schedules, as the first examples are beginning to arrive at model shops. Although this American classic saw service with many of the worlds air arms, it is perhaps the British Phantoms which became something of an enigma, as our attempts to Anglicise the aircraft produced some unique versions of this Cold War warrior. It would also be fair to say that the Royal Navy proved to be happier with their new Phantom than were the RAF, who initially felt they were being forced to accept a naval aircraft to perform a wide variety of land-based roles, with the cancellation of their preferred options. In time, they grew to love their Phantoms, which performed admirably in the roles of air defence fighter, close air support/ground attack and reconnaissance aircraft for over 37 years.
Certain to continue the success of our new British Phantom tooling, this RAF version offers some iconic scheme options
In a move that will delight British Phantom fanatics, the latest range includes A06017 which benefits from new parts, allowing the modeller to produce the Royal Air Force version of the British Phantom. As these aircraft were used exclusively from mainland bases, there was no need for many of the naval modifications included on the Fleet Air Arm aircraft, such as the extending nose oleo, catapult hooks and slatted tailplane, even though they did retain the distinctive arrestor hook of their shipborne relatives. They also incorporated a number of equipment and electronics upgrades, which were better suited to the operational requirements of RAF Phantoms, which included weapons and mission pods. This new kit includes decal options to produce one of three different RAF Phantom FGR.2 aircraft, including a stunning white tailed Falklands Defender, which will surely serve as inspiration for many a future modelling project. This magnificent new Phantom is scheduled for an October release.
Gloster Meteor FR.9 – 1/48th scale
If we previously looked at Germany’s and the world’s first operational jet fighter, we really needed to equal things up a little and also feature Britain’s first jet. Although the prospect of a jet on jet confrontation was operationally possible in the latter months of WWII, Allied military planners were keen to avoid such a situation occurring. Although British pilots were confident in the capabilities of their new Gloster Meteor fighter, there was no real need to risk the new jets, as the attrition of war was already inexorably delivering the Allies to victory and the first jet v jet combat would be nothing more than a distracting side show. The Meteor would go on to provide the Royal Air Force with an exceptionally capable first generation jet aircraft, which enjoyed and eventful service career and proved flexible enough to fulfil a number of different roles.
This attractive RAF No.208 Squadron scheme will be a popular choice with the new Meteor FR.9 kit
As the Meteor matured into an extremely effective multi-role aircraft, the speed and stability of the jet made it an ideal candidate for development into a high speed reconnaissance platform. Replacing earlier Spitfires and Mosquitos in this role, the re-designed nose of the Meteor FR.9 variant added nine inches to the length of the aircraft, but allowed the positioning of three windows through which a remotely controlled camera could be fired, to obtain the vital information the aircraft was sent to gather. Significantly, the FR.9 retained the four nose mounted cannon armament of the fighter version and was well cable of either protecting itself, or converting from a reconnaissance to a strike role at the flick of a switch. In order to increase the effectiveness of reconnaissance missions, the FR.9 also saw the aircraft benefit from additional external fuel tanks, carried under the wings and under the fuselage of the aircraft. This variant of the Meteor would see significant service with RAF units based overseas, particularly with the 2nd Tactical Air Force in Germany.
Scheduled for a November release, this handsome new version of the Gloster Meteor (A09188) will be a popular addition to the growing range of 1/48th scale models.
North American F-51D Mustang – 1/48th scale
The Mustang saw plenty of action during the Korean War, as it proved more suitable than the first generation jet fighters of the day
With the US designation system for aircraft changing in 1948, the famous North American P-51D Mustang of WWII would be referred to in its final years of US service as the F-51D (F for Fighter, as opposed to P for Pursuit). With many Mustangs placed into storage, or serving with Air Force Reserve of Air National Guard units, the Korean War would once again see the Mustang deployed in large numbers, as this proven warhorse still had plenty to offer. Initially forced to operate from bases in Japan, the range of the Mustang made it more suitable than the early jet aircraft entering USAF service, which simply did not have the operational range to be considered for such missions. Although usually considered as one of the most capable fighter aircraft of all time and still carrying the designation F for fighter, Korean War Mustangs would be used extensively in ground attack and reconnaissance missions, often operating in extremely hostile environments. Equipped with rockets, bombs and photo-reconnaissance equipment, many Mustangs were lost during these low level missions, with the aircraft proving especially vulnerable to the latest anti-aircraft and small arms fire, but not before making a significant contribution to the war effort.
This latest release from our magnificent new 1/48th scale Mustang tooling (A05136) includes additional parts to produce one of the many Mustangs which took part in the Korean conflict, as well as aircraft wearing Australian and Swedish Air Force markings. This will also be an extremely special release, in so much as it is intended that the instruction sheet will feature a rather unusual pilot figure image – the winner of our 50th edition caricature competition.
Having featured the models in the new 2018 range which benefit from the inclusion of additional parts, the variants of the individual aircraft they allow us to build make each one almost qualify as a new tooling release in their own right (well, almost) and we look forward to bringing you further updates as each one progress towards their eventual release. Clearly, the new range has something for modellers of all ages, abilities and subject tastes and there is plenty to look forward to in 2018.
The welcome return of some Airfix classics
Big Hairy Bird – the Martin B-26 Marauder makes a welcome return to the Airfix range
A quick browse through the models that make up the new 2018 range will reveal a pair of Airfix classics which have been re-introduced this year, in response to persistent requests from Airfix enthusiasts. Many will have fond memories of building the impressive Martin B-26 Marauder in 1/72nd scale, which always seemed to be one of the most accomplished kits in the Airfix line-up and has some real substance to it, building into a compact and rugged model. The Marauder fulfilled a vital role during the air battles of WWII and overcame a challenging service introduction to be regarded as arguably the finest twin engined medium bomber of the Second World War, boasting some of the lowest combat loss rates in the US 8th and 9th Air Forces. The Marauder had a relatively high landing speed compared to other aircraft of this type, which resulted in a number of training accidents and fatalities during its introduction and earning the B-26 the unenviable nickname ‘Widowmaker’ amongst concerned aircrews. Despite these early reservations and following effective training, the Marauder would prove to be an exceptional warplane, bringing back many crews when lesser aircraft may have succumbed to combat damage. Some Marauders also went on to post some incredible combat mission records during WWII and its re-introduction to the 2018 range will be viewed as a highlight for many.
As far as classic aircraft are concerned, there can be few that boast the same pedigree of the magnificent Supermarine Spitfire and whilst 2018 will be a nationwide commemoration of the Centenary of the Royal Air Force, it also marks a significant anniversary for Britain’s most famous fighter. On 4th August 1938, production Spitfire Mk.I K9789 arrived with No.19 Squadron at Duxford and heralded the dawning of a new era of British aviation, following the Hawker Hurricane into service by less than nine months, with this year obviously marking the 80th anniversary of the Spitfire’s introduction.
2018 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Spitfire entering RAF service
Over the years, Airfix have produced many Spitfire models, which have served both to immortalise R.J Mitchell’s magnificent fighter and to introduce generations of modellers to this fantastic hobby. The latest catalogue welcomes the return of a real classic, in the form of A06101A the 1/48th scale Spitfire F.Mk. 22/24 a real brute of a fighting machine. As the final variants of the Spitfire to enter service, the Rolls-Royce Griffon powered Mk.22/24 were very different from the prototype aircraft which first took to the sky in 1936 – at double the weight and possessing more than twice the power, the last Spitfires had an increased climb rate of 80% over the prototype and were around 100mph faster.
This Spitfire re-introduction is just one of the many highlights from the new 2018 Airfix model range and if you have yet to discover the latest models for yourself, why not take a quick look at the Airfix website to see which modelling projects will be gracing your workbench this coming year.
Last talons of the Luftwaffe
Andreas Fey has been at it again, producing his latest Luftwaffe masterpiece
We would like to end this edition of Workbench by featuring a small selection of build pictures sent to us recently by regular contributor Andreas Fey and his latest Luftwaffe project. Based on the new 1/72nd scale Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a kit (A03088) Andreas has used all his incredible modelling talents to produce not only a superb example of this famous jet fighter, but also to display the finished model in the impressive style we have now become accustomed to. Using creative photography and diorama backdrops, Andreas has an uncanny knack of bringing his modelling projects to life, making them seem much more realistic and demanding closer inspection.
Andreas decided to finish his model as Messerschmitt Me262A-1A ‘Yellow 3’, of 9./Kampfgeschwader(J) 54, which was based at Neuburg an der Donau in Bavaria, during March-April 1945, the scheme which is featured on the magnificent artwork which adorns the box of this fantastic model. Without doubt one of the most formidable fighting aircraft of WWII, the sinister ‘Totenkopf’ emblem of 9./KG(J)54 only serves to enhance the fearsome reputation and shark-like appearance of the world’s first operational jet fighter, which threatened to wreak havoc amongst Allied air forces and pointed the way to the future of aviation.
As a full build review, Andreas took pictures throughout his Me 262 project
Andreas loves to display his finished models on evocative diorama backdrops
Kampfgeschwader 54 were a Luftwaffe bomber wing during WWII which suffered very heavy losses during Operation Steinbock and attacks against the D-Day invasion beaches. Withdrawn from the Western Front in September 1944, the unit were assigned to Neuburg an der Donau airfield in Bavaria and began conversion training on the new Messerschmitt Me 262 jet aircraft. Unfortunately for units based at Neuburg, this increased jet activity at the airfield attracted the interest of the USAAF, who’s B-17s and B-24s paid their first visit in February 1945 and returned regularly over the next two months, until the airfield was almost completely destroyed – a fate that seemed to befall every base that hosted the Me 262.
Andreas supplied us with a large number of images, both of the build process and the diorama display of the completed model. He also let us have his thoughts on the construction of the kit itself and we will bring you these details in the next edition of Workbench – for now though, we hope these magnificent Me 262 Schwalbe images will keep you going until then. Thanks Andreas, quite magnificent, as usual.
We are afraid that is all we have for you in this latest bumper edition of Workbench, but we look forward to seeing you all here again in two weeks’ time. As you know, we are always keen to gauge the thoughts of our readers and there are several ways in which you can contact us, which include our dedicated e-mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org and of course the Workbench thread over on the Airfix Forum. If social media is more your style, you could access either the Airfix Facebook page or our Twitter channel, using #airfixworkbench where you will find plenty of modelling news, views and discussion. Whichever medium you decide to use, please do get in touch, as it is always interesting to hear from fellow modelling enthusiasts and the projects you have on the go at the moment.
As always, the Airfix website is the place to go for all the latest model release information, with our New Arrivals, Coming Soon and Last Chance to Buy sections all accessed by clicking on the above links. As updating the website is a constant process, a quick search through each section of the Airfix web pages will reveal new information and updated images in many of the product sections and this is always an enjoyable and rewarding way to spend a few minutes.
The next edition of Workbench is due to be published on Friday 2nd February, when we look forward to bringing you all the latest updates and exclusives from the world of Airfix modelling.
The Airfix Workbench Team
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