‘Lusty Lindy’ welcomes Airfix tribute

‘Lusty Lindy’ welcomes Airfix tribute

Welcome to this latest edition of Workbench and all the news, updates and exclusive announcements from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling. We have something a little different for our readers in this latest edition, as we mark the recent release of a significant new 1/72nd scale kit by accepting a kind invitation to do so underneath the actual aircraft which forms the lead scheme option and box artwork inspiration for this new model. We head for the magnificent Yorkshire Air Museum at the former Bomber Command airfield at Elvington to attend the latest of their ‘Thunder Days’, spending much of our time under the shadow of the museum’s largest aviation exhibit. We also have the latest offering in our ever-popular exclusive box artwork reveals, which not only signifies the fast approaching release of a great new model, but also gives us the opportunity to marvel at a spectacular image which will soon be serving as modelling inspiration for many in the hobby. Always a popular feature, we will be going live with our latest Workbench competition, which has a unique and rather topical modelling prize awaiting our lucky winner, one which even the people who were good enough to make it so special would be pleased to win. Let’s not delay proceedings any further and get straight on with the latest edition of our Airfix blog.

Former V-Bomber takes on important new role

Exclusive new Airfix Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy on the Airfix Workbench blog

With this year marking the Centenary of the establishment of the Royal Air Force, many of the famous aircraft which have represented the force over that period have been the subject of renewed media interest. Classic aircraft such as the Spitfire and Lancaster could almost be described as becoming household names, remaining as familiar to people today as they were during the dark days of the Second World War, whilst other types, such as the Vickers Vernon have simply passed relatively unnoticed  into the annuls of aviation history. Amongst all the aircraft to have worn the famous roundel of the RAF over the past 100 years, there can be few which can claim to have been as distinctive and impressive as the Handley Page Victor, the third of Britain’s trio of V-bombers to enter service and one of the most radical designs ever to take to the skies. With its huge crescent wings and high set T-tail, the Victor would certainly not look out of place in the pages of a science fiction book, however its unusual looks only served to identify it as an exceptionally capable aeroplane indeed, one which proved adaptable enough to see it taking on additional tasks for which it was not originally intended. Developed primarily as a conventional high altitude nuclear capable bomber, the Victor became part of Britain’s primary nuclear deterrent force and was later modified to carry the Blue Steel ‘stand-off’ nuclear missile, ensuring it remained an effective strike platform in an ever changing world. The Victor was also later developed into a long range reconnaissance aircraft (B(SR).2) and an airborne tanker, capable of providing air-to-air-refuelling support for the RAF’s front line fighter and strike force, which included serving through both the Falklands and Gulf conflicts.

Exclusive new Airfix Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy on the Airfix Workbench blog

One of the largest active museum exhibits to be found at any UK aviation site, Handley Page Victor K.2 XL231 ‘Lusty Lindy’

With the Victor occupying such a prominent position in the history of the Royal Air Force, the announcement of our newly tooled 1/72nd scale example of the aircraft made at the 2015 Scale ModelWorld Show at Telford understandably caused quite a stir, especially as we had a painted prototype model available for inspection on the Airfix stand that weekend, to support the announcement. The second release from this impressive tooling includes additional parts allowing modellers to build one of only nine B(SR).2 strategic reconnaissance variants of the Victor produced, or one of the K.2 tankers, which were the final variant of the aircraft to see RAF service. The lead scheme option included with this kit is Gulf War veteran Handley Page Victor K.2 XL231 ‘Lusty Lindy’, an aircraft which is now owned by Andre Tempest and maintained in exceptional ground running condition as one of the major attractions at the Yorkshire Air Museum. Andre and his team were of great help to us during the development of this new Victor kit and allowed several of our design engineers to inspect his aircraft whilst they were working on this project and it was therefore an absolute privilege to be allowed to spend some time with the team once more, as we prepared to launch this second release from the Victor tooling – a release which includes markings and a box artwork representation of their beloved aircraft.

As one of the premier aviation locations in the country, many readers will already be familiar with the delights of the Yorkshire Air Museum and their spectacular collection of aircraft and aviation related exhibits. Many may have also been present at one of their regular ‘Thunder Days’, when several of the museum’s aircraft which are maintained in ground running condition are ‘fired up’ for the pleasure of the gathered masses, ensuring that these events can always rely on healthy attendance numbers from people looking for a more immersive aviation experience. In what proved to be a particularly fortunate turn of events, our opportunity to spend some time with Victor K.2 ‘Lusty Lindy’ XL231 coincided with the latest of these ‘Thunder day’ events, where this mighty sentinel of the Cold War era was scheduled to run all four of her Rolls Royce Conway engines as the finale of this popular day. With a pre-launch production sample of our Victor K.2 kit in hand, we knew that whatever happened, this was going to be a special day.

25 years of dedication

Exclusive new Airfix Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy on the Airfix Workbench blog

The distinctive shape of the Handley Page Victor Cold War V-Bomber turned Gulf War tanker

When you are in the company of the Victor XL231 team, you are immediately left under no illusions that these people take their aviation responsibilities very seriously. The custodians of this iconic and extremely famous example of Britain’s aviation heritage, they have been maintaining ‘Lusty’ since she arrived at Elvington, at the end of her service career. Indeed, this coming November will see the aircraft commemorating 25 years in their care, a significant achievement by her owner and the many people who have devoted their time and commitment to this sizeable project. As you would expect, the team are passionate about this aircraft. Several of them are committed modellers and with the release of our 1/72nd scale Victor B.2(BS) kit A12008 in 2016, they immediately set about building them to represent examples of XL231 from different periods during her service career. Team members kindly brought examples of their builds along on the day, so we had the opportunity to photograph them on and in front of the real aeroplane, as well as with the distinctive (and rather appropriate) second release boxed kit from this magnificent tooling. As A12009 features not only attractive artwork showing their aircraft during her Gulf War service, but also includes lead scheme finish options to produce a scale representation of XL231 ‘Lusty Lindy’, the pre-launch production sample of this new kit we had with us was clearly going to be of great interest to the Victor team and it proved to be quite a distraction during the early morning gathering, prior to their work starting in earnest. After a quick photo opportunity with the new kit box, built models and of course the actual aeroplane, it was time for the team to re-group and attend the morning briefing, for what was going to be a really important day for all concerned and one which promised significant crowd numbers descending on this popular museum.

Exclusive new Airfix Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy on the Airfix Workbench blog

Scale homage – The latest 1/72nd scale Victor release includes decals and scheme details for XL231 ‘Lusty Lindy’

Exclusive new Airfix Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy on the Airfix Workbench blog

Pictured inside the crew access door, our latest Victor kit with two examples of the previous release finished to represent XL231 during her service career. Notice the non-standard, but entirely appropriate ‘Made in England’ plaque

Exclusive new Airfix Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy on the Airfix Workbench blog
Exclusive new Airfix Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy on the Airfix Workbench blog

Ian Finch has invested many long hours, both in the preservation of ‘Lusty Lindy’ (including painting her iconic nose artwork) and using his modelling skills to produce 1/72nd scale examples of her

Exclusive new Airfix Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy on the Airfix Workbench blog

Pride of place. Our new Victor K.2/SR.2 kit resting on the central control unit of ‘Lusty Lindy’, the subject of the magnificent box artwork

Before the team began a busy morning of checks and preparations for their aircraft’s event finale engine run, we were privileged to be allowed a little time onboard this famous aeroplane, which was without doubt the highlight of an extremely memorable day. Looking at the bewildering array of dials, gauges and switches in the impressively roomy cockpit of this massive aeroplane, it certainly leaves you with a feeling of admiration for the men who flew Victors operationally, some of whom did so during times of war. These same controls would be monitored by the current custodians of XL231 in just a few hours time, as her systems would be brought to life once more, allowing her Rolls Royce Conway engines to roar into life, giving the latest Elvington audience and experience they won’t forget and undoubtedly securing some new recruits to the ‘Lusty Lindy’ fan club in the process. Obviously, the opportunity to spend time in the Victor offered the chance to take some unique images of our new Victor kit box, the most striking of which were those taken on the central instrument panel, between the two pilots positions. Interestingly, to aid pilot access, this entire console is usually stored in a raised position, where it attaches to the cockpit ceiling by means of a strong pair of metal hooks – once the crew are in their seats, the central console is released and pulled down to its operational position.

A Tanker of distinction

Exclusive new Airfix Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy on the Airfix Workbench blog

This mighty aircraft has been maintained in ground running condition since she arrived at Elvington almost 25 years ago

Before long, the serious business of the day had to be attended to and the excitement of the new Victor K.2 kit had to be put on the backburner, or more accurately, left on the rear instrument panel table, at the back of the cockpit. Each member of the team had defined roles in preparing the Victor for her live engine run, procedures they had undoubtedly performed many times previously, but one to which they gave their undivided attention. In effect, what they were doing was retracing the steps taken by countless Victor groundcrews at RAF stations up and down the country, during the impressive 35 year service life of these aircraft. This would effectively be an operational Victor sortie, but without the aircraft leaving the ground and her volunteer ground crew were maintaining the professional standards of the service personnel who performed these tasks in years past. We were allowed the opportunity to accompany the teams senior groundcrew man, Mr Ian Finch as he made his way around the aircraft he had become so familiar with – he pointed out some very interesting facts about the aeroplane as he did.

Handley Page Victor B.2 XL231 was built at the Radlett factory in 1961, making her maiden flight on 28th December of the same year. After successfully completing her test programme, she was delivered to the famous ‘Wittering Wing’ as the first B.2 Victor taken on strength by the newly re-formed RAF No.139 Squadron, wearing the all-white anti-flash scheme which was synonymous with the nuclear capable Victors of the V-Bomber force. She would later shed this iconic scheme for one featuring upper surface camouflage, as the effectiveness of Soviet Surface to Air Missiles dictated that V-Bomber operations were moved from high speed, high altitude missions, to low level nuclear penetrations. Once Britain’s nuclear deterrent capability had passed to the submarines of the Royal Navy, the RAF’s Victor squadrons were disbanded, with some aircraft earmarked for conversion to airborne tanker configuration. XL231 was selected as the K.2 tanker development aircraft and was to become the prototype Victor K.2, although in actual fact, she was initially only partly converted to K.2 configuration for trials work, only receiving the full conversion upgrade later in the programme. Converted at the former Avro factory at Woodford in Cheshire, XL231 still displays fascinating details from this period in her history, most noticeably on two panelled over sections of the rear fuselage – these were used to cover the area where cameras had been positioned to record in-flight refuelling sorties during the development of the aircraft. When a suitable Victor K.2 was available to take her place, XL231 received the full K.2 upgrade, permanently altering her operational role and effectively returning her to a zero rating for fatigue life. This also marked her as the first Victor to be upgraded to K.2 tanker standard but the last one to enter RAF service.

Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy model detail on the Airfix Workbench blog

These blanking plates tell an interesting story of how this aircraft helped to pave the way for all the Victor tankers who served during the Falklands crisis and the Gulf War

Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy model detail on the Airfix Workbench blog

Victor tailwheel. Hopefully, this would never need to be used, but it provided some protection against steep take off and landings

Continuing to be a rather important aircraft, XL231 did not see direct service with the rest of the Victor tanker force during the Falklands War, but would work tirelessly to ensure that other aircraft possibly could. Not knowing how long, or how successful the South Atlantic campaign would be, the MOD had an immediate need to equip both the Nimrod and Hercules with an in-flight refuelling capability, thus increasing their operational effectiveness and allowing them to cover greater distances. Victor XL231 was the development aircraft involved in these trials, further marking her as a tanker of some distinction. She did later make the long trip to RAF Ascension Island, supporting a flight of nine Harrier GR.3s on a direct route from the UK.

Exclusive new Airfix Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy on the Airfix Workbench blog

Andre Tempest, the owner of Victor XL231 kindly allowed us access to his magnificent aircraft to mark the launch of our new Victor kit

Exclusive new Airfix Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy on the Airfix Workbench blog

Some members of the Victor team were reluctant to let the new Airfix kit out of their grasp

Now upgraded to full K.2 standard, XL231 would go on to play a significant role in ‘Operation Granby’, the Gulf War of 1990, where she would fly 16 tanking missions in support of coalition air operations. The mission markings on her nose actually show 18 fuel pump mission markings, two of which are in red – these final two missions were flown after the ceasefire had been agreed, but as there was still a possibility that factions of the Iraqi military may choose to ignore the ceasefire, these final two missions were effectively still flown under combat conditions. As a testament to the effectiveness of RAF tanking operations during the Gulf War, RAF No.55 Squadron were tasked with mounting 299 sorties during the conflict and 299 were carried out – an enviable serviceability record indeed. It was also during the Gulf War that this aircraft received her iconic nose artwork and a name by which she would be referred to until this day. Named after the wife of the crew-chief during the aircraft’s Gulf deployment, XL231 was forever to be known as ‘Lusty Lindy’ from the date her nose art tribute was applied at Bahrain.

A labour of love

Exclusive new Airfix Handley Page Victor K.2 Tanker Lusty Lindy on the Airfix Workbench blog

Calm before the storm. Members of the Victor team take a short break during a hectic morning preparing the aircraft for her starring role in the latest Yorkshire Air Museum ‘Thunder Day’

With such devotion to the preservation of this magnificent aircraft, it is no wonder that the Victor team have almost encyclopedic knowledge of every aspect of this aircraft’s operation and history and with several members also being accomplished modellers, they have also managed to build up a handsome collection of scale representations of XL231. As well as being able to inspect two of Ian’s magnificent Victor builds on the day of our visit, fellow team member Scott Clayton sent us the following pictures of his Airfix Victor build, which presents the aircraft as a B.2 ‘Blue Steel’ equipped aircraft of the ‘Wittering Wing’, from around 1966. It is particularly interesting to see the lengths to which Scott has gone to accurately represent the cockpit detail of the model, especially the rear facing air electronics/navigator/bomb aimers console pictured below. This almost looks like a miniature version of the real thing and appears to be powered up and ready for a model sortie – most impressive.

Airfix Handley Page Victor B.2 Blue Steel A12008 on the Airfix Workbench blog

A selection of build images kindly supplied by Scott Clayton, showing the attention to detail which comes with knowing every inch of this mighty aircraft

Airfix Handley Page Victor B.2 Blue Steel A12008 on the Airfix Workbench blog
Airfix Handley Page Victor B.2 Blue Steel A12008 on the Airfix Workbench blog

It was a real honour to be allowed to bring an example of our latest 1/72nd scale Victor kit in the week prior to its release to what proved to be a hugely successful ‘Thunder Day’ at the Yorkshire Air Museum and have it pictured with the actual aircraft which is featured as the lead scheme option with the kit. The Victor team have provided invaluable help to us throughout this modelling project and everyone at Airfix would like to extend our sincere thanks to Andre Tempest and his team for sharing their expertise and passion for this aircraft, in addition to their hospitality and the generous donation of their time in helping to make this latest Victor kit release such a huge success. Handley Page Victor K.2/SR.2 A12009 is available now on the Airfix website and at all good model shops whilst stocks last – we look forward to seeing plenty of scale ‘Lusty Lindy’ build pictures in the Customer Images section of our website in the weeks to come.

Who’s up for a competition?

Before we bring you our latest Workbench competition, could we please just ask the winners of our 3rd Anniversary edition competition to check their e-mails and let us have their delivery details as a matter of some urgency, so we can get their prizes on the way to them. It seems rather strange than not one of the three winners have come back to us with their details, which is frustrating as we have everything packed up and ready to be shipped out. We will resend the winners notification e-mails again today, so please check your e-mails (and junk folders, just in case) to make sure you are not missing out on some great Airfix goodies.

For our latest competition, we are offering one lucky winner the opportunity to win the actual kit of Handley Page Victor K.2/SR.2 A12009 we took to the Yorkshire Air Museum and star of this week’s edition of Workbench. As you have read and seen, the kit spent some time in the cockpit of XL231 and was onboard the aircraft during her engine runs at the latest ‘Thunder Day’ at Elvington on 19th August. To add to the unique nature of this prize, the box has also been signed by the owner of ‘Lusty Lindy’, Mr Andre Tempest and the team who prepared the aircraft for her latest engine run - they have also included an additional print and team sticker to prove that the kit which is up for offer, is the actual one pictured in this review. Once again, we are very grateful to Andre and his team for their help in making this a competition worth winning, even though we had to make a run for it when we finally wrestled the kit from their grasp.

Handley Page Victor K.2 owner Andre Tempest and his team on the Airfix Workbench blog

Owner Andre Tempest holding our recently released Victor K.2/SR.2 kit following the completion of the engine ground running demonstration

Handley Page Victor K.2 owner Andre Tempest and his team on the Airfix Workbench blog

The Victor team sign the kit box which was in the cockpit during the engine run on 19th August

Handley Page Victor K.2 owner Andre Tempest and his team on the Airfix Workbench blog

Photographic evidence – the signed kit box is displayed by the Victor team at the end of an extremely memorable ‘Thunder Day’

Handley Page Victor K.2 owner Andre Tempest and his team on the Airfix Workbench blog

Up for grabs. The signed example of the A12009 Kit, with additional Victor sticker and print – a prize well worth winning

To be in with a chance of winning this unique ‘Lusty Lindy’ Victor prize, simply head over to the Airfix Competitions Page, where you will find an appropriate Victor related question awaiting you, the answer to which can be found in this latest edition of Workbench. As usual, there will be three options for you to select from, with just one being the correct answer – all you have to do is choose the correct one to be in with a chance of winning. Our winner will be selected at random from the list of correct entries received and published in a forthcoming edition of Workbench - the competition itself will remain open until midnight on Tuesday 25th September and we wish everyone who enters the very best of luck!

Menace in the moonlight

Exclusive new Airfix Messerschmitt Me262B-1a Nightfighter A04062 on the Airfix Workbench blog

Our latest exclusive box artwork reveal has to be considered one of the most impressive we have ever featured

Since we launched our Workbench blog over three years ago, there has been one type of feature which has consistently maintained its popularity with our ever growing readership, the exclusive reveal of the latest product artwork which will grace the forthcoming release of a new Airfix kit. With this stunning digital artwork continuing the enduring legacy of the classic Airfix box artwork from years past, we have been proud to bring you these exclusive 'first looks' at images which both serve as inspiration for many a model build and usually signify the imminent release of a highly anticipated new kit. There have been some truly stunning images published throughout the history of Workbench and we will all no doubt have our particular favourites, but this latest offering really is something a little bit special. Produced in support of the scheduled October release of Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a A04062, this magnificent image captures the deadly nocturnal battle which took place between RAF Bomber Command and the most advanced aircraft available to the Luftwaffe in the final months of the Second World War.

As the world’s first operational jet fighter, the Me 262 posed a significant threat to Allied aircraft operating in the skies above Europe and held the potential to wreak havoc amongst the bomber streams which were pulverising German targets on a daily basis. Once Allied military planners discovered what this strange new aircraft was and the blistering performance it possessed, the German jet fighters were hunted mercilessly by Allied aircraft which were inferior to it in almost every respect, but held a significant numerical advantage over the jet. In areas of suspected jet operation, bombers would attempt to destroy anything which resembled an airfield, hopefully catching some of the feared new fighters on the ground, before they could be used against them. In the air, large numbers of Mustangs would cruise above the bomber formations, hoping to lure the Messerschmitts into the air, where at least their greater numbers gave them the possibility of shooting one or two down, but more likely just reducing the effectiveness of their attack runs against the bombers by adopting particularly aggressive flying tactics.

Due to the speed advantage held by the Me 262, they would usually manage to avoid being intercepted by Allied fighters in most engagements, but these jets had to be stopped at all costs and the Allies had a plan with which to achieve this. With all available assets dedicated to finding the bases where the jets were operating from, squadrons of aircraft would loiter in the vicinity of suspected Me 262 hotspots and ruthlessly pick them off as they made their landing approach, where the pilot’s workload was at its most demanding and the performance of their early jet engines was least effective. Even after the war had ended, the race to find these revolutionary aircraft continued, as ground units were desperate to secure as many airworthy or easily reparable examples as they could, so the Allies could unlock the secrets of German jet technology and compare it to their own fledgling jet powered projects. Aircraft which were found were placed under 24 hour armed guard, until arrangements could be made to transport them back to the UK for test and evaluation purposes.

Although the Messerschmitt Me 262 possessed frightening destructive potential, the jet was only thought to be responsible for shooting down around 400 Allied aircraft in just under twelve months of combat operations, with just a small fraction of these victories attributed to the two seat nighfighter variant of the jet. Even so, these radar equipped nocturnal hunters have held a particular fascination with enthusiasts since the end of WWII, possibly because of the clandestine nature of their operation and partly because so few actually made it to front line units. These sinister shapes lurking in the night sky were unable to make a telling contribution to the outcome of the war, but paved the way for some extremely effective jet aircraft to follow, which harnessed the greater speed and firepower of slightly larger aircraft, but required a two man crew to operate effectively. History has shown that the airmen of Bomber Command were forced to endure enough hardship without having to face a large and well organised force of Me 262 nightfighters in the final months of WWII, so it is perhaps fortuitous that their service introduction was somewhat troubled.

Exclusive new Airfix Messerschmitt Me262B-1a Nightfighter A04062 on the Airfix Workbench blog

The full box design of Me 262B-1a which will have modellers rushing to their local supplier following its October release

The evocative artwork which will soon announce the arrival of the new 1/72nd scale Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a A04062 features a burning Halifax over a heavily bombed city, which is clearly the latest victim of prowling ‘Red 12’ from the Luftwaffe’s 10./Nachtjagdgeschwader 11. As one of the most sinister looking aircraft ever to take to the skies and resembling something of an airborne Great White Shark, this latest release from the new Messerschmitt Me 262 tooling will undoubtedly be one of our most successful kits of 2018 and one which may prove challenging to get hold of in the weeks following its release. With its October launch date fast approaching, this may be an ideal opportunity to check your order status with your supplier, or to snap up one of the remaining kits available on the Airfix website. Having charted the progress of this kit since it was first announced at the beginning of the year, this beautiful artwork reveal has only served to further increase our excitement at the impending release of this two seat version of the Me 262 fighter, one of the most significant aircraft in the history of aerial warfare.

We are afraid that is all we have for you in this latest edition of Workbench, but we will be back as usual in two weeks’ time with more 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 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 28th September, 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 continuing to support our Airfix blog.

The Airfix Workbench Team

 

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