Mustang and Meteor Make Tracks
Welcome to this latest edition of Workbench and our regular behind the scenes look at the fascinating world of Airfix modelling. As some of the recently announced model projects advance towards their release dates, we are pleased to be able to bring you two exclusive updates in this latest edition, both from models to be produced in 1/48th scale. The first is from one of our new tooling projects announced at the end of 2016, whilst the second is from the new 2017 model range and features additional parts to build a new version of a classic British built aircraft. We also have the latest kit mountain pictures in our ‘Flash your stash’ feature and a Workbench reader has kindly supplied a build feature of one of his latest Airfix modelling projects.
Before we get started, we would just like to take a moment to acknowledge the various Modelling Societies, Special Interest Groups and individual modellers we met during our time at the recent Bolton and Huddersfield model shows. These events proved to be a fantastic start to the year and it has been a real treat to see how vibrant the modelling hobby is at the moment and to meet people who are committed to showcasing their modelling skills and inspire fellow modellers. It has also been encouraging to see younger modellers continuing to come into the hobby and we will be highlighting the talents of a young modeller we were lucky enough to meet at Huddersfield a little later in this blog. With reviews from both shows, plus features on some of the groups and societies we met to come in future editions of Workbench, we look forward to highlighting some of the great modelling activities taking place around the UK and how easy it is to join in.
We have a lot to squeeze in to Edition 41, we had better make a start.
Inglewood’s Finest Advances
First announced back in the 31st edition of Workbench on the 21st October last year, the new 1/48th scale North American P-51D Mustang is already shaping up to be one of our most popular releases in this scale and one of the most accurate models of this iconic WWII fighter. It is hardly surprising that the Mustang continues to captivate aviation enthusiasts and modellers alike, as it is the very epitome of successful piston engined fighter design and made such a devastating impact to the air war on its introduction combat. It also has to be considered as one of the most attractive aircraft of the Second World War and along with Britain’s Supermarine Spitfire could even be described as being too handsome for the unpleasantness of war, even though both aircraft proved to be devastatingly effective fighters.
Computer rendered CAD image showing some of the new kits impressive features
Even though the Mustang is regarded as one of the greatest fighter aircraft of the Second World War, Merlin powered variants only arrived with combat units during the winter of 1943 and when you consider that both the Spitfire and Bf 109 saw continuous service throughout WWII, this illustrates the impact that Inglewood’s finest had on helping the Allies secure air superiority. Going on to see service during the Korean War, where air power had already moved in the direction of jet power, the Mustang proved to be a thoroughbred fighter design, with many aircraft still performing regularly on the world’s air display circuits to this day.
As modellers would expect, the new 1/48th Scale North American P-51D Mustang (A05131) will feature impressive levels of detail and will allow a number of different build options for the modeller to consider. With such features as optional canopy and flap positioning, the kit will also allow the modeller to build different versions of the ‘D’ model Mustang, from the first machines introduced into service, to the later aircraft which featured a number of improvements, most noticeably a dorsal fillet at the base of the horizontal stabilizer. The kit includes optional propellers and wheels, plus a wide variety of under-wing stores, such as drop tanks, bombs and triple bazooka rocket tubes. With some iconic Mustang schemes available for the modeller to research, it is no wonder that this new kit is already attracting significant attention.
We are pleased to be able to bring you this exclusive update from the 1/48th scale P-51D Mustang project, although we do have to include something of an image caveat. Unfortunately, as both Hornby events teams and kit samples have been attending the busy toy and hobby trade shows over recent weeks, the quality of our test frame images are not quite up to standard, but rather than hold them back for a future edition, we have decided to show them and will update with better quality pictures over the next few weeks. They do still show the beautifully clean moulding of these initial test frames and the many kit build options available to the modeller – we hope you find these early pre-production Mustang test frame images interesting.
Selection of exclusive test frame images from the new 1/48th scale North American P-51D tooling
Clearly the new P-51D is going to be an extremely popular addition to the 1/48th scale range and we look forward to bringing you all the latest project developments as they take place over the coming weeks, as we anticipate a scheduled release towards the end of 2017 – you will find out all the information first in Workbench.
The Meteor Goes to War
Evocative box artwork that will accompany the new 1/48th scale Gloster Meteor F.8 Korean War release
As Britain’s first jet fighter and the only Allied jet aircraft to see service during WWII, the Gloster Meteor commands a position of prominence in the history of British aviation and marks the transition from piston to jet powered flight. It also became a successful export aircraft for Britain and allowed many of the world’s air forces to re-equip with this new technology relatively cheaply. It was a stable and predictable aircraft to fly and in many ways was the ideal aircraft in which to introduce pilots used to flying the latest piston powered aircraft to the new jet technology that was revolutionising aviation in the years following the end of the Second World War.
Although the final months of WWII saw British and German jets operating on the European mainland for the first time, a much anticipated jet powered fighter versus fighter engagement never actually took place and it would not be until the Korean War that the first jet on jet aerial victory was claimed. Although the Gloster Meteor would be involved in this conflict, the pace of aviation development in the early years of jet power was astonishing and the new MiG-15 fighters they would come up against held a distinct technological advantage, particularly when engaged in a turning dogfight. Nevertheless, Meteors of the Royal Australian Air Force scored some significant victories and proved to be a reliable and hard working platform throughout the conflict.
Computer rendered CAD image of the Korean War Meteor F.8
When the new Airfix 1/48th scale Gloster Meteor F.8 was released last year, it quickly became one of the most popular models in the range, with many modellers having to wait until the second consignment before getting their hands on one. The schemes included with this first release marked two aircraft that saw service with the Royal Air Force, in what many regard as the definitive version of the Meteor, but fans of this beautiful aircraft will have noticed the recent 2017 range announcement included a second release from this tooling, which includes additional parts and has a much more international flavour. We are pleased to bring you details of this new kit (A09184) and an exclusive first look at the additional parts included and the scheme options available.
Test frame image showing the additional parts for the Korean War Meteors
As with the Mustang test frame images we showed earlier, we apologise for the quality of the images included in this edition and we will update them in the near future, but they do allow us all to see the new parts that will be included with this new kit, allowing modellers to produce some distinctive (and rather colourful) Meteors in service with overseas air arms.
Profile of Gloster Meteor F.8 A77-851 ‘HALESTORM’
Gloster Meteor F.8 A77-851 ‘HALESTORM’, Flown by Sgt. George Spaulding Hale, No.77 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, Kimpo, Korea, March 1953.
This aircraft is perhaps one of the most famous schemes applied to a Gloster Meteor and one of the few aircraft that can claim to be a MiG killer. George Hale was already an accomplished pilot when he was assigned to No.77 Squadron during the Korean War and flown from Australia to Iwakuni Air Base in Japan to begin conversion to the Gloster Meteor F.8. Once there, he spent just 14 days learning to fly the Meteor in a number of operational scenarios, including mock dogfights, formation flying, live rocketry practice and ground attack missions. Passed for operational service, he flew from Japan to Seoul, Korea on 13th December 1952, where he joined the rest of No.77 Squadron at their base at Kimpo, flying his first operational mission the following day.
His most notable day occurred on 27th March 1953 when he and another Meteor pilot were flying an armed road reconnaissance patrol in contested airspace over Korea. They spotted a pair of MiG-15 fighters (which are reported in many sources as chasing a pair of USAF F-80 ‘Shooting Stars’) and immediately engaged, only to be attacked themselves by a second pair of enemy jets. The second Meteor was hit by cannon fire and broke off the engagement, leaving Hale to take on multiple MiGs by himself. Firing on the lead MiG, Hale saw the aircraft roll onto its back and head earthwards, emitting dense black smoke from its fuselage, but then a third pair of MiGs joined the melee. Hale again fired on the lead aircraft of this third pair, scoring hits and seeing thick white smoke or fuel vapour coming from the fighter, as it also rolled onto its back and headed towards the ground. Hale continued to combat the MiGs until the ammunition in his aircraft was exhausted, at which time he broke off the engagement and headed for Kimpo airfield at low level and at speed.
Computer rendered image showing the rockets used on RAAF Meteors
In the aftermath of this incident, Sergeant George Hale was credited with one MiG probably destroyed and one badly damaged. His assigned aircraft A77-851 ‘Halestorm’ carried two MiG kill markings for a short time and has become one of the most famous aircraft to see service with the Royal Australian Air Force, as well as one of the most significant Meteors. There are some famous pictures that show ‘Halestorm’ back at Kimpo following this combat, where the crew chief has used his finger to write ‘MiG KILLER’ in the black gun soot under the ‘Halestorm’ artwork and obviously before the two MiG kill markings were added. Unfortunately, the two MiG kill marking were ordered to be removed from the aircraft by the units commanding officer, but this is still a remarkable story in the service career of this famous aircraft.
Profile of Gloster Meteor F.8 A77-854 ‘The Geelong Flyer’
Gloster Meteor F.8 A77-854 ‘The Geelong Flyer’, No.77 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, Kimpo, Korea, 1953.
Although perhaps not as famous as ‘Halestorm’, this second scheme again features attractive nose artwork and helps to tell this important story in the history of the Gloster Meteor and a glorious chapter in the annals of the Royal Australian Air Force. Despite coming up against the superior dogfighting abilities of the new MiG-15, the Meteors of No.77 Squadron RAAF made a huge contribution to the war effort and took a heavy toll of enemy infrastructure. During the three years of the Korean War, No.77 Squadron flew an astonishing 18,872 sorties, first with their ageing North American Mustangs and then with the Gloster Meteor. By the end of the war, the RAAF Meteors had flown 4,836 missions, destroying 3,700 buildings, 1,500 vehicles and numerous bridges, locomotives and railway carriages in the process. They also accounted for at least six enemy MiG-15 fighters, but these achievements came at a heavy cost, with thirty-two Meteors destroyed, many of which also claimed the lives of their pilots.
Profile of Fokker built Gloster Meteor F.8 7E-5 ‘Diamonds Four’
Gloster Meteor F.8 (Fokker built) 7E-5, No.327 Squadron Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force) ‘Ruiten Vier’ (Diamonds Four) display team, Commando Lucht Verdediging (Air Defence Command), Soesterberg Air Base, Netherlands 1952.
Making an extremely colourful scheme option for the new kit, this Meteor F.8 wears the distinctive markings of the Royal Netherlands Air Force Aerobatic Display Team ‘Ruiten Vier’, or Diamonds Four and will surely be a popular choice with modellers looking to brighten up their workstations. In early 1952, the RNLAF decided to form an aerobatic display team consisting of four Gloster Meteor F.8 fighters from No.327 Squadron at Soesterberg Air Base, under the leadership of Major J. Wansink. The team performed their first official display on 1st August 1952 at an Airshow at their home base and looking at this attractive scheme, it must have made for quite a spectacle.
In 1953, the Royal Netherlands Air Force split from the remaining Dutch Defence Forces, with the year also marking the 40th Anniversary of the formation of the air force section of the Dutch Army. To mark this occasion, the Air Force arranged a special Airshow at Soesterberg Air Base and invited some of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams to take part. Obviously a proud moment for the Air Force, the display teams battled for a special commemorative trophy for the best display of the show and despite some famous competition, the Meteors of ‘Ruiten Vier’ emerged victorious.
In 1955, Major Wansink, who was the driving force behind the team, was posted away from Soesterberg and the Diamonds Four aerobatic display team disbanded. During almost three years of their existence, the team used Meteors 7E-5, 7E-11, 7E-13 and 7E-14, with 7E-8 acting as a reserve aircraft. Although Aerobatic Teams are not to every aviation enthusiasts liking, this team brought an appealing splash of colour to the Gloster Meteor airframe and marks one of the more unusual European schemes. A09184 is currently scheduled for a summer 2017 release and is available for pre-order on the Airfix website now.
Training for Success
One of the original scheme options included with Tucano A03059
Always amongst the most popular kits in any Airfix range, training aircraft that have been used by the RAF over the years make great subjects for any model build and can always be relied upon to bring a welcome splash of colour to our collections. Whether their popularity is down to the fact that these aircraft use schemes that make them highly visible, or the simple fact that these machines tend to be a little more accessible than most military aircraft, modellers can’t seem to get enough of RAF training aircraft, both jet and propeller powered.
We were kindly sent a build review of Short Tucano T.1 (A03059) recently by Workbench reader Dave Haddican, a man who is known to us at Airfix, from a competition launched in Airfix Aerodrome last year. Dave was one of two lucky winners of free tickets to the Farnborough Airshow and was looking forward to watching the show from the elevated and luxurious surroundings of the RAF Museum chalet, with the museum themselves kindly donating the tickets. Unfortunately, Dave suffered a serious injury in the days leading up to the show and was unable to claim his prize, but we have stayed in touch with him ever since. We are grateful to Dave for sending us this Tucano build review and are extremely happy to hear he is well on the road to a full recovery – over to Dave:
‘Having spent a number of years (let us just say it is more than 20) in the modelling wilderness I stumbled back into the hobby following a serious injury earlier this year. My normal leisure pursuits of running, cycling and birdwatching (if it flies I’ll watch it) were clearly not possible with a snapped Achilles’ Tendon, thereby accidentally rekindling a love affair that I had ended years ago when adult life decided to get in the way. A story that I have since found common amongst many on various modelling forums. Once I had decided to venture back down this road, my first dilemma was where to start? Airfix had always been a name synonymous with my youth but if I am honest, its products were not always the greatest and in today’s electronic age I was swamped with a variety of kits, scales and aftermarket products from a plethora of manufacturers that I didn’t even know existed. Thus, I thought I’d start with the basics and build a kit straight out of the box. In no time at all I had found an Airfix model kit of the RAF’s basic flying training aircraft, the Shorts Tucano T.1, in 1/72 scale on a well-known auction site for less than £5. It seemed somewhat appropriate that my first attempt after such an absence would be a training aircraft. A few clicks later I received confirmation that my order had been placed, now all I could do was wait!
Those that know me will testify to the fact that I cannot sit still for long, thus about four hours after the kit had been ordered I was researching it on the internet. After all, I had always been taught the five (or six) P’s: Prior Preparation Prevents (P?!s) Poor Performance, so a little research wouldn’t do any harm. I settled quickly on the red/white/grey livery of the early RAF Tucanos that I had seen at various displays around the UK as a child. Thus, armed with this information I was able to order the necessary paints, thinners, glue and tools that one would need to build the kit – and my wife says that I can’t multi-skill!
A couple of days later, I found myself peeking out of the blinds to see if the postman was carrying anything remotely like an Airfix package or indeed the box of ‘bits’ that I had ordered to construct and paint it with. The tension was unbearable, in an instant I realised that this wouldn’t just be the one model whilst I was convalescing but that I was hooked all over again and was already thinking about the ‘next project’.
Box artwork of RAF Tucano A03059 and the currently available A73011 ‘Lest We Forget’
The kit arrived in the typical top opening red Airfix box and it is skill level 1 kit making it suitable for beginners (first or second time around) and the more experienced modeller who may wish to add aftermarket detail. I was immediately impressed with the artwork by Adam Tooby that depicts one of the familiar gloss black aircraft in flight. Dilemma two presented; do I still build the red/white/grey aircraft that I had bought the paints for or do I build the rather eye-catching gloss black scheme? After several frustrated minutes trying to decide upon the livery I decided that I could make that decision later.
I lifted the lid on the box and was presented with a clear bag of plastic parts, an Airfix club application form, an 8-page booklet containing building and colour painting instructions, and quite a large decal sheet for such a small aircraft which would allow me to replicate a red/white/grey aircraft of No.7 Flying Training School (FTS), RAF Church Fenton in 1990 or a gloss black machine from No.72 (Reserve) Squadron, RAF Linton-on-Ouse in 2011.
I briefly flicked through the instruction booklet before ripping open the plastic bag ready to commence the build. On inspection, the four grey plastic sprues contained 47 moulded pieces with a single separate transparent moulded canopy. The surface detail at a glance appeared to be quite sparse and the panel lines were fairly deep (more of that later). Before construction started the sprues were all washed in warm, soapy water, rinsed and then allowed to dry overnight. There’s that Preparation thing again.
As with almost all the kits that I can remember making, construction started with the cockpit. I carefully removed the parts from their sprues using a model knife, sanded away any stray material (including injection marks from the moulding process) and then using a small drop of super glue stuck each part to the end of a cocktail stick that I had previously flattened by tapping it against my newly purchased model mat. I then acquired some flower arranging ‘foam block’ from the wife’s stash and used this to hold the cocktail sticks prior to and after painting. The cockpit tub lacked any real detail but Airfix provided decals to represent the various instruments and panels. Additionally, the Martin Baker Mk.8 ejection seats were extremely basic and would probably benefit from some seatbelts or replacement with aftermarket products. As a result, I decided to install the seat/stick interfaces (pilots) as the figures provided by Airfix were pretty well detailed and their inclusion hid the obvious lack of detail associated with the rest of the cockpit. I had originally planned to make the kit out of the box, however every reference photograph that I could find clearly showed the ejection seat emergency handles between the pilot’s legs, thus I shaped a couple of bits of thin fuse wire around a large pin, painted them yellow/black and fitted them to add a small amount of realism to the finished seats. All in all, the cockpit is fairly crowded with the pilots in place and so the lack of detail in this area wasn’t really an issue for me. In fact, it is so full that the ejection seat handles are barely visible, at least I know they are in there.
Montage of build images supplied by Dave Haddican
Step 2 of the construction focused on the Spinner, Propeller and forward fuselage. The assembly instructions do not highlight that there are decals for the rather intricate black/white paint scheme of the propeller, therefore I skipped this stage of the construction, focussing instead on painting the propeller using the painting guide whilst practising some fiddley masking. The overall effect turned out quite well however I forgot just how long it takes to let enamel paints dry between coats.
Step 3 saw the cockpit tub and nose wheel well glued into place and the fuselage halves joined. The fitting of the fuselage halves was not perfect under where the Garrett TPE331-128 Turboprop is housed in the real thing but it was nothing that a little bit of filler didn’t solve. Once joined, the vertical stabiliser’s trailing edge is very thick and for accuracy I probably should have filed it down to a taper and re-scribed it but as this was more about getting back into the hobby I decided not to complicate things too much. It is worth admitting at this stage that I forgot to add the obligatory 7g of nose weight and so somewhere down the line I was destined to have a tail sitter! I can’t even blame the instructions as they clearly called for the weight.
Next the port and starboard upper wing halves were joined to the single piece lower wing section. The ailerons which are moulded on the lower wing are also exceptionally thick at the trailing edge and would also benefit from the application of a file but the general fit of the pieces was good. I was expecting at this stage to have to glue a few transparent pieces of plastic in place to represent the wingtip navigation lights and the main landing lights, unfortunately these are not included in the kit and are not even highlighted in the painting guide. The main wing assembly and horizontal stabilizers were then glued into place. The horizontal stabilizers were an excellent fit and just snapped into place although filler was needed to make a smooth, aerodynamic profile, at the wing roots and lower fuselage joints. I also noticed that the transparent canopy had a couple of small scratches and therefore these were polished out before masking and fitting it into position.
Taster of what we have to look forward to in the second instalment of Dave’s review
At this stage I decided to depart from the instructions again, instead choosing to paint all the smaller components such as the airbrake, undercarriage legs, doors and wheels (I would only knock them off during masking and painting if they were fitted anyway). I then used a fine grade wet and dry paper to tidy up those areas that had been filled earlier before priming the whole model in Humbrol No:1. I mentioned earlier that I thought the model lacked a great amount of surface detail and that the panel lines that are present are quite deep, once I had applied the primer and let it dry, the panel lines actually looked more like the real thing and would only improve once the model had been painted so I take it back’.
We will bring you the second half of Dave’s build review in the next edition of Workbench.
‘Flash your stash’ heads to Spain
Over the past few editions of Workbench, we appear to have discovered a strange phenomenon with our ‘Flash your stash’ feature, which was intended to reassure fellow modellers that we are not alone in stockpiling kits for future build projects. Even though we have been lucky enough to receive lots of replies, very few seem to be coming from modellers living in the UK and our overseas readers are certainly flying the flag at present. This is really unusual and we challenge modellers of the UK to lose your inhibitions and send us pictures of your model stashes.
Impressive stash of Airfix kits belonging to Patrick Noctor
Our latest stash contributor is Mr Patrick Noctor and he sends us his unmade kit collection images all the way from Seville. Patrick describes this as most of his Airfix kit collection, although he does have around another forty kits from other manufacturers, but decided to stay loyal to Airfix with his pictures. About half of the kits will also have after-market extras in the box, such as photo etched and resin parts, or just alternative decal sheets. He tends to buy all the latest Airfix releases from what Patrick describes as ‘the only decent model shop in Seville’, or direct from the Airfix or Hannants websites, unless he makes one of his regular trips to the UK, when he will pick up a couple of kits to take back with him.
Patrick describes how he is a patient model builder, usually only taking on around four of five kits each year, partly due to a lack of free time and partly because he prefers to take his time. His current projects include the Airfix Spitfire Mk.1A (A01071) and a Great Wall Hobby Focke Wulf Fw 189. We hope you continue to enjoy your modelling Patrick and we thank you for kindly sending us pictures of your model stash – it looks like you are going to be busy for a while to come!
Patrick will typically build four or five kits each year
If you would like to be the next star of ‘Flash your Stash’, please send your pictures to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via our Facebook or Twitter channels – we are looking forward to hearing from you.
Modelling Imagination at Huddersfield
Rough landing. This impressive diorama was spotted at the recent Huddersfield Model Show
We end this latest edition of Workbench by looking at an extremely impressive model build we spotted at the recent Huddersfield model show. With hundreds of beautifully finished models to admire at the show, this imaginative diorama on the Keighley Plastic Model Club stand really stood out and certainly needed to be photographed. When speaking to Chris Ashton from the club, he proudly informed us that the model was the work of his nine-year-old daughter Morrigan, who has been modelling for a little over three years. With a number of builds already under her belt, Chris told us that Morrigan enjoys working on joint projects with her dad, but the Eindecker was all down to her – she found the twig on a family walk and decided to break the wing off the model and display it like this.
Visitors to the Keighley display stand were encouraged to vote for their favourite model throughout the day and we had already voted for the Eindecker before learning about the talented modeller – in the final reckoning, Morrigan’s model came a close second to a Hurricane diorama built by her dad (beaten by just one vote), but Chris had better up his game, because his daughter clearly has a talent for this hobby. Thank you to Chris and Morrigan for allowing us to show these pictures and we will be hearing more from the Keighley Plastic Model Club in a future edition of Workbench.
Reluctant star – Morrigan Ashton and her imaginative model diorama
That’s all we have for you in this latest bumper edition of Workbench, but the modelling discussions don’t have to end here. There are now many ways for our readers to get involved in all the latest Airfix modelling chat and sharing ideas with fellow modelling enthusiasts. To e-mail us directly, please use our email@example.com address, or there is our dedicated Workbench thread on the Airfix Forum. If social media is more your style, you could either access the Airfix Facebook page or our Twitter channel, using #airfixworkbench. Whichever medium you decide to use, please do get in touch with us, as it is always great to hear from fellow modellers.
Don’t forget that all the very latest model release information can be found by checking the New Arrivals section of the Airfix website, which can be accessed by clicking the shop section at the top of the webpage. As work on the website is a constant process, a quick search through all the Airfix web pages will usually reveal new information and updated images in many of the product sections, so this is always a rewarding way to spend a few minutes.
Until next time, modellers of the UK, don’t forget to let us have pictures of your model stashes.
The Airfix Workbench Team
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