New Supermarine tooling in 1/48th scale

 

Welcome to the latest edition of Workbench and your regular update from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling. You will all be pleased to hear that we have some big news for you this week. Following on from the news of the new 1/72nd scale Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe announced in our previous blog, we have more new tooling information for you this week. As the title above suggests, we will be announcing a new model tooling in 1/48th scale and one which features an aircraft from the drawing boards of the famous Supermarine company. With much to tell you about, we will be devoting the majority of this latest blog to our new model announcement, before ending with a look at a selection of the latest submissions from the Customer Images section of the Airfix website. Without wanting to delay the announcement any further, let’s take a closer look at our latest exciting new tooling announcement.

Supermarine – a famous name in British Aviation

If you were to ask most people what the word Supermarine meant to them, the vast majority would reply ‘Spitfire’ without any hesitation. There is no doubting that the Spitfire is the most famous aircraft designed by Reginald J Mitchell and his team, but the heritage of the Supermarine company was actually built around the construction of effective marine aircraft. Again, this would immediately lead most to think of the Schneider Trophy winning Supermarine S.6B, which was itself a development of the company’s earlier racing seaplane designs and the ultimate aircraft in Mitchell’s quest to design the perfect racing seaplane. Again, although the S.6B is a fast, enigmatic aircraft, it is not the type of craft that the Supermarine company were most proficient in building.

 

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The famous Schneider Trophy winning Supermarine S.6B

 

The heritage of the Supermarine company was in their ability to design and produce effective and reliable marine aircraft, both for individual buyers and for military applications. With a number of extremely successful marine and amphibious aircraft designs to their name, the years prior to the outbreak of the Second World War were very much about marine aeroplanes.

 

A classic Mitchell design in 1/48th scale

It would be difficult to think of an aircraft design so markedly different to the sleek and elegant Spitfire, but the Supermarine Walrus amphibious biplane was from the hand of the same designer. Despite its somewhat ungainly appearance, the Walrus proved to be an incredibly effective aircraft and flexible enough to take on a number of roles in some of the most demanding operating environments. Coming at the end of a long line of capable single-engined flying boats and amphibians, the Walrus was actually the product of a Royal Australian Air Force requirement for an updated and more robust version of their existing Supermarine amphibian, the Seagull III, which had proved so successful. The new aircraft, which would become known as the Seagull V, would need to have the capability to be catapult launched from Royal Australian Navy cruisers, so the wooden hull of the earlier version was replaced with a strong metal design, with additional stainless steel forgings for the catapult spools and mountings.

 

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At home on the water – the heritage of the Supermarine Company

 

Despite the enthusiasm of the Australian Air Force for their new amphibian aircraft, the RAF were much less impressed, deciding that they had no need for such a craft – they soon changed their minds. Successful trials of the new aircraft at Felixstowe showed how effective the new aircraft was and with a large expansion of naval forces underway, the Seagull V offered the Admiralty an effective aircraft for reconnaissance spotting and gun targeting for their cruisers and battleships. After using some of the Australian machines for trials, they decided to place their own order for the latest Supermarine amphibian, with the British machines being called the Walrus, even though they were almost identical to the Seagull Vs of the RAAF.

One interesting fact that demonstrates how robust the Supermarine Walrus (Seagull V) design actually was came during the 1933 Hendon Air Pageant. Even though the prototype Seagull V had only flown days earlier in the hands of famous Supermarine test pilot Joseph ‘Mutt’ Summers, the aircraft attended and was demonstrated at the huge Hendon Airshow. Belying its rather ungainly appearance, Summers stunned the huge crowds by proceeding to loop his new aircraft, a feat that was only possible due to the strength of the design and how it had been stressed for catapult launching – now that really is how to announce your arrival. Without doubt, the Supermarine Walrus went on to become one of the finest amphibious aircraft ever produced and was responsible for saving the lives of a great many downed airmen.

 

A significant new Airfix tooling in 1/48th scale - The Supermarine Walrus Mk.I

Despite the undoubted success of the Supermarine Walrus during its illustrious service career, it could certainly not claim to be held in the same regard as its famous fighter stablemate, which went on to become one of the most significant aircraft ever to take to the skies. It does, however, remain as one of the more interesting aircraft of the Second World War and deserving of much more affection. With this new model being produced in the larger 1/48th scale, it has allowed the Airfix research and design team to incorporate a superb level of detail and innovation into their new tooling, which will surely bring this impressive aircraft to the attention of many more people.

 

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The unmistakable shape of the Supermarine Walrus amphibian

 

Workbench readers are now becoming well versed in the processes the Airfix development teams have to go through in order to bring a new model kit to market, so for this latest announcement we will simply provide an overview of these details and concentrate on showing images from this exciting new project. As all the previous editions of Workbench are still available on the Airfix website, please do look at some of the earlier publications if you would like to re-visit any of the processes involved.

Looking at the design of the Supermarine Walrus, it is clear that this particular project was going to be a challenge for the Airfix team. The distinctive and relatively complex design of the aircraft was to be reproduced in 1/48th scale, which dictated that much more of the finer details would have to be incorporated. The research team had access to original Supermarine plans and technical drawings, which would form the critical basis of the project. This would be augmented with the opportunity to inspect, measure and photograph three examples of the Supermarine amphibian at separate locations around the UK.

 

Supermarine Seagull V (A2-4) at RAF Hendon

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This particular aircraft is the oldest surviving example of the Walrus series of aircraft and has been displayed in the Battle of Britain Hall of the RAF Museum Hendon for many years. Following the end of its RAAF military career, this particular machine passed into civilian hands and was used successfully as a small seven-seater airliner until 1970, when it was involved in a take-off accident. In 1973, the aircraft was traded for a Spitfire and came into the possession of the RAF Museum, who began a painstaking restoration. Using many parts from their own collection, the aircraft was eventually put on display in 1979, wearing an attractive early war camouflage scheme.

 

Supermarine Walrus Mk.I L2301 at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton

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Walrus L2301 saw continuous service throughout WWII with the Irish Air Corps as N18, undertaking maritime reconnaissance, surveillance and rescue flights. It was also involved in a failed defection attempt, as a small number of airmen attempted to transfer to the Germans in January 1942. Following a brief stint as a civilian airliner after WWII, the hulk of the aircraft ended up lying in an open scrapyard by 1947. Rescued by the Historical Aircraft Preservation Society, the Walrus eventually came into the hands of the Fleet Air Arm Museum in 1964 where it underwent restoration. Since the end of 1966, the aircraft has been on public display.

 

 

 

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The third Supermarine example visited by the Airfix team, where they were assisted by the team at Vintage Fabrics

 

The Airfix research team were allowed special access to all three of these magnificent aircraft and we would like to place on record our grateful thanks to the fantastic people at the RAF Museum Hendon, the Fleet Air Arm Museum and at Vintage Fabrics Limited for their kind assistance.

The huge amount of photographs, measurements and drawings were then collated to assist the designer in creating a CAD Base Model of the aircraft in the necessary scale. After much reviewing of the shape and accuracy of this model within the team, the designer then begins the painstaking work of creating the model’s individual parts, all referenced from the base model. The parts must be split in such a way that they can be tooled for injection moulding. Once the model is divided into parts, each part can have details applied to give the final kit more realism. All this is carried out in Hornby Hobbies’ parametric CAD modelling software which allows the designers to see the model in wireframe, cross-sections, or even exploded views. Importantly, this software allows the designers to visualise how each part will locate to others, all in order to make the kit a pleasurable build for the modeller. Taking its place in an ever expanding line up of 1/48th scale aircraft models, the Supermarine Walrus will surely be a much loved addition to the Airfix range.

 

Computer rendered 3D images – The Walrus lives!

Without doubt, the most significant stage in the production of a new model tooling is the release of the computer rendered 3D images that modellers love to see so much. When these attractive images are published, it indicates that the project is real and gives modellers a good indication of how the new model will look when it is eventually under construction on their own workbench. For some time now, these images have been used in Airfix catalogues, within Workbench and in modelling magazines and have become some of the most popular future tooling imagery with our readers. With the Walrus being a particularly impressive new model, we are including quite a number of these appealing images, just to whet your appetite a little for what you can expect in 2017 – enjoy!

 

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The magnificent new 1/48th scale Supermarine Walrus Mk.I is very much something to look forward to. The impressive size and detail of this new model will ensure that another Supermarine design will be amongst the most popular releases in the Airfix range and serve to mark the aviation heritage of one of Britain’s most famous aircraft designers. Although they look so completely different, the Walrus would look great displayed next to a 1/48th scale Spitfire. We are very much looking forward to bringing you regular updates from this magnificent project over the coming months.

A09183 Supermarine Walrus Mk.I 1:48 is due for release in July 2017 - be sure to sign up for the Airfix email newsletter to be the first to hear when this model is available for pre-order.

 


 

Scaling Down Reality – Airfix on Tour

Our lead researcher Simon Owen will be on the road again later this month when he holds the latest in his series of lectures entitled Airfix – Scaling Down Reality. This time, Simon will be in Manchester addressing the Royal Aeronautical Society, but entrance to the event is also FREE to members of the public who are more than welcome to attend. The lecture will take place at 7pm (19.00) on Wednesday 12th October, in venue room D7 of the Renold Building, Manchester University (M1 7JA). The location of the building is on Altrincham Street, which is off Sackville Street, bust a short distance from Piccadilly Station and Oxford Road.

 

 

 

Simon will be focusing on the history of the Airfix company and the cutting edge research and development techniques used in the production of these iconic models. With plenty to interest modellers and aviation enthusiasts alike, Simon would be pleased to see as many Workbench readers as possible in the lecture theatre on the evening of 12th October.

 

A Pair of Beaufighter Beauties

A recent Airfix Customer Images submission by German modeller Jens Koepke will have attracted the attention of many website visitors over the past few days. Jens has beautifully finished a pair of Airfix Bristol Beaufighter Mk.X models and given them an extremely appealing war weary appearance. We contacted Jens and asked if he would allow us to feature his models in the next edition of Workbench and he was only too pleased for us to do so – he also kindly sent us a short description of the build itself and his ideas at the outset of the project.

 

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The magnificent Coastal Command Beaufighter Mk.X build by Jens Koepke

 

Jens wrote "After reading some positive reviews of the new Airfix Beaufighter kit (A04019) I decided to get one. As usual I bought some extra things for the kit: etched parts from Eduard and a decal sheet from Xtradecal. I decided to build the LZ293 as I loved the color schema used by the Coastal Command.

A discussion on the internet showed me that most parts needed for this plane were in the kit - so I started the build. It was a trouble free build. All parts went together without hours of sanding and filling. ;-) Only the scratch build of the Yagi antenna was a little bit challenging.

The paint job was done in several steps - First I sprayed a black color on all panel lines as a pre-shading. After that I applied the color scheme consisting of White, Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey. Colors were sprayed in thin layers so the pre-shading wasn't covered completely. Next, I applied the decals.

After that the weathering process started. Xtradecals mentioned that Coastal Command aircraft were heavily weathered in their appearance. This was the second reason for choosing this airplane to build. First step for the weathering was a panel line wash. I used a brown color as this adds the first used appearance. After that, I tried oil dot fading. This technique added the desired faded and weathered appearance to my model. Some chipping was imitated with a light grey color.

Finally, I finished the build by adding the landing gear, the propellers and the antennas. The landing gear received some pigments for their dusty appearance.

As the build was trouble free and the Xtradecal sheet offers some more interesting color schemes I decided to build a collection of many Beaufighters with different colour schemes. So I ordered a second kit and built the KW393 with the SEAC scheme. The painting was done in a similar way as described above.

At the moment I have two more TF.X kits in my stash and three TF.10 kits on my workbench."

 

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We think you will agree that Jens has managed to capture the rugged, workmanlike appearance of the Beaufighter perfectly and we are extremely grateful for the build description he sent. Thanks again Jens and keep up the great work.

To see all the latest model build images sent in by Airfix modellers and to upload your own pictures, please head to the Customer Images section of the Airfix website.
That is all we have for you in this latest edition of Airfix Workbench – we sincerely hope that you enjoyed our latest new tooling announcement and the additional computer rendered 3D images from the project we included. As usual, if there is anything you would like to see covered in a future edition or you would like to send us details of your latest model build project, please do drop us a line with your suggestion.

There are now many ways for our readers to get involved in all the latest Airfix modelling chat and sharing ideas with other modellers.  You can always e-mail us directly by using our workbench@airfix.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 and Back in Stock sections 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, we hope you are enjoying your latest modelling project and please don’t forget to send us pictures of your latest masterpiece. Will we have more New Tooling announcements for you in the next edition?

The Airfix Workbench Team

 

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