Return of the foxy fleet defender

Return of the foxy fleet defender

Welcome to this latest edition of Workbench and all the news, updates and exclusive announcements from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling. As usual, we have a feature packed blog awaiting our readers, as we continue our overview of the many highlights of the 2019 kit range – we begin by marking the welcome return of a 1/48th scale Fleet Air Arm classic and a kit which was consistently our most requested re-release over the past few years. We also feature new scheme and artwork details for two new releases which should be arriving in all good model shops over the next few weeks and our roving Lead Researcher brings us a review from the recent South West Model Show at the Bovington Tank Museum, a truly unique venue for any modelling event.

We will also be including a feature which highlights the work currently taking place at a major UK museum and one which was brought to our attention at last year’s Scale ModelWorld show. If you were charged with the renovation of a major UK aviation museum and you were responsible for the safe keeping of the substantial exhibits, how would you go about it? We would probably all have different ways of attacking the same problem, but you will hopefully be interested to find out that the actual project relied on modelling skill, as well as planning and organisation. We will bring you details of this project, plus a host of other modelling news in the latest edition of Airfix Workbench.

De Havilland at the double

Return of the Airfix De Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2 A11002 on the Airfix Workbench blog

The magnificent box artwork may have been seen previously, but shows this distinctive aircraft going about its business of defending the fleet

One of the absolute joys of being one of the Airfix representatives at model shows the length and breadth of the country is the opportunity to see hundreds of beautiful models produced by all you talented people, laid out on display tables for our viewing pleasure and highlighting the fact that modelling is just another form of art, with plastic as its canvas. We also have the opportunity to discuss the current state of the hobby with both exhibitors and enthusiasts and from an Airfix perspective, find out what you think about our current range and your undoubted affections for the brand. Of particular value is the chance to gauge opinion on which models which are currently being rested from the range, would be the most popular subjects for re-release in a future catalogue and although there never seems to be a shortage of suggestions, one kit subject regularly receives more nominations than any other – the 1/48th scale de Havilland Sea Vixen. Although clearly not one of the new tooling items announced over the past few months, the return of the Sea Vixen will be welcomed by many and is therefore viewed as being one of the highlights of the 2019 range – the ‘foxy fleet defender’ is back after an eight year hiatus.

Undoubtedly one of the most interesting post war British jets and naval stalwart of the Cold War era, the distinctive configuration of this attractive aeroplane has ensured its popularity in scale kit form, with the Airfix 1/48th scale tooling allowing a better appreciation of the size and aesthetic appeal of this large fighting aeroplane. Tracing its aviation lineage to the early jet fighter designs of de Havilland and their trademark twin boom arrangement, the ability to operate jet aircraft from the decks of Britain’s relatively small aircraft carriers was proven by the adoption of the Sea Vampire and Sea Venom, however, these early generation jet fighters were in need of significant upgrade, if the growing threat of the Soviet Union was to be countered. Initially developed as a joint Royal Navy/RAF project, the Sea Vixen’s beginnings were not without incident, however despite the RAF subsequently withdrawing their interest in favour of the Gloster Javelin, the first Sea Vixen FAW.1 (Fighter All Weather) aircraft began to appear at Fleet Air Arm stations during the late 1950s and must have made for an impressive sight. These large and powerful fighters were about to be operated from carriers that were really quite small and must have posed significant challenges for both air and deck crews alike. There will have been little margin for error in simply launching and recovering these mighty fighters from an aircraft carrier, let alone the complexities of flying and successfully completing your assigned mission.

Return of the Airfix De Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2 A11002 on the Airfix Workbench blog

XP924 was the world’s last airworthy example of the de Havilland Sea Vixen and was a huge favourite on the UK Airshow circuit, before suffering a landing incident in May 2017

The main role of the Sea Vixen was that of a ‘Cold War’ fleet defender, which was a task that needed to be completed in all weathers, day, or night.  Using the latest air intercept radar of the day, the system utilised an A (Azimuth) scope in conjunction with a B (Elevation) scope, which very much explains why the observer was positioned in the gloomy surroundings of the ‘coal-hole’ – (an unwelcoming observer’s station inside the aircraft’s fuselage, which inherited the name due to its distinct lack of outward visibility). A successful interception would involve the close co-ordination between a large number of specialists - the Sea Vixen crew would be vectored to an intercept by either its home carrier, radar control ship or by an AEW Gannet aircraft on patrol.  On acquiring their target, the observer would take control of the intercept, barking out positional instructions to his pilot, putting him in the optimum position to effect a missile kill. Airborne interceptions were constantly practiced at various altitudes, from 45,000ft, down to 500ft and these sorties would take place over the sea, by day, or night and in all weather conditions. To make things even more challenging, they would need to be successfully achieved without obtaining visual contact, with the pilot flying blind and totally relying on his instruments – this was a highly advanced procedure for that time.

Return of the Airfix De Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2 A11002 on the Airfix Workbench blog

The last display by XP924 Sea Vixen took place at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, during their May 2017 show. Will we ever see this spectacular aircraft in the air again?

A significant upgrade to the original Sea Vixen configuration not only added to the capabilities of the aircraft, but also changed its outward appearance somewhat. The FAW.2 could now carry the new ‘Red Top’ air-to-air missile, as well as the original ‘Firestreak’, in the fleet defence role. It was also now able to carry four SNEB rocket pods and the air-to-ground ‘Bullpup’ missile. An enlarged tail boom and pinion extensions above and protruding forward from the wing leading edge, provided the Sea Vixen with additional fuel carrying capacity and space for more effective electronic countermeasures equipment. There were also some welcome improvements made to the escape system for the poor radar observer, but these all affected the flight characteristics of the aircraft and meant that it could no longer carry 1000lb bombs. The FAW.2 version of the Sea Vixen entered RN service in 1964, with 29 aircraft being constructed. Significantly, however, a further 67 FAW.1 Sea Vixens were also upgraded to the more advanced FAW.2 standard.

In a long line of premature British aviation service withdrawals, the last de Havilland Sea Vixens were retired from FAA service in 1972, with many of the airframes still having plenty of fatigue life left on them and the aircraft still being a relatively potent performer. It was replaced in a Fleet defence/strike role by the McDonnell Douglas Phantom, but retained the distinction of being the last of the famous de Havilland fighters to see Royal Naval service.

Return of the Airfix De Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2 A11002 on the Airfix Workbench blog

The 1/48th scale Airfix Sea Vixen appears regularly on society display tables at model shows up and down the country and its re-release will cause something of a modelling stampede, as we all rust to add at least a couple of these beauties to our respective kit stashes

Regarded by modellers as the benchmark kit for aficionados of the Sea Vixen, this 1/48th scale FAW.2 model was first released as a new tooling in 2010 and sold in vast quantities, as the modelling world seemingly could not get enough of this most interesting aeroplane. Re-released with new box presentation and four scheme options in 2011, it is now approaching eight years since this appealing kit has been available in model stores, however, our wait is almost over and this coming June should see the return of this popular kit. With many people eagerly awaiting its return and re-release production numbers usually coming in significantly lower than initial releases, you need to register your interest early with this one, as a little 'Vixen stashing' is undoubtedly going to follow its arrival. Speak to your usual model supplier or head for the Sea Vixen page of the Airfix website to reserve your example(s) and make sure you can spend some quality ‘twin boom terror’ workbench time later in the year.

Classic jet pair about to swoop in

Classic RAF aviation with the new Jet Provost T.4 TWU A02107 on the Airfix Workbench blog

With box artwork like this, is it any wonder that our Jet Provost kits continue to sell in vast quantities?

Although the magnificent artwork above has already been seen in the new 2019 catalogue and on the Airfix website, we are more than happy to draw readers attention to it once again, not only because it is such an evocative image featuring an attractive post war RAF pilot training aircraft, but also as it marks the imminent arrival of the latest release from our successful 1/72nd scale Hunting Percival Jet Provost tooling. Representing an era of British aviation when our skies were full of many different types of jet aircraft, the T.4 variant of the successful Jet Provost series was the further development of a successful RAF side-by-side training jet family which had originally entered service in 1959 and allowed the RAF to offer the first all jet flight training programme in the world. The T.4 took all the best attributes of the T.3 which was already in widespread use with the Royal Air Force and paired it with a more powerful version of the Viper engine, giving pilots a welcome boost in thrust and in turn, making this a much more suitable aircraft in many operational situations. With its straight wings and relatively docile handling, the Jet Provost would go on to the fast jet introductory trainer for thousands of future RAF pilots, not to mention many overseas students who came to the UK for their flight training.

Hunting Percival Jet Provost T.4 XR679, ‘C Flight’, No.79(R) Squadron, No.1 Tactical Weapons Unit, Royal Air Force Chivenor, Devon, England, 1989.

Classic RAF aviation with the new Jet Provost T.4 TWU A02107 on the Airfix Workbench blog
Classic RAF aviation with the new Jet Provost T.4 TWU A02107 on the Airfix Workbench blog

Full scheme decoration and decal details for this attractive Jet Provost T.4, in the colours of a late 1980s No.1 TWU aircraft

Occupying a relatively secluded position on the North Devon coast, on the banks of the River Taw, the Royal Air Force station at Chivenor was an ideal location for a training base, with sparsely populated land and huge expanses of coastline for pilots to ply their trade. Jet Provost T.4 XR679 was one of only four such aircraft to serve with No.1 Tactical Weapons Unit at the base during the 1980s, where it was used to train Army forward air controllers – Army officers were given invaluable air experience in the aircraft, which were used in a ground attack role for this very specific purpose. In this extremely attractive two-tone grey scheme with yellow and black detailing, this is an interesting scheme option for any JP fan and is a pleasant departure from the more usual RAF training livery associated with this aircraft. XR679 was delivered to the RAF in July 1963 and following the end of a thirty year military flying career, it was sold to Global Aviation and transported to their facility at the Former RAF Lightning station at Binbrook. After spending some time on the UK circuit as G-BWGT, it was subsequently sold to new owners in Canada, where it is believed to be preserved in airworthy condition to this day.

Hunting Percival Jet Provost T.4 XR679, No.79(R) Squadron, No.1 Tactical Weapons Unit, Royal Air Force Chivenor, Devon, England, 1982.

Classic RAF aviation with the new Jet Provost T.4 TWU A02107 on the Airfix Workbench blog
Classic RAF aviation with the new Jet Provost T.4 TWU A02107 on the Airfix Workbench blog

Full scheme and decal details for the same Jet Provost XR679, but this time wearing a very different camouflage presentation

It what may prove to be an irresistible 'dual build' opportunity for many modellers, the second scheme option included with this appealing new kit release also features Jet Provost T.4 XR679, but in a completely different scheme to the one it wore later in its time with No.1 Tactical Weapons Unit at Chivenor (and featured above). Wearing an RAF strike scheme more readily associated with the Hawker Hunters and BAe Hawks which also operated from this Devon base, the camouflage presentation of this aircraft totally transforms the appearance of the Jet Provost and must be considered one of the most unusual schemes applied to this famous training aircraft. Displaying finished examples of both schemes next to each other will certainly make for a modelling conversation starter, especially when the viewer realises that the aircraft carries the same serial number! This has to be one of the most attractive JP schemes applied to one of these famous aeroplanes and will surely prove difficult for many modellers to refuse. This interesting new Hunting Percival Jet Provost T.4 kit A02107 is scheduled for release next month and will be a welcome addition to the current range.

Early US Navy jet power A4 Skyhawk A03029A on the Airfix Workbench blog

Strap in and hold on – the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk doing what it was designed to do, moving a little mud

Possessing equally impressive post war aviation credentials, the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was the primary subsonic, single seat strike jet of the US Navy and Marine Corps for many years following its introduction in the late 1950s. Being extremely agile and diminutive in stature, the Skyhawk was capable of operating from the decks of relatively small US carriers, specifically those which could trace their lineage back to the naval actions of the Second World War. A direct jet powered replacement for the highly regarded piston powered Douglas Skyraider, the A-4 would see widespread service throughout the Cold War years, including significant action during the Vietnam War, where it was the primary light attack jet of the US Navy. In the twilight of its career, the A-4 was used as an adversarial aircraft in the US, allowing American pilots the opportunity to experience combat engagements against slightly older, yet highly manoeuvrable jet opponents. Proving to be one of America’s most successful early jet types, just under 3,000 Skyhawks were eventually produced.

Douglas A-4B Skyhawk, BuNo.145013 VA-15 ‘Valions’, CVW-10, USS Intrepid (CVS-11) 1966-67.

Early US Navy jet power A4 Skyhawk A03029A on the Airfix Workbench blog
Early US Navy jet power A4 Skyhawk A03029A on the Airfix Workbench blog

Full decoration guide for the US Navy Vietnam War scheme option included with this kit

Initially established as a torpedo squadron in January 1942, equipped with the ageing Douglas TBD-1 Devastator, Attack Squadron 15 (VA-15) only received its famous designation in August 1948, long after the naval battles of WWII had ended. With its squadron insignia featuring a lion riding on the back of a falling bomb, the unit began its association with the Douglas A-4B Skyhawk in 1965 and would go on to operate the type during two separate tours of duty during the Vietnam War – on both occasions, its aircraft flew strike missions from the decks of USS Intrepid.

An extremely nimble aircraft, the Skyhawks of the US Navy became the first American aircraft on overseas deployment to be equipped with the new AIM-9 Sidewinder air to air missile, which would prove so devastatingly effective in combat. This attractive scheme is synonymous with colours used on Navy Skyhawks, particularly during the Vietnam War period. BuNo 145013 carries the distinctive unit badge of VA-15 ‘Valions’ on both sides of its fuselage, along with 45 completed bombing missions just behind them, again on both sides of the aircraft. An interesting additional appendage is the rather colourful badge carried on the tail of the aircraft, denoting it as a member of the ‘Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club’, a somewhat tongue in cheek nickname for the US 7th Fleet operating in the waters off Vietnam during the conflict.

Douglas A-4Q Skyhawk, 3a Escuadrilla A de Caza y Ataque, Escuadra Aeronaval, 25 de Mayo, South Atlantic, April-May 1982.

Argentine Navy A4Q Skyhawk A03029A Falklands War on the Airfix Workbench blog
Argentine Navy A4Q Skyhawk A03029A Falklands War on the Airfix Workbench blog

Decoration guide for the Argentine Navy A-4Q Skyhawk

With a pressing need to replace their ageing Grumman Panther and Cougar jets, the Argentine Navy approached the US for a solution, opening negotiations to procure 16 Douglas A-4B Skyhawks – this deal was concluded in 1971, with the Skyhawks designated A-4Q for Argentine Navy service. As the result of future arms embargoes placed on Argentina, these aircraft were left for many years without manufacturers technical support and often resulted in aircraft remaining on operational use despite suffering a number of technical issues, some as significant as non-working ejection seats.

During the Falklands Conflict of 1982, Argentina fielded no fewer than 48 Skyhawks in combat, including 10 of the Navy’s A-4Q strike jets, a number of which were still plagued by technical issues. Although lacking any form of electronic or missile self-defence capability and armed only with ‘dumb’ bombs, the aircraft managed to inflict terrible damage on the British task force. During the fighting, Argentina would lose 22 of its Skyhawks, including three of the Navy’s A-4Qs – losses came as a result of ground fire, naval defensive missiles and accidents, however eight of these aircraft were destroyed by the Sea Harriers of the Fleet Air Arm. For operations over the Falkland Islands, the Argentine Navy Skyhawks were temporarily based at Rio Grande Naval Air Station.

Tasked with operating in hostile, low level environments, the A-4 Skyhawk may have been something of a small aeroplane for a very big job, however, it acquitted itself well in these situations, using its agility and speed to hit hard and exit quickly. An important aircraft in the history of US Navy operations, the Skyhawk bridged the gap between the capable piston engined designs of the Second World War and a fast, reliable jet aircraft, capable of operating from the decks of US carriers at sea. With its long, slender undercarriage, the A4 may look a little fragile, but make no mistake, she was as tough as they come. Skyhawk A03029A is already on the water and is scheduled for an April release – keep an eye out for this one.

A model museum move

A model move review from the Army Flying Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

Alastair Mellor’s modelling talents were put to good use during the recent Museum of Army Flying renovation programme

Aviation and military enthusiasts in the UK are extremely fortunate to be able to visit any number of fantastic museums the length and breadth of the country, with an incredible array of preserved artefacts ensuring that our military heritage is protected for future generations to marvel at. Most of these establishments rely on the unstinting efforts of an army of dedicated volunteers, who enthusiastically give up their time to enable these museums to welcome visitors all year round and to ensure that their visit is an enjoyable one. A chance meeting with one such volunteer at this year’s Scale Modelworld show at Telford brought some recent developments at a major UK museum site to our attentions and we simply had to find out a little more, especially as it had more than a passing modelling connection.

A model move review from the Army Flying Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

Such a fascinating modelling project, the boardroom table allows the floor plan and completed model kits to be positioned in the proposed new layout

Alastair Mellor has been a long term volunteer and more recently a warden at the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop and he kindly spent some time informing us about some quite significant changes which have been taking place at the museum. Several years ago, museum officials decided that it was in need of major renovation, both to better house their collection and to improve the overall visitor experience – the archive was maintained in less than satisfactory conditions and visitors did not really gain the desired context and chronology from the displays. ‘Project Eagle’ was established to oversee this exciting development, raising funds for the work and beginning the process of planning the alterations themselves, with the intention of freshening up the displays and making the visitor experience more interactive and immersive. The ultimate outcome was to provide an enjoyable visit experience for anyone from a school pupil making their first visit, to the hardened enthusiasts who had been many times previously – quite some task ahead of them.

A model move review from the Army Flying Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

With this scale air force proving to be such a good idea, it was not long before Alastair was asked to extend his modelling prowess to the production of a scale museum layout

A model move review from the Army Flying Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

The models now positioned inside the constructed exhibition halls

The layout of the museum does not particularly lend itself to allowing aircraft to be displayed along chronological lines or to allow themes to be presented, such as Training, Experimental and Attack Helicopters and therefore dictated that most, if not all, would have to be moved and repositioned. Indeed, it became increasingly clear that two of the aircraft (the EP.9 Prospector and the Magister) would need to be replaced altogether, as room was needed for three new exhibits, the Agusta A109, Islander and Apache. Professional museum designers produced a detailed floor plan of the site itself, however, it was left to the hard working and extremely knowledgeable volunteers to plan the various exhibit moves themselves. Studying the plan and scratching their heads about the impending renovations, one question immediately came to mind, would it be possible to build scale models of all the exhibits, to better understand how the alterations could be achieved? This seemed to be an excellent idea and as he was the modeller of the group, Alastair was given this important task to undertake. Although not initially worrying his colleagues, he immediately realised that there could be a potential problem – several of the kits he would need certainly qualified for ‘Classic’ status and could prove difficult to obtain, however unperturbed, he set about the task. A large number of the models would be Airfix kits, including the Lynx, Chipmunk, Scout (x2), Sopwith Pup, Beaver, Islander, Auster, Gazelle, 25 pounder field gun and Cessna Bird Dog and Alastair recounts how he spent most of Scale Modelworld 2017 scouring the various trade stands looking for the models he did not already have in his collection of unmade kits. Although managing to source most, one model was proving particularly elusive and try as he might, he simply could not find a Bird Dog kit – thankfully, Alastair came across a modelling knight in shining armour, in the form of our very own Lead Researcher Simon, who on hearing Alastair’s plight, offered to send him a kit from his own personal collection….. Airfix to the rescue!

A model move review from the Army Flying Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

Another picture showing the scale version of the Museum of Army Flying and the proposed layout for the reorganised display hall

As all the models would be used extensively in planning the museum renovations and subjected to much rougher treatment than would usually be the case, Alastair had to incorporate additional rigidity into each completed kit, including additional epoxy putty on areas such as undercarriage and rotor blades, with additional amounts of putty applied into cockpit canopies. As this created a less than pleasing finish, many of the models were given an overall coat of paint, with different colours also helping when positioning the aircraft on the alteration plans. Also, some of the kit builds had to be modified to reflect the dismantling/reassembly work which would need to take place and dictated that the Islander’s wing was only attached to its fuselage with tacky glue, enabling it to be separated as and when required.

A model move review from the Army Flying Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

Specialist work – The scale versions of the museum’s exhibits are carefully positioned within the confines of the specially constructed museum model

With the models completed and their benefit now in no doubt whatsoever, Alastair inherited yet another modelling assignment – having used the models over the museum drawings in the initial planning stages, the planners asked if he could also build a scale model of the museum building itself. Allowing all the models to have an authentic scale home, access to the original architects drawings and a stock of foam board helped Alastair to quickly complete this latest model task and allow the ultimate exhibit move planning to be envisaged (clearly, a model roof would not be needed). Indeed, this also stimulated further ideas as to the dramatic posing of the exhibits, with the project structural engineer being so impressed with Alastair’s framing idea for the Islander (created in model form) that it was incorporated into the full scale museum positioning. Basically, a Museum of Army Flying in miniature, this modelling project met with such complimentary approval that it has a future in the new display, once the museum reopens in time for the Easter holidays – the museum’s Outreach Officer has her eyes on the model for use as a ‘Pop-up display’, both in the museum and for selected outside events. Anyone who has read this feature and is also lucky enough to inspect the move model in all its glory following the museum’s reopening, will certainly have a clearer understanding of its significance in the work which has been undertaken and is therefore a little piece of Army Flying history in itself.

A model move review from the Army Flying Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

Some of the models would have to be constructed to allow the better understanding of how to actually construct the aircraft and aircraft display presentation, such as their new Britten-Norman Islander

A model move review from the Army Flying Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

Alastair’s idea for displaying the Islander in a more dramatic pose made it from the workbench to the actual museum display

A model move review from the Army Flying Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

Underlining the value of this entire project, museum visitors will be impressed by the new Islander and its dramatic positioning

As any enthusiasts will attest, each of the machines we love to investigate, photograph and model have stories and characters all of their own and Alastair was good enough to give us a little further insight into the museum’s Britten-Norman Islander ZG993, one of the new exhibits about to be unveiled with the reopening of the museum. They received this aircraft minus its tail and locating the missing part was proving quite frustrating. In the end, they managed to find a tail which had previously been used as a film prop and even though it was a little battered and bruised, it does have a story all of its own – James Bond used it as a toboggan to effect his progress down a snow-covered mountain in the movie Spectre.

When the museum reopens at around Easter time, it will include a slight name change and will be known in future as the Army Flying Museum from that date forwards – for further details regarding the museum, opening times, exhibits and events, please head for their new website at www.armyflying.com. We wish them every success for the future and hope that all those classic Airfix models helped in some small way to assist in what must have been a significant and challenging project. Finally, we would like to specifically thank Alastair Mellor for bringing this story to our attention and for supplying the inspiration and images behind this feature – we also shouldn’t forget his modelling talents. Thanks Alastair and we hope many Workbench readers will be dropping by to experience the Army Flying fruits of your labour.

Models and tanks at Bovington

With the start of any new year proving to be a busy time for modelling enthusiasts across the country, Workbench has already attended two of the most significant shows in the Northwest, but in this latest edition, it is time to look a little further south. With thanks to our Lead Researcher Simon (yes, its that man again … he certainly does get around the modelling world), we are pleased to bring you this report from the recent South West Model Show, which was held at the Bovington Tank Museum and boasted their world famous military vehicle collection as the show’s unique backdrop. Let’s see what Simon managed to find during his visit.

The weekend of the 16th and 17th of February once again saw the world famous Bovington Tank Museum host the South West Model Show. I last reported from this show in March of 2018, so I was intrigued to not only see how the show had progressed and developed, but also to see how our crop of 2018 releases and 2019 announcements had been received by the model making public.

As with the 2018 edition the 2019 show took place, on Saturday at least, under somewhat grey and damp clouds. But upon arrival the bright lights of the museum fought through the gloom.

South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

Upon entering the Tank Museum, the modernity of the building as well as the well thought out ergonomics of the exhibits is immediately apparent, and that was the case with this show as well. While some of the stands were admittedly dotted around a bit, the way they were positioned right with the full size armoured exhibits allowed the visitor to see first-hand the difference between the small scale plastic fighting machines and the full size examples behind.

South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

The first stand that took pride of place just past the entrance was, quite rightfully, given over to the Tank Museum Volunteer Modellers. Like so many museums the Tank Museum couldn’t function without its volunteers and is great to see that so many of them are avid modellers also! While the display was mainly armour, unsurprisingly, there were some Airfix gems to be seen as well, with a nice mix of 1/72 and 1/48 aircraft sitting alongside the tracked warriors.

South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

One thing that was apparent this year compared to last was the rise in the number of dioramas I saw. One of the most impressive was this tremendous big scale diorama of a 105MM Sherman moving through the rubble of a recently liberated French town.

South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog
South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

Despite not being Airfix, I feel this is worth being included purely due to the skill and attention to detail! The whole scene looked fantastic, and nobody could resist walking past it without stopping for a closer look.

One diorama which did contain Airfix though was this lovely example of a P51D overflying some elements of our USAAF Bomber resupply set and our 1/72 scale Jeep. A rather less complex scene, but certainly just as effective.

South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

On a smaller side it is always good to see some of our simpler kits being made into mini masterpieces. These fantastic builds of our A6M2 Zero and Fokker E.II Eindecker really stood out on the table of IPMS South Somerset. The fine detail and careful finishing really bringing these more beginner friendly models to life.

South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

A larger scale masterpiece on the same stand was this lovely rendition of our 1/48th Scale Gloster Meteor F8 in Syrian markings, a slightly different take on the usual RAF schemes that are found adorning these early jet fighters!

South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

Some aircraft have always had an affinity to armour modellers, due to the fact they were often used to support armour and troops in the field. One such machine is the Ju87 Stuka. And at the show we found two excellent examples. One a build of our 1/48 scale kit, using the supplied markings of the Condor Legion, dating from the Spanish Civil War.

South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

This model was on the Spanish Civil War Special Interest Group table, and was surrounded by other aircraft of the period to make up a very interesting and unusual display. The other Stuka was from an older piece of tooling. Our 24th scale model is certainly something of a veteran, but it was great to see it here built up so well and looking so detailed. It also really stood out in this great North African scheme.

South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

It was great to walk round the museum and see some of our new 1/35th armour range up close as well. While we didn’t have the actual models on display, the real things more than made up for it! The M3 Stuart/Honey will be one of the first releases in the range and the real tank was well represented at the museum, with a number of examples dotted around the floorspace.

South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog
South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

As interesting as the little Stuart light tank is, the heavier armour in our range certainly excites me more. As does the myriad of painting opportunities that the German side of the range provides. Bovington contains an incredible collection of German tanks and armoured fighting vehicles, many of which are soon to be available in 1/35th from Airfix.

South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog
South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog
South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog
South west Model Show 2019 review from the Tank Museum on the Airfix Workbench blog

While the show was certainly quieter than previous years I would still recommend a visit next year, the added bonus of clubs and traders providing an extra benefit to the already tremendous display of machinery on offer in the museum.

That’s all we have for you in this latest edition of Workbench, however, we will be back as usual in two weeks’ time with a further selection of Airfix modelling delights for your enjoyment. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for subjects you would like to see covered in a future edition of the blog, or ways in which we could enhance your enjoyment of Workbench, please do not hesitate in contacting us. We can be reached via our usual e-mail address workbench@airfix.com or by contributing to our Workbench thread over on the Airfix Forum. If social media is more your style, you could access either the Airfix Facebook page or our Twitter channel, using #airfixworkbench where you will find plenty of modelling news, views and discussion. Whichever medium you decide to use, please do get in touch, as it is always interesting to hear from fellow modelling enthusiasts and the projects you have on the go at the moment.

As always, the Airfix website is the place to go for all the latest model release information, with our New ArrivalsComing Soon and sections, which are both quickly accessed by clicking on the above links. As updating the website is a constant process, a quick search through each section of the Airfix web pages will often reveal new information and updated images in many of the product sections and this is always an enjoyable way in which to spend a few spare minutes.

The next edition of Workbench is due to be published on Friday 15th March, when we look forward to bringing you all the latest news, updates and exclusives from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling.

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

The Airfix Workbench Team

 

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