The Stormbird Approaches

 

Welcome to the 36th edition of Workbench and your regular look behind the scenes at Airfix. In another feature packed edition, we have an exclusive update from one of our recently announced new model tooling projects, plus the second part of our Telford Scale ModelWorld review. We're also taking a nostalgic look at some of the most coveted Airfix products from the Christmases of our youth. Finally, we look at some of the recent model releases, many of which Santa will be lugging around in just a couple of weeks time. There is a lot to pack in, so let’s get straight into it.

Exclusive Me 262 Update

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The prototype Me 262 was one of the Airfix stars of the Scale ModelWorld show

 

Over the course of the past few weeks it almost seems as if every new edition of Workbench includes the exclusive announcement of a new model tooling for 2017, with the promise of more to come. With all the newly announced models available in prototype form at the Scale ModelWorld show, we know that many modellers are very much looking forward to their arrival and we are pleased to be in a position to bring you an update on the first of these projects to be announced – the awesome Messerschmitt Me 262.

As the first operational jet fighter in the world, the Messerschmitt Me 262 has to be considered as one of the most significant aircraft in the history of powered flight and one which pointed to the future of aviation. Developed, tested and given its service introduction at a time when Allied air forces enjoyed varying degrees of air superiority in the skies above Europe, many former Luftwaffe aces firmly believed that had they been in a position to deploy large numbers of these jets at any time, they would have been able to halt the Allied bombing offensive. Although this may not have been able to alter the eventual outcome of the war, it would have certainly prolonged the conflict allowing Germany to develop more of their super weapons and build up even greater numbers of jet aircraft – a sobering thought indeed. As it was, the Me 262 was to become both the most hunted and most coveted aircraft in the world during the latter stages of WWII. As Allied ground units advanced into Germany, airworthy examples of the Messerschmitt jet fighter were highly prized and exhaustively evaluated to reveal their secrets. The aeronautical advances incorporated in this magnificent aircraft would drive jet aviation throughout the world in the years following the end of the Second World War.

 

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A selection of exclusive images showing the first test sprues from the new Me 262 tooling

 

We are extremely pleased to be able to bring you these exclusive images of the first test frame sprues to be shot through the new Me 262 tooling, which whilst fascinating to the modeller also indicate that this project is advancing at pace. Although there is still much work for the Airfix team to do, these images show that the tooling work has already been started and our new Luftwaffe jet is on the way. For the designers, these sprues will now be poured over in the most minute detail, looking for any areas where the tooling can be improved, or to see if any modifications are required. A test build will also be completed to ensure that all the components fit together as they were intended, with any alterations being detailed to the tooling manufacturer for working. The next stage will be rather similar, as any alterations will have to be similarly assessed before the project can advance further. We know that Workbench readers look forward to seeing production images such as these and we very much look forward to bringing you more Messerschmitt details over the coming months, along with news on all our other exciting new projects.

 


 

Telford Review Mk.II

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Concorde still commands an audience wherever she appears

 

In the previous edition of Workbench we included a review of the huge 2016 Scale ModelWorld show at Telford, which is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the modelling calendar. As this is a major event for Airfix and we had a large team in attendance, the first review centred around the activities taking place in and around the Airfix stand, our exclusive show announcement and our busy make and paint area. For the second part of our review, we look a little further afield and stray from the Airfix stand to feature some of the many other modelling delights on display within the three exhibition halls at Telford and the talented modellers showcasing their work.

Although the annual Scale Modelworld show is a huge draw for committed modellers from all across Europe, it is also a fascinating occasion for anyone with even the slightest interest in modelling, or indeed creative art in general. Much more than just a place for talented modellers to showcase their skills, it is a celebration of a hobby which continues to hold firm in the face of computer based competition and it is refreshing to see large numbers of younger people engaging with the hobby. Wandering around the packed display halls at Telford, you are certainly left impressed by the skills of the exhibiting modellers and inspired by how creative many of their displays are.

 

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A display of models depicting the aircraft seen at Old Warden and the Shuttleworth Collection

 

One of the first model displays to catch our eye was this magnificent collection of aircraft depicting some of the aeroplanes found at Old Warden as part of the Shuttleworth Collection. With many of these aircraft performing regularly at the various air displays arranged at Old Warden, they have become firm favourites with aviation enthusiasts and this impressive display clearly illustrated the variety of aviation subjects that make up the Shuttleworth Collection. As you can imagine, this particular display enjoyed plenty of attention over the course of the weekend.

 

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The McDonnell Douglas F3H Demon was a particularly handsome early jet

 

For many enthusiasts of US Naval air power, the McDonnell F3H Demon is regarded as one of the most handsome jets of the 1950s and 60s and even though it was completely eclipsed by the later F-4 Phantom in terms of performance and operational effectiveness, its dashing good looks ensure that it is always well represented at Telford. This particular model marks an F3H-2N variant of the Demon and wears the colours of VF-24 ‘The Fighting Renegades’, which saw deployments aboard USS Bonhomme Richard and USS Hancock during their service career. This single engined all weather fleet interceptor afforded the pilot an excellent field of view and despite being a relatively heavy aircraft for its single Allison J71 turbojet with afterburner, it was capable of performance approaching the speed of sound. Withdrawn from service in 1964, the project to develop a larger, more powerful ‘Super Demon’ resulted in the production of the superlative F-4 Phantom II.

 

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This magnificent diorama was one of the most impressive displays at Telford

 

Without doubt, one of the most striking model dioramas on display at Telford and certainly one that will have attracted the attention of a great many visitors was this beautifully produced, if rather sobering depiction of a carrier landing accident. This magnificent diorama was constructed around an actual event, which tragically took the life of Lieutenant Commander Jay T. Alkire and was captured by the landing camera unit on board USS Hancock. On 14th July 1955, Alkire, the commanding officer of VF-124 ‘Gunfighters’ was approaching the deck of USS Hancock in his Vought F7U-3 Cutlass, to make his latest deck landing in this early jet fighter. Misjudging his approach, the rear of his aircraft struck the edge of the ramp, causing the Cutlass to hit the deck violently and burst into flames – careering down the deck of the carrier for around 300ft, the burning aircraft broke into pieces, with burning fuel spewing in all directions. Eventually breaking up into several pieces, the entire cockpit section broke away and fell into the sea, with LCDR Alkire still strapped into his seat. Although tragically claiming the life of the pilot, many other crew members avoided serious injury, even though they found themselves in the direct line of this explosive incident.

 

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Depicting an actual event, this diorama highlights the dangers faced by aircraft and sailors when operating from aircraft carriers

 

This magnificent diorama depicts this incident in the seconds following the initial impact of the aircraft, as the escaping fuel ignites and deck hands run for their lives. It also includes the rear section of USS Hancock and really does have to be considered as one of the most striking and dramatic models of the 2016 Scale ModelWorld show, as this selection of images illustrate.

With so many fascinating models on display at the SMW show, it really can be quite a challenge when choosing a selection of images to feature in any review, particularly as Workbench readers will have their own particular favourite subjects, which may well differ from ours. With this in mind, the following section includes a number of images taken at this year’s event which we hope will give you a taste of the show, bearing in mind that they represent just a small selection of models displayed by the hundreds of Special Interest Groups, modelling clubs and IPMS branches in attendance. We really did manage to collect enough material to fill an entire year’s worth of Workbench blogs!

 

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Fleet Air Arm aircraft were well represented at Telford

 

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Something a little more unusual …. Hovercraft are GO!

 

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Another stunning diorama scene from this year’s show, B-24 Liberator ‘Lovely Lou’

 

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The Scale ModelWorld show is always certain to raise a smile

 

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A pair of beautifully finished iconic British jets

 

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Contact above the clouds - Air Forces meet at 40,000ft

 


 

Classic Airfix of Christmas past

As the Festive Season is now upon us, modellers across the world will be hoping to find one or two new kits under the tree in just over a week’s time. This started us thinking about the excitement of Christmas in our youth and how Airfix products were always high on many a Santa wish list. For many Workbench readers of a certain age, most of the models that started us off on this hobby were the small Series 1 kits that could be afforded with our pocket money, but with the latest Airfix catalogue in hand, Christmas and birthdays gave us the opportunity to hope for something altogether more spectacular.

 

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The latest box artwork for the Airfix Sunderland continues to inspire the modeller

 

On a personal note, I remember my infatuation with a particular model getting me in severe trouble one Christmas, which proved to be rather fortuitous for a friend who lived further down the street. In the weeks running up to Christmas I had dropped so many hints about the 1/72nd scale Short Sunderland kit that I felt sure there would be one waiting for me under the tree on the big day. I have always found the Sunderland to be a fascinating aeroplane and much more interesting than most other WWII aircraft – this may have had something to do with the magnificent box artwork of Roy Cross, or the stories of the ‘Flying Porcupine’ in Commando comics! Whatever the reason, for me, the most desirable model in the Airfix catalogue was the Sunderland and I was desperate to get my hands on one.

Unfortunately, it seems that my father was sick of me spending all my savings on models and was determined to break this cycle and introduce me to another hobby – model railways. Hobbies are a very personal thing and whilst the train set was clearly a very nice present and much more expensive than a Sunderland, I have to be honest and say that trains are not my thing and I was a little disappointed. There was, however, light at the end of the train tunnel – a friend down the street was just building a railway layout and as he was a few years older than me, he had just started working. Knowing he would be interested and that he had money, I offered to swap my transformer for enough cash to allow me to buy the Sunderland and the deal was done. Off I went to the model shop to buy my much coveted Sunderland, before explaining the situation to my parents – wow, how much trouble was I in. I was told to go and get the transformer back, before starting an indeterminate period of grounding and no pocket money for the foreseeable future. Obviously, when turning up at my friends with an Airfix Sunderland in hand and asking to swap back, I was told that this would not be happening in a month of Sundays. That was the end of a valued friendship and the start of my punishment – that Sunderland stayed out of reach on the highest shelf in the house for the next eleven months, before my dad relented and let me build it … a lesson well learned.

 

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Airfix Flight Deck was the height of innovation in its time and a top Christmas gift. Image credit to Greg at Yesterday's Toys

 

One Airfix Christmas treat I was never fortunate enough to receive was perhaps the thing I wanted most as a young man fascinated by aeroplanes and the dream of becoming a pilot – Flight Deck and Super Flight Deck. At a time when the Phantoms of the Royal Navy were simply the most exciting machines in my world, Flight Deck offered plane mad youngsters the opportunity to begin their pilot training early, by landing a plastic Phantom on the simulated deck of HMS Ark Royal. Attaching a wire to a door handle and assuming everything had been connected correctly, the Phantom could be blasted from the flight deck and up the wire, before turning 180 degrees, dropping its arrester hook and preparing for landing approach. It is difficult to explain how exciting this toy was and I am not too proud to say that I went to bed dreaming of Airfix Flight Deck many a night.

Unfortunately, whether these fantastic toys proved just too popular or too expensive for my parents, I never did receive one on Christmas morning. Resourceful as ever, I made sure that I allied myself with neighbours and school friends who were lucky enough to have one, although they were fully aware of Flight Deck's pulling power and used it to their advantage. I actually only ever remember having a couple of tries at landing the Phantom, which is probably why this toy still brings back such vivid memories of my childhood, which seem so long ago now. A big thank you to Greg at Yesterday's Toys for allowing us to use his Flight Deck images.

 


 

Farewell ‘Lusty’

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The impressive 1/350th scale Airfix kit of HMS Illustrious

 

The 7th December saw the last of Britain’s Invincible-class aircraft carriers slip out of Portsmouth harbour and on to her sad fate in a Turkish scrapyard. HMS Illustrious (better known as ‘Lusty’ in naval circles) was following in the footsteps of her sister ships Invincible and Ark Royal, even though it had been hoped that this veteran of the Falklands conflict could be saved as a symbol of Britain’s naval heritage. The MoD had invited bids to be submitted outlining proposals for the ships preservation, but none were thought to be financially viable. With her engines removed and looking a little the worse for wear, enthusiasts lined the shoreline to get one last picture of HMS Illustrious, as she left Portsmouth for the final time.

Originally launched in 1978, HMS Illustrious had her fitting out brought forward due to the 1982 Falklands War and was commissioned on her way down to the South Atlantic. Although she did not actually see action during the conflict, she provided essential additional support and supplies to the forces already in the Falklands and her Harriers undertook the air defence of the Islands until the airfield at Port Stanley was repaired. Lusty went on to provide 32 years of service as an aircraft carrier and helicopter support ship, serving in waters and areas of conflict all over the world. When she was formally decommissioned in August 2014, she was the oldest active warship in the Royal Navy fleet and as such, it was hoped the vessel could be saved for the benefit of the nation. Earlier this year, it was revealed that no viable plan had been received and that Lusty would be sold for scrap. Without her four Rolls Royce Olympus TMB3 gas turbine engines, she will be towed all the way to her final resting place by a flotilla of tug boats, as Britain waits for the arrival of the first Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier sometime next year.

The impressive 1/350th scale Airfix HMS Illustrious Gift Set has now sold out on the website but may still be available from your local Airfix stockist. With the sad news of Lusty leaving Portsmouth for the final time last week, the Airfix Facebook channel featured images of some stunning model builds of this kit and if you have yet to see them, it is well worth a visit. HMS Illustrious A50059 is a stunning modelling tribute to a much loved Royal Navy ship and the last of our Invincible-class of diminutive aircraft carriers. For thousands of former sailors and enthusiasts, her scrapping marks the end of an era in Britain’s naval heritage.

 


 

A Merry Modelling Christmas

Earlier in the blog we looked at some of the classic Airfix products of Christmas past and to add a little balance to this feature, we thought it was about time we featured some of the kits from Christmas present. With so many fantastic models in the current range, it really can be difficult to highlight just a handful and as we all have our own particular collecting foibles, a visit to the Airfix website is certainly advisable – that being said, let’s see what we can come up with.

 

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A modelling Christmas classic – the new Boeing B-17G ‘Flying Fortress’

 

One of the latest new tooling releases to arrive at our warehouse was the superb Boeing B-17G ‘Flying Fortress’ in 1/72nd scale (A08017) and the picture above shows a built up sample on the Airfix stand at Telford this year, complete with the support vehicles of the WWII USAAF Bomber Re-supply set (A06304). This much anticipated model has been ordered in vast quantities and will certainly be one of the most popular modelling gifts of the coming festive period – if you are lucky enough to get the re-fuelling set too then you must have been an extremely good boy or girl this year!

 

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This Dogfight Double set will the recipient to start modelling straight away

 

For enthusiasts with a taste for Great War aviation subject matter, the recently released Fokker E.II and Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c Dogfight Double set (A50177) may be just the gift for you. Combining two of our recently released WWI new tooling subjects for the first time, this set allows the modeller to re-create a scene from above the trenches of the Western Front as relatively small numbers of airmen fought a savage and highly personal battle for supremacy of the skies. Pitted against the new Fokker monoplane Fighter, the airmen of the Royal Flying Corps witnessed the birth of true aerial warfare and had to defend against this capable new opponent. Suitable for modellers of all abilities, this set is supplied complete with glue, paint and brushes, to allow everyone to get modelling as soon as the Christmas dinner plates are taken away.

 

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A speed build challenge may be just the thing for Christmas Day

 

For the younger modeller and making for the ideal stocking filler gift, the impressive QUICK BUILD range includes classic and modern aviation subjects, along with a collection of supercars (we really do think that the VW Beetle qualifies for this title). Designed to be constructed without the need for glue or paints, these models build into extremely appealing representations of the car or aircraft they are depicting and although they are intended to be dismantled and assembled time and time again, they actually make for really appealing display models. One aspect of these kits which make them idea for Christmas is a speed build challenge, where members of the family attempt to become the ‘QUICKBUILD Champion’ and build the model in the fastest possible time – the winner gets a mince pie, or avoids the washing up.

 

A Model is not just for Christmas!

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The new Victor B.2 has been one of the most popular models of 2016

 

Even though there will probably be particular models we will be hoping to find under the tree this Christmas morning, there will be certain models that have either not yet been released or have proved difficult for our loved ones to obtain. At the head of this pack will certainly be the recently released Handley Page Victor B.2, which was announced at last year’s Telford Scale ModelWorld show to popular modelling acclaim. Indeed, the model proved so successful that the initial release sold through almost immediately and whilst some model stores may still have them on their shelves, they are proving particularly difficult to come by. STOP PRESS – As this latest edition of Workbench was being posted, we received confirmation that the Victor B.2 is now back in stock!

In order to avoid difficulty obtaining one of this year’s Airfix Telford stars when it is released early in the New Year, it may be advisable to contact your usual model supplier, or visit the Airfix website and reserve your example of the impressive new 1/48th scale Junkers Ju-87B-1 Stuka (A07114). The beautifully built sample model that we had on the Airfix stand at Telford came in for some close inspection and despite the other delights on display, seemed to command a lot of attention. Expertly built by Jamie Haggo, this newly tooled model incorporates impressive levels of detail and is supplied with decal options to complete the aircraft as one of the seven Stuka B-1s to see action during the Spanish Civil War, or as a machine based close to the Belgian border in the weeks before the Blitzkrieg attacks against France and the Low Countries. This kit makes a fine addition to the growing 1/48th scale range and is scheduled to arrive in model stores towards the end of January.

 

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Only seven Ju-87B-1 Stukas took part in the Spanish Civil War - this magnificent advanced sample build of the new Airfix tooling was built by Jamie Haggo

 

Finally, we couldn't end this edition without congratulating the winner of our Christmas Customer Images Competition, as featured in the Airfix Advent Calendar. Congratulations to John Milne who submitted a series of seven linked Christmas images - you can see all of them on the Airfix Customer Images page.

 

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That’s all we have for you in this latest edition of Airfix Workbench. As this will be the last edition of Workbench before Christmas, may we take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very Happy Christmas and to thank you all for your support during 2016. We will be back with a review edition on Friday 30th December, where we will hopefully be bringing you news of another new 2017 tooling.

The impending Christmas holidays may allow readers a little more time to browse the Airfix website and discover more of its delights.  You will see how there are many ways for our readers to get involved in all the latest Airfix modelling chat and sharing ideas with other like-minded modellers.  You can e-mail us directly using our dedicated workbench@airfix.com address, or there is our 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, as it is always great to hear from fellow readers and 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.

Have a great modelling Christmas everyone and look out for our Review of the Year on December 30th!

The Airfix Workbench Team

 

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