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Display Typhoon and photo Meteors

Display Typhoon and photo Meteors

We are pleased to be bringing you this latest edition of Workbench and all the news, updates and exclusive announcements from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling. We think we have something a little bit special for you in this 69th edition of our blog, in the form of a unique modelling project from Canada which has caused quite a stir whenever images of the finished aircraft and its diorama have been viewed. You may recall that we featured several pictures from an impressive 1/24th scale Hawker Typhoon cutaway build in a previous edition of Workbench and even whilst we were building that particular blog, we knew this was one project which was going to require further investigation. The pictures proved incredibly popular with readers and forum contributors who were all desperate to hear more about this beautiful piece of modelling artwork – we are pleased to say that we have been in touch with the talented man responsible for this project and we have a full review in this latest edition.

As if the Typhoon build were not exciting enough, we also have an exclusive update from one of the new 1/48th scale models announced in the 2018 Airfix range line-up, which introduces additional parts to a relatively new model tooling which has proved incredibly popular since the first example was released in 2016. We have the first pictures of the new parts sprue, details of the scheme options to be included with the kit and the ever popular box artwork reveal, in what is a comprehensive update for this extremely interesting model release. Just two subjects for this latest edition of Workbench, but they are both crackers – let’s dive straight in.

Spectacular 1/24th scale Typhoon Tribute

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002

Work in progress. This image shows much of the additional internal detail added during this build

Without doubt, one of the most enjoyable aspects of being involved in the production of our regular Workbench blog over the past few years has been the opportunity to see the work of many hundreds of talented modellers from all over the world. This can include the excitement of seeing some of our latest new tooling announcements being test built by our network of trusted modellers, as well as all the latest submissions in the Customer Images section of our website. Also, attending model shows up and down the country not only provides great encouragement about the current state of the modelling hobby in the UK, but also allows us to admire the efforts of committed modellers of all abilities, many of whom show great imagination in how they finish and display their latest creations. Although we are certainly fortunate to be allowed to experience this embarrassment of modelling riches, every now and then you come across a project which simply takes your breath away and astounds you with not only the quality of modelling skill on display, but the incredible imagination behind what most of us would simply never even contemplate. An extremely fertile imagination, coupled with a long held infatuation with the Hawker Typhoon were clearly the driving forces behind Workbench reader David Gaspur’s decision to build a rather unique tribute to this WWII airborne battering ram, using our 1/24th scale Typhoon IB kit as the modelling canvas for his creation and we are pleased to bring you more details of this fascinating project now.

When undertaking a modelling project of this magnitude, it is clear that there must have been a huge amount of prior planning and preparation involved well before the first glue and paint was required, along with something in David’s modelling past which served as inspiration. He told us that he had always been fascinated by the Hawker Typhoon and had built numerous examples of the aircraft in various scales over the years, always hoping that someone would produce a kit in a scale large and detailed enough to act as a base for his ambitious project. It is perhaps therefore understandable when he describes his excitement at taking delivery of a rather large parcel at his home in Winnipeg, Canada containing what he had always been hoping for - his modelling dream could now start to take shape in earnest. As for the inspiration behind his intention to undertake a cutaway model build, David described how many years ago he had seen a series of impressive pictures in a book featuring some beautifully produced cutaway aircraft models on display in the Imperial War Museum and these had really captured his imagination. These made a lasting impression on him and he always promised himself that he would attempt to re-create this kind of model using his favourite Hawker Typhoon as the subject aircraft if he ever had the opportunity. As the years passed and his modelling skills increased, he formed a clear picture of how he would attempt the build if ever a model of suitable size and scale was produced and thanks to Airfix, he did not have to wait too long.

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002

The box artwork used on the first 1/24th scale Typhoon release (A19002) shows this rugged ground attack fighter bomber doing what it does best

When discussing the project with David, we asked ‘Why the Typhoon?’ He laughed and told us that we were not the first people to question his choice of subject. Knowing his modelling interest and with the project taking around two years to complete, friends and family members were often at his home whilst he was working on the Typhoon and seeing the time and attention he was lavishing on the build, many questioned why he chose such an ugly aircraft as his subject. Why didn’t you go for a Spitfire or Mustang which are really beautiful aeroplanes, instead of that thing, which looks like a flying truck? I suppose we all have our favourite aircraft and beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder, but for David there was simply no contest on the subject front, it was always going to be the rugged and extremely capable Typhoon.

Originally intended as the direct fighter/interceptor replacement for the classic Hawker Hurricane, work began on the Typhoon almost as soon as the first Hurricanes entered RAF squadron service and married the very latest in engine technology with a light, yet rugged airframe. Central to the criteria laid down by the Air Ministry for the new aircraft was a requirement for it to possess performance at least 20% greater than that of the Hurricane, hopefully yielding a fighter which would be capable of claiming air superiority in the skies above Western Europe. The speed of development under wartime conditions certainly produced a powerful and purposeful looking fighter, but its service introduction was beset with serious problems which initially seemed to be catastrophic enough to quickly consign the Typhoon to history as an aviation failure. Issues such as engine seizures in flight, engine fumes filling the cockpit and rendering the pilot unconscious and disappointing performance at anything other than low to medium altitudes were giving the new aircraft a bad reputation, but even these pale into insignificance when compared with a problem which carried an almost zero percent survivability rate for any pilot unfortunate enough to be affected. Structural weaknesses in the fuselage of the Typhoon resulted in some aircraft suffering entire tail separations in flight, with the destruction of the aircraft remaining something of a mystery at first, as the unfortunate pilot would tragically not survive the incident. The Typhoon gained such a frightening reputation that many pilots simply refused to fly it and a service withdrawal seemed a distinct possibility.

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002

Workbench view of David’s Typhoon project with all the additional cutaway areas exposed

Thanks to the intervention of famous British test pilot (at the time, a young Squadron Commander) Roland Beamont, the Typhoon was given something of a stay of execution, long enough for engineers to address the problems which had afflicted the early aircraft. Beamont had seen great potential in the rugged new Hawker fighter and rather than simply dismiss it as an interceptor failure, had the foresight to see a potentially devastating ground attack aircraft, which could be used to great effect in offensive operations over occupied Europe, particularly in support of any future Allied invasion. Its speed, rugged design and ability to carry significant offensive armament made the Typhoon ideally suited to these dangerous operations and whilst the earlier problems had been quickly identified and corrected, Beamont’s faith in the aircraft proved to be entirely justified. The backbone of the 2nd Tactical Air Force, marauding Typhoon squadrons would have primary objectives, which may have included fuel and ammunition dumps, rail infrastructure and military headquarters, but they were also free to search for targets of opportunity. During daylight hours, these missions became so effective that German tanks and armoured vehicles rarely ventured out of cover whilst there were Typhoons in the area, as these aircraft and their brave pilots proved so effective in their aggressive attacks. They became so feared that any Typhoon pilot who was shot down and captured over enemy occupied territory could expect to be shown no mercy from their captors.

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002

More detailed images of the exposed areas of the build, which required significant scratch building skills to be demonstrated

During our discussions, David confirmed that these are some of the reasons behind his love of the Hawker Typhoon and the men who flew them in combat, including Royal Canadian Air Force units. Although the fighter pilots of WWII are often venerated as the ‘knights of the sky’ and regarded as the most accomplished airmen of their day, former Typhoon pilots will quickly tell you that the missions they flew were far more demanding and much more dangerous than those of the high altitude glory boys. Not only where they flying at very high speed and at altitudes so low that chimneys and church steeples were very real hazards, they were doing so over enemy territory, with every gun in northern Europe firing at them. Should they sustain damage, or experience a technical issue, there was little hope of making it back across the channel and becoming a prisoner of war was a luxury rarely afforded Typhoon pilots. Despite the obvious dangers, Typhoon pilots would be back day after day, helping to ensure that when an Allied invasion took place, the men involved would have the best chance of success and keeping German supply lines pinned down. It is no wonder that the pilots of these ground attack units shared a special bond and knew you could not truly call yourself a combat pilot unless you had flown a Typhoon strike mission.

A Unique undertaking

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002

This fantastic image of the almost complete Typhoon build shows the level of skill and detail applied to this fascinating project

Although David describes how he was extremely impressed with the quality and detail of the new (at the time) 1/24th scale Airfix Hawker Typhoon kit, his build vision had been in place for some time and his main concern was how to go about the cutaway build without the finished model looking a little ‘overdone’. Needing to expose large areas of the kit and knowing this would require extensive scratch building of components, he decided to build the kit in sections, leaving the bottom of the wings as supplied with the kit, hoping to retain some structural integrity to the build. In David’s words, ‘Using various sizes of plastic sheet card, I started to build the wing sections - when you expose areas of wing and fuselage, there are a lot of additional parts which would usually be hidden and constructing these proved to be really time consuming. For instance, the rear flap structure of the wing is a solid piece in the kit and I had to remake this from scratch to reveal all the detail. A network of cables also needed to be run through the wing sections and rear fuselage, to detail the control lines for flaps, stabilisers and the rudder. The fuselage also had to be reworked with scratch built ribbing and stringers added, rudder cable guides and rudder balance detail. Something that I found to be missing from the kit were gun heater hoses and radio detail, which is not surprising as these items would not be seen on a traditional build of the kit. After some additional research and the securing of suitable images, these items were again scratch built and added to the model, again using extensive wiring detail. I have to say that Airfix gave me a huge advantage with this build, as all the detail was already included in the kit - all I did was to just take everything a little further.’

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002

Not content with lavishing much time and attention on the cutaway Typhoon build, David turned his attentions on to how best to display his masterpiece

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002

As was the case with the aircraft build, none of the components used in the construction of the diorama were after market products, they were all scratch built using traditional modelling supplies

As the Typhoon began to take shape and everything seemed to be progressing as David had planned, his thoughts turned to how he should display the finished model. Although fascinated by the wartime exploits of Typhoon pilots, David knew that a cutaway build such as this would simply not look right on a WWII diorama – you would never see an operational Typhoon in this state. As he had already built a support cradle for the model, his thoughts quickly turned to a museum diorama setting for the model, so not content with simply producing a unique representation of an Airfix Typhoon, he also set about building an entire museum diorama in which to display it. In typically modest fashion, David said, ‘The idea for a museum setting seemed to suit this project perfectly, so I set to the task. I used MDF hardboard for the museum base and walls, before airbrushing the base in a concrete colour and adding lines for definition. For the walls, I simply rolled on house paint to give them a little texture and hopefully a more realistic appearance. All of the beams are entirely scratch built from plastic card, as are the walkways and stairs. Indeed, everything on this build is entirely as supplied with the kit itself, or scratch built using basic modelling supplies and a few extras from my spares box – the only items which were bought separately for the project were the museum figures, which were 3D printed’.

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002

A museum needs additional exhibits and visitors. No problem for David, as he used everything he could from spare kit parts, along with some 3D printed figures

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002

Without doubt, the production of the museum diorama is equally impressive as the Typhoon build itself

David’s attention to detail throughout this project is astounding and a quick look around the museum diorama reveals a multitude of additional features which all add a realism to the project which makes it so impressive. Using his knowledge of the Typhoon and a collection information and pictures he managed to amass over the years, he has imagined what a museum dedicated to the preservation of one of these magnificent aircraft would look like and included these details in his diorama. Reducing these pictures and paintings to a scale size, he even included the tiny descriptions for each, helping the 3d printed visitors to gain a better understanding of all things Typhoon – he also used left over components from the build and artwork used on the side of the kit box to ensure the museum diorama looked as realistic as possible, ensuring that anyone lucky enough to view this fantastic project first hand will be able to lose themselves in what amounts to nothing short of a work of art.

A real Typhoon Tribute

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002

The finished Typhoon sits in its museum diorama, awaiting its first visitors

David’s love of the Hawker Typhoon means that he is fully aware of a fascinating project to return one of these magnificent aircraft to airworthy condition. Now based in East Sussex, the Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group are working to restore Typhoon RB396 to flying condition, setting themselves an ambitious target of achieving this by 2024 and the 80th Anniversary of D-Day. Funded entirely by public donations, this project is slowly beginning to gain some impetus and will hopefully gain much more support in the months and years to come – without doubt, the chance of seeing a Hawker Typhoon in the air in the not too distant future is one which will excite many thousands of aviation enthusiasts all over the world.

Inspired by the project, David sent details of his build to the team behind Typhoon RB396, who featured it on their website. The diorama display even prompted them to consider how they would display their own aircraft, once the successful restoration to flying condition had been achieved – perhaps this magnificent model build may even influence the future of potentially the only airworthy example of the Hawker Typhoon anywhere in the world. David’s dream is that one day, his impressive model diorama may share the same hangar space with an airworthy Hawker Typhoon and should a triumphant first flight ever take place, I am certain that he will try his utmost to ensure he and his model can witness such a historic occasion.

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002

A final selection of images showing the astonishing level of detail included in this unique build project and the skill David has shown in ensuring his diorama turned out as he had planned

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002
Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19002

Many people argue, with some justification, that modelling is clearly a form of art, with the most proficient modellers deserving the same notoriety as the leading artists both past and present. Looking at this magnificent Typhoon build project, there is no doubting that David possesses a special talent, not only in the modelling skill he displays but also in his ability to bring his ideas to life. Just as a picture can draw the viewer in and force them to discover every little detail laid out before them, this beautiful diorama demands that you spend some quality time inspecting its delights and discovering the many details its talented creator has included. As for David himself, he told us that he has just two regrets with this project – firstly, that not enough people will get to see it and appreciate the many virtues of the Hawker Typhoon. Secondly, that he should have more fully documented the build, taking the time to really focus on each section and producing an illustrated booklet of the entire project. We have tried our best to help with the first point, knowing that Workbench readers will be fascinated to find out more about this impressive build, but we will have to leave David to sort out the booklet. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to David Gaspur for helping us to put this feature together and allowing us to show pictures of his magnificent Typhoon. David has promised to send us updates, as his diorama is scheduled to exhibit at a number of model shows in Canada over the next few months and also to share details of his next build project, which we understand may have a slightly more nautical theme – thanks again David.

Win a 1/24th scale Hawker Typhoon

Airfix Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB build A19003

If David’s magnificent Typhoon diorama build has inspired you to consider adding this potent WWII ground attack fighter-bomber to your build schedule, or perhaps to look at working with the impressive detail of 1/24th scale, we might just have the competition for you. With the chance to win one of our Typhoon IB ‘Car Door’ kits (A19003), which includes decal options for a machine flown by Roland Beamont who proved to be so influential in the success of the Typhoon, head over to the Airfix Competitions page. Once there, you will be presented with a simple Hawker Typhoon related question to answer, which will have three possible options – obviously only one will be correct, you just have to select the right one. Please enter your basic contact details were indicated and sit back with your fingers crossed – that’s all there is to it.

This mark of Typhoon entered RAF service slightly earlier than the version modelled by David in the feature above but was synonymous in helping to iron out many of the technical issues which plagued the early machines and establishing the reputation of this rugged beast of an aeroplane. The kit contains all the detailed components you will need to build a faithful scale representation of the Hawker Typhoon, but we are afraid that you are on your own if you intend to follow David’s lead and build a bespoke display diorama.

The competition will remain open until midnight on Tuesday 27th March and our lucky winner will be notified by e-mail soon after this date, with details published in a future edition of Workbench. We would like to wish everyone who enters good luck and to remind readers that someone has to win – it may well be you!

Inquisitive Meteors

Airfix Gloster Meteor FR.9 A09188

Exclusive Workbench reveal of the artwork to be used on the future release of the new Gloster Meteor FR.9 kit in 1/48th scale

One of the first new tooling announcements we were proud to bring Workbench readers in just the third edition of our Airfix blog was the stunning new Gloster Meteor F.8 in 1/48th scale and over the course of the following few months, were able to bring you regular development updates as the model progressed towards its eventual release. Occupying a unique position in the history of British aviation, the Meteor was clearly going to be a popular addition to the Airfix range, especially in this slightly larger scale, which really does lend itself to helping the modeller recreate the size and shape of these iconic aircraft. With the first releases from this new tooling arriving in 2016, the Meteor proved to be an instant success and has been a popular subject for modellers ever since, helping to promote renewed interest in Britain’s first operational jet powered fighter.

The latest Airfix range announcement in January, included details of the third release from the impressive Meteor tooling, which for the first time would include parts allowing the modeller to build the Meteor FR.9, a fighter reconnaissance variant of the aircraft. This is quite a significant development for the Meteor tooling and requires the inclusion of a new sprue frame, which features additional parts to allow the longer nose and internal camera housings to be incorporated. By way of the latest exclusive announcement for workbench readers, we are pleased to be showing you the fantastic artwork which will be adorning the box of this latest Meteor release, along with a first viewing of the additional photo-reconnaissance pieces included with the new kit, allowing this distinctive version of the Meteor to be modelled.

Airfix Gloster Meteor FR.9 A09188

The new Meteor FR.9 kit will include an additional frame of parts

Airfix Gloster Meteor FR.9 A09188

The relevant pages of the instruction booklet which show details of the new FR.9 parts

Airfix Gloster Meteor FR.9 A09188

Although the Meteor was a first generation British jet design, it proved to be an incredibly stable and reliable aircraft, which is particularly impressive when considering this was all new technology at the time. Going on to enjoy a relatively long service career, there was plenty of development scope in the original Meteor design, which resulted in just under 4000 aircraft being produced between 1943 and 1955, with several versions seeing service with the Royal Air Force and a number of overseas air arms.  The art of aerial reconnaissance has been an essential military requirement since the early days of powered flight and relies on a number of significant factors – a stable photographic platform, speed and stealth. Possessing all these attributes, the Meteor was an ideal candidate to improve the reconnaissance capabilities of the RAF and the Gloster design team had several attempts at producing a suitable variant, before succeeding with the FR.9. Equipping the aircraft with a modified nose section which housed three remotely controlled Williamson F.24 cameras, each one took pictures through one of three window positions, allowing the pilot to obtain the best possible images of his intended target. Significantly, the aircraft retained the cannon armament of the F.8 variant of the Meteor and was able to switch from the reconnaissance to attack role at any time, also capable of defending itself from enemy attack should the need arise. Operated extensively from overseas RAF bases, the FR.9 was also equipped with additional fuel capacity in the form of external underwing and ventral fuel tanks, greatly increasing the range and loiter times over which these aircraft could operate. Let’s take a closer look at the interesting scheme options which will be included with this new kit.

Airfix Gloster Meteor FR.9 A09188
Airfix Gloster Meteor FR.9 A09188

Gloster Meteor FR.9, WL263/O, RAF No.208 Squadron, Salalah, Oman, December 1957

RAF No.208 Squadron has a long association with operating from bases in the Middle East and North Africa, a history which is commemorated by the adoption of a sphinx on the unit badge. Reformed at RAF Ismailia, Egypt in 1920, the Squadron would police this part of the world right up to the outbreak of the Second World War, when it was equipped with the Westland Lysander and later the Hawker Hurricane, which were both flown in Army Cooperation and reconnaissance roles. The dawning of the jet age brought the Gloster Meteor to No.208 Squadron and their Far Eastern bases, who operated the FR.9 reconnaissance variant for almost seven years during the 1950s.

Meteor FR.9 WL263 is presented here wearing the attractive colours of No.208 Squadron whilst operating in the photo reconnaissance role out of Salalah on the southern coast of Oman in 1957. With the base being located near to the Yemeni border, these aircraft were conveniently situated to perform high speed armed reconnaissance flights throughout this volatile region, hopefully identifying potentially dangerous situations before they became too much of a problem. The aircraft has adopted a scheme which features camouflaged upper surfaces, a very appealing PRU blue on the undersurfaces and a bright yellow nose, which appears to draw attention to the cameras mounted in the aircraft’s nose. This Meteor would end its days in this part of the world, having suffered damage in a landing incident in 1960 – classified as beyond economical repair, it was used as a spares ship to keep other RAF Meteors in the region flying. A really attractive scheme and one which will appeal to many modellers.

Airfix Gloster Meteor FR.9 A09188
Airfix Gloster Meteor FR.9 A09188

Gloster Meteor FR.9, WX978, RAF No.2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Germany, Gutersloh, Germany, May 1953

With its capability to undertake high speed armed reconnaissance operations, the Gloster Meteor FR.9 would see much of its service operating with Squadrons stationed away from the UK. As well as the Far and Middle East, the 2nd Tactical Air Force in Germany would make full use of the capabilities of the aircraft, receiving its first examples in December 1950. Flying in the colours of No.2 Squadron (and later No.79 Squadron), these aircraft would be regularly employed patrolling the West German border, photographing areas of particular interest and attempting to deter any Soviet incursion which may lead to potential conflict.

Once again adopting an attractive, if rather unusual colour scheme, Meteor WX978 would go on to end its flying career in Aden, where so many RAF photo reconnaissance Meteors would ply their trade. It was written off following an incident in January 1959, where it ran off the runway at RAF Khormaksar at speed – during its take-off run, the aircraft suffered a port main wheel tyre burst, which caused the Meteor to veer off the runway and bury itself into sand at the side of the runway. As was the case with the previous aircraft, the resourceful RAF engineers at the base would have ensured anything that could be used on another aircraft would have been removed from the wreckage prior to the Meteor either being scrapped or left to rot on a remote area of the airfield.

Airfix Gloster Meteor FR.9 A09188

The sight which will greet modellers when they visit their local model store to secure one of the new Gloster Meteor FR.9 kits

This latest release from the 1/48th scale Gloster Meteor tooling (A09188) presents a dramatically different version of the aircraft which will surely be of great interest to modellers, particularly in this Centenary year of the Royal Air Force. Both schemes included with the kit present really attractive versions of this classic British jet which are significantly different from the schemes offered with previously releases. Scheduled for a June release, we will not have to wait long before we can add this distinctive version of the Meteor to our summer build schedules.

That’s another edition of Workbench done and dusted, but we will be back in two weeks’ time with another interesting selection of Airfix news, features and modelling updates. In the next edition, you can look forward to a full update from our Caricature Competition and the project to bring modelling immortality for one lucky Workbench reader.

As you know, we are always keen to gauge the thoughts of our readers and there are several ways in which you can contact us, which include our dedicated e-mail address at workbench@airfix.com and of course the Workbench thread over on the Airfix Forum. If social media is more your style, you could access either the Airfix Facebook page or our Twitter channel, using #airfixworkbench where you will find plenty of modelling news, views and discussion. Whichever medium you decide to use, please do get in touch, as it is always interesting to hear from fellow modelling enthusiasts and the projects you have on the go at the moment.

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

The next edition of Workbench is due to be published on Friday 30th March, when we look forward to bringing you all the latest news, updates and exclusives from the fascinating world of Airfix modelling.

The Airfix Workbench Team

 

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