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Another BFGB

As promised/threatened my production line of the Vickers Winchester (aka Giant Bomber) continues, though probably not for much longer; my MasterPlan goes no further than this year's ScaleModelWorld. My original intent was for this one to be in '50s Lincoln colours, but I was nudged into this role and consequent scheme by Airfix's release of the Boeing Fortress B.III Vickers Winchester B.I (BS) 223 Sqn in service with 100 Group; ever since the appearance of Martin Streetly's book "Confound and Destroy" I've found this aspect of Bomber Command operations, and their equipment, fascinating. The requirement for a bomber support role for the Winchester presupposes a longer war against sophisticated opposition, but I've maintained "European" colours and markings rather than redecorating one for a far east role (I've already submitted my contribution to Tiger Force). I had a further reason for picking this role and unit; long ago when I was gainfully employed one of my air traffic colleagues had been a 223 Squadron navigator, and this therefore carries the individual letter W. The functional additions are a large mast half way along the top of the fuselage, which you will recognize as part of the Airborne Grocer system (me neither); and there are "toast rack" aerials either side of the tail guns which are not strictly accurate but represent the Monica tail warning radar. Martin Streetly published "The Aircraft of 100 Group" in 1984, whichi has a distinct bias towards the modeller in his description and illustrations of the specialist kit fitted to types from the Anson to the Mosquito. Apart from convincing aerials one of the problems I find in modelling in this scale is finding decals of about the right size; the upper wing 'B' type roundels came from the Xtradecal Tiger Moth set!

I've really enjoyed making both this particular model and its siblings, all of which are due to accompamy me to Telford. One self-imposed guideline which I've broken is the size of the completed model, even in this scale; my rule of thumb for helpng me to find a space on a shelf is that it shouldn't be bigger than a 1:72nd Canberra (thanks to Mel Bromley I should be able to check that out after SMW!). I'm very grateful to Fantastic Plastic and the Anigrand for the opportunity to fulfil this wish thirteen years after Keith Woodcock's painting caught my eye, and to Crecy for publishing it in the first place (where would I be without them?). Oh well, perhaps just one more then! 18.10.17....

And another!

I was looking for an H2S blister for the 223 Squadron aircraft at the IPMS Brampton show at St.Ives, and remembered that the one that Mike Verier very kindly, and quickly, sent me had come from an AModel "Dambusters" Lancaster kit, and was surplus to his needs; I figured that if I could find a similar kit I could find an entertaing way to utilise the rest of it. On the Tiger Hobbies stand I found such a kit, and as I picked it up I noticed the small pile of Canadian Lancaster MR 10s and hesitated; not only did it have the same sprue of transparencies but also a useful set of decals and an informative and attractive box top painting, leading me to the instant conclusion that this scheme would look good on the Giant Bomber which was on its way from Fantastic Plastic. This would satisfy my requirement to wear red, white and blue roundels, and besides as you will know I have a soft spot for the Royal Cowboy Air Force ever since they taught me to fly.

After the first three - though at this stage I was still working on the B.I(BS) - I had worked up a routine for putting the bits together which varied slightly from the instructions, and with 6G-W in a condition to be moved to one side of the workbench I started on the propellors and undercarriage. In this kit only one of the forty-eight prop blades arrived detached from its hub, which made my life somewhat easier, and after getting another batch of Trumpeter's Model Clamps from Hannants - fortunately Tony Cowell could remember what they were called - Vickers Winchester MR10, 1955one end of the workbench looked like a small windfarm. As I've mentioned before the kit is very well cast, and relatively simple to assemble; I found it helpful to insert the main u/c legs in to the engine nacelles before attacing their doors, but ensuring that all six mainwheels touched the tarmac at the same time was no problem.

Adapting the Lancaster colour scheme to what was now of course the Winchester MR10 was straightforward, and as well as the boxtop painting I was able to call on Pat Martin's invaluable "RCAF Aircraft Finish and Markings 1947-1968"; Plan A had been to use the kit decals, but I thought that the blue of the roundels was altogether too light and shuffling through my RCAF decals for replacements they were found not unexpectedly on one of Mike Belcher's sets for a 1:48th C-45. As well as the roundels these also gave me the "Red Ensign" fin flashes in place of the WWII-style decals. I also stumbled by chance on the Scale Aircraft Modelling Vol.30 No.3 whose Aircraft in Profile was "Special Lancasters" and among the colour side views by the sadly-missed Dave Howley was the aircraft featured in the kit.

Just so often I achieve an "A-Team" conclusion. "I love it when a plan comes together" and in this case it applies both to this individual aircraft and to the group of four. The original Plan was for a pair, and while I wouldn't say that it got out of hand it did take me over - just a little. My aim was to be able to take the quartet to Telford and trust to Martin Higgs to find enough room to arrange them in a Pleasing Pattern (I hope to add a smallish jet fighter to give an idea of comparative size). I'm trying really hard to suppress any ideas of a scheme for a fifth; so far I'm winning, but after all one of the joys of Telford is to acquire surreptitiously some else's Good, but so far unthought of, Idea. For those of you who make the Great North West Trek I hope to see, and of course talk to, you there. 05.11.17 ...

Beshrew me!

It is said that R J Mitchell didn't like the name "Spitfire" given to his beautiful fighter, and the same legend says that he suggested, and preferred, the name "Shrew"; it is if course one of the obligations bestowed on What If? modellers to correct the errors of the past however trivial, so when a kit of the Supermarine 327 appeared it was too good an opportunity Shrew F.Ib and LF.2to pass up! The chance comes in resin thanks to Freightdog Models, and I was able to bring a pair back from ScaleModelWorld. Having had a little notice of its arrival I had time to consult Tony Buttler's British Projects, '35-'50, and found a picture of what I thought was a Twin-Merlin pusher, probably with a nose full of cannon but in fact the engines were tractor and the six cannon mounted in the wing roots.

There are passing resemblences to its illustrious ancestor, notably its rather broad chord elliptical wing. Its fuselage looks a little slight, and the rather large space needed for the nosewheel explaines the wing-mounted guns. The fitting of the nacelles to their cutouts in the wings ensures the correct port and starboard fit, but it was not till I found Ralph Pegram's excellent "Beyond the Spitfire" on an unexpected shelf when I'd just started my Shrew LF.IIb that I found that the Merlins were handed, though I didn't discover which rotation was which; fortunately the propellors need to be fitted to the spinners, so there is a chance to show a slightly differing appearance if perhaps at the cost of having to fight the carpet monster for a couple of blades dropped on the floor (I told you I was losing my grip). As well as the novel tricycle undercarriage that on the 327 is inward-retrqcting and comparitively wide-track; it's also a bit stalky, which may be why the black u/c legs seem to be of a slightly harder material than the grey resin otherwise used. The fit is generally good, but I found that having found space forjust enough liquid-grafity infused plasticene forward of the mainwheel axis I had to fix the cockpit end together and leave it overnight. The vertical tail fits on a slant just in front of the tailplane, and on the second aircraft I found I'd sanded off rather too much of the leading edge of the tailcone, which resulted in a too obvious step at the join.

Having brought back the pair my plan was to make them in series. The first you will see is an F.Ib carrying the special markings for Exercise Starkey in the late sumShrew F.Ib, "Starkey"mer of 1943, and you may recognise the initials of the Wing Leader as those of Denis Crowley-Milling; the underwing stores are a pair of Bullseye wave-skinning bombs, a sort of small horizontal Highballs. They weren't used, perhaps over practical directional uncertainties but have been reproduced by Freightdog and this seemed a good fit; alternatively try a Hurricane IV. As I was coming to the end of the F.Ib I thought of clipping the wingtips for an LF.II; my very early instinct was to have given it to 601, whch being ex-Airacobra had had some tricycle experience, and had then moved on to the Desert Air Force and by mid-'44 was in Italy. An option in the kit is a pair of "VShrew LF.II 601 Sqn Italy '44okes" filters for later Merlins which fit over the lower nacelles and need a little more fairing in than I gave them but together with the three bombs (Pavla) and the sand/scheme gave me the necessary corroborative detail. Finally just above the fin flash there was enough space for 601's winged sword, from Modeldecal set 101 of course.

There will be more I hope across my workbench, possibly at least five to match my Winchester "Giant Bombers" ; if you, like me, look for possible variations in users, colours and markings a passing perusal of your Favourite Book of Spitfires will give you much more inspiration and anyone could need! On present plans my first two for 2018 will be pink and hooked (not both at once). With luck they'll take me through to Peterborough.

North and South European Shrews

 

 

 

 

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