The Words from the Vaults!


Just a short one, then

Just to prove that I have done some modelling this year, this is the first of a trio of USN VTO "convoy fighters" that were competitors, at the paper sift stage at least, of those actually built by Convair and Lockheed. Each of these had a monograph by Jared ANorthrop P2T-1 Zichek published by Retromechanix earlier this year, and which Allen Ury of Fantastic Plastic persuaded Anigrand to produce as resin kits. This one is the Northrop N-63, which for the puposes of the exercise becomes the P2T-1, and which I have thoughtfully issued to a Marine squadron that wore polka dots on its F4Us in Korea, but which would only go halfway round the nose on this somewhat chubby airframe. It sits on three struts extending from the wingtip gunpods and a central shock absorber emerging from the fuselage tail, a layout which, like those of the other designs in this category both built and unbuilt, would have required serious concentration from the driver on final approach! He would have had a very good view from the rather bulbous canopy though, and the interior space in Anigrand's excellent casting would benefit from careful furnishing. I have prudently laid down the kits of the Martin and Goodyear designs for next year's programme; do you think that Aeronavale would still have been flying one of them at "Suez"? 23.12.16 .


Sometimes rubbing the lamp works.....

What If? - or, if you prefer, counterfactual - modellers are generally little different from those who are satisfied by producing 267 109s or F-16s; later or sooner most of us find our preferred niche. I've narrowed mine down in recent tears, not least to reduce the field of choice when deciding what to build, and now as you may have noticed almost everthing that rolls off the end of my workbench has roundels of red, white and blue in some accepted combination and as a guiding principle is designed to correct some of the procurement decisions made by Our Leaders on the 'fifties and 'sixties. This has been immensely helped first by Project Cancelled, where Derek Wood was the first to bring together the post-war projects of the British aircraft industry, and in more recent years by authors Tony Buttler and Chris Gibson and their bold publishers, to all of whom I'm very grateful. For me there were three types that I always wanted to have in model form; the first was of course the TSR.2 which appeared in vacform or early resin kits, but to which the introduction of the Airfix kit gave a considerable kick. The second for me was always the Hawker P.1154, the "supersonic Harrier" which like the TSR.2 polarised pro and anti opinions; one prevalent view was that the the plenum chamber burning of its BS.100 engine, necessary to give the thrust for the design speed, would have made VTOL operation very difficult and even potentially dangerous. The first kits for this were vacforms from Maintrack, whose Peter Lockhart produced a series of prototypes and X-planes in this format that were a boon to many of us, not least his resin conversions for Hawker Tornados; he also issued an naval 1154, a variant for which there's still a gap or two on my shelf if someone can decide on the definitive layout, whether powered by Bristol or Rolls-Royce. Fortunately Freightdog Models have filled the RAF requirement with resin with one of their meticulously researched and produced kits.

While over the years I have generally favoured the low, fast and lethal - both "real" and counterfactual - my third request of the genie did not fall in to these categories, though like so many others it was for an aircraft chopped down by a Government Axe; the Whitworth Gloster/ Hawker Siddeley 681 was intended to be a VTOL, or at least V/STOL, military transport at a time when the availability of fixed bases once the conflict was underway became a preoccupation. It went through a variety of powerplant options during the design's development, starting wirh Bristol's Pegasus and offered ar a later stage with Rolls-Royce Medways with at least some vertical thrust capability and with possible options of batteries of small lift engines in wing mounted pods. I know that this has been on the S+M Models to-do list for a while (during which time I've been known to mention to Mel Bromley from time to time how much I was looking forward to it) and I was delighted to be able to pick up a pair at the recent IPMS Farnborough Plastikfest. It's a very straightforward, even simple, kit; two fuselage halves, two wing halves, four engine nacelles - Medway rather than Pegasus - and vertical and horizontal tails in very good and cleanly cast resin, with all the little bits in metal. I'm starting to believe that for me one of HS 681 on delivery, 1968the advantages of many resin kits is not only that that's the only way I'll get a model of the types of aircraft that I want to model but also that by and large they have many fewer parts, especially when compared with some of the small-scale models now being kitted (see the Beverley on the workbench page - shortly). My original intent was always to finish it in the original C-130K scheme, which has an undeniable appeal for me; you may remember that I chose it for the Revell Airbus A400 Atlas that I built a year ago, just in time for Telford. As such, reflecting the original batch of RAF Hercules this 681 - I'm still working on a possible service name for it, preferably beginning with H - carries no unit markings; I was sure that they carried the red/blue tactical roundels but consultation with a recent book by Keith Wilson on the RAF in Colour in the 'sixties showed that that part of My Plan was faulty. The roundels were from a Modeldecal set 47, which still works very well considering its age, and the serial and titles were from theHS.681 84 Sqn post-Gulf Warir set of small white letters which fortunately included the Air Support Command name. In fact I built this one second; after collecting the kits at Farnborough I wanted to finish one quickly for the IPMS Brampton show at St.Ives, and I found in the Aerospace Gulf Air War Debrief a photo of the sole "desert pink" C-130, which belonged to 47 Squadron. Using a single Xtracrylix colour helped with speed of completion, and the 84 Squadron scorpion - and the "joker" on the tail, which seems appropriate - were added after the show, from a Modeldecal Wessex set. What doesn't show in this photo is the Garfield nose art, to which I was led as so often by Paul Davis. As usual I found an unused serial of about the right vintage which I applied to the Gulf War aircraft, and was looking for an equally ficticious but relevant example for the "delivery" one when I thought of showing the same aircraft at different times of its service, thus saving me having to work out an alternative. And at some stage I may try and tone down that pink, possibly with the aid of wear and tear; at the moment the shade, especially in this photo, looks more relevant to Peppa Pig.

One last point; I rarely comment here on the price of anything I build, but these two did cause my piggybank a degree of indigestion. When I realised that to cover the colour schemes I had in mind I would need a third it produced a stiffly raised eyebrow from an old friend who was near Mel's stand when I made the request. In mitigation, me lud, I can only plead that it's an aircraft in which I've long been interested and a kit of which is unlikely to come from anywhere else, and given the conversations I've had over the last three years it really is putting my money where my mouth has been. The third, when it happens, will be in different colours; I wonder if I can make some wing-mounted lift jet pods from unused JP.233 mouldings? ....16.10.15....

Confound and destroy

Back in the summer I got a great deal of enjoyment from making a 35 Squadron Lancaster from the "Meng Kids" kit after seeing one made up at the IPMS Coventry show, and when I found out that there was a B-17 promised in the same series I knew exactly how I would finish it. Staying effortlessly with my "roundels only" policy it would be one of the 100 Group countermeasures aircraft; this meant that I only had to choose from two squadrons, and one of my air traffic colleagues from the 'eighties had been, I thought, on 223 Squadron. My mental picture had them as black all over, but r214 Squadron Fortress IIIeferring to the 214 Squadron website and the recent B-17 Warpaint I found that the colour profiles, by Dave Howley and Richard Caruana respectively, had them with green/brown topsides. These aircraft had H2S installed under the nose, which was simulated by a small cockpit canopy from my "spare glass" drawer suitably overpainted, and no ball turret; one other distinguishing feature was a tall mast midway down the fuselage. As I was working from side views I placed this on the centreline, only to discover the day after I finished the model that I should have offset it to port; I found this because I managed - with some effort - to reach one of my farther bookshelves as part of a well-intentioned "tidying-up" process and abstract the book whose title is the heading for this paragraph. Martin Streetly's "Confound and Destroy" was published in 1978 and is a very useful account - even if some of the technicalities still baffle me - to the work of 100 Group and its bomber support activities, and is invaluable if you want to know where all those extra lumps and bumps should go and what they did (I confess that I shied away from installing the Airborne Grocer aerials behind the tail turret). When I started to apply the camouflage I couldn't find an upper surface pattern in anything on my shelves, but I had a memory of a relatively recent decal sheet with markings for some of the group's aircraft, and reference to the Hannants search facility turned up a Kits-World sheet in 1:144 (other scales are available) which would I thought fit well on this small model and would surely have a diagram of the pattern. It did indeed, though it took me a little while to find at the bottom of the second page of instructions and a while more with a strong light to determine the pattern; and invaluably it had the decals for BU-U of 214 Squadron, complete with nose art entitled Give it to Uncle, featuring a pair of related ducks! As a first model of the new year this wasn't a challenge to fit together and the research was very enjoyable, altogether a good way to start 2016's modelling; and with a couple of Coastal Command Fortresses also on the decal sheet, there's another of these most entertaining little kits on its way even as I write. They've got nose art too! 11.01.16...

214 Squadron Fortress III, "Give it to Uncle"

As forecast I indulged in another Fortress, prompted by the KitsWorld , 220 Sqn Fortress II, Keflavik 1944decal sheet that offered a Mark II of 220 Squadron based at Keflavik, complete with nose art. I've found that these little models are great fun, and being labelled for "kids" helps to minimise thr passing of years. They are virtually push-fit, though I used a spot of adhesive here and there to convince myself, and those whose attention they've attracted when displayed in public, that they are indeed models (not, you understand, that I'm claiming to be a modeller - in this case it really is the assembly of a plastic kit!). The simplicity of this range offers a little light relief in making them, especially after the frustration and furrowed brow that can come from something much more complcated, especially in resin. The young person on the nose, by the way, is called Katie. Having really enjoyed this and its two He 177A-5, RAE Farnborough 1945 predecessors I looked for what else was possible I considered the Heinkel He 177, not least because unlike the Tu-2 that was the other option I could at least stick to my self imposed restraint of only making models with roundels. I have knowingly combined two finishing options on this model, though they were both applied to the same aircraft back them. This aircraft was taken over in 1944 by the French resistance, and once in their hands received French roundels and rudder stripes, and the black-and-white stripes; when handed over to the British the colours of the roundels were reversed and the British painted the whole vertical tail red. I like it better like this, even if much of the fun of this type of modelling is getting the finish exactly that of the original. Mind you, I've just expressed an interest in the J-20 stealth fighter; Hong Kong defence force perhaps?

Sometimes rubbing the lamp works.....

What If? - or, if you prefer, counterfactual - modellers are generally little different from those who are satisfied by producing 267 109s or F-16s; later or sooner most of us find our preferred niche. I've narrowed mine down in recent tears, not least to reduce the field of choice when deciding what to build, and now as you may have noticed almost everthing that rolls off the end of my workbench has roundels of red, white and blue in some accepted combination and as a guiding principle is designed to correct some of the procurement decisions made by Our Leaders on the 'fifties and 'sixties. This has been immensely helped first by Project Cancelled, where Derek Wood was the first to bring together the post-war projects of the British aircraft industry, and in more recent years by authors Tony Buttler and Chris Gibson and their bold publishers, to all of whom I'm very grateful. For me there were three types that I always wanted to have in model form; the first was of course the TSR.2 which appeared in vacform or early resin kits, but to which the introduction of the Airfix kit gave a considerable kick. The second for me was always the Hawker P.1154, the "supersonic Harrier" which like the TSR.2 polarised pro and anti opinions; one prevalent view was that the the plenum chamber burning of its BS.100 engine, necessary to give the thrust for the design speed, would have made VTOL operation very difficult and even potentially dangerous. The first kits for this were vacforms from Maintrack, whose Peter Lockhart produced a series of prototypes and X-planes in this format that were a boon to many of us, not least his resin conversions for Hawker Tornados; he also issued an naval 1154, a variant for which there's still a gap or two on my shelf if someone can decide on the definitive layout, whether powered by Bristol or Rolls-Royce. Fortunately Freightdog Models have filled the RAF requirement with resin with one of their meticulously researched and produced kits.

While over the years I have generally favoured the low, fast and lethal - both "real" and counterfactual - my third request of the genie did not fall in to these categories, though like so many others it was for an aircraft chopped down by a Government Axe; the Whitworth Gloster/ Hawker Siddeley 681 was intended to be a VTOL, or at least V/STOL, military transport at a time when the availability of fixed bases once the conflict was underway became a preoccupation. It went through a variety of powerplant options during the design's development, starting wirh Bristol's Pegasus and offered ar a later stage with Rolls-Royce Medways with at least some vertical thrust capability and with possible options of batteries of small lift engines in wing mounted pods. I know that this has been on the S+M Models to-do list for a while (during which time I've been known to mention to Mel Bromley from time to time how much I was looking forward to it) and I was delighted to be able to pick up a pair at the recent IPMS Farnborough Plastikfest. It's a very straightforward, even simple, kit; two fuselage halves, two wing halves, four engine nacelles - Medway rather than Pegasus - and vertical and horizontal tails in very good and cleanly cast resin, with all the little bits in metal. I'm starting to believe that for me one of HS 681 on delivery, 1968the advantages of many resin kits is not only that that's the only way I'll get a model of the types of aircraft that I want to model but also that by and large they have many fewer parts, especially when compared with some of the small-scale models now being kitted (see the Beverley on the workbench page - shortly). My original intent was always to finish it in the original C-130K scheme, which has an undeniable appeal for me; you may remember that I chose it for the Revell Airbus A400 Atlas that I built a year ago, just in time for Telford. As such, reflecting the original batch of RAF Hercules this 681 - I'm still working on a possible service name for it, preferably beginning with H - carries no unit markings; I was sure that they carried the red/blue tactical roundels but consultation with a recent book by Keith Wilson on the RAF in Colour in the 'sixties showed that that part of My Plan was faulty. The roundels were from a Modeldecal set 47, which still works very well considering its age, and the serial and titles were from theHS.681 84 Sqn post-Gulf Warir set of small white letters which fortunately included the Air Support Command name. In fact I built this one second; after collecting the kits at Farnborough I wanted to finish one quickly for the IPMS Brampton show at St.Ives, and I found in the Aerospace Gulf Air War Debrief a photo of the sole "desert pink" C-130, which belonged to 47 Squadron. Using a single Xtracrylix colour helped with speed of completion, and the 84 Squadron scorpion - and the "joker" on the tail, which seems appropriate - were added after the show, from a Modeldecal Wessex set. What doesn't show in this photo is the Garfield nose art, to which I was led as so often by Paul Davis. As usual I found an unused serial of about the right vintage which I applied to the Gulf War aircraft, and was looking for an equally ficticious but relevant example for the "delivery" one when I thought of showing the same aircraft at different times of its service, thus saving me having to work out an alternative. And at some stage I may try and tone down that pink, possibly with the aid of wear and tear; at the moment the shade, especially in this photo, looks more relevant to Peppa Pig.

One last point; I rarely comment here on the price of anything I build, but these two did cause my piggybank a degree of indigestion. When I realised that to cover the colour schemes I had in mind I would need a third it produced a stiffly raised eyebrow from an old friend who was near Mel's stand when I made the request. In mitigation, me lud, I can only plead that it's an aircraft in which I've long been interested and a kit of which is unlikely to come from anywhere else, and given the conversations I've had over the last three years it really is putting my money where my mouth has been. The third, when it happens, will be in different colours; I wonder if I can make some wing-mounted lift jet pods from unused JP.233 mouldings? ....16.10.15....

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing!

There was a time in the 'sixties when almost every new fighter project had variable geometry, or as iws universally known "swing wings" built in, with exciting-looking models appearing on manufacturers' stands at industry trade shows. Several made it in to production, and while the F-111 and Tomcat are no longer with us Fencers and Tornados are still currently active south-east of Brindisi. Some other Plans didn't make it to hardware, not least those that were schemed as developments of existing aircraft, and one of these that many What If? modellers have been asking for - pestering, even - has been a swing-wing Lightning, the likliest version of which would have been a Fleet Air Arm two-seater interceptor as a follow-on to the Vixen. While the later develLightning F.9 74 Sqn Tiger Meet 1977opment of this had a bigger radar and intakes in the wing-roots, there have for a while been photos of a company model with the standard intake, and possibly a large additional dorsal fin, but Freightdog have chosen to accompany the recent Airfix F.2a/6 to cast the pair of wings, to be built in the extended position, with a pair of "reversed" forward-retracting main undercarriage legs and their covers. This photo was taken just before its excursion to Telford, and at this stage my chosen markings weren't complete; my regret at the double disbandment of 74 Squadron - for aesthetic reasons, you understand - is of long standing, and I chose to decorate this one as a participant in the 1977 Tiger Meet which was held at Upper Heyford hosted by 20th TFW and at Greenham Common, and I had the pleLightning F.9 74 Sqn, 1977  Tiger Meetasure of meeting some of the USAF as part of the Air Tattoo. By Telford I had found the large tiger's had that Modeldecal had produced for a Valley-based Hawk and brought back with me a pair of Matra JL-100 rocket/fuel pods, also by Freightdog, which replaced the overwing fuel tanks in the first snap and were an obvious site for further striping. There will without doubt be others of this mark (for the purposes of the caption it's become the F.9) crossing my workbench, and with luck one at least will be a two-seater.


Doubly Swift

Also on the SIG table at SMW was a Swift F.4 - also from a Freightdog conversion - this one in the colours of 63 Squadron, which was 56's fellow unit at Waterbeachwhen they were suffering the travails of the F.1. It would logically have been the next squadron to get the Swift, andit became a slightly cynical running joke that while 56 were progressively updated with shiny swept wing fighters it took some time before 63 were able to relinquish their Meteor F.8s. One of their Junior Pilots was a friend I'd trained with in CSwift F.4 63 Squadronanada, and I felt it was about time that he had a fast and noisy of his own, so the name under the cockpit should be Fg.Off.R Snell - if only I could write that small. The conversion includes an early "framed" canopy, a replacement nose and new upper wing panels which replace the "dogtooth" leading edges, and a pair of wing fences that take their place. Remodelling the wing looked a bit more complicated that it turned out to be, but carrying out the instructions worked well. My obvious Next Step, especially in view of the information I gleaned at Telford - and which is due to appear fairly soon in A Model Magazine on the plans for Swift units - was an F.7, also by courtesy of Freightdog; the chSwift F.7 64 Squadron Duxford.anges to the Airfix FR.5 are relatively simple, with a new nose, a pair of extended wingtips, the pylons for the Fireflashes and the missiles themselves. You'll notice that I haven't fitted these; the fins atre very small parts indeed in etched metal, and I knew my fingers wouldn't at the moment cope with them. The unit markings are the red and blue "trellis" of Duxford-based 64 Squadron and as so often come from a Modeldecal set, intended for an NF Meteor but fitting the Swift neatly.

I don't know whether there's enough convincing material to work from, but the Airfix Swift is a potential source of much extra Wiffery, not just the abandoned PR.6; given how the fighter wouldn't work properly at altitude, there's no reason to think a lack of guns would improve matters, but I still fancy one in the MSG/PRU blue scheme of early Meteor PR.10s even though I know it would be somewhat anachronistic (wnich raises the perennial question of how far a WIF should vary from probable accuracy - answers on a very large postcard, please). And there are rumours of a two-seater - that would be for the Pembrey OCU, of course - and a VG prototype at least; and how much of the kit could you adapt for a 545? ....27.11.15....

One is rarely enough

It would of course be sensible - and space-saving - if I limited myself to just one of each type when working through my assorted what-ifferery but there's nearly always an excuse, and sometimes even a reason, for multiple bites at a particularly juicy cherry, or in this case two cherries. The VC-7 came about when I discovered that The Aviation Historian was planning an article on its story, particularly on its cancellation, by the same learned author who recently contributed to AH the sad tale of British military procurement in the 'fifties with particular reference to the Swift. Having already built a pair in British Caledonian and Dan Air liveries I decided that British Eagle's emblem would look good on the fin, and added an S&M kit to my Telford take-out pile, along with one of their 707 decal sheets. Once it started to come together I found that the symbol wouldn't quite fit the tail, so I added the DC-6 aCunard Eagle VC-7nd Britannia sets by Two Six. I Then decided that I'd have to hand-paint the red cheatline as well as the vertical tail; after looking around for a correct shade of red I found a Vallejo acrylic (70.926) of which, feeling bold, I decanted a soupcon in to a really small ex-jam jar adding a couple of drops of thinner before stirring. To my relief, and slight surprise, the result handbrushed satisfactorily and looked about right. The decals came all from three of the assembled sheets, including a Cunard Eagle title which I liked; the "eagle" for the fin had to come from the DC-6, the others being too big to fit the VC-7 fin. The white striping was from one of those always-useful sheets from Hannants, and some of that black band is added paint, with the decal not quite fitting on its own. I had expected it to be a straightforward build, and it took rather more time and - perhaps thought - Than I'd expected. I look forward to the AH article which should appear in the next issue, and there'll probably be a subsequent presentation at the Royal Aeronautical Society by Professor Keith Hayward for which I shall be tempted in to the Great Wen.

Keep on swingin'!

When I learned that Colin Strachan was planning a Freightdog conversion set for the variable geometry Lightning I expected it to be for the proposed carrier-borne two-seater, which has appeared more than once in project-related books, and I acquired a Matchbox T.55 kit in anticipation in spite of its known lack of width across the enlarged cockpit; this was pointed out to me many years ago by John Adams when he found that a pair of his standard Martin-Bakers couldn't be fitted to the kit without major surgery. While there are now Sword kits available, they would require work to extend the under-fuselage "tank", and I hope that Colin will at some stage add this to his wings, which may themBAC Lightning F.20, 890 NASselves need slight modification. In the meantime I decided to follow my line of least resistance which proved simple and straightforward, just needing the addition of a substantial dorsal fin from plastic card and bigger hook which was taken from an F-4, the standard one in the kit not looking meaty enough. It seemed logical to allocate the aircraft to 890 Naval Air Squadron as its marking included a lightning flash, this coming from the PrintScale Sea Vixen set. I had inded to arm it with a Genie, but not finding one in my box of big bangs I settled for a pair of Red Tops; to save having to decide on a carrier I've given it Yeovilton's station code, and I have yet to work out a serial from an available "blackout block". It also seemed wise to fit it with the kit's flight refuelling probe, fitted over rather than under the wing root. If a Sword conversion becomes possible I'll make another, but otherwise I may very well hunt for that other T.55 which I'm almost sure is lurking somewhare in my garage and for a second pair of very slim young naval aviators, and there's always the thought of a T.10 from 226 OCU resplendent in red and white and maybe even yellow T-bands. 03.01.16..

Peter Elley

It's inevitable, but no less sad for that, that we lose friends with increasing frequency, and even if we don't see some of them very often the loss is no less. I met Peter Elley, I think, at the AGM after I joined IPMS, of which as I recall he was one of the founding members. He was, and remained, unfailingly helpful and courteous and I remember, and have always treasured his support when as a sprog and slightly nervous freshly elected president I found myself at a branch event in East Anglia which I has happened upon, by chance I think when I was on holiday; I was of course specially selected as a guest judge for the day's competition which had a really wide variety of subjects on its tables, many of which I knew absolutely nothing about. I confided this to Peter, and he gave me the simple advice which I've tried to rely on since then, and which has always been applicable; "look for the exercise of modelling skills". We're lucky to have many of our early members still on the scene - the contribution to the latest IPMS Magazine by first president Bill Matthews of a historic parade of some of his models was excellent - but we still can't afford to lose any of them.

The other side of the hill

From the start of cSpyflights and Overflightsonflict a prime need of military commanders has been to know what's going on just out of sight, and the maxim "Time spent in reconnaisance is seldom wasted" has been relevant since the first missile hit an unsuspecting target. With the end of the second world war establishing the intentions of "the other side" became an immediate need of both potential antagonists, and even before the "Cold War" became a familiar phrase ways and methods were being established; the United States determined to build on its technical developments, particularly in aviation, that had emerged during the war. The first of a promised series of three, this book establishes in some detail the political and technical background and subsequent changes, with considerable attention given to the personalities as well as the hardware; as you will expect given the dates on the cover both General Curtis LeMay and the introduction of the U-2 are featured in this volume, as well as variants of more standard aircraft such as the two shown here. Individual missions and their rationale are covered in considerable detail, with extensive maps revealing where many of the targets were and how they were approached. The political aspects of this era cover not only the international aspects but those all-important rivalries between the services, with additional input in this case from the CIA. The weaving of this side of the story with the technical and operational threads is very well done, and historians as well as aviation enthusiasts can be be very satisfied.

Author Robert S Hopkins III is an ex-reconnaisance pilot from a later era, covered in the succeeding volumes, and brings his technical and personal experience to illuminate this secretive side of the aviation aspects of the Cold War. Some hints emerged from the secrecy as the period progressed, exemplified perhaps by the U-2 saga; I confess to having been fascinated by the Dragon Lady since the first of her many veils was shyly drawn slighly back and remarkably, even though she's grown a bit since her debut, she still seems to be invaluable today! I find this volume absorbing, not least I suspect because it covers the period in which I grew up and about which facts and stories are still coming to light, with some of the legends being revealed as true (it includes the involvement of RAF aircrew with the U-2 as well as the Sculthorpe-based RB-45s). The final chapter in this volume is a summing up of the involvement of the top level of American government, in in particular that of President Eisenhower; the next volume will include JFK, Cuba and Vietnam, and I have no doubt with this first volume in your collection the others will follow. As with other Crecy/Hikoki books the production is excellent with its many photographs, a particular virtue, very well presented. Appendices give details of Cold War aerial incidents, known Western overflights and the types of aircraft used, listing the individual airframes and where possible their use. This is a very comprehensive account of this aspect of recent history related by an author with a very evident profound interest in his subject, and I look forward to the next volumes.

The Other British What If ?

For many British modellers and aviation enthusiasts, and especially for those of us where these two obsessions - sorry, prMiles M.52, tony Buttlesofound interests - are combined, the great What if? is the TSR.2, and Airfix did us a great favour when they produced their kits a few years ago. One of the virtues of the polystrene versions was the opportunity to "put it in to service" especially if, like me, your parallel special subjects include units and their markings, particularly in the case of the TSR.2 those of the RAF. This doesn't really apply to another British design of twenty years earlier the Miles M.52, intended for research in to supersonic flight, some effects of which were beginning to become evident. The contract was awarded to a small company with a taste and growing reputation for innovation, and the effort available while the Second World War was still in full flood to devote to a development that was not purely military.

Tony Buttler's work as an aviation historian includes work on "real" aircraft that were produced and went in to service but many of his publications have centered on projects, some of which did take real shape. This is the first I can remember devoted to a single unfulfilled design, and his characteristic thorough research is evident throughout in both technical and human aspects of this design, the cancellation of which caused as much stir as did that of the BAC aircraft two decades later. The author's approach to the story is thorough and painstaking, and as comprehensive as possible given the lack of information in some areas which he has found frustrating, not least where records have been destroyed. The engineering aspects are illustrated both with photos where possible and with drawings, and as with the rest of the book include many personal accounts, both contemporary and from memories. The personalities and the politics are an essential part of the story, not least when the project moves towards cancellation, which was not as simple a business as was put out at the time. The subsequent use of scale models, built by Vickers, to attempt to find data on flight around the "sound barrier" - a phrase that still resonates with aviation enthusiasts of my generation! - is an integral part of the M.52 story, even after the manned programme had been discontinued ( the RAE, not liking the term "model", preferred to call them "test vehicles").

Other post-cancellation events; a chapter is devoted to the M.52/Bell XS-1 relationship, or lack of it, and the final chapter is a summary of the legacy of the E.24/43 programme, up to the debut of the English Electric P.1. The production of the book is well up to Crecy's excellent standard, and I particularly like the illustrations - is "paintings" the correct word these days? - of the M.52 in its intended element, pursued by Meteor IVs as chase planes. Like the TSR.2, with which I'm afraid comparisons are inevitable, most accounts of this cancelled project are to varying degrees partisan; here Tony Buttler has produced a straight and detailed account, as comprehensive as possible with the limitations of surviving information, and for this many thanks are due to both author and publisher.

Zut alors!

I suspect that for many of us the fascination of what might have been started with Derek Wood's Project Cancelled - and the extracts published, with Wilf Hardy's excellent illustrations in the RAF Flying Review - in the mid-seventies; this was followed by a second edition, proving my long-held theory that publication is the best way to bring more information out of the shadows. From then on the occasionally odd manifestations of Luftwaffe '46 occupied much of the What If? ground until Tony Buttler's British Secret Projects, Jet Fighters was published in 2000 (I didn't believe it either when I checked) wiFrench Secret Projects, J-C Carbonelth Keith Woodcock's striking Fairey Fairey FD.3 on the dust cover, by Midland Publishing, beginning a sequence carried on to my continuing gratitude by Crecy. The progression has now reached the French industry, which is remembered for producing one or two oddities in the 'forties and early 'fifties; this book unveiles many much odder designs which, thankfully perhaps, didn't make it in to three dimensions.

Jean-Christophe Carbonel has arranged his subjects by category as well as chronologically which, if you're looking for a particular design needs you to to know something about it; fascinated by the subject of Daniel Uhr's very eyecatching cover painting it took me a while to locate it under "Variable Geometry", rather than "Dassault Alone", although it did turn out to be one of their designs (the MD.117-33, as you ask). Other paintings are an integral part of the extensive selection of illustrations, several being of their period by Paul Lengelle, familiar for his many contributions to Le Fana de l'Aviation which I took for many years. Modellers will have great, if occasionally head-scratching, enjoyment looking through the many possibilities, and this latest addition to the Crecy range will intrigue and even amuse; I can't think of any other nation which would require a whole chapter to "Tail Sitter VTOL"!

I've known Jean-Christophe for many years through modelling connections, and I'm very pleased that he's brought together his interest in the odder aspects of his country's industry for the collective benefit. The introduction to this work is a bonus in itself, setting out the organisation of the French aircraft industry as it emerged in 1945, and it's subsequent contractions and amalgamations, and J-C explains why there could be no such thing as a secret project in French aviation. This book is an both informative and entertaining, and is a wothy and valuable addition to the shelf now devoted to this series and its spin-offs; this volume covers aircraft in a broad "fighter" category, we can now look forward to the second volume based around "bombers". There are more to come from Crecy this year, including a new Chris Gibson on RAF transports and an update by Tony Buttler of his British "fighters" volume; perhaps we could run a competition between the French and British industries for the most bizarre looking fighter, but my money would still be on the Supermarine 559. (What happened to the proposed kit?) 11.09.16

Ah, Sir Sydney

Another instant find on the Friday at SMW - can it really be last year? - was this book on the ProjectTech Profiles imprint on the Hawker P.1103 and P.1121, with the subtitle Camm's Last Fighter Projects. For many of us the introduction to this aircraft came with Project Cancelled, and for me particularly with the Wilf Hardy painting in the RAF Flying Review accompanying extracts from the book. I've always liked the type, not least for its aggressive appearance and of course its lineage, and was very pleased when Maintrack produced a vacform of the 1121 based on the drawings in Barrie Hygate's BCamm' last fightersritish Experimental Jet Prototypes since 1946; I recall taking a deep breath when I saw the price of the book - £32.50! - when it appeared in 1990 but it has proved a good investment as a modellers' accompaniment to the Derek Wood book, especially when Peter Lockhart produced his series of vacforms, giving us the first chance to make a series of British What Ifs? before the term came in to general use and with, I'm glad to say, much emphasis on Hawkers.

Barrie Hygate reappears as co-author of this profile with a substantial number of excellent detailed plans of the two projects as they developed from the original concept. Fellow author Paul Mantell-Mead lays out the results of his research in a detailed and readable text, and as well as the plans there are copious photographs and several paintings which, as with many books on a similar theme, help to bring the aircraft to life, especially for me when wearing unit markings (even when the one with 4 Squadron bars is captioned as being from 208!). A touch of variety also brings an all-red "speed record Breaker" and an Indian aircraft in combat with Pakistani F-104s. There's a page devoted to the models of the 1121 covering the Maintrack and S&M kits, the latter of which is still available at time of writing, and the 1:144th example from Anigrand; fortunately I do have one S&M waiting in its box for when I come up with a decision as to how it should be finished. There's an illustration of a two-seat naval version by which I could be seriously tempted, but it needs a side-by-side cockpit.

As well as the story of the projects there's an account of Sydney Camm and his relationship both with the Air Ministry and his Project Office, with a quote which I shall treasure; "I am never wrong except when persuaded against my better judgement". Ah, Sir Sydney.....

Mitchell's lesser-known designs

The figureheads of the British aircraft industry were often identified simply by their knightly prefixes, Sir Frederick, Sir Sydney and of course Sir Geoffrey (Ahhh!); had his life not been cruelly cut short surely they would have been joined by Sir Reginad Mitchell. His name became known to a wider puBeyond the Spitfireblic while he was with Supermarine through his association firstly with the Schneider racing floatplanes and then with the Spitfire, but the designs with which he was involved covered a much broader spectrum and this excellent and fascinating new book covers the wide range of aircraft, both built and projected, with which he was concerned. The cover painting caught my eye immediately, both its style and the large flying boat that it depicts being very dramatic, and the contents live up to this first impression even if some of the designs especially in the earlier years are rather more workaday. Their descriptions are generally accompanied by three-view plans - rather small but there are a considerable number to cover, many with developmental variations - and with photos of those which were built, with varying degrees of success. There's an eight-page colour section, largely of CGI depictions of projects - many by Matt Painter who's also the cover artist, but some uncredited - which are of course manna to What If? aficionados like myself. The book is much more than just these - it is a comprehensive story of Supermarine and its people as well as its output, both built and just projected, and it gives a strong insight in to the British aircraft industry between the wars. I particularly liked chapter 21 on fighters, which gives concise reasoning on some of the traditional limitations of British aircraft in this category; it even gives at least one explanation of the reason for the Hunter F.1's thirty five minute sortie length!

Although author Ralph Pegram writes that the origins and development of the Type 300/Spitfire have been very well covered, his account of this within the bounderies of this book are very enlightening, not least the ability of R J Mitchell to start with a clean sheet of paper approach to his design in a company that had never before built a fighter. Although the development of his most celebrated design had to be continued by others, ths book covers a fascinating and very active period of aeronautical development, the flying boat saga, perhaps because it came to a slow end after WW II, being especially worth following through during the time that Supermarine and Shorts were competing. I thoroughly enjoyed this book in all its aspects, and it's another in my favourite category of those that need to be read and then kept handy for easy reference. 30.06.16.

Post-Hibernation Blues

Contrary to some speculation I don't actually hibernate, though there were several days in the last six months when it seemed a good option. In the middle of it all the nation's met office decreed that meteorological spring started on 1 March, which is patent nonsense; Everybody Knows that the first day of spring is 21st March, and any daffodils, crocuseses and lambs who make an entrance before that are seriously pushing their luck! (It's fair to say that as someone who was rolled out sixteen - or perhaps fifteen - days after K5054 I have a personal interest). Regrettably there's been very little posted here or hereabouts since the turn of the year, or indeed at any part of spring, no matter which dates you go by; it's not your fault of course, it's mine (I'm told this is a standard required response to being blamed, but then to be blamed is part of my person spec.). Just about any modelling that I've started in the last three, or indeed six, months or so has faded to a stop, unless it's been one of the Meng Kids series of which I've now accumulated half a dozen ( all WWII Big Bombers in, of course, accurate colour schemes); I know the fin on the He 177 should be all red, but I figured the bleu, blanc et rouge was covered by my artistic licence.

While I was making the USAAF B-17 I was insidiously invaded by an echo from my young days - although I think it was stiil around during my basic training at Kirton-in-Lindsey, but then so were Lancasters doing circuits for That Film - which told the world that "the Yanks are flying Fortresses at forty fahsend feet", and such logic as I've been able to scratch together since the start of the year led inevitably to the line that "the Raf are flying Lancasters at zero-zero feet"; fortunately a KitsWorld 144th decal sheet had the markings for a 9 Squadron aircraft with the name and nose art of Fanlight Fanny. This came together at a time when a couple of more ambitious models were giving me 9 Sqn Lanc Fanlight Fanny 1945some grief, and indeed they're still sitting in the "too difficult" bay until I can summon up the energy to return to a couple of projects which I like to think I would have tackled without hesitation a couple of years ago.

The timing of most of my contributions to this site over the years has been led by the completion of a model or three and the lack of any new entries since January has at least been heavily influenced by the lack of anything stirring other that the little Mengs. Their several virtues are largely what's taken me back to the workbench at all; their simplicity combined with a lack of need for "real modelling" and the availability of the KitsWorld decals have given me much enjoyment, and have attracted interest both from young children and their parents when they've appeared on the New City club stand at shows. There are rumours of a similar series from a different Chinese manufacturer including Spitfire and Bf 109, and given their size, and therefore the possible decals available, I could think of several variants which could restart my interest in WWII. I commented on the Meng kits some time back that they reminded me of Chris Wren's "Oddentifications" in the wartime Aeroplane, and I've had a momentary mental flash that a few kits based on these - probably in wood - were produced many years ago; could this be just another illusion?

I have over the years included here accounts of various travels, reviews of books and magazines and the like, and while I gave up reviewing the press some time back and my travels have diminished noticeably I I've been out to at least four shows this year without even a passing mention. While I've commented in previous years particularly on an eye-catching model or three at these events I find that these days my principal activities are checking out new and occasionally unlikely kits and books - given my particular interests I'm more likely to find something I immediately covet at a show than on one of my infrequent visits to a model shop - and maintaining the tradition identified all those years ago by my then ten-year-old daughter "talking to people we don't know!". She'll tell you that nothing's changed.

I really must re-energise those circuits that I should regularly connect to GOMcom. I had planned some time back to have three Harvards ready for me to tell you about - all yellow, of course - with the idea of having thir tale ready to tell just as I took a necessary break from the workbench in mid-May, going somewhere I haven't been for sixty years and back then not below two hundred and fifty feet. I want to take time to rethink a little about the modelling I want to/can do from now on, though it'll still involve much WiF, and I may even find myself guiltily impelled to take some time to do a little serious and entirely necessary tidying. I've totally neglected what I've always wanted tSupermarine flying boat projecto be a major part of, the Reading List; I've got a book or three to bring to your attention, notably the unexpected Beyond the Spitfire, which covers all Reginald Mitchell's designs and is a fascinating read about those that were flown, as well as their derivatives, such as this very imposing six-engined flying boat. And there are rumoured Crecys yet to come.....

Just before catching the transport for the wilder shores Beyond Milton Keynes there was an unexpected arrival which I didn't expect for a while; while elsewhere I pondered an unusually late decision on my preferred colour scheme for it, which I normally decide before offering money. Martin Higgs has already made one in 1941-ish colours, and he's the only one I know who's already invested in one of these, but my fuzzier thoughts are circling around the 1947 Spithead Review. There must have been one Admiral in need of a barge; was there a FONAC in Those Days.....?

Trying to add something to the website in haste just before we embarked was entirely spoilt by my clumsy severing of the link with the elves that should connect me with the cyberworld. My Friend Tim has now organised them in such away that I can no longer hide behind their indolence as an excuse for mine in spite of Other Things that are taking my time and concentration, including my occasional inability to connect part 27 and part 72 to join in polystyrene bliss. I've been told too often over recent years that I'm insufficiently Grumpy for my self-awarded title - mind you, it's probably better than Bashful or Sneezy - and I now hear myself playing The Whingiest Modeller in the Village, for which my apologies. It doesn't help you, never mind me, that I've now reached an age that when I'm asked "How are you?" I answer in all together too much detail. You should bear this in mind if we meet in The World Beyond; I plan to be at the Coventry Museum/Show this coming weekend (you may recall that I resemble a bearded weeble).

I have taken an excursion ot three since we got back, even though I couldn't cope with the Shuttleworth "Premiere"; I got to Duxford at the end of May where my getting around was materially assisted by my hiring a small electric scooter, particularly when I sped up the flightlineRNHF Sea Vixen, Old Wardwn 12.06.16 walk which would otherwise have been impracticable. And I did manage the more restrictive area of the Old Warden "naval day", which was seriously enlivened by the Sea Vixen; sometimes two Avons are almost as good as one. And I was also delighted by the Aeronca C-3, even if its military associations were khaki rather thaMorane 317, Old Warden 12.06.16 n dark blue, and by a Morane - 317, I think, but I'm pretty sure it was in the Heller Musee series - in Aeronavale colours. I'll be using a scooter again at "Flying Legends", and if this one is red as well trying not to here a phantom voice whispering "What would Kimi do next?"

Aeronca C-3, Old Warden 12.06 16

If this makes it through the trackless wastes of cyperspace I plan to return to the keyboard soon - I have a Tailpiece that's been nagging at me for eighteen months or so. Thank you for your patience.... 21.06.16

SIGs and gigs

You may recall that when I rashly volunteered for the IPMS committee all those years ago one of my first functions as Branch Liason Officer was to encourage others to get together in geographically convenient groups and discuss life, liberty and the pursuit of the newest kit releases (Airfix, as often as not). This not only resulted in my meeting, or at least getting in to contact with, many now long-serving members and starting to write to write the IPMS column in Scale Aircraft Modelling (accept no imitations!). Special Interest Groups started up after I moved on from the the committee, but the number both of these and of Branches is now substantial, with a selection of each forming the basis of many regional shows as well as the backbone of ScaleModelWorld at Telford every November.

Having just partially at least resuscitated GOMcom last week, as promised/threatened I went to the IPMS Coventry show on Sunday, where both my local branch/club - New City, based near Milton Keynes, the city that dare not speak its name - and the What If SIG had tables (the ability to place a couple of boxes of "disposals" peeking out from under the latter's display was of course a sheer, if quite fruitful, coincidence). I took along models for both tables; the Meng Kids bombers were for the New City club, where we've found they attract attention not least from some of the children and sometimes their parents. My practice has been to take to the SIG stand whatever I've recently finished, but while I was Sorting Stuff in the garage I came across a box with the Great Wall Victor and Vulcan in reversed Black Buck roles, and an early delivery camouflaged TSR.2 - just because it was there.

It hadn't occurred to me before, but as a result of a comment from one of my club colleagues I came to the conclusion that while branch members tend to meet at regular intervals to talk modelling SIG members only get together on occasions such as these, not least to discuss such topics as Kit Spackman's favourite theory that the is no model/design that can't be improve by extending its wings (I wait with impatience for his monoplane Heyford!). I rarely come away from these irregular meetings without a Master Plan for the next conversion/modification but three, even if - particularly at the moment - I may take a while to get around to it (I did pick up from Mel Bromley a Kit-Starter Basset, just in case a space appears in the schedule/ workbench).

As frequently happens at these events Tailpiece cropped up in the conversation, and I've been reminded that one of my continuing themes through all its years was the feasibility of continuing to model in spite of the traditional distractions of work, pets, children and domestic interruptions. It is therefore I suppose ironic that altough it's not directly connected with my workroom the disruption caused by an underfloor leak and the consequent removal and - I hope - replacement of our wooden floor is a major reason for the hiatus in my modelling; access to what I need and where I sit is being inhibited by the piles of Other Stuff that need to be moved around from place to place while the work - not by me, for which I'm very grateful - is underway, and which might go on for another month or more. However I can just wriggle myself in front of the computer, and I have another couple of books to write up and maybe even a long-overdue Tailpiece. And one day I'll get back to those Harvards - if I can reach the decals! 30.06.16.

Keep On Truckin....

There arCanadian Starfighterse some aircraft which have a devoted following, but which somehow I've never really taken to and one of these is the F-104 in most of its incarnations; however my indifference seems to relax a little when the Starfighter wears a maple leaf. This latest book from Pat Martin, best known perhaps for his volumes on the UK Phantoms and the colours and markings of Canadian miltary aircraft folowing World War II, covers the 104's service in the RCAF and CAF with the expected thoroughness and attention to detail. Coverage starts by putting the Starfighter squarely in its historical context, with its origins as an interceptor for the USAF before its role was expanded to include attack. It is profusely illustrated as you would expect both with photographs and with colour profiles, with its service use divided in to Canada-based units and those part of the NATO force in France and Germany. As well as these accounts of its service and the chronicles of the changes of colours and markings there are tables of 104 bases and squadrons and of the histories of each airframe that served with RCAF and CAF, and a more abbreviated table of those that were built by Canadair serving with other air forces. This is a vey useful volume with impressive coverage of its subject, and is very well produced by publishers AirDOC, and will doubtless appeal both to aviation enthusiasts and modellers.

Canadian Starfighters were for many years popular performers at Air Tattoos, and the heading for this review comes from one of their appearances there, probably at Greenham in 1979 or '81. That year's four-ship team - I think Checker Whisky - finished their display with three of the aircraft making a fast pass along the display line with the fourth coming from some way back as fast as it could within the rules laid down by the Flying Control Committee to overtake the others, passing underneath them in the centre of the airfield; number four was a bit farther back catching them than he should have been, and told his leader on r/t. The leader's laconic reply, which I can hear to this day, was "Just keep on truckin', Gary....". My memory says that he just made it. 03.01.16...


International WIF

The House American Secret Projects 1of Crecy has done those of us who like the types of aircraft that didn't really make it, even if they actually flew, proud over the last few years following the "Secret Projects" series by Midland Publishing frequently with Tony Buttler's name on the dust jacket, and usually with a cover of a very convincing and atmospheric painting. The first two of my Telford acquisitions prove their continuing interest and involvement, and give us hope for the future (to reinforce the point there's a new Chris Gibson due in 2016). The earlier books on US projects have covered post war designs; here Tony Buttler takes us through those that were contemporary with World War II, starting with the P-39 and with line drawings by Alan Griffith (who gave a very entertaining address on his contribution at Telford). The many types covered are divided into eight functional categories and one labelled miscellaneous - this last I found particularly entertaining - each of which is laid out chronologically. Illustrations are profuse, not least because each chapter includes examples of aircraft that served successfully to set the context for others that followed; in some cases these are covered by manufacturers' illustrations and sketches, and many by Alan Griffith's excellent three-views. These are delicately produced, redrawn where needed from works drawings, and repay careful study; they cover between a quarter and a third of a page each, but this does enable a substantial number to be included. While this book will be avidly snapped up by modellers of a certain persuasion, it's also of considerable value to the aviation enthusiast and historian; it's always useful to consider the roads less - or even not - travelled to understand the development of the aeroplane, and as so often this book illustrates the jump in the rate of progress in design fuelled by conflict. It's not hard to find a number of subjects to think about building; cover artists in this series are always adept at picking such designs, and David Uhr's Consolidated tailless bomber on the dust jacket had my brain wondering about a 1:144th Dominator kit that could be used as a possible basis (no, I couldn't think of one other than the Anigrand resin). Others, such as the forward-swept P-51 could be attempted by judicious - or perhaps injudicious - kit-bashing or, like the Curtiss Ascender or Northrop "Black Bullet" are already available in injection-moulded or resin form. There is a wide variety of options, and as so often with the very well-produced volumes from the Crecy stable, are a pleasure to read and revisit either from a modelling viewpoint or from simple fascination of many of its lesser-known subjects. There was an implication in Alan Griffith's talk that there's another volume in the pipeline - I do hope so!

The second of my take-home goodies, also authored by Tony Buttler and from the Crecy stable under their Hikoki imprint, is titled X Planes of Europe 2X-Planes of Europe II; this gives the reach of its contents (even though I would argue with my latent Sheldon Cooper raising its head that "X Planes" is a specific US category). Especially in the early postwar years there was a positive rash of prototypes throughout the European aircraft industry - for the sake of this argument I will accept that Britain can be taken as at least on the edge of Europe. Unlike the American volume above, as you can see from the cover sub-title this is concerned with aircraft that were at least built and generally flown, if sometimes not a lot. The author's selection of types is set out in and interesting and informative introduction, helpful not least in the explanation of the organisation of the French industry following World II; there is perhaps a tacit assumption that the majority of readers will be regrettably familiar with the parallel evolution of its British counterpart. These two countries provide the majority of subjects, but there are also entries from Italy, Egypt, Yugoslavia and Switzerland.

The many types, however rare - and with many produced as single examples - are comprehensively illustrated, mainly with black and white and increasingly available colour photos and with a few line drawings and colour profiles, but I do like the inclusion of the colour paintings which formed a considerable part of the advertising in the 'fifties British aviation press, particularly on its covers; this reminded me irresistibly of the time when its weekly appearance on newsagents' shelves was something of a hindrance to my homework. The first half of the book at least covers the period when like so many of us I knew for a fact that the products of British factories were without doubt the best that would become available, a belief firmly supported by the annual pilgramage to the SBAC show ar Farnborough, undented by the break-up of the de Havilland 110 and backed by the impeccable performance of the Black Arrows and their supporting cast. The ability to look back at this "Golden Age" offers a few salutary corrections to this somewhat partial view, and the dedicated British enthusiast, while naturally quite unsurprised by the number of French aircraft with a distinctly Gallic flavour within these pages, should consider the comparative similar output of our own industry, long before it became the Single British Aircraft Company, and the success rate of its progeny. For modellers there are several potential subjects - I'm trying to figure out how to source the necessary parts for the Nord 1070/1071, whether Gnome-Rhone or Nene powered. As so often with this series it's a book that needs reading sequentially and then dipping into when the occasion arises, which is in itself a pleasure; we're now used to the quality of production by the Crecy team, reinforcing the quality of its text and illustrations.

I've just run across a pair of Chant et Combat unit markings, which seem particularly relevant at the moment; the section here on the SE. Durandal has reminded me that somewhere I have a resin kit of it. This time the roundels I apply could be bleu, blanc et rouge.


Post Telford resolutions

New year resolutions are generally a waste of time, but this doesn't stop them being made, if only sketchily or informally. In a day or three following ScaleModelWorld I usually go through a similar procedure, influenced considerably by whatever I've picked up, physically or mentally, over the weekend (I'll get back to the Airfix Victor). While my workbench was at least notionally empty when I headed north, there were two or three kits which although I had intended to have them ready had got little farther that being assessed more or less still in the box, and it was quite possible that their place in the queue would change when considered against anything *NEW* that had come home with me. One had already been slightly started, an S&M VC-7 in the colours of a British independent airline to sit with the British Caledonian and Dan-Air aircraft already in a potential line up, and the pause in the third was to assess whether the company's decals would fit on the airliner's rather small fin. And my shadowy plans for another Swift or two were given an instant upgrade by a long discussion with that indefatigable researcher Paul Lucas and the results of his investigation in the the Air Ministry's plans for the deployment of Swift F.4s and subsequent marks to squadrons both at home and overseas; his findings are due to be published early in the new year, but my (first?) F.7 should by then be sitting smugly on one of my shelves.

The kits I've brought back are relatively few - and small - though I did succumb to the lure of the Mach 2 Argosy, which doesn't have any defined role in my notional build sequence, though the idea of a 115 Squadron calibrator appeals; but somewhat weightier was the bag of four books, without which no modellers' shelves - well, mine anyway - would be complete. They will all appear, though perhaps not all at once, on the Reading List page. Round about this time of year I field discreet enquiries on what I might like to find under the tree, usually topped by the Christmas Frog; but I never want to wait that long to riffle my way through - or even study - any books that I can get my hands on as soon as they appear (an added problem this year is that they have arrived to compete for my bedtime reading slot at the same time as the new Sue Grafton and Ian Rankin - there are times when insomnia pays!). As always it takes a few days to return to what passes for real life, though there's nothing like a seven year old granddaughter to help refocus! And there's an Airfix Shackleton to see me through the hibernation period, if I can summon up the nervous energy to clear a big enough space on the workbench, never mind a shelf.

Sometime between now and the arrival of that other bearded chap I'll add some photos from ScaleModelWorld to the Gallery; enjoy his company if you get the chance!

That was the year, that was - and this will be.

I can't let the old year go without marking the loss of Edgar Brooks, who I knew for thirty five years or so from the time I started attending Thames Valley IPMS Branch meetings. One of those who liked BIG models, he was an indefatifable researcher who wanted to Get Things Right, and whose passion for Spitfires and Hurricanes led him in to many trans-world discussions - for which the web became vital - to correct what he saw as errors.

Of the models that gave me great pleasure, Airfix's ventures in to the 'fifties and 'sixties and the variations to them from Freightdog contributed to my mission to correct some of the inept decisions made by the governments of the day, as did the S+M kit of the Hawker-Siddeley 681 (which I'm told by my What If? colleagues should properly be named Aldershot, disregarding the big Avro biplane of the 'twenties). I have of course invested in an Airfix Shackleton, the box looming at me from just behind my shoulder as I write; I have yet to summon up the energy, and the space, to start it, even though I do know that I want to finish it in the early grey/white MR.2 scheme with guns. And I don't see more than one in my future. The same may well apply to their forthcoming Meteor, as it's in 1:48th; had it been in 1:72nd I would need a substantial new shelf and to find my copy of Hikoki's "Coronation Wings". I have no doubt that Freightdog and S+M will come up with something that appeals irresistably, and that I shall succumb to another triumph of hope over experience with the appearance of the announced Gloster F.3/48 delta and Shorts PD.13 from Unicraft. Again there will probably be only one of each, but the choice of colours is considerable; perhaps a second PD.13 in Gulf War pink, then.

My modelling for the new year has started with a 100 Group Fortress III, but not as we know it; I may even find space for two or three "real" aeroplanes. As I used to stress in the days of Tailpiece, enjoy your modelling this year as well. ...04.01.16...

Dave Howley

In one of the boskier corners of my workroom there's a 1:72nd Beverley - Magna of course - wearing the middle eastern colour scheme that I enjoy using, and carrying the scorpion and "ace of clubs" markings of 84 Squadron; and the friend that I consulted on this ten or more years ago was, as so often on the heavy metal area of RAF transports, Dave Howley. I met him as I did so many modellers, particularly with RAF connections, through Dick Ward, probably during the 'seventies, and he subsequently did a lot of work for Scale Aircraft Modelling especially when we introduced colour profiles, with Alan Hall and then Neil Robinson in the editorial chair. Early in this period he was based at Brize Norton, engaged as I remember either in filling large aeroplanes with seriously military loads - sometimes self loading - or arranging for them to be thrown out again in as safe and expeditious a manner as possible. In the early years when I knew him he was part of a double act with Mike Ingham, and they presented IPMS with the Adour Trophy to be competed for at the National Championships and for which the entries frequently featured the British miltary front line aircraft of the period.

After leaving the service he continued providing colour profiles, and advice to those who needed it - generally; and we often met at aviation and modelling events. I'm sure many will also remember him as I will for his sharp and ocassionally sardonic sense of humour, which it would of course be quite wrong for me to characterise as Irish; for that as for much else he will be sadly missed. 22.10.15...

"A vintage jet fighter"

It's a sad irony that will not escape any of us who were at Farnborough when the DH.110 prototype broke up in mid-air that to reassure us about an hour afterwards the next aeroplane took of with the aim of planting, quite legally in 1952, a "sonic boom" on the airfield as John Derry and Tony Richards had done as part of their display; the aircraft was of course WB188 and the pilot Neville Duke. I didn't realise that between then and ten days ago there had been no spectator fatalities at a British air display; and the aircraft that was then given the task of reassuring the crowd is now the cause of immediate concern both to the public - perhaps especially and understandably to them - and to so many aviation enthusiasts.

I don't know how many times I must have seen WV372 demonstrating, and I'm sure one of them was at a relatively recent Old Warden display; certain on the day that I must have many photos of it filed away I decided just to watch its show, without a viewfinder getting in the way, but last week I couldn't find one (hence the photos of another T.7, taken at Bruntingthorpe wearing 208's markings and typifying the British "summer"). Amongst the Hunter's many virtues as a display aircraft was that a practised pilot could keep it within view of the spectators over even a small airfield, and the Old Warden curved display line was ideal for showing off its elegant plan view which even the T.7 nose and the dogtoothed leading edge could not disrupt. For those of us of a certain age any Hunter display brings as though it were yesterday - or at least the day before - lasting memories of the Black Arrows and the Blue Diamonds, and towards the end of its service life the Blue Herons from the Yeoviton-based FRADU, for me inextricably linked with my IAT air traffic years (I could even tell you the name of their sponsors, but I suspect that no one on Derek Morter's team would like to be reminded of it!).

For me one of the prime virtues of this particular Hunter, given my primary interest in RAF squadron histories and their heraldry, was that it was once more wearing the immediately recognisable identity that it had worn when serving with "Shiny Two" in 2 TAF in the 'sixties, carefully restored as a link to the days when the Hunter was a core part of the service. The triangle, usually as on the Hunters (and Swifts!) white on a black rectangle, had been originally alotted to the squadron as a recognition marking in April 1916, and now displayed on Typhoons must surely be the longest surviving squadron marking in the service.

Until the reports of the investigation are published there will be endless speculation about its cause, fed by the many video clips and eye-witness stories of the event that seemed to be common property before the flames were out. I'm not immune, but there are too many possibilities; but I hope that reasoned discussion will conclude that with proved and observed display parameters - one of my lasting memories from IAT is seeing the establishment of the Flying Control Committee if only from the sidelines - the Shows will go on.

Hunter T.7 XL565, 208 Sq markings Bruntingthorpe 30.08 15


Stand well back!

This book has been out for three years or so. but for some reason I've not bought it till nowBucket of Sunshine, Mike Brooke; buying it now was prompted by my building Freightdog's ground attack variation on their SR.177, which comes with the option of a streamlined Red Beard, believed to have been intended for underwing mounting on the TSR.2 but offered here to be hung under one wing of the small Saro, another of those 'fifties designs which sadly never made it into hardware. The delivery methods for these "tactical" neuclear weapons are probably well known, but I don't remember reading a personal account of their squadron employment in 2TAF, and the time in which the book is set is not long after my own brief spell at Bruggen, just down the way from 16 Squadron's base at Laarbruch. The author starts his tale - as do so many of us - with the idea of wanting to fly at an early age, and how it came about; and on completing his flying training he was selected for Canberras and posted to 16 to fly their black-bellied B(I).8, for which the prime role was the delivery of the neuclear bomb. His account of how, and in broad terms at least where, this would have happened is unsensationalised, and is accompanied by the more routine elements of like on on a front-line squadron, including the various overseas deployments and detachments. I very much enjoyed reading his account, to the point where I'm about to start on Follow Me Through, which covers his post-Canberra time as a flying instructor.


As mentioned in Mike's World, much of my time recently has been spent traceing Shackleton colours and markings - "repetitive research" - prompted by Mel Bromley's MR Viscounts and his new decal sheet of maritime and elint unit markings, which also includes nearly all the Valiant squadrons; this could hsave been tailor-made for my smaller-scale modelling, and he was kind enough to send me a pre-publication scan of the sheet so that I could plan, as a contribution to my insomnia, my immediate imminent production line. I meant that I had to identify which units he'd selected; the obvious source would have been John Rawlings' Coastal/Transport squadrons book, but this was coS&M MR decalsmpiled at a time when the MoD had decided to charge for reproduction of badges, whis John very reasonably decided wasn't reasonable. Some of the units overlapped in to Philip Moyes' Bomber Squadrons book and with many of them in the 200 range I had a basis for shuffling through the relevant pages; eventually my memory dredged up the image of an Air Britain book of RAF squadron histories compiled by J J Halley and published in 1980, and to my surprise it was more or less where I thought it should have been! This enabled me to fill in the last couple of gaps though it took me some time to work out that what I had thought was 35 Squadron, straying for some reason from its bomber roots, was in fact 228. You'll see that the set also carries red/outlined white alpha-numerics, including MOTU titling but not that unit's seal - or is it a dachshund?

I've already covered the Vanguard MR with the Falklands badge on the nose in the Pick section, along with the Chris Gibson book that provided the inform269 Sqn Vanguard MR.2ation on which Mel Bromley based his S&M conversion; with the arrival of his decals I was able to add the galleon of 269 Squadron to the fin. The follow-on plan was to cover the basic schemes of the Shackleton during its service on MR Viscounts - more practical than assembling three lots of rivets in 1:72nd! - starting with the white and medium sea grey as seen on the first Shackleton 2s, which is what I have in mind for the Airfix Mark 2 (with cannon of course). The S&M conversion is for their own Viscount 800, with the addition of a radome and a nose and upper and taiViscount MR.2, 120 Sqnl turret in clear resin; the cannon above the cockpit are depressed to strafe a surface target ahead of the Viscount. Ahead of the S&M decals, the unit marking for this one came from an Xtradecal set which included the 120 Squadron badge, intended for the nose of a Coastal Command Lancaster but fitting neatly on the Viscount's fin; before the application of squadron numbers this period featured letter codes which identified the units on a station. The second choice was my variation, as I had in my stash an S&M Tay Viscount, and Mel kindly supplied an MR.2 conversion I didn't shorten the fuselage as Vickers had done for the jet, reasoning that having settled on an interior layout it would have been lViscount MR.5, 38 Sqn Maltaogical to stick with it, though there could have been some modernisation of equipment. I gleaned, I hope correctly, that although this colour scheme was dark sea grey overall white tops - and in some cases partial wing upper surfaces - were added in warmer parts, and I'd already selected 38 Squadron, which spent much of its life on Malta; no doubt the faster transit times would have been useful in the relatively limited area of the Mediterranean (it's my backstory, and I'm sticking to it). By now the application of red/oViscount MR.2, 210 Sqnutlined white letters and numbers was standard for aircraft and unit identity, and indeed for serials; at the time of writing I'm still pondering this, and I may have to resort to black 4" from Modeldecal 36, in conjunction with a good. Also not visible in the snap of the third aircraft, all DSG, are the turrets, the recovery of which from the maw of the carpet monster is still problematical, as well as being hard on the knees, but I live as you know in constant hope. A very old friend with whom I trained spent some time with 210, hence the griffin on the tail; he also flew with 63, but I'm still waiting for his Swift F.4 (there will be an explanation).

Fast and low, with sunshine.....

While the TSR.2 is probably the most popular What If? subject with Shrike FGA.4, 2 Sqn Raf Gutersloh 1965 modellers of that tendency, in the UK at least, Saro's SR.177 mixed power interceptor has been well represented in SIG collections thanks to the resin kit from Freightdog Models; Colin Strachan has given those of us intent on re-equipping British fighter squadrons around 1960 a highly suitable subject, and as well as RAF and RN boxings has issued an option with Japanese and Luftwaffe markings. Recent research - there must be a nest of dedicated wif elves somewhere - has found a brochure, no doubt compiled late in the project's life, expanding its potential to include a ground attack version; the rocket was omitted to make room for more fuel, and proposed accessories included a belly tank with cameras and still more fuel and a pair of wingtip pods with rocket. I didn't add these, using the mountings for radar-guided Red Top missiles for self defence. Under the starboard wing I've mounted a streamlined Red Beard - I believe this was devised for external carriage on a TSR.2, and which is why I've purloined the "Sunshine" tag from Mike Brooke's book on his B(I).8 days (see the Reading List page) - balanced by a fuel tank under the port wing; there are an additional pair of pylons fitted under the outer wings, but I felt that in the absence of the rocket any additional take-off weight would have been unkind, and could well have challenged even the standard 2TAF runway (which was of course 800 yards longer than Fighter Command's). " Squadron Westland Shrike FGA.4My previous 177s - which for the purposes of this entertainment became the Saro Shrike, in this case the FGA.4 - have included one in the "Lightning" scheme of dark green and silver but I thought in this role it should wear wraparound green/DSG with low-vis markings; for once I've picked a still current unit, principally because with the red/blue tactical roundels 2 Squadron also applied low-vis unit and individual marks which came from a Model Alliance set, accompanied by national markings from a Jaguar sheet. Though it may not always seem likely, I do like to consider the operational use of the What Ifs? that emerge from my workbench, and after reading Bucket of Sunshine I wonder about the possibility of successful delivery of a tactical nuke by a single-seater; maybe there's a case for a navigator after all!

Avons on the flood

Were you one of those 'fifties nostalgics who found the recent wait for the new Airfix Swift somewhat prolonged? Looking back on the last twelve months or so I worked out that really I'd been waiting for mine since the summer of 1956, when shortly after my arrival at Bruggen I'd paid a fraternal visit to Geilenkirchen a few kilometres to the south which housed as well as the Hunters of 3 and 234 the Swift FR.5s of 2 Squadron; one of my fellow students at the Chivenor OCU has been posted to the reconnaisance squadron and one or two of the facts - or perhaps legends - about his mount that he passed on to me that day are still lodged in the farther corners of my consciousness. Firmly alongside them is the belief that all FR.5s had PRU blue undersides and wore that rather ungainly looking belly tank; I was taken aback when the Xtrakit appeared without one! So I knew that when the kit acually reached my workbench it would be finished in accordance with my memories; being an exception to my What If? output I would need to ensure I got it right, and that it would represent an actual 2 Squadron aircraft in the way that I remembered them. It took me more exercise of my repetitive research syndrome than I expected, even though this from only two sources, the Warpaint by Tony Buttler and the invaluable Ad Hoc "From the Cockpit" from Nigel Walpole, renowned for his appreciation of the aircraft that he flew as a young jet jockey. Both have a good selection of colour Swift FR.5, 2 Squadron 1960profiles, and many black and white photos; by gazing at these intently it was possible to conclude, at least to my satisfaction, whether the undersides were blue or "high speed silver", though without establishing whether the difference matched the WK - generally F.4s converted on the production line - or XD serial batches. Equally I could work out no pattern for the fuselage serials being in white or black, though it's possible that the white were because of a repaint. In the end - and I must have looked at it many times - I settled on the evidence of a photo on page 80 of the Ad Hoc of a pair of Swifts flying past a very GSwift FR.5 WK289 V, 2 Sqn 1960ermanic-looking monument, either of which would fit my memory and intention. A subsequent decision was then needed to ensure that I could apply the code and serial decals with minimum effort, without having to build them up entirely from scratch; this was solved by combining elements from the Airfix and Xtradecal kit sheets. And 2 squadron's aircraft identity letters were "swept", and I really didn't want to have to hand paint even the simple V; amazing myself with my own cunning I found a set of Modeldecal 18" white letters, mounted them at the appropriate angle and sliced their tops off.

There was another reason for making a real FR.5 first; I plan an F.4 next - Waterbeach wing, of course - and I wanted to see if there were any problems with the basic kit before applying the Alley Cat/Freightdog conversion; I think I shall need to be a little more careful building/inserting the cockpit, as with hindsight I don't think I was able to close the fuselage halves over it properly. The kit itself is excellent, as we've now come to expect from Airfix/Hornby, but I have one nagging query; my memory - and we know how unreliable that can be! - insists that the two "clamshell" opening doors at the end of the jet pipe that were part of the afterburner operation were more obviously separate, as I remember them on the Fairey FD.2. I'd like to look at an original; I believe the Swift in the Tangmere museum has had it's engine removed, but perhaps there's one in the Newark aircraft. I'd like to be sure before I complete the F.4 (and also settle my mind about that mark's armament, but that's another story).

Eastern Exchange

Unlike the Swift, these two were an instant desicion prompted by the arrival of a new Hunter kit - and someone asking me what I thought about it - and the unexpected surfacing from the shades of my garage racks of an Avon Sabre fuselage and the recommended Fujimi F-86E kit. Thinking of something different to do witSabre 31 20 Sq RAF and Hunter F.6a 77 Sqn RAAFh the Hunter the solution was instantly obvious; the RAF should have taken over a Butterworth Sabre 31 and passed the F.6a to the RAAF - and so it came to pass. The Plan was for the two squadrons ro remain in situ, with the aid of an Aviation Workshop Sabre set for 77 Squadron and the invaluable Paul Davis for the Modeldecal markings for 20 Squadron, with the colour schemes transposed along with the markings. The missiles were also exchanged, with Sidewinders for the Hunter - well, the Dutch and Swiss did it! - and Firestreaks for the Sabre (one Firestreak at the moment, but I hope to find it a friend before it appears in public). With luck the engine spares would have bean reasonably similar. I'm not totally sure about the Hunter kit; the parachute housing "beak" above the tailpipe looks scabbed on rather than built in, and I think the nose profile looks slightly more bulbous than it should be, but I've not checked it against reliable plans. The Sabre needs the missile(s) to differentiate it from standard RAF Canadair Swords; the deeper intake and the two 30mm cannon don't really stand out enough. The serials were as always carefully chosen, and that on the Hunter is about as obscure an aeronumerologist's "in" joke as you can get. Such fun! 01/09/15.

Read the book, make the model - or two....

You will know by now that from the publication of his monograph on "Pofflers" I've become a bNimrod Genesis, Chris Gibsonig fan of Chris Gibson, whose books go a long way not only to describing many of the projects, and in some cases completed hardware, destined for British military aviation but also to tell us why they were started and in many cases subsequently fell apart, both metaphorically and literally. Following his coverage of offence and defence in Vulcan's Hammer and Battle Flight, Nimrod's Genesis moves the spotlight to maritime reconnaisance, from Coastal Command Lancasters to the ignominious termination of the Nimrod MRA.4; there is a pointer or two to a possible future, but I suspect that you need to be somewhat optimistic to expect that whatever may equip a revived 18 Group will have even a reasonable proportion of the proposed capabilities of the abandoned Nimrod.

While regretting this, it is possible to derive considerable entertaiment from the various blind alleys and eventual cul-de-sacs that the many British design teams pursued with the aim both of safeguarding our own naval assets and threatening those of "Redland". Not the least of these is the determined rearguard action fought by the proponents of the flying boat, culminating in the unexpectedly elegant Saro Duchess; and one of those questions that has been unanswered over the years is the hows and whys of the Napier Nomad compound engine, which was one of several British engineering marvels that was destined to answer persistent problems, in this case those of range and endurance. Some of the proposed solutions, particularly those based on existing airframes to save time and cost - how many times has that proved a false hope? - seem unlikely; for me one high up on that list is an MR adaptation of the Varsity, though the "bomb aimer's" pannier did provide a convenient outlook from which to attack submarines. As well as describing the proposed aircraft and the operational parameters that led to a variety of designers' solutions - I wouldn't have thought that "swing wings" would have played a substantial part in some of the 'seventies proposals, both in original designs and conversions - the author has researched and found space for such aspects as colour schemes, about which there could be substantial disagreement amongst Their Airships, and the naming of the Nimrod! It's worth taking the time to read the book in detail, and you'll return to some of the sections several times! Crecy, and their Hikoki imprint, have produced this to their usual excellent standard, and I know that there are many like myself for their continuing flow of publications on the what could, and in many cases should, have been. To say that I recommend it very highly is I hope superflouous.

Many of the proposed designs in the book would be very welcome to What If? modellers; I particularly like the "Vulcan MR.3" depicted on the front cover and the Hawker Siddeley HS.1011 with four Super Conway and variable geometry (page 126) on the back, both brought to life in dramatic paintings by Adrian Mann. It's probably a touch optimistic even for me to expect these to appear as complete kits in resin - though they would both suit 1:144th - but there are several opportunities for conversions, of which Mel Bromley has taken advantage for his S+M Models range. The two Viscount adaptations, based on his own kit, took me slightly by surprise, not least the one with a tail turret which is explained in the book; but the Vanguard - or, if you were a Northern Airways controller in the 'sixties, the Guardsvan - seems rather more likely, and with the timely reissue of the Airfix airliner kit Mel had both kit and conversion at the Milton Keynes ModelKraft sVanguard MR.2, RAF Stanley March 1983how following my return from Foreign Parts. The resin pieces comprise a fin-top pod, a tail-mounted MAD boom, a "retractable" search radar housed in the rear fuselage and a bulge below the forward fuselage; I had thought that this was for a search radar, but reference to Nimrod's Genesis revealed it to be the bomb aimer's position, with a marked resemblence to the front end of that of the Varsity! I took the liberty of upgrading it to an MR.2 by adding an IFR probe and wingtip ESM pods; the colour scheme of hemp/grey with large tactical roundels was chosen after serious study of what Nimrods wore, and placed the aircraft firmly as part of a detached Flight at RAF Stanley in March 1982 (the Falklands badge is on the nose). I also added underwing pods with a searchlight and countermeasures, and though they're not visible in the photos a pair of Sidewiners to counter any perceived imminent threat. And I'm not the only one in the house to show interest; perhaps this is a real Tail Piece. 14.06.15

Tallulah investigates the Vanguard MR.2

After this I added the self defence capability.......... and then the 269 Squadron badge

Vanguard MR.2 with Sidewinders

Vanguard MR.2, 269 Sqn RAF Stanley March 1982


Westward Ho!

I saw one of these little Lancasters at the IPMS Coventry show - I think it was on their stand, but it's a month ago now! - and with it really catching my attention I immediately tried to find out how/where to get one. Mine then came through my SIG Leader Martin Higgs, but I'm told it may be available in shops this month as the first one of a new Meng Kids range, to be followed by a B-17. The one on show was finished in the traditional green/brown/black of Bomber Command, with the decals supplied in the kit including nacelle sharkmouths, but I've always liked the "Tiger Force" colours of white and black and for personal reasons I really wanted to make a 57 Squadron aircraft, of which the picture was firmly fixed in my memory. The trouble was that I found that this picture was actually of a Lincoln; 57 was one of the first units to be equipped with the later aircraft ahead of the expected assault on Japan, and after a little digging around I concluded that it probably never had a Lancaster in these colours. I've been dipping regularly in to the Martin Derry/Neil Robinson book on post-war Lancasters recently, principally looking at possible MR colours for the Viscounts, and found Tony O'Toole's superb Hasegawa 1:48th Lanc finished in the colours of a 35 Squadron aircraft just off to tour the United States 35 Sq Lancaster, Operation Goodwill 1946 in 1946 under Operation Goodwill (it's all in the book). This struck me as an ideal choice, as I wanted my little model to represent a real aircraft and it meant I could put exhaust stains on the wings - though these may be slightly overdone - and, sheer serendipity, I had the squadron's winged horse's head emblem on the decal sheet that I'd already raided for the 120 Squadron badge on my first Viscount. It's done just in time to give it an outing to the IPMS Avon show, and today I found a 1:144th Kitsworld decal sheet with entertaining nose art; given the simplicity of these kits they're ideal to work on in the odd moment between the more challenging stuff - that's the PC term for difficult, isn't it? - and I'll be sorting out the green/brown/black as soon as I can lay my hands on another kit. And I have an idea for an RAF B-17G, as well......

Dissimilar Twins

An aircraft which has always Looked Right to me, even though it's a little ouside my usual field of interest, is the original Cessna 310, or at least it did until the designers wanted to make it look trendy and gave it a swept vertical tail. I succumbed with minimal hesitation to a kit that I saw at last year's ScaleModelWorld, where there's nearly always something unexpected that ends up coming home with me; the kit manufacturer's name is "Lift Here Models", which I suspect is from somewhere in the Balkans, and it was on a stand - "Blackbird Models"? - presided over by Glenn Ashley. Given my "rounCessna 310 RAE 1963del" obsession it took me a while to settle on a probable identity for the model, and I thought I'd stick to the USAF's Blue Canoe scheme as far as possible, the solution being to award the aircraft to the Metropolitan Communications Squadron whose red/black diamond marking I'd originally intended for the silver/T-banded Huntsman with the blue/white fin pattern on the U-3 changed accordingly; however the MCS missed out again, and this wears the badge of the RAE on the nose, thanks as so often to the Model Alliance Canberra sheet. The white-ringed roundels were originally intended for a "Black Arrows" Hunter; perhaps they should have had the 310 as a squadron hack!

The Cessna was finished just before we went Down Under, and it's taken me a while to get it on to these pages; the kit for my second twin, accompanied by a second, arrived too late for me to start it, but I had its destiny firmly fixed in my mind and the decals set aside before I left. Another of those slightly unusual aircraft to which I am irresistably attracted, the Piaggio Avanti has been around for a while - I had a vacform some years ago from which I shied away, and an Italian resin which I haven't quite got round to - but the A Model kit was placPiaggio Avanti T.2 55(R) Sqn, 2018ed on my Wanted list as soon as it appeared on Hannants' future releases page. I seem to have had quite a few military executive/Royal Flight aircraft across my workbench recently but the black/white scheme of the Dominie trainers was an obvious alternative, especially as I could also add the squadron badge of 55 (Reserve) Squadron that currently appears on their aircraft and is thoughtfully included on the Aviation Workshop Dominie set. As so often after an absence from the workbench it took me a while to get this under way, and I havered over the interior arrangements; two versions of executive furnishings are offered in the kit, but in the end in a combination of haste and idleness I settled just for fitting out the cockpit. It's a relatively small model and there are many Very Small pieces to attach to the fuselage, especially the underside; presumably these are aerials of one sort or another, but I decided to ignore them for the sake of my little fat fingers and their increasingly uncertain grip. I do like the look both of the aircraft and its scheme - I look forward to the comments when it makes a public appearance in a week or so - and the second one waits very near the garage door while I think of a finish. I have this slightly manic vision of a Reno racer in purple, lime green, yellow and black and white check - but that would be silly, wouldn't it?

Be careful what you wish for ....

Whem Mel Bromley produced his resin 1:72nd Avro 748 I made a throwaway remark on the lines of "Of course, if you'd done the Andover C.1....", and then when he did, and as it appeared at Telford just after I'd broken open the piggy bank, I felt bound to invest. It took me a while to find space for it on the workbench - and when I did it was of a size to make it difficult for me to build it alongside others in my usual "three at a time" pattern - and I contacted a couple of colleagues with extensive photo archives for photos of the aircraft that was reputed to have flown with 51 Squadron; I thought this would occasion enough double-takes to justify inserting it on to a What If? table. Sure enough Adrian Balch sent by return some shots of XS644 Qinetic Andover C.1 in green and grey, and carrying both the red arrow shapes of 46 Squadron and the goose of 51; but then Richard Andrews came up with Qinetic's XS648 in red, white and blue and carrying the small distorted W on the fin worn by several Boscombe Down aircraft, which fortuitously appeared in on a Airdecal "raspberry ripple" set. Slightly to my own surprise, and contrary to my usual "front-line squadron" habit I succumbed as you can see to the more colourful one, not least because I could get a Freightdog resin Raptor pod to hang below the forward fuselage for testing.

Even though the box was somewhat bigger than the usual S&M packaging I was slightly surprised by the size of the model, possibly because of the Avanti which was on the bench as the Andover came together and which appeared tiny alongside it - how could trainee navs and their instructors have fitted in? - and partly I suspect because it's a while since I built anything this big; so much of my modelling recently has been of single-seaters or in 1:144th. The quality of the castings was very good, the only problem I found being with the clear resin canopy and its fairing slightly overlapping the fuselage, and appearing to me to be slightly more difficult to sand down than the more conventional material; general fit was very good, and I was pleased to have metal undercarriage legs to carry the probable weight. The propellors were also metal, as were several of the smaller parts. I packed what I thought would be enough weight up the sharp end but miscalculated, but at least the prop inserted in the underside just in front of the loading doors is the proper shade of ground equipment blue (another useful entry for The Bad Modeller's Guide).

With a bit of luck the errors in my modelling and finishing technique of which I became increasingly conscious as the Andover progressed won't show in the photos; they seem to me to more evident in/on the larger subject, and if the kit had been/will be available in 1:144th I might have planned a second in my originally intended 51 Squadron colours. However, I'm pleased that I picked this very colourful finish, even if I was slightly surprised when I put it among the others on the What If? table at the Coventry show that nobody challenged its right to be in their company.

A rather protracted homecoming

As always it seems to take time for me to get myself together after a time away from the workbench, even if I'd spent a while on a Master Plan for when I sat down in front of the cutting mat again (the first result will appear shortly), and some of that time has been spent in persuading our new one year old cat Tallulah that investigating my workbench is not part of her domestic responsibilities. And as well as this fun I did get enormous pleasure at the first "evening" display I've ever been to at Old Warden from ths unprecedented formation:

DH.88 with BBMF Hurricane and Spitfire, Old Warden May 2015

the BBMF has a reputation for being somewhat picky about who it flies with, but this "best of British" - I think that was Tim Callaway's phrase in his commentary, which was as near speechless as I have ever known him! - was striking, both in conception and execution. More. please!

PS to this splendid opportunity; I went to Old Warden for this "evening" display - the first time I've taken advantage of being able to get up late! - because a couple of days befor about forty of us from the Milton Keynes Aviation Society had a group visit to the Shuttleworth Collection. We were taken round in groups of six, each with one of the Shuttleworth pilots to tell us not only about the aircraft but about their various experiences in flying them. This was a valuable experience in itself but one of the matters touched on in some detail by the Guide of our group - Peter Holloway, the owner and pilot of the Storch, fascinating in itself! - was the flying and in particular the landing characteristics of the DH.88, and it was this that covinced me that I should go on the Sunday. The proposed formation in this picture was a well-kept secret unil the Comet returned from and easterly direction escorted by the fighters; even two weeks later it's still astonishing! 14.06.15

Open Mouth, insert foot...

For many years now I've been a fan of Forbidden Broadway and an avid collector of their recordings, comprising parodies of many of the better known musicals of recent years; one of their recent recent productions has included and explanation and demonstration of "Broadway Tourettes", an affliction which causes sudden unexplained outbursts of songs from the shows. A month or two back I had the great pleasure of being part of a group of six or so - part of of a larger party - given a tour round an excellent museum with many of its aircraft older than me, and guided by one of the collections' pilots, both amiable and expert as well as informative. Why then did I make a wally of myself by injecting in to his commentary on a couple of occasions "facts" about an aircraft or two that would have been of consequence only to one or tw, and in at least one case contradicted what he had told us? Later, and with the sort of mature reflection that I could have used at the time, I realised that over the years I must have developed "Spotter's Tourettes", an unrestrained outbreak of aviation trivia which must be of some significance to those from whom it bursts out but distinctly irritating to those on the receiving end. This came up in conversation with a couple of modellers at the Coventry show who told me of a parallel affliction named "repetitive research syndrome", a compulsive need to consult more or less relevant background material while still working on a model and in some cases even afterwards! My GP really doesn't like me indulging in self-diagnosis - even when I'm right - but in this case, Doctor, I'm pretty sure I'm some way up the scale and know several distinguished colleagues to be similarly afflicted (in fact I have been known to get a touch grumpy when it seems to me that the virtues of research that are obvious to us have been somewhat disregarded!). Just recently I've been delving in to Shackleton/Nimrod colours and markings with results that will I hope become evident on the workbench pages, though not, of course, on either of those majestic airframes; still it may come in handy when Airfix and Revell fufil their promises. For how many Shacklebombers can I find apron space for before we have to move house?


Today I've finally been able to have a rush of blood to the website; for some time it hasn't wanted to let me in with anything new so a few models, largely the effect of repetitive research, have accumulated to the point where they were starting to overflow the pending tray. Some of them will I hope be accompanying me to the IPMS Avon show where some of the What If? SIG are planning to gather. My thanks to My Friend Tim for taking those furrows from my brow.

Many modellers with a penchant for British and American aircraft of the 'fifties and 'sixties will have appreciated and used the Aeroguide series of monographs from Roger Chesneau, not least for their level of photographic detail; and more recently he's produced his "...from the Cockpit" series to the benefit of both modellers and historians with their first-person accounts of aircraft of the 'forties and 'fifties, which were I thought were entertaining as well as instructive. I was sorry to learn today that he died last weekend in an Ipswich hospital, all the more because in one of the last conversations I had with him he lamented the passing of so many of his contributors; his recording of their stories and the way in which they were presented will surely continue to be much appreciated.

Normal (?) Service resumed, if slowly......

Well, I always knew it would be a Long Trip, quite possibly The Last Long Trip, to see our two very young grandchildren currently living in Australia; by, of course, the slightly stretched arm of coincidence it was possible to include two air displays, both as it happens connected with museums, although we couldn't be there for the Great Aussie Display at Avalon where the Avon-Sabre gave its last performance before being give a couple of years rest. I've always wanted to see that airborne even if it wRAAF Avon Sabre A94-983as unlikely to fulfil my dream of a fly-off with a Canadair Sabre 6, but I did get to see it in the museum at Temora , even though in rather low light levels, and brought back the sweater to flaunt on suitable occasions (I never know whether that quote is from Max Bialystock or Zero Mostel, but it gets regularly wheeled out to justify something). Going to Temora for one of its "Showcase" days, in this case on the theme of fighters, was one of the key parts of the Master Plan, and fitted neatly in to a round trip from Melbourne to Sydney, helping to remind me of the size of the country.

We broke the eastbound leg to night stop at Wagga Wagga, driving to Temora, about an hour off to one side, which proved to use M.Michelin's phrase "well worth the detour". The flying participants included a Hudson, a Boomerang and a Wirraway, aMeteor F.8 VZ487/A77-851nd a shark-mouthed RAAF Spifire VIII, but for me the undoubted highlight was the Meteor F.8, once "Winston" but now painted up as "Halestorm" to commemorate 77 Squadron's participation in the Korean conflict. In spite of the rather low grey backdrop it was a spirited display, with the highlight for me being its inverted flypast. I had a very appreciative chat with the display pilot a recently-retired RAAF F-18 squadron commander, afterwards while the crowd queued politely to climb the steps to look in to the cockpit, and learned that it's now restricted to flying with its Martin-Baker unarmed! I even braved the climb myself - I'm still a little haunted by my step in Chile - to remind myself of the last time I'd climbed down in 1958.

The two indigenous Australian combat aircraft were almost as great an attraction; I saw them both before on an aviation tour back in 2000, both showing what can be done when you start with a Harvard! The Boomerang in particular has gone some way from the T-6 but has a somewhat cheeky charm of its own, and led me to speculate what a hot-rod version of the trainer of my youth would have been like - especially in a tailchase!

Wirraway A20-653, Temora April 2015

Boomerang A-46-122, Temora April 2015






The other aviation time of the tour - apart from finding out that the upstairs deck of the A380 really is more comfortable! - was spent at Point Cook, the RAAF base conveniently close to Melbourne which is home to the service's museum and at which we also saw what for me is one of the best conceived and most informative demonstration/flying displays. This takes place in front of a small visitors' enclosure and is given by two flying instructors, supported by a couple of engineers and a knowledgeable and enthusiastic commentator. Oh yes, and on the day that we were there it used a couple of aircraft unlikely to be seen Winjeel A85-439, Point Cook April 2015anywhere else to demonstrate some of the basic faCT-4A A19-077, Point Cook April 2015ctors in flying.





You will of course recognise the one on the left as a Winjeel, a contemporary of the Provost though it looks even more like its Handley Page competitor the HPR.2. The smaller, on the right, is a CT-4A, irreverently known I believe as the "Plastic Budgie"; following a briefing for the spectators by the two pilots, they then did precisely what they'd outlined with comments over the r/t, and after landing did it all over again with questions. I found the whole presentation entertaining and fascinating, and reminded me vividly of a few basic facts which I really shouldn't have forgotten.

Winjeel and CT-4A, Point Cook April 2015

You will I'm sure realise that in this snap the Winjeel is farther away than the CT-4A, and in this stage they were demonstrating just what was involved in taking up and maintaining formation. Among the audience was a group of twenty or so 11/12-year olds who had I suspect been carefully briefed before, but by whose curiosity and attitude I was very impressed. These presentations are known as Interactive Flying Displays, and happen on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and as well as these two trainers the museum can call on a Tiger Moth, a Sopwith Pup and a Mustang. And it's only 10,000 miles and twenty and a half hours flying away.

More for your shelves, and of course your floor

With the winter closing in and the need to be able to pursue those aspects of our hobby which can be done wrapped up in a warm duvet - kitten optional - I'm very conscious that it's been a while since I added anything to the Reading List section; the title gives it a faintly reaAirfile RAF Huntersssuring, if entirely bogus, academic air, don't you think? I could offer a few excuses - even reasons - for this gap but none would have remotely passed muster in my time in Upper Fifth (Hist), where the believeability of such grovelling was of paramount importance; so instead I'll start to remedy the omission with a piece of blatant self interest.

You can't get anywhere in this website without being greeted by the profile of a Hunter F.4, XF317/U; it's a moot point whether it's played a greater part in my life or my "legend"! Sir Sydney's finest is still an object to which I am seriously addicted memories of which, distant or recent, are rarely far from the surface. It must be six or more years ago that I first got involved with this slim volume, originally at the behest of Neil Robinson who asked me to proof-read and review the captions; it was at this stage that I boldly offered to write a short foreword, so short in fact that it was known thereafter as the threeword. After a slightly unsettled existence the whole has now re-emerged under the AIRfile label, with a change in some of the profiles, both four and side view, and the addition of photographs to supplement them, still the major part of the makeup of the series. I have a personal view that the profiles should be used when good photo representation of a particular aircraft or colour scheme isn't available but this seems a reasonable mixture, unless of course you're dark blue; it's true that there were FAA/FRADFantasy Printsy Printshop RAF Hunter decalsU examples in the earlier drafts, but the contents grew more than than the editor could accomodate, and so.... Seems quite reasonable to me. I'm glad this volume has overcome its many travels to reach its market; it's patently aimed at modellers, but I'm sure there will be enthusiasts who will be very happy to have one close to hand. One or two typos have slipped through, none mine of course though I'm glad it wasn't me who couldn't distinguish a Flemish lion from a Phoenix (page 28) and their respective significance. All in all it's a good and useful productioAIRfile Fairey Swordfishn which, of course, no home should be without, and Fantasy Printshop have produced an amazing pair of accompanying decal sets; one is for single-seaters and one for the passenger carrying model, and while you can see that the two-seater sheet has a complete range of serials of the aircraft illustrated there is also a whole sheet of a similar printout for the single seaters. They both come in to the category of sets that are too good to cut up!


  • Even had I not been involved with it, leafing through the Hunter book would have been a stroll through very familiar territiory, but at the same time AIRfile released another in the same series and format covering an earlier icon the Fairey Swordfish, which considering the general familiarity of the type I found very educational. The aircraft's service history is told profile by profile of individual airframes, supplemented again by photographs - some very atmospheric, but all in black and white - with a brief introductory text. The story is chronological, and from the outbreak of war is set out in chapters grouped around the Swordfish's three legendary actions of Taranto, the Bismarck and the Channel Dash; the final section, from 1943 onwards, includes much about its participation in Overlord and its time in the far east, and its very rapid disappearance from front line service. The pre-war entry in to service, coinciding with the resumption of control of the navy's air assets by the Fleet Air Arm has a very full coverage of the use of the coloured carrier identification calours, including for the first time that I can recall their listing including those set aside, but not called on, for Victorious and Illustrious. The variations in the basic camouflage schemes were more extensive than I had realised, and I was pleased to see that the "merchant navy" aircraft were given full coverage as well as, as you will see on the cover, those that served with Canadian and Dutch squadrons. Again while this is very much designed with modellers there is much historical information, and like so many of the AIRfile series already issued fills an interesting gap on the shelves. 28.10.14

One of the features of ScaleModelWorld is the sudden arrival of new publications as well as new kits, and I expect a slight additional strain on my shelves - in the unlikely event of being any space on them to fill - after the weekend. Thre are rumours at least of something new from Chris Gibson in the project/WhatIf/ field, and as you know I live in constant hope.....

Sir Michael's Plan B?

I've always had a high regard for the Valiant, and I have had - and have - a sneaking liking for the Victor, perhaps unduly influenced by the dramatic black/red colours of the prototype when it was demonstrated at Farborough in my youth. The Vulcan on the other hand has never been a favourite of mine, possibly because I have a lurking distrust of aircraft with no tailplane; even the Javelin had one of these, even if it led to it being described in Wroundabout as a "back-staggered rotary biplane". Even so, I did make a brief enquiry at the end of last year's ScaleModelWorld for the Great Wall Hobby kit of the Avro only to be told it was by then out of stock; but when that company's kit of the Victor B.2 appeared I made an immediate bid, and its appearance being sufficiently impressive for me to want to start it straight away, I then had to decide in what guise I could finish it, bearing in mind my self-imposed strictures of roundels and What If?

It didn't take long for me to task it as The Plane That Bombed The Falklands; the kit decals with the exception of the roundels could largely be used, and an underside coat of dark sea grey would be a Corroborative Detail. There was a choice of unit markings, although these were not from my memory carried on the Black Buck Vulcans, but I applied theVulcan K.2 44 Squadron, Blue Buck 2 1982 Wittering lion as a Wing marking. Having made this decision a Vulcan K.2 tanker was an obvious corrollary, and GWH had already kitted this version with the "skip" under the rear fuselage; and inspite of the aversion tp painting all those wheels and tyres that had doomed my attempt to the Airfix kit when that first appeared I started the Vulcan first. The hemp/light aircraft grey scheme "tanker" scheme was lodged firmly in my head, and it wasn't until it was finished sufficiently to apply markings that a chance sight of a photo of the pan at Ascension reminded me that the tankers were still grey/greeVictor B.2 Wittering Wing, Blue Buck 2 1982n at the time of Black Buck . However..... Both this kit and the Victor are excellent, the assembly and fit of both being straightforward even if some of the smaller pieces called for the delicate handling that I find an increasing problem. One of their shared virtues is the inclusion of several well-chosen unit markings on each, an obvious temptation to the dedicated What If? modeller determined to remedy bad goverment decisions (the two running dogs are those of 50 Squadron). I have been shameless in using the serials of actual aircraft kindly provided by GWH.

Blue Buck 2, Victor and Vulcan 1982

To me, each of the pair looks good, and together they look logical and convincing (well, my logic); their quality of production of assembly goes some way to justifying a substantial price ticket, and I was so impressed by the time I finished the Vulcan that I took the next obvious step, not least to use those dogs. There will be another one along in a couple of months, but the unit allocation is currently with Captain Indecisive.

50 Squadron re-equipping, 1968


Diana and the Huntsman

As so often, it was while trying to find something else entirely that I realised that I had two seR Neth.A.F. F-35, 323 Sqn Eglin AFB 2016ts of Danny Coremans' Daco decals for that slightly notorious Dutch F-16, "Dirty Diana", and a handy Italeri F-35 Lightning II kit to fit them to; and of course the Netherlands' national marking is a sort of roundel, isn't it? Given that the photo for once is next to the text the answer is self-evident, and it didn't take much adjustment to settle them, though the NATO star on the inside of the port fin needed a little more persuasion. Because I was aiming at the local model event that's tomorrow as I write I sealed the weapons bay doors to save time and effort - as well as having to decide wheter to use the American weapons that come with the kit or a selection from the new Hasegawa "European" box of bangs - but what caused me a certain amount of head-scratching and consequent trial and error was trying to depict the paler grey lines on the all-over gunship gray finish, and which I assume contribute in some way to the F-35's "stealth" capabilities. I tried using a pair of different metallic grey paints, and partly overlaying these with a thinned gunship grey, but trying to compare the result to the good selection of glossy photos in Combat Aircraft still left me shaking my head. In the end, and bearing in mind as always the inevitable deadline I hand-painted as steadily as possible - for me the best time to attempt this seems to be between getting-up and breakfast! - using Xtracrylix Dark Gull Gray. I was helped a great deal because Italeri had moulded the pattern of these lines on fuselage and wings; the mouldings are raiseF-35A, R Neth AF 323 Sqn 2016d, but do make it easier to follow even if at the expense of aerodynamic smoothness and the distant memory of early Aurora kits. Ideally these lines/panels would be provided in decal form, but laying these down correctly would I suspect need patience and some jigsaw experience. I think the result works, even if it justifies my usual advice not to bend down to look at my models too closely; if you can be slightly out of focus that probably helps. And halfway through the build, by reading the decal instructions more carefully and cross-checking with the feature in Air International I realised that 323 Squadron for which the "Diana" decals are provided is the one already set up in the US to take the first Dutch F-35As, and the number is even included in the decals. Sometime a plan comes together and you don't even know it's there!

The second airctraft to come together - just - in time to sit on our local club's table at Handslope is a Hawker P.1128, a project for a small executive transport with the flying surfaces of the Hunter and a pair of Bristol Orpheus engines. One of the long term and respected members of the What If? community started several years ago casting its resin fuselage to be matched with the old Airfix "black" Hunter kit; with three of those in assorted colours already sharing a shelf with some real Hunters, including of cHawker Siddely Huntsman C.1, 145 Sqn Chivenor 1962ourse an FR.71A, I fancied one in silver with the yellow "trainer" bands of the late 'fifties/early 'sixties, and after a slightly false start the eventual model wears the colours of 145 Squadron, one of the "shadow" units of 229 OCU at Chivenor. This was a frequent source of detachments to Gibraltar, so XF329 has four drop tanks from the Revell 6 and 9 kits (one, you'll see, has been "borrowed" from a single-seater); everything else was from the Airfix source, and the wing root arrangements of the two kits are sufficiently different to make using the Revell wings requiring a substantial rework of wings and fuselage; I looked at it because I'd planned to have a straight leading edge, but decided that it would be much too close to mushroom-stuffing.

I had planned to use the decals from the new sets put out by Fantasy Printshop to go with the AirFile booH S Huntsman C.1, 229 OCU Gibraltar 1962k, though I really didn't want to spoil the sets by cutting them up; foolish, I know. Fortunately another rummage through a different batch of decals threw up Xtradecal set X72123, a very useful collection of two-seat Hunters with had not only national markings, serials suitable for minimum modification in to a "blackout block" number and 145's St.George's pennant but to my delight a full set of yellow bands; that for the single-engined fuselage was too small, and was replaced by one from Xtradecal's yellow line sheet, but those for the wings matched very well, and needed only minor surgery to get around the mainwheel wells. Early on when I made my first three I pushed the fantasy just a little further by giving the type a service name, and came up with "Huntsman", which seemed to be reasonably relevant though with hindsight it could have been a source of confusion; however it seems to have caught on with some of the SIG at least, and those of us still clinging to the tattered remnants of a classical education will note that Diana and the Huntsman are at the least linked; another unplanned plan! 31.1.15

Everyone should have a Hanslope

It's one of those Well Known Facts that, no matter from which direction you approach it, Milton Keynes is the edge of the known world. What's rather less appreciated is that a part of it, especially round the edge, is still made up of small villages, one of these to the north west being Hanslope; and four times a year there's a model event in the village hall. These are organised by a combination of Mat Irvine, celebrated science-fiction modeller and well-known for his work for the BBC - he frequently brings K-9 along with him - and Paul and Brian of little-cars, who are also involved with a local IPMS Branch/model club. At the end of January those taking part included a couple of "pre-owned" kit dealers, a small selection of traders including Retrokit and Freightdog and a couple of non-aviation inclined chaps, and our club table on which a few models, including some substantial fast boats and the revived Shorter Sterling doing its duty of being mistaken for a Manchester, were set out to disply our versatility and with luck attract a few new members.

Sitting at our table my back was the the Retrokit stand, on top of which was a dozen or so 1:144th Micro-Mir Valiant kits, the thought of which nagged me for much of the day; with my year non-flying with 148 Squadron I've always liked the Valiant, a more elegant aircraft that its companion V-bombers - for which I also have plans - and by mid-afternoon I had succumbed, and opening the box for the statutory peValiant B.20, 1 Sqn RAAFek found that the decals included a couple of RAAF "kangaroo" roundels. These were in fact applied to WP206 during a long period of trials at Woomera, but by the time I got home history had morphed slightly so that when the Valiant had its spar problems the Australian goverment had contributed a substantial sum to the repair of a limited number to be shared between the RAF and the chaps in darker blue. These would have been available therefore in time for the Aussie contribution in Vietnam, which is why you see here a Valiant B.20 in Extra Dark Sea Grey and Olive Drab, and the marking of 1 Squadron RAAF, thoughtfully included on Freightdog Models' Canberra decal sheet along with those very small "roo" roundels.

Spookily, Colin Strachan's being at the event turned out to be at least slightly relevant, even though it had been a late decision. My contribution had been sparked by an exchange with Kit Spackman, the guru of much of the What If? tendency, who had been converting a two-seat Hunter - tandem, of course - in to a weapons trainer for TSR.2 units; my thoughts, thanks to the Freightdog ground attack Lightning conversion, was that this would have been a better option. Rather that replace the nose of an Airfix single-seater, and with the Sword T.4 and T.5 both having the smaller belly tank, I decided to ignore the scLightning FGA.8, 231 )CU 1977ale errors in the nose of the Matchbox T.55 and the new resin fairing fitted very well, as I was able to demonstrate to Colin on the day. I used a pair of rocket pods from a Revell Hunter to denote the type's mission - you can just see them behind the main undercarriage legs - and the use of the new slightly shorter weapons pylons gave a little less concern over ground clearance on rotation. I had hoped to add a second pair of underwing pylons as worn by Saudi Lightnings, but I couldn't find the pair from Odds and Ordnance that I thought I'd squirreled away, but with the return of O&O in prospect perhaps I'll be able to add them later. To differentiate it from my two single-seat conversions I gave it a wraparound green/grey scheme, and decided it would have been the FGA.8; all the decals, including the cunningly adapted serial, came from Xtradecal sheet 72092, with the 231 OCU badge on the fin taken from the sadly missed Model Alliance set of "bomber canopy" Canberra units. (Why Airfix didn't reproduce their basic variant in 1:72nd I shall never understand, but with a B.2 in prospect from Mel Bromley could we please have a reprint?).

Last November's meeting at Hanslope was denoted a "kitswap", of which I was able to take surprisingly successful advantage by swapping some of my garage lining for cash, and there are another couple of events scheduled for this year; up to now they have been included in Scale Aviation Modeller listings, but who knows what may happen in the future? I hope to be there, and if you're within range please join us; you may even get a wag of the tail from K-9! 22.02.15

Post Telford Blues

When I first started writing in Scale Aircraft Modelling one of the two main threads of my IPMS column was trying to persuade other modellers that our hobby was not the solitary activity it was sometimes seen as but a chance to meet and chat with the like-minded, especially if you joined or even started a branch. All these years later one of the very satisfying aspects of the annual beanfeast that is ScaleModelWorld - feel free to refer to it as the National Championships if it helps, and you don't mind showing your age - is for me, as well as meeting and chatting with old friends as you wander round, a distinct feeling of comfort in being around those who share your interest on a micro as well as a macro level and among whom there are degrees of instant understanding even if they sometimes need a minimal explanation. This year, following my Friday afternoon reconnaisance, I was trying to move around less and I spent sometime sitting behind the display of the What If? Special Interest Group and indulding in that favourite modellers' pastime, the Group Moan; one of the points that was made this year, at least among the aged and increasingly as the Sunday wore on, was the problem with getting started again once you'd tottered home and unloaded the kits, books, and whatever else had inveigled its way in to the goodies bags. A week on all I've managed is to start a second ground attack Lightning, while the memories of the first Freightdog conversion are fresh(ish) in my memory and I can avoid one or two of the self-inflicted errors that found their way in to the first one; listing the other delights I've brought home would, as I have learned to my cost, just be giving hostages to fortune, provoking puzzled queries down the line when there's no mention of action.

Back in the "real" world there are one or two domestic matters thare are about to intrude and which really do need priority, but I suspect a major cause of inertia is a growing feeling that - particularly with SMW happening in early November - we got it wrong as a species when we gave up hibernation. Even with the "extra" hour of daylight in the early morning it's getting increasing difficult to persuade the feet to reach the floor early enough for me to fit all I want to in the day, and the call of the duvet grows increasingly strident. The website awaits one or two tweaks of uncertain timing and updates in the next six weeks or so may be a touch erratic so, for those of you that can manage to remain sufficiently conscious, enjoy your modelling and may you get the Swift, or whatever else tickles your fancy - I see that Hendon 1940 group, Telford there's a promised A-Model Avanti! - to while away the months of dark.

I didn't take many photos this year, but thanks to the directorial skills of Martin Higgs who as always arranged our SIG display I was able to take a snap of all the five most recent of my "Hendon 1940" group together. While that idea seems to be temporarily dormant I suspect a small revival at least come the spring. 16.11.14

Hark! Hark!

Over the last several years 51 Squadron's goose emblem has been increasingly prominent on the tail of its Nimrods - and indeed writ large on the nose of one to commemorate the end of thListening In, Dave Forster, Hikokie Mighty Hunter's contribution to the task which has been associated with the unit since the 'fifties - but until fairly recently it's role in gathering electronic intelligence has been "secret", or at least wearing some form of not quite misleading tag; radio or radar calibration was generally the loose excuse for its existence, and that of three or four similarly dedicated formations. Secrecy itself is a powerful magnet for the inquisitive, and it's been possible from time to time to glean a little of the why and how of the work involved, but this latest volume from Crecy Publications, wearing its Hikoki imprint, is the first in-depth study I've seen of the RAF's work in this field; just seeing the book on the seller's table at the IPMS Avon show in August caused my hand to reach instinctively for my back pocket and emerge with the necessary Great British Pounds, with only a minimal and unnecessary glance at the contents. I suspect - no, I'm sure - that a contributory factor to this instant reaction was seeing Chris Gibson's name associated with the author's, and the Adrian Mann cover illustration of one of 51's lumpier Canberras being "escorted" by a pair of MiG-21s.

There is a little "What If?" content, but what Dave Forster has written is a remarkable and detailed history of the service's electronic snooping, on the foundation of its activity at the end of the Second World War. There are extensive descriptions not only of the aircraft used - and why they were picked - but also of missions and of the equipment; while I confess that I found some of this latter a little hard to grasp, it all builds a very comprehensive picture of an aspect of air operations that until fairly recently has been kept firmly in the shadows - under the radar, in fact - which in itself has of course contributed to its fascination. Looking back at the story it's surprising how few aircraft in the Canberra and Comet era were involved in the task and the amount of recycling involved as the nature of the task and the equipment needed to monitor it developed. Its closing chapter covers the introduction of the ageing River Joint RC-135Vs; the RAF have labelled their use Airseeker, but I suspect that the apparently meaningless American tag will persist even though the "secrecy" it should cover is now largely mythical. 29.09.14


Dissimilar Twin Picks

It's the rapid approach of this year's ScaleModelWorld (hereafter, Telford) that's largely responsible for both the models slightly shoehorned in to this category. While I was sorting out the garage ahead of filling the now-traditional Waitrose shopping bags of "disposables" before the IPMS Brampton show I disinterred the 1:72nd Revell Airbus A400M, and making the not unsurprising decision that I really didn't want to make anything that big ever again I took it with me, sadly unsuccessfully but it did revive my interest in the type especially with Revell just having launched it in 1:144 scale. To fit in with my roundels fixation it was just on the brink of delivery to the Corps of Transport depot at Brize - and at the time of writing six weeks later it's still in the hands of the factory! - but I had a little thought about colours both airframe and unit, bearing in mind that I would do almost anything to avoid another grey aircraft or, even worse, grey on grey. The first unit is rumoured to be 70 Squadron, so there could be a possibility of a CXX above the fin flash, but the persistent image in my mind has been that of the early C-130, in the dark earth/middle stone/black sometimes known at the time as the "psychedelic bomber" scheme (perhaps you had to be there). And to produce a somewhat dubious reason for it to be worn by an Atlas there's the British habit, enthusiastically promoted by the RAF in recent times, of marking anniversaries with specially decorated aircraft. A little almost-random thought threw up the reasoning that in three years' time it would be fifty years since our withdrawal from Aden, Airbus Atlas C.1, Brize Norton 2017which saw full scale use of the newly-delivered C-130 in full technicolour; and that would, or at least should, coincide with the delivery of the tenth Airbus Atlas to the Brize Norton wing. So therefore.......

While no doubt it would be even more imposing in the larger scale, 1:144th is enough to give a good impression of its size and indeed bulk. The kit gives every impression of one that has been scaled down with, minimal - perhaps even no - reduction in the number of parts, with the result that some are sufficiently small for my sometime reluctant fingers to retain a firm grasp of them during assembly, and I confess to omitting a few of the really minute aerials. There is a sufficient flight deck moulding, and for the whole fuselage there are interior walls around which the exterior closes; while there are a few small round windows provided on the transparency sprue, I found it simpler to use Kristal Kleer to get the required effect. A dozen main wheels are enough to give the caterpillar effect without calling for more pre-painting than I would have wanted. My old mate Mike Verier, these daAirbus Atlas, 70 Squadron Brize Nortonys a stalwart of the SIG144, commented on the number of propellor blades - eight on each spinner - and to my relief each big fan is moulded as one piece rather than needing blade-by-blade assembly; each blade should have a small curved "metal" sheath near the tip which I found hard to reproduce with any consistency, and there are small yellow stripe decals for each tip, the use of which I have politely declined even with the aid of my new bi-focals. As you know I enjoy on occasions when some of my models confront the public - or vice versa - watching a double take (not of course with great respect to Les Barker deja vu) and I hope to watch for this effect on the coming weekend at Telford.

The Atlas arrived at my workbench because for me the aircraft both in shape and in concept has a fascination of its own, and Revell has now made it in my size; my other Telford debutant came about with an e-mail from Colin Strachan a short week-and-a-bit ago asking if I could make up his latest Freightdog resin conversion in time for SMW, and by chance I had a pair of otherwise unassigned new Airfix Lightnings waiting in the wings for something a little non-standard. I am as you know a great believer in the ability of painstaking research to throw up a hitherto unsuspected oddity of which I can take advantage and Paul Lucas, of whose dogged unearthing of such information I am a great admirer, has found a proposal to use redundant Lightning F.1 and F.2 airframes whose front-line interceptor function had been taken over by later F.3 and F.6 aircraft, and with minimum modification use them in the ground attack/interdiction role, perhaps replacing Canberras in RAF Germany. To this end any gun installation would be removed and an extended "belly tank" fitted with small horizontal stubs carrying racks for offensive weapons - examples suggested were Zuni rockes, AS.30 or Bullpup missiles or 1,0Lightning FGA.2c, 73 Sqn Akrotiri 197700lb bombs, with the necessary equipment for their aiming and release; the ability to carry Firestreaks or Red Tops for self defence would be retained.

The new underfuselage tank needs a little cutting away just in front of the two low "fins" and along the line just below the cable ducts, which may themselves requre modification dependent on which mark your source kit is; I used the F.6. Because I was determined to finish the aircraft on time my shortcut of doing the surgery with the wings attached while waiting for the parts to arrive caused me a certain awkwardness when attaching the new belly tank; the fit itself was good, but I should have taken a millimetre or so off the top of the resin. When it all came together the ground clearance with the provided bombs attached wasn't really enough, but this will be attended to in the production conversion. You will have noticed that the colour scheme was influenced, at least semi-consciously, by the dark earth and middle stone Xtracrylix sitting handily on the cutting mat. The original suggestion was for an RAFG Canberra unit, but looking at the plethora of Vampires in Modeldecal set 100 I was taken immediately by the arrowhead of 73 Squadron, which also followed my preference for perpetuating long defunct units with attractive markings. With the Akrotiri Canberra wing disbanding in 1969 it seemed that this would at least approximate to the availability of any refurbished Lightnings, and I still have 249 up my sleeve. It wasn't until I was almost through writing this up that I realised that at the time I took the photos I hadn't attached either the flight refuelling probe or overwing tanks, either or both of which would have been needed for over-water deployment, so there's a slight amendment Lightning FGA.2c XN797 73 Squadron, Finningly 1977to my working backstory; Lightning FGA.2c XN797 - a genuine unmodified F.2 in real life - is seen here as part of the lineup at Finningly for the Silver Jubilee display. That would have kept the Defence Secretary awake! Serials were taken and adjusted from those in the F.2a kit, and roundels fron Xtradecal X72089; and given that the embellishment was often associated with Akrotiri I couldn't possibly not add the sharkmouth from the same sheet. I've enjoyed all the aspects of making this, and there's almost certainly an RAFG green/ grey one in my immediate fiture if I can find a hornet; meawhile, as with the Atlas I look forward to a double take or two this weekend. 04.11.14

Red, white and Bluey

You may have noticed over the years - or months, or perhaps just days - that there are some aircraft to which I take a serious liking, while there are others that for me fall immediately in to the nebbish category. When some kind and thoughtful Maker of Kits picks one of the first lot, I have been known to get just slightly carried away, especially if I can usPilatus PC-21 Roulettes, RAAF Point Cook 2020e the aircraft for a past, present or even future re-equipment programme that has been unaccountably neglected by the Holders of the Purse Strings. Such an aircraft is the Pilatus PC-21, which as I have noted before looks as though it's reached 250 knots even before the chocks have been pulled away. It is to my considerable regret that since I made my first two earlier this year the company that's been awarded the contract for training Her Majesty's jet jockeys has picked something that may have begun life at Stans but has been surgically altered far to the West; however, I have carried on with this particular Plan, and maintaining my preference for roundels have with the help of a set of Model Art decals decided that in the not-too-distant future enough PC-21s should turn up at Point Cook at least to equip the Governor-General's aerobatic team. I suppose that it's in keeping with a Modern aircraft that muchPC-21 Roulettes, RAAF Point Cook 2020 of the help I've had in sorting out colours and details has come through the inet; in particular the current Roulettes PV-9s are featured in amazing quantity on whose coverage of aerobatic teams in particular is beyond extensive (I shall have to return to this site for my planned fourth PC-21, for which guessing the identity there is no prize!). The second site is with the aid of which I ensured that I didn't pick an allocated serial (A53-007, if it doesn't show; once a spotter....) and which has substantial photo as well as alpha-numeric coverage. The R on the fin was designed to fit a 1:72nd Macchi 326, and has had to be skewed slightly on the starboard side to fit, but with almost everything else depending on somewhat uncertain hand-painting I wasn't going to risk trying my hand - literally! - at that. Still the overall result is what I had in mind, and sometime in the spring I shall turn my attention to the fourth, which is waiting patiently close to the workbench, but there's no hurry; I'm not sure when the thaw comes to Moose Jaw. 34.12.14

PC-21 Roulettes, Point Cook 2020


Post-Telford recovery

Following on from my post-SMW para in Mike's World I did indeed finish a second Lightning FGA.2c with the Freightdog conversion, this time in the green of an RAF Germany based unit with the Hornet of 213 Squadron on the fin, or at least on one side of it; I used the markings from my very carefully hoarded Aviation Workshop Canberra markings sheet, but discovered just as I'd finished it that I'd managed to wipe off the hornet on the port side, I suspect with a careless thumb. Still I knew I had that I had an old Airfix B(I).6 in a farther depth of the garage from which I could nick one insect, or I could have done if only I could find the kit; at the moment it'll just have to present its starboard side if I let it out in public. Assembly with the new parts was no problem, with the warload pylons suitably shortened in accordance with Captain Freightdog's instructions making it possible to fit a pair of Odds and Ordnance AS.30s between the pylons and the ground, though rotation on take-off might have to be a little careful; and it's probably better not to bring the missiles home with the round-out needing to be very delicate. The Airfix F.2a was the base kit, and it is very good; my older son, who you may remember from Tailpieces of thirty years or more ago is taking up the scalpel and glue gun after a while away from modelling with the intention of working on a run of Lightnings, and given the two Airfix and the Sword kits, and the selection of decals that they have collectively prompted, he's going to need that MBA to work oLightning FGA.2c, 213 Sqn Gutersloh 1975ut priorites and facilities management expertise for his production plan. Perhaps because the colours are virtually the same as those of the Gutersloh F.2As and the weapons load and rack well hidden underneath I don't think this one looks as striking as my Akrotiri-based 73 Squadron; but I'm having mildly heretical thoughts working on the Luftwaffe's use of its 104s and applying an iron cross and Jabo staffel markings. Feel free to borrow the idea, and I'll see you on the run-in to the Mohne dam that I practised in 1956; well, it was in our designated low-flying area! The black/yellow bars came from one of the invaluable Modeldecal Vampire sets that make so much possible.

I've squeezed in two more models before Jools Holland's Hootenanny - perhaps three, but my second contribution to Australian post-war aviation is still on the cutting mat - the first coming out of a little more conversation that took place behind the carefully erected banner that partly concealed us from the unsuspecting public behind the What If SIG stand at Telford. There are always "what next?" ideas bouncing around, frequently in my case with Chris Edwards who compiles and edits our news letter; meetings, providing they're near a railhead, are one of the few occasions when we get to swop ideas. Chris's are largely propellor based, generally around the 'forties - he's been one of those mildly infected by the "Hendon 1940" bug - and he mentioned the occasional "What If?" boxing on sBell Sea Caribou F.Mk. I, 738 NAS 1944ome of the current AZ kits. I gather, though I don't know if it's rumour or fact, that a senior Czech counterfactual enthusiast is connected with AZ management, and after the conversation with Chris I sidled over to one of the considerable selection of retailers scattered through the three International Centre halls and returned with an AZ Bell XFL-1 Airabonita (no, me neither). of course you recognise it; it's the version of the Airacobra with a tailwheel undercarriage to take account of the nervous prejudices of the USN's carrier admirals. Not only was it a neat little kit, and sufficiently simple to build without undue fretting, but one of the proposed kit colour schemes, reflected in the decals, was for a Fleet Air Arm aircraft. Referral as so often to Ray Sturtivant's "Aircraft and Squadrons of the FAA" resulted in this Bell Sea Caribou F.Mk.I - you will remember that the Airacobra was initially named the Caribou by the RAF - in the colours and codes of 738 Naval Air Squadron, a unit based in the North East United States and apparently used as a holding unit, presumably for US-trained FAA aircrew awaiting their repatriation. 738's codes included a different numeral for each type of fighter - 2 for Hellcats and 3 for Corsairs - so 4 was logical for the Sea Caribou.

The third of the post-Telford was another simple build which came about by chance. At the end of November there was a "Kitswap" - i.e. kits swopped for money - at a small hall in Hanslope, a small village on one of the wilder shores of Milton Keynes and therefore not far from me, and organised by Paul Fitzmaurice of Little Cars who is also one of the leaders of the New City Model Club/IPMS Branch. I filled my usual selection of Waitrose jute bags and came home with them much lighter, and able to restart feeding my post-SMW piggy bank. Packing up the unsold I found a Revell FJ-4 Fury, and somewhere between Hanslope and Wing realised that whereas the RAAF had flown the Avon-Sabre the RAN never had its equivalent, and that once again it was up to me to fill the Sam Beckett role oCAC Sea Sabre 40, 805 Sqn RAN 1977f putting right that which had been wrong. Aiding this I added a Pavla cockpit - the kit provision was not even as generous as Mother Hubbard - and the 805 NAS markings on Modeldecal set 50 which in that parallel world were intended for a Skyhawk. It hasn't yet been given underwing stores, but I plan to remedy that before it emerges blinking in to the light of public day; Sidewinders and rocket pods, probably. And I must find, no doubt also from a Modeldecal set, a pair of Rolls-Royce badges to signify the installation of an Avon, which I trust would have required much less structural rework in the Fury than it did in the Sabre. One last dilemma; calling it a Sea Fury would have caused even more confusion than 360 Squadron, so unless there's another flash of dodgy inspiration at the turn of the year I've settled for CAC Sea Sabre 40. How could/would the FAA have used it?

That's just about it for 2014, though I might just get another contribution to re-equipping the RAAF off it's chocks before New Year's Day; and further Plans include emptying more of the boxes that came back from Telford, a Swift or two of which at least one must be Geilenkirchen based and a sudden impulse to use one of Danny Coreman's really decorative decals.... 28.12.14.

Your carriages await, Sire...

The inspiration, if that's the word, for what I'm going to build next comes in a variety of ways; often it's contingent on the arrival of an anticipated kit, and I've often had a while to work out what I'm going to do with it on the tested HHGG premise of "How do we know what it's for until we've decided on the colour"? Occasionally it's spotting a kit on a shelf, usually these days at a model show, quite often followed by an instant debate with whoever's there as well (as with the Royal Meringues); for this pair, however, it started while I was rummaging in the more distant depths of my garage, and somewhat to my surprise the small brown box with an unlabelled end facing me turned out to be that of a Magna de H. Flamingo, complete except for instructions (and we all know that those can be optional, don't we?). Its arrival coincided with the publication of one of the "Aviation Archive" compilations from Aeroplanes of yore of vintage articles and plans, in this case "British multi-engined support aircraft of WW2", several of which also wore civil registrations. By the time I'd carried it from the garage to my workbench, probably a minute at my economical cruise, the colour scheme Rapide G-ACZE in 139 royal colours was already decided; it may have been an unconscious echo of the 32 Squadron Starship CC.1, and the time I've spent recently on the "Hendon pageant 1940" theme, but this was instantly destined for the very attractive, and very visible,red and blue of the pre-1939 King's Flight.

I already had one and a half Airdecal "Royal de Havillands" sheets to gave me instant colour references as well as several registrations which were very useful somewhat later on. The kit was one one of Magna's later issues, by which time their production standards were considerably improved, and I was very glad to see that propellors and undercarriage were in metal, something that should be compulsory for resin kits! Thanks to Adrian Balch, when I contacted him to check on the colour of the cheat line - white, not the silver I'd suspected - he pointed me at SAM Vol.15 No.2 (November 1992 - yes, really!) in which the feature covered "Royal" aircraft from Fairey IIIf to BAe. 146. Slightly to my surprise I found that a Flamingo had bKing's Flight Flamingo, Hendon 1940een allocated to the King's Flight in 1940 in case the Royal Family had to be moved in a hurry, and had been allocated, and wore, the registration G-AGCC (I hope you read that in the old phonetic alphabet); sadly it was, understandably, camouflaged but I refused to let that deflect me from my master plan>>>


If the snaps are clear enough - and there are days when I look back with some degree of appreciation to when being slightly out of focus was the norm - you'll have spotted that the registration displayed is not quite that allocated; I try whenever possible on a WhIf to use a serial than can't be claimed by something "real", but in this case I decided to make the best use of what was available on the two Airdecal sheets. I was really pleased with the result, in that it coincided very well wKing's Flight Flamingo, Hendon 1940ith the picture that I'd had in my head when I started, especially when viewed from a safe distance (some traditions never die). Even before it was finished therefore I decided that I would like to use this scheme on something else and lo! not a few pages away in the Aeroplane compilation was a small feature on the Percival Petrel, though it's always been the Q.6 to me. I struck me as an idea companion for the bigger de Havilland, and with my memory for once giving me the right answer, or at least the right question to ask, a check on Hannants website revealed two of the Magna kits in stock; a slightly panicked plea resulted in one arriving by return of post (I got the other one shortly afterwards but that is, or will be, another story). With the Flamingo fresh in my memory puuting the Q.6 together was straKing's Flight Percival Q.6, Hendon 1940ightforward, though using the transparent strips for the windows, even though they had the window shapes engraved on them and fitted pretty well in to their destined recesses, was not as simple as using Kristal Kleer on the de Havilland. The speed of assembly - and as so often I was hurrying to get it finished so that I could taked the pair to a coming show - was facilitated by using Tamiya acrylcs and the skinny 1mm. masking tape I'd picked up at Duxford from Mr.Models. As with its big friend the result was just what I had in mind at its conception, though as always it's better if the sensitive modeller views it from a respectful distance. I'm still thinking over to what else the King's might be applied, though it'll almost certainly be in the new year. Spookily though while I was halfway through composing this section the new issue of the current Aeroplane, for November 2014 fell off its Smith shelf in to my hand, carrying an article on the one surviving Q.6 currently under restoration; very useful if perhaps slightly later in this sequence that I'd have liked, and I think the implication in the article is that they'll pick the less interesting of the two possible colour schemes. Stiil, I know a man..... 27.09.14

King's Flight Flamingo and Q.6, Hendon 1940

So I added the second Magna Petrel and finished it it the RAF scheme of my choice with the underside yellow carried halfway up the fuselage sides, and gave it the serial X4059 that was awarded G-AFFD when it was impressed. I've no proof that this aircraft wore that particuPetrel and Gloster, "Hendon 1940"lar scheme, but I did find a photo of one of the purpose-built RAF batch in those colours in the back of one of the Putnam's larger format "Aircraft of the Royal Air Force". complete with the large "fin flash" which gave me enough room on its white stripe to fit the 601 Squadron "winged sword" of the City of London squadron that 'FFD definitely wore and that would have surely have been carried over when the warpaint was applied. I found that the failings in my modelling that were evident on His Majesty's Q.6 were also evident on the Petrel, but it's a fairly small photo; I'll save the sackcloth and ashes for another occasion. You will have spotted the rather rakish-looking silver twin parked alongside it; this came about from a visit to the IPMS Farnborough Modelfest in September with Chris Edwards, editor of the What If? SIG newsletter, whence I carried off the Magna kit - to which as so often there's still frequently no alternative - of the Gloster F.9/37, this one Peregine-engined. It took about a day to decide on its finish, still fitting in to the "Hendon 1940" theme which seems to be self-perpetuating. With peace still in our time there would surely have been an opportunity to run the King's Cup Air Race, and for an Auxiliary squadron or two to enter one of their mounts; with the needs of the regular airforce for a big twin-engined fighter being met by the early production of the Beaufighter there was an opportunity for Gloster's to supply a small batch of their F.9/37s for the local County of Gloucester squadron to defend its own area, and it's those colours that with the addition of a racing number are worn by L9085 (look it up in Robertson). Unit markings are as so often from a ModelGloster F.9/37 501 Squadron Hendon 1940decal Vampire sheet, colours of course being black and stone; you didn't think it was a 39 Squadron aircraft, did you?

It's just possible the "Hendon 1940" idea is going on the back shelf for the time being, though bearing in mind that it spread at and after a WiFSIG get together at an IPMS Branch show, who knows what might emerge from telford. And by then I might even have thought of an alliterative and perhaps even aggressive name for the Gloster. Come along and find out! 26.10.14

Eggstra! Eggstra!

When I've had a week or two off modelling I generally find a slight problem in picking up the cutters and superglue again, even though I've left something waiting for me to tackle; and I usually have A Plan even though this may well have changed while I've been away from the Bench, and may call for some previously unforeseen Bits and Pieces, or even a whole new kit to get me adding part A to part B again. It had been a bit of a scramble ahead of leaving for Oshkosh, but at least the Blackburn - see above - and the two PC-21s were done; my next project was a pair of the new Airfix Blenheim Is, and having decided to work on them in series rather than parallel the early steps in pre-painting and minor assembly for the first were sitting on the cutting mat as earnest of good intent. However, there was definitely a serious attack of torpor to be dealt with; I suspect that jet lag, like trauma,is a malady the recovery from which takes longer with advancing years.

Fortunately I had the IPMS Avon show down at Bristol to stir the blood again, and as well as assembling a few of my recent efforts to lay on the WifSIG table I thought of what I might find on the stands of a trader or two, and though I knew that Hannants would not be there in person I thought that consulting their New Releases page might give me a nudge. Sure enough I found that while away the Hasegawa Egg Plane version of the Osprey had come in, but it had also gone, and enquiries at a couple of the stands at the show brought sad shakes of the head, with the observation that they just didn't seem to be available in any number. I gave the idea up, though it was the subject of some discussion around the table and I was both surprised and pleased therefore when a scout returned with news that a kit had been sighted on a stand which I had somehow overlooked - I blame my new glasses - and I was able to return with one box clutched in each hand, and the hitherto unsuspected but now blindingly obvious intent to do one for the dark and one for the light blues.

Ever since the XV-15 I've always been a fan of the V-22 series, in spite of the considerable effort in both time and money it's taken to get it right, and you may recall that I've built a couple of Hasegawa's 1:72nd version in the last twelve months (one even in a Real Colour Scheme!). The Eggs gave me the opportunity for two more schemes, and the RAF one was a fairly simp18 Sqn Egg, 2020le choice, recalling thanks to an Xtradecal set the 18 Squadron Anniversary Chinook of a few years back, even though finished in the service's current combat aircraft Two Shades Of Grey scheme. For some reason I was convinced that the colour in the centre of the big red-outlined stripe was Roundel Blue, and was taken slightly aback to discover from the decal instructions that it was really black; at least I've been able to correct the error I perpetrated on a Rotodyne a few years back. For the "navy" one, assigned to 848 NAS, one of the "Commando" squadrons, Tamiya's "NATO green" seemed about the right shade, and of course it carried "Royal Navy" titles which I suspect these should have been in black, but I wanted them to stand out in the photos, and Modeldecal848 NAS Egg, 2020's set 48 in white let me do this with minimal cutting and sliding. The unit markings were also from Modeldecal, in this case their set 96, full of HU.5s. I picked 848's badge for its ability to stand out and look quite colouful against its dark backgtound colour, and it wasn't until I was taking the Eggs' photos side by side that I noticed that a Pegasus - not how carefully I avoid a plural! - was the emblem of both units. Sometimes a plan comes together even if you don't know it exists; sheer serendipity!

In the general conversation around the SIG table in the late afternoon of the Bristol show the old nickname "eggbeater" from the early days of the helicopter was recalled, and their was loose speculation about what might happen if you plunged an inverted Osprey in to a very big bowl of eggs; I blame Richard - to save his blushes I shall redact his surname - for the outcome, but I accept the blame for building it up letter by letter from set 48.


Far, far to the west.........

I'm not sure how many times in the last five or six years I've declared that I shall shortly draw a line under My Adventures; it's become something of a Bad Joke when I'm on Friday duty with the National Trust that this will be my fifth final expedition to the farther reaches of My World. I will, of course be off to Oshkosh; yes I know I should refer to it as AirVenture, but everyone I know who wants to go there for the first or the umpty-umpth time calls it Oshkosh. If I've ever bent your ear about it, or even if you saw the account of my first that Barry Wheeler put in Air Pictorial, you'll know that it's something I shan't give up lightly; the journey gets increasingly tiring and the number of pills needed to keep body and body together increases by the year, but I can't think of a better place finally to Draw the Line. I've always managed to find a different aircraft to fall for each year, from Every Waco Ever Built in 1995 to the Cessna 190/195 on my last visit; this time I strongly suspect it'll once more be another aircraft of about my age, and much better maintained. I shall of course report back, with pictures 23.07.14

Nineteen Years? Really?

And so it came to pass! A couple of days after I wrote the entry above I was sitting in a not totally comfortable middle seat of a Speedbird 747 en route to Chicago towards what I expect to be my last expedition to the preserved aircraft of North America. If you discount a one-off trip to Harlingen in 1984 to see the Confederate Air Force "Airsho", this sequence started in 1995 as a celebration of my retirement; I had a half-hearted dream that I would hire a Winnebago for a drive down the airfields of the West coast, but probably sensibly this never progressed beyond an idealised idea and was abandoned. Instead another recently-retired controller friend and I booked with George Pick to go to the AirVenture of that year at Oshkosh - a name that was already fabled in story at least - before going on to the Museums of California. Entering the hallowed portals I was reduced to a daft grin by a field of Burt Rutan's various design shapes, but It was rounding the line of trees to the next area, dedicated back then to Antique and Classic aircraft, that has ever since left me trying to explain the expressionWaco Q?? Ohio National Guard, Oshkosh 2014

"gobsmacked" to puzzled Americans; and ever since then, pursuing a variety of preserved aircraft around the world, I have become increasingly focused on those that are as old as me and rather better maintained! Here's this year's prime example.


This, as you will no doubt have expected, is a Waco; regrettably I can't give you its three-letter model designation, which even after these nineteen years resolutely refuses to stick in my memory thanks to the company's system of including engine and, I think, wing shape in each new design's label. What I can tell you is that this fairly vivid colour scheme was the one in which it was originally delivered to the Ohio National Guard around 1935 (slightly older than me then). As I was approaching it I'd been chatting to a very knowledgeable engineer who had been muttering about the way in which some restorers paid more attention to the colour scheme than to the engineering details; and even then, he said they got it wrong, no Waco ever flew in a colour like that! And then while walking round it taking my pictures I chanced to overhear a conversation between the understandably proud restorer and another visitor about the lengths to which he'd been to get precisely the right colour - sorry, color - and marking details, the shade of blue having, I thinLockheed 12 lineup Oshkosh 2014k, some relevance to Ohio. How often have you heard, or even had, that conversation around a competition, or even SIG, table? A couple of other points of note - I'll come back with more in another entry. The particularly eye-catching line up in the vintage field this year was made up of seven Lockheed 12s, though I only managed to capture six (the other photos were from a little closer, but this gives the line). Nearly all were shiny silver with colour trim, in a couple of cases looking very art deco; this looked ver similar to the finish on several - and the most attractive - of the Cessna 190/195s for which I'd fallen on my last visit, though these were a post-war production. And finally, for this entry at least, I took shameless advantage of a Canadian T-33A in the warbirds park, and the willingness of a young air cadet Captain to take my photo in front of it. It occurred to me as it was lined up that it was fifty-nine years almost to the week that I'd last had a Hero Picture taken with a T-bird as a prop; must be time to go home, then! 19.08.14

Me and a T-bird, 59 years on!

...and back home....

The last two air displays of the season were, not unusually, at Duxford and Old Warden. At the Duxford show I finally caught up with the Lancaster pair, after the trials for the Canadian Thumper and Vera, Duxford September 2014 crew meant a pair of no-shows, so that the September IWM event was my last chance. For me it was worth the wait; it was an emotional as well as a visual and of course aural treat - each photo should come with a sound track! - and unlike one or two subsequent comments I've heard I was very happy with the careful flying and positioning of the two big bombers, even if I can't squeeze their images a bit closer together. I can't imagine this event happening again on either side of the water; the BBMF will surely never venture westbound across the Atlantic, and the Canadians must have had enough unwanted excitement on this expedition. Everyone who saw them must be grateful that CWH were bold enough to take the risks that would have been endemic with such a project, and will hope that with the aircraft safely home at Hamilton there's been enough added to their coffers to meet the costs incurred by the engine's temporary replacement and subsequent repair. The pleasure the pair's tour gave to so meny, surely well beyond the enthusiasts' tanks, was enormous. My one regret was that none of the comments I saw and heard gave enough emphasis to the large part played by the Canadian contribution to the Bomber Command offensive. I have, of course, given up on Transatlantic trips, but just down the road from Hamilton is the Harvard Heritage group which is still flying 20422, in which I spent thirty-one and a half hours almost sixty years ago.......

Lancaster farewell, Duxford 9/14

And my final attendance for this year as part of the Campaign for Real Aeroplanes was at Old Warden; the event was billed by Shuttleworth as Race Day, which attracted seriously blue sky, as well as a line up of resiDH.88 Comet, OW 5.9.41dents and visitors that fulfilled almost to the letter my current preoccupation with aircraft that are as old as me and better maintained. The prime exhibit after the trials and tribulations of its return to flight was surely the Collection's own deH.88 Comet, outstanding in the bright red finish in which it flew from Mildenhall to Melbourne eighty years ago and glowing against the blue sky. Its co-stars were a pair of Mew Gulls, one recently completed replica and the Alex Henshaw-flown original, veteran of King's Cup races of its day and the incredible Capetown record flights; just looking at it, eTwo Mew Gulls, OW 5.9.14specially close to on the flight line walk, made me realise why these were called endurance flights. With these three was a full supporting cast, notably of Miles aircraft including a Hawk Trainer, a Falcon and a Whitney Straight, all of the era and in their time regular competitors. Parked in the same flight line were a Comper Swift and a pair of Chilton DW.1s and a Puss Moth, with the shiniest spats outside the Burlington Arcade, and round the corner Nigel Pickard's Little Gransden-based Spartan Executive duo, the really shiny one with its green trim my favourite example - along with those Lockheed 12s lined up at Oshkosh this year - of an art deco flying machine (I might try another letter to S.Claus, but it didn't work last year). The whole day was a very satisfactory end to my air display season, with enough reasonable snaps taken to prompt my erratic memory if needed - thank goodness for the available profligacy of SD cards! - and enough of those who I meet from time to time at these events to indulge in a little nostalgia! Just model shows now to fend off the siren calls to hibernation - I hope to see you at Telford; if the models are all too much, there's always the elegant design of the Iron Bridge. 08.10.14


A commonly-held view from the outside of the What If? world, possibly led by the Luftwaffe '46 strand that for many of us kick-started the whole theme, is that it tends to deal in aircraft that were little more than pencil sketches on the back of crumpled envelopes, but much of the recent literature that's emerged shows that not only did many of the sketches mConvair Alternative Designs IIake significant progress through a design office but that on some metal was cut and eventually emerged from the hangar. This didn't necessarily mean that it would fly - the examples that always come to my mind are the Percival P.74 helicopter and Rockwell's XFV-12, whose resolute unwillingness to leave the ground suggested some Seriously Wrong Calculations along the way - and even if it did fly it didn't meet expectations, or the intended user had a change of mind or plan; in this category one of my favourites is the Convair Sea Dart, which makes a very comprensive appearance in "Convair's Alternative Designs II", published in the UK by Crecy.



This second volume is divided in to two sections, fighter and attack aircraft, covering designs from the 'twenties to the 'seventies largely originating in San Diego. Convair could trace its roots back to a Thomas-Morse fighter, but was substansially created by the amalgamation of the firms of Consolidated and Vultee. There are a few projects, and a couple of aircraft that were built, in World War II, but designers' imagination seems to have taken off at the end of that conflict and in particular with the advent of the gas turbine. Perhaps the most successful, after a stuttering start, was the F-102/106 series which has considerable coverage in this book, including the projected variants that may give you cause to dust off that old Hasegawa Delta Dart kit hiding on one of your dustier shelves. Vertical take-off in one form or another preoccupied several services and manufacturers during this period, few odder or less likely than the heavily-armed type 48 for the U S Army, with triple turboshaft-powered ducted fan enclosed in an annular wing and a hinged nose for the cockpit that remained horizontal while the reminder of the aircraft was tail-sitting or transitioning; a more probable design was a tilt-wing based on the Canadair CL-84, as a multi-purpose platform for the U S Navy. A feature of this book that I particularly like is the inclusion of photos of other manufactures' designs that were selected for construction and in some cases production; this illustrates both the occasional striking similarity between concepts from different design offices, and sometimes the wild dissimilarity! This is one of those books that could and should be read progressively - chronologically in this case - and can be dipped in to, not least for inspiration, the the latter will more often than not call for considerable skill in "kitbashing" or scratchbuilding for the modeller to achieve a satisfactory result! Crecy's production of this volume is to its expected excellent standard, and Robert B Bradley has compiled an fascinating narrative history of the the section of his chosen manufacturer that produced most of its output in San Diego; and besides, it's a city that I've always enjoyed visiting, not least because of the Sea Dart in its Museum! 22.05.14

Launch the Blackburn.....

For those of us with a penchant for the aeronautically bizarre the phrase "Unicraft kit", especially when said aloud amonst a group of the like-minded, produces a sort of frisson and often a sharp intake of breath, usually through the teeth. There's often a nervous reaction when finding a kit of an aircraft you really want to model, and realising the expected amount of work in prospect; the resin that's used, at least in these kits that I've made, seems to be of lower quality than that generally available - though this may be the best that's on offer in the Ukraine - being both brittle and with a somewhat uneven surface; some of this can be assisted by work (and therefore time, but you know how impatient I get). Against these possible disadvantagtes, they do pick some very interesting subjects that really appeal to me, not least because they wear (would have worn?) roundels and it's highly unlikely that anBlackburn Whitby Mk. I, 700 NAS HMS Black Prince 1946yone else is likely to tackle them. A prime example of this is the Blackburn B.44, a flying-boat fighter designed to fill Specification N.2/42 with Blackburn's retractable planing bottom a version of which had already been flown, if briefly, on the rather bigger twin-Vulture B.20.

One of my worries when I pictured the breakdown of the kit was the "undercarriage" structure for the central float, similar parts on Unicraft's landplanes being notoriously fragile; I have thought for many years that these parts should come in metal. However I was spared that that concern this time simply because none were provided, either for the main float or for the outrigger floats that retract in to the underside of the wing. Taking my lead from the scale plans included, the latter came from plastic card with a small bit of rod. My original idea for the central struts was to use plastic rod, possible with a thin insert in a tube to build up the main "legs", but it became evident that this wouldn't be strong enough, so I went to a local shop that deals in smallish radio-controlled helicopters to see if I could find any metal tubing of a reasonable size; when this plan failed I found a length of carbon rod which looked Blackburn Whitby Mk. I, HMS Black Prince BPF 1945not unreasonable when painted with acrylic "stainless" and proved to have the necessary strength. Everything else was straightforward, though I wished as always that I'd had the chance of using a second acrylic canopy when I was in danger of over-trimming the first (in the event I think I under-trimmed it).

I'd always pictured this mounted on the catapult of a capital ship or at least a cruiser that had previously carried a Walrus, to be used for scouting as well as fleet defence and to have arrived before the end of hostilities with Japan, but reading the details of the specification after the model was just about finished I discovered that it was intended to use the aircraft from sheltered waters! However, i didn't want to change my original mental picture, so I "assigned" it to the cruiser HMS Black Prince, a late "Dido", for fleet defence and armed scouting duties.Taking my cue, and as far as possible the camouflage pattern, from the Seafires of the British Pacific Fleet, with markings readily available from Modeldecal set 118, possibly the last to be issued in Dick Ward's invaluable series, which in spite of its age - astonishingly it was released in 1993! - gave me no problems in releasing the decals and their subsequent settling on the airframe. The three-digit ident was compiled after consulting Ray Sturtivant's invaluable "Squadrons of the Royal Navy", combining the codes allocated to 700 NAS which was the parent unit for capital ships' Walrus, which they appear never to have worn, with a possible "headquarters" significance. I'm happy enough with the result, though I probably won't add the RNZAF aircraft that's also been in the back of my mind. I've spent time thinking of a name, preferably alliterative and with geographical or nautical connections so that I could attach it to the photos, but with some reluctance I've abandoned Bellerophon; I've settled on Whitby, which has both county and seaside links, and honours that great maritime adventurer Captain James Cook. 21.07.14


Picking the Pick

Sometimes the subjects for this section pick themselves, and it's usually something substantial whether a model or a publication. Occasionally though my reasoning can be a little less than obvious, and this time it's a small and straightforward kit of what I suspect is a not very well-known aircraft. Once in a while something jumps out at me during one of my regular - probably too regular - trawls through the Future Releases section of the Hannants website, prompting a phone call to find out more, not least when it might graduate to the New Arrivals, and a combination of an aircraft which fascinates me and the arrival of a new kit manufacturer is almost irresistible; one of the precepts which we tried to follow in SAM back in the last century was to encourage new entrants to the market and given a chance to recommend something in this categoey I like to take it still.

When I saw the first photos of Pilatus' PC-21 my immediate impression was of an aircraft that was going at a fair lick even before the chocks had been taken away; sleek and speedy, and slightly swept. And my What If? sorting hat jumped immediately from the more usual "What Should Have Been" mode to "What Must Be", preferably as quickly as possible, though to date very few Air Staffs seem to have reacted with my instant enthusiasm. PC.21 207 (R) Sqn 2020-ishThis must surely replace the RAF's Tucanos; if as is rumoured the current target is to graduate forty or so Young Pilots a year they need not only deserve the best available but most important of all they need a very convincing background prop for those Hero Pilot snaps! The name of the kit manufacturer, new to me and apparently Swiss, is 3D Blitz models, so presumably it involves a "3D printing" process. The mouldings are very crisp and clean, and I'm now certain that the problem I gave myself in assembly was entirely my fault in misreading a pair of part numbers; I plead their very small size and my inability to hold the sprue at an angle to the light that would have made them clearer. I've now repeated the work on my second PC.21 - could we have a name, please? - and confirmed that it was my mistake the first time that called for a little corrective surgery, and the rest of the assembly thanks to some excellent moulding is straightforward, needing a minimum of filler at the wing tip and fin PC.21 207 (R) Sqnjoins. Something I hadn't picked up from magazine coverage of the aircraft is the relatively small size of the wing in comparison with the fuselage; this will surely be a little slippery, and exhilarating to fly. This really is a very good little kit of what is to me an interesting and attractive aeroplane, easily justifying its "pick" label; it has considerable possibilities for those of us in the "Should Be" SIG, and I have firm plans involving the revival of a couple of sadly defunct aerobatic teams. 18.06.14.

Well, that didn't turn out quite as I'd planned; my idea of adapting the decals for the Cranwell Poachers team on Airdecals' Jet Provost sheet from the somewaht chubby JP to the sleek and poiPilatus PC.21, RAF Central Flying Schoolnty PC-21 just wasn't feasible, and I really didn't think I could hand-paint it successfully. However as I'd already started on a red/white aircraft I continued to shuffle through the available markings and Adrian Balch's JP Warpaint (number 82), deciding that what I wanted was a CFS aircraft, preferably in Pelicans colours; this didn't work out either, not least because I couldn't find a decal for the pelican worn by the team, but I thought that a solo aerobatic aircraft might well wear a blue top somewhat after the manner of a 1 FTS aircraft and that I could use more Tucano decals from the Aviation Workshop "RAF Twin-Stick Trainers" set which I had already raided for the 207(R) aircraft above. I am happy with the result; you can't really see the slight misplacement of the cockpit interior, and at least I got the wing/undercarriage bay right this time. At about the time I was finishing the black/ellow aircraft the July edition of Air Forces Monthly appeared on Mr.Pilatus PC.21, RAF Central Flying SchoolSmith's shelves, and therefore on the top of the magazine pile marked "research", with very useful photos as well as words; they include pictures of a Saudi air force trainer in a rather fetching shade of blue though I think I would be stretched to convince myself that its national markings are roundels. I have a third kit handy though, and depending on what decals I could find I could still stick to my Master Plan of only building aircraft with roundels if I could find suitable markings for Roulettes - Model Art, I think - or if at all possible Snowbirds, though I feel these could well give me similar problems to the Poachers' decals. Watch this space! 29.06.14

Pilatus PC.21s, CFS and 207(R) sqn

This is a really good little kit, and one which both in contemplation and production has given me a great deal of pleasure. My idea that the firm producing it is Swiss is largely guesswork, however logical; but if there's Someone Out There may I suggest the PC.12 as a follow up - and looking something like this?

PC.12 Davis Monthan March 2013

PC.12 Davis Monthan March 2013






PS. A couple of hours after posting these I had a response from the ever-helpful - and possibly all-seeing - Phil Cater of the IPMS Brampton crew alerting me to the Broplan kit of the PC.12 complete with the US designation U-28 and where I could get it. Following this up I found not entirely to my surprise given its maker that the kit is a vacform, with the implication that any resin components are small parts. I'm still cogitating; if it had been a vacform fuselage with resin everything else I would pursue it (with roundels, 14 Squadron as you ask) but it's a while since I tackled a full vacform and I suspect that that's another of my "skills" that has considerably eroded. And besides I really would like to see it tackled by 3D Blitz - I have been seriously very impressed by their PC.21, and it's always good to see a fresh entrant bringing that quality to the market place.


It's a sad fact that the obvious nickname for this aircraft proved not to be the Great Truth that its makes had hoped for, but nevertheless it's still a flying machine that's fascinated me since it first appeared, not least because of its pedigree; Burt Rutan has always come up with exceedingly interesting designs. It's one of those shapes that's instantly recognisable, even futuristic - I've often suspected that Dan Dare would have had one - and one that looks as though its speeding down the runway en route for Aldebaran or Betelguese even before the chocks have been whisked away. Around the time it first flew there was a vacform kit, with a companion Piaggio 180, but by Starship N641SE, Marana March 2013then I had convinced myself that it would be Too Much Hard Work even for that highly desireable aircraft, and for some reason, unlike the Piaggio, it never appeared in resin; you can imagine my delight then when the Amodel kit popped up on Hannants' Future Releases section which, as you know, I prowl regularly and intently.

It was announced with two boxings differing only in their markings, both US civil; that finish was never part of my Master Plan, which had always involved some form of British roundels with one aircraft at least belonging in one form or another based at Northolt with 32 Squadron, the Queen's Flight or some other variation on that "ownership"; I was slightly thrown therefore to discover that one included decals for N641SE, that I had seen last year parked in a somewhat reduced state in the desert in a slightly sorry looking group of half a dozen that I had photographed at Marana last March. This one attracted my camera because of the motif on the fin of its owner, Starship Enterprises and I was almost distracted into making this one, not least because I though the allusion would have made Sheldon Cooper at least snicker. Bazinga!

I was well in to my 32 Squadron aircraft which had been after all my prime subject for my a Starship when I realised that the model, or at least my modelling, wasn't going as well as I'd hoped and indeed expected, not least because my finish was not as good as I like to think it should have been. There were little niggling points; given the Amodel style of moulding with which I am reasonably familiar I expect a substantial number of very small parts which need delicate assembly when in many kits they would be single more complicated mouldings, or resin castings. By coincidence, probably, I am currently drafting a Tailpiece about the uBeech Starship CC.1, 32 (The Royal) Squadron, Northolt 2002se and occasionally misuse of resin in the sort of models I prefer, and this seemed to be particularly relevant to this kit; in particular for the turbine exhausts, a slightly exotic expanding funnel shape, there are two halves which I found strangely reluctant to mate. It's fair to say that while I was trying to acheive this, my opposing finger/thumb pairings were not happy to follow my plan when I tried to join them and spread around unwanted adhesive, whether on each other or on the model; I'm sure my life would have been simpler and less expletive-laden if each exhaust had been a one-piece resin casting, or even a moulding similar to those in the little Pilatus above. It's possible that my digital uncertainty is a slight revival of an problem I had Beech Starship CC.1, 32 Sqn Northolt 2001 two years ago as a side effect of a trapped nerve in my right shoulder, but that sounds sadly like a workman blaming his tools! I was also somewhat unhappy when I tried to fit the windows, although I had liked the idea of installing them from the outside; I thought would make it easier to do, and would simplify the application of the cheatlines, taken like the rest of the decals from one and a half 1:144th BAe146 sets by Airdecal; I had slightly misjudged the depth available between the bottom of the window line and the top of each wing root. The result was something of a fudge, but you won't look too closely will you, at least until I feel bold enough to put it out on a WifSIG table?

The instructions, though comprehensive, are quite literally somewhat sketchy in parts, so I went back to the window installation to confirm that I was working on the right lines; it might have helped if I had scraped the insides of the window edges before I started to insert the transparencies which stood slightly proud, not least because I didn't want to push too hard aStarship N30LH flapguidesnd have them burst through to the inside of the fuselage. This did in fact happen to one window, which I replaced with that invaluable standby Kristal-Kleer; I've posted pictures of both sides, so you can have fun working out which one is the imitation. Where I really gave myself a problem though was with parts 95 to 99; comparing the shape of the plastic with the illustration I thought they must have been some form of subtle fences, that "bent" downwards, and it wasn't until I checked with another of my Marana photos, reproduced here, and Robert Scherer's very comprehensively illustrated and informative website http.// that I realised that I'd been fixing them on upside down, that parts 94 and 95 should "sandwich" the wing trailing edge and that 99 and 100 should "hook" underneath the trailing edge. The fit isn't as good as I'd have liked, but it does help you end up with an approximately correct shape. The other fact that emerged from the photos in Mr.Scherer's webside was that all the aircraft when parked had their propellors "feathered", and you should therefore use parts 33 rather than 24, unless of course your Starship is moving. There are several really small parts underneath the fuselage which are probably aerials, but by this time I figured that the skilled crews of 32 Squadron could do without them. As with the Blackburn fighter I was starting to have to hustle to make my self-imposed deadline for leaving the country (see "Mike's World"), so perhaps I was hurrying the final steps but I'm pleased I stuck with my Master Plan, and at some stage I'll get back to make the second (Admiral's Barge? Starship Enterprises? or possibly at last a canvas for that black/red diamond of the Metropolitan Comms Squadron from a Freightdog decal set?). It's a great shame that the aircraft didn't fulfil its promise, and I couldn't find, even through the Aviation Bookshop, a definitive account which surely someone's written. Next week then I'll be prowling the bookstalls at Oshkosh; I knew there was another reason I had to go just One More Time! 21.07.14

Beech Starship CC.1, 32 Sqn Northolt 2001

Meanwhile, near the New Types park.....

The theme of the 1940-ish pageant persists, at least on my workbench where it's rather elbowed everything else aside for the moment. The latest contributions to the line-up owe much to the recent gathering of the What If SIG at the IPMS Barnet show at Hendon, where ideas were collectively fertilised and discussed; in the days when I had a secretary I would contend that I didn't know what I thought until I'd seen it in double spacing, and I've always thought I worked better with someone to bounce my ideas off even if some of them were kites flown only to be shot down. Since Hendon there have been four additions to my "display"; two were already more or less planned, with the interior detailing begun and with the single-seat Defiant an obvious follow-on to my 64 Squadron two-seater. The second variant had much of if its impetus from the problems I'd given myself with the turret of the first and is the Pavla kit with a fairing in place behind the driver's head; much of this was formed with Perfect Plastic Putty, on which I should have spent more time disguising the rough edges, but as so often these days my impatience got the better of me and the aerodynamic qualities, and the finish, leave something to be desirDefiant III 87 Squadron and Monospar 601 Squadron Aux. A.F., Hendon 1939ed. View from a discreet distance, please. Still it gave me an excuse to use a second pair of Freightdog's 20 mm Hispano cannon and one of my favourite markings of the late 'thirties, 87 Squadron's snake.

Its companion in this artfully posed snap is a General Aircraft ST-25 Monospar, a Special Hobby kit that sidled in to my line of sight when I was hunting around the back of the garage for something else entirely and persuaded me that it would fit nicely in to this theme. It was the discussion at Hendon that decided me that it should be belong to the "millionaires" of 601 Squadron of the Auxiliaries as a squadron hack, with red seat covers to match the reputed lining of the pilots' uniforms. The original aircraft with this serial in fact had a single fin and served at Farnborough testing radio experiment, but could no doubt have been "acquired" with a good connection or two; but I prefer the type with twin fins. a kit option, and it's my fun! Before our colleA W Whitley II, 51 Squadron Hendon 1939ctive ramblings on that day I had a Manchester in mind, as a counterweight to the fighter types, but I was dissuaded; however the idea of a "night bomber" in Nivo persisted, and by the time we broke up I had a promise of a "Fly" Whitley from one of my colleagues' stash, and if necessary a conversion for a Tiger-engined mark. The need for the latter was filled by a "Flightpath" box of bits from the Ali Baba's cave at Oulton Broad, accompanied by a PrintScale decal sheet and a fresh tinlet of Nivo. Both kit and coversion behaved themselves but I would prefer you not to look too closely at the gun turret areas, where my workmanship is not as good as I would like to think it once was (there will be a Tailpiece shortly). It's a long time since I used Nivo, and it's rather lighter than I remembered it, but I was able to use the 51 Squadron decals straight from the sheet, including 51's goose emblem in the "grenade" frame that was standard for bomber squadrons at this period, and survived until the final withdrawl of the Nimrod. To finish off this batch in time for the imminent IPMS Coventry show I'd had the thought of inserting something unusual wearing a "B Conditions" serial, on which subjecH P 75 Manx, Hendon 1940t Wikipedia was usefully forthcoming, and a small carboard box materialised under the workbench by my right knee; it's been havering there for two years or more waiting for a decision on how to use it, and as it really did fly - however briefly - with "B" markings the A V resin kit of Handley Page's HP.75 "Manx" filled the need admirably. I was of course trying to stay away from camouflage, but I remembered a pre-1914 H P monoplane that was known as the "Yellow Peril", and I figured that 1940 would be about time for a "Yellow Peril II" ! Its B-class identity H 22 is applied aft of the wing in the correct prewar style, and I may yet add a "New Types Park" number to the nose. The aeroplane itself had an unhappy historybut it fits well in to my preferred pool of unusual and eyecatching flying machines.

For want of a "Hendon" programme I've found an Empire Air Day cover to use as a prop. It's a genuine example; the meat of the publication was available nationally on the day in this case 22 May 1939 - with an insert applicable to the particular aerodrome, in this case Upper Heyford. It must have come with some souvenirs of my uncle, who was at the time based there with 57 Squadron; and to my delight the markings of one of 57's Blenheims are included on the new Xtradecal set for the imminent Airfix kit. That'll be a Mike's Pick, then! 19.06.14

Hunting who?

I've always associated Eastern Express with the umpteeth iteration of seriously vintage Frog or Novo kits, so seeing their name on a new - to me, at least - kit of the Beriev 200 was something of a surprise; however it's an aircraft of which I've always liked both the look and that it fell into a category shared these days only by the Shin Meiwa, which left just the self-imposed problem of how Beriev 200 MPA 206 Sqnto finish one in roundels. The solution. as so often for the "What Should Be" wing of the "What If?" tendency, lies in correcting another really bad decision by the government of the day - any day, really - by filling the shameful Maritime Patrol Aircraft gap in the British order of battle. My original mental picture, hovering around for a while before the kit had even been announced, had been in hemp and grey, but given the colours of the 51 Squadron Nimrods before they too retired to make way for an older aircraft I settled on the two shades of camouflage grey, to be decorated by the octopus fron an Aviation Workshop Nimrod set and giving rebirth to "Naval Six"; I was undecided as to which of ouBeriev 200 MPA Naval Sixr services should be operating the aircraft, so I took a really Solomonesque decision, the evidence of which will need a careful examination of the photos. The kit itself was relatively simple to put together, given that the 144th scale implies some rather small pieces even if it does save space on the shelf. I have some doubt about the "low-vis" roundels, and I suspect it would have looked better in the earlier scheme; still. who knows what may come of the next Strategic Defence Review? Remember when there was talk of buying the Antonov An-70 instead of the A-400? 29.06.14.

D-Day plus 70

This June 6th I left the house early, on the road by 6.15 to travel south about a hundred miles and back seventy years. Before 9 o'clock I stood on the cliffs overlooking Bournemouth Bay exactly where I'd stood on the same day in 1944, an eight-year old divered slightly on my way to school to look at a scene that's etched on my memory to this day, the bay covered from the Needls to Old Harry in merchant shipping with one solitary destroyer fixed in my mind's eye as dashing about like an excited sheepdog.

For some time I'd had this Master Plan of revisiting the scene on its anniversary, and at the recent Duxford I'd picked up by chance "Twelve Airfields", a booklet published in the 'nineties by a local aviation historian with a list with hand-illustrated histories of the dozen that had been carved out of the Forest to play their parts in the Invasion that would be the reverse of the similar operation of 1066. Much of the area and its involvement was familiar and at least half-remembered; we'd moved down to the coast in the autumn of 1940 with my fixation with aviation already firmly in place and ready to absorb the names and the stmosphere of what was going on around us. So, nudged by the book, I'd decided when I'd had my fill of a totally empty bay even when overlaid by my memories I'd go out to the Forest to revesit three of the names that have always stuck in my mind as associated with Overlord. One of course would have to be a fighter station; this would be Ibsley, slightly north of Ringwood an which I'd always associated with Spitfires. The other two would be Stoney Cross and Holmsley South, both of which I've always thought of as hosting large numbers of transports and gliders in June 1944 and which always come to mind when I see newsreels of striped Dakotas taxying nose-to tail to the takeoff point and especially of Storlings, denuded of their gun turrets to tug a Horsa or two (Horsas always associated with Airspeed at Christchurch, but this was now home to USAAF P-47s). Checking the by now invaluable "Twelve Airfields" though that bNew Forest Airfields memorial, Holmsley South June 2014y mid-June, and indeed for a few months before and after, both these airfiels housed more overtly aggressive aircraft with Typhoons and Mustangs being succeeded by USAAF Marauders at Holmsley and Stoney Cross the base to P-38s and Marauders.

Regardless of any mismatch between memory, facts and legend it was to Holmsley that I drove, having found that there was now a memorial of some kind on the site of the airfield, to which I was led by the increasingly ubiquitous brown signs. As you can see it's a small enclosure by the side of a quiet road, centred round a plinth-mounted propellor (C-47?). The twelve airfields have individual plaques on the base, and there's a map of the area engraved on a separate plinth showing the airfield locations; and thoughtfully there are three bench seats to aid relaxation and contemplation, very welcome in both roles on this anniversary visit.

The headmaster was totally unimpressed with my reason for arriving late that morning; there are those with no sense of history! 18.06.14 (Waterloo Day)

New Forest Airfields memorial, 6 June 2014

Simpler modelling?

Another of my "straightforward" models was inspired by one of my colleagues of the What If? SIG who turned up at the Peterborough show with a very convincing looking Hurricane I from the new Airfix kit with a "Peace in our time" tag on the basis that if Mr.Chamberlain's piece of paper had worked then 1 Squadron might have brought one of their aircraft to a Hendon display in the colours of their red-marked Furies. As you know I only steal from the best - thank you, Nick! - and with this thought buzzing I picked up one of the new kits from Mel Bromley before returning home and applieHurricane I, 111 Squadron RAF Hendon display 1939d my usual relentless logic. The obvious choice was to apply this process to a 111 aircraft as the first squadron to be equipped with a new monoplane fighter, and it also made it possible to use the serials fom the kit with the second pair on the rudder coming from a SIG colleague who plans to export his to a European country or four. The Aviation Workshop book "Wings of Silver" was my guidance, though in this case I didn't have to use the decals from the same source - that'll come later - and Xtradecal black stripes were used on wing and fuselage. It wasn't until I looked at the first photos that I realised that I could perhaps have made a better choice of unit; apart from the blue of the 'C' flight commander's fin the colourful effect I associate with this period was totally lacking! I plan to remedy this with another early Hurricane and a Spitfire currently on the bench, and after those two we'll see if I get carried away any further. The kit, by the way, is a delight with one possible exception; somewhere in the Airfix design office there's a chap who believes that no undercarriage installation is complete without having to wiggle one delicate strut through a very small hole. I can only surmise that it worked so well with the Javelin they there was a compulsion to try it on somewhere else! Incidentally I never use a figure enclosed with kits these days, but my memory of the photos of the time alwyas include the pilots in immaculate white flying overalls, so Our Man In The Cockpit is suitably dressed. 24.03.14

They say that this Hendon's a Wonderful Place!

As promised, another couple of shiny single-seaters that of course appeared at the Hendon RAF Pageant in 1939. I hope that comparing your references witSpitfire I 54 Squadron, RAF Pageant Hendon 1939h what should be visible in the snaps taken by an enthusiast of the day - and surprisingly focused - you'll see that the Spitfire is from one of the first hundred and seventy or so, with the two-bladed propellor and "flat-topped" canopy that give a slightly quaint air that vanished with a bulged canopy and the three-bladed de Havilland prop. K9887 first flew on 7 March 1939 and three days later joined 54 Squadron, as you can see by the yellow unit markings. The second Hurricane, L1750, also wears colourful maHurricane i 151 Squadron RAF Pageant Hendon 1939rkings from its days on Gauntlets, but at the moment there is a significant item of equipment yet to be fitted (as soon as I can bring you the appropriate illustration I will). I've somewhat taken to the idea of 1939/1940 Pageants, and I have another Hurricane and Spitfire awaiting the trumpet blast of inspiration. I'm holding back on an early, and equally silver, Hudson, but I do have plans for both the pending Airfix Blenheims, one at least with a family connection. 01.04.14

The 151 Squadron Hurricane nearly had the post-war St.Andrew's cross markings, until I found the light and dark blue stripes on an Aviation Workshop Wings of Silver sheet; the reason for the choice of both aircraft and unit was that, thanks to ColHurricane I, 151 Sqn RAF Pageant Hendon 1940in Strachan, I found that L1750 was the early Mark I used for trials with a pair of underwing Oerlikon 20mm cannon. It was of course camouflaged, and although not very successful originally did have a second burst of combat life when a new CO took over the squadron. One of the reason for the lack of success was apparently that the ammunition feed for the Oerlikon was much more difficult to accomodate than that for the Hispano, with which the Hurricane IIc is forever identified. With the Freightdog cannon now fitted - as are a pair of replacement five-spoke main wheels from the same source - 1750 can now take it's proper place in the RAF 1939/40 Pageant grouping (for which I'm now about to start a Hawker Demon successor in equally colourful unit markings). 20.04.14

Hendon Pageant 1940

A half-timbered airliner ?

You wouldn't normally think of equating Stansted with the Mojave desert, but when I joined air traffic control there at the end of 1958 the north west corner was lightly littered with "resting" Tudors of various marks, all with their best days behind them even if some optimist did see a future for some of them; indeed, one or two were still flying for another year or so. By then though the general view was that in spite of the aircraft's pedigree, directly descended from the already-immortal Lancaster and similarly Merlin-powered, in the long-distance transport role for which it had been intended even though it was still being operated by Air Charter it had been a failure. Its limited career, in various marks, gives it a certain interest and when Mel Bromley announced that a Tudor IV was to be part of his programme I asked him to earmark one for me; as always when faced with aTudor IV Star Panther, BSAA civil aircraft of which I want to know more I turned to my Man Who Knows Airliners, Tony Eastwood of TAHS, whose hat produced almost instantly Propliner 100-102 with Tony Merton-Jones' comprehensive account of the Tudor's origins and career.

The kit is straightforward, and very cleanly cast; in particular the original-style exhausts on the cowlings are very fine, though refining the join of these cowlings to the wing needs needs to be careful to avoid the exhaust stubs. At the rear of the wings where they meet the fairings on the fuselage there's a small flange which tucks underneath, and I found this needed thinning slightly for a better fit; otherwise it goes together very well. I was pleased to find that the main undercarriage legs, as well as the propellers, were metal; sometimes if the legs come in plastic they can find it hard to carry the weight of a model, even though the "injection-moulded" style of the hollow fuselage halves would not make this likely for the Tudor. One set of decals are included, for G-AHNJ Star Panther of the aircraft's prime user as an airliner, British South American Airways, with its pale blue cheatline; these were the days of the all-silver airliner, before aTudor IV G-AHNJ Star Panther, BSAA 1949 white top became commonplace. The lines of the original aircraft were distinctly handsome, and helped by the additional six feet of the mark IV's fuselage, but they were somewhat compromised by the substantial increase in hight of the vertical tail that was introduced to cover the aircraft's instability, not least on the approach, even if it helps to show off the large union flag! The perspicacious reader will have noted that this is out of my current stream of modelling both because it doesn't carry roundels and is "real", so perhaps I should confess that my original plan was to fit it with four of S&M's Dart-Dakota nacelles and propellers and impress it for trooping flights, but taken by a sudden interest in the original I stayed my hand; I haven't given up the idea entirely, though...... 23.04.14

Meanwhile, back in 1940....

In the way that sometimes happens, the idea of a "Hendon pageant" without the need for camouflage seems to have got a hold of me; the necessary follow-up to the three classic single-seaters in "Wings of Silver" era markings was obviously a two-seater, and staying with the fighter theme would surely call for a Hawker Demon replacement. The immediate thought was of a Boulton Paul Defiant, with kits available and markings from either Aviation Workshop of Modeldecal. With the MPM kit coming through the letter box I found a Pavla example on the garage shelf, and looking at the two decided that the MPM would be less complicated to build - and therefore, always a major concern, quicker - especially in respect of the turret, which involved working with resin on the MPM and metal with Pavla. In the event it may not have been the right decision, and the area behind the front cockpit needed a certain amount of hand "adaptation", and if the bits I left out probably wouldn't have been seen anyway it's not my finest modelling. These days I find myself grumping with increasing frequency about the apparent inevitability in a "limited" run kit of finding six parts where two would do, not only leading to extra work but also greater likelihood of my current combination of eyesight and finger-dexterity getting something slightly, but visibly, out of kilter. In this case the three propellor blades had to be butt-jointed on to minor - really minor - protrusions from the spinner which made it easy to get the angles between the three just not quite right, and a suspicion that the pitch of the blades would be unequally varied. Is it really not simple to produce a one-piece propellor in this grade of kit? I'd probably get drummed out of the local ModDefiant 1, 64 Sqn Hendon 1940ellers' Round Table, but I'd take that - in 1:72nd, anyway - over an etched metal instrument panel any day. Yes, I know I'm too hasty, but so often I'm trying to work to an admittedly self-inflicted timescale, and there are always three more kits waiting to be started to be ready by the next SIG display but two.

In readiness for the Pageant, the Defiant was finished with Mr.Metal Color acrylic "Alumine", with the cowling panels in Metalcote gloss silver; it was the Defiant "Warpaint" that mentioned this, and which also surprised me by showing a photo of the prototype with a matt black anti-glare panel. I considered an Auxiliary Air Force unit, but I chose the red and blue "trellis" of 64 Squadron from Modeldecal set 108, which also had the squadron's scarab on the Fighter Command "spearhead" frame and the information on the red tail of the CO's aircraft; and the pre-war roundels came from my rapidly-diminishing set 107.

Defiant 1, 64 Sqn RAF Hendon pageant

and at the same time.....

Most of my over-the-counter puchases these days are at a model show or air display, often on the "Monkey see, Monkey think ooNorthrop P-79B, 401 Sqn RCAFh nice" principle, and it was at the recent Milton Keynes show that I convinced myself with only a little help from the Oxonian Plastic stall holder that I really wanted the RS kit of Northrop's distinctive XP-79B. Bearing in mind that I've said - publicly - that I'm now only building models with roundels, it was an unexpected coincidence that after I got the kit home I fould a long stored set of decals by Leading Edge of "RCAF 401 Squadron Rams and 438 Squadron Wildcats", including Vampires, Sabres and T-33s. Tthe XP-59B labelled is on its box as the "Flying Ram" - a way of destroying its enemy which has been widely quoted, but according to my Big Northrop Book had/has no foundation in fact but of which the provenance was a casual remark by a bystander - and the Canadians' 401 Squadron not only carried the "Rams" name but also carried a ram's head as a marking. The use of these decals was therefore inevitable, and it was equally fortunate that the Vampires' very small "WWII-style" fin flash and their accompanying serials fitted neatly on the dorsal fins; it meant that I used the Vampire's serial, and there was no way I could have put in its place a replacement with digits that tiny. Fortunately there were suitable roundels on the same sheet with maple leaves of the correct era - I wouldn't want disapproval from Pat Martin, would I ? - and I added muzzles for the four 0.50 machine guns. The red panels were part of an abandoned back story of basing the aircraft at Cold Lake, but as with the red fin and tailplane on the CO's Defiant it's good to be able to add a little colour to a plain "silver" airframe. Like the Defiant the Northrop isn't one of my best-made models, but they give three dimensions to my original ideas, and will probably materialise on a What If? SIG table hoping to catch an unwary eye. And I strongly suspect that the theme of the full-colour RAF Pageant has me in its grip! 10.05.14

Northrop P-79B, 401 Squadron RCAF

And a good and commemorative 2014

Too late to send a Christmas greeting now of course, but during the scurrying around over Christmas this photo surfaced, and I don't remember having seen it for many years. At least it has real snow, thanks to being taken ninety miles or so east of the Rockies early in 1955. It has a real aeroplane, on which the nineteen-year-old cadet driver, also - debateably - real is sitting so casually; after all, Lancasters were common, not least in Canada. This one was parked between Penhold and Red Deer as a reminder of and tribute the many RCAF Lancaster crews that served with RAF Bomber Command; at the time this was taken this was still, rightly, a source of great pride for many. Please look up the story of Andrew Mynarksi's VC; looking him up myself while trying to find, unsuccessfully so far, what happened to to Lancaster, I found that he was the mid-upper gunner on the aircraft on which he won his VC, and I'm sure I wasn't aware of that when I sat down on the spine of the aircraft, very close to where the turret had been. He died on 12 June 1944 in a raid on Cambrai, which must have been to try to clear the way for the recently landed invasion force, so this year is his 60th anniversary as well. And he was flying with 419 Squadron, RCAF, out of Middleton St.George where twelve years later I was being taught how to fly over England after my Canadian training; I was totally unaware of that until I was looking him up for this entry.

"The Mynarski Memorial Lancaster, Red Deer Alberta 1955

Flying Flatiron

These days I make very few "real" aircraft, and fewer still in 1:48th, but from time to time there's an essential exception. I was fifteen and walking somewhere around the school in Cheltenham when I heard aircraft noise and looked up (a compulsion I still haven't lost sixty-two years later), and I saw an odd formation; the Meteor trainer was relatively normal, with us being after all not far from Gloucester - and Gloster - but the shape it was following was definitely odd. It had a sizeable triangular wing - I'm not sure if we'd yet learned to call it a "delta" - on a broad fuselage, followed immediately by a somewhat smaller triangle. The next day's papers told us it was the GA.5, a new British (and therefore of course best) fighter for the Royal Air Force, the first to be described as an all-weather rather than a night fighter; the one photo that was published was a head-on shot from below the nose cunningly concealing presence of the tailpane - see the cover page, though the flaps weren't evdent on the original - which feature took six months or more to become common knowledge. With a considerable and continuous period of development to iron out many of its early problems it evolved in to the Javelin, with each successive change appearing to merit a new Mark number, but some of its idiosyncrases and sometimes their accompanying rumours staying with it until the end of its service.

My first reaction to Airfix's announcement of its new kit were distinctly mixed, with "Good, a modern kit of the Javelin and with luck to the company's now expected high standard" to "but however good in 1/48th it'll take up serious space and limit - probably to one - the number I'll be able to make". The chosen marks 8/9 also imposed their own limitations, serving with only a limited number of squadrons; there would have been for me more interesting marking possibilities with earlier aircraft. This was solved at an unexpected stroke by Alastair Maclain's range of Alley Cat coversions that appeared out of the blue - and at the last minute, with Alastair and his team still packing them on the Saturday morning! - at ScaleModelWorld, merely presenting me with the need to decide on a mark; the kit had already been lurking around the sidelines of my workroom for a couple of months awaiting the necessary substantial space on the bench. SMW is of course a series of decisions, generally involving whatever the piggybank has yielded at the latest possible moment of departure and severely exercising the decision muscle, but in this case it wasn't too taxing; one requirement was as always to carry if possible a lesser-known and currently defunct unit marking, and with the option available of 89's blue on blue bar combined with the unusual "slanted" radome assosciated with the American AI.22 radar the FAW.6 was a shoo-in. I didn't have a close look at the instructions until after I got home of course, but even then it proved to be the right decision, even if it gave me one or two surprises.

It's always as well to consult references before starting on a kit but in this case, particularly as by my standards at least I took quite a while on the build, they kept surfacing; my original aim was to find out what differences the Mk.6 carried apart from the obvious nose and rear fuselage modifications. To my delight I was able to find easily the monograph on the marks 1 to 6 that Roger Lindsay had published back when memories of the original were still fresh, and the Warpaint by Tony Buttler with Dave Howley's colour. Someway through the process I was lamenting, probably out loud, that there was no Ad Hoc "Javelin from the Cockpit" when I remembered that Peter Caygill had produced just such a book, and that there was also a section on the Javelin in his "Jet Jockeys"; and I was delighted to find in the "Early British Jet Fighters" compilation from the pages of the Aeroplane an excellent two-page rear three quarter air-to-air view of XA815 'E', the 89 Javelin FAW.6 XA815 E, 89 Squadron aircraft featured in the Alley Cat conversion, which even in black and white proved very informative, though it may have misled me about the radome/fuselage join. the photo showed me a shiny strip which appears to join the two - on the 2 & 6 the radome was withdrawn forward to service the radar - and was certainly different in tone from the standard camouflage colour, and accordingly I painted it in Tamiya's metallic grey which looks right to me, but for which I have as yet found no other justification. Unless, as Esther Rantzen used to say, you know better.....

The instructions for the conversion are very good, and worth following closely, especially if you can find the space to spread them out around you with those from the kit and other paper material; but somewhere I managed to misinterpret, or possibly misremember, the measurements involved in applying the rear fuselage and jet pipe modification. Remedy involved more Perfect Plastic Putty than I would have liked, but fortunately it's underneath and not evident in the photos! The kit itself is very well designed and made, and may well be, as at least one magazine has said, Airfix's best ever; it was in spite of my self-inflicted errors a real pleasure to build, the one real problem I gave myself being the attachment of the four transparent canopy parts. These should seat neatly on their respective rails, enabling the crew's two hoods to be mounted slid back (though in Singapore, and perhaps even in Rhodesia, a white reflective sheet mounted above the cockpit might have been more useful). Somewhere along the line I must have mis-mounted the rails, probably through a combination of haste and self-confidence, and I never did manage to pull myself totally out of my hole; there's never a copy of The Bad Modeller's Handbook around when you need it. I tried to mitigate some of the nasties with Kristal-Kleer and thick Dark Sea Grey, but there should be a warning to viewers about the dangers of getting too close! The latest issue of Airfix Magazine with the excellent review/build article by Alan Price arrived too late for me to take his suggestion to fit the clear parts to the rails first and then to clip them into place around the cockpit. And you shouldn't look too closely at the right wing tip; I found very late in the day that the second pitot head, on the starboard wing, wJavelin FAW.6 XA815, 89 Squadronas not applicable before the FAW.7. Scrambling to get this finished before the fat man gets stuck in the chimney I can't locate the reference that told me, but I think it's quite possible that that's also where I saw, or at least inferred, that the same applies to the central line of vortex generators.

These also feature in the conversion. Alley Cat provide two resin leading edge section for each wing to fill in for the removal of the protruding cannon fairings, which could require the replacement of some of the little plastic blades; their solution - a modeller's solution - is to include a full replacement set of etched blades, and brass jigs to aid their installation. Sorry, Ali - I'm sure these will appear in profusion on the prize-winning versions that will no doubt be seen in 2014, but I decided to try to revert to the earlier gun installation with knife and file and very nearly succeeded. I was encouraged to do this by the Aeroplane photo to which I referred earlier,which showed the sunken cannon ports outlined with black, a not uncommon habit on Hunters, and even with gunsmoke residue on the underside of the wing (which I plan to add later, honest, along with the underwing serials!). I should also mention the excellent kit decal sheet, with a positive profusion of tiny stencils and a separate page of instructions to show you where they go; sadly this page went to ground about a week before it was really needed, though I think all the obvious markings are in place, at least according to the very good colour page showing the major decal placement. The resultant model is very impressive as long as, in the case of mine, you don't get too close to the office; given world enough and time I could be tempted to a second, but I think I'd rather try to persuade the Good Chaps at Hornby to do it all again in 72nd!


As for Harmonious Dragmaster, I'll never forget the sound of it starting up booming across Chivenor - almost as musical as "Annie Laurie" on a Hunter's run and break!

And a postscript - as well as the usual modelling aids that scatter themselves haphazardly across my workbench, and bits of the surrrounding floor, I'd like to mention the invaluable part played especially in the more unsocial hours by the recent series of Homeland and Borgen, even if the latter did call for a close eye on the subtitles as well as the journalists. 09.01.14


Part of my regular Friday morning patter when I'm trying to sell books at the Chantry Chapel in Buckingham is that you can't have too many books, but you can have a serious shortage of shelves; this perhaps is why I refer to "stacks" in the heading, not in this case to the holding points around the LTMA but because of the way in which books seem to accumulate in the floor around me. Having had a major cull of my aviation books at the end of last year I think I should with however much regret face another after Christmas; new books keep coming, and even on subjects that have already been covered new information keeps emerging, or what's aready in print can reappear consolidated within one cover. Examples in both these categories were among those that came back with me from Telford.

As with the names of Sue Grafton and Ian Rankin in a slightly different Early US Jet Fightersobsession that of Tony Buttler results in an uncontrolled and unrestrained reflex movement of my right hand towards whatever appears with his name on the cover; I suspect I would find it very hard to resist The Tony Buttler Cookbook. His latest in his more usual category under the Hikoki imprint is Early US Jet Fighters, Proposals, Projects and Prototypes; book titles seem to be becoming as long as Victorian chapter headings, but this does describe the contents precisely. The author was previously responible for books on American fighters and bombers in Midland's Secret Projects series, but as so often publication of hitherto uncovered information has resulted in much more coming to the surface, and this is the reason for this extremely useful update. The first two chapters are Air Force Beginning and Navy Beginnings, starting with the Airacomet and the FH-1 Phantom - there are many aircraft that did fly, and enter service, as well as those that didn't leave the drawing board - and the last two First Air Force Supersonic and First Navy Supersonic reaching the F-102 and Crusader; as well as those in between divided by service and function there is one devoted to flying boat fighters, always fascinating, and other miscellaneous projects which will have modellers rummaging through their boxes of bits. The many unbuilt designs are illustrated by drawings, plans and some excellent models by John Hall and will no doubt intrigue those of us of the What If? tendency, and some may yet give me cause to regret my Master Plan to make only models wearing roundels (perhaps there could yet be a similar British-oriented book). This one easily lives up to what to me is the guarantee of content and quality promised by the author's name, and of good production and presentation that has become routine with Hikoki. This is a book which I am enjoying reading and will enjoy dipping back in to, and which I recommend highly both to aviation enthusiasts and to modellers with an interest in actual and potential history.

The second (of several) that came back in my library bag is as you can see on one of the several incarnatBritish Phantoms Vol.2ions of what is an iconic fighter of the supersonic era, and one of which perhaps more models have been made than of any other jet. A couple of years ago Pat Martin brought ot the first part of the F-4K/M saga, covering its origins and development and its service with the Fleet Air Arm and in the ground attack and reconnaisance role with the RAF. This one takes it through its days in air defence in FG.1, FGR.2 and F-4J(UK) (never F.3) form until its retirement, this accompanied by somewhat distressing photos of scrapped airframes. There's a section dedicated to its time in the Falklands and another to its weapons, and major coverage of its camouflage and markings and another on "special" schemes including the transatlantic "Alcock and Browne" scheme designed by Wilf Hardy. Bases and units have a chapter of their own, and an appendix has the individual aircraft histories. To say the book is fully illustrated is probably an understatement; the large number of photos, many sourced from some very familiar aviation photo sources as well as coming from Pat Martin's own collection, light up the text throughout the book, making it colourful even when the aircraft are grey. The two volumes together tell the story of an aircraft that the Navy wanted and the RAF accepted perhaps a trifle grudgingly, excellently produced by Double Ugly Books (!) and should be added as soon as possible to one of your taller book shelves. 17.11.13

No Home Should Be Without One!

You will of course remember Cold War Shield, the first of Roger Lindsay's proposed series giving extensive coverage of the RAF fighter force world wide from 1950 until 1980. It may even be - and if not it should be! - within easy reach of your comfortable reclining chair; it needs one of these for ease of both reference and handling! Bracketed by chapters on Cold War Shield, Volume 2 the background of the period which however much some of us may demur is now history and the RAF's organisation of the time and appendices with some additional details including fighter squadron support and orders of battle, its major text and photos is organised by aircraft type and squadron. In Volume One the subjects were the last piston-engined fighters and Meteors; this, as the force became all-jet, covers Vampires and Venoms in both day and night fighter forms and the Canadair Sabre.

Ticking boxes has a bad press at the moment, but it can be useful; my National Trust service on Fridays ticks those of books, old stones and Serious Coffee, the three filling a trio of basic needs for my involvement. In the same way this series covers the fighters of my youth, their units and their colours with full description of their unit markings, this combination being the backbone of my most constant primary interest in aviation as well as my early personal involvement; as well as the historic aspects, the needs of modellers of the chosen subjects are comprehensively looked after. Several squadrons were allocated two-seaters of a different basic type from their front-line aircraft, and these are covered in one of the many useful appendices. Also at the end of the book is a very good selection of colour photos and colour profiles, the latter by David Howley; particularly at the start of this period personal, and in many cases professional, photos were shot in black and white. Roger Lindsay has set up a dedicated website - - which carries a very useful selection of photos to give you a flavour of the contents, particularly for those who are not familiar with the earlier book, as well as full details and an ordering facility. It also has early details of Volume 3 which will cover Swift, Hunter and Javelin - I still have the two profiles on the Harmonious Dragmaster that Roger published many, many years ago! - and early Lightning, giving us yet another reason to be cheerful and to persist in taking our tablets. Even if you don't need convincing, look at the website; it will, in Tom Lehrer's phrase, rend the air just soggy with nostalgia.

Part of the author's background, in common with many aviation enthusiasts - no, let's use the honourable and traditional title of Spotters - was as a member of the Royal Observer Corps, and this must have formed the basis of his personal records to which he has now added therecords and accounts of others; there are many well-remembered recollections of both aircrew and ground crew in the body of the text. I shall wait, as I'm sure will many others, with some difficulty in exercising the necessary patience for Volume 3. While I suppose it will happen I can't conceive of all this information being more readily available and user-friendly, even at the weight of this volume, in other than book form, in which Roger Lindsay has assembled from his own and others' sources the facts of his - and my! - chosen field of history, and has restored them to colourful life. 23.09.13



Well no, I didn't rush straight in to the next Boulton Paul; I found myself somwhat stymied by a lack of banana oil, which I'll explain at a convenient time. Instead I decided on a apparently straightforward model, inspired by the appearance of the Roden C-140 Jetstar and the instant availability of a second S&M BAC 111 AEW radome, which seemed somehow madLockheed StarSearcher 1, 434 Sqn CAF Cold Lake 1984e for each other and in fact fitted pretty well. With my self imposed rule of sticking to roundels the RCAF seemed an obvious recipient, and with much study of Pat Martin's Canadian Armed Forces' Markings and given the availability of decals of the appropriate size I wound up with an almost kosher scheme based on their Challenger and enabling me to use 434 Squadron's schooner marking which I've admired since I spent my twenty-first birthday at Zweibrucken. I added a couple of fins below the rear fuselage - they were from the Javelin's Firestreaks! - and I suspect the aircraft would have needed a touch more power, but all in all it turned out just as I'd hoped when I started. And it's such a nice little kit I feel I should find another use for it.


It must be the best part of twenty-five years since Chris Thomas sent me a copy photo of the front end of a Typhoon with a huge sharkmouth, telling me that he knew the squadron and who at least one of the pilots was, but had no idea of the serial or individual code. This has emerged, with Chris' persistent research contributing, in the last three years or so, and the results are now available in three scales - we'll talk about the fourth later - on an excellent set of decals by the Canadian firm Aviaeology. This was the aircraft I'd planned to make earlier, the comments on which should still be in "The Vaults" somewhere, but which I'd started with underwing fittings for bombs instead of rockets, and it's taken me a while to get back to plan A. Not only are the decals themselves first clTyphoon MP197, 245 Sqn June 1945ass, but the instructions are seriously informative, well illustrated and produced. There is still doubt, expressed in the text, about the colour of the centre of the mouth, which could either be red or the standard camouflage pattern, and for which thoughtfully they give both options. I chose the red although fitting it needed a little delicacy, as it was designed to fit the original Airfix and the Academy kits, and I think this new one is slightly squarer of jaw; I'm a great believer in "If truth and legend conflict print the legend" (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - did you know that this is said to be one of only two films in which John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart appeared together?). The options cover various periods for "Sharky" from D-Day onwards and by June 1945 it had added 245's blue and white checks round the rear fuselage and blue on the inside of the main u/c doors, all of which were very tempting, and for some reason the serial had been repainted in sky.

If there's one British aircraft that still symbolises D-Day it's surely the Typhoon; we didn't know at the time that it had survived earlier problems with both engine and airframe and that it was re-roleing from interceptor to ground attack that gave it its ultimate purpose, but its very appearance in the newsreels and newspaper photos of the day was pugnacious, symbolic at least to civilian readers, of an aggressive push to the finish. This is being marked by Hornby/Airfix this year by the launch of their really big 1:24th Typhoon which normally I wouldn't even consider if only because of the size, not to mention the amount of plumbing provided for the Sabre; but there's a preview in the latest issue of Aeroplane which includes MP197 in the list of alternatives in the decals...... 13/02/14

Another target hunter

Among Tony Buttler's prolific "Secret Project" series there's one covering British fighter and bomber designs from 1935 until 1950; to his usual excellent standard it hasn't attracted as much attention from those who produce resin What If? kits and bits as those from the post-Duncan Sandys era (bitter? moi?) but Unicraft, whose world view is pretty wide-ranging, come up with unlikely roundel-wearers from time to time, freqently obtainable from Adrian Hampson of "Lonewulf". This was the case with this Boulton Paul P.99 and its sibling the P.100 (still waiting in the wings), designed to Specification F.6/42 for a single engined fighter, emerging with an emphasis on ground attack. Both were Griffon-engined with a pusher installation and a six-bladed contra-rotating propellors. While the fuselages were very similar with the cockpit well-forward for the best view of any targets the 99 protected the pusher with twin booms, while the 100 had a much more radical canard layout. The result is a rather ungainly aircraft, not least because of its tailwheel undercarriage, and this caused me some problems while putting it together. Unicraft's resin is always rather brittle, and while this is less of a problem with the larger pieces given care - and of course not being rushed - I broke both main u/c legs while trying to thin out the flash. Hunting for replacements I found a pair of Italeri B-57 legs which filled the need, but I wasn't as delicate as I should have been while inserting them in to their wells, and the aircraft wound up looking a touch knock-kneed. The fuselage included a nosewheel well, and I spent some time trying to find the nose leg among the coBoulton Paul Buzzard F.Mk.2 32 Sqn RAF 1948ntents; there was after all a smaller wheel in addition to the main wheels, and the "instructions" - a really well-produced colour three-view with the undercarriage retracted - weren't a help. I wasn't until I went back to the small three-view in the book that I realised that it was a tailwheel layout, and that the small wheel fitted in to the recess in the under fin. At least, it did until the largely finished model had an unexpected collision with the floor, and while all the other parts went together again - and repairing is one part I really don't like - the Carpet Monster claimed the tailwheel (the replacent came from a Frog Hornet kit, which thoughtfully came with two). I'd tried to be a bit adventurous with the cockpit; the fuselage walls are rather thick, and I found a small pack of bullet, or perhaps radome, shaped drills with which attaced to my Dremel I was able to thin them down, though I did get nervous the nearer I got to the outside and perhabs it I'd been braver - or foolhardy - I might have taken out a little more . My idea was to furnish the cockpit with a Pavla resin Vampire 1 interior, which was at least partly successful; I plan to try again with the P.100.

As always, colours and markings loomed large in my early deliberations, and the box and instruction art featured standard "D-Day" markings with full striping, but I moved forward three years to when the RAF in Palestine repainted its piston-eBouton Paul Buzzard F Mk.I 32 Sqn 1948ngined fighters to avoid possible confusion with Israeli and Egyptian Spitfires; all is explained in Paul Lucas' excellent "RAF fighters 1945-1950 overseas based", not, I suspect, that the Boulton Paul Buzzard - I do like alliteration, and Martinsyde's was long out of service - could be mistaken for anything else!. And I liked the idea of a ? as aircraft identity, which was available for a 32 Squadron on Freightdog's new Brits Abroad sheet, and thanks to Captain Freightdog I was able to supplement it with the squadron's hunting horn and blue and white check square from an earlier and now defunct set. Like all the Unicraft kits I've worked on it needs a certain determination to carry through, but they do offer a great variety of unlikely subjects which would otherwise require considerable personal research and hand-fettling. One current Plan is to go straight on with the P.100 while the lessons - read my mistakes - with the 99 are fresh enough in my mind to avoid or correct. I admit this is not one of my best-made models, especially after its enforced rebuild, but I hope to take this one up to Huddersfield this coming weekend for the What If? Sig's first outing of the year. And I have the rest of the Freightdog Brits Abroad set to choose from, and Xtradecal Typhoons; I think there are somewhat reduced "distinctive markings" in my future.

As it's shared the bench with the Typhoon, it was because of the success of the big Hawker in its adopted role that made any progress with the two Boulton Pauls unnecessary, though I'm glad that it's left us with these projects. As a fallout from this model I quite fancy collecting a few more models with ? as their identification; some are fairly obvious, such as 112's P-40s and of course Hunter, and I'm sure there were one or two captured Axis aircraft, a Fw 190 and a He 111 hovering about the back of my consciousness. If you can add to this little list I'd be very interested! 13.02.14

A sideways glance

This conversion from Lonewulf made a surprise appearance at ScaleModelWorld, another design to have been revealed in one of Chris Gibson's profiles The Admiralty and AEW. The resin parts are added to the current 1/72nd Airfix Sea Harrier, a relatively straightforward saw and superglue operation; as well as the prominent wingtop pods carrying the radar aerials the major part is a new rear fuselage and tail section, based on that of the Harrier T.4, and a pair of underwing tanks that are slightly smaller than those that come with the kit. Having, I thought, trued up the fin when I fitted the rear fuselage I found when I came to take the photos that the port aerial wasn't quite verticSea Harrier R.3 B Flight Naval Strike Wing 2005al; the small stub that replaces the wingtip seemed to be fitting correctly, so it's possible that the wing isn't seated quite correctly, but by this time it was too late to make a major break and refit.

As always much of my enjoyment of this model was concerned with getting its colours and markings "right". My prime source of information was Roger Chesneau's Aeroguide on the Sea Harrier; as always the unit markings are dependent on the availability of of decals, and what would fit in to my proposed sSea Harrier R.3, B flight Naval Strike Wing 2005 cenario. Having already used the D Flight 849 NAS dragon from the Model Art Skyraider AEW set, the "bee" remained, but I avoided the large black and yellow segments that were worn by the Flight's Gannets; and I used the Naval Strike Wing bars from the Aviation Workshop "Final Harrier" sheet on the grounds that had the Joint Harrier Force survived it would have had organic AEW. Its a while since Lonewulf have produced a conversion of their own, and this is very welcome; I look forward to whatever Adrian Hampson considers next. 1.12.13

Sacred Blue!

One of those stands that I keep being distracted by at ScaleModelWorld each year is that of F-RSIN, which with only a little thought is self-explanatory; they produce 1/144th scale resin kits, with a solid core of French airliners. In the last couple of years they've added moulding to their methodology, in the same scale and with much the same approach; I was tempted by - and succumbed to - the RCAF Comet !, and still have a couple of Breguet Deux Ponts in the garage for that legendary rainy day. This year I came home with, in resin, a Boeing Stratoliner - just because I like it - and this little inter-war three-engined ten-seat Wilbault 283T, with a cheeky individuality which gave me reason enough tWibault 283T Air France mid-'30so give it a good home. The breakdown of arts is very simplewith fuselage, flying surfaces, engines, cowlings and propellors. In formation with the kits is spasre, but includes colour line drawings, not least to help you decide the precise shade of blue and if it's available in acrylic. Not having built one of this series before I was slightly surprised to find that the decal sheet, as well as the expected windows also includes the control surface outlines and some of the panel lines; the decal lines are very fine and need careful application, but are effective. I spent more time than anything trying to match the blue to that of the kit drawing, probably fruitlessly, but settling for Revell's Aqua 52 Blau. I enjoyed this little model, and suspect I may have discovered another enthusiasm, not least because of the little space it consumes under construction as well as finished; Sacre Bleu, indeed! 09.01.14

And these are because......

By and large when I invest in a kit, new or adopted, I have a good idea what I want to do with it and in particular the colours I want it to wear, however sketchy the back story for the moment. Contrary to my three-at-a-time habit four models have just sidled off my workbench to catch the IPMS Brampton show at St.Ives (tomorrow as I write) and all were picked because I liked the originals, and the opportunity to put them in to a service they, and the passing viewer, might not have expected. I'll take the three potential SIG144 candidates first - the Meteor may take longer.

The PZL M.28bis - how foreign - has been lurking around for a while; I started it about a year ago, but it's suffered the unwelcome attentions of the carpet monster, as well as some parts - the propellors for example - just running away and hiding before emerging shamefacedly from an entirely wrong box. Thw windscreen just vanished, and was eventually replaced by one from an Anigrand Languedoc, suitably bolstered with Kristal Kleer. Bought in the first place because I liked the shape it must have been around the time of a post-Nimrod debate on our maritime reconnaisance capabilities, and Plan A became to raise an MR Auxiliary unit to give us at least some littoral surveillance capability, hence the basic hemp/light aircraft grey scheme. Largely finished it sat in a farther corner of my workbench, edged further and further away from the cutting mat by other Exciting Projects, until the propellors reappeared - I'd considered replacing them with the Hawkeye 2000 props from Retrokit, but the prospect of supergluing sixteen individual resin blades to tPZL M.28 Petrel, 819 NAS 2020heir hubs brought on a fit of the vapours - and I revived it with the thought its joining a slowly-growing RAF (or RNAS/RFC) 2020 group, probably with a unit marking from the Czechmaster Shackleton sheet. However it occurred to me that given its prime function, including monitoring the exits and entrances around Faslane, I was sure that even had it started with the RAF in standard MR colours Their Lordships would have made a strong case for it to be owned and run by sailors, so it carries Navy titles and the markings of 819 NAS operating from RNAS Ballykelly (I'd thought of reviving Eglinton but I have a feeling that it's now a full-blown civilian airfield); and I think Petrel MR.1 would suit it, as well as being alliterative.

The next two were both casual pick ups. I'm not sure that I was even aware of the kits' existence; I found the Dragon X-29 on Mr.Models stand at Duxford, and I think the Revell YF-23 was from our local Modelzone not long before its closure wCAF CF-29 Aggressor, 434 Squadron Cold Lake 2014as announced. The forward-swept Grumman has always appealed to me and I remember making four or five of the Hasegawa 1:72nd kit at Marlow, so that must have been twenty or more years ago; the idea of the colours for this one came, like those of the Canadian Stratoseatchers, from Pat Martin's invaluable series of camouflage and marking books - I think the blue may be a bit bright but it was the closest I could find off the shelf - and the roundels are from the Mark 1 1:144 set, one of several very useful recent productions from the Czech firm in this scale. The "aggressor" red stars on the tail came from a Superscale sheet that surprised me when I was looking foMcDD Spectre FGA.2, 14 Sq RAF 2020r something else entirely; I think CF-29 would identify this quite easily. And I always liked McDonnell's entry for the "superfighter" competition, much more elegant thant its Lockheed rival, and in 1:72nd it took its place on my 'nineties shelves in both 43 and 111 "special" schemes by courtesy of Modeldecal. This example has survived until 2020 as a McDonnell Douglas (F-23B) Spectre FGR.2, serving with 14 Squadron, presumably at Marham, with the help of Xtradecals' small-scale Tornado decals and Xtracrylix Camouflage and Dark Camouflage grey.

And then there's the Meteor. No doubt because it's different - you know my thought processes by now - I'd vaguely fancied building a Trent-Meteor, and had gone so far as buying a Unicraft conversion, but chickened out on actually using it. This time round the MPM kit came home with me from Cosford, where it was part of a discussion behind the SIG stand; after I'd succumbed to the kit from one of the adjacent merchants - almost as though it had been brought from far Cathay - the idea of a carrier-borne version emerged on the basis that Their Lordships might feel a little less nervous about one of this new-fangled jets on their carriers if they could still see the propellors. And as to what it might be for its obvious destiny was to carry a torpedo underneath as a Firebrand replacement. Here comes then, as a result of all this group activity, the Meteor TF.22. When it started on the workbench it got somewhat overwhelmed - as indeed was I - by the two successive pairs of Stratosearchers, and suffered one or two delays as a couple of parts went temporarily AWOL; one of these was one of the ten propellor blades, and as I was getting towards the completion, which I planned to be in time for the Brampton show, I fettled one from a slightly larger blade discarded frGloster Meteor TF.22 809 NAS HMS Eagle 1952om something else and made sure it was the lowest, and therefore less visible, when the spinner was fitted. Then of course it turned up hiding in a totally Wrong Box while I was applying the decals as did the original nosewheel, the leg for which like those of the main undercarriage has to be built from component parts, not my preferred way of doing it; I discovered in the garage half an Xtrakit Mark 8 which supplied not onlt the second nosewheel but also a later-style canopy and the national markings from its decal sheet. The torpedo was originally to be from a Flightpath package which came with a resin body and etched metal fins, which proved altogether too delicate for my supergluing skills; it did however donate a pair of white metal crutches and "tailplane" to which I attached the weapon that came from the new Airfix Swordfish kit (I have plans for the rest of this which would not necessarily have passed the Fairey design team). Working on a colour scheme I decided that the aircraft would have replaced the Firebrand but preceded the WMeteor TF.22 with plums and custardyvern, and it was to Ad Hoc's "Wyvern from the Cockpit" that I turned to confirm my memories of its appearance, both from Roger Chesneau's artwork, which confirmed the finlet colours, and from the account of 830 Squadron's history. Fixed in my memory was the description of these colours being described as "plums and custard", though the book account called the main colour "royal purple"; I originally painted the finlets with which the Trent-Meteor was conveniently fitted yellow, intending to paint the Humbrol 20 (see Les Barker's "Stanley Knife" in Labrador Rigby) over the the top but my lines proved altogether too ragged, so I did the sensible thing and used Xtradecal yellow striping. The real lhooked Meteor had an "A-frame", but I found this substantial Aeroclub straisg example which I mountede in the "sting" style in the manner of the late Seafires, and which was extremely useful when it became evident that there wasn't enough room for nose weight and which makes an excellent prop, especially for the photos. All in all this looks just what I saw in my mind's eye when I started, and it's always comforting to know, or at least to believe, that I had it right all along.

Meteor TF.22 830 NAS, HMS Eagle 1951

And finally, from Oz..

Yes, I know, never say never again; when I fininished the pair of Canadian Stratosearchers - currently appearing as part of Mike's Pick but shortly to be tranferred to the Vaults - I had in mind that four of these strange beasts was enough, and besides I was limiting my modelling to subjects wearing roundels. At the end of the Farnborough IPMS show I'd found that Colin Strachan had just one of his AEW C-97 conversions left - apparently it's been a popular subject - and decided to give it a home; I picked up a Minicraft kit at the Shuttleworth Uncovered on the following day, which was obviously A Sign, but still hadn't decided on a user. Then at the IPMS Brampton show at St.Ives on the following weekend I was talking to Mel Bromley about his expected AEW BAC 111, and we arrived at the RAAF as a suitable recipient; this led me almost directly to the conclusion you see here. As related in Chris Gibson's The Air Staff and AEW, when the project was first mooted at the end of the second World War the RAF had in mind building on its Master Bomber experience and fielding an aircraft specifically intended to oversee and control bombing operations and with theRAAF Stratosearcher 3, 77 Sqn 1971 Australian roundel firmly in my head I decided that such a system would have been useful to the RAAF directing its Canberra operations in Vietnam, which led instantly to thoughts of a green/green/tan scheme probably with black undersides.

As you can see, it didn't quite turn out like that. I was ferreting through my scattered decals for "Royal Australian Air Force" titles for the 111 when I found a set of 1/72nd Aussie Decals for the Caribou, which I'd brought back from Melbourne in 2000 (you never know when it'll come in handy) which had the required titling in a selection of colours, and much else besides, notably a choice of camouflage schemes one of which I appropriated for the Stratosearcher; it used a wraparound pattern in the two "Vietnam" greens with small bursts of black (its use on the Caribou was somewhat post-Vietnam, I know, but it seemed apposite). While there are roundels under the wings there were none on the top surfaces, and on the fuselage they just carried a black kangaroo (a stealth roo, perhaps); the service titles are in tan, but do show against the greens. I did think of using the Caribou unit emblems, but during the ferreting I'd found Aussie Decals for the F-18 which carried 77 Squadron's "Grumpy Monkey"; not only had I always wanted to find a use for this malevolent little figure but I'd seen it applied to the squadron's FAC PC-9s on the same trip on which I'd bought the decals (another Sign!). Like the Meteor 22 this looks very much like the picture in my head once I'd settled on the scheme, and closes satisfactorily my current three-dimensional file on this strangely charismatic big beast; five is probably enough - there are other files begging to be opened! - and although given my self-imposed roundel restriction a Kiwi one could be a possibility, and if I stretch the point there is always the possibility of a bleu, blanc et rouge example somewhere in Africa, I'll give myself a break from hunting C-97 kits for the moment. And besides the BAC 111 there's the possibility of more AEW projects.....with roundels,of course. 23.10.13

RAAF Stratosearcher 3, 77 Sqn 1971

Look! Beyond the blue horizon!

Over the last couple of years Chris Gibson has become the "go to" chap for many Wif? modellers, and those who provide them with the resin wherewithal, with books and profiles describing many projects that offer us hitherto unthought-of possibilities; the airborne early warning theme has become at least in my case a thread, starting with the "Stratosearcher" - I really like that name, though you might like variations on EC-97 - of which I've now accumulated five, and now progressing through the ever-welcome agency of Freightdog Models and the excellent Paul Lucas to what the wise men of Brough thought this could be done with a Buccaneer. The version chosen is the P.139/2 - you can read all about this and other possibilities in The Admiralty and AEW - which involves the minimum disruption to the Airfix kit; it has two substantial sideways-looking radar aerials attached to pylons that fit over the bomb bay door either side of its centreline, but the aerials are too deep to remain hanging down vertically for take off and landing, and therefore have to "retract" outwards while the undercarriage is either fully down or fully up and covered by its doors. It does "work", and is perhaps more easily accepted Buccaneer AEW.3b, 216 Squadron RAF 1980once the parts of the model come together; the problem from my modelling point of view is that I like to build my models so that they stand on their wheels, and in that state the aerials are not obvious until you look closely. The photo on the cover page shows this, but in this one at least they are visible if you peer behind the external tank and below the jet pipe. You will I hope recognise the marking of 216 Squadron, which had Buccs for a short time, and therefore it seems logical - at least in my logic - that they would have progressed to this mark. The eagle-and-bomb above the fin flash and the serial - on the basis that the AEW version might very well have used remanufactured S.2 airframes - came from Aviation Workshop decals, and the colours are those of the second Nimrod scheme; there's always a Gulf War possibiliity in reserve. The conversion kit comes with Freightdog's already available tailplane, nose and FR probe, though my probe ran away and hid and I've used the rather thicker kit part. There's a Fleet Air Arm AEW.3a following not far behind, but it'll have to wait till post-Telford. We'll be back! 5.11.13

And here it is: it's had a couple of adventures, at least one inolving the application of more superglue after it slid gently off a pile of magazines to the side Buccaneer AEW.3a 849 NAS D flight Lossiemouth 1980 of my workbench as I walked past, and the apparent loss of one of its radar aerials that I'd been painting before attachment to their pylons when I was packing up my models on the WiF? SIG stand at Telford on the Sunday afternoon. Following the required panic it was found in an unexplored part of my workbox when I was returning to real life on the Tuesday, and duly attached; as with the 216 Squadron aircraft the aerials are mounted in their retracted position to enable the model to stand on its wheels, but in this view you can see them tucked up below the rear of the engines. Also like the 216 aircraft I assumed a cBuccaneer AEW.3a 849 NAS D Flight Lossiemouth 1980onversion from an existing airframe; the markings came largely from the kit decals, but the Lossie tailcode is from an early Xtradecal and the 849 NAS "D" Flight symbol from Model Art sheet 45, as is the very small unit badge below the windscreen. This sheet as so often came from the apparently almost inexhaustible selection of Paul Davis, without whom several of my models would be less colourful or might indeed never have been built! I stll worry what effect lowering the aerials so that the undercarriage could be retracted would have on the airspeed while climbing away after take-off.

Continuing the AEW theme, the other aircraft I took up to Telford to complete in fromt of astonished onlookers was the BAC 111 with a rotodome, the formRAAF BAC 111 AEW, c.1980er from Airfix - of which Tony Eastwood of TAHS assured me he had a substantial stock - and the latter from Mel Bromley of S&M Models. There are references to the projected design in the book on the 111 by Stephen Skinner which has a line drawing side view, and Chris Gibson's "Air Staff and AEW", which has several rather more odd alternatives. The roundels are from the RAAF sheet in the very useful Mark One series, and the titles from the Oz Decals Caribou set which I had previously used on the fifth Stratosearcher; it's not yet been given or indeed a serial, on both of which I need a little further research. Is there an Antipodean version of Bruce Robertson's Every Boy's Book of Serials ? 13.11.13

Watching from the hover...

I've been a fan of the Osprey for what must be getting on for twenty-five years; as with the Harrier series - built and unbuilt - there's something about combined vertical and forward, and sometimes even backward, motion that I find fascinating. I made a few of the early Hobbycraft kits when we were still living in Marlow, so that must be nearly twenty years ago, amongst which was a yellow 84 Squadron example with a blue UN band for service in Cyprus, and although it took me longer that I liked in the last couple of years I've finally been able to see the real thing at shows in the USA. At the Last US Forces' Air Display in March at El Centro there was a particularly handsome Marines MV-22B in the colours of VMM-163, complete with "eyes" by the cockpit deMV-22B Osprey VMM-163 El Centro March 2013 rived I was told from those painted on the bows of Vietnamese fishermen's boats to ward off evil spirits, and knowing that there was a Hasegawa kit on the way, fortunately in 1:72nd, I made sure I returned home with Useful Photos; and I was even more delighted when I found that Xtradecal's set on the type had among its colourful selection the very aircraft through which I had walked and with one of whose drivers I had chatted. It was self-evident then that this would be the one I'd make as soon as I could get my hands on the kit. Plans are of course inevitably changed by Events, and so it proved once again.

Events in this case were the approach of ScaleModelWorld at Telford, and wanting to have something for the WiF? SIG table in 1:72nd, and a visit sponsored by the Milton Keynes Aviation Society to Odiham for a presentation on the station's role and equipment. I was taken slightly aback on the day to be greeted on arrival by the Squadron Leader who'd been specially selected to look after us saying "Are you Mike McEvoy the modeller?" which I couldn't deny, and it turned out that not only was he a modeller Osprey HC.1 7 Squadron RAF, 2022himself but was a member of that fine body of chaps the IPMS Farnborough Branch. The Chinooks we could get close to in the hangar and on the flightline were those flown by 18 and 27 Squadrons in overall green and without unit markings, but those of 7 Squadron which - allegedly - has a special forces role were tucked away in their own compound on the far side of the field. I'd already contemplated this as a possible Osprey unit, especially with the margings applied to one of its Wokkas for the squadron's 75th anniversary and fortuitously avalable on Modeldecal set 99; and Adrian Balch's amazingly extensive files provided photos of that scheme from both sides to ensure that I positioned the individual stars - which together form the Great Bear constellation, but you knew that, didn't you? - correctly. With a thought that Osprey HC.1 7 Squadron 110th anniversary colours 202224 Squadron's C-130s seemed to wear a darker green than the standard, after a little trial and error I settled on Tamiya XF-61; apart from the roundels and serial - Modeldecal, of course - the rest of the decals came from the kit sheet, and though grey don't look out of place. The "walk" areas represented by fine parallel lines on the wing and fuselage upper surfaces need particular care, and I should have subdivided decal 9; it's commendably thin, but I found it gave me problems being laid down in one piece, folding over itself in a way from which I couldn't recover it. Even with this probably self-inflicted problem the kit is excellent, and I'll comment further on it when, thanks to Xtradecal, I add the "Ridge Runners'" 00 to this section sometime between now and Christmas; during this period I may even add a secret squirrel just below 7's cockpit window. Ever since I saw a couple of Marines squadrons parked at Miramar I've been fascinated by the way the rotors are lined up with their nacelles horizontal, and the kit facilitates moving them in to this position - and back again - when completed. And if like me you're equally fascinated by the Osprey see if you can find a copy of "The Dream Machine" by Richard Whittle; written in 2010 it tells the saga of the V-22 from its beginnings up to the point when it began really to come good. Maybe we could have a whip-round to get a copy for the MoD. 5.11.13


Surely that's a ......

With only slight cajoling we persuaded our five-and-a half tear old granddaughter (the half is very important) to take us to the cinema to see Planes, the new animation from Disney; seeing the advertisements on TV I was sure that some of the aircraft shown were very like some of the Reno racers to which I'd become attached, notably Voodoo in its highly visible colours. We duly took our places in Screen 6, and watched the action, the story being unsurprisingly that of The Little Plane That Could; Eva gallantly sat through it without being unduly wriggly, and I enjoyed not only the animation but particularly relating the participants to their inspirations, notably Super Hornets, a DH.88 patriotically wearing Union flag colours and voiced by John Cleese, an F4U (with a three-bladed-prop) and an almost-Velocity in an exotic Indian paint scheme. I'm told that in Cars, its tarmac-bound predecessor, there was a considerable number of jokes for the appreciation of adults, and I'm sure that there was a similar intention behind this film, but I suspect that for many of them the viewer needs good basic aeronatical knowledge. Some of them fit in to a very narrow niche indeed; for me the best, at which I laughed out loud to the mystification of the other two with me - and we were the only ones in the cinema! - needs a good working knowledge of U S Navy squadrons and their marking practices! I look forward to the DVD when I can use the Pause button regularly, not least to study such relatively background details as the Dutch-marked Sea Fury. I've very grateful to Eva for taking me; I'd have felt something of a wally going alone, especially if there had been an audience of smallish children. As so often these days I'm sure I'm not the target audience, but I'm impressed that the approach taken by the producers and director to the aviation aspects was as though I could have been. Zvezda, incidentally, have produced no-glue-required kits of six of the main characters - though sadly not the exotic Ishani - but I can't see even the pink-and-white butterfly-tailed Rochelle convincing Eva that she should join me at my workbench; I do have plans for the not-quite-F.18, though, if I can come up with the right decals!

Coming to conclusions

Writing towards the end of September means that the number of Notifiable Events in our collective diaries is dwindling with one, or at the most two, air displays left as possibilities - one each at Old Warden and Duxford, as you ask - and one model show before the all-encompassing experience that is ScaleModelWorld, Next weekend will be the IPMS Brampton show at St.Ives, with possible contributions to both What If? and SIG144 tables, the latter usually being up a second flight of stairs, a detail becoming of increasing significance; if I believed in conspiracy theories I'd suspect that there are a lot of people in cahoots with my GP. Still, it's always a good show, run by some Old Friends and usually with a good selection - at least according to my interests - of traders. The Pete Long and his Bv 238 at Farnborough one I went to last weekend falls in to the same category, and normally is one I only attend as a grockle with neither of my SIGs usually participating; this year though was different. In meetings and e-mails with Pete Long - the former Captain Toad in an earlier life - which had included discussion of his Really Big flying boat I had suggessted that we meet at Farnborough and that he bring his newly-minted monster with him, in the hope of causing a little general astonishment. Thanks to the organisers an extra display table was found at the last minute, and the Blohm & Voss 238 laid reverently on it, flanked by Pete's Twin Battle which has already appeared on these pages ( note: to see Pete Long's entertaining account of the event see his blog "Axis Powers" on It was joined by all four of my Boeing Stratosearchers which I had originally brought down to show Colin Strachan just what he had done by introducing his recent conversion for the Minicraft C-97, and with my usual hope of encouraging others to similar flights - or should that be squadrons? - of fancy.

I'm sure you'll recall that I don't plan to make a fifth, which makes it the more surprising than I came home with anther conversion set at the end of the day (though at least it's easier to hide than, say, an Airfix Vulcan or almost anything in a big Trumpeter box). Still, my good intentions were preserved by my not having on a shelf at home or being able to buy from under a table a C-97 donor kit; or at least not until......

Aged aeroplanes au naturel

...the following day I went to Old Warden for Shuttleworth's "Uncovered" day, an event that I've not previously been to. Unlike its usual display day format, for this many of its residents were taken out in to "the paddock" - which is normally tShuttleworth Uncovered 22.03.13he car park - and given their own space and generally a handler or two to amswer questions, sometimes an engineer, sometimes a pilot and sometimes a volunteer from the Shuttleworth Veteran Aeroplane Society, the invaluable "supporters' club". By the time I stepped down from the Caponemobile early drizzle and cloNAW Camel Old Warden 22.09.13ud had dispersed in favour of horizon-to-horizon bright blue, which lasted for enough time to get well-lit pictures of the exhibited and to raise serious hopes, later somewhat dashed, of a summer-coloured backcloth for the flying. An airframe quite literally exposed to the public gaze was that of the Sopwith Camel currently being built for Shuttleworth by the Northern Aircraft Workshops, who have been responsible for the Sopwith Triplane and the Bristol M.1C. The little Bristol monoplane was out on the grass as well, where I've seen it many times before with increasing impatience; but Bristol M.1C, Old Warden 22 September 2013today with its engine problems finally solved it gave a very full and agile flying display against various shades of sky, occasionally big and blue enough for us to see it in the context of its service in the Middle East in 1918 wearing the very distinctive zig-zag unit markings of 72 Squadron. I think this was the best day I remember at Old Warden; it was helped I'm sure by the early clear skies, but the arrangement of the aircraft on the grass and the opportunities to chat with some of their minders reminiscent of the best American events gave it something of a garden party atmosphere. The commentary team of very experienced pilot George Ellis and my old friend Tim Callaway with his bottomless bag of facts and anecdotes were as entertaining as always, allowing the aircraft to speak for themselves when appropriate.Dawn Patrol Large models at Old Warden 22.09.13

While I know that there are Large Model flying events at Old Warden I've never attended one, but a group called Dawn Patrol had brought a sizeable collection of World War I aircraft which can be flown in formations, and therefore dogfights, of up to fifteen participants. today they were limited to getting just four in to the air as a starter for the main display, but this was followed by an Avro 504 with a scale model rotary engine, to me a real feat of model engineering and very convincing in the air.

Dawn Patrol Avro, Old Warden 22.09.13

And even before all this excitement, following on from Farnborough the day before I picked up from one of the regular stalls selling orphaned kits just one more KC-97 for the next "Big Ugly" conversion, which will of course also carry roundels - good on yer, mate! 24.09.13


Somewhere, over the horizon....

A while back - a decade or so, perhaps - those of us with a profound interest in the "What should have been" sector of "What If? " with particular regard to the British aircraft industry and services became familiar with the name of Tony Buttler as the author firstly of articles in this category of aircraft, particularly in Air Enthusiast quarterly, and then of a series of books from Midland Publishing. As this series progressed, broadening to include designs from other countries, they took up increasing space on our book shelves alongside Derek Wood's Project Cancelled (in as many editions as possible) to establish a growing bedrock of reference in this aspect of our interest. I, and I'm sure a considerable proportion of my colleagues in the group, owe considerable gratiChris Gibson's Battle Flighttude to Tony for his work in this field; I had the pleasure of meeting hin several times, usually at the IPMS event at Telford, and he's a Really Good Egg, one of the White Hats of our niche. His books have occasioned several fairly grovelling pleas to those who make the kits, generally resin, of this type of subject, with the occasional success; as you know, anything Hawker or decended therefrom has my instant approval, though with my usual optimism I still await a Supermarine 559 (go on, look it up!).

Recently the name of Chris Gibson has joined those whose books I Simply Must Have as soon as they're published; starting with Vulcan's Hammer on the alternate V-force and their weapons and the Blue Envoy profile on VC-10 Pofflers, both of which resulted in resin kits and conversions, Battle Flight on the defence of the UK appeared in time for last year's ScaleModelWorld - where I also had the opportunity to meet and thank the author - and there have since been two profiles on RN and RAF AEW since 1945. In the book and in the second of the profiles one of the unlikelier-looking bright ideas was the adaptation on the Boeing C-97 to take a really big forwChris Gibson's Air Staff and AEWard-looking radar in the nose, combined with somewhat smaller ones above and below the fuselage to present as all-round a picture as possible so that the crew could be tasked not only with early warning but also with battle management, the attack option being based on the WW II Master Bomber tactic. There are as always several possible kit/conversion subjects in the profile, and I was slightly surprised by the choice of this as the first to come to market, but as I always have faith in Freightdog Models, with the combination of Colin Strachan with Paul Lucas looking after the casting I went for one, and ensuring that I had a second Minicraft KC-97 for another. As almost always picking a likely colour scheme was a guiding factor, and being unable to decide on which of two the impetus to go for a second (and for that matter further thoughts the trigger for a third, but that's further in the future, though the kit is earmarked). One of the surprises of this project to convert the Stratofreighter as an airborne radar platform was how early it was started, and it's possible that its first entry in to service could have been before the end of the 'forties; the finish, in common with many of the larger RAF aircraft of this period would therefore be "bare metal". Parallel with this decision was the identification of a unit from which I could use the squadron marking, and I had the idea of reviving a wartimBoeing Stratosearcher R,1, RRE Pershore 1949e squadron with some connection, if possibly quite tenuous, with the role of what I was now thinking of as the "Stratosearcher", and in one of those useful insomniac periods decided that an obvious - to me - link would be with the "Turbinlite" Havoc squadrons that were formed to illuminate the night sky for hopeful pursuing Hurricanes; sadly none of these appeared to carry squadron code letters. Trawling through two or three of my larger tomes revealed that the Royal Radar Establishment had several dependent squadrons in the immediate post-war period, one of which carried the codes V7, and subsequently the Establishment flew Canberras that wore a badge included on the Aviation Workshop decal sheet; I know I've seen it somewhere recently. In the meantime I was delighted to find that Signals Command titles were available on a Modeldecal sheet (of course), the faithful 36B for an additional touch of corroborative detail. I've had unexpected fun with this; the fit is as good as we now expect of a Freightdog conversion, with the only filler needed because I didn't make one cut of the original fuselage quite straight; and don't get carried away and forget to put a small amount of weight in the nose before fixing it which is what I've done with my second, and which I shall have to get over with a small blue prop under the rear fuselage. This will arrive shortly, also in RAF service in accordance with this month's Master Plan, and I have plans for a third to follow in time for the Brampton show at the end of September, also with red, white and blue roundels - of a sort. 14.07.13 - sapristi!

After checking with Kit Spackman, who spent some of his formative years among Hastings, I decided that white tops would have been worn by the Stratosearcher fleeBoeing Stratosearcher R.2 RAFME Suez 1956t in time for the type to take part in the Suez "action"; if they had been available to fill the "battle management" role mentioned in Battle Flight perhaps the earliest bombs might not have fallen outside the airfield boundary (from 148 Squadron's line book ). It was the possibility of using "Suez stripes" that started me on the type, even though it was the second of the trilogy to which I applied them. It also gave me another excuse not to try once more to establish a squadron marking - it must have beed covered for security! - but I have raided Modeldecal set 36B again for the "Middle East" titles. and as forecast in the section above there's at least one more to come in the autumn - and if I can't decide on which colour scheme to use there may even be two. 21.07.13

RAF Stratosearcher pair

and on...and on.......

You may not be surprised to find out that my suggestion of more Stratosearchers with roundels proved entirely accurate, and with suitcases scarcely unpacked work began on the third and fourth. As with the first pair I was once again making two because I couldn't decide between finishes; Plan A was the shiny one with the white top - shinier than its RAF sibling - carrying maple leaf roundels to satisfy my self-inflicted restriction to limit my modelling to those wearing red, white and blue in that order and at the same time offering variety and a bit more colour. The idea of Canadian roundels offered several RCAF Stratosearcher Mk.1 alternatives, and gave rise to ferreting through both whatever suitable decals I could find and through the invaluable volumes by Pat Martin on RCAF and CAF colours and markings. The idea of the red and white flash came early on, nudged by the availability of this marking on a "TSR.2 What If?" set; this took me a day or three to find, and driven by my requirement to have it done before the IPMS Farnborough and Brampton branch shows towards the end of September I'd done the basic assembly of both aircraft - with weight in the nose this time - and masked and painted thCAF Stratosearcher Mk.4 Greenham Common 1974e white top leaving just enough space to fit in the "shadow" RCAF titles. The second scheme was inspired by the late NATO CF-104 scheme, and I visualised it with "silver" undersides and white-less low-vis national markings with small black bilingual titles. Apart from Pat my other consultant - rather closer to home - was the ever-invaluable Paul Davis; his shuffling through the maple leaves produced an Almark Voodoo sheet with the RCAF titles which were a prime part of my original mental picture and an Aviation Workshop F-104 collection with the white-less roundels, though strangely the flag kept its white centre. They make an interesting pair, showing the type at the beginning and end of its service as well as spanning the change in the Canadian service and its marking; part of the backstory on the green aircraft is its attendance at the 1974 Air Tattoo (I know, because that year I was working in Aircrew Reception).

CCanadian Stratosearcher pair

I had thought of going on beyond the four, which was tempting with very slight variations in the roundels and employing the big beast in Other Peoples' Wars, but I was starting to chant Spike Milligan's mantra "This sketch is getting silly"! I was slightly taken aback when Colin Strachan back in June told me that this was the aircraft selected from the AEW book on which Paul Lucas could exercise his undoubted casting skills, but it caught my imagination, aided no doubt by the Adrian Mann illustrations in the profile, and it's given me enormous pleasure. And the term "Big Ugly" that's attached itself to my Boeings was entirely affectionate, honest!



...and real people!

One of the joys of going round the various models shows, and indeed air shows, during the year is the chance to talk to those I rarely see anywhere else. but that at Hendon put on by the IPMS Barnet branch produced a real surprise shortly before the end when this slighly familiar-looking chap adrressed me by name, and seeing my baffled expression revealed himself as Pete Long. This may meen nothing to you at first sight, but twenty years or more ago he played an large part in my modelling, and that of many others with a Lufwaffe '46 inclination by producing resin kits - and even a newsletter - under the name of Toad Resins. Captain Toad had returned! This prompted a longish and as always with the Captain highly entertaining conversation, which threatened to become in Tom Lehrer's phrase soggy with nostalgia; I had a vague memory that he had dropped his kit production to concentrate on his music, and he's still fronting the band he had then titled Echoes of Ellington, which will give you a very accurate idea of its style and purpose. In our subsequent e-correspondence I arranged to go to the band's eveniFairey Twin Battle 402 Sqn RCAF summer 1940ng at the Stables at Wavendon, more or less our local concert hall, where the conversation was continued at the interval. Shortly afterwards photos of this model arrived by travelling pixel, with the relevant back story; I'd forgotton that Peter was as keen on this aspect of the What If? aspects (indeed I'm sure I wrote an account of Fw 283 operations for his newsletter The Toad.) He tells me that we will of course realise that this is the Fairey Battle as its designer, Marcel Lobelle, insisted it should have been all along with two Merlins. Pete's alternative history is that this one is from No 402 Squadron, rushed into the Battle Of France in May 1940 carrying a very early example of "special markings" to avoid confusion with Me 110s. A field modification adopted by many units was to sling a four .303 belly pack from a Blenhiem fighter under the centre section, giving the Twin Battle a most formidable forward facing armament of eight .303's and four 20mm cannon, though it was unusual for a Twin Battle (Or "Twattle", as it was dubbed by its ground crews) to fly armed with both bombs and the gun pack. With the double Lewis gun in the rear cockpit, the Twin Battle boasted a maximum armament of fourteen guns! Flying at a very respectable 345mph, Twin Battles gave a very good account of themselves in the early part of the war, until phased out in 1943 favour of the Mosquito. A few did overfly the D-Day beaches in 1944. The final flight of a Twin Battle was by a TT Mk. 15 in 1956, from RAF Seletar.

Apart from finding his music - the concert was excellent,and his patter and explanations highly amusing, and his blog is as hilarious an account of a life as I can recall - I was so pleased to find out that he's still modelling, though not entirely flights of fancy; as part of an ongoing project on Axis seaplanes he's building a Bv 238 from the Airmodel kit. Now that is, to use an overworked euphemism, a real challenge! As an example of serendipity this meeting, and of course its downstream consequences, couldn't be bettered. 25.06.13

Poffler Postscript

To complete my trio of VC.10 "Pofflers" I assembled a pair of Braz resin RB-211s which have been shuffling between several kit boxes for the last four or five years, various bits of Airfix VC.10, an S & M Poffler nose and a set of Aviation Workshop Nimrod decals with a selection of 51 Squadron geese which although in 1:72nd would not look out BAe Vengeance R.6, 51 Sqn 2009of place on the big fin even in 1:144th. Also in the back of my mind was seeing one of 51's aircraft at a Waddington show three or fours years ago in what I remember as two shades of grey, with the lighter confined to the upper fuselage, though sadly I couldn't find and photo of the occasion to back up my somewhat wobbly memory. Going perhaps slightly beyond the elint variant in Chris Gibson's book I fitted the new front end as far forward as possible and added various lumps and bumps without much foundation in fact (or even counterfact). The nose does look a touch long, but the aircraft looked good in a group with one of the V.1000s and a Skybolt "Poffler" at a recent show. Just in case something else turns up I've found (for money) another Airfix tanker. You never know when it may come in handy; though I am already well-stocked with Skybolts I can always use those underwing FR pods. 04.06.13

Two by two (by three)

While its structure had its quirks, the Wellington's success led unsurprisingly to a larger bomber, the fouVickers Windsor B.1, 57 Sqn Tiger Force 1946r-Merlin Windsor of which three prototypes were built but which was overtaken by the end of the war and the Lincoln. The Windsor was also considered as a candidate for the Tiger Force that was to have been the RAF's contribution to the offensive against the Japanese home island, but the Avro was selected, the geodetic bomber apparently coming up deficient in both range and warload. I've always "seen" it in the black and white of the proposed expeditionary force, and when Mel Bromley announced it as part of his S & M programme it became a "must-have" in short order to see how my thoughts looked in three dimensions. Among its design features were a main undercarriage leg in each of the four nacelles and a pair of 20 mm cannon in each outer nacelle for rear quarter defence, to be aimed and fired remotely by a gunner in a "tail-end Charlie" position. The cannon and the u/c legs, as wWindsor B.2 199 Sqn, Watton 1952ell as the wheels and props are in white metal; the transparencies come as a single acetate sheet and are very thin, needing care and a steady early-morning hand when being cut out. I gather it may be difficult with the present process to make them any thicker, but I've suggested to Mel that he could consider including two sets when he produces his next batch to allow for error. Pretty soon after starting the 57 Squadron bomber I knew that I had to make a second in the grey/black scheme always associated with the Lincoln, and carrying the large white serial on the fuselage to make it easy for an AA patrolman to take its number if the driver was indulging in a little unscheduled low-flying (don't scoff; it happened to a friend of mine, though in a different aircraft!). To add a litte colour and variety, you will of course the blue-and-white spinners of 199 Squadron while it was carrying out electronic reconnaisance flights from East Anglia in the early 'fifties; incidentally I've seen two colour profiles of the squadron's Lincolns, both by Dave Howley, with one having black spinners but colour, as Lionel Bart noted, is nice. Somehow the Windsors looked smaller than I expected; from the photos that I've become accustomed to over the years I expected it to be bigger than a Lancaster and possibly a Lincoln, but this must have been a false impression given perhaps by the deep fuselage and the high aspect ratio flying surfaces. You can just make out the H2S radome in the photo above; this was taken, as surplus to requirements, from the A-Model RCAF Lancaster. To give some idea of its size relative to a "known" aircraft of the period I've borrowed a 1:144th Tempest target tug from Acklington for comparison. 04.06.13

Two Windsors and a Tempesr


I don't as you know make civil aircraft, but I was intruigued when I saw the announcement of a Carvair kit in 1:144th from Roden, and subsequently compelled by some unseen force at the Cosford show to buy one, even though for once I had no idea in what colours I was going to finish it when I handed over a small part of my Senior Citizen's Premium, Given that I spent much of the day with some of my distinguished colleagues of the What If? SIG we may well have discussed a possibility or three, and by the time I decanted myself from the M1 on to the A5 when nearing home I had a draft back story to give the necessary artistic verisimilitude. I always associate the C-130 in the "psychedelic bomber" brown/black scheme with the withdrawl of Our Chaps from Aden, and I'd recently seen a reference to the Governor's Rolls-Royce, which would surely had RAF TC Carvair C.1, Aden 1967to have accompanied him in to retirement. Now if the 130s' deliveries had been delayed - not unknown to Lockheed after all - how to ensure this task, vital to saving the Colonial face, would be carried out? The Answer was literally to hand! In the 'fifties the RAF did impress several civil aircraft for trooping and freight, usually giving them a serial as well as their civil registration (I have something similar in mind for the S & M Tudor when that appears) though I don't think the practice carried on quite as late as the Aden withdrawal. Still, I'm sure the nose opening would have swallowed Sir Humphrey's Roller if called upon to do so; I checked with Tony Eastwood of TAHS, always my first port of call on civil matters, to find out how the nose opened (somewhat surprisingly there doesn't seem to be a slim volume on the type that could have told me) and was relieved to find that as it was single-piece I could add a small weather radar squarely on the front. It's been on show a couple of times and attracted quite a bit of comment, frequently of the "double-take" kind which always pleases me enormously. And I have a second kit, and decals for an air service not far away; this was not only a good kit and a pleasure to make - it was done, thanks to acrylics, between Cosford and Milton Keynes! - but Good Fun! 04.06.13

Is it a Kit? Is it a Model?

Also at the Cosford show I saw a delightful USMC MV-22 Osprey in 1:144th contributed to the appropriate SIG's display by Mike Verier, and Simply Had To Have One! I've always been a fan of this flying machine, and even if it's taken innumerable dollars and twenty-five or more years to reach the point it's now an integral part of Marine Aviation. I've been very impressed on my visits to the US in the last couple of years to find out the number of units now equipped and regularly part of Marine Air Wings. Following Mike's advice I searched the Ho1:144 Pit Road Osprey with parts for secondbby Link Japan and found a Pit Road/ Fox One kit of a pair and through the wonder of PayPal it arrived in short order. There were two sets of parts and a single very comprehensive decal sheet for two Paciic-based MV-22 squadrons; but what did surprise me was the very limited number of parts and the pre-finished colours, as though it was intended as a quick assembly product, possibly even to be ready made in some form. The breakdown of bits is shown here around the one I've just built, and to which I'll return, with the little packet at the bottom of the picture containing the pre-painted undercarriage and its doors. The airframe is in the Marines' grays, and the two-piece ramp in the lower fuselage can be opened and closed. My original Master Plan was to make an 849 NAS AEW.2, whith the radar to be extended through the ranp opening as is proposed I understand for the AW Merlin conversions, but I decided that while I wanted to finish a model quickly in time for the Hendon Show I needed to give the230 Sq Osprey, Tiger Meet 2020 installation and deployment more thought (it will come, though!). In keeping with my current Good Intentions to build only aircraft with roundels, and given the increasing unlikelihood of the RAF being able to bring a Typhoon or F-35 to a Tiger Meet I thought that a stripy 230 Squadron Osprey would fill that yawning gap in our future front line, and it also gave me the opportunity to steal the design of the eyes that I'd seen at Yuma on the HMM-163 Osprey.

At some point during the Milton Keynes show I was asked what sort of kit I liked, and I replied - perhaps too quickly - that these days it was one with seven parts and a canopy. It's true that this sort of kit, like the Windsors, does or at least can with the help of acrylics and an occasional swift decision lead to relatively quick completion, applying the precepts of William Brown's table manners - see Tailpiece later this "summer" - which frequently enables me to reach my illustrative objective and move on. Maybe the same entry will make a deep and respectful nod to Harry Woodman for establishing and enshrining the difference between a modeller and an assembler of plastic kits.

What big teeth you've got......

A long time ago, so long that the CAA was still paying both Chris Thomas and me - although it's fair to say that my escape tunnel broke the surface a few years before his - he sent me a b&w photo of the sharp end of a Typhoon with the most enormous sharkmouth. Long before that, even, I'd known Chris as a diligent and very knowledgable source on all things Typhoon and Tempest; knowing my attraction to sharkmouths, he told me that he knew the unit and the name of the pilot, but had no idea of the aircraft's individual code or serial. With time passing these emerged. probably coincident with Volume 3 or 4 of the superb 2 TAF trilogy that he co-authored with Christopher Shores, and I remember him telling me about the same time that in the last months of the war the Typhoon squadrons were equipped with either bomb racks or rocket rails. About a year ago the excellent Canadian company Aviaeology issued a set of decals for MP197/MR-U of 245 Squadron, as flown by Sqn.Ldr. Tony Zweigbergk, either side of the end of the war, and filed them, with their very comprehensive instructions, away for The Right Moment. This came of course with the arrival of the new Airfix kit, not only an excellent production but also offering optional warloads of bombs or R.P.s, and with all the above in mind I started one as soon as a gap in the "What If?" traffic appeared on my workbench; and, bearing in mind the caution Chris had given me some time before, I carefully prepared the wings for and subsequently installed the bomb racTyphoon Ib with Typhoon F.4ks. With the model substantially complete and wearing its penultimate coat of camouflage the Aviaeology instructions reappeared - this time with the decals, whose appearance had occasionally been intermittent.

Your sharp modelling eyes will by now have noticed the sad lack of a sharkmouth (on either aircraft, but I'll return to the wee Scot - bear with!). You will surely have read several accounts of the new Airfix kit telling you how good it is, and I agree; it's particularly well thought out and produced. It's not my habit to go searching the world for sour notes, but the only note of regret I've heard personally was the lack of clear parts for the landing light covers. I'm still at a loss to decide whether to use part 45 on either, neither or both of the options, but it caused me no loss of sleep; what did was the realisation late one night on re-reading the comprehensive history of MP127 in the Aviaeology instructions that it carried rocket rails and not bombs, and that the photos were there to prove it, and that a) I shouldn't put instructions away so safely that I couldn't find them and b) try not to put myself in a position where I'm relying on fragments of memory. So you'll see no sharkmouth just yet, but the kit is to hand, and it should sidle its way on to my bench in a couple of months, with its lower wing halves suitably pearced for rocket rails. And as for the little grey F.4 I was working - I still am - on a small RAF 2020 tableau when the Revell 1:144th kit appeared above a parapet at the same time as our Minister of Defence appeared to promise another Typhoon squadron for Scotland, and really - in my logic at least - there was only one possible choice of unit. You know it makes sense! 21.07.13


Getting away from it all

There is of course great virtue in taking a holiday virtually unconnected with aviation - apart from using it to get there and back again - but the quieter moments can give an opportunity, if sometimes unwanted, to think about what's likely to be waiting back home. We've been to St.Petersburg before, - a couple of times in my case on aviation tours, on one of which I had the unforgettable experience of landing in the grounds of the Peter and Paul fortress in a Mil-8 - but it's for some time been our aim to do the waterways cruise down to Moscow and this year we had both occasion and opportunity. I mused very occasionally on what the post might have brought in my absence - there were at least two potential Serious Projects somewhere in the temporary beyond - but the flutter of alien wings only intruded on the last but one evening when I really didn't believe what I thought I saw in the somewhat soggy dusk on the side of the waA-90 Ekranoplan in Moscow, 2013terway; it reminded me of the days when our photos of Soviet flying machines were in black and white and slightly blurred, but in the sunshine that returned on the last morning there was confirmation in colour of the almost unbelievable. And I never did find out how to get across or over the water.


...and coming back.

Getting started again wasn't difficult with the second pair of "Stratosearchers" ready to run, the build by now familiar and the decals in my head finally located; what was less easy was, oddly, bringing myself to finish them. I'd become strangely attached to the concept, and breaking their spell was only done by taking their photos and adding them to what I'd already put in to the "Mike's Pick" section, with a teaser on the Welcome page. What's been less easy is getting something to follow the mon the workbench. It helped that I found - while looking for something else of course - the little packet of resin bits for the MPM Trent-Meteor, which contained as well as the mainwheels the pair of rather small spinners in to which I have to fix the ten propellor blades; well nine, plus the one I shall have to hand-fettle to replace the one that's gone off on an adventure of its own. The two bigger kits which hovered around the back of my consciousness during the cruise should really be next in line; they are both destined to be Real Aeroplanes, the Hasegawa Osprey in the colours of that I saw at El Centro, thanks to the Xtradecal sheet, and the Airfix Lancaster II. The second has the appeal not only of being comparatively unusual, but also of offering options of the underfuselage gun turret and nose art, on an RAF rather than an RCAF unit. There's a newly-started local model club, and possibly IPMS Branch, which I've taken to attending regularly and which has established a practice of its participants bringing along work in progress, or at least of some interest, and I took along both the Osprey and the Lancaster kits as being in the latter category. I have thereby given hostages to fortune as I shall feel bound to report, and perhaps demonstrate, some progress in each; there's only room for one or the other on the workbench, so the Lanc will have to follow the MV-22, though so far I've only taken out the latter's fuselage halves to check the possibility of an alternative colour scheme (with roundels, of course). With my usual habit of making three models at a time there may be space for a couple of 144th What Ifs to flank it on the cutting mat. Transferred 23.09.13


It's a while now since I wrote - perhaps several times - in Tailpiece that I thought of myself as an aviation enthusiast that likes models rather than an modeller, and certainly any application of the Harry Woodman Theory would back that up. I'm sure that most of us choose a high proportion of our modelling subjects because of a fascination in some way with the flying machine in question. In recent years my preference in real life, especially when considering air displays or other ways of looking at The Real Thing, has been for aircraft that fall within the approximate bracket of "as old as me, and better maintained" which, as well as the proximity of their flying fields accounts for my regular attendance at Old Warden and Duxford with or without the preferred blue skies. However there are two contemporary aircraft which have my assiduous attention, and the appearance of which on the cover of a magazine results in the "Dr.Strangelove"-like extention of a hand to grasp it while the other ferrets in a pocket for money. Seeing them in the metal, or indeed carbon-fibre, is not as easy as I would like, which was why I took the opportunity earlier this year given by the Ian Allan aviation tour which gave me not only Southern Californian sunshine but also the chance to see the Osprey in its natural habital and the F-35B, even if this remained in its nest.

It's the B variant that has my full attention, perhaps not least because it may yet appear wearing roundels as part of the Royal Naval Air Service or the Royal Flying Corps (yes, I know, another stroppy hobby horse) but even if that comes to pass it's still a few years off, and I feel I need to give Their Airships a nudge while they consider the end user; mind you, I've tried once unsuccessfully with an Italeri 1:72nd X-35 suitably decorated with 4 Squadron's red/yellow'black fin colours, from of course the days when 4 was still a Harrier unit. Hah!. The VTOL aspect also has always been part of the attraction ; since the appearance of the P.1127 - and the non-appearance of the HS.681! - aircraft intended at least to have this facility have held a fascination for me, with most of them falling within a "What If?" possibility (this includes the XFV-12 which didn't get high enough to fall). There's no doubt that the A and C models of the F-35 don't have the same appeal for me; I had convinced myself that the forthcoming second-generation Italeri 1:72nd scale kit was to be a B, but checking on Hannants' "Future Releases" pages it's listed as an A, which appears to be the one variant the MoD - or if you're a conspiracy theorist, Their Lordships - wouldn't countF-35B VK-16 VF-121 Yuma March 2013enance. I would probably have succumbed to its roundel-decorated lure in time if a C appeared in this scale, but some time back when our leaders had reversed a decision or three I'd invested in the Kingfisher 1:48th B model, which then spent a while in the pending pile before I shuffled its largish box nearer to the workbench; once back from the Yuma trip though and with the necessary space on the workbench and armed with the photographs I took the plunge.

You may have worked out by now that I am by and large - if you disregard my recent indulgence in 1:144th kits of specific subjects - wed to 1:72nd scale aircraft for my modelling, going back to my Frog Penguin Spitfire XII in around 1946, and certainly since I got past past the "build anything in any scale" approach that came back from Canada with me at the end of 1955. Just occasionally though I'm lured in to 1:48th by a particular arcraft; I remember giving in to the ESCI Mirage F.1 in "quarter-inch" scale in the early 'seventies just because I thought it was such an elegant aircraft and that this was the only kit available. Back then I wasn't too worried about the space to be taken up by the occasional model in this scale - the display shelving available was somewhat more than I have now - but these days I start to get nervous even about the space its storage box will need in the garage. Knowing that I was unlikely to build more than one Lightning II (I really can't get used to the name, and it always amuses me that the democratic Americans appear to have this attachment to hierachy) in this scale, before doing more tan open the box I invested in both etched brass and a metal undercarriage, and a set of Xtradecals for the 2 Squadron 100th Anniversary Tornado; at some stage there appered to be a comment by someone in MoD that 617 was earmarked as a (or perhaps the) 35B unit, but I thought that this was taking the currently fashionable abolition of history too far and took vicarious umbrage on behalf of Shiny Two.

The kit looked very good, crisp and cleanly moulded in its plastic baks and with a good set of decals for the early B models. I found though that I was growing a little less content as time goes by, quite possible because of because of the scale in which I was unaccustomedly working and because of some of the features of the 35B, not least the "finish". This seems to vary from photo to photo, but appears in many cases to have some of the surface panels which seem to be related to "stealth" shaping with a slightly lighter and often shinier "colour"; these are depicted on the model as slightly raised mouldings which could be - no, were - helpful when trying to paint the model but in the end just didn't look quite right (and would have been rather harder to remove than Frog Shackleton rivets). I tried and failed to reproduce the "metaF-35B 617 Sqn with mini-Highballsllic" aspects of the original; thinking to try it on a smaller model first I consulted (as always in this scale) Mike Verier on a 1:144th 35B, and got a pair of Pit Road kits from Hobby Link Japan, with whom I am becoming increasingly familiar. By the time the little ones arrived I'd already started the Kingfisher kit and decided to reduce the work needed by fitting the weapons bay doors closed; however on the mini I fixed them open to display, as you see, the pair of "Highball" successors in each bay to justify allocating the aircraft to 617, and applying its red lightning flash on each fin. The little model never did get used for trialling the finish, though; F-35B 617 Sqn 2020? if/when it comes to pass I suspect the MoD will accept it from the production line in standard USMC finish, but I chickened out and applied Xtracrylix Camouflage and Dark Camouflage Grey. To emphasise its intended role I decided to complete them in STOVL mode, with doors for the lift fan and swivelling rear nozzle deployed.

The parts breakdown on the Kittyhawk has an upper and a lower fuselage and fitted between them the carcase at least of the engine; this also comes with upper and lower halves with on the top three projections to fit in to sockets on the inside of the fuselage half, with two equivalent fittings on their lower halves. When the time came to fit these halves together I found that whether I fixed the top or the lower parts together first I couldn't see to insert the other pin/socket absolutely correctly and as a result, and after several attempts, the join of the intake edge chines never quite matched; in the end my patience gavF-35B 2 Sqn 2020e way and I got the match as close as I could, but still wound up with a thick edge on both sides of the airframe. If it had been a less expensive kit (probably in 1:72nd!) I would doubtless have bought a second to carry the Naval Strike Wing colours and to see if I could get it right, but I decided that I had spent enough time on this example of which the main purpose had become to carry the 2 Squadron anniversary markings, and brought it to a conclusion accordingly. It may sidle out on to a What If? table later in the year when you can see my reliance on the "close enough for government work" mantra, but it had been occupying workbench space quite long enough. I had intended to use the Xtradecal 1:48th Tornado decal set including the BE.2C, but found that the aircraft in question was toLightning II 2 Sqn RAF 2020o big for the F-35's fin; fortunately I'd also bought the 1:72nd decals and the result carries a mixture of the two. I don't know how much of my not-quite-satisfaction was caused by the kit being in 1:48th; received wisdom is that as the modeller ages it should be easier to cope in the larger scale, but I'm not convinced; perhaps the larger size encourages the kit manufacturer to include more parts that I actually want, and you'll notice that I spurned all armament and kept as many doors closed as possible.

In so far as the model sits on its undercarriage, its STOVL capability is evident and the unit's ancestry is evident in keeping with an apparent revival of interest in units' histories it's done what I set out to do. However....I'm slightly put off tackling something else in this scale/size for a while, even the Centennial T-45C whose box with its TwoBobs decals sits somewhat reproachfully next to my workbench, and I didn't get anywhere near the colours and finish of the original, which is normally a major part of my approach to What If? models. I still have another 1:144 one to do, though; NSW and just slightly metallic, perhaps. 25.06.13

Little and large Lightning IIs, RAF 2020

Poffling along.....

It must be a couChris Gibson's VC 10 projectsple of years now since Chris Gibson's mongraph on projected VC.10 developments, pounced on by many of us of the What If? tendency, several I'm sure wondering how - no doubt using the Airfix kit in one or other of its guises as a basis - we could take advantage of the information freshly presented to us. Since then, Chris has gone on to produce bigger volumes, notably Vulcan's Hammer and Battle Flight which have given us further thought and material, and to which I'll come back, and Mel Bromley of S & M Models has given us the necessary parts to adapt the kit to the Skybolt-carrying deterrent bomber which at the time of its conception carried the codename "Poffler" (go on, read the book to find out!). Included in the box of bits, as well as the replacement front fuselage and instructions as exactly where to make the cut depending on whether you want to use the Standard or the Super as the aieframe to be converted, are a flight refuelling probe and four pylons to carry the eight Skybolts provided. There are also a pair of wing tip tanks, but I passed on them for this model in favour of a pair of Skybolt body shapes as fuel tanks. A small decal sheet carries the windscreen, a pair of serials, sixteen "windows" and red/white/blue fin flashes and two roundels. These are flanked by the wartime codes, AJ*H tornado style, and there are a pair of triple red flashes as unit fin markings. The fit of the forward fuselage in to the Airfix main body was excellent, needing only minimal filler at the join. The Skybolt bodies are one-piece, but they each carryBAC VC.10 B.5, 27 Squadron eight etched brass fins, of two different sizes, requirining in my case at least a period set aside in the morning to ensure the availability of natural light and the necessary steadiness of hand! For me, as you know, getting the colour scheme right is all-important, and in this case I chose a combination of that used in the excellent painting by Adrian Mann seen here with white undersides and the pre-Black Buck scheme of dark green and medium sea grey with red/blue national markings (the pattern came from the instruction sheet for the first Airfix K.2 boxing). Appropriate unit markings are often a problem in this scale, but I took the 27 Squadron elephants, trimming off the red bars, from a Modeldecal Tornado set which also yielded the roundels and the swept fin flash. Given the many alternativeS+M VC.10 Skybolt carrier, 27 Squadrons in Chris Gibson's profile there will be a few others crossing my cutting mat, with a variety of different roles possible; my next is already coloured hemp and grey, and is just waiting for a little nasal adjustment before decal application, and with luck the post will shortly bring a third destined for two shades of grey and a goose. One side effect is likely to be a proliferation of Skybolts-in-waiting; not only there is there a limit, at least on my shelves, for potential carriers - though I do have a Trident kit earmarked for a possible Avro 771 - but a combination of eyesight, paitience and fingers in supergluing all those little brass fins might lead to a few being offered on the What If? weapons market at a show or two this year.


The Bomber Command VC.10 was followed fairly swiftly by the Coastal (or if you prefer 18 Group Strike Command) version, as close as practical to the MR variant in Chris Gibson's monograph. Thr nose isn't quite the same but I did add a visual sighting position in the nose together with wing tip and "pinion" tanks (from the S&M VC-7 kit) which also house the searchlight and a weather radar. The Search radar is extended from what BAC VC.10 MR(K).6 206 Sqn Ascencion 1982ould have been the central HDU position, and the stores bay below the forward fuselage is the lower part of an Airfix JP.233, with pretty convincing doors! The Harpoons just visible under the wing root leading edge are by courtesy of mon vieux ami mate Mike Verier, with the 206 Squadron octopus from a Model Alliance Nimrod sheet. Thr underwing FR pods are retained for added versatility, and at the time of writing I've just acquired the third nose needed for an even later all-grey variant which will run me out of donor kits! 04/03/13

..... Practice PAN!

Entries for the "Pick" section can qualify on personal significance as well as intrinsic excellence, and it can be a bonus when as in this instance the two coincide. I was delighted when I learned that Airfix's 2013 releases included a Vampire T.11, which played a part in my distant youth; when we returned from our flying training in Canada we had to learn the nuances of flying where the skies were a lot less clear, there were no helpful lines on the ground running north-south and east-west and using a radio compass was a facility not available to apprentice jet jockeys. To this end after disembarkation leave and a Christmas break we re-assembled at 4 FTS, at this stage of its wanderings based at Middleton St. George, hard by Doncaster and flying single- and two-seat Vampires. Adjusting to the latter after that gentleman's aerial carriage the Rolls-powered T-33 meant side-by-side seating, which none of our previous mounts had had, and a significant apparent lack of thrust by comparison; in January 1956 the FTS had some of the earlier versions without Martin-Bakers and with the heavily-framed canopy that opened at the top, and some which had either been built or refitted with bang seats and the clearer canopy. Some of the older instructors preferred the original because the fit across the shoulders, never generous, appeared rather less with the new kit, especially if you were, say, thirty (which was of course incredibly old).

When Airfix's box-top illustrations appeared they showed the later version canopy and to my great pleasure the serial WZ507, appearing currently on the T.11 that can be seen on the display circuit wearing 219 squadron markings (comment later). For me it meant that I only had to change one digit to make WZ508, an aircraft whose identity is imperishably because of its spinning characteristics. The RAF insisted at this perioVampire T.11 WZ508 40 4 FTS Middleton St George Maech 1956d and for some time after that its new pilots demonstrate the ability to recover from a spin, and this was an integral part of the course; the Vampire was taken up to a suitable altitude, the nose raised to reduce the speed just above the stall, and the instructor would tell the student which way to spin by tha application of left or right boot, and the aircraft would then nod and respond appropriately except for WZ508, which regardless of what it was asked to do would always go left. Back then of course aircraft were hand-built even on production lines, giving chances for individual quirks to emerge, and while I have no proof I've come to suspect that this could have been a reason for 508's singular behaviour. Most Training Command Vampires of the period cattied two-digit codes, and somewhere back in the earlier days of SAM, when I must have told this tale in, appropriately, a Tailpiece some kind soul sent me a photo of 508 weaing "40" on its nose.

The kit, by the way, is excellent in the current fashion of Airfix' new tool releases. I would advise following the instruction sequence in the coming together of upper and lower wing halves, main undercarriage legs and the booms, the fit of which is very good; I followed my instincts instead and had to do a little post-operative work to get the legs to the correct angle. Because of this I used a little filler at one underwing/fuselage join; otherwise it would have beeen totally unneccessary. The other finishing option is a 5 FTS aircraft with liberal application of orange, from the early '60s, and I used a combination of the liberal stencilling to get the correct period for my yellow-banded 508 (the scheme for 507 is that currently worn, which has minor variations from the 'fifties T.11s). There is a third alternative with the "starter kit" boxing, witn a Kiwi-wearing plain silver aircraft of the RNZAF's 14 Squadron. I would very much like to do a camouflaged RAF T.11, but the only one I've found so far - coincidentally of 14 Squadron RAF, with a lightning flah on the nose - has the earlier canopy, and as yet I've not been able to source one. There will be an Xtradecal sheet, which I'm told will include a camouflaged example or two; I hope either that they've got the later canopy or that some clear-sighted chap will produce the necessary alternative, with appropriate seats. I've included the two pilot figures in this model, something I haven't dne for many years; the instructor has a red/white squadron patch on one shoulder because I found that for at leat four of my flights in 508 I was with Fg.Off. Al Martin, who had come to insructing fro 56 Squadron; one of those other "facts" that never leave is that he had six Vampire T.11 508 and the Pilot's Notes on Spinning. flights in the Swift F.1, and five of them involved full emergencies!. And at least one of those flights with me was a cross-country; by coincidence - honestly! - while doing a little tidying/sorting with the invaluable help of my older son about the time the kit arrived I found a "one-million" aeronautical chart with a Middleton-Prestwick-Turnhouse-Middleton route marked on it, with the addition of the D/F homer unit at Anthorn. It was one of our tasks on such trips to make a "Practice Pan" call to get a triangulated position and if possible a heading to a destination. It seems an entirely appropriate base for my T.11, as does the Pilot's Notes (open at the page on spinning). So as well as thoroughly enjoying, and recommending, the kit, I can be shamelessly nostalgic, and perhaps the plastic figure in the left seat really was that slim in 1956!


And so he did!

Been there, come back, and the tan - or at least the partial joining together of the freckles - has already subsided. Rather than wait until the whole saga is together I plan to drip-feed a few words and photos every couple of weeks or so, or at least while the memory is still fresh enough to contribute to an apposite comment. "Sequestration" effects were already taking hold when we arrived - to a cloudy San Diego, which Osprey with Space Marines? El Centro 16.03.13is an offence against nature - in early March, with the USAF cancelling all air show participation, including that of the Thunderbirds, and the expected Raptor pulled out of the Yuma display; and the Marines had to hire outside security to guard one of their Ospreys at El Centro. But you'll see from the Travels page that there was enough around to keep my interest engaged, and to start with there are photos of two of the items that tempted me to the Far West; later I'll get to the Museums, especially that at Pima, and to the up-to-now-avoided MASDC. 28.03.13

The mists of 2013 start to thin.....

A few years back I would be starting around now to lick the tip of my pencil to note the new year's expected kits, and wondering which to start pestering potential stockists for and when; now of course the Great Lists are compiled by others - though I sometimes think I detect a diminishing enthusiasm in some quarters - but I still find my nose pressed up against the glass. I first saw the listings of the expected new Airfix kits on Hannants "future releases" page, and with a nudge from a friend opened up the Humbrol website to see if I could find pictures to go with the names. Whwt I really wanted to check on was the T-Elf - if you weren't in 2TAF at the time, the Vampire T.11 - both to see what choice of canopy and seats might be offered and therefore which seats. When I did my "How to fky in UK weather" course at Middleton St.George there were several of the earlier ones around without ejection seats and with the more heavily framed canopy; it was said that some of the older instructors - and to us callow youths that would have been anyone over thirty - preferred this as the bang seats made it harder for them to squeeze in. The box art on the website shows the later variant, and answered my second question of probable colour scheme and serial; I'm pleased to note that it wears the silver/yellow T-bands scheme, and with the serial WZ507 it carries the 219 Squadron markings of the preserved T.11 currently on the display circuit, and as I want to make WZ508 for reasons I'll explain when it appears on my workbench later it means I'll only have to substute one digit rather than do the whole signwriting compilation (and I will have to find "40" for the nose, probably around Spartan &w NC17633 Old Warden 201136" numerals). There are otherpotential goodies there as well, and I'm particularly pleased with the Lancaster II, though whether I actually get to make it could be a fish of a different kettle. As for other possibilities, I hope for gooSpartan 7W NC 17633 Old Warden 2011d things from Mel Bromley to equip the Air Force that we should have had, and I already have the Dekno kit of the Spartan Executive.


If you're not familiar with this totally gorgeous-looking "1935 Learjet" -here are a couple of shots of one of a locally based-pair taken at Old Warden in the days when we still had sun, to wish you a good, shiny 2013.

What and When

I've been taken to task by a couple of correspondents over tha last few months for giving no apparent indication of when I've despatched something fresh - or new, anyway - in to cyberspace. There are probably two reasons for my not having done this since I started the site, the first probably that I hoped it would encourage The Reader to trawl through the pages to see if there was a glimmer of something shiny - you know what an optimist I am! And the second, somewhat less worthy, was that it would reveal rather too readily how long it had been since I actually posted anything, and there's enough to light up my guilt responses already. For a while though I'll try to remember in the hurly-burly of trying to catch the cyberpost to add a date when I send something off, like this.


3 Squadron decals

If you're interested in the huge decal sheet of 3 Squadron markings from Snipe to Typhoon that's shown on the Workbench page, which also comes with an equally big sheet of the appropriate national markings, Jim Chapman is planning to have some at a few of this year's IPMS shows, including Southern Expo. If you can't make these, send a cheque for £18.00 to J. Chapman at 77 Sutherland Avenue, Petts Wood, Orpington BR5 1QX. This price covers postage, and I can only re-enphasise that I think the whole production is splendid.

Scale Model World, the second burst.

( a chronological detour)


Telford may not have Californian sunshine, or American centennial celebrations - though it's been a break destination over the years through its Industrial Revolution associations - but it features regularly on this page when IPMS/UK puts on the annual ScaleModelWorld, for which I treasure the American description as a "Hobbyists' Convention" (Chicago, 2001). Having covered much of the activity on the Mike's World page this will be largely the photo supplement, mostly concerned with a personal selection of the models on the competition tables, bKit Spackman's Star Alliance Boeing 767 specialut I must start with one that also appeared for a time as part of the "What If?" Special Interest Group exhibit as well as here on the purple (puce?) table covering that identifies only too readily the SMW competition area. Kit Spackman has been building models in this category long before the SIG was formed (nearly twenty-one years ago, as you ask) and as well of the Meteor PR.19 for which he has become well-known and, in conjunction with the model, widely celebrated I remember vividly his 92 Squadron F-104K and Blue Angels Buccaneer. He's also seriously into airliners (and the relevant SIG) and his chef d'oeuvre this year was a three-dimentional realisation of an advertisement by the Star Allance airline association, next to which he thoughtfully placed a clipping from a newspaper, which you can see by the nose, in case anyone might be tempted to challenge the likelihood of such an aircraft. Described by Kit - if not by Seattle - as a Boeing 777-900, rather more than two different kits and a considerable amount of putty went in to it along with much time, determination and perseverence. For the doubters, there is a category in the competition called I think "Hypothetical Aircraft" which caters for the likes of us and proves - in conjunction with other recent events - that the IPStar Alliance superstretch 76 and executive TSR.2, SMW 2011MS/UK committee does have a sense of humour. This "superstretch" also appeared for a time on our SIG table accompanied by a TSR.2 in classic Speedbird colours, presumably with executive seating in the bomb bay area after the fashion of the BOAC Mosquitos on the Swedish run. While we're at the What If? stand, one of the others that I liked particularly was a Spitfire variation that even Neil Robinson would find it hard to place, but still managed to look somehow familiar. The accompanying description from builder Dave Drake not only gave the origins, development and service history of the Supermarine Spartan but listed the eight donor kSupermarine Spartan I, 263 Sqn RAF 1941its that gave rise to this very convincing model, and for me the package of research, model and writing, giving a complete, logical and believeable history, is precisely what I like, enjoy and find fascinating about this form of modelling (model magazine editors please copy). We sometimes have a theme to build at least part of our annual display to, and this year's was "1941". My contribution to this is appearing/will appear in "Workbench", with the explanation and what was involved, and is also currently on the cover page.

Most of the rest of the photos I brought back were from the competition area (that vivid puce background, again). Not unsurprisingly several of the models that drew my eye were in the "Hypotheticals" category, and the winner of this was labelled as a Meteor FB.2. In 1:48th it bears a more than passing resemblance to the Trent-Meteor flown in 1946 with a tMeteor FB.2, the Valley Sqn IDF/AF 1956urboprop adaptation of the Derwent, with added tip tanks and under-wing and -fuselage stores. You can't see it properly in the photos but this also came with a full and well-reasoned account of the type's development and history; it's an excellent model, and my only quibble is that I have some doubt that it would have had six-bladed propellors. I may be over-influenced by the Trent's five-bladers, but reading recently about Griffon-Spitfires I remember that they were given six-bladed contra-props because of doubts about problems with six blades in the same plane. I'm nowhere near an engineer; what do I know?

Of the "real" aeroplanes on the table, the one that gave me the greaVickers Valiant B.2, Mach 2 conversiontest pleasure, and indeed envy, was the Black Bomber, the sole Valiant B.2. Predating the recent and very welcome Airfix kit this was a substantial reworking of the earlier Mach 2 offering, and it was accompanied by a very full account of the work involved prodced as a small spiral bound booklet. I hope that some enterprising Editor will take the opportunity to translate this in to a magazine article as I strongly suspect, though I only had a brief ripple through the "instructions", that the steps taken here would be equally applicable to the Airfix kit. I know I'm not alone in finding this variant fascinating, for the irony of the fallout from its cancellation as much as its dramatic appearance; and what I'd really like of course is a resin conversion of the quality of the Cammett Nimrod AEW.3. My blandishments to this end didn't seem to have much effect at Telford; and it would be quite wrong of me to spread any rumours of a possible alternative much before, say, Southern Expo. In the meantime, I look forward to picking up one of the Airfix PR./K. conversion packs, which should be available in the spring, while bearing in mind the space taken up by one, let alone three. Another superb and eye-catching conversion was the Short "Hythe"-class, a real life conversion from the Sunderland. As well as being an exShors "Hythe" , Aquila Airways cellent model, and beautifully presented coasting up to the mooring buoy on very convincing water with a crewman stretching out of the front turret space, it came with a back story which, as far ar I can remember it, was that as the last flying boat to return from the Falklands it brought back an air mail letter which was displayed next to the model. I wish now I'd tried to find the names of the modellers whose work I've shown here, to give them the deserved credit; perhaps if the expected SMW "special" of the IPMS/UK magazine has their names I'll add them here.

Two last treatWW I flying boat, SMW 2011s, at least on this page (my contributions to the two SIGs will appear - shortly? - on the Workbench page). One is a World War I flying boat mounted on a catapult; foolishly I didn't make a note of its type , and although for some reason the name Ago sticks in my mind I'm probably wrong. It just looks fascinating! And the last appeared in the Science Fiction section, and I onlt know that its a Gemenon because the name next to it was caught on my photo. Whatever it was/is part of the fun is trying to work out the donor kits which could have been used in its construction.



ScaleModelWorld 2012 ... and beyond

IPMS is due to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary next year; I don't know if it held its first National Championships that year, but by the time I joined in 1968 it was a well established event to which I went - and met many then who I saw this year! - and it became a fixture in the family diaries, always referred to as the Nat.Champs,. as far as any Master Plan and the relevant time bargaining were concerned. From Tottenham Court Road its location progressed via the RAF Museum at Hendon to the Agricultural Centre at Stoneleigh and a two day event where the very basic overnight accomodation, rumoured to have been the Jockeys' quarters, helped new friendships to burgeon helped no doubt by a little light carousing. Pausing briefly at Peterborough - where the What If? SIG came about in a conversation with Ian Hartup - and slightly longer at Donington in what had been a Rolls-Royce engine assembly hall, it came to Telford accompanied by rhubarb noises from those whose maps faded rapidly just north of Birmingham.

Not from us, though; because of its historical links, especially with the Industrial Revolution, we'd become increasingly familiar with the area, our daughter Anna doing two stints in successive years at the Blist's Hill village as a Victorian - one of them I remember vividly looking after a pair of very ginger Tamworth piglets - and another behind counters in a chemists and a bank. We'd been up there camping as well, and appreciated the area as somewhere that has for us at least several attractions, even if they weren't strong enough to keep me from the Scale Aircraft Modelling stand in November. The links were strengthened when Anna did her industrial archeology degree in Ironbridge, living in one of Abraham Darby's workmen's cottages in Coalbrookdale, and when my wife searching for her Great- and Great-great-ancestors found many research possibilities in the villages around the Staffordshire/Shropshire border. For a few years we spread our custom around various B&Bs in the Ironbridge are but just recently, when we've made the decision to attend early enough - procrastination has struck several times - we've stayed at the International to be within as short a distance as possible of the TIC halls, especially useful when planning to arrive on the Friday afternoon. This year we travelled even earlier, driving up on the Thursday afternoon to enable us to stop in Ludlow on the way; and we stayed over on the Sunday night so that I could go to the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre at Cosford on the Monday morning, with the timing of their open week selected thougthtfully by the management to enable some of us attending SMW who were aviation history enthusiasts to see and remark on the progress of such as the Hampden and the Wellington. So much for the backstory; now, the show.

By 3.00 on Friday I'd passed through Security - aka. Andy Scott - and found the What If? and SIG144 stands on which to leave the models prepared for the occasion, particulaly the Shorter Sterling. Then I took the opportunity to validate one of my older son's military aphorisms, "time spent in reconnaisance is seldom wasted", aided by the site layout that had been published in the recently received IPMS Magazine; while there had been some changes, needing reference to the large diagram on the easel by the entrance, once I had discovered that my mental orientation of the map was about 180 degrees out I was able to work out A Plan for the following day, and even acquire one or two goodies (not that money changed hands on the Friday, oh my word no!). Equally it gave many opportunities for the conversations that are for me the life blood of this event, with many of them only being possible once a year with the convergence of old modelling friends, many from even farther away than Scotland.

When the word got round that there were going to be four halls in use this year, my first slightly alarmed reaction was that this would make room for so many extra stands that it would be impossible to get around them, thereby limiting the number of people I'd be able to see, chat to and maybe even buy something from without which it would be unthinkable to return home. In fact the unsuspected effect, commented on by growing numbers as the weekend went on, was that it gave us enough room not only to move around the alleyways between the stands with having to reply on the dimly-remembered skills that survived from muddy rugby pitches; sharp elbows were unnecessary this year! And the space behind the stands was enough for more that two people to sit and natter; a feature of this year's Fun was chatting in adjacent chairs to Mary, the hitherto unmet wife of Kit Spackman. The two of them were cheerfully Box-and-Coxing in a wheelchair, as the effects of their sundry ailments acted up; and to see Kit after his rather torrid autumn acquiring scars was a great relief as well as a familiar pleasure.

Among the several others with whom I was able to chat over the weekend the one with the longest journey was Pat Martin, over from western Canada to launch his new book - the fourth, I think - on the Phantom on the Aviation Bookshop stand, the publisher having the familiar and descriptive name Double Ugly. I wrote about his volume on U S Navy F-4s a couple of years ago, and this one is devoted to the Phantom in British service both with the Royal Navy and the RAF; he has resisted the temptation to limit himself to a single volume and I found to my slight surprise when I was able to do more than shuffle through the pages that there will be a second. This covers the FG.1 and FGR.2 up until 1978, and the second will start coincident with the change of role with the RAF from strike/reconnaisance to air defence. With luck I'll expand on this on the reading list page in due - or without the luck, undue - course. It's full of colour, and has has quite a bit of modelling-specific content, especially on colour schemes and colours. I first met Pat in the 'eighties when I was working in the press section of IAT under Brian Philpott, and held the view - not supported by Paul Bowen - that our facilities should be mad available for those compiling a long term record, and not just the stringers for the Daily Bugle, or even the Monthly Kite; for me anyone who'd come from beyond Calgary had a positive right to be with us. We did manage to get together this year for a late lunch on the Sunday, where a major thread of the conversation was the joy of grandchildren and their ability to exhaust the aged grandparent.

In previous years I've been able to select from a substantial selection of photos to illustrate this page, but this year I pulled a major bubu by leaving my own little camera at home; I borrowed my wife's similarly sized device, and not being familiar with it made sure it was on "auto" to let it make its own decisions on exposure, flash Manga F-22! and so forth. I toured the competition tables on the Sunday morning, noting with some pleasure that the rather violently purple/cerise fabric table covering of past competitions had been replaced by a much more pleasing shade of blue; sadly when I came to download the results in the following week they all looked much too bright. I've tried to adjust a few in Paintshop (without any serious knowledge of what I was doing) and ANT-9 "Crocodile"hope that these will illuminate the text a little. This F-22 is I think a Hasegawa kit decorated in accordance with some Japanese graphic series, and would probably be as far from stealth as it's possible to be. The almost equally colourful "crocodile" is an ANT-9 according to its label - there's never enough space or time to follow the story up properly - flying in the USSR sometime in the 'thirties.

Even with the SMW title now largely accepted the Chamionship aspect of the show is still one of the three core threads of the event, and attracts attracts entries modellers from across Europe and occasionally beyond, with the overall Senior Champion often coming from Somewhere Out There. This year's is a case in point, demonstrating the exercise not only of modelling skills but also those of a formidable imagination; for the first time it was drawn from the entries in the science fiction class and although mSteam Monobike, 1898y first reaction was to think that it was from the pages of H G Wells or Jules Verne it was, I found out later, entirely from the imagination of the modeller. Again, my apologies for the photo quality, and you will be able to find it proporly reproduced in some of the modelling press; it is described on the base as a "Modern Steam Monobike" as is accompanied by an equally modern young person - at least in 1896 terms - who drew the eye for her human engineering as much as the mechanical equivalent in her steed. This year I didn't get to see the competition tables until the Sunday morning, but when I found this model at the far end of the dedicated area it was surronded by a number of both modellers and non-modellers expressing both astonishment and admiration. I thought, and still think, it's fantastic, and thanks to the compiler of the report in Model Aircraft Monthly (other magazines are available, and it was also reported in the latest Airfix Magazine which has of course gone in to hiding) I can tell you that its onlie begetter is Stefano Marchetti whose skill, both as deviser and modeller, I can especially as a dedicated What If? person only envy. I wonder if he could be persuaded to turn his thoughts to a flying machine?

Of course it's a .......

If you've read Mike's World already you'll know the origin of the Shorter Sterling , or at least of the idea. Filled with good intent and enthusiasm, as soon as i'd got past the coach-lag incurred by the journey from Heathrow to Milton Keynes went straight to the garage to get the Airfix Stirling that I'd had in virtually the same place for four or five years; it took a little while, and a certain amount of scrabbling among the shelves, before I realised that I must have got rid of it fairly recently in one of my sporadic clearance exercises, when I decide that I'm never going to build that kit.

Never mind; the idea was too good to drop and, making sure that I still had a pair of Vulture nacelles to hand, I got a replacement kit from my old mate Tony Eastwood of the Aviation Hobby Shop. I'd already got the basic plan in my head of how I wanted to alter Short's big best, by deleting the outer engine nacelles and taking a couple of sections from the fuselage just fore and aft of the wing; this should let me shorten the length and avoid a "step" in the profile. I had also considered how to use the parts of the single fin to make two vertical tail surfaces, but shuffled that idea back in to the "too difficult" tray. Opening the sealed kit box, I first held the fuselage halves together to visualise the cuts, and then checked the upper and lower wing halves to see how to remove the fairings of the outer nacelles; it was at this point thai I discovered that I had been given two sets of upper wing halves, and no lower. On phoning Hornby/Airfix to remedy the omission I was directed to the website to request the missing parts; and while typing in the part numbers it occurred to me to ask for the component parts of the fin and rShorter Sterling under constructionudder. Very nearly subtle! The requested parts came very quiclky, and I settled down with saw, filler and even very narrow masking tape to arrive at this interim result. Over the years I've never really got on with Milliput; I'd read recently in a SAMI build of Magic Sculpt and thought I'd try this as an alternative, but couldn't find a source (I have now, but after I needed it for this project). One of the local art shops suggested Hobbycraft and they in turn pointed me at the MK branch of Games Workshop, replete with orcs and dragons; from then I bought their "Green Stuff", a two colour ribbon which still needed mixing, the Plasticene skills of my extreme youth coming in handy. The stripes of my more usual filler between the three sections of the fuselage looked somewhat uneven, but I conceived the cunning plan of overlaying them with narrow strips of thin plastic card to look like reinforcing bands. The Vulture cowlings fitted remarkably well with very little adjustment, and I uShorter Sterling, Det.Z 148 Sqn. early 1944sed a pair of Aeroclub four-bladed propellors. I had intended to shorten the wing tips as well, but decided that this would take too much time and trouble. The twin fins looked good, though.


There was no doubt about the colour scheme, Bomber Command's green/brown/black being inevitable. I had distant memories of an Esci decal sheet for a Stirling with nose art of a "Jolly Roger", but was assured that it was almost certainly lost in the mists of time; this made it more surprising that at the IPMS Farnborough Plastikfest in SeptemberSterling B.I "somewhere in England", early 1944 I found two copies in a shoebox on a table for a very modest price, which I met with barely suppressed glee before waving them at Paul Davis - the King of Decals - with whom I had started my quest. I coated the second Jolly Roger with Microfilm before applying it after the first had shrivved, which is of course only to be expected with age without some form of artificial enhancement. The Dull Red codes came from an old Modeldecal sheet, but I found that I had to paint over the film edging of both these and the nose art to disguise its mattness against the statutory Humbrol 85 Coal Black. The codes are those of 148 Squadron when engaged on Special Duties in Southern Europe, and as well as having a personal significance I thought the the Sterling fooked a likeley low-level faster, bigger deliverer of significant cargo, some of ot no doubt self-loading. \the result looks to me at least just about what I had envisaged in the bar of the Aerostar Hotel; but you can always check with Sam and George on the Brampton stand.

Postscript to the Sterling

One of my few modelling moments between Telford and the end of the year involved adding an extra to the Shorter Sterling. When I saw the primitive AEW aerial, mounted originally on a Wellington, that Adrian Hampson had produced under his Lonewulf banner it struck me as an obvious addition to the aircraft, and one which the two Vultures shoulShorter Sterling EW Mk.IId have had no difficulty in hauling aloft; although it does look a bit draggy it has at least a streamlined pylon (I try not to guess at the weight of the necessary equipment given the ability to miniaturise in the early 'forties). Lonewulf give the pylon, the "beam" and sixteen small metal poles which need to be inserted in the beam individually and their locations are indicated, and I opened them up a little with a 1 mm drill; such fun! Apologies for the date on the photo which I really should have eliminated, but I'm still waiting for a vacancy on the weekend residential course. Transferred 04.03.12

1485 Flight

I've never really been attracted by the Ashton in either scale, but a conversation with S&M's Mel Bromley at the IPMS Brampton show led me to the idea of its possiAvro Ashton T.5 1485 Flight mid-'60sble use as a nav/radar trainer in a dedicated Bomber Command flight Somewhere in Yorkshire. Consultation with the Warpaint Hastings and a spiral-bound volume on the history of the Hastings and Hermes by Graham Simons gave me what I needed for the scheme; I had originally expected to have to use dayglo orange decal strip, and was somewhat relieved to find that red areas were what was needed. So here's an Ashton T.5 of 1485 Flight; I trust you still remember your significant dates in British history, and the aircraft's origin!


Projects - almost -Realised

Every so often I start off building a kit and then it turns, almost of its own volition, in to A Project, with anything else sidelined; this is how it happened with the English Electric P.10.

Once upon a time there was a British aircraft industry; the story of what happened to it in the 'fifties and 'sixties was first told for us by Derek Wood's Project Cancelled, appearing in 1976 and accompanied by an article in Flying Review* with striking illustrations by Wilf Hardy that gave a very convincing picture - literally! - of what could, and for many of us should, have been. The next substantial contributions in hard covers, particularly on the unbuilt, came with Tony Buttler's series of British Secret Projects published by Midland, adding many more designs to those that had been published more than twenty-five years earlier and coinciding for modellers with an upsurge in interest in such subjects, exemplified by the release by Airfix of kits of the TSR.2 in both popular scales. In the fourth volume of the trilogy, Hypersonics, the author's name of Chris Gibson appeared alongside that of Tony Buttler, and subsequently he went solo as the author of a mongraph on VC-10 derivatives, notably "Pofflers". And then came his Vulcan's Hammer, this time published by Hikoki.

(This should of course have been "Air International" - I'm glad there's someone out there to pick up my clanglers ! MM)

In modelling terms, at least for aircraft with roundels, stepping beyond very limited modification of readily-available kits was probably facilitated in the 'nineties for us by Peter Lockhart and his Maintrack productions in both resin and vacform, notably the Project X series, several of which - even the vacforms - passed acrossed my workbench; much of this was based on Barrie Hygate's British Experimental Jet Aircraft, but these were mostly aircraft that were actually built. In recent years these have been supplanted by all resin offerings from Anigrand, and thence Freightdog Models, and most recently by S & M, with a much higher proportion of subjects that never got beyond a mockup, and frequently not even that far. And, thanks to the resin kit from S & M, this is where the story really starts....

It wasn't meant to be A Project until I went to the IPMS Coventry show. I already had one kit of the P.10 on order; the type had appeared in Tony Buttler's "British Jet Bombers", but for some reason - possibly overshadowed by the Avro 730 saga - it didn't really catch my eye until it reappeared with more information and, perhaps crucially, an illustration by Adrian Mann in Chris Gibson's Vulcan's Hammer, a book whose eye-catching title signals its equally eye-catching contents. Mel Bromley included this in his projected kit releases for this year, and having checked both books I decided that in accordance with my standing operating procedure (a) it looked interesting and (b) I could already visualise its colour scheme with, of course, an appropriate unit marking, fortunately available in decal form. Had my standing order come through the post things might have turned out differently, but Mel had a stand booked at Coventry which for some reason I hadn't forseen, and having set out my pair of Bristol Bandons - it says RA-6 on the S & M box top - on the What If? table and passed the two VC-7s to David Hart for SIG144 I hurried - oh all right, strolled briskly-ish - to the hangar to find the S & M wares set out on an upper level, with stairs (not, these days, my preferred architechtural feature). There among the items still being set out on the table was a P.10, somewhat smaller than I had expected but it is after all in 1:144th; my mental comparison was with the Avro 730, and on reflection that would have been really big in 72nd. So, handing over some of the recently released contents of my piggybank and clutching the P.10 (and a Nene-Viking, but that's another possible story) I wandered off around the rest of the stalls to make my contribution to Quantative Easing; before going back to the SIG stand though a second possible P.10 finish - and backstory - occurred to me, and I mounted the stairs again. And during the afternoon I figured that I didn't really want to take all that heavy money back down the M45, and added a third, knowing that inspiration would strike in some form, and it really had looked very interesting on the display.

By now you will have checked your references and found out that EE's oS&M P.10 kit partsriginal design was a response to an OR for a high-speed, high-level reconnaisance aircraft and one of the features that made it both fascinating and somewhat risky was the powerplant system, with ramjets spanwise tip-to-tip within the wing structure; a pair of jet engines in the wing roots were to provide power for take off, and get the airframe to a speed at which the ramjets could be ignited. This potentially complex system has been ingeniously cast in to the resin wing structure, and looks very convincing with the upper and lower halves closed up (those curves should be straight lines, bBAC Coventry B.1 617 Sqn.ut isn't it artistic?). It seemed logical to start the trio off with a basic RAF P.10; the Adrian Mann picture showed in in all-over white, but I was minded of Paul Lucas' note in his series on the Lightning that the Air Council's stipulation for supersonic aircraft was a metal finish; both my Avro 730s wore this finish, but I gave this one white undersides, approved no doubt by Group Captain Indecisive. The extended wing tips are the optional overload fuel tanks, to be dropped when empty. I applied these to my first because I had decided to build the second without them; this was to wear the second colour scheme that had sent me back to start adding to my pile of S&M boxes, fired I thinBAC Coventry B.20 2 Sqn RAAFk by the possibility of the USAF deploying a small detachment of Hustlers to Vietnam. The RAF did not of course take part in that event, but the RAAF, who saw themselves are more threatened by its possible expansion did contribute. Referring to the Aviation Workshop's second Profile on the Canberra for the correct colours gave me the trigger for a small detachment from 2 Squadron RAAF, by now flying the Coventry B.20 (I'll get back to the name). I had originally had the thought of using the WWII Foliage Green that was unique to the RAAF, but the Olive Drab/Extra Dark Sea Grey looks sufficiently distinctive and unBritish in case I ever want to add a B.2 of, say, 45 Squadron. Given that S&M give this as a candidate for an alternate V-force I did give some thought to a V-name; but Mel has already suggested Vengeance for his forthcoming VC-10 "Poffler" conversion, so I went back to the Bomber Command tradition of using the names of British cities, and after briefly considering Chester - not, after all that far from Manchester and Lancaster - decided that the site of the IPMS meeting was an omen, and merited being remembered for its part in WWII (and there must surely be a Coventry somewhere in Oz!).

These first two were more or less together when I started work on the third, probably the official signifier of A Project. I had a recce variant in mind, and realising that I had two sets of the "wingtip" fuel tanks to play with figured that they could perhaps be combined to provide even more range, for delivery flights if not for operations. By now I had been looking through my potentially useful sets of 1:144th decals, and as well as the Freightdog Canberra set that furnished the RAAF markings I'd used the Xtradecal Hunter sBAC Coventry PR.9, FAChheet for ejection seat and rescue matkings; and there in the middle was the answer, a red and blue shield with a white star which although intended for J-734 would be equally applicable for the long-range reconnaisace mark that could possibly have been delivered after some notional South Atlantic conflict. I did vary the PR.9 colour scheme, to try to give an altogether paler effect for high level operations; topsides were Light Aircraft Grey and Light Slate Grey, and in trying for a lighter equivalent of PRU Blue I found a Citadel blue-grey colour in my local wargamers' shop. While the even-more-extended wingtips looked convincing, I added a pair of 1:72nd Harrier outrigger wheels for their support, with the thought that these could well be retractable if the tanks were to be left in place when landing to refuel on a very long delivery. The scheme was also a tip of the scrambled egg to the General who was the Director of the Chilean Air Force Museum in Santiago who'd helped me find J-734; he'd been the pilot on the delivery of one of the PR.9s from Wyton. I have thought of making a fourth kit in to one of the interceptor variants of the P.10 that's also in the Adrian Mann painting, but have put the idea on one side until October; that's the scheduled publication month for Battle Flight, another book from Chris Gibson that's designed to do for British fighters and the defence what Vulcan's Hammer has done for Bomber Command and the V-force.

BAC Coventry PR.9 Chilean Air Force

That'll be More Projects to come, then.....


Simples, no?

After the somewhat intense work on the S&M English Electric P.10s (see Mike's Pick), I thought that a little straightforward modelling would be a Good Thing, and circumstances brought together on my workbench the new Airfix Spitfire 22 and an S&M Nene Viking. The latter was almost an impulse purchase, and when I picked it up from Mel Bromley at the IPMS Coventry show he kindly accompanied it with a few extra bits. My plan was for a couple of minor variations, including RAF Transport Command titles and probably the Metropolitan Comms Squadron's black and red diamond, which I've always thought a rather smart marking, but the extra bits included a fuselage, and I started to think in terms of greater length and a tricycle undercarriage; and I think it was beS+M Nene Viking 5fore the opening of the Olympics that a Queen's Flight finish occurred to me. The "stretching" was made as simple as possible, by severing one nose immediately forward of the wing root and the other as soon as the taper stopped just behind the cockpit. With the two joined I filled the "ring" that was now part of the forward fuselage, though not by the look of it quite enough (it shows up in this photo); as so often the patience required for an apparently mundane task evaporated rather quickly. The wings and tailplane were joined on, the latter with a little dihedral for purely aesthetic reasons.

Looking at the instructions at a relatively early stage I saw with some surprise that the main undercarriRoyal Flight Viking CC.5age had not only two wheels on each unit but two legs; the wheels were shown in the Putnam Vickers book and the legs confirmed by Mel. For the tricycle set up I moved the legs to the rear of the twin bays in each nacelle, and after a fruitless hunt through my sbares boxes for a suitable nosewheel I found to my surprise that I could adapt the tailwheel, hiding the less likely bit behind the plastic card doors. Consulting the Airdecal sheet of royal de Havillands I adapted the early Heron scheme, using Xtradecal stripes with the windows and serial from the kit decals, and the "Royal" badge behind the cockpit windows. I used the "shiny" MetRoyal Flight Viking CC.5 c.1954alcote silver, though I would have liked to see it even shinier as befitted its duties. I like the outcome though, even if it did reiterate an error or three im ny modelling techniques, but then I rely heavily on one of Brian Bedford's imperishable lines for the sadly-missed Artisan; "I'm old enough to know better, but I'm too old to care"!

Now, about that Tay Viscount....

Post War Warrior

There was a time when having one mark of a well-known type in a kit manufacturer's range appeared to preclude having another, no matter how far apart in time and appearance; happily that's no longer "policy" and Airfix have given us almost the last of the Spitfires in 1:72nd. Like my Nene Viking, making this was intended to bring me back to relative simplicity of modelling and save me both dexterity and plaSpitfire 22, 80 Sqn 1948nning. The second had already been done for me by Xtradecal set 72-128; most of the options were for Auxiliary squadrons, some with the RAx-seies Reserve Command codes, to which I may return, and there's one all-silver example with the colourful squadron "bars" of the City of Edinburgh. I settled on the boss's aircraft of 80 Squadron while still Germany-based in 1948, not least because of the "shadowed" units codes in pale blue and white.

Dexterity, at least in its current state, was challenged by some of the smaller parts; Airfix's kit design includes enough small parts and details, in particular in the cockpit with both a separate interior structure and moulding on the side walls, to give satisfaction to the average modeller. The only part that turned out not looking right in the end was the spinner, and I haven't yet worked out why mine has a slight up-and-left tilt which is visible from some angles (see the Brian Bedford line above!). In RAF use at least there aren't many front line finishes for the 22, which for me at least is likely to inhibit my making more than a couple; a pity, because this is a good kit in keeping with Airfix's current standards, but there may be a conversion or two on the way (and could I please have one which doesn't need a propellor, that from my second kit having been swallowed whole by the Carpet Monster?).

A few bars of the Retro Blues, with Red and Black notes....

A day or two before the Shropshire Modellers' show at Cosford I saw a snippet in, I think, SAMI, on a new set of acrylic paints from Lifecolor; boxed as part of their diorama series it's called "Black, Rubber shades and Co." and is just what it says on the box. I've mentioned before both in SAM and in the ever-inventive David Hart's splendid proposals under his Echt Deutsch label - in view of the credibility attained by Kit Spackman's Meteor PR.19 over the years perhaps I should make it clear now that this series of colours is not necessarily true, unless of course you sincerely believe in it - which included Hellschwartz, Mittelschwartz and Dunkelschwartz ; these came up in discussion round the SIG stand at Telford last year, as a result of which I still have a Master Plan for a DB-powered Mosquito with FuG.212 and painted in the relevant three shades of black (if I can make the nacelles merge satisfactorily!). Having arrived early at the Museum on the Sunday morning, located the What If? stand and left my models there for Martin The Standmaster to arrange in a pleasing pattern I wandered off to see what goodies there might be for me to invest in, and against the wall of the adjoining hangar I found a display with a substantial selection of Lifecolor; there just waiting was the box set, and money changed hands with amazing rapidity. Just as well, really; it was the Only Set on the Stand.

For once something brought back from a show has been pressed rapidly in to use; the Sea Vixen cockpit has been painted "Deep Cockpit", particularly apposite I thought for the "Looker's" area, especially in the FAW.1, and the tyres "Tyre Black" (sometimes you just have to go with the manufacturers' instructions). I still have to find out where "Vulcanised Rubber" might be Just The Thing, and I'm certainly not going to use "Dirty Black" on one of Their Lordships' shiny flying machines, which leaves me "Worn Black" and "Burned Black" to try on some unsuspecting part; the last could be applied to a section of carrier deck perhaps, even if the Mighty Vixen didn't have afterburner (though that does suggest an interesting mod for a possible Super Vixen!).

The Reds, then; not a sporting allusion, not even to the Ferrari of that nice Senor Alonso (if only he'd shave off that bizarre patch of facial hair) but to thoughts reignited while I was making the SR.53 and the Patrouille Suissse Piranha which are/have been written up on the Workbench page. It's not just that I haven't been able to get a uniform finish, particularly hand-brushing acrylic, but that for a while it's seemed to me that whether acrylic or enamel red always seems more reluctant to wash off brushes, of whatever material, than other colours using the same cleaner. I wonder if there's a different form of pigment used in mixing shades of red, although perhaps to be pseudo-scientific about it I should try varying shades, culminating in the shade of red carefully and correctly selected for the crimson blood on the station platform by Les Barker in his saga of "Stanley Knife" and identified as Humbrol Number Twenty.

I'm likely to need red again in the near future; I plan to finish my first New Airfix Gnat as Lee Jones' Yellowjack leader, just as soon as I can sort out the seating of the wing -I really should have read Tony O'Toole's build article in the Airfix Magazine first - but with the S&M Gnat decal sheet on the way I'm sure there'll be a Red one to follow, perhaps with the pelican badge on the tail. And I've recently got the Czechmaster resin kit of the Vampire FB.31, the RAAF version with its two "elephant ear" additional intakes underneath the fuselage (FOD? What FOD?). Now I know that the boss's aircraft of the Perth squadron was painted overall red, with a big black swan on the nose, and I had hoped that this would have been one of the options on offer; however I know that somewhere in the last six months I've seen that swan as an extra on a decal sheet lurking in one of my many files/boxes, and I'm fairly certain that the red really was overall - and presumably roundel red - apart from a pair of silver/unpainted panels below the cockpit, which are fortunately outlined on other aircraft shown in the instructions. I shall work towards this this my usual optimism (not to be confused with blind faith). I just hope I won't need to resort to hand-painting the swans.

Which brings me to the Blues (very difficult to resist starting with "Woke up this mornin'..). The other aircraft occupying my front-and-centre cutting mat at the moment is a Hasegawa EA-18G Growler, which I have thought worth paying the asking price for because it's destined to be the one I saw and photographed last February in its reEA-18G, VAQ-129 North Island San Diego 02.11tro color scheme (well, it is American) in the San Diego sunshine. Just to refresh your memory, and because I like it so much, here's one of the photos. The assumption of those of us there was that it's intended to represent the very attractive three-colour scheme in which we remember finishing the Airfix Dauntless and Kingfisher all those years ago, and for which the three colours have readily available in many ranges starting as far back as the Humbrol "Authentics". Fortunately the decals for this aircraft, and its Prowler squadron companion, have been issued in 1:72nd by Two Bobs - so many of the specially finished aircraft haven't subsequently appeared as decals, but that's a whole different column - and their very colourful instructions give the FS references for the paints used, and where available their commercial availability. Sadly only one of these quoted for to this Growler is marketed, the Light Compass Ghost Gray of the underside, 36375; now you see the reason for my Blues.

At this stage I decided to go back to primary sources to see if my memory of the original colours was correct; the nearest in this case was volume two of the invaluable Monogram Guide to USN/USMC Aircraft Color, recalling in particular the use of non-specular sea blue and intermediate blue (and noting in passing that the book was published in 1989, since when it's had an easily accessible place on my shelves) Then I went to my preserved 2009 edirion of the Hannants catalogue to see which, if any, of the colours referenced in the instruction sheet were produced as Xtracolor, confirming the lack of availability. Printing off the photo shown here, and a couple of others taken at the same time, I then went to my drawers of various paints - principally Humbrol, with a few Revell and Tamiya - to see if I could find some sort of match either with a tinlet lid or with a patch painted on a piece of white plastic card; this proved largely fruitless, which has left me with the two following considerations. Given that the pictures were taken on a seriously sunny Californian day - even in February the temperature was eighty-two degrees - how might the intense sunshine have affected the appearance of the colours? And how close to then-real life anyway would the combined efforts of Canon and Epson be?

For a long time we've been able to rely on our ability to buy and use a paint carrying an FS/BS/RLM reference so that we know that we're applying the correct colour to a model, or at least to give us someone to blame if it turns out to be just the wrong shade of pink either as it dries or as the coat of clear gloss/satin is applied; the days when we we - or at least I - would cheerfully mix and stir, either in a small clean jar or in a tinlet of one of the base colours, to achieve the forty-first shade of green seem long gone. I'm reluctant to return to them, not least because if the mix is imperfect, even if the colour is right - or at least close enough for Government work - it's quite likely that with the hand-painting that is my only realistic option the result may be unacceptably streaky. At the time of writing I'm still trying alternatives that could with luck be Close Enough; it's not going in for competition after all, and even in that unlikely event there couldn't have been enough potential judges in San Diego to dispute the effect of that sunshine. My blue conclusions with or without caveats should be in the Growler's write-up soon, probably in the "pick" section. It's getting to the point now when however much I want to make this particular aircraft it's been sitting on my cutting mat long enough, and I want to follow it with another Growler and an FA-18F; I think the two-seater looks much better than the E, for some reason, and at least they'll be in standard and easily available shades of gray and TwoBobs have done some really colourful markings for the F. And I can move on to my Gnat - or possibly Gnats - and whatever arrives next from S&M, maybe even in time for the IPMS Barnet show in a month's time.

Of all the dodgy variations on shades of black that were aired at Cosford I think my favourite was volksschwarz, the People's Black. All together, now.....

"The People's Flag is Deepest Black... "

Blues Coda

I was just on the point of starting the detail touch-up of the Centennial Growler before applying the decals when I chanced - while trying to bring some order to the piles of paper around my armchair by putting them in to different piles, with a few discards in to a "clean" rubbish bag - on the February issue of Model Aircraft with a reference on the cover to a Centennial EA-18G. Now of course I'd read this when I first picked the magazine up but I couldn't actually remember anything from the article (well, it was in 48th); so I was surprised when I read that author Adrian Troughton had included colour references for Vallejo paints to go with the Fightertown decals. In particular I'd taken some time to try and match the blue of the upper surfaces without fully achieving the result I wanted, and I'd reached the point when I really wanted to get the model done and moved on, but I paused again. I don't know of a model shop around the dusty plains of North Bucks that stocks Vallejo, but consulting the small ads of the latest (May) SAMI I found ScaleModelShop that does, with a phone number; although this established that they operate from Halifax, somewhat beyond my Saturday afternoon range in the Caponemobile, the young John who answered was extremely helpful and we have agreed to entrust the cargo to the Royal Mail, even at their New Improved Rates. I shall move the Growler slightly to one side and carry on with my pair of Gnats, and an unexpected addition to the Scottish Defence Force/Air Force which is to be on station in time for the SIG stand at Hendon in a month; and as soon as Her Majesty's mails allow I shall try the Prussian Blue. It'll make it to the Mike's Pick section yet!

Bears out of the woods

Russian Centenary flypast

If you've been following my (decreasing) gadding about over the last few years, You'll know that some of it has been to Foreign Parts, usually under the umbrella of Ian Allan Travel, to air shows and aviation museums beyond the rocky shores of England to see in the metaStormy Bears, August 2012l what I've only seen in photos of variable size and quality, and of course take my own photos, (also of variable size and quality). The transition from image to actuality has surely been greatest with Soviet/Russian subjects; it was only four or five years ago that I went to the great museum at Monino, and there for all to see in the (often considerable) flesh were aircraft with which we'd largely been familiar in thumbnail sized photos and, for those of us who grew up - I was going to say matured, but that's probably an assumption too far - in the 'fifties and 'sixties in a distinctly furry blur. Monino was included again in my sole trip this yStormy Blackjacks, Moscow August 2012ear, to Moscow to see the Russian Air Force celebrate its centenary, with the main feature being the day of static and flying displays at Zhukofsky; the pictures that you see are at least not blurred (although there is a UFO in the upper left quarter of most of them it's since been seen off). As if the occasion was not sufficiently dramatic, much of the main flypast had a theatrically cloudy backdrop which I thought added to the flavour, though the dedicated aviation "blue sky" snapper would doubtless have been less impressed. This was one of those occasions when you're not sure what you've seen until you get a chance to Fencers in review, Moscow August 2012 look at the photos; I still haven't sorted them all out but the trip and especially the display was memorable, and remembered with great pleasure three months after. Mind you, I haven't sorted all the photos that I took when helping the US Navy with a similar celebration last year, but at least I know where to find them; those from the USAF fiftieth at Nellis in 1997 are hiding in a probably forgotten drawer (thank goodness for digital). You will know my unwillingness to harbour regrets - Piaf was right! - but while I didn't get the photos I wanted of the Sukhoi T-50, one of the aircraft I'd particularly wanted to see, here's one that I managed from a distance, with its "shepherd" MiG-29 giving scale; now that would tempt me back to RIAT (if Waddo doesn't get there first!).

T-50 and friend, moscow 2012

A Shorter back story

It was in the bar of the Moscow hotel in which we were staying - it was too far out of the city for us to venture out in the evening without even the Russian equivalent of "noch zwei biere, bitter" - that the conversation with a pair of IPMS modellers, acqauintences of long standing with whom I was sharing the trip, turned to a tale of a Branch show at which a slightly puzzled chap turned to the man behind the stand and said, "I see this is a Short Stirling; was their ever a Long Stirling?" The subsequent fit of giggles turned in to a Master Plan of which, after several turns and hiccups, the result is, or will shortly be, on the Workbench page. It gave rise to the concept of the Shorter Brothers, Oswin and Harald, less successful than their distant cousins but whose thinking had certain similarities. When I e-mailed a picture of the model halfway through its build to the Venerable Kit Spackman, to whom all What If? modellers owe much and who is currently rather unwell, he confided that he has had a Long Stirling on his plate for some time; I look forward to the day when the two can be on the same polystyrene dispersal.

Time's winged chariot

Given that Telford/ScaleModelWorld/the Nat.Champs. is the last chance for a while for me to get a few of my three-dimensional doodles before a few puzzled spectators in the hope of provoking the occasional double-take - especially now that the Milton Keynes chaps have decided that there's a better chance of being snowless in April - it came as something of a jolt recently in the small hours of an insomniac night to realise that it was a week less away than I'd thought. For once some of the models that I'd earmarked for the journey north-west are ready, give or take the odd exhaust stain, but there are still three or four that await completion with about two weeks to go, and the insomnia is coming in useful! It's also helping me with this grossly overdue catch-up with, and there should be at least a couple more entries before venturing up the M40/M42 and the uncharted territories of southern Shropshire before tying up in the safe harbour of the TIC (the workbench entries for the Shorter Sterling and a rescue attempt on one of Sir Sydney's less successful should be despatched in to cyberspace some time in the next week). I hope as always to see and of course talk to as many as possible behind or away from the What If? stand, and particularly Pat Martin who's coming over from Canadia with his new British Phantom book; and I hope to meet on the Crecy stand Chris Gibson of Vulcan's Hammer, the new Battle Flight and the VC-10 monograph, especially with Mel Bromley expecting to have front fuselages and Skybolts for a Poffler or two. Black Bucket, anyone?

More Naval Occasions

I wouldn't like you to think that I haven't read anything since I gave you my thoughts on "Sabre from the Cockpit"; I've even had time to look at more than one instruction sheet, some of which these days look as though they could qualify for an ISBN number of their own. There has been more than one on which I nearly committed myself to print, but as so often something else got in the way. However, the appearance of a new "...from the Cockpit" from Roger Chesneau's Ad Hoc Publications calls for much else to be set aside, however temporarily, especially when the subject is that Fleet Air Arm icon, the Barracuda and even if it's taken me longer that I would have wished!

I hesitate to use the word icon, which generally seems to indicate unqualified approval; on one of my shelves there's a treasured copy of the Fleet Air Arm Officers Association Song Book, which came to me through a member of that august body in the 'sixties, and I've always maintained that of the 50% or so of the ditties that concern aircraft, half are about the Barracuda - and not one is complimentary! As with all the volumes in this serBarracuda from the cockpities the author is a pilot with considerable knowledge, and flying time, of the subject, and Robert McCandless in relating his and others' memories of their time with the aircraft is understandably concerned to give a full and balanced account of the type's origins, development and time in service. To those of us with a fairly casual knowledge of the Barracuda there is much that will be new; I wasn't aware that the Merlin was very much a second choice engine, with the original powerplant to have been the rather more powerful, if less conventional, Rolls-Royce Exe. When its development was abandoned the aircraft's performance, particularly with its warload of bombs which were to be its primary weapon suffered, and needed considerable development before the Barracuda could be cleared for service. All this is covered with detail and clarity in the early part of the book, very well illustrated as always with this series and with contributions from many of those involved. The same holds good for its introduction to front-line service and the operations in which it took part up until the end of the war by which time, following its involvement in a series of attacks on the Tirpitz in Norwegian waters, it was a principal weapon of the British fleets in the Indian Ocaen and the Far East.

The third section of the book lists its use squadron by squadron, both in wartime and post-war, by which time the Griffon-engined Barracuda V was in secondline service. And for the delight of modellers, there is a colour section with thirty excellent profiles by Roger Chesnau and a for-view of PK721 as it was with 827 NAS on HMS Colossus when flown by the author in January 1946.

Over the Naval horizon

I remember the Barracuda's appearance being considered slightly odd, especially when folded ready for striking below deck, but the Royal Navy has been offered even stranger-looking flying machines over the years, not least the Avro The Admiralty and AEWBison and the Blackburn Blackburn. This new monograph from Chris Gibson, now well-known to What If? modellers as the author of Vulcan's Hammer and as The Man Who Knows About Pofflers, does include a few candidates for this category. Its cover both in title and illustration sets out its purpose admirably; there will be several modellers who, without even opening it, will think seriously about that Gannet AEW variant.

This chapter in helping Admirals to see beyond the horizon starts at the end of the Second World War; with the example of the US Navy's Project Cadillac Avengers the Admiralty considered a similar conversion of the big Fairey Spearfish, but with the end of the war came the end of the stated need. With its revival in the early 'fifties the Navy bought some AEW Skyraiders from the US, and restarted development of indigenous designs; some were based on existing airframes, such as the Avro 748 and the HS.125 - and of course the Gannet - and some started life as clean sheets of paper. Chris Gibson sets out thier evolution and subsequent fates very clearly, and with many illustrations; among these I was/am very impressed by the artwork of Adrian Mann, whoe really brings his subjects to the life they never had. The same "double-ended" type of radar installation that was prominent in the AEW Nimrod was the basis for two fascinating series, one from Blackburn/Hawker Siddely and a tailless aircraft from BAE; both came in several variants, but there are one or two of each to which I would dearly love to be able to apply 849 NAS markings. One of my WiF colleagues built one of thse - probably a Blackburn - and gave it the entirely apposite name of Puffin AEW.1 - watch it waddle!

The story is brought up to date with the post-Falklands scramble to apply the Searchwater radar to the Sea King, and the possibility of it being followed with a similarly-equipped Merlin. As with the previous monographs from Blue Envoy, on VC.10 developments and the BAE P.1216, the reasons for way in which the designs came to fruition is as fascinating as the shpes of the aircraft that resulted. I hope that having found this niche the publishers will be able to continue equally interesting strands - and that they continue to use Adrian Mann!

A pair of (smallish) Bristols

Many of those of us of the What If? tendency - especially if we like our imagination to be dressed in red, white and blue roundels and to be rooted somewhere Vulcan's Hammeraround the 'fifties - were delighted last year with the appearance of Vulcan's Hammer, covering with what could and perhaps in some respects should have happened with what would have fallen largely under the banner of Bomber Command, an organisation which still had an aura derived from its exploits in the Second World War and remaining while vested with the responsibilities of the British nuclear deterrent. While many unfulfilled projects have been featured in Tony Buttler's invaluable volume on British jet bomber projects, this new book by Chris Gibson and published under the Hikoki name has expanded and added considerably to the subject, notably in the weapons field; and it's now possible to see the first fallout in three dimensions.

One of the projects - and indeed its intended role - that I hadn't come across before was the Bristol RA.6, a relatively small swept-wing twin-jet with a layout not unlike the French Vautour. Its function would have been reconnaisance, notably in researching routes and targets for the V-Force, and until I read the acBristol RA.6 Target Markerscount in the book again in the last week or so I was sure that it would have been at least a two-seater; the mission seems to call for a navigator, and the slightly tadpole shape of the forward fuselage seems suited. The 1:144th S+M resin kit - I hadn't mentioned that, had I? - has the two fuselage-mounted drop tanks that were to be dropped early on as soon as their contents was burnt off, and because of the relatively low power of the projected engines, a scaled-down Olympus, the eight RATOG bottles that were needed to get it airborne; designed for operations at relatively light altitude the thin and heavily swept wing would have had a high loading not conducive to low-level manoeuverability. The type was described as a "target marker", which could be seen as a development of the pathfinder role. As with the other subjects in this book - and there's another due on my workbench very soon, which I plan as something of a surprise for the RAAF - the details of the subjects and the reasoning behind their development are fascinating; but you know that already, don't you?

The models are relatively small - I've been looking unsuccessfully for a 1:144the Hunter toBristol Bandon B.1, 139 Sqn give them scale - and the wheels on the outriggers in particular tiny. Ther are marks on the fuselage to show where the RATOG bottles fit, and I think if I was doing a third I'd work on some form of jig to get absolute alignment. With the aid of the Aviation Workshop Canberra Profile I selected 139 Squadron which had filled a similar basic function with Mosquitos at Hemswell I hand-painted its yellow/white flash on the tail of the grey black scheme; for the 27 Squadron aircraft, whose Canberras of the Waddington wing wore a red flash on the fuselage, it was applied with very narrow decal striping. At the last momenBristol Bandon B.1, 27 Sqn Akrotirit I realised that the "St.George's cross" shield mark of S+M is very similar to the Waddington station marking, and added a pair from two VC-7 decal sheets! Serials are from gaps in Canberra allocations, and are slightly oversize; and I've used "Suez stripes", just as on the 27 original, without actually seeing if the timeline would have fitted.



Might Dan have Dared?

You may have noticed that I've developed something of an attachment for the Vickers VC-7/V.1000, at least as represented by S+M's resin kit of this very elegant, if abandoned, airlVickers VC-7, Dan Airiner (maybe that's part of it's appeal). Following up my two military versions with the idea of of one carrying a Scots lion on its tail, it was while I searching the recommended TwoSix Decals for likely BCal decals that I also found a set for a Dan Air 707 and began speculating on the possibility of the Dan Air compass and house flag emblem fitting the rather small VC-7 fin. You can see that I decided to take the risk, and that it was successful; there was enough red decal left over after trimming down the fin decal to use for covering the odd patch in a sort of freehand jigsaw. I had always had the idea of giving it a troopVickers VC-7, Dan Airing serial - your grandfather will tell you - and as I only had one small G-ARTA I applied XF809 to the starboard rear fuselage, though I suspect that in fact any airliner "taken up from trade" would have worn two of each. The serial was picked using one of my selection of Bruce Robertson's Book of Numbers, and was unused, though it was very close to one given to a Viking for a similar purpose; I hadn't realised the practice had gone on for so long, and I liked the rather tenuous connection.


ffickle ffingers and a pair of silent "g"s

You know, of course, that I've been a devotee of 1:72nd scale even before I started making my own models, and those would have included Frog Penguins, such as the Spitfire XII and a Vampire 1 from a range which, as far as I can remember, was entirely in that scale. For someone who likes making a multiplicity of models of various types it combines the major advantage of being able to fit several of them when completed in to a limited amount of storage space with the ability to have a decent amount of detail, but it can, especially for the smaller aircraft, call for a certain amount of digital dexterity, and it's this that's given rise to the common perception that with increasing age - and with digital now having an entirely new connotation - the modeller needs to move up to a larger scale as the fingers grow less flexible.

Somewhere around the end of March I started waking up with a sort of slight tingle at the ends of some of my fingers (no sniggering at the back, Jenkins!), and to add to my confusion not always the same fingers. Not long after this, with my usual instant hypochondria driving thoughts of difficulties holding a model in one hand and a paintbrush in the other, my GP advised that it was probably caused by a trapped nerve in one shoulder, and there were also pains at unexpected moments inmy wrists and hands. While waiting for a scan to confirm this I went to our local physiotherapy centre - strangely, they don't prescribe hand-painting models as a cure for anything - and encountered the wonders of accupuncture, which I have to say has been extremely helpuf in alleviating the problems, if not eliminating them entirely. (Incidentally accupuncture needles are excellent for clearing blocked tubes on Revell or Airfix "glue guns"!).

Around this time, the eagerly-awaited new Airfix Gnat appeared, and with a long-standing plan to make a Yellowjacks aircraft I decided to try putting one together in spite of a slight nervousness about the small size of the majority of the parts, in particular the undercarriage. By and large this, aided by my faithful sprung gripper, worked, but I found a problem in fitting the wing to the fuselage; in spite of a certain amount of trim, fit and trim again it never seemed quite righYellowjack Gnatt. Consulting Tony O'Toole's always useful preview in Airfix magazine I decided to make a second; by this time I'd got the S&M "All the Gnats you ever wanted" decal sheet and liked the idea of one of the first all-red one with the CFS Pelican badge on the tail. But the wing didn't want to sit right down on this one either, although not in the same way as on the yellow model; ah, well, I went ahead and finished them imperfectly, not least because I was using them to try out Tamiya acrylics to see if I could save time by using these instead of enamels when pressed (a fairly regular state of affairs). This proved to be possible; I already use quite a lot of Xtracrylix - frequently over an enamel undercoat - aCFS Gnat T.1lthough both brands seem to share the habit of staining brushes, and I've developed a practice of retaining designated brushes for some particular colours, notably red and yellow. I don't have a plan for any more Gnats - there was a possibility of resin conversions for some of the unbuilt variants, but it became evident that it would be a case of "jack up canopy, fit new airframe", and the ideas were quickly dropped - but the exercise with these two brought back to me an old Airfix virtue; if you think you've bodged a first kit it's relatively cheap to find out if it's your fault or theirs!

The ffingers seem to have settled down somewhat, thank you for asking, but I'm having to select times when I can do the fiddlier tasks or the Carpet Monster gets an extra feed. I'm told that those who flew the Gnat, providing they could get in to it, enjoyed it; the engineers who worked on it were somewhat less sanguine, given the limited spaces in which to work. They have my sympathy!

The Red and the White (2)

The similarity of colour schemes, size and timing was coincidental. The Piranha's timescale was influenced by several external factors, whereas the Freightdog SR.53 happened almost spontaneously with Colin Strachan persuading me at the Peterborough show that I really ought to make the little Saro mixed-power aircraft. As he had alSR.53, ETPSready produced the projected SR.177 service version, three of which I had already allocated to front line squadrons, I was initially reluctant to add its predecessor, bearing in mind that I like to produce in-service versions of prototypes where possible; but I figured that had the prototype continued in use it would probably have ended up with the Empire Test Pilots School and adapted a scheme from one of their Hunters, using decals from a variety of aircraft on an Airdecal "Raspberry Ripple" sheet. The lower fuselage and underwings are finished in light aircraft gETPS SR.53rey, and after using Tamiya acrylic red for the tail and tip pods initially I returned to Xtracolor enamel. The kit itself is so neat and well-produced that there's really nothing to write about; instead of the dummy Firestreaks that were carried for much of its flying the kit comes with the pair of wing-tip equipment pods, the starboard one having a small bulge to house a camera, as shown in the scale planes in Barrie Hygate's excellent book on British experimental jets (incidentally I've been told that this is to be republished, with some of the plans at least being enhanced). This little aircraft has one abiding personal memory for me; standing at the starboard side of the nose when it was on static display at Farnborough I looked up to see more medal ribbons than I'd ever seen on a single uniform, and realised that this splendid rainbow-like collection was being displayed on the chest of Lord Louis Mountbatten who, escorted, was taking a keen interest in the aeroplane on the other side. The Navy still didn't put it in to service, though.

Well, it works in my world.....

It's become my habit, or at least aim, over the last couple of years to have something new to take along to a meeting/show where the What If? SIG has a presence. I don't actually sit down with Martin's list for the year when Chris puts it in our newsletter and plan the production schedule, but the dates do go in our domestic diariesto make sure that I'm available and by and large it gives me time to turn up with something with which I hope to engender the occasional double take. Every so often of course the Plan Goes Wrong, as it did a couple of months back; the model I had had in mind for the IPMS Barnet Show at the Hendon Museum fell temporarily at least by the wayside, and casting around for something relatively simple I dislodged an Italeri Gripen that had been lurking in the crannies of my workroom, occasionally apparently shifting its position without my intervention, for ages. I'd had a recurring vague thought of making it in 5 Squadron's colours not long after they ceased to be a fighter unit - yes, that long ago!- and it nearly got built after I went to the Tiger Meet at Cambrai last Gripen F.1 43 Sqnyear; in particular I was taken by the way some units, the Czechs in particular, decorated their canards. Given that I try - and sometimes fail - to concentrate my What If? production on RAF aircraft, preferably with the markings of now-disbanded squadrons, it must have been the end of the last two Tornado F.3 units, if not yet the Leuchars Wing, that gave me a sudden vision of a canard covered in black and white checks.

The kit is straightforward and well-fitting, the most time consuming part probably consisting of attaching external pylons and loads. The camouflage was copied from that used on South African Gripens, illustrated in the splendid Mark 1 Booklet which proved extremely useful, even though on this occasion I didn't use the excellent decal sheet. My logic dictated the use of Camouflage Grey and Dark Camouflage Grey and their availability in Xtracrylix helped speed the process when I realised the timescale by which I was constrained (yes, I know it was self-inflicted!). The checks were from a Fantasy Printshop sheet, but the rest of the markings cGripen F.1 111 Sqname almost exclusively from old Modeldecal sets - still, as for so long, the first port of call - and it must have been at some stage of hunting for these that it became obvious that a "Fighting Cock" on its own was somehow incomplete. The Modeldecal sheets were consulted again, and although I decided early on that the canards would need hand-painting, the other essential parts of "Treble-One's" pictorial identity were to hand; and here you see the result. My original intention was to make the Tremblers' a two-seater, but Italeri seem unaccountably not to have included one, at least in 1:72nd, in their lists. In spite of my well known befief that Britain will not have an independent air force by 2018 - though to be fair this has been rejected as a possibility to One Of My Sources by the CAS - I couldn't bring myself either to split the squadrons or to deny them their heritage; they were therefore described on their accompanying label at Hendon as belonging to numbers 43 and 111 Squadrons - which is after all an old cavalry formation - of the Royal Scots Flying Corps. And it'll stay the Leuchars Wing, because after all it's Edinburgh thant needs defending, isn't it?

Leuchars Wing, 2018

Valiant, forsooth...

Sometime in the summer of 1957 - I'm not sure now whether it was before or after the squadron's August detachment to Luqa when I learned that the Air Force considers sunburn to be a Self-Inflicted Wound - I walked smartly as befitted a Young Adjutant across the corridor to the Boss's Office, and pointed out politely that while 207 and 214 wore their squadron emblems on the fins of their Valiants 148 carried nothing, apart from a small Squadron Badge next to the cockpit entrance. Surely, I suggested, the pair of crossed battleaxes from that badge would fit neatly just above the fin flash; but the Wing Commander took the view that this was a pernicious fighter practice, and had no place in the serious world of Bomber Command - so it's taken me fifty-four years.

I remember vividly the appearance of the first pictures of the Vickers 660 while I was still at school, and admiring its immaculately streamlined lines with the "letter-box" intakes (a resin possibility?). By the time of the '57 Defence White Paper - not even a Strategic Review in those days - and its culling of manned interceptors (ie. Hunters and their drivers), the Valiant was not only in squadron service but had dropped its first bombs; it was XD814 that had put that significant tick in its box, even if the co-pilot thought that they'd actually fallen outside the Almaza airfield boundary. While looking round for temporary employment for currently unemployed fighter pilots in the summer of '57 Their Airships parked quite a few of us in this somewhat different environment of Bomber Command while we waited a decision on the next steps in our career, both the other Marham squadrons also being issued with adjutants from that pool. It was something of a learning curve, coming from a unit where more than half of the squadron aircrew were single first-tourists and lived in the Mess to one where the greater proportion of a much larger number had families, and many were WW II Bomber Command survivors. My memories of the Marham pans are still clear, if occasionally wrong; in particular the Valiants in my mind were mostly a very dull silver and the radome for the Orange Putter tail-warning radar was a light khaki (later). I did get at least one ride in a Valiant, as a passenger on one of three from 148 on the rehearsal run for the Queen's Birthday flypast, lying prone for the stretch up the Thames at least in the bomb-aimer's position.

It's taken a very long time for the Valiant to be produced for 1:72nd modellers. Frog brought out all three V-Bombers - the Vulcan and Victor both Mark 1s - in 1:96th scale, a logical mathematical extension as far as British modellers were concerned of the familiar 48th and 72nd, but which didn't catch on for popular use. I made all three as they came out - around 1960, I think - and I have a possibly inaccurate memory of the ValiantAnigrand Valiant B.1 XD814, 148 Sq.'s undercarriage at least being retractable. Later years produced vacforms in both 72nd from Contrail and 144th from Welsh Models, examples of both resting for a while on my shelves before being adopted elsewhere, but my next built model, relatively recently, was Anigrand's resin B.1 in the small scale. As you see, this was finished in "anti-flash" white, with the serial XD814 but without my attempting to apply the crossed axes to the fin, not least because I was sure that I could no longer hand-paint anything that delicate (if indeed I ever could). Still it represented the Boss's aircraft on the only action in which V-bombers were involved before the Falklands missions; the trouble is, I've recently discovered that I made a major error.

It must have been about the time of the imminent Airfix TSR.2 and strong rumors of a Nimrod that I found myself offering advice on Valiant references, and one of these - the Aerofax book by Eric B Morgan - has never been far away while I've been making the (eventually) resultant 1:72nd kit. Originally announced at the beginning of 2010 it arrived at the time of the Waddington Air Show - alright, Waddo was a Vulcan base, but links have to be taken where they can be found. It then had to wait for a space on the workbench - one of those occasions when I was pleased I was working to my deadlines and not someone else's - during which time I gave some thought to how I would approach putting the crossed axes, that together with the motto "Trusty" are the salent part of 148's badge, above the fin flash; it would presumably have to involve hand-painting, which I don't get in to these days if I can possibly find a decal, but as the marking never actually happened there was no hope of it appearing on one of the recent Valiant/V-Bomber decal sets. My other concern was that having to hold and manoeuver the model in one hand while painting with the other it would be only too easy to dislodge one or two of the minor parts, and my usual practice is to complete the model before applying the decals, usually with the unit markings gping on last to bring the model finally to life for me. However....

I worked out fairly early on that the tailplane could be set aside to be inserted after the fin markings were done; and while painting the vertical tail (colour reasons later) I thought that I could use a decal 'X' as the basis for the shafts of the axes. To make sure I got the size right I applied the fin flashes from the kit decal sheet, and applying a little Micro Sol pressed them in to position over the vortex generators, though this wasn't wholly successful and I had to touch up these with a little roundel red. The first 'X' I tried fitted vertically, but Airfix Valiant B.1 XD814, 148 Sqn with markingwhen I started to paint the axe blades (Mr.Color Stainless) copying the (black and white) badge in the ever-invaluable Philip Moyes' "Bomber Squadrons of the RAF" it became evident that the angle of the X's cross was too narrow to acommodate them; all the letters in the various decals that came to hand were the same, so I played with some pieces of black striping until I was satisfied with the space available. The hafts were then overpainted with Revell Aqua wood brown, and while there is more variation than I would like between the axes I decided that any more time spent on it would be mushroom-stuffing.

You will have noticed that while my Anigrand model is white, the Big One is silver; I remember Valiants in both schemes during my year on the squadron, and careful reading of the Morgan book revealed that the white finish was brought in on the Vickers production line post-XD814, as a result of the preparations for Operation Grapple. While aircrew memories are notoriously unreliable when it comes to the Airfix Valiant XD814 148 Sq. finishes of "their" aircraft, the "silver" Valiants stick in my mind as being rather dull, with perhaps a tinge of grey; Xtracolor "High Speed Silver" seems to be just right, and even for AOC's Inspection there would have been no shiny bits on squadron aircraft. Oh, and by the way I used the Xtracolor "canvas tan" for the tail radome.

I am known for rushing headlong in to building a kit as soon as I can lay my hands on it, influenced no doubt by my reviewing years when one of my principal aims was to get my thoughts, and wherever possible recommendations, in front of potential buyers as soon as possible. I this instance I benefited considerably from early procrastination by being able to read Tony O'Toole's review in the Airfix Magazine. At a time when so many reviews are "build articles" this is for me an absolute model of what a review should be, in a magazine which to my mind consistently offers what I believe the majority of modellers want and need (those are the hooves of hobby horses that you hear). I have taken the precaution of laying down two more kits; I understand there will be a mod kit available from Airfix soon which will enable the production of a PR or a tanker version, and somewhere I'm sure there is a set of decals with both 214 and 543 markings. What I'd really like though is a Mark 2; this would require a fuselage plug (or perhaps plugs) and a complete new centre section and main undercarriage; optimised and strengthened for the low-level role, I didn't realise until I read Eric Morgan's book again that 17 of this mark, the prototype of which had received much publicity as the Black Bomber, had been ordered before the contracted aircraft were changed for B.1s, a sad irony in view of the early demise of this mark with main spar problems. I understand that Cammett, who produced the excellent Nimrod AEW.3 conversion and would I'm sure have done an equally good job with the B.2, are no longer producing such sets and I'm not sure who could, or would, take on something of such size. Till I'm sure, though, I'll hold back on a camo Valiant with black undersides (though I might try re-painting my Anigrand XD814; I can't leave it now I know it's wrong!); well, it looked good on the B(I).8, and now I know how to cross axes.


To learn to fly faster.....

I have a few memories that I can pin-point from when I was ten, the most vivid probably being that of my uncle coming in and announcing that he'd just come down from Hullavington - he was on the staff of the Empire Central Flying School - Roy Wells and ECFS Buckmaster, 1946in a Buckmaster (this photo, which I've recently inherited, dates from that period). I can remember even now how exciting that was; I don't think the type's existence had been known for long, and it had an air of muscular, almost brutal, power even if it was a trainer. I even recall. though perhaps not entirely accurately, lines from Chris Wren's Oddentification "To learn to fly faster they train wirh Buckmaster.." (at the moment the bound 1946 Aeroplanes are out of immediate reach, but I hope to open a dig by the end of December). The Buckingham also had the same aggressive look, enhanced perhaps by the under-fuselage gondola (to give the Nav somewhere to lie down), and while I remember making the Magna resin in 45 Squadron marks a few years back I'm not sure I made the trainer; still, when the Valom Brigand/Buckingham/Buckmaster series was announced a couple of years back it was the Buckmaster to which I was particularly looking forward, and when a full-page colour photo appeared in the Aeroplane at around the same time I was delighted, putting it carefully on one side in anticipation. You know what happened then, of course - it burrowed under a camouflage net. But still, I had to hand the Warpaint on this trio of big Bristols to which to refer, and author Tony Buttler is someone in whom I have absolute faith.

It must be more than a year ago that the Buckmaster kit took up a position somewhere near my workbench, and I think I must have waited till after SMW 2010 to get started on the preliminaries, including looking at the instructions and hunting the relevant Aeroplane. Although the box top aircraft was relatively plain, the decals included markings for an ECFS aircraft, with the characteristic big yellow patch on the side of the fuselage containing the "D type" roundel and the four letter Training Command code. However, I had an echoing doubt about the colour scheme dispayed in the instructions, in particular the underside, which I was sure should have been "trainer yellow" rather that the "azure blue" quoted. Checking with the colour profiles by Richard J Caruana in the Warpaint these agreed with the kit; I suspect that this was the reference on which Valom had relied. While the kit was coming together nicely, I was reluctant to finish it until I had satisfied myself about the colours, and the necessary Aeroplane stayed resolutely hidden. Never one to neglect the obvious - eventually - I telephoned the "back issues" number of the publishers, with the certain knowledge that by my asking for the issue with the full page colour photo of the Buckmaster that had come out about eighteen months or so before my consulting a human, or perhaps digital, index meant it would be mine by return of post. Well, no. The two ladies on the other end were very kind, but the magazine had recently changed hands and the new publishers had, apparently, neither facility. I made a couple of what I thought were intelligent guesses, aided by a slightly veiled reference in a Britmodeller posting (I really must find out how to use this facility to best effect), but my logic proved false; eventually though, through a conversation with a fellow member of SIG144 at Telford I was put in touch with he who had made the post. He gave me the issue in question as February 2009, and having by this time assembled a chronological pile of all my copies of the magazine for the last four years - except, of course, that with the full page colour spread - I hastily seized on the quoted issue, only to find a very small partial photo (of the nose) in the letters page. FortValom Buckmaster T.1unately this referred to the original entry, and a phone call to my new best friends Jacqui and Esme at the publishers - with whom I had had in the interim several more conversations than recorded here - the September 2008 issue was once more mine, and my persistent memory of a dark green/dark earth/trainer yellow aircraft confirmed. I tried not to feel too smug, but probably failed. My uncle's photos of the period, including the one of him in flying kit standing in front of the shrouded starboard Centaurus, being in black and white weren't that much help, except to confirm his connection with the Mighty Buckmaster; and it is BIG - I wonder what the swing with an engine failing on take-off would have been like.

The kit itself didn't present any problems that you wouldn't expect, given the statutary lack of locating pins/sockets and the breakdown in to small pieces-to-be-joined rather that larger one pieValom Buckmastrr RP246 FCVE ECFSce mouldings; you''ll see in at least one photo that the propeller blades aren't properly trued up, probably because I drilled their locating holes in the spinners slightly off, and smaller bits of the undercarriage legs had a kamikaze tendency to hul themselves down to the never-satisfied carpet monster. Incidentally, the photo also revealed that the main undercarriage legs at least were also painted gloss yellow, something I would never have suspected. While applying the dark green/dark earth I remembered that the short-lived Profile 21 seies of monographs had included a feature on the Buckingham family (parts 10 and 13 if you're looking for them), and to my great surprise I was able to find them as soon as I'd had the rather belated thought. While there were no colour profiles they included many black and white shots, among them an excellent air-to-air of RP246/FC-VE of which the markings are in the kit. It shows it with the "D-type" roundels and looking very used, particularly with major staining from the exhausts along the cowlings and over the wings. I resisted the quite strong temptation, largely on the "mushroom-stuffing" argument; the sound of time's winged chariot grows ever louder.

At the end I was hurrying a bit to get the model done, and this projected in to the ether; I had intended to take the time to enlarge the intakes in the outer leading edges, and perhaps even try to make it look as they were protruding a bit, but the combined pressures of Telford just gone and Christmas almost on us meant that I arrived at a natural, if not totally artistic, conclusion. I'm just so glad that the vivid memory from sixty-five years ago remained to spark a small tribute to an uncle who was himself an inspiration for me.


A month or two after writing all the above I finally came in to posession - an inheritance from my uncle - of the bound volume of The Aeroplane - (July -December 1945) that carried the Oddentification of the Buckmaster which I mentioned - and apparently misquoted - in the issue for November 1945, but given that I was then nine perhaps a little slippage in accuracy is allowable! You will see that it carries an "Aeroplane Copyright" tag, but I hope that the current owners of the title will forgive me, and the two ladies who look after their back issues were very helpful last year in finally nailing the colour scheme. Chris Wren's Oddentifications are a whole subject in themselves - I must find some light excuse to return to them, and the joy and enlightenment that they brought to spotters, of all ages, of that period.

Finally, the view from the F-86..

Plan A was to ensure that my thoughts on this latest in Ad Hoc's "From the cockpit..." series coincided with my completion and write-up of two or three Sabre kits, including an RCAF Mk.6 with a personal significance, but this plan as so often got bent somewhat out of shape, and my copy of the book then went in to hiding (it's not just bits of plastic that do that); now the book's resurfaced I feel I really should remedy my omission, and then, Telford permitting, maybe I can get back to the models.

If you've been Ad Hoc Sabre from the cockpithere before you'll know that I'm a big fan of Roger Chesnau's series, both because of the care he's taking in recording personal accounts of aircrew and groundcrew from the 'forties and 'fifties and because of the equal care taken in the presentation of their photographic accompaniment. Add to this Roger's colour profiles and the outcome is very appealing to aviation enthusiast/historian and modeller alike. With the format of the books now established and familiar, it's tempting to construct a template for reviewing the series, altering the name of the subject and a few variable details as necessary, but I've resisted it for the time being, and with the inadvertent gap since I wrote up the previous volume, on the Swift, I've tried not to look back at that before compiling this.

The principal author is as always a pilot from the aircraft's service with in this case the RAF, and the book is concerned only with the Canadair Sabre and its brief but well-remembered time in British markings with 2nd TAF in Germany and with the Linton-on-Ouse Wing in Fighter Command. Author Charles Keil flew with 26 Squadron at Oldenburg, and as is a regular feature of the series it's one of his aircraft that is the subject of the colour four-view by Roger Chesneau; and there are twenty-five other aircraft in colour profile. He was RCAF trained, but many RAF pilot trainees of the time did their flying training in the USA and on returning to the UK were prime candidates for posting to the squadrons being re-equipped, usually from Vampires, with the American fighter that was a big leap forward in the RAF's defensive sheild; many of these first-tourists were still on these squadrons when they subsequently received Hunters, and it's a personal pleasure for me to recognise quite a few of the names in this book. While the text starts with a brief account of the Sabre's development, Canadair's involvement and the reasons for its acquisition by the RAF, most of it covers the adventures - and misadventures - of those who flew and maintained it it accompanied by an excellent selection of photos, mostly from personal files and almost all in black and white, prepared and presented with the care which is one of the hallmarks of this series. For me there is considerable, welcome, nostalgia in reading the many accounts, recapturing the flavour of the era when the RAF took on many young men in the expansion and concern that followed the Korean war. I hope, and believe, that this and its series brethren will have the same ability to convey the flavour of the period to those not so directly involved. There will surely be more to come, but in the meantime this account of the Sabre (my second favourite jet fighter) is recommended, as with all the "From the Cockpit" series, unreservedly.More little big ones

S&M Models, aka Mel Bromley, has played quite a part in my modelling recently (and there should be more to come in the next month - and months) helping me put right those bad ministerial decisions of the 'fifties and 'sixties. After really enjoying my two V.1000/VC-7s in RAF colours I decided to add an airliner, maintaining of course the What If? theme, and trawled the web for potential decals; having used VC-10 decals for the military versions, even though there were points where they didn't quite fit, this was an obvious starting point, and I thought that the British Caledonian lion would look good stretching up the Vickers' fin (any influence from my memories of those "Caledonian Girls" commercials must surely have been entirely subliminal!).

As with the two "Victorias" - incidentally, I've just worked out after all these years that the reason this name, which seemed obvious to me, was not given to the VC-10 was bBritish Caledonian VC-7 G-ASXIecause of possible, or even probable, confusion with Handley Page's finest - assembly of the resin parts is simple and straightforward, although I still haven't worked out just how those main u/c retraction struts should fit in. I decided that I would try to finish this VC-7 entirely with acrylics, not least because I needed to match the dark blue and gold of the B.Cal livery both for the fin and because the cheat lines had to be extended under the tailplane; after a little trial and error with what I found in a dusty corner or two and by visiting a couple of local shops I settled on Revell's Nachtblau and Humbrol 24, using Tamiya X-2 for the white and Xtracrylic Light Aircraft Grey. The dark blue had a slightly purple tinge which wasn't evident in the decal, but at times like this I rely on that all-purpose reassurance, "close enough for government work". The Two-Six decals were excellent, laying down easily and if caught in time easily adjustable; sadly the starboard fuselage title got moved slightly, not noticed until too late, and therefore when it's out in public G-ASXI should only be viewed from the port three-quarter front aspect. I like the overall effect very much, and when looking at the Two-Six webside I also ordered their sheet for the Dan-Air 707; a trooping serial, perhaps?

When picking up my first VC-7 at Telford I also brought home the S&M Avro 730. This was designed initially as a very fast/very high level reconnaisance aircraft but became also a nuclear bomber to follow the subsonic V-force; with the develoment of anti-aircraft missiles it was decided to cancel the project, but its unusual and dramatic shape has ensured its place in What If? iconography. While I was being a touch carried away by the VAvro 730, Wittering Wing 1962C-7s the 730 was somewhat delayed, but like the rest of the S&M kits I've made in this scale it's straightforward to build; like the VC-7 the fuselage comes in fore and aft sections and while it needs a little filler at the join the fit is good. Flying surfaces have pin/socket fixing, with the sockets needing a little drilling out a little; the nacelles come with upper and lower halves which fit over each wing half, and it wasn't until I went to install the tandem outrigger wheels with the wings in place that I realised that I'd managed to assemble one nacelle back to front on finding that their wheel bays were at opposite ends of the nacelles. The consequent remedial surgery resulted in a finish that made me think affectionately of the days when Uncle Alan's photos in SAM were always fractionally out of focus. Oh yes, and somewhere along the way I managed to lose the foreplanes, and I have a queasy feeling that I may have dropped them in to a Bag of Stuff which was inadvertently recycled in another week of multiple Mondays; fortunately they're basic rectangles so it wasn't too hard to fettle, if a little casually, a couple of plastic card replacements which can be discarded if the originals ever somehow burrow their way to the surface.

Because my earlier 730 from Fantastic Plastic was finished as a "bare metal" bomber of 101 Squadron, my plan for this was to use it in the original reconnaisance role; running up against the frequent WhiF problem in this scale of very limited unit marking options, I found on a used 1:72nd Victor decal sheet a Wittering Wing lion in gold, the size of which was not out of place on the big fin. Besides, it meant I didn't have to decide whether - or how - to show the Red Drover SLAR aerials. This year's announced programme of releases from S&M has have more unfulfilled designs of the same period, starting I hope around the end of this month; for me and for anyone who shares my interest in this category it promises that all-important modelling ingredient, Fun.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.....

You will recall - or at least you should be able to refresh your memory in the Vaults - that a couple of months ago I built my first model to wear the colours of the Swiss Navy air arm. This came about because I liked the look of the Sharkit Piranha box-art on the Hannants "New Arrivals" page - a source I trawl regularly even when I'm not looking for inspiration - and I had some vague memory of the publicity when when this little Swiss canard interceptor project was announced, and even though my model was never destined to carry roundels, currently my main guideline, I added one to my not-as-far-as-the-stash-yet pile. The unused hook from the Xtrakit Hunter T.7 that gave me a heavy nudge towards Swiss Navy use, which gave me the added advantage that no one would be likely to tell me that I'd got the colours wrong. There was a small glitch during assembly because I'd put the transparency on one side so carefully that I couldn't find it when it was needed - I still have a dark suspicion that I may have dropped it in to the bin in an unguarded moment - but I returned to the old but still cunning plan of solving a problem by the discreet application of money. The kit's transparency vacform came as a pair - yes, I'd managed to mislay both - and there was no difficulty in persuading myself that of course I would like to make a second and with a little more care this time apply one canopy to each Piranha, and this enabled me to complete the first in time to take it up to put on the SIG table at the Milton Keynes show.

It was here that I found the decals that gave me the idea for the second Piranha, even if roundels were still not in evidence. Inserted in to one of those tall cylindrical stands were two sets that caught my eye, both for Swiss subjects. The second was for the "Papyrus" Hunter, giving all the title printing to be applied to an all-white Revell Hunter 58; but the instantly eye-catching one was for the F-5s of the Patroulille Suisse, with vivid red striping and a stylised cross as part of the fin decoration with another much larger one on the underside of the wing. Talking through this idea with two or three other SIG members, I noticed a problem in that the F-5 markings were in 1:48th which would rather swamp the little Piranha, about the size of a Gnat, and I don't have the computer skills to reduce and reproduce them; however one of this small group of counterfactually motivated chaps - no venerable names, no pack drill - offered to take care of this for me, and indeed did so while I put the kit together and painted it a suitable shade of white. For this I decided, as I wasn't necessarily constrained by defined camouflage colours, to use Tamiya acrylic white, and red, on the theory that these would take less time to dry between coats and therefore save me time in working as always to my self-selected deadline.

Building the kit was straightforward, and learning from my previous Piranha I filed a pair of horizontal grooves behind the cockpit to facilitate the fitting of the canards; and with a suitably white airframe I looked at the original decal instruction sheet to work out how to apply the transferred decals and the overall Patrouille F-5 colour scheme to the Piranha. The obvious first move was to apply the fin markings, but while the F-5 fin was "straight" that of the little canard was swept; I considered extending the panel with the Swiss cross to the trailing edge of the rudder by hand, and although it had quickly become evident that hand painting was going to play a large part in the colour schPatrouillle Suisse Piranhaeme I decided not to use it on the fin (just as well as it happened, as the Tamiya red was rather brighter than that of the decal, a discrepancy that I decided I could live with). The other major feature of the F-5 scheme was a very large white cross with "swept" arms on the red wing; the problem with copying this exactly was that while it fitted neatly on the flat underside of the Northrop it wouldn't go with the same ease on the mid-shoulder mounted wing of the Piranha. Back to the hand painting then, with the cross applied to the topside - where it wouldn't of course be as apparent to the watching spectators - and without the "streaky" white flashing from its trailing edge that was a feature of the original. The eventual application of the scheme was freehand in both senses, but I did try to stick to some elements, and I hope to the spirit, of the original. I did use some of the emblems, including the 40th Anniversary logo, from the decals.

I probably said this when I wrote up the Navy version as well, but Sharkit products have improved considerably in the last year or so, and while they still require a little work they pick interesting sibjects which cam be made in to eye-catching models which ask for a little explanation when they're on display. This one has already had its outing, to the Shropshire Model Show at Cosford on April 1st. It may not appear again; I'm not that happy with the finish I got with the acrylics, and I wasn't able totally to eliminate touches of patchiness in the red areas (with the SR.53 - see below - I reverted to enamel for rhe red). Perhaps if I gritted my teeth, cleared enough space on my workbench to house a spray booth and started on a DIY airbrushing course I could get over this, but hand-brushing, even if whatever skill I had is declining - especially in delicate and detail application - it remains for nearly all the time theraputic, at least in theory, coming second only to stroking the cat on my lap. Now I think I'll look for the Sharkit Canadair tilt-wing that's been hanging around for a year; perhaps I'll avoid red and white this time, possibly with red and yellow.

Works in progress - of a sort

Among the many things to which I am stoutly resistant, if not actually allergic, Tidying Up is high on the list particularly as it relates to my workroom. When it does happen it's usually because something of which I'm in fairly urgent need has gone to ground in one of the several nooks and crannies, been submerged in or under one of the piles of Stuff either on the floor or on a temporarily convenient surface or has in a moment of gallant self-sacrifice offered itself to the Carpet Monster. What occasioned the current bout of fitful if sporadically frantic activity was a pair of foreplanes.

With the model show season now underway in the Soft South following the opening event at Milton Keynes, what crosses my workbench is both in choice and timing often dependent on the next event, and whether one or both of the IPMS Special Interest Groups that are prepared to let me put my latest products among those of their Real Modellers have a stand booked (assuming of course that the Curse of Paperwork hasn't treacherously betrayed their Good Intentions). With the Peterborough show imminent a third VC.7 - I cling to my long-held view that in custom and usage this is correctly applicable to the civil variant - and the S&M Avro 730 that I picked up from Mel Bromley at Telford are making their way along the line, and a week or two ago the Avro should have had its foreplanes attached; however, when I came to find them to separate them from the (fairly substantial) runner from which I'd already detached the fin they were nowhere to be seen. No matter, at this stage there were still four weeks in hand and with three or four places convenient to my cutting mat where I habitually lodged such pieces that were part of a Work In Progress, I was only just at the point of smoothing off the filler at the join of the fuselage halves and preparing the multi-wheel and four-leg undercarriage. No worries.

At around this time it also came to me probably in an insomniac moment that I really should sort out my paint brushes, not least because they appeared to be breeding in the darkness of the night and at the same time often becoming more rigid in the bristles; I keep separate cages for those I use for acrylic and those for enamel paints - I don't know if it's justified, but at least it gives me an illusion that I have some sort of system - but the effect seems to be common to both batches, and I thought that a judicious use of brush restorer would be helpful before either returning them to their ready-use lockers or consigning them to the Oval File. If I'm prepared to Throw Things Away you can tell that there must sufficient overcrowding in the workplace to cause a stiffly-raised eyebrow or two in the relevant quango. So I thought that I could combine a little thinning out of the Stuff on the workbench, not least by discarding a number of paint containers that were well past their Stir-By dates - there was at least one by Compucolor! - with sorting out my semi-travelling toolbox and even persuading with whatever contortions necessary the vacuum cleaner tube in to the floorspace next to the workbench to retake the surface of the carpet, even if it ment the loss of the odd discarded small part which after all I would have done without for a considerable time. And I had an otherwise unallocated day when I would tackle this Herculean task; and the foreplanes (remember them?) would be much to big to vanish suddenly up the carefully selected nozzle of the cleaner.

Well, the cleaning spasm lasted about a day and a half, and the sorting a little longer, with the occasional continuing slight eruption. The foreplanes still haven't surfaced, and Avro's spares department can no longer respond even to an AOG signal; fortunately they're a basic rectangular shape which even I can attempt in plastic card, filing them to a slightly aerodynamic section, and if the originals jump out at me one day I can make the substitution. Ideally of course I'd close down the whole production line for a month or two and bring in the modelling equivalent of house clearing specialists, but then I'd get no modelling done for far too long and fall even further behind my, admittedly self-imposed, schedule; and just because it's self-imposed doesn't mean it's any less constraining. And even with the really interesting selection of the counterfactual due this year, I feel the need to make the odd fact-based model; the Sea Vixen 1 from my days when they rattled our china just off the Christchurch runway beckons, and I've just got the Czechmaster Sycamore, to become the one in to which I was lifted from a rubber dinghy where I'd been dropped by the Redcar lifeboat fifty six years ago this month, and this too will demand a certain close attention, not least because of the etched metal detailing. Had it not been for my ride in XE317 I'd opt for the camouflaged 118 Squadron Sycamore with the ex-Hunter squadron markings, but at a time when my memories are becoming important the all-yellow Thornaby-based one it will be.

I think it was when there was a change of version in our ATC computer at London Airways without shutting down the usual service that one of our engineers likened it to transforming a prototype in to a production model without actually landing. I have the offer of a couple of days from my older son to help sort out the Aged P in a couple of months - it'll have to be between the Cosford and the Hendon shows, the debutants for which I have already in mind - to have a Serious Sorting Out, and even, though I blanch to think of it, a visit or two to the tip. Still by then I hope to need the space to put together the Valiant B(PR)K.3 and that, as well as not having to tread on dubious Things on the floor should prove a powerful incentive. It's just that I couldn't bring myself to suspend my therapy for even a brief period, doctor.


This year's Crystal Balls

At this stage of a New Year - well, at least I'm writing this as the Year of the Dragon is trying a few experimental flaps of its wings - announcements are being made in one form or another of some at least of what we can look forward to between now and, say, the next ScaleModelWorld. Thanks to my name presumably not having been deleted from the corporate address list when I gave up writing for SAM the new Revell catalogue thumped on to my doormat this week (in English and Spanish - I wonder what the other language combinations are). Even though it's been a while since I was responsible for compiling a New Kits List for the benefit of others, something I always enjoyed even if I never got to Nuremburg - since 1949, anyway - I still seek through such publications for what might engage my fancy at some level in the next few months as wll as the various magazines as they gather information. Mind you, given that the focus of much of my modelling has changed over the last few years what I'm looking for, as you'll know if you've followed my deathless prose for any length of time, has altered somewhat; I still hope for the odd Real Aircraft to have engaged the attention of one or other of the major manufacturers, last year's Airfix Valiant being a case in point, and I'm waiting (fairly) patiently for Hasegawa's EA-18G Growler to materialise in 1:72nd (which reminds me, what happened to all thos USN aviation Centennial special schemes we hoped for last year?). I always tried when I was making up The List for SAM to contact the "Cottage Industry"/"third level" kit makers " - I don't think we ever came up with a universally accepted term, the US "aftermarket" for me only being satisfactory for "bits", though I've always like the French artisanale - to add their Master Plans, and it's on these that my attention lights more readily these days because of my current devotion to the counterfactual. As well as the expectations raised by the Anigrand Craftswork "Future Releases" page and the occasionally changing plans of Colin Strachan's Freightdog Models - this title now seems to have returned to overall popular use and perhaps someone could draught a cartoon freightdog? - Mel Bromley's S&M Models have recently, and will in this coming year, provide an interesting source. While some of the less likely subjects fly straight out of the (well-thumbed!) pages of Colin Gibson's splend "Vulcan's Hammer", we are also invited to expect in time for Telford in 1:144th a Vickers Windsor and an Avro Tudor; which version of each I hope to talk with Mel about this coming weekend at MK, but I have plans to make the Windsor in the colours of 57 Squadron, Tiger Force.

And just to make sure I make a real aeroplane once in a while I've just picked up a Cyber-Hobby Sea Vixen 1 to remind me of, when we lived just off the western end of the Christchurch runway the cups in the cupboard would rattle alarmingly whenever a freshly-minted one would be launched. And with a Gnat likely to be in a goodies bag when I come home tomorrow, I see a Yellowjack in my future! And if I can get hold of the new profile on '50s/'60s RN AEW projects, maybe a little discussion with the Casters Of Resin.

The real X-Wing

BAe Peregrine GR.1, 67 Squadron

Also at Milton Keynes will be at least one "Flying Squirrel"; not the real name, but the shape always makes me think of the liitle creature airborne with its forelegs stretching desperately for its landing branch. It's really, if somewhat prosaically, the BAe P.1214-3, one of a series of studies for a replacement for the first-generation Harrier that was met by the rather less striking GR.5/ABAe Pergrine GR.1, 71 Squadron anniversary markingsV-8B. Thanks to one of my What If? SIG colleagues providing me with the appropriate specially-prepared parts, one has already appeared on the SIG's tables, wearing a 71 Squadron anniversary scheme and the name Peregrine GR.1; this time the source is a kit cast by Anigrand (who have already made it in 1:144th as one of their "extras") and marketed by Allen Ury's Fantastic Plastic. As soon as I was announced in FP's newsletter earlier in 2011 I planned for at least one in my future, and on finding just before Telford that it was available I decided that I would need at least two roundel-wearing examples, and then added a third as a probable AV-8G (or something similat, though I rather doubt that the Congressional Appropriations Committee would be persuaded that it was just BAe Peregrine GR.1 67 Sqn RAFfurther development in the all-American McDonnell AV-8 series). The breakdown of parts is virtually the same as that in the smaller scale, accompanied by an equally unconvincing pair of bombs; although I've added a pair of wingtip-mounted AIM-9Ls from a Hasegawa weapons set I've left the "racks" at the front of the booms unoccupied, though I hope to have something suitable attached by the time it appears in public. Not wanting to get in to the grey scheme yet I've used the NATO Green/Lichen Green that I applied to my earlier example and raided the Modeldecal Sabre sheet fot the 67 Squadron bars and fin striping; with the A flight colour red on the port fin and the B flight blue on the starboard it is of course the boss's aircraft, though I have yet to add the identifying letter J. The access panel warning lines and the rescue marking are from the kit decals, as is the jigsawed serial XZ 490. It is said - indeed, there's an excellent recently-published monograph devoted to it - that the project that followed immediately on, the P.1216 of a similar layout but with the wings swept back rather than forward, was a much likelier proposition, and I hope someone will take advantage of the research shown in the book to turn that in to resin, but I like the really dramatic shape of this variant. Should you be equally tempted there are a few marking options even if you confine yourself to GR.5/Shar/AV-8; my next will almost certainly need a "marinizing" treatment and carry a later generation of weapons. Production and fit of the kit is to Anigrand's customary excellent standard; I don't know if it's been sold by anyone other than Fantastic Plastic, but as so often these days I'm grateful to PayPal for making this sort of buying simple enough for a Grumpy Old Modeller.

BAe Peregrine GR.1s, Bruggen Wing 1987

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a couple of grandchildren's chimneys to wriggle down in the next hour or two......(OK, so I had to breath in a bit, but it worked and Fun Was Had!)

Double the pleasure, double the fun!

No, I can't remember either, but I think it's an echo of some dubious TV commercial of my youth, and it's apposite now because as occasionally happened I've enjoyed making one model so much that I've gone straight on to its sibling. While I sometimes build a pair at the same time, events - Telford, Christmas etc, - dictated that I followed the two above with their next in line. As correctly forecast the tanker mark of the Victoria (S&M Vickers 1000 if you insist) was ready to follow the C.1 straight on to the workbench, facilitated by my having bought an Airfix VC.10 tanker a while back with BAC Victoria K.(C).2, 101 Sqn 1991the intention of fitting a pair of RB.211s as a sort of modified "Poffler" (which may yet happen); from this I took the underwing FR pods and the probe, and with an split end of a drop tank added the centreline HDU outlet to make the K.(C).2. My intention had always been to use the Gulf War nose art of the "BP/The Empire Strikes Back" on a hemp/grey scheme, and after asking the usual suspects I found cast carelessly at the back of one of my decal files the Liveries Unlimited VC.10 sheet with this, and more besides. It wasn't until I'd solved this Quest that I noticed that the markings were also included in the Airfix kit! Having enjoyed this kit so much in both its military guises I am being sorely tempted to go really over to the dark side with an airliner version; I quite fancy a British Caledonian VC.7. though of course it may just be the memory of the tune, and the girls, in the B.Cal.commercial.

The second half of this particular double was another "BAe Peregrine" from Fantastic Plastic/Anigrand; having labelled the first as a GR.1, I thought that with the passage of time this would have progressed to a GR.4, though it's true that in recent years the sequence and allocation of mark numbers has, to the simple spotter, verged on the random; mind you, the Pentagon are no better - F.35, pah! To follow the early example in the colours BAE Peregrine GR.4, 8000 NAS 2011 of 67 Squadron I fancied the scheme worn by the Naval Strike Wing aircraft on the occasion of the Harrier Force disbandment, and to indicae the mark's development by substituting Amraams for Sidewinders, adding a Sniper pod (Skunk Works) under one wing and a consequent pair of Paveways in place of the "dumb" 1,000 poinders on the GR.1 (none of the offensive weaponry has yet been attached, but they should be in place in time for their public appearance at Milton Keynes). The decals are from the amazingly comprehensive set by The Aviation Workshop marking the disbandment of Joint Force Harrier; marketed now under the unifying brand name Airframe, and with serious input from the dedicated enthusiasts of the Harrier SIG the instructions alone are a small booklet, though I have two comments which don't reflect on the undoubted quality of the decals. There is so much information that with an A5 page size much of it has necessarily to be in very small print, something of a challenge to the ageing moBAe Peregrine GR.4 Naval Strike Wing, 2010deller; and the presentation is, as is almost universal these days, in the colours of the original aircraft, with oval colour patches to identify that applicable to individual aircraft. I found though, that distinguishing between the lighter greys at least on the profiles was not easy; I try on my "What Ifs" to stick as closely to the original as possible, but when I got to the decal stage I had an uneasy feeing that I have used Camouflage Grey when it should have been Medium Sea Grey. It's another of my hobby horses, by I feel that for clarity the colour often needs to be identified by name as well as being matched as closely as possble in the reproduction. With unusual prescience I got three of these, just in case they suddenly become unavailable, so I have time to consider what the third might be; I shall probably keep an eye open for some interesting AV-8 markings. I wouldn't want the USMC to miss the fun, would I?

To Milton Keynes.....and beyond!

The first show of the new year, for us Southern Softies at least, is ModelKraft put on by the IPMS Milton Keynes Branch (subtle, eh?) and for us residents of North Buck our local show. It's been expanding year on year, and is now probably the bHunter NF.15 604 Sqn RAuxAF, peregrine GR.1 67 Sqn and GR.4 800 NASiigest one-day event, at least in this part of the world, and although this has meant it becoming a multi-floor - with the lift for the aged modeller only reaching the first - and multi-hall show it's become a must-go-to day, with the first chance of the year to catch up with the modelling chums and the gossip about What's New! The two Victorias and the two Peregrines are scheduled to be taken there - the "X-Wings" have now acquired their more lethal warload, and the GR.4 now has a cannon barrel protruding slightly from its starboard pod - and they'll be joined by a couple of other new-builds, and possbly a pair of older models before they go in to longer-term storage. The Peregrine would have been a rather bigger aircraft than the Harrier which it was designed to replace which is why, apart from the familyHunter NF.15 604 Sqn RAuxF 1960 connection, I've added a Hunter to this group n the sound basis that everyone knows how big a Hunter is; and this isn't any Hunter, this is a Freightdog Hunter. At least, it's a Colin Strachan/Paul Lucas resin conversion for the Xtrakit Hunter T.7, with a new nose and a pair of Firestreaks for the P.1130 project from the Kingston drawing office. For the backstory for this one, the Royal Auxiliary Air Force wasn't disbanded in 1957, and 604 Squadron - who had previously flown NF Mosquitos - were one of the units selected, in this case covering the defence of London from North Weald, with the markings coming from an Xtradecal Meteor sheet. One of the single-seat Hunters of Hawker's test fleet appeared at Farnborough in, I think, 1957 or '58 with a pair of rather elegany teardrop-shaped tip tanks, and I've seen some reference - which I now of course can't find, just like the necessary photos - stating that these were being tested for a potential night fighter version, but they apparently produced too much turbulence. If I can find a possible pair, though, I could well add them later for cosmetic purposes. The Freightdog instruction sheet points out the problems with the Xtrakit T.7, which are also highlighted in a review in the latest SAMI; you just have to work out which angle to look at it from. The conversion itself, which as well as the new nose and the Firestreaks has their pylons,and an extra pair of pylons if you want to mount the kit drop tanks in the outer position, is to Freightdog's customary excellent standard.

More pictures - now with words!

Some time back a paragraph in Combat Aircraft mentioned that BAES and Their Airships were discussing adding a few 146QCs to the strength to cover the wearing-out of the older C-130s iBAe 146 C.4 32 Sq RAF 2014n Afghanistan; by chance I had a Revell 146 STA very hear the front of my garage and this suggested itself, in a rather matt dark green - Xtracolor NATO green, as you ask - with a couple of extra lumps, though I forbore from adding a Secret Squirrel under the drivers' window. Decoration, both national and unit, is by courtesy of Modeldecal; with 32 Squadron already having qualified chaps, and indeed operating in theatre in the shiny white limousine version, having their bars on a Vampire sheet was an obvious advantage. I think it looks good in warpaint, though I'm told by One Who Knows that they are likely to look just the same as the VIP commuters. The second of this pair that I wanted to have ready for ModelKraft doesn't fall in with my current master plan of only building models with roundels, but I liked the look of it when the Sharkit box top showed up AAR Piranha, on the Hannants New Releases page, and ordered it on the over-used theory that I'd know what to do with it when I saw it. Named the Piranha I think it was designed as a "low-cost" interceptor, and the kit comes with a pair of Matra Magic AAMs for the wingtip, and what could be a couple of cannon-housing bulges just behind the nosewheel door. It was while I was applying the Freightdog conversion to the Xtrakit Hunter T.7 to make it a night fighter that I spotted the arrestor hook on the sprue resting next to the Sharkit decals, and I had my obvious answer - it was obviously destined to be a Swiss navy interceptor, using of course the hook. This gave me the chance to devise a colour scheme which would be relevant in clear blue Swiss skies, and as well as the (German) stylised anchors on the intakes you may just be able to see the Aeronavale anchors superimposed on the national markings and the Marine legend above the airbrakes. A word of appreciation for Sharkit; their resin kits have improved enormously over the last year or so, and while they still demand a certain level of work they can result in good models of interesting prototypes. I liked this so much that there could be another Piranha on my bench soon, perhaps with equally applicable markings.

PS. Apologies for the small smudge at around 11 o'clock of the two photos above; I think its hiding inside my camera, and I may have to send a team in to investigate it, at least before the air display season starts (Old Warden, 4 May if you haven't put the note in your diary yet).

The Nat.Champs! Oh, all right, ScaleModelWorld 2011

I had this really good idea that about a week before I was due to leave for this year's Telford extravaganza I'd write a short para or two here about what I was looking forward to, what models I planned to put on the SIG144 and What If? tables and what I hoped to bring back thinly disgised as the weekend shopping; this would mean that I'd be able after returning glowing on the Monday afternoon to write a proper report, possibly on the Travels page, with many illustrations, particularly of models that had caught my eye in the competition. Well, that didn't work. Rather more than two weeks after it's over I'm composing what will inevitably only be part one of the story so far, with I hope a couple of pictures and a verbal peek in to my somewhat overstuffed goodies bags.

It's become evident over the years that time permitting the best way to approach this two day event is to arrive betimes on the day before, preferably with a marked-up copy of the floor plan; this year there was a colour one in SAM, even though it was in a font size to tax the ageing modellers' eyesight, and a rather larger-print one in the IPMS magazine which readily accepted my highlighter daubing. And this year my models were ready at least forty-eight hours before ETD, the accomodation confirmed and arrangements made to share a Saturday night dinner with some old - no, long-standing - friends; and there were packages to be collected not only in the traditional Big Yellow East Anglian Bag but also from Mel Bromley of S & M Models (no, me neither, but they weren't in a plain brown wrapper). Even the bag was packed, and I'd brought a few useful items in case I got the opportunity for a little light public whittling, and blowing the light out on the Thursday, I felt just a little smug; then I got up on the Friday morning with a virtually vanished voice.

Never mind, with a lozenge or two it would surely be back once I was approaching the Severn, and of course one of the anticipated great joys of SMW is the chance to meet and chat to people, especially the above-mentioned friends, that I get to see there once a year, and some of them do turn up at the occasional IPMS Branch show as well. But the lozenges didn't work, and by the time Andy Scott relented and let us in through the side loading doors five minutes early - those who are keen get fell in previous - there was a whole colony of frogs in my throat. Fortunately it wasn't actually painful, merely frustrating, probably as much for those who were trying to work out what I was croaking as for me. Still, the reconnaissance - time spent in which is, as you know, seldom wasted - duly took place and several contacts established, the models delivered to their respective SIG tables and the pre-requested Vickers 1000/VC.7 and Avro 730, which should appear here in that order in the next couple of months, grasped in my hot little hands to be waved at my fellow SIG colleagues with enthusiastic if hoarse details. One or two other items also came with me when I went off to the hotel - ah, the joy of Ring Roads - accompanied by Martin Denny of Dalrymple and Verdun and a copy of his their Tempest from the prolific Tony Buttler (and it's got a Joe Cherrie model of the Eagle-Tempest, to my mind the best-looking variant).

The frogs were still in residence on Saturday morning, but the perambulation, acquisition and conversation - this perhaps less successful than the other two, but I spent a most entertaining half-hour on the Aviation Bookshop stand chatting to Charles Keil, the authot of the excellent Sabre from the Cockpit and reminiscing about our parallel days and experiences in 2 TAF - continued as though nothing was amiss and I could still be heard. One of my regular stops is at the Revell stand to see if there's anything to be gleaned this early about next year's releases, and while there will be no doubt a ready market for the 1:48th Ventura, and it's a characteristic somewhat adventurous choice from this company, my attention was grabbed by the completed 1:72nd Airbus A-400. I was told that it's due to be available in time to give Santa Claus a bulk-out problem, at least in the UK, anDick, Mike, David and Dave, SMW 2011d inevitably triggered two questions of where I might be able to put it when completed and what markings I might choose for it (I think it's 70, or CXX, Squadron that are due for it at Brzn). This stand also tends to be where old friends run in to one another; here I am in the distinguished company of Dick Ward, David Howley and Dave White, all of whom I met around the time I joined IPMS in 1968 (that on the home page was taken by Dave, and has the geniel Volker Vahle of Revell Germany centre stage - names dropped while you wait!). Dick was later instrumental in persuading me on to the committee, which also included Dave W, and from this much else followed, including my writing the IPMS column for SAM and therefore Tailpiece, to say nothing of my wearing Freda Myles' bra-strap (I'll come back to that). Before the end of the afternoon I decided that I really needed a lie down in a darkened room ahead of the night's Dinner, and that I was probably spent and talked out for the time being anyway.

Sunday becomes a catch-up day; this year I finally found Kevin Byrne, of the Irish Air Corps, another friend that I met through IPMS when he came regularly to Southern Expo, and discussed aspects of our respective recessions; I'd seen Joe Maxwell of Max Decals the day before - we first met in the company of Dick Ward (him again) in a basement model shop in Dublin on our way to a Baldonnel air day many years ago - when he passed me a set of his very colourful new sheet of Antarctic helicopters, which I'll put up here somewhere when I can get my website illustration process working again. And I decided I couldn't go home without a copy of the book on the elegant Republc XR-12 Rainbow - which actually covers much more - by Mike Machat, from Specialty Press, and which raises the very tempting possibility of a tanker version! I toured the competition area and took some snaps, some of which I also plan to put up here if and when; one of those that sticks in my mind is the Israeli Meteor FB.2 - with turboprops, though I'm not wholly convinced that it would have had six-bladed propellers - of the Valley Squadron and wearing black/yellow "Suez stripes", and there was a really good Valiant B.2 "Black Bomber" based on the Mach 2 kit and with a very well produced little booklet describing the conversion process. I hope this turns up as an article somewhere, though what I'd really like is a set of resin/metal bits to fit the Airfix Valiant, but I have hopes for another alternative for 2012 which could be coincident with Airfix's own PR./K. set; combining the two could save me at least some notional space. So that was it, really, apart from a few more strangled conversations and the packing-up. By the end I'd assembled four goodies bags, two Waitrose, one Sainsbury and one M&S, holding amongst other treasures two Azur Vautours - and I realise I'm give a succession of hostages to fortune by listing any of these - the S&Ms previously mentioned, an Omega Hawk 200 fuselage to go with the new Airfix kit, the AlleyCat Vampire FB.5 to remind me of my days at Middleton and Chivenor, the Freightdog conversion for the Hunter night fighter and the Hasegawa F/A-18E/F "Bicentennial Combo". Sadly this didn't come with decals for the "retro" schemes for which I'd hoped, but I live in hope that someone will do them in 1:72nd, though the output so far in this scale has been rather disappointing. And there were a few decals, as well as the Max choppers, including "retro" Goshawks from DrawDecal, so there's a bit to be going on with; and to add to the weight of expectation, when I got home there was a package from Fantastic Plastic with three BAE. P.1214-3 "X-wing" (well, how many would you have ordered?).

On Monday many of the Usual Suspects were to be seen at the Conservation Centre at Cosford, marvelling at the Hampden, the Wellington and the Dolphin, providing a very satisfactory conclusion to the weekend; but I need to return to the Saturday night Dinner for which, being a ceremonial occasion, I was wearing the IPMS bow tie which the then Secretary, Freda Myles, fashioned with the help of the previously-mentioned strap. It's treasured to this day, and the only item of mine for which Alan Hall ever professed envy. I confess that I was feeing at least a couple of degrees under par when I resurfaced from my pre-prandial doze (it's the age) but I'd arranged to sit in the distinguished company of Trevor Snowden and Neil Robinson, and we were joined by Martin Denny, Richard Farrar of the IPMS committee and John Adams and Claire; and with our table backing on to that of the Farnborough IPMS Branch, my shoulder backed on to that of Dick Ward. The evening's speaker was Tony James, a long time attendee at this event, and after that the President, Paul Regan, rose for what he described as a few housekeeping announcements. This started with the award of a Life Membership to an unsuspecting recipient, whose identity became evident when Paul mentioned Modeldecal; it was of course Dick Ward, whom I met as soon as I joined the Society in 1968, who has become a good friend and whose decals, produced in conjunction with Mike Silk, set a standard by which even in these days of colour instruction sheets others are still judged, especially by those of us who remember and have used them from the beginning. The applause was considerable prolonged, and deserved, and the recipient taken aback, but he recovered to thank those there. When we sat down from the ovation, Paul announced that there was a second, and said a few kind and flattering words about the equally unsuspecting recipient; I know just how unsuspecting, because it was me that he presented with the little silver tray marking the occasion. Even if I'd had a voice I would have been speechless, and those of you who know me will know how rare a state that is! When I did manage to dislodge enough frogs to give my thanks - and to say that my delight was doubled by receiving it in tandem with Dick Ward - in a very sotto voce, I managed to say that I would try to make it last as long as possible. After all, especially at this time of the year, a Life Membership is not just for Christmas.

Apologies for the lack of photos; now I'll try and figure out while my processing routine isn't working, and hope that normal service can be resumed....

..............well, as normal as it gets, anyway. Having worked out in a bout of insomnia what I wasn't doing right I'm returning to plan A and putting something in the "Travels" page, and probably in "Workbench" as well. Organisation and logic?

SMW plus Fallout

Mel Bromley has several more kits in the 2012 pipeline with What If? potential, and the first to roll off my line is this BAC Victoria C.1 (Falklands 1982). To be fair to Mel the name is mine, his box top describing it quite correctly as a Vickers 1000; I'd always thought that this designation referred to the miltary versioBAC Victoria C.1, 10 Sqn RAF 1982n, with VC.7 for the airliner following on from the VC.1 Viking, reference to the Putnam Book of Vickers revealed each to be correct for either. The kit includes decals for a BOAC aircraft in the style of the early 707s, with the 707 registration G-APFD on the sound basis that had Our National Airline bought the British contender the bureaucratic allocation would have happened at the same time. You will probably not be surprised to see the RAF roundels in this photo, and like the rest of all the decals except for the cockpit windows the came from the AirDecal RAF VC.10 sheet, including the slightly adapted and lengthened cheat line.

For those of us who like to rattle through a series of models, in which I readily include myself - go on, pretend you're surprised! - one of the virtues of many resin lits is that they have a limited number of parts. In this case the fuselage comes in three parts, the wing in four and three single piece tail surfaces; the fuselage is divided fore and aft, with an underbelly that helps to join the two with the aid of a couple of pins and sockets. The inner wings slot in to semi-recesses, helped by thinning down their trailing edges a little, and pins and sockets are also used to locate the vertical and horizontal tail surfaces. In each case the sockets need a little extra dirilling out, and about a year ago I bought a set of the five colour-coded Mr.Hobby drills from the invaluable Bob Brown of MDC, and shortly afterwards bought a second set in case any of the first set went off on their own; so far only one of the pink ones has wandered away. With each the allocated place in the box has it's drill size listed so I can sound, however unlikely, technically knowledgeable.

OK, back to the model; the casting is very neat and clean and the fit very good, but you will need sone BAC Victoria C.1, 10 Sqn 1982fine filler at the join contact points. Apart from the undercarriage and its doors, the only other parts are the four jet pipes and the two extra fuel tanks; I seem to remember that when this style first appeared on the Comet 4 they were called "pinion tanks", but this term seems to have fallen from use. All the options on the AirDecal sheet were of the white/grey scheme; one of them included a Red Cross-marked aircraft on the post-Falklands run, which precluded the optional Transpont Command or ASC titling, but helped to fix the time and place. The small 10 Squadron marking is on the fin, and the serial XR101 was cobbled together from those on the sheet,and even though all my copies of Bruce Robertson's "Every Boy's Book of Blackout Blocks" are currently in hiding I think I've avoided a "real" aeroplane. I've really enjoyed this, and my C(K).2 (Gulf War) is already underway with the hope of having both of them ready for the SIG table at the Milton Keynes ModelKraft at the beginning of February

The Art of Coarse Modelling

Long, long ago in the days when I still took two Sunday newspapers a sports writer in one of them wrote a book titled "The Art of Coarse Rugby"; it wasn't that long then since I'd left school where I'd taken part, inexpertly and rather reluctantly in the "sport of hooligans played by gentlemen", althought it's fair to say that at the time I thought it was possibly the one sport that could be enjoyed without actually being good at it. I still remembered enough from my days on the pitch to enjoy Michael Green's descriptions of the inexpert desperation with which the game could be played, and in particular about the "Extra B" fifteens fielded, sometimes with as many as fifteen players, by the many determinatedly amateur rugby union clubs so that ageing aficionados could work off their aggression on Saturday afternoons.

Like The Bad Modeller's Handbook, it's occurred to me at sporadic intervals over the years that Coarse Modelling is a supportable concept; the two could even be related. The thought spiked again a couple of days ago when I was brushing a Dark Green camouflage pattern on my current 1121 (known to Mel Bromley and me as Red 3) and looking at my handiwork - or perhaps not-so-handiwork - with a not quite focused eye (Iblame the new "modelling" glasses. Although I had stirred the Xtracolor with a suitable length of sprue, and dipped the soft square-tipped brush that I'd selected carefully down to the bottom of the tinlet, there were still very evident streaks in the application. Given the layout of my workroom, if at all possible I try to fit in any broad-brush work reasonably early in the day - fill in your own idea of reasonable - when there's some natural light to help the artificial; it's at times like this that I appreciate artists' preference for north light, but mine comes mostly from the west and from mid-afternoon onwards can be a source of glare or gloom, usually influenced by the occurrence of Wimbledon or a Serious Test Match (see Grant Baynham's "England Green"), and it did show up the problems with the finish. Although it's an excuse I've used in the past, I didn't think I could pass this off as natural wear on a busy airframe.

It was this that got the "coarse modelling" stream of consciousness sloshing round my thoughts. One of its indications is probably the "life is too short to stuff a mushroom" syndrome with which I failed totally to convince a French modeller at a Dudford display a couple of summers ago, that when I make a model it usually has an instinctive "finish by..." date beyond which my interest, unless spurred by one of my selection of Absolutely Essential Deadlines, tends to fall away, even if mould doesn't actually appear on the model. Similarly the amount of detail that I apply to a model, especially if it's to be somewhat unseen, is comparatively minimal, even if it's supplied with the kit; as I'm making it for my own amusement - I think that's the right word - rather that reviewing the kit I don't feel impelled to include every last piece. Similarly I don't often raid the lists of the plethora of "extras" now available, unless it's for something that makes the build easier. Reading most of the modelling magazines these days, not only do the prices of the added bits add up to more than that of the kit, but it seems sometimes that the kit - and especially the subject - counts for less than the added bells and whistles (that's for the SIG members who claim that I'm not sufficiently Grumpy!).

I'm not totally immune to the Joy of Extra Bits; the coming of the Airfix TSR.2 in particular, and the parts produced for the then-excellent Model Aircraft Monthly, with the guidance of Neil Robinson, but the equally excellent Paul Lucas, were a real boon, in that they enabled visible variations as well as the occasional correction, to the model. This is I suspect the key to how I look at Bits; I still recall from time to time the look on Tim Perry's face all those years ago when he started producing his PP etched brass enhancements in 1:72nd scale that the model was after all only a canvas for a colur scheme and that his very neat ladders, however carefully constructed, didn't really contribute. I suppose I could have said the same about those other novelties of the same period, John Adams' Aeroclub metal ejector seats, but I found those very useful; they were relatively easy to paint and install, and frequently performed a useful function in helping to keep the model sitting properly on its nosewheel.

On the Tom Lehrer theory that I only steal from the best, I still find occasion to recall and quote that deadly question posed - back in the 'sixties, I think - by World War I expert and builder of superb and highly detailed models of that era Harry Woodman "Are you a modeller or an assembler of plastic kits?". I realised long ago that I fall squarely in to the latter category, describing myself if the need arises as an aircraft enthusiast that builds plastic models (yes I know that there are enthusiasts that also build real models, and some of them still speak to me). The ultimate finish is something else I gave up striving for a while back, with the excuse - which, like the best, has a fair element of truth in it - that a "showroom" finish generally looks unrealistic (and of course takes much longer). It's not impossible to find traces at least of a seam or even - gasp! - a small gap if you look closely, though I don't advise it. Once in a while I make vague lunges in the direction of being a modeller; I've used that thin Tamiya masking tape recently tFox Moth G-ACEJ, Halton 11.)6.11o get at least thebasis of a straight painted line, though I still prefer to hand paint freehand. The essential principle of Coarse Modelling - like I suppose that of Coarse Rugby - is to do it to your satisfaction and enjoyment, and coarse isn't just for wet-and-dry. A Real Modeller world surely have a tidy workbench, ot at least try to sort it from tike to time; but even if there's modelling that needs to be done now, there's always an alternative; yesterday's was to be up in a Real Aeroplane three years older than me - but better maintained. I have to say, it was a tight fit; I don't think de H did XXL in 1933.

Destination Telford

The loom of ScaleModelWorld usually brings on a spasm of activity, and this is the first of four models, two for the What If? table and two for SIG144, thTempest F.8, 3 Sqn BAFO 1948at I took up this year. When Peter Lockhart was producing his series of resin Tornado fuselages in the 'nineties I tried very hard, but unsuccessfully, prompted by a 1:72nd plan in James Goulding's book "Interceptors" which made me think that this would have been the best-looking of Sydney Camm's Rolls-Royce engined fighters. to get him to produce an Eagle-Tempest conversion. Prompted by a recollection to this effect on seeing a model on a What If? SIG display table recently resulted in a pair of forward fuselage/radiator sets coming my way, and this is the first, suitably finished as the boss's aircraft of 3 Squadron when part of 2TAF/BAFO, with the markings as worn by its "real world" equivalent coming Hawker Tempest F.8, 3 Sqn RAFG 1948from a set of Freightdog decals, attracted doubtless by the traditional green decoration of the squadron; while completed some time before SMW it only found itself serialled just in time. with the serial adapted to fit in a "blackout block". My plans for the second include a pair of 40 mm cannon under the wings, the modified camouflage for the RAF Middle East around 1948, and the markings for Denis Crowley-Milling when he was the boss of 6 Squadron, with both "Gunners' stripe" and can-opener.

The SIG occasionally picks a theme for SMW and after some debate "1941" was selected for this year (the usual British attachment to anniversaries). Not unsurprisingly this brought thoughts of the opening of hostilities in the Pacific, and what emerged from the mists of my consciousnes was a Fokker D.XXIII, had one been based in the Dutch East Indies, and as it happened I had a Pegasus kit to hand over a year ago and I thought of re-engining it; both the Merlin and the DB601 had been considered by Fokker, but the idea of finding, attaching and blending in four new cowlings sent Fokker D.XLVI Dutch East Indies December 1941me back to the drawing board. Then one of the staple ideas of several of the SIG members, that of a twin-fuselage variant, occurred to me and I added a second kit thanks to the acquisition of Pegasus by Freightdog Models. Unsurprisingly it took me awaile to get around to it, so it wasn't till August that I started to work our what I was going to do about the joining centre-section and the wider-span tailplane. In the event it turned out to be fairly simple, aided by the relatively soft plastic that was Pegasus' standard and facilitated the cut/fit/trim-and-try-again process that is usually inevitable. This resulted in keeping the forward end of one of the booms as the middle of the wing centre section -this was used as a camera housing as I saw the aircraft in the long-range recononaisance role to take advantage of the two crew - and using a separated third fin in between the two tailplanes. The colour scheme was that from the Pegasus box - I found that a couple of the less-likely Humbrol colours were still around - with the Dutch orange/black markings overlaid with Hinomarus. The result was the hope-for double-takes at Telford, and for once the model turned out just as I'd envisioned it; but for its designation I'm still torn between D.XLVI and D.XXXIV.V. Ah, the joys of a classical education!

The other two were destined for the SIG144 stand, but within its largely sane membership there's a noticeable What If? strain. The idea for the first one (the bigger of this double act) has been rattling round my "one day..." thought for a while, probably ever since I saw one of Chinooks with the "scribble" camouflage at the post-Gulf war Mildenhall display, and Anigrand's production of the Boeing XC-62 HLH enabled me to paint a small "secret squirrel" silhouette each side of the nose. The kit comes with a couple ofheavy load lifting hooks underneath the fuselage, and I had hoped to hang aRAF CH-62D and VH-60Zcouple of fighting vehicles from them; with the rapid approach of Telford I couldn't make it work, but I was able to fit a couple of desert camo Land Rovers - Oxford cars N scale, but sadly unarmed - against the body. (By the way, does anyone know the name of a really serious strong Canadian wind? At the moment I'm stuck with Super Chinook). Its little friend is Dragon's kit of the "stealth H-60"; this arrived in the post with a set of Royal Flight decals, and the need for a hasty VIP exip became immediately apparent, and irresistable.

Lastly the S & M Sperrin, a type which has always held an interest for me; having already made the Magna kit as a K.2 and the Anigrand as a B.1, I had planned to complete this as the prototype with the red/white cheatline on the grey/black scheme, but Short Sperrin MR.3, 37 Squadron 1956changed my mind when I found I'd have to hand-paint the white edging to the red. It didn't take long to decide on an MR.3, which could have replaced the Shackleton 1 and 2. With the Czechmaster MR.2 on my shelving, with an excellent selection of markings, I added a MAD boom from an anonymous drop tank and a searchlight whittled from clear sprue. Having selected a 37 Squadron identity I'd already started to add the "Suez stripes" before I found that this was the only squadron that wore them on its Shacklebombers in 1956. Serendipity! After enjoying making this one, I may well find another role for an S & M Sperrin.Remember these.....?

I think that the last Aifix TSR.2 that I made was their excellent 1:48th version, which when I built it suggested that some improvements in the kit breakdown had been made following comments on the earlier !;72nd kit; I certainly remember the intake/fuselage/wing join being easier both to assemble and to fair. That must have been the best part of two years or more ago, and the shelf in the garage which holds the rest of my original shipping order offers a silent reproach from time to time as I try to pass it without looking or even blushing. Still, I had worked out a Master Plan all those years ago, and as it happens these two fit neatly in to it.

The final nudge to start on this pair came through an e-mail in response to my posting here of the swelling ranks of my S&M P.1121s, from Tony Grand who when writing of his plans for a two-seat version of the big Hawker referred me to his article in SAMI (17/5. May 2011) on his camouflaged swing-wing RCAF TSR.2. I had already drawn a couple of kits from stores with a plan to make them in series, starting with the Canadian in the "Voodoo" scheme of light grey with the red/white flash on the fuselage which had been included on one of the Xtradecal "What If?" sets; while I was fascinated by the conversion work that Tony had done in grafting a Tomcat nose to enable a better interceptor radar I had already planned to use the Freightdog fighter set with the underfuselage sideways radar producing, when equipped with suitable missiles, an "armed AWACS". Odds and Ordnance were about to hatch pairs of Genie missiles, the nuclear-tipped AAM from Douglas that was carried by NORAD Voodoos, designed to detonate in the vicinity of larCAF CF-109 Arctic Eagle, 416 Sqn "William Tell 1982"ge Soviet bomber formations, and the pairing of this missile with an "Arctic Eagle" struck me as offering a credible deterrent. The IFR probe housing came with the radar "bath", as did a pair of radar Red Tops that were set aside for furture use though I did adapt their pylons, and the underwing fuel tanks are part of a separate "External Fuel Tank" set. I had hoped to install the Genies in that otherwise unexplained space just ahead if the nosewheel bay and divide its cover (part 70) to act as its doors, but the missiles were slightly too large, hence the pylons; what effect this would have had on its higher speeds I don't know, but the Genies do have a "Coke-bottleish" shape. Halfway through the build I found a Leading Edge decal sheet for a 416 "Lynx" Squadron decal sheet that had participted in the "William Tell" gunnery meet in 1982; it didn't appear to carry the large patch, but I thought this would look suitably celebratory on the fin - even though it only just fitted! - and in addition to the squadron badge in front of the fin flash there's another one representative of the CAF Air Defence Command, just behind the navigator's cockpit. Incidentally I decided that by the time these versions entered a fully-transparent cover would be practicable, and the Canadians in particular have always been keen on positive visual identification of possble targets, though you'd want to be rather farther away when launching the Genie.

The plan for the other kit was to realise in three dimensions at last an idea that's been bugging me since Airfix released the TSR.2 back in ........ no, on second thoughts don't calculate. I've always intended to make one in Fleet Air Arm colours, and at one stage planned to fit it with Vigilante wings for that extra lift, but at some stage I was looking at a pair of unused airbrake jacks and thought "Crusader!". At about the same time as Tony Grand's SAMI article, another magazine had a review of the re-released "satellite killer" kit in which the modeller recommended fitting the upper fuselage parts 23 and 42 to the wings before attaching them to the boBAC Sea Eagle S.20, 809 NAS 1982dy, and after using this idea on the Canadian aircraft thought it would be a real advantage in sorting out the dividing-up of the wing; and so it did! I had hoped to find the Modeldecal sheet with the red flash markings for an 800 NAS Buccaneer on the fin, but I must have used them; it's Modeldecal's 809 phoenix on the fin though, with more phoenices by Aviation Workshop/Airframe on the Odds and Ordnance slipper tanks. What you can't see is the Freightdog Green Cheese anti-shipping missile fitted neatly in to the kit bomb bay; Freightdog do include a purpose-designed resin bomb bay, to replace that in an Airfix Buccaneer, but its reworking to fit the TSR.2 after assembling the fuselage (yes, I know I should have tried it before putting the fuselage together) would have taken more time/effort than I wanted to take. The good thing about the completion of these two is that I know that the ideas that have been lurking in the dustier part of my planning department worked as I hoped they wood; and the second good thing is that now maybe there'll be enough space to start on the Valiant. Now, what shall I use to carry those four radar Red Tops?


British Army armed Optica, location unknown 2012When a kit of something like this Optica appears, my first thought is how it might be used, quite possibly in a form that the designer/manufacturer might not have thought of. I remember it being promoted as a substitute for a helicopter for police and other low level duties, and the appearance of the resin Sharkit coincided with the arrival of a batch of Brimstones and the Sniper pod from the Aviation Workshop under their unifying Airframe label. Putting them together seemed reasonably obvious, but I'm not sure about my using Xtracolor British Helicopter Green - something rather darker and murkier is probably called for - and I don't know whether contemporary army attack helicopters carry any identifying unit markings. If you know of one that can be simply hand-painted very smPredator 1 Sqn RAFall I'd be obliged. the third of this batch, which were all built to meet a What If? SIG table date at a show, was because there had been general, and fairly acrimonious, discussion of the RAF's current very sad lack of a No.1 Squadron, this being thought even worse than the service's inability to produce a fighter squadron for Tiger Meets. At the show where this took place I picked up an Italeri Predator for a fiver and the result, with its 1 Squadron markings from Harrier and Hunter, is a three-dimensional comment on our current Light Blue state. The Brimstones came from the same Airframe batch and give it at least some warfighting capabiliry (yes, I'm aware that these are more properly carried by Reapers, but this isn't yet available in 1:72nd). Perhaps I should have added some form of direct lift to make it "thrice vertical".



To appease my guilt about the delay,, however insufficiently, and to encourage me to revisit some more recent shows, here's a mini-retrospective from San Diego.retro Growler VAQ-129 San Diego 13,02.11

retro EA-6B VAQ-129, San Diego 13.02.11





These two from the same unit and in virtually the same retro scheme - the EA-18G didn't carry the white undersides of the Prowler - were certainly my favourite pair of the show; these 1942-ish colours have always been an attractive finish on a model, and (six months later!) I'm still hoping for the decals for these two in 1:72nd; my order is in with Two Bobs.

P-3c PC-9 VP-6 San Diego 13.02.11T-34C Trining Wing 4, San Diego 13.02.11






Added to the two Goshawks in the '30s "yellow wing" colours, the colours make even this T-34 - not my favourite trainer - look attractive, especially with the black fuselage band and the green tail of, I think, the Enterprise ai wing (my crib sheet has gone in to hiding and when it resurfaces I'll correct this if needed). And whether it's the props I don't know, but the P-3 looks really good in this P-2 scheme. Best of all though for me were the T-45C Goshawks in their 'thirties colours; this one was taken on Friday the 12th from the Coronado beach right next to the North Island NAS, the sand seeming to be populated entirely by dog walkers and chaps with long lenses. Six months on the feel of the sunshine is still with me.

T-45C Training Wing 1, Coronado Beach 12.02.11

and back in jolly ol' England.......

At some stage of my sorting out - in theory, anyway - what goes where on this site shows, whwrwver they are, have wound up in travels, and while the mileage involved may not be as extensive as Goin' to California June and July did find my thirstymobile on the road to four - five, includuing Old Warden, but that's not far from the back garden - Days Out With Aeroplanes. I'm now trying to catch up with these, but while the photos may show the right aeroplanes they may not necessarily be in the right order (I only steal from the best).

Red Bull on the runway. N25Y Flying Legends 2011

With all due respect to my erstwhile Leader Tim Prince - and I'll hope Red Bull P-38F N25Y, Flying Legends 2011 to get back to my soggy day at Fairford - the principal event of my UK summer is, as always, Flying Legends at Duxford. The Fighter Collection always seem to be able to pull something new out of their flying hat, and this year's was a very shiny P-38 Lightning thanks to Red Bull. They also brought an F4U, but for me it was the "fork-tailed devil" - it probably sounds even better in German - that was one of the main attractions. Legends also seems to produce formations of note as part of the display, as ell a the traditional Balbo - that closes the show and this year the Hawker biplane four Hart, Demon and Nimrods Flying Legends 2011were superb, with both Nimrods joining the Hart and the gorgeous Demon (fighter squadrons always did have better markings) to perform together and as two pairs. The presence in a hangar of an immaculate Fury wearing the markings of 43 Squadron's CO gives hope that next year we could see the Sydney Camm Five - there was something of that kind, if slightly further down the timeline, at Waddington - and I liked the comment of the French commentator that the Fury would probably be allowed to fly when the weight of the paperwork matched that of the airframe. Similarly non-flying, but on the flight-line to have its picture taken, was P-47P-47G Snafu, Flying Legends 2011G Thunderbilt "razorback" Snafu; with luck - and paperwork - that'll appear in its natural element later this year.




In contrast with Kennet Aviation AD-4NA, Flying Legends 2011 the stately formation of two Dragons and a Rapide, that of three Skyraiders had an air of muscular urgency; the two French examples were in familiar schemes - and I've always liked the marking of VA-176 "Stingers" - but this year the AD-4N of Kennet Aviation looked very smart in the early gloss sea blue scheme with the green fin markings of VA-155. And added to two familiar P-40s there was a "new" one, a Merlin-engined F wearing desert camouflage, the codes of the 85th FS/79th FG in Italy in 1944 and substantial nose art with the name Lee's Hope. RegP-40F X-17 Flying Legends 2011istered VH-PIV, it had made its first post-restoration flight in April. And as a change from trios, there was an immaculate flight demonstration by a pair of P-51s over from the USA; named Fragile but Agile and February they flew a one against a backdrop more dull than they deserved. P-51 pair Horsemen Flying Legen






At a time when air displays seem, at least in the eyes of the enthusiast to be dwindling in content and perhaps even in attendance the Fighter Collecton, hosted by IWM Duxford, continue to to put on a display that is worth more than just M.Michelin's detour, continuing to deserve an expedition to see the best of the European warbird scene and the show that, on this side of the water at least, I really don't want to pass up. At this point I would normally urge you to block off the second weekend in July as soon as you get your 2012 diary, but I gather that next year's projected air display programme is something else that's being seriously affected by the timing of the 2012 Olympics, and discussions are still being held with the CAA on allocation and use of airspace. Still we might be able to see Snafu and the Fury later this year; a Kestrel among the Merlins perhaps.

Hawker Fury 43 Squadron, Duxford July 2011

Wouldn't that be loverly?



Apart from Mr.T's barber's creation, what's lasted longest from "The A Team" is probably "I love it when a plan comes together"! It doesn't, perhaps too often, always happen (the Sabres have progressed hardly at all, and I've not yet written the review the "Sabre from the Cockpit" deserves) but occasionally..... After going to San Diego for the February sunshine and the first of the U S Navy's aviation centennial celebrations, I should by the time this hits cyberspace be on my way to Oceana and Miramar for the East and West Coast finales; there were a few of the retro colour schemes that weren't available for the early show, and even given that some of them don't seem to travel transcontinRetro Prowler, San Diego 2011entally I hope to finish with a full set. As an added bonus we're stopping at Fallon on the way across - a base, like Oceana, to which I've never been over the years - and there's a chance of a Hunter or two (my son tells me that when he saw one in NCIS he thought they were joking him, but I've reassured him). To help feed my addiction to these retro schemes, the first three of the 1:72nd scale decal sets from Two Bobs recently dropped through my letter box, and apart from some stylish, if rather small, zaps they include the Prowler and Growler from VAQ-129 which are about to distract me from my roundel habit; to be on the safe side I picked up a couple of EA-6Bs from Collectakit at the IPMS Farnborough show - another habit IRetro Growler, San Diego find hard to break is thinking of it as the Plastikfest - last weekend and I gather that there's a Hasegawa EA-18G on the way, for which I am fattening the piggybank. As before I hope to be able to produce at least a few photos here after I've warmed down on my return. This should complete a circle of its own; I've been visiting American aviation events almost annually since I left gainful employment, with this being my fourth "final" trip to the US, and if it does prove to be really the last it should be a good one to finish on.

Another circle of a sort was completed recently. My youngest uncle, born in 1918, joined the RAF in 1938, trained as a Sergeant Observer and joined the Blenheim-equipped 57 Squadron at Upper Heyford in time to go to war in France in September 1939. The task of the four Blenheim squadrons of the Air Component was reconnaissance, which required them to fly their sorties singly; they continued this practice when the drole de guerre came to an end on 10 May, and on 17 May Roy's was alone when it was found by fifteen Bf 109s; he received a head wound, and his pilot landed the aircraft, the medical teams getting him on to the last hospital boat out of Boulogne. Recovery took a while but he retrained as a pilot, and by the end of the war was with the Empire Central Flying School at Hullavington; one of my clear memories is hearing him at home saying that he'd come down to Holmesley South in a Buckmaster, an apparent bit of trivia that has stayed with me and has now become significant. It's now particularly poignant because, with me in the process of making the Valom kit as an EFCS aircraft, he died at the end of August. I've inherited his loogbooks, and they've revealed that among his other aircraft were Oxfords, a Mitchell, Harvards, a Piper L-4 - and a Warwick V; these'll give me something to work at for a while. Like the best funerals, Roy's was a celebration of his life, and I was particularly taken that a phrase of the vicar's, that his was "a life completed") - the circle closed.

Coming soon - well, soonish - a rattling of Sabres

The arrival of the second Airfix F-86 ignited a plan and theme that's grown by the week, and may well wind up needing me to find space for up to seven Sabres, all with roundels. The original intent was to make the Airfix F.4 to represent a very personal What If? but it's quickly becoming a celebration of my second favourite jet fighter - as long as it carries red, white and blue roundels. More soon.....

"Soon" is of course relative; consider for example "cat years" and those of the planet Jupiter, never mind its moons. The Sabres got somewhat sidelined; I got involved with models that I wanted to get ready for a What If? table or two, and I didn't really have a similar deadline for the 86s. However every so often I get an external nudge towards a jump re-start; in this case it's the arrival through the letter box of the latest in Roger Chesneau's splendid "From the Cockpit...." series covering the Sabre in RAF service. It should feature shortly in the Reading List, and I have a strong suspicion that I shall like it a great dAd Hoc Sabre from the Cockpiteal, not least because it has a few familiar names and faces. One old friend who appears only on the fringe of a Sabre Conversion Course participants' photo is John Culver, who when with 93 Squadron had an aircraft accident and was invalided out of the air force, subsequently becoming an air traffic controller which was how we met. Sadly the results of his back injury resulted in a regrettably early demise, but he was definitely on of the White Hats, and left me with an imperishable quote with which I have annoyed many since, including at least one of my family. We worked in the old Southern Air Traffic Centre, which was a somewhat dingy collection of WW II buildings in the north-west corner of Heathrow and very much the unfashionable end of ATC, especially by comparison with the tweed-jacketed chaps in RAF ties in the Tower of London Airport. When asked, usually sceptically, why he worked at SATCC, John's answer was that it was because of "a passionate desire to eat occasionally". Nothing to do with the book or its review, of course; but then this section is labelled Mike's World, and John still seems part of it.

Meanwhile, back in the deck chair...

It may be a bit early or perhaps just optimistic, but we have had a few of those blue days which could sometimes be best enjoyed by finding a not-quite-shady patch and settling in a semi-recumbent posture with a Good Book, until some schlemiel trotted up brightly to shatter the mood. Still, in case you can find yourself in such a fortunate position, bith physically and mentally, let me follow the practise of some more respectable outlets and recommend at least the opening chapter of a Summer Reading list.

While it was of course well-known at the time - the 'fifties, in particular - that Britain had The Best Aircraft Industry In The World, there was the occasional glitch that suggested even at the time that we didn't always get it right, and the most generally accepted and perhaps most publicised evidence at the time was the apparent failure of the Supermarine Swift, at least in its inability to perform the interceptor task for which it had been intended. One of its stout defenders in recent years has been Nigel Walpole, who flew the FR.5 in a role, and at an altitude, which it suited very well, and he is the author of this new volume, the fourteenth in the excellent "From the Cockpit" series from Roger Chesneau's Ad Hoc Publications.

First to catch my eye was the cover. I had expected to see an FR.5 disporting over the German plain in what had proved a pretty effective low-level camouflage; instead there's a colour air-to-air of a silver-finished F.1 of 56 Squadron, complete with red and white checks on wingtips as well as fuselage. I've commented before - probably every time I write about one of this series - on the excellent choice of illustrations and the care that's been taken in their preparation and reproduction, and that standard continues with the "Swift" . The tales told by those involved at first hand with this aircraft are accompanied by photos many of which have come from personal collections, and as always illustrate the personnel as well as the hardware. I'm particularly pleased because one of those in the early 56 Squadron photos is Al Martin, who after a brief joust with the Swift went to CFS, and was one of my instructors at 4 FTS at Middleton St. George (the "how to fly in England" course, with particular reference to Teesside fog). I remember very clearly him telling me - and I have never had reason to doubt it - that before he left 56 he flew six sorties in the Swift, five of which involved full emergencies!

Nigel Walpole gives a very comprehensive account of the development, service and tribulations of the first four marks befire coming, with several of his colleagues of the time, to personal accounts of the FR.5 in service; with it's rock-steady behaviour at low level, it is obvious that flying the aircraft in this role, with the prospect of being in any action that migt come, was much enjoyed by its drivers. As well as ten of the customary profiles by Roger Chesneau, and the four-view of the author's WK281/S in the colours of 79 Squadron, there are a couple of pages of colour photos, but given that the colours are well-known the large number of black-and-whites will be of considerable value to the modeller. Two things from this point of view that caught my attention; there were rather more FR.5s with silver undersides that I expected, and rather fewer wearing the underfuselage "teardrop" fuel tank that I always associate with the type. Indeed I was somewhat miffed when the Xtrakit Swift appeared without one being included, but perhaps I shall now have to stop hassling A2Z to produce one.

I have a, possibly macabre, interest in aircraft that didn't quite make it (though I know that Nigel Walpole will insist that the Swift shouldn't be included in this category). It's been said that this aircraft rather than its contemporary the Hunter, was the interceptor that Their Airships of the day would have preferred to buy, but that avenue was closed by the American Air Force evaluation report; even the F.4 would not have met the requirements of the specification, especially with its performance at altitude, and to read the reasons, both technical and political, behind its troubled development, is fascinating and answers a few questions that have been in limbo for a long time. And as always the backbone of this series, the stories of those who were involved with the Swift are entertaining, well-told and give the human dimension to the memories of the hardware. It is of course very highly recommended as, I'm sure, will be the next expected in ths series, the F-86 Sabre in RAF service. What do you mean, prejudiced?


"Vulcan's Hammer" is by any standards an arresting title, and with a photo of the Great White Avro Vulcan's Hammer by Chris Gibson. on the cover, accompanied by a painting of a pair of white TSR.2s carrying underwing Blue Waters, it took approximately no persuasion to add it to my carrier bag at the Cambrai air show, even though this meant carrying it back to the UK on the coach. Author Chris Gibson was also responsible, with Tony Buttler, for the "Hypersonics, Ramjets and Missiles" volume in Midland Publishing's British Secret Projects series, as well as the monograph on Pofflers that is invaluable to anyone with an Airfix VC.10 languishing on a dusty shelf. The book's subtitle is "V-Force Projects and Weapons since 1945", describing its contents and purpose admirably, recording the twists and turns of the Air Ministry, the politicians and events that impacted on the RAF's strategic planning and effort from the end of the second World until responsibility for the British deterrrent passed to the Royal Navy.

The considerable number of missiles described, most of which never came to fruition, are illustrated by the author's excellent line drawings, usually with a scale bar to enable size comparison, and photos of hardware or the occasional mock-up, and thereis a table for each chapter with the details of missiles covered therein. The majority originated from Vickers or Avro, and the author's research in to company, and in some cases museum, records is the base for a very full account of their development and use; this is shown particularly in the account of the one missile that saw at least limited service, Avro's Blue Steel and its several, if unfulfilled developments which could send you looking for the box of that half-finished Vulcan. From a personal modelling viewpoint, there are some missiles covered which I would like to see in resin form, especially if they can be hung on a pylon of a relevant model; if the weapon has to be suspended within a bomb bay it loses, for me, its modelling impact (illustrated perhaps by my next P.1121).

Aside from the modelling aspect, as a history of what the RAF tried to do in the 'fifties and 'sixties, especially in respect of our "independent" deterrent. I have found the story fascinating, supported as it is by an obvious bedrock of painstaking research by an author with a profound interest in his subject (always the best kind). You will see from the cover that its publisher is Hikoki, and it seems that this name is being revived in a major way as part of Crecy Publishing; their new catalogue has several titles with this label aimed at the aviation historian and enthusiast, with at least one covering "secret projects" territory and one by Tim Mason on a particular area of pre-WWII testing. Their production and reproduction, judged by these two volumes, is excellent, and "Vulcan's Hammer" is very highly recommend to all those who have a serious interest in - and probably memories of - the Cold War.

You are, I hope, familiar with the books that Tim Mason produced for Hikoki in its first incarnation; The Secret Years and The Cold War Years covered the work of flight testing at A&AEE Boscombe Down during and after the Second World War, with the types divideSeaplane Years, Tim Mason, Hikokid in to categories, profusely illustrated and with the many colour profiles by Dave Howley supplemented in the second book with colour photos. This new book takes a similar approach to the work done by the the Marine & Armament Experimental Station establed on the Isle of Grain in 1920, and its metamorphasis in to the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment at Felixstowe and Helensburgh that finally closed in 1956. The work done by these Establishments, and their organisation, is comprehensively described and illustrated before then describing the aircraft, organised once again by category; again the photographic selection and reproduction is very good indeed, and David Howley again supplies the colour profiles, though this time their inserted at appropriate places in the text rather than being a stand-alone colour section. Like the Boscombe Down pair this is a book for reading, browsing, and when needed reference (just in time for the expected Valom Saro Clouds, then). I suspect there will be much in these pages that will be less than familiar to many readers, and it's a real pleasure to fill the gaps in my knowledge in this way, but I have one personal whinge. on the back cover there's a side-view of the Blackburn B.20, a substantial twin-Vulture powered flying boat with a retactable planing bottom to its hull (and retractable wing tip floats). It's an aircraft that's fascinated me for years - and for a model of which I've always hankered, even if in resin - and I looked forward to a full account of the aircraft and its untimely end in this obviously comprehensive and well-researched book; failing to find any mention in the index, I sicovered its photo on page 42, with a caption saying that in was still in the manufacturer's hands when it crashed and never reached MAEE, and by implication was therefore outside the scope of this book. Pshaw! - but I'd still like a kit. The book is still very highly recommended, and I'm delighted to see the earlier standard of Hikoki's publications, bot in content and prsentation, maintained.

US Navy Phantoms, Pat Martin

Thw watery theme continues with the fourth in this batch of books which fell in to my grasp within a few days. I've got to know Pat Martin well over the last few years, if largely thanks to e-mail and his photography, and he's produced that excellent trilogy of Canadian military aircraft colours and markings (without which no home should be). This time, and for the totally appropriate "Double Ugly Books" he and Andreas Klein Have covered in glorious colour the schemes and markings of Phantoms of the U S Navy's Atlantic and Pacific Fleets between 1960 and 2004. A brief introduction covers the history oUS Navy Phantoms, Martin & Kleinf the Phantom, the successive variants used by the navy, their colour schemes and markings and the organisation and the wings assigned to the carriers of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets; then the photos start. From VF-11 to VF-302 there are thirty-two fighter squadrons wearing light gull gray over white, and coloured strpes, badges and devices to proclain thir "ownership", each with a brief history of the unit including the time both before and after the Phantom; and there are fifteen other units, from the Blue Angels to the Naval Air Test Facility, also described and illustrated whose F-4s carry a varied array of colours and markings. While nearly all the illusrations are colour photos, most units also have a colour profile drawing, but though I've looked through the book carefully I've not been able to find an attribution to the highly competent artist. Looking through the pages it's not difficult to understand the appeal of the F-4 for modellers, not only because of its purposeful shape but also the heraldry which it wore through its many years, and particularly with the US Navy, and I can easily understand the legend of the Scots modeller who, twenty-five years or more ago, was reputed to have built 175 "double ugly" models. If you get this book - and I strongly recommend it - you may find yourself inspired to look through boxes on and under tables at model shows for pre--owned Phantom kits and decals to take you back fifteen or twenty years in your modelling life. And if for some reason the USN colours don't appeal it's widely rumoured that there's an F-4K/M volume in preparation. The standard of photo selection, preparation and production is excellent, and I would look forward to a red, white and blue volume.

For some reason my scanner split the front cover in to two segments - so to be absolutely sure that you've picked up the right one, here's the back cover!

USN Phantoms, Martin and Klien, back cover

Lightning - not striking twice!

Towards the end of the Friday afternoon at the last ScaleModelWorld (aka Telford), when of course by tradition no money changes hands, I heard a strong rumour that someone had a 1:72nd Fujimi F-35B kit, probably from the HobbyLinkJapan stand; when I traced and then found the stand, the cupboard was of course bare. At that time, of course, it was still the apparent intention of Their Airships, and their Friends in Dark Blue, to have a number of these in hand just in case the projected carriers survived what many of us believed would be successive rounds of financial stringency guided by that nice young man in Number 11 (or Lockheed Martin F-35B 4 Sqn RAF 202110, or both), but I always had 4 Squadron's markings in mind for my model, with their dramatic lightning flash, and let's face it 1's had not been desperately dramatic over the years, or at least not until their disbandment (is that irony?).

Having consulted mon ami mate Mike Verier, who has I know long been a satisfied customer, on the subject of dealing with HobbyLinkJapan across the miles (across the kilometres doesn't sound right, does it?) I went on to their website and duly looked up the Fujimi kit, still as far as I know the only one of this variant in 1:72nd, and found that the only examples in stock were of the "deluxe" boxing which had a bit of etched metal, notably for that big lift fan just behind the cockpit; the slightly more basic boxing was out of stock and was expected to be available again in six to eight weeks (six to eight weeks later it's still listed as backordered). So with a flash of impatience I ordered the slightly more expensive version and was impressed by the speed with which it reached this end of Bucks County and, when I had feverishly torn off its wrappings, with the contents of the box.

As well as etched metal this edition came with a pair of transparencies, one slightly smoked for that added air of mystery. Assembly was straightforward, and I found that the locating pin/socket joins quite substantial, and very positive: it wasn't until I revisited the HLJ website around the time I finished the model that I found that the kit had been designed as a push-fit, perhaps because the latest iteration appears to be of an F-35B in a Japanese cartoon strip or series. It comes with opening weapons bay doors, and a pair of AMRAAMs and a couple of dumb bombs; the doors above and below the lift fan can also be fixed open, though the latter is difficult when the weapons bay doors are also open (charitably perhaps the kit designer didn't see the likelihood of this happening) but the pair of auxiliary intake doors behind the lift fan are not provided and it didn't take long to 4 Sqn F-35B on grass, 2021decide not to scratch-build them.

I suspect that if the order had gone ahead the finish would have been in standard American grays rather that British camouflage greys; nevertheless basing it on the final Harrier scheme I used the latter. The decals, including the 4 Squadron bars, came from an Xtradecal Hunter set, and the fins were hand-painted; please, no magnifying glass. As far as I know this is at the moment the only 1:72nd kit of a production F-35 - of any variant - on the market. I presume others will appear; I have a feeling that Trumpeter have, or have at least projected, a 35C in 1:48th, and if true this would I hope lead to something similar in 1:72nd. Should this happen, I shall I'm sure be able to turn out an 800 NAS/Naval Strike Wing-marked example, probably carrying the titles of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Q talcode of Queen Elizabeth.

I still think a cross-operating 35B would be better -

4 Sqn F-35B, "Queen Elisabeth" 2021

something like this!

But then I'm starting to think that the" What If?" SIG is becoming the "What Should Have Been!" SIG


You may recall that when I started composing I had a "press" section in which I tried to cover the "new" issues of several of the modelling magazines, and occasionally aviation/historical ones, as they appeared on UK newsagents' shelves; but as this started to give me increasing oppressive deadlines, albeit self-inflicted, and comments that seemed to be repetetive month-on-month, I abandoned the idea. This hasn't stopped me taking them of course, helped by the apparently automatic extention of the arm combined with the clutching fingers when I pass the dedicated shelves in whichever newsagents my legs lead me into - never past! - on the appropriate day. The habit is still there, but I've realised slowly over the last month or so that I'm no longer sure what I'm looking forward to finding when I peeled back the cover. Perhaps I should try to revive the habit that I tried so hard to eradicate in the children many years ago of treating W H Smith as a library or at least taking a little time, however precious that commodity, to read a liitle more of the contents before investing.

Not that I don't use W H Smith still as a resource - management jargon comes back so easily! - and any visit there naturally starts with a scan of the appropriate shelves. Mind you its not always easy to find the shelf wanted, even in a familiar branch, and there are at least four around me so that I can spread my custom a little; but much in the same way that it was reputed that the first act of a new CAS was to rearrange the buttons of the Best Blue, it seems that an incoming manager likes to reshuffle the magazine display to present regular customers with a challenge. The covers of the magazines for which I'm looking, if not necessarily buying, have "house styles" that have become familiar over the years, but these change too, frequently with a new editor, taking a few uncertain lurches before settling. Looking at the piles arranged round my comfy chair recently, part of another vain hope to get them at least partly sorted, it occurred to me to wonder what others, infrequent buyers perhaps or even new to the magazines, see when they look at them.

The cover was one of the regular discussion points around the table of "revived SAM" in the mid-nineties, revolving usually about how much information/text to put on it and the overall look. Of those that I generally look at on the shelves the one that has at the moment the most visual appeal to me is almost always the current Scale Aircraft Modelling (my reservations about some aspects of its contents remain, but that's aother page entirely) and this carries over for me in to the "look" of the inside; I have my reservations about an over-large proportion of white space, and pictures at the expense of explanatory and informative text, but to me the whole looks good, helped no doubt by the use of good paper. Of the others around at the moment, I like the use of box-art, or a derivation, by the Airfix Magazine, making good use of the parent group's resources. It may come as little surprise to you to read that I think that Glenn Sands and his team are aiming at the segment of the readership that I feel is neglected - no, not necessarily Sherman and GT 40 buffs - and while it may not compare with those in the Playboy of my mis-spent and far-off youth, I do like the centrefold, notably the current one of the Valiant, but then when/if I get around to making and writing up the kit you'll realise that I'm prejudiced - again! While I understand the wish to put as much information on the front to interest as wide a readership as possible, some covers are becoming more and more untidy. And in this aspect I'm increasingly reminded in of my favourite book review, from an eight-year-old girl who was given a book on penguins; "this book tells me more than I need to know about penguins"


Retro Sunshine

OK, we moan about the weather but it really does seem that the last two years in the UK - at least at my end, I wouldn't presume to speak for anyone north of a Telford - Waddington axis - have been substantially grey; it's bad enough that we have to put up with aeroplanes that colour without skies to match, but we don't seem to have had much of a choice in either! However, the opportunity presented itself for me to re-enter a Technicolor world in February when I joined an Ian Allan tour to San Diego for the first of the events commemorating the Centennial of US Naval aviation, and in celebration of which more than twenty current aircraft have been specially repainted in historic, and frequently colorful, color schemes. Combine the pre-event publicity for this which showed a pair of T-45 Goshawks in 1930's "yellow wing" markings with the possibility of Southern Californian sunshine in February, and the resulting strain on the piggy-bank became inevitable! While there were another couple of events, or at least visits, in the same box it was the happenings at or around the North Island Naval Air station on Coronado that S-3B VX-30, San Diego 11.02.11that were a real lift to the spirits, and resulted in the expenditure of many pixels, which I hope will come in handy as the decal sheets emerge over the next few months. The first, for the S-3B shown, is already on the market, but is in 1:48th (I hope that the US decalmeisters, who have doubtless been working on these for some time, don't ignore the smaller scale).

I'll add some more here in the next month or so, but it'll have to be something of a drip feed; please have patience! Transferred 10.08.11

Sir Sydney's heavyweight

There are some aeroplanes, or at least designs, that impress themselves on the sub-, or perhaps semi-, consciousness for whatever reason and won't go away. For me one such, not surprisingly, is a Hawker design of the late 'fifties that never really got off the ground in the metaphorical sense, never mind the literal; I was taken slightly aback reading recently that it was never really supported by the RAF, and although Hawkers had faith in it when central funding from the Ministry of the time was cut off the decided that they couldn't afford to pursue it as a private venture. Pictures of the mock-up are fairly well known, but there were not many parts fabricated; these are reputed to have gone to Cranfield but unlike Supermarine's not-quite-equivalent the 545, which hung around for a while, the Hawker's parts seem to have passed swiftly in to oblivion. I must have been aware of it first through an article in the old RAF Flying Review, and probably a cancellationHawker Siddekey Tempest F.2 228 OCU 1993 feature in the Air Pictorial, and these would have been reinforced with the appearance of Derek Wood's Project Cancelled and the companion account of what could have been in the 1976 RAF Yearbook, in which the illustrations by the excellent Wilf Hardy included a camouflaged P.1121 wearing the markings of 74 Squadron escorting (of course) a TSR.2. It may have been here that it was first described as a potential "British Phantom", not only in RAF service but in terms of possible overseas sales, and it was this thought that's always been behind any models that I've made (or planned), including the Maintrack/Whirlykit vacforms.

With the relatively recent publication of the "Fighters" volume in the Midland Publishing "British Secret Projects" series by the invaluable Tony Buttler, there has been a rise in the availability of models, particularly in resin, of aircraft in this category, championed by Freightdog and Anigrand, and spurred I'm sure, by the resin bits produced for the Airfix TSR.2 by Neil Robinson's Model Aircraft Monthly. Having dropped many, many hints that I would really like an 1121 - in 1:72nd, obviously - I was slightly encouraged when a 1:144th one came from Anigrand as a "extra" with the Nimrod AEW.3, but when the tyHawker Siddeley P.1121 Tempest F.2 228 OCUpe arrived in the Really True And Traditional Scale it came from from an unexpected source, Mel Bromley's S & M Models (no, I've never dared ask). Mel's been issuing decals, mostly for civil subjects - though he did put out a couple of TSR.2 sets - for some time, and has produced a 1:144th Viscount, a Tay conversion for it and an Ashton in the same scale, but as far as I know this is his first 1:72nd kit. In theory it was to be released at last month's Southern Expo, but the first run was virtually pre-sold before the show opened; when I went to pick up my (ordered) two well before the doors opened on the Saturday morning they were the last two 1121 boxes on the table, and I left them there as long as I could To Encourage The Others, but fortunately Mel had laid out the pieces of the kit for inspection. Judging by the comments around me while I was there, I wasn't the only one to admire the evident standard of casting, and in particular the panel detail; it didn't take me long to get the first out of its substantial box once I got home, though I did observe the family proprieties by attending my granddaughter's third birthday party first. I had hoped all along to get at least one ready to place on the What If? SIG table at Cosford this coming weekend, and had had plenty of time to decide to consider possible camouflage and marking schemes. Each kit has an Xtrakit decal set X72047 for the Hunter FGA.9/FR.10 included, but I was convinced that a Phantom unit would be at least as, if not more, appropriate as one that had flown its Kingston predecessor; I may well look closely at the SAM (later Xtradecal) sets for the early Hunters, but my Plan A was to cover the F-4Ms colour schemes with one camo and one grey aircraft, and possibly a second camo. While I have two more F-4M squadrons in mind, I like the 228 OCU's boss's aircraft with the go-faster stripes, and it's in keeping with my other Master Plan of using wherever possible post-WWII markings of disbanded, and unlikely to be reformed, fighter squadrons; and of course the markings are from a source which likewise I like to use wherever possible, Modeldecal (in this case set 95, which also gave me all ther shades-of-grey colouring details, with a small side order of 65).

The breakdown of the kit is similar to most of its current equivalents. The fuselage is in two hollow halves, with cockpit bathtub, seat and stick, and tailpipe and intake. The flying surfaces are single-thickness, with locating pins and sockets that I find a great help when making what is otherwise a simple butt joint. The four underwing tanks have thier pylons as part of each casting, and they are handed to take account of the anhedral. There are two one-sided sheets of instructions, one in colour with the presumed grey/green/silver camouflage pattern and the other a nicely-drawn schematic exploded line drawing with a bare but useful minimum of text notes. I found that fixing the fuselage halves needed to be done in four stages to get the best fit, the curvature of the cross-section of the halves being very slightly different; it's possible that this could have beeb sorted with immersion in hot water, but the stick, clamp, set and stick again worked very well, and I only needed a little filler under the forward fuselage and around the back edge of the intake.

While I'm familiar with the scale plan in the Barry Hygate Britsh Experimental Jet Prototypes, which I looked at while I was making this, I'd forgotten how big this aircraft would have been. I took it in its semi-finished state to an old friend of mine who isn't a What If? addict, and he remarked on its resemblance to the Hunter; looked at in this light it has, in spite of its broader chord and under-nose intake, marked family similarities, especially when thinking of the P.1109 with its radar nose, and next to a standard Hundar - XF317, what else? - it's about 50% bigger just about everywhere.P.1121 & Hunter While the prototype would have had a de Havilland Gyron, the production version would probably have been powered by either an Olympus or a Conway; and I was very pleased to find that Mel had used the plan of the production version, with the "dog-tooth" leading edge extensions carried over from its predecessor. I thought about adding armament, including finding space for a gun or two, but decided to leave this for a later model. As so often with a resin kit, my preferred option of making a multiplicity of an interesting aircraft in a variety of markings is constrained by the cost; the S&M 1121 is priced at £45.00, which is well in line with equivalent kits. I shall almost certainly convince myself that I can't do without a fourth, to ensure that I can include an early production one with silver undersides and an 2TAF unit marking; and I want to see if I can hang a Freightdog Green Cheese under one of the others. But a fifth would be a bit much - wouldn't it?

This account seems likely to appear almost as a serial. My second 1121, as almost previewed above, wears what is virtually a Hunter scheme, with silver undersides; my original idea was to have it look like a freshly-delivered Phantom, but realised that by then light aircraft grey was the standard under colour, but I want to apply that, albeit with red/blue "tactical" roundels (and the forecast Green Cheese). While shuffling through a box of fairly loose decals, I discovered at an early stage the sheet from a Fujimi F-4M which had 41 Squadron markings with a crown on the fin, and a sharkmouth that probably came from an unexpected stay in the Akrotiri Engineering P.1121 41 Squadron, with Red Tops Wing. A pair of Red Tops, probably ex-Lightning, were fitted to Hasegawa launch rails attached to pylons that had been surgically removed from the larger underwing tanks that came with the kit, but I though that this wasn't really much of a warload for what would have been a very large and comparatively long range fighter; I've therefore implanted a couple of 30 mm Adens just below the wing root leading edges, and they will also appear in "Red 3" (Mel Bromley's identification of my next 1121). My original plan was to attach a reconnaisance pod just like 41's Phantoms. bur couldn't make one fit to my satisfaction. Two other P.S.s; the vacform canopy in this kit was noticeably thinner than that in my first, and the serial properly belongs, I know, to an F-4M. This was originally because I couldn't find even one of my three copiesHawker P.1121, 41 Squadron of the Bruce Robertson Book of Blackout Blocks, to ensure that that no one could point at it and say "but that was an XYZ!".The 1121 has been referred to, especially when talking of the chance of missed export orders, as a "British Phantom"; XV422 was on an early Modeldecal set, and therefore saved me having to build a serial one alpha-numeric at a time, and that particular aircraft was responsible for me getting to make the occasion contribution to Dick Ward's researches, and getting to know him much better in the process. And "Red 4" will come!

Meanwhile, "Red 3" becomes a brief addendum to this "Pick" before it's hived off to the Vaults to make way for a new one. I had already planned to finish my third 1121 in wraparound camouflage with red/blue "tactical" roundels when the Freightdog"Green Cheese" stand-off missile became available and I decided to see if I could hang one under a Hawker P.1121 98 SQn Jever with Green Cheesewing; this just fitted, though you wouldn't want it to get too close to the runway lights on an overweight take-off. Background reading, first in "British Secret Projects: Missiles etc." and then in the new "Vulcan's Hammer" revealed that although studies were done to carry it on an underwing mounting on the Valiant, as an anti-ship weapon it's principal carriers were to be the Gannet (though I don't think this plan lasted very long) and more probably the Buccaneer. Given that I wanted to use a 2TAF squadron and base, I did ponder a bit on my backstory, until I decided that the aircraft so fitted could have been based at Jever for strikes against hostile naval forces, possibly fast patrol ships, in the Baltic, even if it meant a high-speed dash across the bottom end of Denmark to reach the target. And because whenever possible I want to use the markings of a defunct RAF squadron (sadly, there's an increasing choice) I found those of 98 Squadron, which was of cours98 Sqn Cerberus on Hawker P.1121e a Jever Wing Hunter squadron, on the SAM/Xtradecal 2TAF Hunter sheet, and after much head-scratching and serious delving in to my bitsadecals box a slightly tattered remnant of Modeldecal set 28, with the markings for 98 Canberra when it was part of the Signals Command flight checking fleet. Importantly, this had the Cerberus marking from the squadron badge that you see on the 1121's fin. This brings my initial run of 1121s to a stop - though "Red 4" still lurks close to the workbench, and the nose seems ideal for the 34 Squadron wolf and arrowhead - and I'm very grateful to Mel Bromley for producing in resin a model I've wanted to make for some time. (If you check on Mr.Hannants' Future Releases you'll see that S&M are proposing the Sperrin, the Avro 730 and a VC.7/V.1000 in 1:144th, though I can raise absolutely no enthusiasm for the Avro Ashton). Transferred 31.07.11

Post ModelKraft

For the last several months much of my modelling, and in particular its timing, has been heavily influenced by The Next Show, and driven to a considerable extent by the wish to get something ready for the displays of SIG144 and/or the What If? SIG. The light gull grays and the X-wing above were timed for the Milton Keynes show; the X-wing made another appearance on the 144 table at Hinckley, which was a late decision when I worked out that I could call in from a previous night's hilarity at Wilmslow (an IAHawker Siddely P.1154 Harriers, 8/43 and 80 SquadronsT air traffic reunion, but that's another story) and for which I also managed to ready an F-RSIN Comet 1X in RCAF colours. I had also finished a couple of Freightdog P.1154s, following the arrival of the corrected 80 Squadron Hornet markings from Freightdog (maroon rather than purple) which I'd fancied doing since I was told by that indefatigable researcher Paul Lucas that 80 had been one of the possible squadrons selected for the Harrier, probably before it became the 1127 rather than the 1154). Having squirreled away the armament set for the 1154 with its raHS P.1154 Harrier FR.1, 8/43 Squadron Adenther unusual gun pack - sadly I'm told that this package, which also included radar Red Tops, is no longer available - a recent evening at the Milton Keynes Aviation Society with a one-time Aden-based Hunter FGA.9 driver suggested that, with the gunpack, a pair of PJ Hunter 100 gallon tanks and two SNEB rocket pods 8/43 markings from the recent Xtradecal T.7 sheet would look appropriate. By chance I still had the two models in the car, and though there was no What If? stand at Hinckley one of our number had an area on the Coventry and Warwickshire IPMS stand, so they made an unexpected guest appearance!

With the imminence of Cosford this pair of Anigrands, the Boeing RB-55D with the presumably spurious markings and the Vought Templar F.1 - 892 NAS, Ark Royal 1978 - have come nicely to the surface (there will be more about these after Vought Templar F.1 892 NAS 1978the weekend). Oh, yes, and there's a Hawker in the Mike's Pick section. It's probably time to go and curl up with a warm cat.


Anigrand are very good with their trailers, and there's usually time to think about their announced forthcoming events (it's also fun, with the 1:144th kits, trying to recognise the "extras" from their plan view silhouettes). For me, it gives me the opportunity to decide on a probable finish before I order, and by and large if I can't decide on this I pass. I liked the idea of a big turboprop Stratojet, and like several of my What If? I've been intrigued by those photos of the RB-45s at Sculthorpe wearing RAF markings, and particularly in one version a fin flash the size of a small tennis court! B-47s were based in the UK, and one of my instructors had tales of those based at Brize roaring through the circuit at Little Rissington. From there it needed a very small leap to draw those two strands together and ensure that my RB-55D had a few unexplained extra lumps and - although you can't see them in this photo - a selection of different-sized camera ports in the forward bomb bay, and let me use a "mystery" scheme thar had fascinated me for a long time on an aircraft that seems entirely possible.

You know how I like getting kits when they're *NEW*, and that was how the XB-55 came to me; however I'd passed on Anigrand's 1:72nd Super Crusader when it first appeared, and the impetus for this one came from a book, one of Steve Ginter's excellent Naval Fighters series. I have a substantial shelf-full of these, going back to Number 1 on the F11F Tiger, - and of the series on its USAF counterparts, I wouldn't like you to think I'm prejudiced - and I picked up Number 87 on the LTV F8U-3 "Super Crusader" at Southern Expo, considering finishing one in Aeronavale colours (Modeldecal). Checking the Hannants website for the Anigrand kit's availabilty I found that there were just two left, and by this time I'd read enough of the text to find that a Conway-powered version had been proposed to the Fleet Air Arm at the time they were considering the Spey-Phantom. The Last Two was an obvious Sign, so I bought the pair and decided that I'd try to get one finished for Cosford, with the help of the Model Alliance F-4K set of decals which included the "Colonial Navy"-marked aircraft of 892 NAS on Ark Royal in 1978, another finish that I'd had in mind for a long time.The 892 markings for the Phantom reflected that it would be the last FAA fixed-wing fighter unit, but I was predicating an alternative history with a continuing RN aviation, and therefore the omega would have been inappropriate; fortunately the squadron's previous marking was on the Xtradecal Sea Vixen sheet, and is attractive in its own right.

Watch out - there's politics about!

At about the same time as the RB-55D I started the Anigrand SentineRatheon Sentinel R.1 5 Squadron disbandment, Akrotiri 2017l, another primary subject in the 1:144th series. I'd had my thoughts on this for a while - in spite of the lumps and bumps I think it's quite a good looking aircraft - but It wasn't until the results of the Defence Review were published (as distinct from leaked) that I discovered that the type's service with 5 Squadron, and therefore the life of that squadron, was seriously limited. I had considered applying 54 Squadron markings, to one side at least, before the announcement but realised that the only real option woSentinel R.1 5 Squadron disbandment 2017uld be a scheme to mark 5's disbandment - which I have scheduled for 2017 at Akrotiri on the grounds that the wily Colonel will last at least that long. Given 5's fin marking, from the Javelin onwards, and bearing in mind what I could lift from various decal sets, the result was heavily influenced by the final 1 Squadron Harrier ( the choice of the next canvas for that unit's marks is a horse of a different kettle altogether).


The non-tin triangle

As you may know, I have a habit of taking to shows - except of course ScaleModelWorld, where it is strictly forbidden - a bag, or sometimes two, of kits to put under the table for disposal; given that whatever plastic I rid myself of somehow gets transmuted in to resin, I like to think of it as recycling. This happened at the recent Shropshire Show at Cosford, when thanks to Freightdog Models I found myself unexpectedly with an Anigrand A-12 Avenger; I know I've already made one, but not only can I not find it, but I can't remember its origin, though I suspect it might have been a Planet Model. This one was a bargain - somewhat less than the current standard retail price - and for once I bought it without knowing how I was going to finish it, and I strongly suspected that what ever the provenance of the earAvenger II retro VC-82 markings late 2011lier model it would have been gray, whic I really wouldn't want to repeat. It wasn't until I was contemplating some of the San Diego centennial photos that I was struck by the blindingly obvious; if McDonnell, GD and the Navy's auditors had sorted out their finances Avengers could have been in sevice with one at least eligible and available for this year's fashionable "retro" colour scheme. It would of course have to wear the markings of a TBF/TBM unit. and searching the Hannants website revealed two Superscale decals sets that were quickly in the post (along with an F-86E-10, but that's A-12 Avenger retro VC-82 colors, 2011Another Story); my original intention had been to have a three-color camouflage, like that superb Growler, but I found a little difficulty in deciding where the dividing lines on the A-12's smooth and subtle surface should be. So sea blue gloss it is then, with the white arrow markings of the TBMs of VT-82 om USS Bennington in 1945 being particularly suitable for the McDD/GD triangle (it won't show in the pictures, but the arrows, as well as being above and below the wings, are repeated at the sharp end of the main undercarriage doors). Perhaps it'll show up if/when I go to Lemoore in October for a second burst of the centennial.

A-12, retro VC-82 markings late 2011

Travelling hopefully - or, am I nearly there yet?

"To travel hopefully is better than to arrive" is one of those sayings - said by whom I can't recall - that lie dozing in some fissure of the subconscious, emerging only at random and probably inappropriate intervals of their own choosing; it's probably no more true, either in content or accuracy, than that well-known misquotation "a little learning is a dangerous thing".

Settling down at the workbench with a freshly-opened box, and surrounded as often as not by plans or photos, I look forward to finishing whatever I'm just starting and these days, in theory at least, the choice of what come next is mine. There's a picture of the finished model(s) and of course colour schemes - sometimes an unresolved choice - in my head, and if at all possible a timescale at the end of which I'll pass on to whatever's next, or at least a target date within the usual contraints and accuracy of British Planning. These days such dates are usually set around the next time I expect to to be able to put something on the table of either the What If?s or SIG144 - or occasionally both - and perhaps the possibility of having something to write up on the Workbench or even the Mike's Pick pages. At the time of writing I've been able in 2011 to take Something New to the shows at Milton Keynes, Shuttleworth, Hinckley and Cosford, though there's now something of a hiatus in prospect; because of the unaccountable coincidence of the Barnet show at the Hendon Museum and the first of the year's air displays at Duxford, and my next modelling excursion may not be until Yate in August. The shows just gone have each resulted in a flurry of activity - much of which has been reflected in these e-pages - with, usually, the briefest of interludes before any space on the workbench is quickly filled. Sometimes there's a period of palpable relief, and it'll take me a week or so to clear my head and return to the whittling, though part of the recovery technique may involve a little additional recearch, or even a slight (total) change of plan; I've always appreciated Harold Macmillan's comment, "Events, dear boy, events"!

I keep more or less to my Rule of Three, but there has recently been the odd temporal glitch which has meant that I've had to put one or two models aside while I've sorted out my (usually self-inflicted) problems, and returning them to the cutting mat for the resolution of whatever's kept them off it has resulted in a sudden congestion of space and time, and another necessary decision or three on the order in which I attend to them (a Tardis would sometimes be handy). Hurrying of course, especially if I'm trying to catch up which often seems to involve my working standing up (rather than taking the time to clear the chair) is an absolute boon to the Carpet Monster; it was because of one of the beast's earlier forays that I had to get a replacement windscreen for my Anigrand Sentinel which you should find - any day now - on the workbench in the colours worn for 5 Squadron's disbandment parade (Akrotiri, October 2017, as you ask). This has spent the last month-and-a-half resting just off the assembly line and missing, sadly, the SIG144 tables at Hinckley and Cosford which had been my primary and secondary targets when I started the model. Similarly half-sidelined at the moment is the second of my S&M Hawker P.1121s, known for the purposes of this entertainment as the Hawker Siddeley Tempest F.1 (because had it come in to service the RAF would still have had a Hurricane, or two, still on its charge). Having finished my first in a late greys scheme, my second is a very early production aircraft in grey/green/silver straight off the Dunsfold line and delivered to 41 Squadron; having decided to put a pair of Red Tops on the inboard pylons, it struck me that wasn't really much of a load for a fighter of its range and weight, and it should have at least two 30 mm Adens (all missile armament, pah!), and this of course meant finding somewhere to put them. For me the obvious position would be in the rear of the "crease" half way up the fuselage and immediately behind the intake, but the model is virtually fully painted, and I'm reluctant to perform even a minor excavation in that area unless I'm really convinced it's going to work. So I thought of a Cunning Plan; with the third kit not long arrived from S&M, and with the way in which I'd put the second together still relatively fresh in my memory, I'm assembling the fuselage of the third (2TAF, mid-'70s) and I'm going to try installing a pair of cannon troughs on the understanding that if I take it gently I can remedy it with a little judiciously applied filler.

This means that the 41 Squadron aircraft is currently taking up space without getting any further, and that the component parts of my next Master Plan - three, at least, camouflaged F-86s from Airfix, Hobbycraft and Academy, and a hitherto unsuspected addition to the US Navy's "retro"-finished fleet for this year's Centennial - are, if not in the hold, at least virtually hovering. Still, I continue to travel hopefully; and perhaps arriving exhausted, however briefly, is a natural artistic conclusion.


North Weald

As a variation on their excellent "From the Cockpit" series Ad Hoc have already published a "pictorial history" of Wattisham, and Treble One's "Black Arrows" make another appearance in this companion volume. Dave Eade, also the author of the earlier book, is a journalsit and aviation enthusiast, and his research - and presentation - is very impressive. the story starts in 1916 with the establishment of No.39 (Home Defence) Squadron as a counter to the Zeppelin raids on the capital and home counties, and has a hiatus after the Armistice with a drastic reduction in the newly fledged RAF. A slow expansion began in 1926, the new inhabitants being the Siskins of 56 and 29 Squadrons, and North Weald remained a fighter station until the RAF withdrew once more in 1964. The photographic coverage of the place, the people and the planes is excellent and, as we have come to expect from Ad Hoc, very well prepared and presented, and is accompanied by a considerable number of colour profiles by publisher Roger Chesneau that show, perhaps incidentally, the changes in fighter colours and markings over forty-two years of the story until 111 took its Hunters to Wattisham in 1958, a year after the disbandment of Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadrons that had been major contributors to the airfield's history; and it's a one-time 601 Squadron pilot that has contributed the foreword. The RAF finally left in 1964, but the airfield's continuing use is also covered in the book, and it's good that warplanes from North Weald's most active period still fly from there. For me, perhaps not unexpectedly, the really fascinating part of the book is the account but the then CO Roger Topp of the setting up of a 111 Squadron aerobatic team and its becoming the Black Arrows, the team which established a DNA which has been the template for its successors to this this day (and I was there for that display at Farnborough). This is another Ad Hoc publication which can be unhesitatingly recommended for both content and style; where next, I wonder?

The Backstory So Far.....

It must have been in the days of Toad Resins that I first got involved in tales of action reputedly involving some of the types of aircraft that came from that early supplier of Luftwaffe project models; having read one or two I even think I contributed a couple to The Toad myself. Lee Bagnall's A5 magazine continued with this theme, but I think that the first book that I came across was John Baxter's "The Alternate Luftwaffe", which gave a coherent continuous counterfactual account based as I recall on General Walter Wever not being killed in a crash, but being a substantial counter-Goering force in their service's development. Followed by two books on the Tragerflotten, German Naval Aviation in World War II and an excursion in to RAAF/RAN participation in the smaller Asian conflicts of the 'sixties and 'seventies, John has now extended his first theme with an account of his alternate Luftwaffe's service in North Africa and the Middle East, illustrated - like his second edition of the Alternate Luftwaffe - with the use of models, often in dramatic settings (I particularly like this cover!).

Following the scene-setting introduction there are sixteen tales/scenarios, with place names familiar to those of us who lived through the period of the North African campaign or have followed its course since. Some of the aircraft that John Baxter uses in these stories are those that were there in real life, and others include some which flew in prototype form like the Heinkel He 119, which looks really good in desert colours, and some which were just projects such as the Gotha Go 267Kamel and the Henschel Hs 167 canard Schnellbomber. The Arado Ar 239 featured on the cover is in effect a pusher piston-engined predecessor of the Arado E.555 - for which many of us are indebted to Revell - and while it didn't exist even as a project it looks convincing, and plays a good part in these tales. The illustrations, including an eight page colour section, have involved a dedicated group of modellers, largely I gather in the Melbourne area, and their widely varied and very high quality models illustrated in appropriate settings, the whole enterprise a model of ingenuity! We are promised two further books in this sequence, covering the Eastern Front and the introduction of jets, and another volume of Tragerflotten; and for variety one on the Alternate RAAF and RAN in the South-West Pacific 1942-46. This one will include the Mitsubishi Brumby, which has I seem to remember made a brief appearance earlier, and which is fully explained in Alternate Luftwaffe 3 (so that's what a Brumby is).

Like John Baxter's earlier books this is well-thought out and entertaining, and is very convincing once you accept the premise of slight variations on what we believe really happened. I took the copy which John had kindly sent me to the IPMS Milton Keynes show at the beginning of February, and it certainly aroused interest; UK stockist is Wendy Myers of the Aviation Book Centre, and her price is expected to be around £24.00. Enjoy!

Delta Demon

When a new volume in Tony Buttler's "Secret Projects" series falls in to my hot little hands, one of my first reactions is to pick out, probably only semi-consciously, a design that I'd really like to model, and I'm sure that there are other modellers, certainly those of the Counterfactual Tendency, who have similar thoughts; while an almost simultaneous reaction is to hope that Mr. Anigrand or Captain Freightdog have had the same response, there is sometimes the possibilty of kitbashing a subject and when the American Fighters book appeared I started to cannibalise an Emhar Demon and a Hasegawa F-102 to produce a McDonnell Model 60. Sadly I wasn't able to marry the necessary parts to my satisfaction, and laid the semi-completed sections to one side, without even separating the pair of Fujimi Cutlass fins from their frame, though I still thought that a model of this design would look good in USN squadron markings, and I was sure that I had a sheet of F3H decals squirrelled away somewhere. I was delighted therefore when I saw a reference to a Sharkit of the type; though I've not always been a fan of their productions they have chosen some interesting subjects and I was very pleased to find from their website that, unlike their Avro 730, this did have an undercarriage. You will see from the photos that the sharp end is virtually the same as that of the Demon; what did surprise me was how much smaller the rest of the airframe is. The kit offers the possibility of folding wing tips, but I decided to fix mine extended, but I am increasingly minded to make a second and if I do I'll almost certainly build it folded. The design as described in Buttler seemed to carry neither guns nor external missiles, and it's suggested that bays below the cockpit or behind the intakes would have housed unguided folding-fin rockets; I thought aboMcDonnell Model 60ut adding at least two 20 mm cannon troughs, and i intended to add a pair of early Sparrows on wing pylons as carried by some F3Hs - the Ginter "Naval Fighters" book was very useful when considering such alternatives - but the remnants of the Emhar kit from which I took the Demon nose have unaccountably gone in to hiding. If it turns up I'll use them on my second; I'll probably need to use the tanks as well, this version because of its small size looking distinctly short on range!

The kit is quite good, and could be made better with more patience and less haste on the part of the modeller. The biggest problem I had with the fit was with the rather large vacformed canopy; fortunately there's a spare which I pressed in to service when I'd trimmed too much of the edge of the first one, but it's still slightly too wide for the fuselage and even though I sat holding it carefully in place while attaching it it's still not quite right on its starboard sill. The very early Demons, and the box art for the Model 60, wore gloss sea blue, but I wanted to revive my long-lived attachment to Light Gull Gray/White; I found decals for Banshee - which would at least have kept it in the family - and Skyray and there is a sheet of Demon markings by Almark still available from Hannants and, having little faith in being able to find those that I knew I had somewhere when I needed them, I duly added these to my shopping basket. Then of course I found the Xtradecal set. They both had the markings for the VF-41/100 aircraft, and in most cases they fitted, more or less; the stripe across the upper fuselage needed trimming at both ends, and the "CAG" colours on the rudders were slightly too short and not quite the right sweep, but having had this scheme in mind all along I wasn't going to let little details like that put me off. I used the BuAer number of the Demon, and the decal could well read F3H-3, unless of course it was being inspected by a contest judge. I'm still trying to select an alternative name, but I lile the look of the model, and I see that they've still got the odd one on the shelves at Lowestoft; VF-213, perhaps?


Little Big Cat

The second model in this Light Gull Gray Selection Box is in some ways a reverse of the first, in that the kit came before I consulted the reference. As a devoted follower of the Anigrand Craftswork "Future Releases" section, my attention was caught a while back with their announcement of the Boeing XB-55, which appeared to be a four-turboprop B-47, and when the "breakdown of parts" was posted it showed, accompanying the Bell XV-3 and the F5D Skylancer as an "extra" a rather large twin-engined fighter of uncertain origin. It wasn't until the details of the kit emerged on the Hannants website that I saw it referred to as an F12F-1 Lion, following the Tiger in Grumman's sequence of big cats. Going directly to Buttler's American Fighters, I failed to find it in the index and it took a nudge in the right direction following a baffled e-mail for me to realise that it was the Grumman Type 118 (apparently the F12F designation was used by the Navy for more than one Grumman project, but presumably not concurrently) and covered, complete with three-view, on pages 127/128. Consultation with mon ami mAnigrand F12F-1, VF-84 "jolly Rogers"ate Mike Verier, who gets much of his 144th stuff from Foreign Parts, resulted in another trawl of Hannants' website to see what Revell Tomcats might be available, with a view to using their markings or weapons, or perhaps both. The weapons have been saved for possible future use, but The "Jolly Rogers" skull and crossbones has always been a favourite USN marking of mine, equal only to VF-111 Sundowners' rising sun and sharkmouth and the VX-4 Playboy bunny. The markings fitted well on the F-12F (F-12?) and I'm pleased with the overall result. I wonder how that high-set tailplane would have fared in combat; I have a fancy for an F12F-2 with a low-set tail, rather like an F-100, and after all I've got not only the Revell kit markings but also sets from FCM and Fightertown. More possibilities, more decisions!

Am I sure that's what they thought I meant?

You will I'm sure know by now how much I appreciate the advantages of getting together in groups from time to time; after all I started my writing life as IPMS Branch Liason Officer with a column in the back of SAM extolling the virtues of meetings, and while these days when I'm involved personally it's with a Special Interest Group or two there's the same opportunities for cross-fertilisation of ideas. I wouldn't like them to take any of the blame for this, but the model here originated with a conversation at I think the Brampton show which subsequently drew in Mike Verier and the Venerable Kit Spackman.

The spark was the Royal Naval Air Service E-2C of 849 NAS D Flight, HMS Prince of Wales; the Rafale, you will recall, was from the Queen Elisabeth. There was a discussion on what alternatives there might be in yet another parallel universe, and I mentioned that I'd always wanted to have a try at an AEW Osprey, but without buying a Hawkeye for the radome - though since then I could have used much of it in a Greyhound conversion - I was stymied. It was at this point that Kit thought that he might have a spare radome and pylon at home that he could well do without, and it wasn't long before it was sitting expectantly on one side of the workbench. The basic kit came from a dusty shelf, and I started it some time ago, but promptly mislaid one of the rotor hubs (and it still hasn't surfaced). This would have happened around the time I put it on one side to ensure that some of my other models were finished by Telford. Post-Telford the next insistent deadline was the ModelKraft show at Milton Keynes at the beginning of February, highlighted by the strong probablity of Kit being there with the SIG, and my thought of showing him what I'd done with his generous contribution. Positioning the radome was a matter of my old managerial friend, the least bad solution; by the time i'd concluded that mounting it above the wing centre section really wouldn't work, the remaining USN AEW EV-22d Ospreyoption was to copy the rearward placing not unlike the An-74, and while I have severe doubts as to its aerodynamic characteristics "unstable" appears to be the norm these days and I'm sure that Bell, Boeing and Grumman between them could find a control solution. I did invert the fins to avoid either their beheading by the radome or a really stalky pylon mounting.

About the time I'd built the Royal Naval Hawkeye I'd bought a really colourful decal sheet for USN E-2s which included a very fetching stars-and-stripes design reaching back from the cockpit, and this was my first choice when I'd decided that this would wear stars and bars; however the undercarriage "sponsons" got in the way so I settled happilly on the red and white markings of VAW-124 "Bear Aces", whose emblem fitted neatly on the fins. I also, with some juggling, managed to find appropriate places on the fuselage for the carrier name and rather small national markings. All this done, it appeared on the SIG table at MK eliciting interesting comments, which of course why it was there. I do have a second Italeri Osprey whose future I've been considering, and I may have to trawl under the tables at the Luton Air Enthusiasts' Fair, or even Southern Expo, for a third; seeing the C-2 Greyhounds at NAS North Island has given me ideas for a COD Osprey development, but I'm beginning to think in terms of a stretched fuselage and a quad-rotor layout. It's probably the insomnia.

The X-wing file

One of the joys of Anigrand continues to be the little 1:144th "extras" that accompany the larger aircraft in this scale, and as with the F12F above this BAE P.1214-3, to give it its full project designation, was a big bonus for me, included in their recent Sentinel kit. Again it comes with few parts and therefore didn't tax my impatience. It's a shape and a role, that of a "Harrier replacement", that I've always liked - it did have a conventionally swept equivalent, the 1214-6, but it didn't look nearly as dramatic - and while I made one in 1:72nd a year or two back thanks to resin parts made by one of our What If? SIG (and took the opportunity to name it Peregrine GR.1) the chance to make it again was irresistable; and the Sentinel will be with you shortly, as soon as I can find where I've put the transparency. This Peregrine is finished in the late Harrier scheme of Dark Sea Grey/Dark Camouflage Grey and 25 Squadron markings from the Xtradecal Tornado set, and the Sidewinders are from the small Revell Tornado GR.1; while 1:144th scale weapons sets as such are hard to find, these little kits are are very useful source of both weapons and markings, and I've recentbaE hARRIER gR.11, 63 sQNly added Tomcats and an AV-8B to a pile near my workbench for just these purposes. Now what I'd like is for Mr.Anigrand to produce a box of Hawkers with this, the P.1121 and the P.1185 Super Harrier already issued (sse right) combined preferably with the P. 1091 "Hunter delta". And by the way, Allen Ury's "Fantastic Plastic" website is promising a 1:72nd P.1214-3, cast by Anigrand for the end of the year; now would be a good time to start convincing Santa that you've been very, very good.

The end - for now

Stealth costs.

Subjects for this section, whether book or kit, often select themselves even before I see them. There was a resin Sukhoi T-50 on the Russian SIG table at the IPMS Brampton Branch show last September, beautifully made (by, I think, Ken Duffy) and finished in its "first flight" scheme, largely unpainted and with several panels in primer. Knowing then that I Had To Have One, enquires revealed it was a Russian kit and that it would probably be on the NeOmega Resin stand at ScaleModelWorld; and lo, it came to pass, and on the Friday afternoon I made sure that I could collect one from Gordon Upton on the Saturday morning.

When I first opened its box I thought that the major fuselage components at least were vacformed, an impression given by the quite large areas to be cut away from around the basic shape; it wasn't until I took a closer look that I found that these were all part of the darkish green resin casting, and the way in which it had been - very well - done meant that the breakdown of the body was in much the same manner as an injection-moulded kit. The instructions were almost totally pictorial, with what written notes there were were in Cyrillic script; they needed fairly careful study with one eye on the parts, and I found at some late that I'd omitted a couple of small parts which I think were partial cockpit sidewalls. A well-illustrated article in Air International (March 2010) was very helpful in confirming such details as the way the undercarriage doors hung, and in revealing that the wheel hubs were apparently bare metal rather that the green that I had expected. The standard of detail in the castings was very good indeed, and I only had a couple of minor problems with the fit, one of these being getting the main undercarriage bays/intake ducting to seat absolutely snug so that the upper and lower fuselage halves would be totally gap-free. This wasn't helped by my usual pressing imperative of making sure everything was done by the Thursday before last (or was it the Tuesday?).

On buying the kit at Telford I had decided that it would look good in Indian Air Force colours, especially as I was almost sure that I could find some appropriate unit marking, probably from a Xtradecal Hunter sheet. On looking more closely at these the only marking I could find was of the Target Towing Flight, which didn't seem right; but Paul Davis came up with Hi-Decal Line MiG-29 set which carried the badge for 28 Squadron, the "First Supersonics"; this duly came home with the rest of my takeaways and shortly afterwards went in to hiding. Should it emerge blinking in to the light I shall apply the badge, but in the meantime I used the national markings from the 1:144th Hunter sheet because I thought the larger size looked a bit bold for what will be after all a stealth fighter. By the time my airframe was complete there were pictures of the aircraft in an almost cubist camouflage in three shades of grey; trying to match the colours with those in the photo in Air International (November 2010 this time) I settled on Xtracolors Mig-29 Fulcrum Grey (X612), Dark Camouflage Grey (X036) and Dark Gray Euro 1 FS.16081 (X129). The colour photo in AI showed virtually all the upper surfaces, though not the port sides of the vertical tails; and just as I was trying to copy the upper surface pattern on to the underside a fairly small shot of the underneath in almost perfect plan view appeared in Flight and with the help of an illuminated magnifying glass this was straightforward to reproduce on the model.

I am happy with the result, even if it comes nowhere near the one I saw at the Brampton show. I do have a confession; the starboard horizontal tail is not that which came with the kit, but a Plasticard shape cut to the correct outline and lightly chamfered around its periphery. The original is of course around somewhere, but at the moment it's refusing to resurface from its carefully-chosen place of refuge; when - surely not if - it does I shall attach it, but I didn't want to delay finishing the model, not least because I want not only to get this in to cyberspace but also to create a little space on the production line. There's a queue waiting to be readied for possible appearance at ModelKraft (the Milton Keynes IPMS Branch show, but you knew that) in early February, and they're starting to jostle each other. It's an interesting aircraft, and it was only ten minutes after I'd bought this kit that some kind soul told me that there would be a Zvezda one along shortly; with the first tranche being in and out of Hannants before you could say Yuri Gagarin, mine arrived on the day I put the final touch of paint (give or take the tailplane!) to the one shown here, but I've decided that somewhere I'm sure I've got some of those very attractive Linden Hill Flanker decals; then some apparatchik fron the Russian SIG will point out that the marking I've chosen is from quite the wrong sort of regiment for a PAK-FA.

Back again

Yes, I know I promised photos with real Southern Californian sunshine - the TV announcer on the Saturday of the Great Technicolor Trip said "Hey, it's eighty two degrees, it's another sunny San Diego day.......only it's February!", which just about summed up the five-day experience - but since I stumbled back in to the soggy embrace of the Milton Keynes coach station I seem to have been in semi-perpetual motion. It took me a week to download all those pixels, and find a method of coping with them in Picasa; I am of course indebted to my younger son for downloading the program, and it can do many magic things for which I haven't found a much-needed residential instructional course, but it seems to take me twice as long to prepare the selecFA-18 165677 NJ-100 Noth Island beach 11.02.11ted snaps for this website as it did with Jessops Photo Manager. I shall put more some of my choice of the USN Aviation Centenary participants somewhere on here when (a) I've transmogrified them enough to get them on to the relevant page and (b) when I've decided which page, or pages, are most relevant. Here's a taster, taken from the beach next to the North Island Naval Air Station on the day before the Open Day, of the F/A-18F in the extraordinary "digital" scheme, which I have since learned is apparently the pattern of the new USN combat/working uniform. And yes, the sky really was that blue for the five days of our trip!

There have been a few events locally since my return, as well as another glitch with which was apparently was down to the server; I think I preferred it when a server problem was when the under-housemaid had spilt the afternoon tea on the tray, and it could be fixed without a convoluted phone call or messaging by long-distance bells. The Luton Air Enthusiasts Fair enabled me to fatten up my piggy-bank in time for me to cut off a few slices to spend at Southern Expo; I couldn't stay too long at Hornchurch, as I was on deck for my granddaughter's third birthday party the same afternoon, but I did come away with a few choice items, notably the Hawker P.1121 in resin from S & M - on the workbench already, of course - the TSR.2 fighter conversion by Freightdog, which has every chance of wearing a maple leaf, and the Hobby Boss Seahawk (could the RAF have used it as a Venom replacement in the Middle East?). And They day before posting this I was at the model show at Hinckley not, for once, of the What If? table but on the SIG144 stand on which I placed among others the little "X-wing" BAE P.1214 - see the Workbench -Hawker P.1154s, 8/43 and 80 Squadrons and an RCAF Comet 1 which will appear here in due course. By invitation, I was able to slide gently on to the Coventry and Warwickshire IPMS stand this pair of recently-completed P.1154s, which will also receive a mention shortly. And I had a nudge from a relayed comment that it was a while since I'd updated the site; here's a cuople of things to be going on with while I try to get my current spasm of modelling finished in time for the What If? Stand and with luck the SIG144 stand as well at the Cosford show in less than two weeks!


One of the joys of Telford is of course that those looking to inhabit similar niches of our hobby - and sometimes it can be a real squeeze - can get together and discuss matters of common interest; this is particularly applicable to those of us in Special Interest Groups; after all, if you're working with a Branch display, it's amost without saying that through the year you meet many of your fellow participants that will join you at ScaleModelWorld. SIG members though are usually geographically scattered and while, based on my experience with the What If? persons and now with SIG144 (the group for flat-dwellers) there is fairly regular contact of sorts, albeit on a one-to-one or perhaps one-to-two basis, it's at shows that we coalesce in varying numbers and discuss Matters of Moment, such as how to persuade Captain Freightdog to fill an urgent need, "surely that's the wrong unit marking for that type", and what was Terry Campion (or the name of your choice) thinking of? We do have a newsletter, which emerges from the Editorial sanctum at regular intervals, with odd bits of news, suggestions for more or less likely subjects, and we also have an AGM, which is a good excuse for an extra get-together, not least because it takes place at the Coventry Museum; and I think it was here this last summer that the word "stash" started to burrow in to my subconscious.

It's presumably because I spend many of my insomniac hours in a semi-recumbent posture (homage to Albert/Stanley Holloway) reading fairly current American crime fiction that my immediate "stash" vision was a carefully accumulated and fairly well concealed heap of illegal substances, but it didn't take long - well, not long for one of my advancing years - to realise that the subject round the table was really what used to be referred to as "loft insulation", a phrase which I'm still convinced that for this context I launched in SAN all those years ago when I still had a loft in which my not-for-immediate-building kits accumulated almost of their own accord. There must have been the usual muttered, and almost convincing, "of course I always mean to build them when I buy them" - perish the thought that any of of us were kit collectors intentionally! - but the unspoken rhubarb noise was "what are we supposed to do with them now?"

I am reminded domestically from time to time that Life is really about Ordering Priorities, and I could make a case that this was the spinal thread of my air traffic control days; the phrase "safe, orderly and expeditious flow" was hardwired in to us from the first day of our training. This is fine when the priorities are self-evident and unchanging, but like Harold Macmillan's "events, dear boy, events" or the David Mellor/John Lennon "Life is what happens when you're making other plans", something like a Panzer regiment in battle order comes along to suggest a slight change of plan; even without the natural instincts of Captain Indecisive this can result in rapid confusion. Still, whatever my feelings that any New Resolutions carry their own inescapable seeds of doom, it's time for me in this fog-bound fag-end of the old year to think about what might be needed - I hesitate to use the word action - to help me rationalise some of the Stash somewhere between now and, say the early spring (this at least gets me past Southern Expo, and the joint birthday events with my granddaughter). In a way, the kits are easy, and I've already squirred away a large cardboard box ot three for their transport. There are two likely outlets, under the SIG table at ModelKraft in early February, and a table of my very own at the Aviation Enthusiasts' Fair at Luton at the beginning of March (for which I must book next week). The market is slightly different for each; the relatively niche subjects, usually in resin, are more likely to find an appropriate home at Milton Keynes (Stantonbury really, but MK is more recogniseable) and probably with my fellow SIG members; those earmarked for Luton will as likely as not go to traders, and there is also the chance of clearing half a shelf or two of books there, though magazines are a horse of an entirely different kettle.

That'll make January (another) sheep/goats month then, and the need to decide whether or not to wear my Captain Indecisive T-shirt to help with the deliberations. At least I know I shall only have to make room in the garage for two Valiants when the time comes, though if - no, when I build them - I'll need to move two other largeish models in a suitable box to a different part of the shelving. And who knows, when I'm shuffling all those unmade kits I may even have a sudden impulse to build one or two of them. It's really nice to have Tailpiece back again, and the chance to reprise and update an old familiar theme; enjoy your 2011 modelling!

Le swinger

Anigrand continues to offer me intriguing possibilities, though most of them these days turn up in 1:144th scale. While I was tempted by the 1:72nd Mirage G when it appeared, briefly considering equipping an RAF Tornado Wing, in line with Current Policy, but decided against it ; however at Telford I was offered the possibility of the kit at a good price, and while having one of several mulls in which I indulged that weekend found the Syh@rt Decal stand. I was initially attracted by, and succumbed tMirage G retirement schemeo, the Super Etendard "special" scheme, but while buying that I found the decal for the Mirage F.1's retirement colours, with a positive proliferation of unit badges, covering I presume all the units with which that very elegant aircraft served. Given that the configuration of the later variable-sweep aircraft was very similar I had this sudden urge to combine the two (and the money in my pocket and the probability that I wouldn't see this selection of decals for another twelve months).

Among the several virtues of Anigrand kits, even in 1:72, is for me the relatively small number of parts, which for someone like me who likes to make several models either in parallel or in rapid series can be a real boon. This does mean that in most cases there is a lack of detail in, for example, the cockpit but that's never been something that worries me Anigrand/Syhart Mirageunduly and my "corroborative detail" was found in a couple of instrument panels of approximately the right period on old Modeldecal sheets. The quality of Anigrand's resin casting is consistently good, and though there is usually a need for a little filler it's never overwhelming; there was a small bite from the corner of one wing "glove" but this was easily remedied with a piece of plastic card and a little light wet & dry work. While sorting out the coclpit area I painted both surfaces of the swinging wing halves; a failry extensive rummage through my myriad part-used tinlets revealed an X377, the Xtracolor Bleu de Mirage, which I'm pleased to say is still in the catalogue although some of the French colours have I think been deleted; "High Speed Silver" seemed appropriate for the undersurfaces.

The decals are beautifully designed and printed, and the selection I saw at Telford was considerable and colourful; largely French military and with a goodly proportion of commemorative schemes, you really should look at to see what's on offer (the one that I caught my eye first and which I came away with was for the "Marine" Super Etendard special). They are delicate, and in accordance with their advice I added a coat of Microscale decal film. For the long parts of ther banner I used Microsol to try - with some degree of success - to conform to the curves around the intakes, but possibly because of the larger size of this Mirage over the F.1 for which the decals were designed there are still a few wrinkles (of course this could simply be due to my impatience!). The gap between the front and rear sections of the banner is designed to be hand-painted, and though the colour isn't an exact match - I should have carried out my original intent of using white decal strip in two layers, like the banner sections on the Syh@rt decal - it's shadowed by the wing anyway. I added a pair of the longer-range AAMs that I'd used on Le Shar , which Mike Gething told me were MD. 550s, on staggereMirage G A de l'A retirement coloursd pylons below the fuselage, and planned to complement them with a pair of Magics; sadly none of these have emerged from my shadows, but there may well be some from Aviation Workshop in the fullness of time, in which case I shall add them below the intakes. I'm very happy with the result - I've come to expect wrinkles thse days! - and it does look just as I saw it in my mind's eye before the money had even changed hands back in November. Good.

Transferred 05.04.11

TSR.2 x 2

I shouldn't be allowed too close to bookshops; there must be a gene that compels me to put my nose round the door and see if there's something new, whether from Harry Turtledove or Tony Buttler, that I really can't do without. And on aviation books, whether for modelling purposes or just reading, there are some cover subjects that draw me like a siren, and usually result in money changing hands; recently they include the V-22 Osprey, an aircraft - or perhaps a flying machine - by which I am increasingly fascinated, and for a long time, which will be no surprise, I'll consider almost anything on the Hunter, but without a doubt and equally unsurprisingly the strongest pull is from the TSR.2. There's probably no answer to the query, but it seems to me that the recent apparent revival of interest in to this project seems to have been sparked at least in part by the release by Airfix of the 1:72nd scale kit, which spawned not only a rash of resin extras but a number of publications which covered not only what was - and in the case of XR220 and 222 what is - but also what might have been, both in the project stages and had it entered service.

Now we have two substantial accounts of the aircraft's gestation, birth - even more of a struggle than I'd thought - and demise, appearing within two weeks of each other; I'll cover them in the order in which I bought them. The first, by Tim McLelland, is from Classic, now part of Ian Allan Publishing; if my memory's right - because I can't at the moment find it to check - my oldest book on the TSR.2 is a pictorial collection published by Ian Allan, probably as an offshoot of Aircraft Illustrated. While some of the pictures in the new book look familiar, there are many that will be new to most readers ( I like that of the Vulcan engine test bed). The text is chronological, touching on some of the possible alternatives thrown up by GOR.339 before examining both the politics and the technical considerations which led to the combining of English Electric and Vickers, and their projects, in to the British Aircraft Corporation. The woes, both political and technical - the two are inseparable in this story - which led to a succession of delays in completion and first flight. The technical description of the aircraft and its equipment, including some of the ground units, has a goodly selection of drawings of which several seem to be from brochures of the period; this section concludes with the probable intial deployment of the aircraft on entering service. For modellers there are four pages of 1:72nd line drawings by Richard J Caruana, and four more with a pair of his four-views, one all white and one in the proposed initial camouflage. There are two pages of bibliography with notes on those publications mentions, and a third page on the two Airfix kits and listing accessories and decals.

ThTSR.2 Damien Burke, Crowoode second book is from Crowood, the author Damien Burke, who is also responsible for the very large number of excellent illustrative drawings. This is a much thicker volume (at twice the price) with extensive support, both pictorial and documentary, from the records held by the Brooklands Museum and from the North West Heritage Group. The various submissions to OR.339 are extensively covered, with the author's drawings showing what most of the British aircraft industry thought it could do, and which will fascinate those of us of the What If? tendency (I particularly like, and commend to a resin kit manufacturer or two, the Bristol 204). The strain and difficulty of the combination of companies and designs is covered in considerable and at times painful detail and, in contrast with other books that have been published in the last fifteen years or so, this appears comparatively non-partisan, though I do detect from time to time a sneaking sympathy with the original English Electric team. The account of the eventual first flight, and the problems that ensued while XR219 was still at Boscombe Down, reveals much that is new to me and, I suspect, to many others that have been supporters of the aircraft even before its cancellation and more markedly afterwards. There are separate chapters for the airframe, the engine, the electronic systems and weapons, including diagrams of attack profiles; like the rest of the author's drawings, these are well presented and give a real feel for how the RAF would have used the aircraft. Its planned introduction in to RAF service and immediate subsequent service has a chapter to itself, and is followed by one on the cancellation and its immediate and longer term effects; and the last chapter covers possible further developments and variants. I've had several discussions since the kit first appeared on the possibility of a fighter version and this is, for the first time that I'm aware of, covered here, with one of Mr.Burke's excellent line drawings showing the necessary changes to the nose profile and the probable weapons load; the same treatment is given to the proposed Type 595 trainer version, with the reasons for not going ahead with either of them. For modellers, the trainer would be the simpler conversion (even though it could involve the application of dayglo orange) but a replacement nose section for the fighter would be very welcome; as well as filling the GIUK gap, I think it would look good in a maple leaf, and it was apparently suggested to the Canadians. There are colour profiles - if white is indeed a colour - of the first four aircraft, and three appendices; the first two cover GOR.339 and OR.343 (and the politics that made that change necessary are fascinating) and the third reproduces the flight reference cards for the aircraft on fifteen pages, so that if you find yourself at Duxford or Cosford with a ladder and nobody looking you'll know just what to do next.

I was impressed by the level of detail in the first book; the second is even more comprehensive (and for the ageing reader has the larger typeface!). It's also twice the price, but I think there will be few TSR.2 enthusiasts who will grudge paying for this level of information and presentation, and no doubt there will be quite a few who, like me, will be drawn to both. There are some subjects on which you can't have too many books, even if the shelves are increasingly crowded.

ScaleModelWorld reflections

I haven't really said much about this year's Telford, and in the fun that is the galloping approach of Christmas I suspect opportuniy will be limited. There's so much that goes on, quite apart from the essential function of topping up the Stash (see the imminent Tailpiece) that it's really only possible to pick out a few highlNorth Somerset IPMS Branch displayights. As one of my modelling principles is to Have Fun, I was delighted that the winner of the Branch display trophy was that from North Somerset; having had problems in agreeing on a theme, they decided that they should emphasise that they indulged in all sorts of modelling, and therefore took their cue from Bertie Bassett; here's the result. And as another indication, or perhaps mascot - though there was also a very military looking meerkat on display - they had one of those Airfix kits from the days when they were happy to kit really quite unlikely subjects even if they would be unknown outside the UK.

The other display award, for that of a Special Interest Group was - also to my delight - given to the newly-christened SIG144, for those who whether through choice or necessity model in 1:144th scale. The avuncular pair presiding in the picture are David Hart (the taller one) and Mike Verier (the other), both of whom I have known these many years. I still treasure the Ecth Deutsch range of paints proposed by David a long time ago, the list of which surfaced recently while I was "tidying"; it contained those three essential colours, Dunkelschwartz, Mittleschwartz and Hellschwartz, the requirement for which has never been adequately realised bu those who produced paints in the specialist shades which our hobby demands. It's difficult to hold Mike's reputed "rotorhead" propensity against him; he really has a much wider range of interests, and these days enjoys being the token Soft Southerner in a clutch of Yorkshire IPMS Branches. I confess to a personal interest in this SIG; if you look closely - not too closely - you'll see the Anigrand Nimrod AEW.3 and Cierva Air Horse that have previously appeared in these e-pages. Like so many SIGs, this one comes together at meetings, and the layout that David and Mike put together for this year was a prime example of a simple and well-organised display that showed the SIG's purpose, and should - and did - encourage wider membership. I gather that it was possible, by devious and therefore un-Yorkshire means, to acquire a little extra area in which to show off. In passing, although 144th saves space it doesn't seem to save expenditure, or is that just because all mine takes place in resin? And of course there was the competition





There are those of us who still refer to the event as the Nat Champs, long-time shorthand for the National Championships; that happened of course long before SIGs, and even before the proliferation of trade stands (neither of which of course we'd willingly do without now), when any entries for the IPMS class competitions had to progress through branch eliminators and before overseas entrants. There are now over forty trophies in addition to the classes, and the classes themselves have evolved to take account of changes in modelling custom and practice. Some time ago I gave up the judging in which I'd been involved for many years, but in the last two or three I've had the fun of judging the odd trophy, which has also given me the opportunity to photograph some of the models that caught my eye. These two are Strega in 1:32nd, one of the fairly exotic Reno Mustangs that I love - not quite as colourful as Voodoo, but that's already appeared on the table - and in 1:72nd a Bristol Bloodhound ER Mk.I; you will of course realise that this is a cunning combination of a Bristol 138 with contributions from Hawker and Martin-Baker, under the skilled hands of Rod Ulrich. This type of model used only to appear when entered for the Mushroom Monthly Trophy, but they've graduated to the dubious respectability of a recognised IPMS class under the label "Hypothetical"; that's almost as mainstream as "counterfactual". You'll note that IPMS persist in using that over-vivid purple table-covering; I suppose it makes any picture instantly recogniseable as being taken at SMW, but I don't think it's very pixel-friendly. The overall winner of the "Best Aircraft" was this very gorgeous scratch-built Handley Page O/400, which went on to be the very worthy Senior Champion. Modelling like this is why I gave up entering competitions in the mid-'70s, bot both the ability and result are beyond envy. As so often in recent years, the winner of this overall award is from outside the UK; the deserving modeller is Aristidis Polyzos, from Greece.

And lastly, the chat; probably even more fun than spending money - even if that runs it a close second - this is the real reason for the annual trip to Shropshire and seems to have been more or less continuous from arrival early of the Friday afternoon until close of play on the Sunday evening. In fact it had a postscript of its own on the Monday morning, when many of us with Trevor Snowdon, SMW 2010turned up at the Michael Beetham Conservation Facility at Cosford, where for me the highlight was the rebuilt Sopwith Dolphin (19 Squadron marks, please, when it's being finished). Rob Sullivan was duty paparazzo, and it's his photo that symbolises this activity; I won't tell you who's out of this picture, but the distinguished chap next to whom I found myself is Trevor Snowdon, recently retired as eminence grise of Humbrol/Airfix. Same time next year, chaps?


Deep, soggy and uneven

We don't do snow very well, at least not at this end of the (still) United Kingdom. Looking back to my formative year in Alberta I have been known to curl my lip at the British reaction to the white stuff, though I confess that I found myself turning back a couple of days ago when heading in to a blizzard, or at least a very convincing passing imitation near the blasted heath of Milton Keynes. I didn't think that my Chrysler Caponemobile would cope, though admittedly I didn't have the two sinister chaps with Thompson guns installed on the running boards. Part of my master plan for this end of December was for the two Telford-fallout kits on my workbench to be finished, one before Christmas so that I could include it here, and possibly on individual messages to one or two of those of a similar counterfactual persuasion, though probably without a sprig of holly - I haven't covered that section of the PaintShop 6 manual yet - and the other by the end of the year. You will gather that the first at least hasn't happened, and Stage 2 is looking increasingly unlikely though it's always possible that another fall of white will lead to a little more available modelling time. (It is said that you know you're getting older when you know you're starting to sound like your father; what worries me more is that I can hear distinct echoes of Uncle Alan!). One encouraging note is that Santa - or at least his Lowestoft Branch - must have read at least one of my letters; propped up against my door when I got in this Christmas Eve morning was a package in brown and yellow gift wrap containing the Sharkit McDonnell Model 60. When Tony Buttler, blessed be his name, published his American fighter projects I was immediately drawn to this, which looks like a delta F3H; in fact I started to cobble one together from an Emhar Demon and a Hasegawa F-106 and failed, partly perhaps because I couldn't bring myself to take the vertical tails from a Fujimi Cutlass. Still this kit looks promising, at least in the box; unlike some earlier Sharkits it has an undercarriage and I like the folding wing tips. Somewhere I have at least one sheet of Demon decals and another for the FJ-4 Fury; I feel a sharp attack of light gull gray coming on!

Ther have been a few suggestions about what may come our way in 2011; I shall be very happy with the Airfix Valiant, to which I shall apply the unit marking that my squadron boss refused to let me do in 1957; and I shall be even happier if someone does a B.2 conversion so that I can reverse another misguided procurement decision from the early 'fifties. Next outing, ModelKraft at Milton Keynes in early February, probably the best of the one day shows- yes I know there's competition from Avon and Salisbury, but it's local!

See you next year

Hooked again

Naval matters feature largely in this section. One of the pleasures of the last summer has been seeing Seafire 17 SX336 performing at Old Warden and lending the growl of its Griffon to the mass Spitfire flypast and subsequent tailchase at Duxford in Seafire, Eric Brown (Ad Hoc)September; the combination of this engine and the "teardrop" canopy with FAA colours is distinctive and whether solo or in combination with its varied siblings can be guaranteed to lift my spirits. It's featured on the cover of the latest - No.13 - in Roger Chesneau's splendid "From the Cockpit" series, the Seafire story being told by the very well-known author, raconteur and test pilot Eric Brown, whose aviation exploits and credentials are legion. This book follows the now familiar pattern of the series, starting with the account of the type's birth, in this case the adaptation of the Spitfire V for shipboard use, and development to the ultimate variant of Mitchell's original design, the Seafire 47. Its operational career started with Operation Torch and it was in at the beginning of the Korean conflict, and the book includes tales and reminiscences of those involved in both events. As we now expect, the photo coverage is first class, well chosen and reproduced and including as seems to be only too likely with naval aviation a fair number of mishaps, but then there's always someone there to record them!

The Seafire served with many, many squadrons, both first and second line, and these are meticulately tabulated with dates of commissions, Commanding Officers, carrier assignments where relevant and Senior Pilots where known, and illustrated where possible (I wonder whether the Seafire served with more squadrons than any other FAA aircraft). The colour four view is of the F.XV second prototype flown by the author at Farnborough in 1944, and publisher/artist Roger Chesneau has added no less than thirty-five colour profiles from a Spitfire VB serving with 761 NAS in 1943 to a Mk.47 of 1833 NAS ten years later, which comes with those fetching red/yellow exercise markings. The extensive personal accounts of the Seafire's part in wartime operations both in Europe and the Far East, and on its return to the firing line in Korea in 1950 have the immediacy which lights up history. Like the others in this series, of which you will surely know I am a great fan, this is a book for browsing, for reference - not least for modelling - and for reading for the enjoyment and the enlargement of knowledge.

After the Wars were over..

It's already longer than I care to remember that I stoon on the balcony at Hendon and saw that all the aircraft I'd flown - with the exception of the T-33 - were already consigned to the Museum and wondered if that made me also a museum piece. It was though, I now see, my luck to be interested in and then at least a small part of aviation - and in particular British military aviation - at a time when there was much to hold the interest. While there has been continual and consistent interest in World War II, the period immediately following has not received much coverage, with the exception of the two volumes of RAF fighter colours from Guideline Publications. These had to be illustrated with colour profiles, colour film at least in Europe being largely unavailable to the average enthusiast until the mid-'fifties and taking picturers of military hardware being seriously discouraged; at a time when there were fifty RAF stations open for "Battle of Britain" days the public were stopped from taking cameras through the gates! Martin Derry has remedied at least a bit of this gap in his latest book for Dalrymple and Verdon, whose purpose is clearly stated in tits title (the clipping of which is my fault and not D&V's). Many of the illustrations cpme from personal collections, and also from those now held by the Newark Air Museum. Colour profiles of all three types are by Richard J Caruana, and for potential modelling of Lancaster and York this is very useful; it may even impel me to take that "Post-War Lancaster" off the garage shelf. We seem to have been waiting for a promised 1:144 Lincoln for ages; might this one prompt one in 1:72nd, possibly as a (rather extensive) conversion? Even without modelling relevence, this is still a useful gap filler, especially for those of us for whom it is not quite history yet.

Canberra interceptors (cont.)

You have by now, I hope, have read in the newly-retitled Mike's Pick section - the change removes one self-inflicted deadline - how much I enjoyed modifying the Airfix Canberra B(I).8 with the P.12 inteceptor project resin conversion from Silver Cloud (not as I wrote in that section Silver Cross, which must be a spot of grandparental fog). I carried out my threat to work a similar change on their PR.9, and as well as the resin nose added an extra pair of Red Deans, fixed underwing fuel tanks, an FR probe and to help the Double Scorpion with the extra weight and the bigger wing to a little extra altitude an afterburner on each Avon. I had a back end from a Trumpeter Lightning which had been replaced by a resin one, and separated its jetpipes which fitted on to the Canberra nacelles more Canberra FAW.24, 89 Squadron late 1960seasily than I had anticipated. The rest was colour scheme, which was to be one step later than that on my first with Light Aircraft Grey undersides and red/blue roundels. After consulting my stash of Modeldecal NF Meteor sets I found 89 Squadron's Javelin fin marking - one panel either side of the tail - on one of those SAM decal strips, but was even happier to find it on an Xtradecal Meteor sheet, applied to an F.8 which was a "hack" when 89 flew the Venom NF.3; another attractive but defunct marking fitting nicely in to my current Master Plan of re-expanding the RAF if only in dubious retrospect.

The same Plan lGlobal Hawk R.1, 543 Squadroned me to build a Global Hawk; I'd been looking for an excuse, but having already made a Planet Models resin kit in 51 Squadron markings and hemp, the recent set of Valiant decals included the rather elegant bird's head of 543 Squadron. Its role of long range reconnaisance gave me the rationale, and Italeri the kit; it's in two shades of camouflage grey, but having looked at recent photos of the type in USAF service they all appear to have white, or nearly white, upper wing surfaces. Looking through a rack of Mr.Color acrylics on the MDC stand at a recent model show I discovered one labelled "Off White", which not only filled the bill precisely for the Global Hawk but is ideal for the nose cone of radar-guided missiles like the Red Deans on the two Canberras. It's big, and I would advise checking that you have a suitaby large space before you commit to one, but it's a good, well thought out and well fitting kit. The photo on the left is its studio portrait; the other is an almost successful attempt to produce a moody shot!

Global Hawk at dusk

Buttler's Done it again

While Tony Buttler is a prolific author on real aeroplanes as well, for those of us with an eye to what might have - or perhaps even what should have - been, his very well-researched and informative articles and books on largely unrealised projects have become invaluable, indeed part of our staple diet. Following on from the Midland Publishing series on "Luftwaffe '46" designs, he first drew together the British aircraft industry's more imaginative projects, including those before and during the Second World War, covered Sovered Soviet designs in conjunction with Yefim Gordon and then moved on to the archives of American manufacturers; he has now followed his volume on US fighters with one covering, as you can see, Bombers, Attack and Anti-Submarine designs. With impeccable timing this appeared as though by magic on the Friday afternoon at Telford - and immediately found a berth in my library bag - and Tony was there on the Saturday to sign freshly-hatched copies. Like his earlier books this is organised in to chapters that combine role and chronology, and include designs that were successful, such as the B-47, as well as those that were built but not successful and didn't progress beyong the mock-up, model or sketch stage. The aircraft in the very atmospheric cover painting by Timothy O'Brien is an example of the last; the only available information on the Republic AP-42 was in the form of a model with a figure of a man next to it from which the dimensions have been deduced. Those of you familiar with the series will know that they can both be read as a semi-continuous narrative or just browsed, either for a particular type or category or just to see what catches the eye, and there are plenty in this volume that fall in to this last category. Modellers may like to consider what can be done with available kits and modification (usually with much Milliput); have you considered the waterbased version of the Martin XB-51, for example? As an alternative you can consider sending concentrated thought waves to one of the kit manufacturers; having tried, and failed, to make a McDonnell Model 60 from the American Fighters book, using F3H, F-106 and Cutlass kits I'm delighted to have just ordered the Sharkit version (well, it looks good on their website and has an undercarriage, and I have all those Demon decals). I'm still hoping to persuade Fantastic Plastic to revive their Convair XA-44 (page 46), and to include an undercarriage, though they seem to be wedded to vintage Aurora-style "stands". Sometimes there's a serendipitous anticipation; Anigrand have just released their Boeing XB-55, a supersized turboprop Stratojet, and here it is on page 23. While some details of an aircraft can be included with a kit, I always like to know more, especially when I'm trying to decide a possible service use and finish. While some of the aircraft featured in these pages may be more fanciful than others, it's instructive for an aviation enthusiast to compare them with those that did come to fruition, and wonder why one design was successful and the other not. Writing this as the snow is starting to encircle parts of the Soft South, this book- in conjuction with a warm cat - is likely to figure heavily in my next week or three, and provide a odd but reassuring comfort in enabling me to disregard much of the outside world for a while!

By the way, in the USAF Heavyweights chapter you'll find a couple of Parasites, AAA 5, ZilchekDouglas projects which feature an increasing selection of parasites. By coincidence, I think, as I picked up the Buttler book from the Aviation Bookshop stand I spotted "Mother Ships, Parasites and More: Selective USAF Strategic Bomber, XC Heavy Transport and FICON Studies 1945-1954" by Jared A Zilchek which as you will guess from the title covers some of the same ground; the fifth in the American Aviation Archive series it has as well as text and photos of models a considerable number of reproduced manufacturers' drawings, often internal schematics, which are probably best seen with a strong light and using an occasional magnifying glass. The designs in "American Secret Projects" include many that look entirely practical, but most in this work are distinctly bizarre, though we shouldn't forget that Convair's B-58 was a logical development of the parasite layout. This strikes me as being one for the insomniacs (and yes, that includes me!)


The Back Story (so far)

One of the noble, but occasionally unrealised, aims of the What If? SIG is to set a theme for our display at the IPMS National Championships - thinly disguised as ScaleModelWorld - at Telford every November. That for 2011 will be unveiled with dry ice and fanfares at this year's event, but for 2010 we didn't quite arrive at a generally accepted conclusion (coalition, anyone?). However Colin Strachan of Freightdog Models, an old friend of the SIG not least in his begetting of such subjects as the SR.177, made available to us following his acquisition of Pegasus Models from Chris Gannon several of the kitsthat had come his way. One of the two on which I pounced was an FJ-1 Fury, North American's early attempt at a carrier-borne jet fighter; eighteen months or so ago I'd made one in USAAF Occupation of Germany colours, but my first impulse was a Fleet Air Arm example in which Lt.Cdr. Brown could make a few early deck landings on Illustrious before deciding that it might suit the Wavy Navy, or perhaps equip a squadron in time for the Korean conflict. This would give me the choice of at least two basic colour schemes, always assuming of course that I could steel myself to choose, or at least discard, one (it's not for nothing that one of my Frequently Used Phrases in my middle management days was "least bad solution" ).

Having put the fuselage and wings together and applied a smidgen or two of filler I was looking at it from the front when it occurred to me that the fuselage was tubby enough to accomodate a Nene engine, which could perhaps have enhanced its performance; and that train of thought took me directly to my T-33 days, where a similar operation by Canadair resulted in the Silver Star (can you see where we're going yet?). I know the timeline doesn't quite fit, but I like the idea that, ahead of taking on the F-86 and building them for the RAF as well as the RCAF they could carry out a parallel operation with the FJ-1. Another prod in this direction was the RCN colour scheme; while their Seafires and Fireflies, and later Sea Furies, added their maple leaf roundels in the first instance to a basically British camouflage the Canadians later adopted one in which in effect the RN "sky" was replaced by a light grey. Nestling about halfway between the writing and modelling ends of my workroom are the three invaluable volumes by Patrick Martin - on which I've written previously - on Canadian Air Force, Navy and Armed Forces aircraft and their markings from 1946 to the present day, and it was the white spiral binding of the naval volume that I hoicked off the shelf for consultation on the "CFJ-1" scheme.

I was hoping that I could find an opportunity to use the "B-type" Canadian post-war roundel which simply carried a red maple leaf on its blue disc, but while there were aircraft so finished there was no way I could bend a reasoned timeline to apply this marking to an RCN jet fighter, however early. Almost by chance - I was tidying up and you know how often that happens - I found the markings I needed, including codes and serials, on a set from IPMS Canada which has been hiding in my drawers since goodness knows when. When applied it did show a tinge of yellow with its carrier film, but I can forgive that - easily! - because it also included the "Royal Canadian Navy" titling and a serial without my having to assemble them one letter and digit at a time (I really don't like applying FAA 4" alpha-numerics). The one thing I've not been able to find is any colour reference, in whatever format, for the RCN Light Grey and Dark Grey, though Pat's book does say the the darker was very close to EDSG; for the lighter I took the book's colour section to my paint stock and decided on Xtracolor ADC Gray (Xxxx) and the result looks right. I also decided that to persuade their British Lordships to accept a small batch from Canadair it would be wise to replace the FJ-1's six 0.50 machine guns for the standard British armament ot the time of four 20mm cannon. The markings are those of 883 Squadron, RCN, as carried both on the unit's Seafires and their Sea Furies; it carries the underwing code VG*AAC, the lettering for which and the four digit serial, for which I couldn't find an attribution in Pat's excellent book, also came from the IPMS Canada decal sheet. The whole project has been fun, and I shall shortly start the two FAA examples to have them ready in good time for Telford (tick, tock, tick, tock....). I am left with one dilemma, and perhaps you can help; while I can tink of it as the CFJ-1 it obviously couldn't have been called "Fury" in RCN or RN service, and scratch my head as I may I can't find a suitable, preferably Canada-oriented, alternative. Any thoughts (perhaps at the IPMS Avon show at Yate)?

Much later, in another part of the Forest...

As no one has yet taken me up on my invitation to help with the christening, I've picked up on the name of a grey and white seabird that I chanced to see on a recent edition of Coast - that's the one with the Scots presenter who's understandable - and almost gives me an alliteration; let me introduce the Canadair Kittiwake F.10. I seem to remember that the name was used before WW II for a rather portly low-wing cabin monoplane with a gull wing - hence the name perhaps - and a trousered undercarriage, but I don't think its re-use will confuse any miliary stores system. And while I'm with additional information Mike Gething, who I've known since the early seventies and though a Real Aviation Journalist has also beek known to dabble in modelling, tells me that those missiles under my Aeronavale Sea Harrier are Matra MICA, the acronym for Missile d'Interception et de Combat Aerienne. It's not what you know, it's who you know that counts.

Little and simple is good!

Much of my modelling in recent weeks, apart from Canberra Interceptors by courtesy of Airfix and Freightdog/Silver Cross, has been thanks to Anigrand, but there has been one other resin kit that while frustrating me for a time has been ultimately satisfying. One of my Idle Time Scan activities is keeping an eye on the Unicraft website, and marvelling at what our man in the Ukraine thinks is worth producing in resin. Occasionally though, in spite of the work that just about all those of his kits that I've made have given me - simple in this case means with comparatively few parts - I spot something that fires my imagination and that that surely no one else will bring to market. This one is the Goodyear 39, designed to the same COIN specification that gave us the Bronco and its unsuccessful competitor the Convair Charger. I have a vague memory of seeing an illustration at the time of the competition, probably in the old RAF Flying Review, and when I saw it on the Unicraft website I knew it was for me. It came via Adrian Hampson of Lone Wulf, who has become my usual supplier of the somewhat bizarre flying machines, and for once I started on it without a precise idea of an intended colour scheme though knowing that it would probably be "borrowed" from a Bronco. The Unicraft resin castings are pretty basic but generally clean up easily; one disadvantage is that the fuselage walls are comparatively thick and I'm reluctant to embark on any serious excavation to help in furnishing the cockpit. There was also vwey little space in which to hide nose weight and this model is a convinced tail-sitter and has to have its picture taken on a downhill slope. It looks as though the aircraft was meant to have at least some amphibious capability, but the wing tip fitments are basically circular, rather resembling fuel tanks; there is no prow or step under the fuselage either, snd the u/c doors provided would not totally cover the main wheel wells. Perhaps it would have been able to put down on water in an emergency, but I think it would have had problems getting airborne again unless it was able to taxi ashore. One design factor which suggested amphibious capability was the positioning of Goodyear 39 COIN project by Unicraftthe pusher propellors above the wing in such a way that hey would have been clear of any spray; having carefully assembled the propellors - and I really wiish that some of these resin kits would come with the hub and blades as a single casting! - I found when attaching them to the engines that they couldn't possibly have turned without chewing chunks out of the wingHaving tried and failed to un-superglue the pylon from the wing or the nacelle from the pylon in the hope that I could vary the angle at which they were fitted to enable the props to rotate, I clipped the tips of the blades, and I think they now look too short to offer the necessary thrust. I bought a set of Microscale Bronco decals from Paul Davis, which included the double horseshoe marking (VMO-2?) and promptly put it somewhere too safe to find; the second set - same brand, same source - had decals for a test aircraft at Patuxent River, which I had just recently visited, and I thought the Insignia Red panel would give a little added colour. In the end it came together, and I'm rather tempted to make another (I found that set of decals) but perhaps there's just too much to get on with.


The privision of three or four "extra" models has now become standard in Anigrand Craftsworks' 1:144th scale kits, and these are occasionally - perhaps even frequently - as desirable as the main subject. One such recent production is the Nimrod AEW.3; I did the 1:72nd Airfix/Cammett coversion a couple of years ago with which I was very pleased, but I think, purly for space reasons, that it's unlikely that I'll repeat it, so the arrival of the Anigrand example was very welcome. I'd finished the bigger model in hemp/grey and 8 Squadron markings - and of course Zebedee - so I decided to use the two-grey scheme currently worn on 51 Squadron's R.1s (at least for another year or so). Unit markings, or at least decals, are often a problem in 1:144th but in this case it was solved by using the "other half" of 8 Squadron and a Phantom fin red eagle from Modeldecal. The Waddington shield behind the cockpit came from another set from Anigrand - there are frequently subjects on their decals which are not necessarily relevant to the kit with which they are boxed - and the light aircraft grey/camouflage grey scheme was based on photos of the R.1 by the excellent Richard O Andrews, whose files and pictures are a frequent help in time of need. I'm not convinced by those light grey radomes, though; I may have to revist them before Telford.

One of the "extras" with the AEW.3 is an aircraft for which I'm firmly, and sometimes loudly, convinced there would be a market in 1:72, the Hawker P.1121. Another lamented victim of the reduction in British military aircraft procurement by the Wilson government, this was although single-engined, almost Phantom-sized and thAnigrand Hawker P-1121, 56 Squadronere are those of us - probably all TSR.2 supporters as well! - who are convinced that it would have sold well in Europe at least, and prbably further afield. Again, I was up agaist a 1:144th marking problem, and those on this 56 Squadron "Hurricane II" came from Xtradecal Tornado and Hunter sheets and a Dragon Tornado F.3 kit. The Red Tops were donated last year by a modeller I met at the IPMS Brampton show while lamenting - something I do a lot - the lack of British missiles and stores in the smaller scale. The kit, like all of the jets at least in this scale, is simple and reasonably accurate, though I don't know about thase rather bulged airbrakes (?) on the rear fuselage. Still, just think what you could do with a handful and a sheaf of Modeldecal F-4M sets in 1:72nd!

And there's a third from this box to glower at you - here's more

It probably doesn't bite...




Searching through some old family photos a very small - about 2cm by 4cm - fell out. Given its size it must surely have been one I took when I was eleven or twelve, with a small and basic camera, but it wasn't until I came to scan it, which was just after I'd finished the model, and looked at the first result that it was the second Air Horse WA-555 (for some reason Cierva inserted a hyphen in its serial) which as far as I've been able to check wasn't flown. I wonder if I took it at Cierva's factory at Eastleigh, but I don't remember gowing there until I was learning to fly the Tiger Moth in 1953, by which time Ciervas were producing Skeeters. Even before finding this I'd decided to build the little Anigrand model with a view to having it ready for the 144 SIG table at the IPMS Brampton show at the end of September, and I foresaw the first prototpe VZ-475 being surreptitiously taken over for a night exercise with troops whAnigrand Cierva Air Horseile with the Airborne Forces Establishment at Beaulieu, and camouflaged accordingly. I rather like the result and putting it together was a real pleasure; even attaching the rotor blades to their hubs seemed easy! I thought it would be appropriate to take its pictures perched on the "grassmat" surface


Return of Tailpiece

Nearly four years after I stopped writing the column in Scale Aircraft Modelling - alright, SAM, but I wouldn't want any misunderstandings at this stage - I still get told by faces with varying degrees of familiarity that they miss Tailpiece. The column had a slightly stuttering continued existence while Paul Eden was still editor but under his successor the title is used merely to denote the section of the magazine, and has lost the connotation it had. So when I was planning the few recent changes I rang Reg Auclkand who runs Guideline and asked him if he minded if I revived the name, and broadly speaking its purpose, at this end of the website and use the Hunter tail that had become its identifying logo; he is happy that I do, and the tail will - should? - folllow shortly. I had incidentally considered using "Random Thoughts", but for many years that was the name of the excellent magazine of IPMS Canada, and though that's now simply RT I thought that while it describes the Tailpiece purpose and function perfectly it would be much better to leave it with its originators.

In the beginning....and much later

When I started writing Tailpiece thirty years or so ago - SAM Vol.2 No.10, I think, with the F-105 as the cover subject - I didn't have any master theme in mind, but over a year or two, and partly in response to comments, I found that my two main threads were that it was possible to continue modelling in the midst of a family, which in my csae included cats as well as children, and that the most important thing to to enjoy the hobby on your own terms. For many this included being successfully competetive, but having found that my modelling standards were not up to those displayed annually at Hendon or Stoneleigh - or Peterborough, a venue to which I shall return - I was able to relax a little and suggest that others might do the same. Indeed, an example had its gestation at the IPMS National Championships over its sole appearance at Peterborough when a conversation with Ian Hartup, fired almost certainly by our interest in what became known as Luftwaffe '46, produced the idea that one of the then fairly new Special Interest Groups could be formed for others who wanted to join us in this slightly bizarre niche; while this gave rise to a few stiffly raised eyebrows and even the occasional audible sniff it's still functioning under the What If? banner and while those of us who gater round the table at an IPMS show may have slightly differing thoughts on what may or may not have been likely, it's very evident that we get a good deal of fun from it!

As for the family, well, cats are still around, if in different shapes and colours from those that shared our house in Marlow thirty years ago, and neither of our current pair show an inclination to climb on to my workbench or even have their photo taken in a nest of models (it occurs to me that the shot of Amber Moon that was printed in Guidelines, the SAM how-to compendium, shows her sitting surrounded by Luftwaffe '46 subjects). And the children, having put up for many years with the mild eccentricities of their father, have some time ago moved on to have lives of their own, though my older son in particular did comment to me once that he could trace his growing up through the columns in SAM. I have, particularly since I retired from the Day Job, had considerable freedom and time to pursue the full-size and model aspects of my aeronautical obsessions, but one day a week thse days is allocated to our thirty-month-old granddaughter, and while it may be only a matter of time before I have to keep a sharp eye on her paws around my workbench we have an important ceremony to perform first; we're determined next year to take her to her first air display, one of the Shuttleworth evening events so that she can watch the "Edwardians" fluttering around the Old Warden arena. She already distinguishes between "plane" and "copter" as they skirt round our bit of controlled airspace, and I'm going to try to teach her "spamcan". And perhaps one day I'll press a couple of pieces of polystyrene in to her hands. These core themes of the column, and others, seem likely to continue then.

Nature, nurture or .....

Our eight month old grandson shows little signs of it yet but then his father, unlike his older siblings, came it it later than I expected; our granddauhter, on the other hand, at thirty months, has a serious relationship with books. I must have become hooked at about the same age, and like my obsession (there, I've said it) with aviation in several aspects which was equally evident when I was thirty months or so I doubt now if I'll ever recover. Even my alternative occupation these days centres on books; although (the) National Trust decided to close the book/coffee shop in the King's Head in Aylesbury that took most of my Thursdays, most Friday mornings now find me similarly occupied in the Chantry Chapel in Buckingham, another NT enterprise. It's vaguely reassuring that the building is even older than me; it goes back to the fifteenth century, and is the oldest surviving building in the town.

In spite of my defence of cats as an essential part of a modeller's domestic environment, it can be difficult to wield a knife or a glue gun with something furry on the knee, however theraputic this can be under most circumstances; at least some of the reading can be done in a semi-recumbent posture - assuming, like Albert's parents, you can find one - with the comforter of your choice. Some of the larger volumes can be difficult to hold. of course, though strangely I have had no problem manipulating Damien Burke's fairly weighty "TSR.2", really wanting to read it not only for its own sake but also to make sure I can cover as much as possible in my account of it (it is, or shortly will be, in the "Mike's Pick" section). Amazon send me from time to time, as well as a timely note on the impending arrival of Tony Buttler's latest on American bomber and attack projects, suggestions that I might like to invest in their digital reader but I remain resolutely unconvinced. I can see the point if using something like this for the comparative ephemera of newspaper or even magazine articles which can then be discarded without guilt and without either relying on a local refuse collection and having to remember on which day they collect paper or on a trip in my thirstymobile down to our local tip, but I like having and handling books. One of our constraints when we've moved has been an 8'6" dark oak book case which was my parents', and one of the first things we did if we found a house that we fancied - and will have to do if we're in the same position again - was to find a suitable wall against which to position it. Mind you, it could do with being bigger; there's enough piled in front of it at the moment that I can't get at those bound volumes of the Aeroplane (1946-58) carefully stashed away in the central bottom section.

The trouble is as you may well know to your own cost, or perhaps chagrin, acquiring books is much simpler than getting rid of them. I wonder if I've been unduly influenced by the clear memories of book burnings in 'thirties newsreels, a sight which can still make my flesh crawl, not only for what it its but for what it represents in the wanton destruction of knowledge (perhaps in a (much) earlier existence I was there at the destruction of the Library of Alexandria). I do sometimes cull parts of the odd shelf contents, but I'm haunted by the almost certain knowledge that within three weeks of getting rid of a book I shall need it desperately to refer to, whether for modelling or writing purposes; and with the best will, while I know I'm not that interested in a particular aeronautical aspect at the moment I'm quite likely to take a liking to it in a week or a month's time. You will of course recognise that this reasoning - reasoning? - applies equally to those kits on the shelves in my garage, one of which altough disregarded for ages I may need suddenly and urgently in a similar time frame.

In in this sort of scenario that the plastic and paper parts of my hobby interests can feed off each other. Though the number of Airfix TSR.2s that I bought on the kit's appearance my have seemed slightly over the top, the recent appearance of two new books on the Great White Hope/Elephant, in particular the Crowood offering by Damien Burke, means that I shall go back to one or two post-Telford, and if someone is kind enough to produce a resin nose for the projected fighter version that could account for another three or four. Equally a kit that pops up and engages my attention could well send me off on another quest for a suitable, and probably fairly expensive reference. It's just possible that the amount of modelling I can do could diminish with time; in that case - in the same way that I kept a strategic reserve of kits in case I was housebound or hospitalised - I have something to hand that will keep me occupied and continue to feed my interest; after SMW I may be so exhausted that "American Secret Projects - Bombers, Attack and Anti-Submarine Aircraft 1945-74" will, together with Junior Cat, will be an integral part of my immediate recovery programme. Perhaps I'll even read a few selected extracts to my granddaughter; if her current progress is anything to go by, in a couple of weeks she'll be reading them to me, based on the pictures even if her words won't be quite what the author had in mind.

Autumn Reading List

In our part of the world at least it's suddenly getting dark much earlier; it's also getting cold, but then I've never really been warm this "summer", at least not for more than two days at a time. So, not that I ever need an excuse to curl up with a good book - or a warm cat - I'm pleased with a sudden influx of reading matter. You may know that I'm a sucker for series - I blame Dick Barton, Special Agent, which not only kick-started to the addiction but had one of the best theme tunes of all time - and as well as radio and TV, and indeed kits, this manifests itself regularly in my book acquisitions. First of this batch is in Roger Chesneau's excellent "From the Cockpit" series, this time covering Sir Sydney's final piston-engined fighter the Sea Fury. This is principally a collection of personal reminiscenes and photographs of the aircraft, written and compiled by Captain Alan J Leahy, who was also responsible for the Sea Hornet volume. A brief history of the type's development and entry in to service is followed by Captain Leahy's own accounts of his time on the aircraft, and then others' tales, all accompanied by an excellent collection of photos of the Sea Fury, occasionally at rest but mostly in action. There are many of bent and battered aircraft, usually on carrier decks, but then as the author points out these were a necessary part of any subsequent investigation and have remained on file; from the modellers' point of view these are an excellent source of underside markings! An encouraging conclusion from many of these pictures is how many of those involved survived. The balance of the "action" pictures come from the Sea Fury's involvement in the United Nations "Police Action" in Korea, in which the Fleet Air Arm was in action from its outbreak, and Capt.Leahy is one of those contributing first-hand accounts. After these the squadrons are covered in numerical order with photos both of aircraft and people, and details of bases, carriers and Commanding Officers; they include Australian, Canadian and Dutch squadrons, second-line RN and those of the RNVR (the dissolution of which in 1957 was another very sad political decision). Finishing the book, in another consistent feature of the series, there are twenty-nine colour profiles and a four-view of one flown by the author, by series editor Roger Chesneau. A modeller himself, he makes an intriguing suggestion about the colours used on the early production Sea Furies, based on close examination of some of the photographs; he takes, quite rightly, great pride in the care with he takes in the selection, preparation, and if needed, restoration of the photos he chooses to include in this series. I shall be trying his suggestion shortly, though not necessarily on a Sea Fury. As with all in this series, this is a boon not just for the modeller but also for the enthusiast and historian, and for those who want to understand what it was like to fly these aircraft of a couple of generations ago. I've managed to overcome any potential guilt about recommending books with which those I know have been involved; Roger Chesneau is performing a real service in recording and preserving these memories, underlined by the passing of several of his contributors in the last couple of years. I can'r recommend this series, and this example, too highly.

the sound of Fourteen Merlins

One of my imperishable memories was - no, is - that of seven Sea Hornets in echelon starboard making a run and break before landing at Hurn. Even making allowance for my impressionable age - between leaving school and joining the air force I was doing a clerical job at the Airwork-run Fleet Requirements Unit at Bournemouth - the sight anD&V Hornets, Tony Buttlerd sound has never left me, and it gets the occasion nudge if Duxford assembles a really big Spitfire/Hurricane balbo. The Hornet, at least until the Navy decided to add an observer, was always one of the most attractive piston-engined fighters, an almost pure aerodynamic shape, and it's one of the great pities for aviation enthusiasts that there hasn't been one around just to see on the ground, let alone in the air, for a long time. While the naval side of the story has been told fairly recently in the Ad Hoc series, this book from Dalrymple and Vernon authored by the excellent Tony Buttler, with David Collins and Martin Derry, covers its time in light blue as well. The origins and development of the Hornet are related before accounts of its use by both services, and a chapter of "Reminiscences" preceeds a technical description and three appendices giving technical details, unit allocation for both RAF and FAA and colours and markings. The only quibble I have with this otherwise very good book is with this last section, which gives the colour of the rectangle of the 80 Squadron marking as "purple", when it should be "maroon"; admittedly it does look a touch purplish in the colour photos, but they or the aircraft look as though they've been somewhat affected by the heat (those in the forthcoming Freightdog decal sheet are maroon). Artist Mark Gauntlett has contributed seven large colour four-views and ten additional profiles, and the whole book is suffused with photos, some in colour. The book ends with an account of the Hornet Project formed by David Collins, whose contributions to the book are significant, to try and rebuild one of these beautiful aircraft for display using as much original material as possible; I look forward to seeing it, though the sound of fourteen Merlins will have to come from memory.

Colours and Shapes

These two themes play a large part in my selection of modellings subjects (the third leg of the tripod is probably nostalgia) and these two books cover an aspect each. The first comes with the twin recommendations of being compiled and written by Dick Ward and produced and published by Roger Chesneau's Ad Hoc PJaguar Squadrons, Richard L Wardublications, and addresses the colour question; the shape of the Jaguar is very familiar, though it's good to see the radome-nosed IM variant in what was called, well before the Jaguar's time, "glorious Technicolor". The coverage is what you see on the cover, with aircraft of each unit of each operator being illustrated in colour showing the unit markings - always, as you will know, a principal interest of mine - and the progressive variations in colour schemes. The squadrons are in numerical order for each service, and the non-operational units are also covered ("raspberry ripple" addicts are well catered for). There are also a considerable number of "special" schemes, frequently marking the disbandment of a unit, or in some cases a notable flying hours achievement. The Armée de l'Air has often gone to town on these, and Dick Ward's collaborator Yves Fauconnier has been assiduous in his compilation; Simon Watson has also been very thorough in his assistance with the Indian Air Force Jaguars. The RAF has had a few colourful Jaguars over the years, culminating in the "spotty" scheme on XX119 that marked the disbandment of 6 Squadron, and I think all of the British and French service and "special" finishes have been covered in decal form over the years; and modellers have been fortunate in having some good kits to which to apply them, at least in 1:72nd scale. The 160 pages are full of carefully chosen colour with very few shots reproduced over two pages, and little coloured background for the text (two of my current bete noirs (and yes, that 16 Squadron Jaguar is here). An excellent companion to the author's Lighting and Phantom squadron books, my only regret is that it's probably impossible to revise his Hunter book with the same treatment because of the lack of colour photos available for the type's early years of squadron service. "Jaguar Squadrons" is a fitting tribute to a type which had its detractors during its early years, but which at the end many of us thought was withdrawn, at least from RAF service, prematurely. Surely someone could have taken the hint from the "Flashman" colour scheme that was trialled in 2002 (page 70) and sent at least the finally upgraded and uprated Jaguars for a last hurrah in Afghanistan.


The series of Secret Projects books from Midland Publishing is now at the point wSecret Projects: Flying wings and tailless aircrafthere it demands a bookshelf of its own. Where those issued up to now have been organised by country of origin, starting of course with these from Germany which have become known as "Luftwaffe '46", this latest is as you can see devoted to a particular configuration. Of the six sections Britain, Germany and Russian have one each while the USA'a efforts are divided in to three. The British designs go from those of John William Dunne to Barnes Wallis' variable sweep projects and beyond, and many of the German WW II designs are now comparatively well-known, including those of the Horton brothers and Alexander Lippisch, usually in tandem with Messerschmitt. The US contributions are divided in to flying wings from 1935 to 1950 and from 1950 to 1990, and manned tailless aircraft from 1980 to 2030, and unsurprisingly the name of Northrop crops up regularly. The final chapter is that devoted to Soviet tailless aircraft fron the nineteen twenties to the 'eighties, including some seriously large designs, a category beloved of Russian designers. This volume is illustrated with photos, both of genuine aircraft and of models, with small plans and with artists' renderings; and the dust jacket by Timothy O'Brian is an excellent "taster" for the contents; we already have a kit of the B-49; perhaps someone - Unicraft? - would complete the model picture with a Cheranovsky BICh-26 or two. Please!

Chris Thomas is an erstwhile colleague and friend of long standing who has steeped himself in the Sea Fury's immediate ancestorTyphhon and Tempest Wings of 2nd TAF, Ospreys the Typhoon and Tempest; his father flew both in the second part of the war. With Christopher Shores he authored the recent series of Classic Publications on the Second Tactical Air Force, and his latest book is number 86 in Tony Holmes' Osprey Combat Aircraft series, "Typhoon Wings of 2nd TAF, 1943-45". Again, it adheres to a well-established layout, beginning with the aircraft's development and entry in to service, with its attendant problems. The organization of the wings is set out, and there is a chapter on the Wing leaders before starting on the operations for which the Typhoon became celebrated; these are divided in to the build-up to D-day, the Normandy campaign, and the winter and spring that led to victory.

The book is replete with photographs - again, like the Ad Hoc series, of men as well as machines - and its appendices cover the airfields and wings individually from their inception to the end of hostilities, with their squadrons, COs and Wing Commanders Flying and their movements from base to base. There's also a list identifying the numbered airfields that the Typhoon wings used in their progress across across Europe, and which were not wholly vacated until September 1945. And there are the colour profiles, forty of them produced by the author, who must be delighted finally to be able to include one of the near-mythical sharkmouthed Typhoon and to give its correct code and serial! The remote captions are as always very informative, and Chris notes that he still isn't sure about the colour of the inside of the mouth, but makes an informed guess. Quite a number of those illustrated have individual markings or motifs, and I hope someone will follow the book with decals; the Academy kit, and a considerable selection of "bits", appear still to be current (and not just in my garage). This lives up to the very high standards of both author and published, and you know you need it.

Wings of the Fleet, Aviation Workshop

One of the great early experiences of my post-retirement travels was my first visit to the US Naval Aviation museum at Pensacola; to be able to wander among those "yellow-wing" biplanes of the 'thities was pure pleasure. I've always enjoyed that category, and I must have made the Aurora Boeing F4B in the 'fifties, perhaps even in Canada. Following their earlier book on USAAC/USAAF aircraft of the same period, Peter Freeman and Mike Starmer have compiled for the Aviation Workshop its Navair equivalent, exemplified admirably by the two Grumman F3Fs on the cover, with their varying carrier and squadron colours - and of course the yellow wings, even if you can only see one of them - flying over Florida (sadly, Pensacola isn't marked). The colour illustrations open with a four-view of a Sopwith Camel, and conclude with an F4F of VF-41 on Ranger in December 1941. In between, as well as expected profiles, there are unexpected goodies; I didn't know that the Navy as well as the AAF carried out camouflage trials, in their case in 1940. They include some patterns with strongly resemble "dazzle-painting" and are in some ways reminiscent of the Keith Ferris schemes on F-4s and F-14s four decades later; if you have a couple of dusty Airfix Devastators in hiding this could be a good excuse to blow off the dust. The subjects are confined to single-engined aircraft, which is understandable even if it means missing out an early Coronado in full Technicolor. Even if you don't intend to use it for modelling inspiration this book is a great pleasure just to look through, and indeed to read. The captions are very informative, and for me have the great merit of not appearing to have any computer-derived and unneccessary repetition, one of my current bete noirs. The inside rear cover is a page of colour patches, with FS.595a numbers where possible, and a necessary caveat about thier possible inaccuracy, and facing it is a small selection of the carriers serving with the US Navy in December 1941. And just before that is page with eighteen F3Fs of VF-3, all wearing Felix the Cat and demonstrating the allocation of squadron and section colours, and those on aircraft tails indicating carrier assignment. I think I knew all this once, but to see it set out in order and full colour is sheer delight. And coming from the Aviation Workshop it's not unreasonable that given time - don't badger them, please - there will be decals. It's almost enough to make a chap take up rigging. If you feel the need to add a little colour to the grey days of autumn - not that they'll be all that different from the grey days of summer - get this and keep it close to hand; come to think of it, even if the sky returns to blue, get it anyway. It's a great pleasure.

I am continually astonished that new information, both written and photographic, about the event of the Second World War comes to the surface. With the current understandable enthusiasm for celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain - even the young chaps at the BBC have noticed! - there's considerable emphasis on memoirs of that period from both the British and German viewpoints, but this new book covers the whole period of the conflict with contribution from representatives of all the major aerial combatants, with the sole exception of the Japanese. Author Steve Bond has spent more than twenty-five years collecting his material, much of it in face-to-face interviews and working often through veterans and survivors organizations; he could find no Japanese equivalent. The transcriptions of these interviews have been very accurately reproduced, with pauses and hesitations, though the asterisks were not part of the verbal accounts; I know this because at a recent evening at the Milton Keynes Aviation Society, which Steve had a big part in founding and was for a long time its chairman, some of the recordings were integrated in to his Powerpoint presentation, and were absolutely fascinating.

The book is organised rather in the way of a service career, starting with the induction of the new recruit, and progressing through both ground and flying training to operations. While the largest part is taken by the RAF, and its volunteers from other countries, the Luftwaffe and the Soviet and Italian air forces and the USAAF are all properly represented. One of the entertaining aspects of the book is realising that the similarities between the nationalities frequently outnumber the differences. The ground crews, in particular those who serviced particular the aeroplanes which they regarded as "their kites", are given proper attention and recognition. There are chapter devoted to differing types of aircraft - fighters, bombers, coastal and so on - and to theatres of war such as the Eastern front and Mediterranean; the final chapter is "D-Day to VJ Day". There is a section of photos in the middle of the book, and others printed in with the text, particularly of those whose story is being told. The variety of aircraft involved is almost as great as that of the personnel; and there are even good words said about the Barracuda. This is a book to read, to consult, and to return to from time to time; one of the strongest threads running through it is the respect felt, on all sides, for the opponent; causes were for politicians, the consequent actions for the professionals. I found the book interesting, entertaining and at times moving; it's a pity that it's not accompanied by a CD of the interviews, but if Steve ever takes his presentation on the road I would urge you not to miss the added dimension listening to these recordings gives to this excellent book.

The publishers of SAMI and MAM are expandUSAF Special Operations Commanding the ranges of books that they produce and their most recent, described as a "Model Data File Extra", is on the USAF's Special Operations command, by author Andy Evans and the well-known American aviation journalist Rick Llinares. It has a brief introduction with the history of the role and the organization, starting with clandestine operations with B-17s and B-24s in the Second World War, and sets out the present AFSOC structure. Each type of aircraft currently on its strength, including no less than five C-130 variants as well as MH-53, HH-60G and CV-22, has its own very well-illustrated section with all but one having colour profiles and five having Walkarounds. The photographs are so prolific that I got the feeling that the author was at times straining for appropriate captions, and more than one seems a little misplaced. But overall it's a well-produced and modeller-friendly guide to a comparatively little covered subject, and the more welcome for that; I hope that others to follow will include equally slightly offbeat subjects. Transferred 18.10.10

Action Stations rebuilt!

Although this section started with the title "Pick of the Month" it's only too evident by now why I felt I had to reAction Stations Revisited Vol.2name it; this pick, or rather picks, have been in my hand for over a month now, and though it's been only too easy to get sidetracked - always a weakness of mine - while doing some reading before actually writing these books up I had really intended to get to them sooner. Publishers Crecy had a stand at Duxford for Flying Legends, and had an offer on these which was virtually four for three; and an added bonus was that author of Volumes 1 & 2 Michael Bowyer was signing them; I had met him a few years back at another Duxford event, and while he was sat at the table we got in to a long, fascinating and very entertaining conversation. With his interest and imagination fired by the passage of the R.101 over Cambridge he has been recording aviation matters since 1935, and among the many works of his to which I am regularly indebted his "Fighting Colours" - originally I think a series of articles in Airfix Magazine - is in a constantly handy place of the shelves nearest my workbench. The original Action Stations series has been around for a long while and has already, I think, been the subject of some updating; thse four volumes have been not so much overhauled as completely re-written, and after looking at them at Legends I kicked myself for not having added to my shelves sooner (though it's true that in this case - unlike its use by the Treasury - procrastination does seem to have saved me money!).

The geographic spread of each is indicated by their subtitles, and there is a representation of the area on the lower right hand corner of each cover. All four are profusely illustrated to accompany their accounts of the vast nAction Stations Revisited Vol.3umber of airfilds covered, and in the unlikely event that you're being stuck for what to model Action Stations Revisited Vol.4 next there is so much potential inspiration. There is much pleasure in browsing through each book and, I'm pleased to say, serious chance of being sidetracked while looking for something else entirely. The introductions are fascinating to read, and the individual entries are a source of continual and sometimes surprising interest if somewhat depressing as you start to realise how much history has been lost. Nevertheless there is much enjoyment in these pages, whether looking for a particular entry (or even, if travelling, destination), for coverage of a particular historical period - and the Battle of Britain features considerably across all four of the volumes - or just in a quiet moment browsing for the enjoyable and unexpected. Crecy have done us a real service in refurbishing and extenting these books, and judging by the sectioned little map on the back cover there should be three more to come to complete the coverage of the British Isles. And I cherish my chat with Mike Bowyer, someone to whom modellers and historians alike owe a very great deal for his recording of events and subsequently making them available for our use, and - I hope! - that of succeeding generations.

More than just the sum of the parts

To be included in this section, a prime requirement is that I've enjoyed building the model - or reading the book - and somehow I want to get that over to any reader. There is usually more than one factor that contributes to this enjoyment, and this is a good example; in this case the ability to add one, and perhaps later another, of these to my contribution to a "What If?" display - and this, especially if there's a "double-take" factor", is always a plus for me - originated with a note from Colin Strachan of Freightdog/Pegasus telling me that this would be his next conversion subject, and my immediate recourse to the appropriate Tony Buttler Secret Projects book, in this case on British Jet Bombers, to look up the history and thereby decide in what guise I could finish the model. Research is always one of my great pleasures when approaching a model subject, and as you may be well aware colours and markings are as big a factor as any in determining what I do next.

It was apparently Roland Beamont's suggestion very early in the testing of the first Canberra prototype that with a suitable radar it would make an excellent night fighter; by 1956 the English Electric design team had devised the P.12, based on the Mark 8 airframe and engines to which they added a radar, a Napier Double Scorpion rocket enginEnglish Electric P.12 resin nosee pack and provision for two of the large Vickers Red Dean missiles either on or under the wing tips. These three elements and a pair of wing tip extensions comprise the resin conversion, designed to fit the recent Airfix kit; the 8 has always been my preferred mark of Canberra, and I had recently enjoyed making the kit; but with its use by the RAF limited to five squadrons, most of which I've modelled over the years. The opportunity to build a slightly different one and continue my aim of perpetuating the markings of units long defunct was very welcome, and I started looking at possible night fighter squadrons, and such markings as I might have, probably in an old Modeldecal Meteor NF set. What settled my Master Plan though was finding a strip of SAM decals which were for a selection of lesser-known Javelin units, topped by a pair of large 141 Squadron markings including a leopard's head between two black and white bars. Remote consultation with Paul Lucas, who waEE P.12 resin tips and rocket packs also responsible for the resin castings, convinced me to stick with the grey/green/silver scheme worn by all Javelins, and all that remained was to put the Canberra together; the new nose fitted cleanly and snugly in place of the kit's nose transparency and the curved wing tips can be taken off easily at a panel line to add the extension on to which the missiles fit directly. The small paired rocket nozzles in their pack fix on to the closed bomb bay doors, and the pack is delicately curved to fit. I fitted the bomb bay's internal structure in to the fuselage thinking it would give it a little additional rigidity, but this did take a little of the space in to which I would otherwise have fitted weight; as it was, a considerable amount of little metal balls held in place by plasticene and positioned carefully ahead of the main wheel axis was only just sufficient to sit the model on its nose wheel; I have yet to put it out on display, but I suspect I shall be taking a little blutack with me on Sunday. I wonder if they do one in tarmac colour?

Having found that Modeldecal had in fact included 141's bars on one of their sheets, I figured it would be possible to apply these either side of the fuselage roundel as well as applying the fin marking, though I would have to offer a justification for all this display of "ownership"; and I was additionaly pleaCanberra FAW.8b, 141 Sqn sed that I'd found these when the SAM decals surreptitiously disappeared, something that as you may know happens with regrettable regularity in my work area. And around this time I was painting the two enormous Red Deans - they were sixteen feet long - guided by a colour photo in the Secret Projects missile volume; for much of the last year I've been using the different shades of metallic "silver" in the acrylic "Mr. Metal Color" range that I get through the genial Brian of MDC at sundry model shows, and as well as using two different shades on the missile bodies I used others on the fuselage underside around and behind the Double Scorpion installation (and I even dry-brushed a liitle more to apply "soot" behind the rockets, the first time I've done that for years!). At this stage it occurred to me that I could apply a version of the unit's black and white bars to the rockets' forward fins; this would, in addition to the double application of markings to fin and fuselage, mark the squadron's 45th anniversary in 1963 and apply only to the boss's aircraft, as shown by the pennant on the nose. Hand-painting the fins was probably the most time-consuming part of the whole exercise!.

TEnglish Electric P.12 Canberra FAW.8b, 141 Squadronhis has been on my workbench with several other works in progress - which are due to appear themselves in their proper place - and which I've also enjoyed researching, devising their back stories where necessary, making and writing up. I really can't explain why this one in particular has given me particular pleasure. Maybe it's because it's based on a good, straightforward kit with easy to apply modifications, or at least that helps; and of course it's in 1:72nd, which means I'm dealing with pieces that are big enough to hold on to, or at least find when I drop them. This weekend I'll be putting on a "What If?" table, interested as always in the comments; and I liked this one so much, I have a fancy to do a longer range, higher altitude version based on the PR.9. After all, I still have one or two of those SAM decals left, as well as Dick Ward's Meteors and a Eurodecal Venom collection: 253, perhaps.

Son et Lumiere

Looking to post a first report on my recent visit to the US East Coast, I found that I've put nothing in this section since my comments on last year's Oshkosh; time being of the essence, and following a brief saga over the photos from the trip, here's a very quick entry with three photos, and the promise - all right, the firm intention - to expand it very soon. The opening event was an air show at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in NoAeroshell Texan at MCAS Corus Christirth Carolina, home of the AV-8B, divided in to two parts; an evening display on the Friday with flying starting at dusk followed by two more usual daytime displays over the weekend; on Sunday we went to a "Warbird" occasion at Virginia Beach.

The Blue Angels' "Fat Albert" opened the night event with an impressive take-off and climb away in to the darkening sky but, alas, without the sheets of flame formerly provided by the "Jato" bottles; the story we heard was that the bottles, or some necessary part of them, can no longer be made. There were fireworks from a microlight and a helcopter - this was named "Otto", but when I suggested its full name was probably "Otto Rotate" no one believed me - but for me the real event of the evening was a really tight formation display by the four Texans of the Aeroshell team, illuminated VAQ-129 Growler, Corpus Christi May 2010as you see in the photo. My attempts to take a shot of them in the air were unsuccessful, but to me they seemed as close as in their daytime show, and they really are very good; and for me the sound of four T-6s, carrying whichever name, is second only to that of multiple Merlins. One of the goodies on show was an F/A-18G Growler - this seems to be the official, rather than the nick-, name - in operational unit markings, those of VAQ-129 Vikings, and with assorted lumps which will I trust appear in resin shortly. The Saturday display included a "role demonstration" which required an attack on the airfield using as much Marine Air hardware as possible and a considerable number of flashes and bangs; I'll get back to it and the particular delight it gave me in these pages, and it should also find its way in to a forthcoming "Sector Scan" in Military Aircraft Monthly (I refuse to be" International"). And here's another Forthcoming Attraction, and I promise she's aviation related...

Spitfire, the Hangar Cat

It seems - no, it is - quite a while since I returned from my US trip, but before I get to the UK shows, let me re-introduce you to Spitfire, the Hangar Cat at the Fighter Factory near Virginia Beach and a couple of her charges.

The Storch was virtually rMiG-3 Fighter Factory May 2010eady for flight, waiting I think for paperwork, when we saw it; butFieseler Stotch, Fighter Factory May 2010 I would really like to see the MiG-3 in th air someday - waht a coup that would be for Flying Legends. And of course there would always be room for another Spitfire .


Spitfire on patrol, Fighter Factory May 2010

The Sukhoi, the Carpet Monster and the Bad Modeller's Handbook

Unicraft often put illustrations of their projected kits on their website long before they get anywhere near production; to be fair, their captions often give a clue as to the status of each kit, though the interpretation as a timescale is the reader's. I think that was where I first saw the drawing of the Sukhoi Su-10, looking like an Il-28 that had been seriously compromised by a Short Sperrin, even before it appeared in the Tony Buttler/Yefim Gordon "Bombers" book in the Soviet secret project series. While I have regular, and usually well-founded, reservations about Unicraft's kits and my ability to bring them to a successful conclusion they do make it possible to tackle usually unlikely projects that would be otherwise unavailable in three dimensions, and I was very taken with the Su-10; as soon as it neared the top of the releases column on the website I contacted Adrian Hampson of Lonewulf and put in my heartfelt request. He was able to hand the kit over at Telford last November, and having had a good look at it I determined that it would be something round to which I would have to get in the New Year; it was February by the time I was started it, but this did give me time to go firm on my intended colour scheme, thanks to an Il-28 set from HiDecal Line. I avoid "silver" finishes if at all possible - unless it's a Lightning, of course - and as I'd had in mind a DDR aircraft all along anyway it was lucky that the one camouflaged example in the set was theirs.

Unicraft's resin is generally a pale biscuit colour, and can look a little coarse; my good intention for the Su-10 was to cover it in a Mr.Surfacer as a trial, but either I couldn't find the bottle at the time or, more likely, I got carried by the Need to Get On with the model. either through a sudden time pressure or sheer enthusiasm for wanting to see the aircraft take shape. Unicraft's interiors are basic at best; the Su-10 comes with three seats, an instrument panet for the driver and another for the navigator/radio operator, though its intended position wasn't clear to me. There was no cockpit floor, which would also have to carry the nosewheel, so I cut a plastic card rectangle and trimmed it to an approximate fit (when did I aim for any other kind?). The interior of the cockpit area is somewhat uneven, and even with a certain amount of trimming, fitting and trimming again I don't think the floor was absolutely level, but it seved the function of carrying the three seats and accomodating a mounting hole for the nosewheel leg. As a parallel operation I had trimmed and fitted the two over-and-under nacelles to the wing halves, and filled and sanded the joins before attaching them to the fuselage. It wasn't till I looked at the model with the wings firmly attached that I realised that neither nacelle was quite vertical, but it's all right if you don't look at it from head-on.

With the two halves of the body joined I set about fitting the transparencies, and through my own fault - or in this case, even faults - gave myself a run of grief. The transparencies are thin and vacformed, which in itself is not normally a problem; but having decided to fit the tail gunner's first, I had the bright idea of preparing it at the end of the day, and getting back to it when I could; at this stage I dropped it on the carpet, and as it was late decided to find it the next morning. It has not reappeared since. Never mind, I was sure I could replace it from my drawer full of "glass" bits; well, no, but finding another apparently suitable clear vacform as part of the kit I started to adapt it to fit between the rudder and the tailcone. Only when I had cut awat a sizeable part of this to Sukhoi Su-10, Target Towinh Wing 33, DDRmake it fit - well, almost - did I realise that what I had just cut up was the crew canopy! That was solved, after a fashion, by a visit to my old friends at the Aviation Hobby Shop and their small wall of Aeroclub canopies; I picked one which seemed reasonable and had the benefit of being intended for a Sukhoi Su-7, which not only kept it in the family but had the additional benefit of having a fairing for a rear-view mirror; you'll see the benefit shortly. And then another quick session of late night modelling saw the nosewheel disappear; I was standing up, probably because my chair was occupied by something I didn't want either to move or to sit on, when the wheel snapped off its leg while I was doing a little remedial sanding and vanished in to the undergrowth; it hasn't been seen since, either. I was rescued one more by Aeroclub, in this case with a Buccaneer nosewheel which looks about right; next time I see the Soviet SIG I must ask them for the Russian for "close enough for Government work".

As far as I know no one does "official" DDR colours for models, but the HiDecal instructions did give the Humbrol numbers (117 and 185) for the green and brown topsides, which I duly followed, and which to me look sufficiently "non-NATO" to be convincing. The underside light blue-grey is given as a mix, to which I am ususlly averse, and I was passing a gaming workshop emporium in the City of Milton Keynes when I went in on a whim and emerged with a Citadel acrylic foundation in "Astronomican Grey" (me neither) that looks the part exactly. The port nacelle's lower intake had a fairly substantial chip in the rim, so I decided to use it as a FOD scar, and emphasise it by putting coloured rims on each intake; red and yellow seemed appropriate, and they emphasise the nacelle layout. The Il-28 whose scheme I stole belonged to Target Towing Wing 33, which not only gave a reason for the rear-view mirror to monitor any over-enthusiastic students breaking off rather late from their high quarter attacks, but also meant that I didn't need to find the cannon for the tail and mid-upper positions that weren't supplied with the kit, and sadly don't appear in an Aeroclub listing. The unit's badge is on the nose, and I changed the aircraft number from 208 to 820 - subtle, eh? - hoping that the altered identity didn't belong to another.

The finished model will never win a prize, particularly for the "exercise of modelling skills", but I'm reasonably happy with the result; in spite of the various mishaps along its way, it does look much as I thought it would when I first had the mental picture. It may or may not ever find its way to a What If? SIG table at some future show, though it could possibly be used as a prompt for "how could this have been done better?" questions. There is a wavering memory that comes back from time to time of a slim volume called "The Bad Cook's Cookbook", which as I recall was largely a way to rescue culinary disasters, and when I was writing Tailpiece in SAM I floated the idea of a Bad Modeller's Handbook, which would have a similar purpose. While it might not work as a stand-alone publication, I still think that a series of articles on this theme would be useful, if enough "experts" could be persuaded to go in to the confessional. If there's Someone Out There that would like to offer a contribution from time to time, I'd be happy to launch their thoughts in to cyberspace.

Two last thoughts; as I understand it, Soviet aircraft tended to change designations when they changed from prototype to production status, but that's in the "too difficult " tray, so I've stuck with Su-10. And of course it would have needed a "Nato reporting name" of two syllables beginng with B, but those that occurred to me quickly were somewhat unsuitable, especially over the r/t; however, anyone for Blowtorch? Transferred 15.08.10


'allo, matelot

A few months back I made a rather depressing pair of models marking the centenary of the Royal Air Force; the F-22 carried the colours of 9/12 Squadrons, Royal Flying Corps and its companion was a Rafale with a fin code of HMS Prince of Wales and the markings of 801 NAS, Royal Naval Air Service. As part of the new owners' requirements the Rafale carried Amraams and Asraams, so the Hobby Boss kit bequeathed me a pair of Martra Magics and two longer-range miisles which at the time of writing I haven't yet identified but which are obviously French (oh, for the days when the instruction sheets would give this sort of information!). Then, of course, I needed to find a use for them.

Somewhen around the same time Model Art set 72/060 materialised, with decals for FAA Seahawks and Aéronavale Super Etendards; I'd already considering extending the rather small number of Naval Air Squadrons equipped with Sea Harriers using the new Airfix kits, and then I recalled the trials of "XY125" with the French Navy, and had that led to an order then they would have progressed in time to the Shar 2 fitted of course with French missiles. I bought the two Airfix kits when they first appeared, and the FA.2 was within easy reach; and anyone knows how to make a Harrier, surly; so maybe that was why I didn't look at the SAM Publications book on the Shar until after I'd fixed the airbrake up (I plead the long-term habit of ensuring that Hunter airbrakes don't droop on the ground). I'd heard fairly sniffy comments on this kit, and the panel engraving is more pronounced than is common these days. Consulting the Model Art instructions for the correct colours they said merely Gris Bleu Foncé and Gris Bleu Clair, and an e-mail to Jean-Pierre gave me no further enlighenment. I should of course have shuffled through all those back issues of Replic and Wingmasters, but instead I found a couple of Xtracolor tinlets carrying those names; tFrogshar 2here are - or rather were, as they seem no longer in production - WW II shades, with the Clair looking rather more Bleu than Gris, but I told myself that it could be an anniversary scheme. The roundels were taken from the Rafale sheet, but the rest are Model Art, and I picked the seahorse of 11F; I've thought for a long time that the Aéronavale unit badges are very attractive, and while it's a pity that they're only small at least they're in colour!

You may have noticed by now that part of my Master Plan is as yet unfulfilled; with the exception of the tanks, the pylons are bare. The small sprue of missiles, carefully set aside at the time the Rafale was built have mysteriously disappeared, and I doubt if even my voracious Carpet Monster could have swallowed them without at least a touch of indigestion. When they resurface I'll apply them in the approved manner; at least it's next possible public outing won't be before the show at Coventry at the end of June.

And sSea Harrier 2, 12F Aeronavaleo it came to pass, but only just in time. The Carpet Monster gave up the ex-Rafale missiles which were duly affixed to le Shar (though it's still hiding a TV remote and my small and middle-sized orange Sandviks) and while I know those on the wing pylons are Magics, I'm less sure about the longer range missiles for which I've used pylons like those which held the RN's Amraams; I think their M.550s, but the French SIG wasn't at Coventry for me to ask.

It was at the Salisbury meeting at the beginning of June the the thought of an FAA - or more probably RNAS - Hawkeye occurred.I saw another modeller with the Hasegawa kit of the Hawkeye 2000 under his arm, and though I thought it was somewhat expensive at around £33.00 I went back to a stand where I'd seen one earlier and as well as the Hasegawa kit found one by Fujimi for £20.00, which I thought made a reasonable Senior Citizen Discount. After confirming that this did have the eight-blade propellors that are a distinguishing feature of this variant money changed hands.By the end of the afternoon I'd decided that it would join the Rafale as part of the Prince of Wales' air wing, and because it obviously called for a red dragon as part of its markings it would wear the insignia of D Flight, 849 NAS thoughtfully provided on Model Art set 72-043. And of course it would have red spinners. As you'll see from the photo, I did get that bit right, but....

A couple of brief comments on the kit; apart from the new propellers this was presumably an update to E-2C from the original Fujimi Hawkeye, and it wasn't until I came to paint the "radar" on the nose usinf some recent "Combat Aircraft" photos as reference that I realised that the nose should have been lengthened, being rather more pointed than the model allows for. And I had problems - mine, I suspect, rather than the kit's - getting the canopy to seat properly; the transparent part protrudes somewhat in front of the windscreen, forming what seems to be the area of the anti-glare, and had I fitted it earlier in the build I might have been more vigourous in reducing its width for a better fit. I had planned to get a second example on which to use at least one of the very colourful decal choices on the recent set from Authentic Decals which I'be bought in anticipation; however, I may take advantage of Hannants' "Duxford discount" to get one of the Hasegawa E-2Cs for at least a little less; one of the AD options has a very patriotic scheme that looks almost "bicentennial". That CAG really wanted to wave the flag. And thanks to Kit Spackman's spares stash, I'm mulling over an EV-22.

Transferred 11.08.10

After the AZ Spiteful it was only to be expected that they'd follow it with a Seafang, the main difference being of course a split rudder with the lower section holding the hook. The kit has been issued in two boxings with the one I picked, marked as an F.32, carrying the notation "Special What If?". The kit decals are for a grey/sky FAA aircraft with "Suez stripes", a dark blue RAN one with a Nowra tail code and the third in Spanish air force colours, though the logic of the last eludes me! However about the same time I brought the kit home I ran across an old Tally Ho! set for Hellcats in the Far East, mostly in sea blue gloss but with one of these in extra dark sea grey/dark slate grey, and wearing - as you can see from the photo taken before the application of the markings - white ID bands and spinner. This scheme was worn by an 808 NAS aircraft on HMS Khedive off the Malay Coast at the end of hostilities, but I used the red codes of 898 NAS, who flew from HMS Pursuer. The upper wing roundels for the Hellcat were so big that they would not only have covered the aileron but flowed over the leading edge of the Seafang's wing, so I settled for something more modest from the same sheet. The kit itself is a straightforward "short-run" production without locating pins, and presumably as a hold-over from the Spiteful both a five-bladed propeller and a six-blade contra-prop are included. Interior detail consists of a floor, stick, seat and instrument panel; there is a gunsight which attaches to the latter if you can stop it falling and burrowing into the carpet. The injection-moulded canopy is very clear. I have a second kit put aside in the hope that there's a set of post-war RCN decals on the way; from memory, some of their Seafires wore particularly interesting roundels. This is a good basic kit which, even if a little pricey, is a pleasure to make; and it's only in this fashion that we're likely to get some of the lesser-known aircraft in kit form. Transferred 05.08.10

Am I nearly here yet?

If you are an assiduous visitor, my apologies - you may have noticed that it's been a while since I posted anything. I nearly had a couple of things ready almost three weeks ago, but didn't quite have them done before going on holiday; never mind, I was only planning to be away a week, but then the earth decided to get its revenge on air travel and yet another plan didn't survive contact with the enemy. Still, we are returned, and trying to play catch-up using among other things a Seafang and a Sukhoi 10, and this Saturday I'm planning to go to the Newark museum where they're holding a V-Foece gathering. Having spent a non-flying year after I came back from 2 TAF with a Valiant squadron at Marham - it was one of our signallers, Jack Kendrick, who christened it "El Adem with grass" - who knows if I'll meet anyone from 148?

(later, in another part of the forest....) Sadly, while there were others from 148 who signed in during the day on Saturday while I was there, they were all on the squadron after I had left (to fail the Meteor course, but that's another sad story). Still, I was heartened to see the memory of the Valiant being kept alive, and there's a website whose address I'll put up here just as soon as I can find the jacket I was wearing on Saturday. It is widely rumoured, by the way, that the Airfix kit may not now appear until next year; but I note that a decal sheet for the type has just popped up on the "New Arrivals" page of Hannants' shiny new website. Maybe there's the opportunity for another TSR.2 in the meanwhile, and time to get a campaign for a B.2 conversion well under way.

Achtung, Tucano!

At Duxford's opening display for 2010, there were small groups of apparently bereft modellers - it's always a good place to meet fellow addicts, and there's a long-standing jest about a peripatetic IPMS Branch that only comes to life at these displays - unable to find their familiar source of yellow bags, filled by pre-ordered goodies. Hannants were unable to mount their customary presence; Mr Models, a frequent supporter of model shows, was there but somehow didn't take on the "Gathering Room" role. We can only hope that normal service will be resumed in time for Flying Legends, though this year I shall only be there on the Sunday; there's a powerful counter-attraction up the road at Ely on the same weekend, though thankfully the artistes that I really want to see - in fact would cross many roads for - will be appearing on the Saturday. There are rumours of a DB-engined 109 and a pair of replica 190s for Duxford; please let them be there on the Sunday!

As for last weekend's show, it was a reasonable opening day, and I liked the two 1940-camouflaged Tucanos; I just failed, by two minutes, to get to the flightline walk, all my own fault.but I attach a picture kindly sent me by long-time modelling colleague Keith Sherwood, who was there on the Saturday. No doubt a decal sheet will appear in due course, and I'm glad to see that the sky undersides look right, but those code letters look very white. There will now by another short intermission while I go off to watch Harriers in the dusk, volcanic activity permitting; more, I hope, next month. Transferred 04.08.10

Ceena 190s/195s at Lakeland April 2009

You will recall - oh, yes, you will - that when I went to Sun 'n' Fun in April I fell in a big way for the Cessna 190 series, seen here in a line up at Lakeland. One of my hopes for Oshkosh therefore was to see many more of them, which I thought at first wasn't going to happen; but first, by courtesy of Ian Allan, ae went to Dayton.....

The Wrights, B'Gosh

Brazilian Tucano aerobatic team, Dayton Air Show 18.07.09

Before going to the USAF Museum we spent the Sunday at the Dayton air Show, and for its highlight was the performance by the Brazilian aerobatic team, the Esquadrilha da Fumaca, in their green and blue Tucanos. Like their Canadian equivalent the Snowbirds they put on a tight, compact and continuous display in relatively low-powered aircraft, maintaining excellent formation and with the Brazilian Tucanos in mirror formation, Dayton Air Show 18.07.09occasional stunning manoeuver; their use of the multiple aircraft mirror formation was absolutely splendid. The term "world class" is sadly abused these days, but this team really deserve it. The polo shirt in my size was alas sold out, but I did get their great "jungle" hat, in which I may well be seen posing at UK air shows for the rest of this year. The static included Ospreys and AV-8Bs from the Marines, that had to their regret - and ours - not been able to get permission from their management to display. The Harrier IIs, from VMA-542, wore not only a tiger's head on their fins but an eastern ideograph on their noses, dating from the Pacific campaign of the Second World War, which translates as "Here there be Tigers!" (a decal sheet, please). The CO's aircraft with the coloured markings was a radar-equipped AV-8B Plus, and the other a Night Attack variant; apparently all USMC front-line Harrier squadrons have a similar mix.

MV-22 Osprey 5852 ES-00 VMM-266 Dayton Air Show July 2009

Somehow I've missed out in the last two or three years in seeing an Osprey airborne, though I saw one in a static at Pensacola a year or two back. Dayton had two on show, one of which was usually in a folded configuration and which at one stage did its transformation in front of its public, but while I was elsewhere. Here it is in its oven-ready state, and with the little bit of colour allowed on the CO's aircraft doing a fraction to lighten the grey that hung around all the morning, though it did part briefly to give the Tucanos a decent backdrop. The services' "Golden Knights" FH-227 Dayton Air Show July 09participation was not as great as I'd expected, but the army's "Golden Knights" parachutists jumped out of their perfectly serviceable FH-227, whose DoD designation has temprarily deserted me. The Thunderbirds' F-16s took part, with the "stirring" theme music as they taxied out seemingly as long, and even more repetitive, than their show; I hesitate to call it a performance, but I keep/kept reminding myself that they are an Aerial Demonstration Squadron, rather than an aerobatic team.

One of the USAF assets that was in the static area was an RC-135W "Rivet Joint" intelligence gatherer from the 55th SRW at Offutt. I got chatting to one of its crew; the American services are always seemingly r55th SRW RC-135W at Dayton Air Show, July 2009elaxed over talking about their jobs, especially on home soil, and I raised the possibility of the RAF getting them for 51 Squadron, and that they would be after all fairly aged airframes.I was told that three relatively low-houred tankers have already been identified, and that the necessary equipment could be assembled and fitted in fairly short order once the ink was dry on the contract; the USAF have apparently a well-practised "production line" for this task. This photo of the one on display probably doesn't show its best profile, but it gives some idea of the positive forest of aerials that it carries, looking rather like an eruption of fungi!

A while back I bought the Model Alliance US Coast Guard decal sheet which included markings for their H-65 MH-65C Dolphin 6506, USCG Mobile, Dayton Air Show July 09Dolphins, and I was delighted to find one in the static area. This one, from the USCG facility at Mobile, isMH-65C interior

an MH-65C, having been recently upgraded for reconnaisance and surveillance, tasks which have grown considerbly since "9/11", and has a number of additional bumps and aerials (I must check if the MA resin set for the Dolphin is applicable). I was intrigued to find that various parts of the back end are not symmetrical, with the endplate fins toed in and the rear boom "bent" slightly to one side; from my memory, this assists a run-on landing if the tail rotor fails. Removal of one of its blades was another part of the recent modifications, and the eleven remaining blades are not quite evenly spaced (I shall probably have forgotten by the time I have to judge a model in competition). To assist my memory, and perhaps yours, I also have a photo of the cabin for colour information.

And as was only right and proper the day included a Wright biplane, in this case a replica of the 1911 Type B which was flown as part of the display; secure in the knowledge that it would surely fly again in the afternoon I didn't rush to take its picture airborne. Another mistake, but here it is in front of the Tucanos.

Wright Type B replica, Dayton Air Show 2009


Two engines, eight wings

One of the ideas I had in mind when I started this enterprise was that I would comment on what I was building as I went along rather than waiting until I'd finished a model or, as in this case, models. Last year - at the IPMS Barnet meeting at the RAF Museum, I think - I came across Pheon Models and their superb-looking decal sheets, but as what I registered at the time was that however attractive they were for 1:48th World War subjects I figured that they weren't for me; I did have a long and entertaining discussion with the very engaging Rowan Broadbent, though, and this was continued at Telford. On that occasion, I had a good look ts the proposed Sopwith Triplane decals, not least because I've always liked the type and it's three-wing layout made it a little different - still does of course, when you see it at Old Warden - and I found that one of the chosen subjects rejoiced in the name of "The Oozlum Bird", a mythical creature that, asI recalled from the days of my youth, flew in ever-decreasing circles until it performed an anatomical impossibility (perhaps this'll be explained more satisfactorily on the instruction sheet). While I thought I'd recently seen a Revell "Tripehound" on my storage shelves at home, I toured the Telford stands looking for another just in case - and after all there are something thirty or more options on the sheet - and placed an advance order with Pheon, which would I knew take a while, not least because of their upcoming move to Foreign Parts. In the meantime, and having checked with the illustration on view via the Britmodeller forum and discovering the basic colours were PC.10 and Natural Linen, I laid in the appropriate Xtracolors and decided to get the model underway ahead of the arrival of the markings.

While looking at the Triplane illustrations, I had a quick look at those for the Fokker Dr.1; the set for these triplanes, all of JG II, has thirty options from four Jastas!. And whenever I'd looked at the Anigrand Craftswork website I'd been somewhat intrigued by their 1:72nd Fokker V.8, not solely because they rarely venture in to WW I but also because of its five wings! Never one to neglect the obvious, I thought that combining the Pheon decals with the resin quinquiplane (?) would result in the sort of double-take that I really enjoy conjuring from those who pass by the "What If?" SIG table at shows. At the the time of writing the decals are still en route from Chateau Pheon, but I thought I'd try to create a little unnecessary tension by putting in a pic of the half-way stage; I may explain the Fokker's lack of wheels in the next instalment (and it will have a rudder as well).

A pair of small Shorts

Anigrand have an occasional habit of printing as part of their multi-subject decal she100 Sqn Sperrin and ETPS SB.5ets markings, and in particular serials, for as yet unreleased and sometimes unannounced subjects, and it was with some delight - and a little subsequent impatience - that I found VX158 in a corner of their Valiant decals. It's not that long since I made the Magna Short Sperrin - as the K.2 variant, naturally - and while I had had thoughts of a second in different colours the sheer size of the model was enough to make me think twice. What I had in mind was the grey/black Lincoln/early Canberra scheme, which struck me as apposite for what could have been the RAF's first strategic jet bomber. When the Sperrin appeared in thier future releases list therefore I wasn't exactly surprised but I was delighted, and started thinking of likely units, and of how I might finish the accompanying "mini-kits". The Javelin comes with 33 Squadron markings, and may well even get made "from the box", not least because it has a pair of Firestreaks, but the P.1127 prototype is still a subject of some indecision. The SB.5, however, in its final configuration with 69 degrees sweep and low-set tailplane was easy; what else but an ETPS raspberry ripple? The Sperrin has a 100 Squadron skull and crossbones on its tail, which came from the Aviation Workshop Canberra sheet; and their forthcoming V-Bomber book will also be accompanied by decals, in both 1:72nd and 1:144th which will add a range of possibilities, though my plan at the moment is for a Kipper Fleet MR.3. Both these two are really nice little kits, and went together quickly and well; and they were good fun in both planning and execution.

Three wings good - five wings better?

It is said that it was the appearance of the Sopwith Triplane that was responsible for Antony Fokker designing his own three-decker. which found its own niche in legend as well as in history. A logical (?) development of the Dr.1 was to apply another two wings, resulting in the V-8 and the coincidence of the appearance of the Anigrand kit and the Pheon Jasta II decals has enabled me to produce the accompanying somewhat bizarre and hopefully eye-catching device and, in accordance with my desperate need for a deadline, just in time for an appearance on the What If? SIG table as a model show at Old Warden. I never did find the missing wheel - I'd put it carefully to one side, attached to the axle for pre-painting - but a pair of Aeroclub wheels and four centimetres of plastic rod covered that self-inflicted wound, and the twin Spandaus are from the same source; positioning these involved a bit of guesswork, and the "hump" surrounding the engine which seemed an ideal place for them is some way ahead of the cockpit, so I had to assume that the pilot would have been given a remote control for the triggers which would not freeze at altitude. Doubtless Fokker had a Plan for the armament, but as the aircraft only flew twice - unsatisfactorily - he didn't get as far as an installation. I'm still looking for the written instructions, which I think I took somewhere in to a quiet corner for some private study, but fortunately I remembered enough from my early reading to attempt the streaky green colour for the upper surface; with the aid of the superb colour profiles which are an integral part of a Pheon decal set I used Humbrol 88 as a base colour, though I was only partly successful with my very thinned black "streak" overpainting. The yellow of the tail, which identified Jasta 19, again matched as far as possible with the colour top view, is Humbrol 81. What I can't remember was the name of the "owner" of the Dr.I that carried these rather fetching markings, and that annoys me; I shall have to find the instructions, to meet my own obsession with "corroborative detail" (I blame W S Gilbert) and to check the details for my second, which is likely to be basically all black. I may even progress to a Dr.I or two.

I've finished "The Ooslumburd" at the same time; as I still have the instructions for the Sopwith I do know that this belonged, for a fairly eventful five months in 1917, to the Manston War Flight; and given the vast selection of alternatives which are characteristic of Pheon's productions I shall have to make at least one or two others of the colourful examples on offer; somewhere I think I've got an oldish Czechmaster resin of the Armstrong-Whitworth FK.10 quadriplane, though as my Putnam "Every Boy's Book of the RFC" tells me that this was a two-seater reconnaisance aircraft I may have to find different decals (One and a Half Strutter, perhaps ?). Looking at the photo of the pair, it looks as though my flash had bleached out the red spot of the Sopwith's roundel - which I didn't notice until I put the picture on this page! - but in fact I seem to have left it off entirely; with luck I'll have covered my blushes and remedied the omission by the time this hits cyberspace. And I've got the Pheon SE.5a decals and the Roden kit beside me, having found that one of the markings is that for the 85 Squadron aircraft of Elliot White Springs, an American who was responsible for "Warbirds, the Diary of an Unknown Aviator", one of the great classics of early air warfare. My treasured copy carries my father's signature and the date "Jan.1930", which was the start of the year in which my parents were married; I must have read it first when I was about ten, and it seems always to have been part of my life and my aviation addiction. Mind you, I still won't rig the model.

Swift with a point

We all like to think that we've got a good idea of which kits are about to appear, but when the Xtrakit Swift FR.5 showed up on the Hannants London stand at the IPMS Milton Keynes show at the beginning of February it seemed to take everyone by surprise. Having unceremoniously grabbed one I liked the look of it in its wrap, and in particular the choice of WK293 which carried the markings of 79 Squadron on the rear fuselage and 4 Squadron on the nose, with the bonus of a zap by a Luftwaffe unit on the port intake. It wasn't until halfway through the day that some kind soul pointed out to me that there was no belly tank; and as from my memory the FR.5 didn't fly in squadron service without it, I decided that I couldn't make it in that form until some eagle-eyed maker of bits entered it in the aftermarket (I have good reason to believe that this won't take long, and couls well be accompanied by other modifications). However, not wishing to delay making the kit for too long it occurred to me that I had a spare Hawker P.1109 radar nose in a spares drawer, and that it could be applied with a minimum of carving and filling to the front end of the Swift. My original plan was to fir a pair of Firestreaks, but I found the Red Tops in my missiles drawer; bearing in mind that, with the problems that the Swift had at altitude I would use it in the low-levet "rat and terrier" role I though that the more advanced the missiles the better. It was the same role reasoning that led me to choose 65 Squadron as the unsuspecting recipient, bearing in mind that this had been one of their specialities with the Hornet. The fairing-in of the nose was done with Milliput, the first time I'd used it for quite a while; and to limit the amount of whittling I used the nosewheel bay that was part of the Freightdog conversion, and recarved the door accordingly. There may be the possibility of other marks; I would like to do a 56 Squadron F.1 because of one of my instructors on Vampires at 4 FTS; Al Martin did six sorties on the Swift before he left for CFS, and five of them were full emergencies. Incidentally, you'll see from the photo on the home page that the afterburner eyelids aren't as prominent as they should be, and this was my fault when I put it together (I'll make sure I get it right on my FR.5). The importance of the reheat was told me by one of the others on my Chivenor course when I saw him at Geilenkirchen with 2 Squadron; the runway there was 2,800 yards and if the reheat failed the unstick distance was 2,750!

Cold War Shield

You may already have seen in the Bookshelf section my instant response to Roger Lindsay's new masterwork "Cold War Shield, Volume 1" (you'll gather that I like it very much). There are expected to be three more volumes to fufil the description on the cover, "RAF Fighter Squadrons, 1950 - 1960". If I'd set out a Cold War Sheild, Roger Lindsayspecification for a book on a subject closest to my heart this would surely have been it, and Roger Lindsay has been close to its material since early in the period; already having a strong interest in aircraft recognition, which for those of us like-minded was an absolutely essential part of being an enthusiast, he joined the Royal Observer Corps in the early 'fifties. The function of the ROC, and his time with it, is covered in one of several appendices; another is on the RAF Open Days of the time, with the restrictions on the recording and photography of the aircraft on show probably being unbelievable to those ten years or so younger than Roger or I. These little background extras are as historical now as the book's coverage of the hardware, and will I hope be as interesting to future historians.

The aircraft covered in Volume One are, with the addition of the Hornet, those types that were in service at the end of the war and still on or close to the front line at the beginning of the decade. Early chapters are on the organisation of Fighter Command, with its structure and bases, the threat it faced and its training and tactics, and the generic camouflage, finish and markings of the period. Starting with the Spitfire each type is treated in turn - with the Meteor having a chapter for each mark - and covered squadron by squadron in numerical order. Each chapter has many photos accompanying the text, and includes pilots' accounts, a selection of serial/code tie-ups for each unit with arrival and departure dates and subsequent fates, and details of the unit markings. OCUs and support units are included - I didn't expect to see quite so many Ansons, and Valettas are also there accompanying Brigands, Balliols and Harvards - and there is a very good selection of colour photos at the end of the book, some of which must have eluded the restrictions mentioned earlier. Some inevitable gaps which these caused are filled by original paintings by Alfie Alderson showing the types covered in this volume in their natural habitat. There are colour profiles, and a very good selection of Meteor tails by David Howley, with a couple of pages of unit markings in colour and another of the official unit badges, including Groups and such units as the Central Fighter Establishment and the Armament Practice Stations at Acklington and Sylt.

This is a book that could have been tailored to my interests, but I am sure that it will find a readership beyond those for whom the 'fifties are not just an opportunity for nostalgia but represent the high-point of the post-war Royal Air Force. The foreword by Air Chief Marshal Sir Patrick Hine, who started his career on Meteors with 1 Squadron at Tangmere in 1952, remarks on the way the book captures the spirit of the time for those of us who were fortunate enough to be there, without glossing over some of the failings of the service in the period; many aircraft, and their crews, were lost. Volume 2, I understand, will include Vampires and Venoms in their various forms, and the F-86 Sabre (the Hunter must be for Volume 3, then). This volume was being marketed directly by the author - there's a web link in the book section - but at the IPMS Milton Keynes show recently it was on the Aviation Book Centre stand, so it may be worth contacting your Usual Supplier if you want to look at it first. This is an essential book for aviation historians, enthusiasts - who were there when "spotter" wasn't a derogatory term! - and for modellers, especially those with Meteor kits in waiting; I shall just about contain my impatience for the succeding volumes but it will be very, very hard.

Further reading

The bibliography for "Cold War Shield" could - indeed should - form the template for a shelf devoted to the aviation history of the period, and I'm happy to say that many of them are in various places around my workroom (some of them I can even find quite easily). They include a couple of volumes, "Last Take-Off" (1950-'53) and "To Fly No More"('54-'58) from Colin Cummings' series on post-1945 RAF accdents and losses, and he's just produced another,"Category Five", subtitled "A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009". I picked this up from the Aviation Book Centre at ModelKraft, and like Roger Lindsay's book it's also available directly from the author. It reinforces only too clearly Paddy Hine's point about the accident rate of the era - there are at least two names in there of young pilots with whom I trained - and it's a sobering reminder of what could have happened, especially to those of us who look back on the period with nostalgia, though at the time it was easy to believe that it would only happen to someone else.





Broad arrows

I don't, as you know, make models with more than one wing; I tried rigging such devices when I was much younger, using stretched sprue, piano wire (Tony Woollett's preference) or rhe stretchy stuff from Aeroclub under the personal guidance of John Adams, but I failed successively and miserably to get my little fat fingers round the problem, helping thereby to place myself firmly in the "assembler of plastic kits" category rather than that of "modeller". However, as you may have seen from a recent "Workbench" entry, I have been drawn back in to the era, if not the practice of rigging, by some new decals from Pheon Models (Pheon is the Greek (?) for "broad arrow", in this case an allusion to the old War Department symbol) and in particular by the presence of The Ooslumbird, a Sopwith Triplane of the RNAS War Flight at Manston in July 1917. And the appearance from Anigrand of the five-winged Fokker V.8 led me also to order the decals for the Fokker Triplanes of JG.2. The models are still under way, but probably won't qualify for the "Pick" page, though I shall finish their tale on the "Workbench" section in due course. The decals, though, certainly deserve a place here. Those for the Sopwith have markings for twenty-eight aircraft, including the sole French and RFC examples, and come with wing roundels and rudder stripes for four models; the individual markings include where necessary coloured wheel hub covers. The very comprehensive booklet of instructions has, as well as details of each subject, the history of the "Tripehound", nots on available kits in both 1:48th and 1:72nd scales - the decals are available in both - and general colouring notes with comments on both PC10 and PC12. After ordering the decals from Rowan Broadbent at ScaleModelWorld I went on a hunt for the Revell 1:72nd kit, and added two to the one which I remembered seeing in the shades of the garage at home (and in this case the memory proved accurate), and I have plans to add "Maud" and at least one other from the amazing selection on the Pheon sheet. Fortunately the model's only little, but the temptation for the committed WW I modeller to build the whole set, or at least a very large proportion of the whole, will surely be considerable..


This could be even more marked for Fokker Triplane addicts; the variety of markings on offer for the Dr.1 is amazing!. This picture shows only one of the five A4 pages of colour profiles and plan views, with markings for thirty aircraft, and a bonus insert of a colour scheme for a thirty-first! Again, there is a very comprehensive booklet of instructions, with details of the individual aircraft and on the necessary colours, to which I'll come back when I've finished the V-8 to my satisfaction; but it's extremely helpful to those of us who may not be very familiar with the finishes of the period. Once again the choice is considerable, and I fear more than one reversion to Captain Indecisive mode on my part; but I will have to make two or three Fokker Triplanes to feature some more of the very colourful markings, and I'm even comsidering a second Fokker V-8 (which is more than the German authorities did!). Pheon's e-mail address is, and the best way I know of getting a full listing of availability and prices is via the britmodeller website. And having just looked at that to check that it's still up and running, I've found that on the SE.5a sheet there's one for Eliot White Spring's aircraft when he was with 85 Squadron, and carrying the unit's hexagon; if the name's unfamiliar, he was responsible for "War Birds; Diary of an Unknown Aviator", one of the aviation classics, of which I still have my father's copy and which I must have read first during the Second World War! That'll be another order, then, as I find that I have a Roden kit close to hand; isn't PayPal both useful and seductive? I haven't dared to take scissors to either of the decal sheets yet, but if I have any comments they'll appear when I finish the two models currently under way. Like all the best decals, even if you use only a small part of the sheet the instructions are so useful in their own right; just as well I'm no longer a student, or I might feel compelled to Blu-tack all those pretty A4 sheets to a handy wall. Transferred 30/04/10

Crystal Balls, 2010

For some reason the Master Plan for my Crystal Ball section seems to be sulking, so until I can get My Friend Tim to sort it, a task well beyond my cybercapabilities and which could well form part of a proposed mini-revamp, a few early notes and reflections will appear here. From my regular trawlings through the Hannants' website "Future Releases" page, there appear to be New Year listings from Airfix and Revell, and perhaps Italeri, although this last looks - I hope - partial. The one that leapt off the screen for me is the inclusion of one of my long-term hopes, a 1:72nd Vickers Valiant from Airfix (none of these have possible release dates attached yet, so please don't pester your local model ship just yet). There was a strong suggestion two or three years ago that if the Nimrod kit was a success then a Valiant would follow, but that possibility seemed to have faded, or at least gone very quiet, follwing the Hornby buy. I'm told, by the way, that after the manner of the placing of the mocked-up "Airfix TSR.2 box" on their stand at Telford three or four years ago a 1:72nd Valiant was surreptitiously placed there in the recent ScaleModelWorld - I think as no more than a Heavy Hint! - and was smartly removed! Now, about a B.2 conversion..... After all, it's just a couple of fuselage plugs, a new wing centre section and main undercarriage, and I thing most modellers would take the strengthened main spar as a given. Surely this would be an ideal successor to the Cammett AEW.3. While only one was built - the dramatic "Black Bomber", WJ954 - seventeen were originally ordered, but these were changed for B.1s, and the problems with the main spar of this mark, accentuated by the type's transfer to the low-level role (for which the B.2 had been intended) resulted in the Valiant's premature withdrawal from service. Ah, the joys of hindsight. Also in the Airfix line-up is a "new tool" Harrier GR.9. and similarly annotated Canadair Sabre F.4 - those Modeldecal sets 97 must be somewhere - and North American F-86F. Going by previous years the Revell kits listed are probably just those expected in the first four months or so, and while you can play "hunt the Matchbox and Monogram" with some of them the only one that caught my eye was a "new tool" labelled Red Arrows Hawk T.1.

Colin Strachan of Freightdog/Silver Cloud has sent a couple of photos of the mastersforthcoming Silver Cloud EAP of his forthcoming - at Southern Expo if all goes to plan - BAe EAP, a major updating in resin of the old Pegasus kit. It will appear, as did the original, in the markings of prototype ZF534 finished in two shades of blue. I looked back at my review of the kit in SAM, and was amazed to read that it appeared more than twenty two years ago (Vol.9 No.11, as you ask, thanks to Derek Reeve's SAM index) and when I built it then I decided against trying to reproduce by hand the very thin black/white cheat line along the fuselage and decided it would look good, and feasible, in "raspberry ripple"; I suspect mine will follow the same path this time, and I must look for a "Qinetiq" decal to accompany one for ETPS.

The proposed Anigrand Craftswork releases, at least in 1:144th, continue to attract my attention. I've already orderd a Sperrin, which I intend to finish in the msg/black of the early Canberra with an as yet unselected unit marking - hand-painted 148 Squadron crossed axes, perhaps, something I couldn't achieve on the Valiant - and I'm thinking about an MR version. There's also the amazing Bartini-Beriev WIG device, intended as a Polaris submarine hunter/killer which came to naught but looks extraordinary. This is accompanied, like the Sperrin, by three smaller "secret" designs; this "extra" has apparently proved so popular that Anigrand are planned similar sets to be issued in their own right, the first two to cover US VTOL prototypes and "penetration" fighters. All the above are no doubt only the tip of the 2010 iceberg; an assessment of our, or at least my, chances of colliding with the rest of it will I hope follow at intervals.

It's not only kits and bits that weigh down the back of the car returning from ScaleModelWorld; it's also a very good opportunity to fill up those gaps in the bookshelves that have of course already been filled twice over.

Probably the most substantial is the "Fairey IIIF" from Ad Hoc Publications; after establishing their "..from the Cockpit" series, Ad Hoc are broadening their approach and attracting well-known authors such as PFairey IIIF by Philip Jarrett, from Ad Hochilip Jarrett, who is responsible for this considerable work. While the subject aircraft may in theory be familiar, there's so much more to it than I had expected; did you know for instance that it was the only aircraft used by both the RAF and the RN between the Wars? There is as you would expect a full account of its development, from a rather unprepossessing aircraft in to the comparatively elegant IIIF, influenced to some extent by Fairey's Fox, and its service on both land and sea, wheels and floats. The selection of photographs is truly astonishing; I don't know if it's been a life's work for the author collecting these but it can surely only have been done by someone with a real feeling for his subject. As well as producing this book to his now-expected very high standard, Roger Chesneau has done the twenty-seven colour profiles which, although using the same basic "silver" scheme, show a good variety of finishes. Sadly the only current models of the type revealed on the Hannants search function are in 1:700 and 1:350 scales by Trumpeter, with the Sangaer 1:72 vacform listed as sold out; this may be just as well for me, as I could have found myself sidetracked from my prime interests yet again! The modelling possibilities aside, I cannot recommend this bood too highly, both fro its excellent coverage of a lesser-known subject and for conveying so well the atmosphere of its time.

FrShort Sturgeon by Tony Buttler, from Ad Hocom the same publisher comes Tony Buttler's book on the Short Sturgeon, another of those WWII designs that found itself drafted for duties that were not those for which it was oriiginally intended. Designed as a carrier-borne attack aircraft - the first twin designed specifically for the Fleet Air Arm - it was developed after the end of the war for fleet requirements use resulting in its principal employment being as a target tug, encapsulated in the excellent cover photo. Tony Buttler tells the story from the responses to specification S.6/43 which called for a twin-engined torpedo bomber and reconnaisance aircraft until the Sturgeon's ultimate descendent the ungainly SB.3, which was devised as an insurance backup for the Fairey Gannet. There were delays to the original aircraft caused by Shorts' move from Rochester to Belfast, and the type's adaptation for the FRU role took a while, the TT.2 with the extended nose entering service with 703 NAS, the Service Tials unit, in the summer of 1951. There are reproductions of the manufacturer's drawings accompanying the text, including some of a jet-engined night fighter variant which, powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce AJ.40s, was proposed as an insurance against the Sea Hornet NF.21 but never got off the paper. Accompanying the accounts of the type's service are the opinions of those who flew it, and there is the now expected considerable number of black and white photos, accompanied by nine colour profiles and a four-view contributed by Roger Chesneau. Illustrations are as always with this publisher well chosen and splendidly reproduced, and Ad Hoc have produced another excellent book, this time on a lesser-known naval type (a Hannants seach revealed three resin kits from Magna, with that of the SB.3 on limited availability). Ad Hoc do produce exceedingly good publications, always of interest; I look forward to what else they will pull out of their hat in the future (and I live in hope that they will include an upgraded Canberra B.2/6 in time for an Airfix 1:72nd kit!).

Normally the appearance of a Hinomaru can cause my eyes to lose focus fairly quickly, and I wJapanese Secret Projects, Edwin M. Dyer III, Midland Publishingas quite prepared to overlook the latest in Midland Publishing' "Secret Projects" series; however I couldn't resist picking it up for a quick peek on the Aviation Book Centre's stand at Telford and then of course inevitably I succumbed. It's a little different from those to which we have become accustomed in that there are no small line-drawing plans, but there are many large colour three-views, accompanied by colour profiles, usually wearing the markings of an operational unit. The projects devised for the Army and the Navy are described in different sections, and I found it interesting - entertaining is perhaps the wrong word - to read about the rivalry between the two services, not least in the matter of their Me 163 equivalent developments. Author Edwin M Dyer III admits that some of the material on which his accounts are based can be very conjectural, seemingly in some cases to come from magazine entries which could well be flights of fancy. Modellers have little in the way of counterfactual models available, though if I remember Hasegawa (Fine Molds?) did have a Mitsubishi J8M Syusui (the "163") and both the piston-engined and jet-powered versions of the canard Shinden. Fine Molds also produced the rather large Keiun, and Pegasus the 262 equivalent the Nakajima Kikka, though how many of these are currently available I don't know. The Manshu Ki-98 that is the subject of the cover painting was for a long while on the Pegasus to-do list, but I don't think it ever appeared; Ronnie Olsthoorn's depiction convinces me that It would be an interesting and attractive model (the type was done in resin by, I think, AV but it didn't come up on a Hannants' search). While I may not refer to this book as often as the other "Secret Projects" volumes on my shelves, it is a useful companion to the rest of the series.

Mark ! Eurofighter 200 book

All the Mark ! books that I've seen in this "Dozen Set" series to date have been on WW II subjects, which I have largely passed by;knowing that they came from the Four Plus stable was a recommendation of their quality, but I didn't want to add to my collection of unused decals of that period, however good. When co-author Michal Ovcacik passed this one to me at Telford, though, I was delighted; the Typhoon/EF 200o is going to be around for a long hime, and this is an excDecals with Mark 1 Ef 2000/Typhoon bookellent summary of its appearances in its various services to date. Twelve aircraft are featured with the two pages on each including a colour four-view profile and a selection of captioned photographs, some of them close-ups. There are three additional photo pages with shots of the cockpit interiors of both single- and two-seaters, and of the undercarriage. The decals are solely of the national and unit markings of each aircraft, with all others having to come from the kit; my example is in 1:72nd scale, and there is also a 1:48th version available. The book, while a useful reference in itself, is in effect a very up-market set of instructions for the decals, and is I suppose a logical extension of Modeldecal's addition of the first black and white photos to their instruction sheets! While the Italian and German "specials" are probable the most impressive markings on the sheet, and will do much to liven up the basic grey finish, I do like the inclusion of the 800 NAS marking that was applied as a zap to the inside of the port undecarriage door of 29 Squadron's ZJ813/BL; this shows a nice eye for detail. This is an excellently thought-out and produced combination of book and decal; I wonder if the 1:32nd modellers will get one? Thank you, Michal.

Wings of Stars, Peter Freeman and Mike Starmer

I nearly missed "WIngs of Stars" on the Aviation Workshop stand at Telford, only noticeing it when I came back in on the Sunday morning, surprisingly given its very colourful cover featuring a "Peashooter" of 73rd PS, 17th PG on a map of the Territory of Hawaii. With colour, and colourful, profiles of single-engine types it does exactly what it says on the cover, starting with a patriotically coloured Nieuport 28 brought back to the US after the Great War, and ending with an XP-51 wearing the Wright Field arrowhead marking. The selection in between covers many aircraft which are available in model form - given the publisher it's reasonable I feel to hope for a decal sheet, though making any selection from the considerable number of possibilities could prove a serious headache! - and illustrates the progressive, and occasionally rapid, development of military flying in the USA over the period. It's not just "pursuit" aircraft; "attack" and observation types are included - I like the J-3 Cubs - and trainers, with precursors and early variants of the T-6. The colour schemes develop as well, with some from the various camouflage trials included, and the olive drab/neutral gray starting to intrude, often accompanied by exercise markings, toward the end of the book. I am impressed by the inclusion of an extensive list of references both for the whole work and for individual subjects; among these are several of the Squadron/Signal books by the peerless Dana Bell, which are a valued part of my library. The combination of Mike Starmer's text - I liked his historical introduction very much - and Peter Freeman's colour work, which has a good sprinkling of four-views among the profiles, is first class; and there is an annotated representation of the Standard Colors inside the back cover. This is a book that no aviation enthusiast or modeller with an interest in this between-the-wars period should be without, and I hope I'm right about the decals. I understand that an equivalent US Navy volume - presumably "Wings of Gold" - is in preparation, and will I am sure be equally warmly welcomed; with my known weakness for the "yellow-wing Navy" I look forward to adding it to this at some future date.

A Swallow is not just for Christmas Island....

Vickers Swallow C.1, 10 Sqn RAFSCWhile I was making the Fantastic Plastic Avro 730 I worked out A Plan for their 1:144th Barnes Wallis Swallow, which involved finding an undercarriage - not included in the kit - and the Air Decal markings for the RAF VC-10. The undercarriage came from a partly-made Revell Airbus Beluga - the original, abandoned, plan had been for it to be an RAF tanker - and needed the removal of the sections of the Swallow fuselage castings that represented the closed undercarriage doors. This bit of the Plan ws not helped by the apparent lack of any reliable information on the original landing gear; having done a little digging I wonder if the design work had even got that far. I'm happy that the result of my adaptation at least looks possible. The wings and engine pairs swivel separately, and the extending cockpit, which is in transparent resin, has to be Fantstic Plastic Barnes  Wallia Swallow as an RAF C.1fitted either raised, as here, or lowered. The wings had something of a curvature on arrival, and though this was considerably reduced by dunking in very hot water there is still a delicate upward curve at each tip; it's little reminiscent of the Boeing 787, but although somewhat anachronistic looks so aesthetically pleasing that I decided to leave it. I had originally considered Light Aircraft Grey undersides but thought that getting the separation to match the Z of the cheatline before its application would be too difficult, so I reasoned that if all white was suitable for the Concorde it would work for a Swallow C.1. The Air Decal set included Air Support Command titles which I wanted to use, recalling that the setting up of this command signalled the introduction of the "Ascot" callsign which became familiar during my London Airways time (and which I think still persists).The kit comes with Pan Am and BOAC decals - though the memories of neither "Clipper" nor "Speedbird" was enough for me to use them - and includes separate "windows" which happily fit neatly on to the RAF cheatline, and door outlines; the cockpit windows are also decals.You may just be able to see the 10 Squadron marking on the upper nacelles, and the badge just below the cockpit; the large Union Flag would I am sure have been worn, and just in case you can see the serial XR108 did not exist but was easily adapted from the VC-10 sheet.

So much of my "What If?" modelling these days is a form of three-dimensional doodling, and I would dearly love to be able to produce an idea like this as a painting rather that have to take advantage of what Someone Out There decides is marketable in the niche market in to which I fit. Still, this was fun, and while it's by no means immaculate in model terms I'm happy with the result; you may even see on on a 1:144th SIG table in the future, not least to encourage others, but the latest posting on the Fantastic Plastic website says that they are about to produce their last set of castings. It's not cheap, but at least PayPal can make it almost painless; go on, you know you want one!

Swallow prepared for take-off

Transferred 21/02/10

Moving Rapidely on....

There's an odd period that follows my ScaleModelWorld, a mix of frenzy and lassituCloudbreak 1:200th Rapide G-AGSHde; there's the unpacking, with a little surreptitious gloating if you've managed to get the jump on Santa, and the resumption of modelling. In my case, two of the models that are reaching their natural artistic conclusion were underway at Telford (and the other two came home with me). Venturing back a little gingerly in to 1:200th, this Cloudbreak Dragon Rapide recalls a small part of our family legend, when while on holiday in Cornwall we had a once-round-the lighthouse in G-AGSH. When this kit was mentioned in its planning stage I made a plea for that particular marking, and it's one of half a dozen options on offer for this delightful little model, all of which are civil, though you could use DIY military colours. The struts are wire, with the principal ones inserted through pre-drilled holes in the lower wing matching up to marked sockets in the underside of the upper, and they can be trimmed to the correct length with snips once installed.; those between the nacelles and the fuselage have to be carefully measured and cut to length before being positioned, which was for me the most fiddly part of the work. The size can be judged by the five pence piece in the photo on the left. To see one properly mde, and indeed fully rigged (!) there's one on The One True Scale website - www' made by Tim Upson-Smith, whose skill, nerves and eyesight are patently several degrees better than mine. Still my older son, for whom the flight all those years ago has significance, is pleased that he's got this one.

Is it a bird....?

Among the many virtues of ScaleModelWorld is the opportunity to meet friends from the modelling fraternity - and these days sorority - with whom paths don't often cross, and quite often they bring unexpected goodies. This year the genial Mike Belcher - he of the Bits - was across from Canada, and among the surprise packages accompanying him was a 1:72nd resin kit for the Vickers Type 725 Red Rapier, also known as the SP.2, a proposed land-based cruise missile from the early 'fifties. The design was fairly basic, the wing recalling the description of that attributed to the DH.6 of being made by the mile and sawn-off by the yard. The aircraft was to be powered by three small Rolls-Royce engines; while it wasn't built full-size, there were one-third scale models dropped from an RAF Washington in Australia and one of these, although not in pristine condition is exhibited, fittingly because of its Vickers origins, at the Brooklands Museum. The kit has a two-piece fuselage, a one piece wing which fits neatly on to a "saddle", and three identical tail surfaces each carrying their engine nacelle. Mike Belcher's drawings show that the two tailplane halves are wholly horizontal, but that in the "British Secret Projects; Hypersonics, Ramjets and Missiles" by Chris Gibson and Tony Buttler, never far from my workbench, shows them with about 20 degrees anhedral. and I went with that. Pondering over the finish, I painted it with "Mr. Metal Color" stainless, and covered that with an (intentionally) badly applied coat of Vickers Red Rapier and Hunter T.14Humbrol matt dark green. Roundels and fin flash were accompanied by a 551 Wing badge from the Aviation Workshop Canberra decal set, and I put a yellow and a pair of red bands around the warhead area at an attempt at - probably spurious - corroborative detail. I'm still undecided about whether or not the weapon would have carried a serial; I've left a space for one but not yet consulted Robertson for an unused one. Mike has written to me following his return to BC to say the the price is now down to Can$ 25.99; he can be contacted at It's an interesting "something different" and would be a good introduction to resin for the slightly nervous. It's quite a large beast; this photo shows it with a Hunter (a Mark 14, as you ask, which will itself feature here shortly) to give an idea of its size. We had a discussion at Telford abour the Bristol submission for the same role; I live in hope.



One kit, three conversions

Last of the models I began at Telford to be finished, the Hunter you see above had a slightly stuttering start when I found on the Saturday that I'd left the conversion parts already started at home when I set course for the wilds of Shropshire. Fortunately I'd brought the Revell kit, and I was able to fill the gaps from the Odds & Ordnance stand for the T.7 nose and from Captain Freightdog for the Silver Cloud "Super Hunter" set. While perhaps not quite the "ultimate" Hunter - I haven't yet quite worked out what that might be - I had in mind an operational trainer for a TSR.2 squadron that would use not only Campbell Paterson's two-seater front end but also his AS.30 missiles. The more highly-swept wing of the P.1083 combined with the afterburning Avon would give it a bit more performance for low-level attack training, though to take account of the fuel consumption I thought an outer pair of wing tanks would need to be a standard fit. Colours would be second Phantom scheme, with red/blue national markings and light aircraft grey undersides, doubtless matching the colouring of the squadron's principal equipment. You've got to Have A Plan.

The front of the Hunter fuselage had to be cut to accomodate the new nose, but although I thought I'd followed the O&O instructions carefully it turned out that I hadn't quite, and that for some reason the nose sat slightly too high on the centre fuselage. I almost corrected it, but this had a knock-on effect of the fitting of the spinal fairing; for this I'd also removed the section of the spine too far back towards the tail, but this was simply corrected. The replacement wings fitted snugly over the area where the nose and centre fuselage met, and the Silver Cloud rear fuselage, with its afterburner, fitted precisely. I discussed with my long-time mate Jim Bricknell, who had joined us on the SIG stand from his North British fastness, the application of the "dog-tooth" leading edge to the more highly swept wing - something I'd done on an earlier conversion - and we decided it would be easier to make a Lightning-style "notch" in the leading edge about where the inboard edge of the extension would be; simples! For the weapons I had a choice between the O&O set for the TSR.2 and that for the Buccaneer; the missiles are the same, but although it seemed logical to use the TSR.2 pylons it may have been a mistake as it left the AS.30s rather close to the ground. Each missile is cast in two parts, with the organisation of their alignment made easy by matching up the two longitudinal cable ducts (if that's what they are), but removing any discontinuity or residue from between the two parts could be awkward. It'll go better second house. I painted them a simple Humbrol matt dark green.

Final choice was of the unit, and it's very important to me that I get it right, at least according to my logic and predjudices. This decision is often dependent on what decals are, or at least have at one time been, available and as so often the choice was made easy by the presence in one of my many storage boxes of (nearly all) of a Modeldecal sheet, in this case Set 25 with the Flying Camel and diamonds of a 45 Squadron Hunter; by chance it was one of my senior squadron colleagues from the olden time, the then Wing Commander T A "Sharky" Hastings who was the Boss who reformed 45 on Hunters. It's also a nod to "Jeff" Jefford, the Flying Camels' historian whose master work on the history of the unit is to my mind the best of its genre, and whose views on squadron hisory and tradition are not dissimilar to mine! Apart from the unit markings, all the decals came from the Revell FGA.9 sheet and I was able to cobble unused serial XG418 from the two RAF examples therin. I admit that not all the smaller decals, especially those for the underside, were used; by the time I get to this stage as often as not my impatience rears its head and I want to get the model off the bench so that I can get started on the next - providing I can decide wich three of the fourteen or so possibilities I really, really wnt to work on next. Besides, those "trestle here" markings would't be seen in the photos anyway. Just in case there was a Mark 13 from Sir Sydney which has passed me by, I've decided that this should be a T.14, in spite of its armament, which includes both the Adens included in the new nose just in case it could be useful in a secondary war role; you'd expect a TSR.2 unit to be pretty close to the fromt line, wouldn't you?

Transferred 16/02/10

Boom Boom......Boom

TAvro 730 supersonic bomber by Fantastic Plastichat, as you ask, is what might be the noise of a supesonic bomber (I've you heard a Hustler in the long ago, let me know). Those of you who, like me, pore over the collected works of Tony Buttler will I'm sure have recognised the Avro 730, a project that was planned to follow on the V-bombers in the nuclear deterrence role, and on the prototype of which which metal was reputedly cut before it was cancelled. The 730 was schemed in several forms, starting as a long-range reconnaisance aircraft before it was developed for the nuclear role; as seen here its two nacelles held four Armstrong Siddeley P.176 engines each to produce the necessary total thrust. While a 1:144th scale resin kit has been available for a while it had no undercarriage; it was the page in SAMI on Tony Gloster's model that alerted me to this version by Fantastic Plastic in the USA, and facilitated by PayPal it arrived just over a week after my order was placed.

This box is stout, and well able to withstand the rigours of international travel; it's top opening, and will be very useful for subsequent storage of otherwise stray pieces. Because of its size, which also doubtless helps its postability, the long slender fuselage comes in two sections, to be joined at the middle. The hacelles are also split, in their case upper and lower, and there are "key" bumps on the wing to help locate them, a well-thought aid to assembly (if the wing/nacelle combination seems familiar, look at the Bristol 188). Each wing Avro 730 XM617 of 101 Squadron Bomber Command, early '60shalf has two short lengths of stout wire embedded in it root, with corresponding dimples on the fuselage to help position it correctly; these are easily drilled out and they, and their plugs, are differently spaced to ensure that each wing goes in the right place. The cockpit has an instrument panel and seats for the two crew, and the hatch can be mounted open (the pilots were to rely on periscopes for a view of the outside world); the two canards have socket-and-tab fitting. These, I gather, were not to help in-flight performance so much as to get the nose up and the aircraft off the ground for take-off, with its very long tail and its elevons a long way back. The box art shows the aircraft in anti-flash white, with "bright" national markings, but I remembered from a conversation with my colour consultant some time back that the required finish for supersonic fighters at least was bare metal; I doubt if anyone was seriously considering similarly high performance bombers at taht stage, but I reasoned that there might well not have been a paint available that would have withstood the prolonged high temperature at that time. My original idea was to use as many different tones of acrylic "silver" as possible, but I wound up using Metalcote "Polished Aluminium" and about half of it; the rest is various shades of Mr.Metal Color (via MDC) with the most useful being a "superl titanium" which is I understand no longer in production. Murphy rules still.

The markings that came with the kit were more-or-less WW II vintage, so all mine - including the serial on the fin - came as they have for so many years from old Modeldecal sheet. The 101 Squadron CI symbol on the fin and the black and white lightning flash are from the invaluable Model Alliance decal Canberra markings sheet, and the warning triangles and "chop here" axe are from the Freightdog 1:144th Canberra sheet. Coincidentally, there are markings for a 101 Canberra on that sheet, and with an A Model kit to hand I feel a handover ceremony coming on! I've really enjoyed making the 730, a design I've always thought looked purposeful and impressive,, rushed though it's been largely to have it on the What If? SIG table at St Neots this coming weekend. I am sorely tempted by the thoughts of doing a second in "recconnaisance" mode, but I have a second British project from the same era in mind, this time for Air Support Command. To give you an Idea of the size of the 730, the little aircraft next to it in this picture is a 1:144th Hawker P.1185 "Advanced Harrier", one of the "extras" in the Anigrand Nimrod kit.

Lost Tomorrows, and Tomorrows and Tomorrows.....

Not long after the (then) Model Aircraft Monthly finished its series, with added resin bits, on the TSR.TSR.2; Lost Tomorrows of an Eagle, SAM Publications2 I suggested that the five sections could usefully be combined in to a book, probably not least because there was one of my five that persistently went in to hiding. This has finally come to pass so that I now have only one volume of which to keep track, and author Paul Lucas has added a great deal, not only on the procurement and the politics with which the type will always be associated, but with much emphasis on the roles, and the relevant weapons, for which it was considered.

I am a great admirer of the author's research, and he has been scrupulous in sticking to the two major plans exhumed from the archives about which units were to be equipped with the new aeroplane, and in which roles. These are comprehensively illustrated with a substantial number of colour profiles, and in each case the accompanying captions give the sequence and rationale behind the colour schemes used, and the application of unit markings (I only have one disagreement with these, in the use for some squadrons of the "fighter bars" which weren't devised until their application to Tornados). The profiles look good, and the colours are well done, the distinction beteen dark sea grey, medium sea grey and light aircraft grey indicative of the care that's been taken with them; but - and you knew there would be a but, didn't you? - the shape looks altogether too sleek, as though the fuselage has been stretched and thinned along its length. The distortion seems to be reflected in the serial alpha-numerics, the proportions of which do not look like the standard font. The difference in shape is reinforced by comparison with the two reproductions of BAC drawings, that on page 128 of a three-view with cross sections and some inboard profile, and the camouflage diagram on page 58, which looks remarkably like the one that sidled trough my front door many years ago in a Plain Brown Envelope, and for which I have been forever grateful.

I found the accounts of the proposed weapons and support systems absolutely fascinating; even the scheduled layout of the pan at Coningsby, and the reasoning behing it, is interesting and indicative of the depth of Paul's research. There were some weapons included in the series of resin bits that were marketed by MAM, but all the indications are that there will be no more, from that source at least; personally, there sre three or four of the stand-off bombs that I'd like, and if someone could produce in 1:72nd the proposed variable-geometry wing that would have fitted to a standard TSR.2 fuselage (see page 126) I would happily take another two kits from their dusty garage shelf. The way in which the drawings showing the installations of the many and varied loads is excellent, and with the exception of the anorexia all the illustrations are very well produced. I'm sure this, and the occasionally haphazard application of apostrophes, will not reduce the appeal of this book not just to modellers, with or without a What If? affliction; the accounts of the politics and the procurement which I mentioned at the beginning are well worth studying by aviation historians (see how many contemporary parallels you can identify!). As I said to my French correspondent about the kit, there was no way I wasn't going to like this book very much, and given the recent revival of interest in the TSR.2 that seems traceable to that mocked-up box placed surreptitiously on the Airfix stand at Telford a few years ago - is it really that long? - I'm sure that, as it deserves, it'll find a ready market. And, please, at the very least I'd like the Bristol Tychon - or better still, a pair - in resin. Transferred 03.02.10


You will recall - oh, yes, you will - that when I went to Sun 'n' Fun in April I fell in a big way for the Cessna 190 series, seen here in a line up at Lakeland. One of my hopes for Oshkosh therefore was to see many more of them, which I thought at first wasn't going to happen; but first, by courtesy of Ian Allan, ae went to Dayton.....

The Wrights, B'Gosh

Brazilian Tucano aerobatic team, Dayton Air Show 18.07.09

Before going to the USAF Museum we spent the Sunday at the Dayton air Show, and for its highlight was the performance by the Brazilian aerobatic team, the Esquadrilha da Fumaca, in their green and blue Tucanos. Like their Canadian equivalent the Snowbirds they put on a tight, compact and continuous display in relatively low-powered aircraft, maintaining excellent formation and with the Brazilian Tucanos in mirror formation, Dayton Air Show 18.07.09occasional stunning manoeuver; their use of the multiple aircraft mirror formation was absolutely splendid. The term "world class" is sadly abused these days, but this team really deserve it. The polo shirt in my size was alas sold out, but I did get their great "jungle" hat, in which I may well be seen posing at UK air shows for the rest of this year. The static included Ospreys and AV-8Bs from the Marines, that had to their regret - and ours - not been able to get permission from their management to display. The Harrier IIs, from VMA-542, wore not only a tiger's head on their fins but an eastern ideograph on their noses, dating from the Pacific campaign of the Second World War, which translates as "Here there be Tigers!" (a decal sheet, please). The CO's aircraft with the coloured markings was a radar-equipped AV-8B Plus, and the other a Night Attack variant; apparently all USMC front-line Harrier squadrons have a similar mix.

MV-22 Osprey 5852 ES-00 VMM-266 Dayton Air Show July 2009

Somehow I've missed out in the last two or three years in seeing an Osprey airborne, though I saw one in a static at Pensacola a year or two back. Dayton had two on show, one of which was usually in a folded configuration and which at one stage did its transformation in front of its public, but while I was elsewhere. Here it is in its oven-ready state, and with the little bit of colour allowed on the CO's aircraft doing a fraction to lighten the grey that hung around all the morning, though it did part briefly to give the Tucanos a decent backdrop. The services' "Golden Knights" FH-227 Dayton Air Show July 09participation was not as great as I'd expected, but the army's "Golden Knights" parachutists jumped out of their perfectly serviceable FH-227, whose DoD designation has temprarily deserted me. The Thunderbirds' F-16s took part, with the "stirring" theme music as they taxied out seemingly as long, and even more repetitive, than their show; I hesitate to call it a performance, but I keep/kept reminding myself that they are an Aerial Demonstration Squadron, rather than an aerobatic team.

One of the USAF assets that was in the static area was an RC-135W "Rivet Joint" intelligence gatherer from the 55th SRW at Offutt. I got chatting to one of its crew; the American services are always seemingly r55th SRW RC-135W at Dayton Air Show, July 2009elaxed over talking about their jobs, especially on home soil, and I raised the possibility of the RAF getting them for 51 Squadron, and that they would be after all fairly aged airframes.I was told that three relatively low-houred tankers have already been identified, and that the necessary equipment could be assembled and fitted in fairly short order once the ink was dry on the contract; the USAF have apparently a well-practised "production line" for this task. This photo of the one on display probably doesn't show its best profile, but it gives some idea of the positive forest of aerials that it carries, looking rather like an eruption of fungi!

A while back I bought the Model Alliance US Coast Guard decal sheet which included markings for their H-65 MH-65C Dolphin 6506, USCG Mobile, Dayton Air Show July 09Dolphins, and I was delighted to find one in the static area. This one, from the USCG facility at Mobile, isMH-65C interior

an MH-65C, having been recently upgraded for reconnaisance and surveillance, tasks which have grown considerbly since "9/11", and has a number of additional bumps and aerials (I must check if the MA resin set for the Dolphin is applicable). I was intrigued to find that various parts of the back end are not symmetrical, with the endplate fins toed in and the rear boom "bent" slightly to one side; from my memory, this assists a run-on landing if the tail rotor fails. Removal of one of its blades was another part of the recent modifications, and the eleven remaining blades are not quite evenly spaced (I shall probably have forgotten by the time I have to judge a model in competition). To assist my memory, and perhaps yours, I also have a photo of the cabin for colour information.

And as was only right and proper the day included a Wright biplane, in this case a replica of the 1911 Type B which was flown as part of the display; secure in the knowledge that it would surely fly again in the afternoon I didn't rush to take its picture airborne. Another mistake, but here it is in front of the Tucanos.

Wright Type B replica, Dayton Air Show 2009

Transferred 07.01.10

That B I G "Airfix" Spitfire

Looking at those otherwise rather baffling statistics tables for the webite that My Friend Tim has set up for me, it's evident there are some hits that are coming from ouside the UK; so if those earnest seekers after my sort of truth will bear with me they should know that earlier in the week in which I'm writing this the BBC broadcast a TV programme in which a life-size "Spitfire" was built from a casting replicating, in I suppose 72:1 scale, the very early Airfix kit. It's one of a short series in which the presenter James May is attempting to show that the hobbies of his youth, thirty or more years ago, would benefit the young of today to whom they may seem a bit strange (he reminds me of Jacey Bedford's splendid maxim, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood"!).

It produced a small flurry of e-mails from acouple of members of the jpeg gruop of whose photos I take shameless advantage, commenting on what the original aircraft's identity might have been, and a suggestion from one that the serial - the markings on the original transfer sheet had been reproduced full-size in vinyl - rather tha RG904 should have been R6904, a reasonable transposition by someone who didn't know what they were looking at. This was after all the very early days of Airfix; I'm almost sure I bough the Spitfire kit when we were detached to Sylt in December 1956. And of course, I couldn't resist joining in, with the aid of Books rather that Googling.

Given that squadrons and their markings are My Thing, after watching the programme I looked up BT in my admittedly old Putnam/ Peter Lewis RAF Squadron Histories book - my Bowyer/Rawlings is being bashful - and it offered me 441, 113 and 30 OTU. 441 formed up in the UK at Digby as an RCAF squadron in February '44, and with the Spitfire Vb. Thinking that this was outside the timeframe, and that the model was of an early mark, I decided to disregard this (incidentally, as the excellent Canadian historian and author Pat Martin has pointed out, they revived BT on their F-86s when they were assigned to NATO in the '50s). 113 had Blenheims and 30 OTU had Wellingtons, starting in 1942. Then I read Richard's e-mail, with the very plausible suggestion that the serial was probably R6904. According to the Morgan/Shacklady "Spitfire", this was built as a Mk I and after making its first flight on 08.07.40 was delivered straight to 6 MU  to be fitted with cannon, then joining 19 Sqn on 13.07.It went back to Vickers for conversion to a Mk Vb, and then to the AFDU on 27.09 and back to 19 for service trials 30.10. It was transferred to 92 22.1.41, and was returned to Rolls for a Merlin 45, joining 615 on 24.09, 65 on 06.10 and 121 on 09.01.42, with whom it had a Cat.AC accident 02.06. Taken on by 306 on 18.06, it failed to return from operations on 22.08.42. In this very eventful life I can see no reason why it should have carried BT, and I doubt very much whether there's anyone around from the early days of Airfix who can shed light. I'll ask around at Telford next weekend, but it'll probably turn out to be the initials of the decal - sorry, transfer sheet - designer's Significant Other unless, as Esther Rantzen used to say, You Know Better!

Any further useful contributions gratefully received!

Editorial note - at Telford, in an interval from basking in the glow of the Great Mosquito, Trevor Snowdon confirmed that these markings had no factual basis. Pity. Transferred 03.01.10.


With November each year comes ScaleModelWorld, though to many of us on our deeper levels of consciousness it's still the IPMS/UK National Championships. Some of us have even been known to omit the UK from our trains of thought and given the number of overseas visitors, both traders and competitors, that's perhaps not altogether inappropriate .

My first NatChamps, as it became known in the family, must have been in 1968 or '69 and was held in what was I suppose a function suite in Maples, the furniture store, in Tottenham Court Road; the first IPMS President, Bill Matthews had I believe a connection with the firm, and he not only still attends every year but is a stalwart of the Airliner Tendency. Since then I've been, as the event has grown, to the RAF Museum, Peterborough, Donington and Telford, but the venue that still raises wry smiles is the National Agricultural Centre at Stoneleigh where the overnight accomodation - reputedly that intended for visiting jockeys - compared almost favourably with that depicted in black and white PoW films. It's fair to say that many long-lasting friendships, as well as the occasional feud, were nurtured there, several of them with some degree of sobriety.

One of the siting factors has been finding a location which is reasonably accessible - depending of course on your definition of "reasonable" - to modellers from various parts of the UK, and Telford has the advantage of being at least adjacent to the North-South motorway network (yes, I know it's still a substantial cross-country trip from Lowestoft) which this year enabled me to meet McModellers from beyond Hadrian's wall, as well as those from the Soft South of the Dorset Coast. This exemplifies for me one of, if not the, major reasons for the event. The competition has been there in one form or another, from the beginning, and the number of traders has grown massively especially since going to Telford, but it's the meeting and greeting which is for me an absolutely prime element of the occasion. Having spent many years doing that on the SAM stand, along with a little basic modelling, I've now been taken in by those all-round Good Eggs of the What If? SIG who left me a small space not far from my Canberra E.9B (see the Workbench) to do a little light whittling; but then I spent so much time walking the halls and, in the intervals of trying to reflate the economy blocking a fair number of the aisles chatting, that I don't think I sat down on the Saturday for more than twenty minutes. Still, I did manage a little preparatory work on the Barnes Wallis Swallow and the Hunter T.13.

While I'd arranged a pickup or four ahead of the show, I took my usual precaution of taking a small selection of possible work with me; the Brigand never got out of its box, though on the Sunday Lee Bagnall was working on his and I picked up a couple of useful hints. I'd fixed the two parts of the Swallow fuselage at home before leaving, and then dropped the workbox in which I'd carefully placed it on the pavement just before putting it in to the back of the Caponemobile, and it came apart again; however just putting it together again and leaving it on the table created interest, and I did at least get the engine nacelles together before leaving on Sunday afternoon. I'd also put aside a Revell Hunter 6, a Silver Cloud P.1083 conversion and an Odds and Ordnance T.7 nose to make a TSR.2 squadron weapons trainer, and I'd painted the seats and the inside of the cockpit; then when I went to take them from one of my considerable collection of yellow plastic bags, only the F.6 came out! Fortunately I managed to get both to Colin Strachan of Freightdog/Silver Cloud and Campbell Paterson of Odds and Ordnance early on the Saturday morning to replace them, and again I was able to leave the initial assembly on the table to intrigue passers-by. The T.7 noses were apparently in much demand, and the stock Campbell had brought down didn't last long.

Jim Bricknell's Twin Vampire, SMW '09Having corresponded for the last year or so it was good to meet him in person, reinforcing my thoughts about the siting of Telford within range of Scotland; and Jim Bricknell. who I met many years ago when his bounden duty was to zap any aircraft passing through Benbecula, had come down from Prestwick with a considerable number of entries for the Mushroom Monthly Trophy, including the Twin Vampire illustrated! As with other moments from the weekend I'll add something on the competitions later; in fact, there will have to be a series of entries on different pages of the site which may have to spread out over several weeks, especially as I gradually get around to building some of the kits which accompanied me home, cunningly hidden in a selection of Mr.Sainsbury's shopping bags - they carry the tempting inscription "Try something new today" which seems appropriate - and a holdall with the logo of the Aeronca Historical Association which was a souvenir of Oshkosh. There was also a bag full of books which will also take a little time to cover, especially if I take the unusual step of reading them them first; there will be one very shortly on the pick page, the subject of which will not surprise you at all, and I'm sure three or four of the models will find their way their as well. The "pending" page will have a brief first coverage of both paper and polystyrene - or perhaps more accurately resin - shortly.

There was of course a considerable number of Branch and Special Interest Group stands, but I'd like to make special mention of the Abingdon Branch, celebrating their thirtieth birthday. They were started by Tony Clements following a plea in the IPMS column that I used to write in SAM when I was the Branch Liason Officer, and for which I could perhaps claim the honorary title of godfather. Tony, who for me has always been one of the White Hats of the society as well being an Exceedinly Good Modeller, has been closely involved with the Branch ever since, and for the first time in thirty years he couldn't be there this year as he wasn't well. By now I hope he's recovering; the strength of the Branch is a tribute to him and his colleagues, and the Society, and indeed the hobby, owes a great deal to him and those like him across the country; I'm sorry I missed the birthday cake, though - short term memory problem, again.

Have you seen this man?

Since making the entry above I have been sent a photo of someone apparently sitting on the WGrumpy Old Modeller at ScaleModelWorldhat If? SIG stand at SMW and appearing to be dressed in a way that suggests that he could be me; can you believe it? He's obviously taken some thought as to what would seem convincing; if you look carefully at the picture you will see that the work in progress is a Hunter, with a Revell fuselage half in hand, an Odds & Ordnance T.7 nose in front of him and a Silver Cloud P.1083 box close by. There's even one of Mike Belcher's Vickers flying bombs propped against the workbox; I wonder if he knew that I'd mislaid mine (if anyone's found it perhaps they'd let me know) The face bears a passing resemblance to that that looks out of the mirror on dark mornings, but surely no one wears a hat like that seriously even in the cavernous halls of Telford; I wonder if the kind soul who sent, and presumably took, the photo knew me well enough to recognise me, though I'm sure his thoughts and acts are well meaning (I should tell you that it came to me through a third party who is to the best of my knowledge just a communication channel). By putting this in front of UK readers at least I hope they will look carefully at anyone appearing like this at shows to come (Milton Keynes in February, for example). And while you are keeping an eye open for the flying bomb, you might even come across the Cross and Cockade calendar and the Plus One Eurofighter book that also seem to have gone AWOL on the Sunday. I wonder what he did with them. Transferred 24.12.09

A semi-matching pair

While I've enjoyed making these two - even the real one - they're here as much for what they tell me as what they are. The B(I).8 has always been my favourite Canberra, perhaps because of its mission as well as its "fighter" canopy; one of my air traffic colleagues was a navigator on 59 Squadron, and I used to tell him that he Airfix Canberra B(I).8 and Spitfire PR.19went to war lying down (jealousy, probably). I made the Airfix 1:48th kit when it came out, and as soon as the smaller scale version appeared it found its way very quickly to my workbench; given that it only served with five RAF squadrons, most of which I've covered at one time or another, I was looking for an excuse to build this one and found it in one of Paul Lucas "Airfile" articles on the Canberra in MAM in which he revealed an unused camouflage scheme for "marker" aircraft which combined two more familiar finishes. The Spitfire 19 was bought within ten minutes of my getting the Freightdog decal sheet of "Post-War Spitfires", and was an immediate reaction to seeing the illustration of the "bare-metal" PM574 of 81 Squadron; not only did it carry the squadron's star and sword emblem but was not the regular PRU Blue finish (I like the MGS/PRU Blue option in the kit, but that is still more "usual").

The overall impression from both kits for me is of Airfix returning to, perhaps eve rediscovering their core virtues. Both can be made by inexperienced modelers, though the Spitfire is probably more suitable for a relative beginner, and both look like their originals, though I haven't measured them, and I wait with bareley concealed impatience for the first "micrometer" reviewer for whom the odd millimeter is of consummate importance. The interiors are fairly basic, but doubtless they will attract aftermarket attention; there's not much visible in the Canberra, but I was a little surprised not to find an instrument panel decal in the PR.19. There was no dorsal radio mast included, but by the time this mark was in widespread post-war service it was equipped with a "whip" aerial, which gave me the excuse for a little light sprue-stretching. The choice of finish and markings for this Spitfire was settled by the Freightdog decals; but on selecting the "marker" scheme I gave a little thought for appropriate markings for the Canberra. considering not only what squadron could have been tasked with this role but, almost as important, checking that it was included on the invaluable Model Alliance decal sheet. The last two Mosquito squadrons in Bomber Command, equipped with B.35s - now there's a kit I'd like - were 109 and 139, based at Hemswell and, according to my imperfect memory, allocated to the "pathfinder" role. They wore yellow and red spinners repectively and carried these colours on to their Canberras, B.2s followed in both cases by B.6s. When they were disbanded, 139 was re-formed on the Victor but 109 was never brought back, so it's that unit's yellow flash on the fin, and the yellow starter "bullets" echoing the Mosquitos'' spinners. The AS.30s from the kit are there to help mark the target precisely, and there is a pair of small (100 lb?) bombs on the wingtip pylons copied shamelessly from Australian Canberras. I found the Standard Vanguard staff car while I was looking for something else entirely, and seeing that it was correctly marked with the 1 Group, Bomber Command identifier pounced and carried it off with glee; it's part of an enormous selection of 1:76th scale transport from Oxford Diecast Cars. I did think of changing it to a 3 Group Vanguard from the days of my youth, but decided that this would be really too small for my fingers.

I enjoyed making both these kits, with good fit - the Spitfire especially - and very little "fettling" necessary. The esearch for the Canberra scheme enabled me to deploy my personal logic, and the selection of the "bare-metal" scheme for the PR.19 was an excellent choice for the Freightdog decals (my spitfire guru tells me that the rudder and elevators of the 19 were still fabric-covered, so they are a little less shiny than the "polished aluminium" Humbrol Metalcote of the main airframe. I am very encouraged to think that Hornby may - indeed should - be applying the standard of production of these two kits to whatever may be lurking in their crystal ball. Transferred 24.12.09


Something for the little ones

It was probably the AAW.52 PR.1 and Hawker Advanced Harrier GR.7vro 730 that got me looking at the Hawker P.1185 - aka AV.16 Advanced Harrier - that comes as one of those intriguing extras that Anigrand Craftswork include woth their 1:144th scale kits, in this case the Nimrod. Comparing it with the drawing in Tony Buttler's British jet fighter projects book, one which is rarely far from my side, it looked pretty good, though I do have some reservations about the rear jet nozzles (once a reviewer....). One of the problems, for me at least, of working in this scale is an absence of alternative markings, but Xtradecal have a very useful Hunter sheet, as well as one for Tornados, and it was the former that enabled me to "allocate" the result to 63 Squadron. A conversation with David Hunt, who masterminds the 144 SIG, got me looking at the same time at the Armstrong Whitworth AW.52 that comes with the Victor, and as I did a few years ago with the Dujin 1:72nd resin I drilled out a selection of camera ports and applied the medium sea grey/PRU blue scheme. I have yet to add its serial, but there were a pair of 541 Squadron badges on the Freightdog Spitfire sheet that fitted neatly on top of the fins. And a further conversation at the IPMS Brampton show has led me to the 144th Bristol 188, to be parked next to the Avro 730, though perhaps not quite in the shape that Filton intended. Watch this space....

The space filled

In the days whenBristol Type 881 Boarhound, 92 Squadron Maintrack were producing their X-plane vacforms, I built their Bristol 188 as a low-level reconaissance aircraft - Shiny Two, of course - but given that its wing shape was reported to be that of the Avro 730 decided that it would be better as a canard; so when I was pursuing the thought of making the Anigrand 144th "extra" I followed the same idea. The conversation at Brampton included the offer of Red Tops and Firestreaks in that scale by a generous donor, overcoming in this case at least at least one of the problems that What If? addicts face when working in this scale, the relative lack of additional external loads at a time when few warplanes fly eithout them, as well as the relative lack of potentially useful decals covering both national and unit markings. For me, aBristol 881 Boarhound 92 Squadront least this second point is crucial; I find it difficult to start a model without knowing how I plan to finish it. In this case the recent Xtradecal Hunter sheet was an absolute boon, offering me the 92 Squadron option that I could combine with the blue fin that 92 applied applied to their Lightnings as an echo of their "Blue Diamond" days. Other than swapping the flying surfaces over, all I needed to do was to hang the Red Tops on extentions of the underwing fairings for the aileron actuators.One of m thoughts was to use this model, like the Avro 730, to try various shades of acrylic "silver", but I'm not sure if they appear on the screen correctly, or at succiciently differentiated. The one of which I did like the effect, on the intakes and the leading edges, is "Super Titanium" from the Mr Color Super Metallic series but sadly MDC from whom I bought it tell me its no longer available. The fin colour I used is Xtracolor's X336, British Midland 1996 Blue, which accords very closely with the photos I have of the Hunter T.7 in the "Blue Diamonds" scheme at Kemble with Delta Jets, who I know researched it very carefully. While looking for something else entirely in Dick Ward's "Hunter Squadrons" book from Linewrights - could that possibly be redone in colour? - I found his reference to that shade as "Aircraft Blue", a term I don't remember seeing elsewhere, and without a BS. number. On my laptop, by the way, it looks lighter than it does on the model.

I hope to have this, with the 730, on the 144 SIG table at ScaleModelWorld, ten days awy as I write; and there are at least three other models - two plastic, one resin - coming to a climax on my workbench which I hope to bring as well. If there's time, I'll post one or two of them here before I go up; and I'm getting on with my first Brigand and another Fantastic Plastic resin which will appear in Air Support Command colours but probably not, in public at least, until the IPMS Milton Keynes event around the beginning of February. In the meantime you may see me lurking in the What If? shadows at Telford and hoping to fill my Goodies Bag; starting with the Unicraft Sukhoi Su-10; DDR camouflaged, I think.


It's the Great Deadline, then! Over the last couple of years my getting ready for Telford has changed somewhat; when I was writing for Scale Aircraft Modelling it was a matter of getting the socks sorted and packed, and assembling a work box with a view to doing a little light whittling while chatting (strangely, I've never needed a throat spray). Back in the long ago UK National Championships, when entry to the competition required a model to win its class at Branch level, I did one year have a 1:100th Tamiya Sea King on the table, not least because there were no other submissions in that class, but otherwise my only connection with all those excellent entries was as a judge. For the last couple of years those Good Eggs of the What If? SIG have made space not only for me but also for two or three of my "creations", and consequently I try to have something new for the table. This year there's a Soviet/Russian theme, which accounts for two of the models which I am now hurrying towards their destiny; the third is another of those that resulted from a conversation at one of the summer's IPMS shows. I'm also taking four up for possible showing on the 144 SIG table, and though they have all appeared here recently, I' really should apply a couple of very small serials by Thursday evening.

The non-Russian is as you will see largely the Airfix Canberra PR.9, which I bought from the Mr.Models stand at Yate after enjoying their B(I).8. Trying to maintain my aim, as prescribed in the best military manuBAC Canberra R.9b, 58 Sq RAF Wtton mid-'8osals, I decided to work it over a little and use it as a base for a now-defunct RAF squadron, and I was strongly influenced by by the Maritime Reconnaissance Canberra of (the Venerable) Kit Spackman, which was on the SIG stand that day (Kit knows that I only steal from the best). Nearly all the lumps and bumps and assorted aerials are from the Airfix Nimrod, but the T.17 nose - which was the springboard for the original planning discussion - came from a shadowed corner of the garage in a C-Scale box, and it nearly fits. I may try a portable reflective surface on which to show it - I hesitate to use the word display - because of all the important little places underneath intended, by me at least, though I can't speak for Their Airships or BAC, to indicate its intelligence-gathering function. Apart from ensuring that part A fits reasonably well to part B, something not intended by the kit manufacturer, my Canberra R.9b underside showing aerialspreoccupations for this model were to find a suitable desination and colour scheme. The second wasn't really a problem, with the PR.9s and T.17s at one period wearing hemp/grey and red/blue national markings, and the unit picked itself, with 58's owl badge included in the kit decals, and the blue/green bars carried on its Hunters still lurking fairly handily on an old Modeldecal sheet or three. The first Aviation Workshop book on the Canberra had a Denis J Calvert air-to-air of a 360 T.17 with fuselage bars and a red fin which seemed a good idea to copy, leaving only the choice of a dark blue to echo that of the backing rectangle of the fuselage marking; the obvious Roundel Blue looked too light, but I was satisfied with its US counterpart, insignia blue. The serial is that of an unbuilt PR.9, which must have been completed while no one was looking too closely as an R.9B.

The first of the two new contributions to the Soviet/What If? line-up - the red-starred BeRussian Navy Yakovlev "Stolov", late '80sech Grizzly was one I'd made earlier - had its genesis eighteen months ago when at the SIG's AGM I picked up an Anigrand XFV-12 on the day the theme for this year's SMW was announced, and it seemed a Good Plan to put the two ideas together; It would of course need a change or two, given the dramatic lack of success of the Rockwell original (they should never have changed the name from North American, though were was little sign of any F-86 DNA in the rather ungainly canard). I started on it not long after getting the kit, but with the main wings and fins in place it languished on a corner of my workbench for the best part of twelve months before I decided I really had to get on with it; in the meantime I'd picked up a Begemot Helix decal sheet from Paul Davis (who I see appears on the SMW plan as "Decals Galore") for the needed Soviet Navy markings, and consulted Red Star 36 for their positioning and the overall colouring. This turned out to be something of an approximation using standard Humbrol colours, but I remembered with some relief the standard of paintwork, and indeed construction, of the Yak-141 when I saw it at Farnborough as being nearly as rough as mine. I have twenty-four hours to think of an appropriate reporting name; it's a pity that I can't really use Fishhead.

The last of this spasm occurred to me when at the end of a day on my recent trip to the StatRussian Knights Sukhoi S-47 Berkutes I was checking on the Hannants "New Arrivals" page in an attempt to keep me grounded in what passes with me for normality, when I spotted the Hobby Boss kit of the Sukhoi S-37, a type which you will be unsurprised to know still fascinates me and which I am delighted to have seen, however briefly, in formation with its Flanker cousins at MAKS a few years back. A quick firing-up of the search engine revealed a Begemot set of Su-27 decals which included those for the "Russian Knights" team; I had a Hasegawa kit with those markings tucked away, but decided not to denude the kit when this seemed a good alternative. The adaptation of a "swept-back" scheme for a forward swept aircraft was helped by that useful phrase "close enough for government work" which has come to my aid on more than one occasion; oddly, this also involved a little trial and error to find a correct blue, this time for the top surfaces, solved by using Xtracolor X336 British Midland 1996 blue. All I need now is tha CGI ability to produce its team mates.

.... A hand of five

It all started with the Osprey "Spitfire Aces of Burma and the Pacific" and finished with fFive assorted Spitfires, echelon starboardive Spitfires of five marks and five different kit manufacturers. I've put the basic outline of the saga on the "Ramblings" page, and I've now got to the point where I can consider putting the photos on this page, even if I'm still short of one set of exhausts - I may even have found a solution for this.

The Hasegawa Mark VIII was the cornerstone, the appearance of the Osprey book and the overlapping MAM series giving me the impetus with their colour profiles of two 67 Squadron Spitfires at the end of the war in burma (for those who don't know its personal significance, 67 was "my" Hunter squadron in the pre-Duncan Sandys era). Although one of their aircraft, JG183/RD-S has been in John Rawlings' "RAF Fighter Squadrons" since time immemorial, its black and white photo could well have led me down a wrong colour path, but I've postponed making RD-A of squadron boss Bob Day because of the rather curly lettering of the name "Mary Ann" on the cowling; perhaps the time is ripe for a "Far East Spitfires" decal sheet - please! The kit is by Hasegawa, and I was able not only to use the blue/blue roundels and fin flash but also modify the DG-R codes on the decal sheet and make the S from the G. Steve Nichols' MAM article and illustrations suggested that the letters could well have been in the lighter of the two blues of the roundel, rather than the sky of Osprey's profile or the white of the decal sheet, and I opted to go with the possibility. In hindsight I rather wish I'd lightened the dark green and dark earth to give the faded effect that is noticeable in the Steve Nicholls profiles, and which I like given the theatre of operations. It's also looking rather glossier than I'd like in spite of the applivation of two different matt varnishes.The coincidence of the arrival of the Airfix Spitfire XIX/19 and the new Freightdog "Post War Spitfires" decals led me first to the "bare metal" 19 of 81 Squadron, and by logical progression to tw other subjects on the same sheet, a silver-painted one, using Xtracolor "High Speed Silver", an F.16 of 612 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force, and its fellow "weekend" mount, a camouflaged F.21 of 600. For the 16 I used the Italeri IX, its choice of rudders including a "pointed" one, and the 21 is the Eduard kit that eventually showed up on a garage shelf.

Five Star SpitfiresWhile hunting for the 21 I came across the Xtrakit XII, and decided that in the absence of a wide choice of markings I'd try a little What Iffery; the 21 kit came with two props, the standard five-blader and a six-bladed contra-rotating one. Its decal sheet also carried (nearly all) the markings for the post-war red-striped 41 Squadron "special", and it occured to me to apply both these to the XII; with luck it;ll occasion a double-take or two, and at some stage I plan to add a couple of "racing numbers". They make an interesting group with their various marks and finishes; perhaps I should look for a "lazy susan" on which to diplay them.

Transferred 02.11.09

Breaking the Rule of Three

I've mentioned from time to time that I tend to work on three models ar a time; more usually seems to delay my finishing any of them, but in the last month or so the space around my cutting mat and "Helping Hands" seems to have been particularly crowded. There's the five Spitfires, for example. In the days when I used to run a preliminary investiigation in to incidents they could usually be traced to an accumulation of causes rather than a single error, and this episode started with Osprey's publication of "Spitfire Aces of Burma and the Far East" by Andrew Thomas which carried details, and colour profiles, of the Spitfire VIIIs of 67 Squadron in the final stages of the War. A photo of one, RD-S/JG193, had been included in John Rawlings' invaluable tome "Fighter Squadrons of the RAF", but in true "Aces" style this had details of the fighting in which the squadron had taken part, and one of the profiles was of JG193; another, RD-A/JG567, not only belonged to the Boss Sqn Ldr Bob Day, who was the last RAF pilot to achieve "ace" status in the campaign, but also carried the name, "Mary Ann", in rather flowing script. I recoverd the Hasegawa kit from the garage shelves - I'm still convinced I had two, but there's no sign of the second - and moved it in to my workroom just before my Transatlantic jaunt at the end of July.

It must have been while I was looking for this that I was sure I'd seen the Eduard F.21, and after bringing the Freightdog "Post-War Spitfires" decal aheet, and the new Airfix PR.19 which I bought after seeing one in the hands of one of may colleagues on the What If? SIG stand, back from the IPMS Avon show found that there was an option for a camouflaged example of 600 Squadron, with Reserve Command squadron codes in red. There I am, I thought, a flight of three dissimilar aircraft all in different finishes, but with enought in common to make it a Good Idea to build them in parallel rather that series. Going back in to the garages shelves, there was no sign of the F.21, and I began to wonder if I had sold it - and perhaps the other VIII - knowing that I was highly unlikely to make a Spitfire again: I did, however, find an Italeri IX and the Xtrakit XII, and cosulting the Freightdog instructions found another red-coded aircraft. this time a silver XVI (close enough to the IX for government work) of 612 Squadron RAuxAF, after the Auxiliaries were reallocated to Fighter Command. And not only did it have a squadron marking in addition to its codes, it had a camouflaged rudder. The decision as to what to do with the XII - given that it only served with two RAF squadrons, and in standard camouflage, came to me when I did find the F.21, in a place of course where I'd already looked three times; that solution should appear fairly shortly on the "workbench" page.

And it's not just the Spitfires, though one part of the bench does look like South Marston with a slight attack of time-lapse. Having started on an Airfix Canberra B(I).8 and found myself reasonably impressed, I decided that while I was buying the Spit 19 from Mr.Models, and having sold a few older kits that day already, I should get a PR.9, and and after discussing the possibilities of using a few parts left over from my Nimrod AEW conversion with my colleague on the What If?, I did. See how crowded my little corner of the world is becoming? All these are currently in various stages of assembly and finishing and I shall put their portraits up as and when they come to fruition; my target is the end of September, and one or two may even show up at the IPMS Brampton event. And there are a couple of mini-Anigrands and a Hobby Boss Berkut (with decoration by Begemot) too, though I did have the presence of mind to sideline the new Airfix Hawk 128/T.2 which is probably just as well, as my thoughts on how I want to finish it which, as the regular reader will know, is a prime requirement of my starting a model change on an almost daily basis and may well depend on which Modeldecal set comes to the surface at the right time. Transferred 30.October 2009 .

Rolling out soon...

(probably sooner than the 787)

Harrier - of sortsBearing in mind that there are two weeks to the IPMS Avon show at Yate (near Bristol, as you ask) there are a couple of models on the bench which I plan to have ready for the What If? table; this one is waiting for its weapon load, and squadron markings - the black fin is a clue. The second will also wear RAF roundels, though of an earlier period, and my making it is a result of a conversation I had at the SIG AGM at Coventry, which revolved around orders reputed to have been placed for the RAF outside Britain shortly before the Second World War, in an attempt to fill a few gaps with fighters that were both available and more modern than the Gladiator. I confess that I hadn't come across this rumour before, but I did know of a parallel for a light twin. That Martin Higgs can be so convincing!

And, Lo!

YHarrier GR.7B 74 Sq RAF mid-1990sou will of course by now have worked out that the above is a "GR.7" development of the Silver Cloud P.1154. To the resin bits of the fuselage, intakes and jet pipes I've grafted parts from both Revell and Airfix GR.7s, including as well as the bigger wings and their pylons, nose and canopy - which needed more adjustment than I wanted, but because I was mixing parts from both the injection-moulded kits - and the undercarriage and rear fuselage cone. Weapons were also from a selection of sources, Airfix (Sidewinders), Hasegawa (Paveway III, one of which became semi-detached when I went to take its picture!),and Italeri (Mavericks), with the underwing tanks from the Revell kit. Given this lot a rolling take-off is probably obligatory, and if working out of Kandahar absolutely essential. The decoration of the tank fins is of course from some previous Tiger Meet somehow unrecorded by Mark Attrill; it's long been a source of regret for me that the RAF can no longer contribute a fighter unit to this event, and in spite of other possible squadrons for this version, and bearing in mind that if I picked 80 which was one of those originally nominated I'd have to hand-paint the maroon and yellow bars, reviving the Tigers - thanks to Modeldecal set 116 - was my preferred solution!

Martin Higgs, who put me on to the RAF order for Reggiane 2000s, tells me that it was mentioned in a one page article in Air International many years ago; I remember the possibility of the Caproni Ca 311, presumably in the reconnaisance/light bomber role. My logic decreed that if the order had been fulfilled the Reggianes, no doubt named Falcon, would have replaced the Gladiators in the Middle East and perhaps gone on to serve in Greece, though if Italy had by then sided with the Axis spares might have been a bit hard to come by. I bought a Special Hobby kit, but decided that with the resin interior I'd not start it until I'd come back from Foreign Parts; and by then one of the Magazines - SAM, I think - had let me know that there was also a recent offering from Italeri. This answered my requirement excellently; well-mould, well-fitting - which isn't always the same thing - and without a detailed resin interior, unless the modeller wanted to buy one, and so capable of reasonably quick assembly. It does come with some attractive colour schemes in its own right, and I was momentarily tempted to make a Hungarian Heja but sticking sternly to my Plan to have an RAF one ready for the What If? table at Yate and consulting Mike Bowyer's Fighting Colours, the recent Gladiator book by Alex Crawford from Mushroom and Warpaint number 37 I applied Dark Earth and Dark Green with White and Night undersides. After considering 33 and 80 Squadrons, I settled on 112; it's subsequently occurred to me that this could have meant that if they were flying Falcons they might never have got P-40s, and the "sharkmouth" wouldn't have happened. I don't think I'd want to change history that much. I rather doubt that the RAF would have been satisfied with the Re.2000's very basic armament of two machine guns; for the 2002 another two were added in the wings, and I may yet add them to mine. And I don't know when a ? became the accepted identification for the squadron commander's aircraft, so I've probably perpetrated another anachronism!

de Schelde S.21, 322 Squadron RAF mid-1941 While away in the States I managed to find an unoccupied internet terminal, which not only enabled me to find out the result of the Hungarian Grand Prix but also do my weekly search of Hannants New Releases page; and there I found the RS Models' de Schelde S.21. This meant that by the time I got home I had decided, in accordance with the Hairdresser' dictum from HHGG, what colours I would give it and therefore its use; not, of course, a Dutch prototype or as German propaganda, but what might have happened to it if it had been completed and flown, and made it across the North Sea. Starting with the plan of giving it to a Dutch fighter squadron in the UK, I decided on green/brown/sky camouflage, with the possibility of gviing it black/white special identification markings for Exercise Starkey (Shores/Thomas 2nd TAF Vol.4); but did wonder where to put the fuselage roundels, any squadron letters and a serial. The original had a pair of machine guns either side of the pilot, in addition to the flexibly-mounted 23 mm cannon in the nose, and the kit required me to drill four more holes in the transparency; this made me a little nervous, so I decided to omit them. I then thought that given its unusual shape, I would treat it like the captured Luftwaffe aircraft flown by the RAF, and finish it with yellow undersides; on that basis I could still allocate it to 322 Squadron as a unit hack even though it was only a single-seater. The fuselage roundels are the smallest "A1" type I could find, and I had to fit them over the exhausts; at some stage I shall have to add some staining.

It is, of course, always a pleasure for me to return to Kingston. Hawker's P.1109 fitted a radar and a pair of Firestreaks to the Hunter F.6 airframe and was built and flown, but did not of course progress to service; the Silver Cloud resin conversion set therefore has given me an excellent opportunity to remedy yet another procurement error (you didn't think these only happened recently, did you?). The production versions of this set are imminent, by the way, but to get this model ready in time for the IPMS Avon show Firestreaks have been donated by a Trumpeter Lightning, but like their pylons and launch rails they will be part of the package. Given its elegantly long and pointed nose, it's always been my plan to finish this version in the very colourful - and big! - markings of 34 Squadron (which for some reason they never applied to their Beverlys). These have been carefully set aside since I built a pair of PJ Hunter 4/5s, and were designed by J-P Desprez of Model Airt (I still also have the spare set of 67 Squadron's XF317, and one day I'll have to decide what to apply them to). Other decals, including the serial on the basis that it could well have been a rebuild, came from the excellent Revell kit. Two of the four Adens were to be retained, and therefore I fitted "Sabrinas", though they weren't evident on the prototypes; neither were the "dogteeth", but they would surely have been fitted to an in-service version.The fit of the new nose, by the way, is very good, and it's carefully designed so that the modeller can remove the necessary small bit of the nose on a panel line. I'll certainly be using another one or two; one highly probable plan is to combine the 1109 nose with the more highly-swept wing and afterburner of the Silver Cloud 1083 conversion, with underwing tanks on the outboard pylons to look after the fuel consumption. That'll be the FGA.9 kit, then, and red/blue roundels

P.1109 Hunter F.6b, 34 Sqn Tangmere

Transferred 04.010.09

Ghostly Poison

I still have a vivid memory of watching from the crewroom window a flight of four Venoms starting up on the Bruggen Station Flight pan, with great gouts of flame coming from their tailpipes; my instant response was to call the airfield fire service, but I very soon learned that this spectacle was not uncommon. Fuel apparently could form a small pool somewhere in the Ghost's system and ignite quickly, if briefly; for a while it was a common practice to lay an asbestos blanket over the leading edge of the tailplane, but this is one of the very few extras not included in these Czechmaster kits!

One of the very early "Frog" plastic kits of the 1950s was of a single-seat Venom with 5 Squadron markings, probably a Mark ; and Aeroclub did produce it in 1:72nd scale, and in Vacform in 1:48th, and the Frog Sea Venom FAW.21 has had several incarnations, . Having enjoyed my single-seat Vampire time I've always thought that flying the more powerful Venom in the ground-attack role would have been fun - the reported boast of one of the Middle East squadrons was that on take-off they retracted the undercarriage and then got down to their operational height - and there were quite a few with colourful, and now defunct, unit markings; I was very pleased therefore when I heard that Czechmaster were planning to include the Venom in several versions in their excellent range of resin kits. They have approached the subject with their usual diligence and care, and have kindly sent me their first two single-seaters for building and comment.

The FB.1 and FB.4 come in separate and very complete kits, each with a load of stores; my choice of the Mark 4 to start with was decided by the markings included, in line with my determined efforts somehow to cover RAF squadrons that Czechmaster Venom FB.4, 266 Squadronhave ceased to exist (this logic will be casually set aside for the Kiwi FB.1, but there are times when consistency is overrated). The detail supplied is considerable, and I confess to not using all the smallest parts in resin and etched metal (or indeed many of the minor decals on the very comprehensive sheet). As with all current Czechmaster productions the breakdown is not unlike that of a classic injection-moulded kit, except that the flying surfaces are one-piece rather than split horizontally. The cockpit interior starts with a floor attached to a rear bulkhead; the sidewall detail is cast as part of the fuselage halves, with additional etched detail, and they also enclose rudder pedals, a jet pipe, the nosewheel well and a three section instrument panel. I had to reduce the width of this slightly for a snug fit, and squeeze as much weight as possible ahead of the mainwheel axis, and it's now finely but adequately balanced. Unlike the single seat Vampire the FB.4 had an early Martin-Baker seat, for which a separate etched metal harness is provided.

The wing halves fit smoothly, but I had removed most of what appeared to be a casting "blip" at the rear of each wing root, until I realised that they were to fit in to a couple of small depressions either side of the reCzechmaster Venom FB.4, 266 Squadron (with dropped flaps)ar fuselage, which I had taken to be small vents. This is evident from the instructions, once you know what you're looking for! The two booms plug in to recesses in their fairings on the trailing edges of the wings; I decided that the best way to tackle this was to assemble the two booms and the tailplane first, and then fit the assembly to the rest of the airframe, but I've wound up with a slight discontinuity at each wing/boom join; when I make the FB.1 I'll fit each individual boom to its wing and fill and sand any evident join before fitting wings to fuselage and tailplane to booms. The other bit of the assembly I'll attempt differently is inserting the two small guide vanes in to each intake. For this model I followed my usual habit of getting the main airframe together first, and leaving the very small pieces till the end; I then found it awkward to get the small metal pieces L17 and L18 into the intake while rotating the aircraft with the left hand, and next time I'll try putting them in to the two intakes parts 8 and 9 before fitting the intakes in to the wingroot/fuselage join. For this model I've inserted in their place some slivers of plastic card.

Czechmaster Venom FB.4, 266 Squadron with two 500 b bombsThe weapons load on offer is considerable, and should help to re-stock your spares box; you could even devise a Farnborough display-style diorama. For the pair of pylons just outside the main undercarriage doors there are the options of 250, 500 or 1,000 lb bombs or a couple of drop tanks, and there are four rocket projectile launching rails to place under the wing roots, for which there is a choice of no less than four types of RPs. two practice and two lethal. And there is a special etched metal jig for aligning their fins! I decided early on to limit myself to the two 500 lb bombs, taking into account both the time and the necessary skills that I would otherwise have to call on.

For my money Czechmaster are currently producing the best resin kits on offer; UK price according to Hannants' website is at the time of writing £32.99, and whereas a year or three back this would probably have had me reaching for my bank manager's smelling salts it now seems very reasonable for what the modeller gets. I am, as always, influenced by the subject, one that has for me been comparatively neglected and is potentially colourful; one of the decal choices in this kit is an all-white Venom of the 60 Squadron aerobatic team, with red trim - and serials!. The other options are another 60 Squadron aircraft in camouflage, with silver flashes for the tip tanks, and one from 249 based at Akrotiri for the Suez campaign and wearing the yellow and black striping, but with no unit markings. My choice is from 266 Squadron, based at Wunstorf in 2TAF before the "Sandys' Axe"; I have followed the kit instructions in painting the nosewheel door and the tip tanks red, though David Howley's colour profile in Warpaint 44 shows them in green, the same colour as the individual aircraft letter provided by the decal sheet. These also have a considerable number of small stencilling items, but as with much of the weaponry, and several very small etched metal parts, I passed them by very quickly. The detail addict will I am sure, make very good use of them, but I am very happy with my little model, not least because it has the classic "2TAF" camouflage scheme with the PRU blue undersides; as far as I know, none were finished "silver" underneath. The colours and decal placement are very well illustrated - in black and white - as part of the very comprehensive, multi-paged instructions, which also come with many detail photos. You will find my name lurking near the bottom of one of them, and I'm very happy to have been able to contribute to such an excellent product.

The next Venoms to come in this range will be three varieties of Swiss single-seaters, including one with the "Pinocchio" nose. I am looking forward to the RAF NF.2 and NF.3, which served with a number of now gone squadrons with colourful markings, though I remember the introduction of the NF.2 did include several losses. There are no less than six marking choices in the FB.1 kit and I would expect a similarly comprehensive approach with the night-fighters, and I'm sure there will be naval variants to follow; I even have hopes of an Aquilon! A little while back there was a Venom sheet from Eurodecal which included land-based single and two seaters, and you might like to lay one down just in case. Now, the FB.1; red-and-white checked rudders, or the kiwi....? Transferred 15.09.09

Czechmaster Venom FB.4 - 266 Squadron, Wunstorf 1956


"Hunter from the Cockpit"

While I'm working on the next model to fill this spot, let me bring to your notice the latest in the Ad Hoc Publications' "... from the Cockpit" series. For the first time, Roger Chesneau has gone for a lighter shade of blue, though it's true that there are some dark blue contributions, and even confining himself to those who flw the Hunter with British services he has come up with something only slightly short of a tome! Its two hundred pages have, as well as the principal narrative by Air Commodore Mac McEwen, contributions from twenty-two others who have reminicences to offer, including such well-remembered names as Roger Topp and Peter Latham, and covering the gamut of experiences on and around Sir Sydney's finest. Many of the writers had long careers on the type, and afterwards - five attained senior rank - while others' were briefer and sometimes sporadic, but there is no doubt from their words about the enthusiasm that the Hunter engendered and the affection in which it is still held.

As with all the types covered in the series, a particular aircraft associated with the author has a colour four view, in this case an F.2 of 257 Squadron that "belonged" to Mac McEwen; it's good to see the Sapphire-engined marks geting some attention, and perhaps they weren't as superior to the Avon as I've always thought. The artwork is by series editor and publisher Roger Chesneau, and he has contributed no less than sixty-five other colour profiles of RAF and FAA Hunters. And there is of course a positive profusion of photographs, those from the type's early days being in black and white but with the passing of years an increasing amount of colour creeps in. Considerable care has been taken over their reproduction - for once I wasn't irritated by those that have been spread over two pages - and Ad Hoc standards of production remain excellent.

I am of course prejudiced (look at the back cover on the "bookshelf" page), and I'm still reading through the various stories; it's probably not a book to be digested at a single sitting. While the air is not yet "soggy with nostalgia", to quote Tom Lehrer, there are sections that have brought some memories back in to sharp focus, and for me personally it's fascinating to read the experiences of those who got much further with the type than I ever did. You may well know that I am already a great fan of the whole series, and this latest edition does both the aircraft and the ".. from the Cockpit" concept proud. Of course I recommend it highly, and I'm absolutely delighted to have been able to make a small contribution. Transferred 15.09.09

Sharkmouthed 'Roo

Occasionally something other than just a *NEW* kit sets me off on a new model; while this is usually a decal sheet; in this case it was a remark on a What If? SIG stand that led me to a boxed set of Lifecolor acrylics devoted to WWII RAAF colours and including the legendary, and often elusive, Foliage Green. I remembered that while sorting my "resins drawer" recently I'd turned up a rather old Czechmaster kit of the Commonwealth CA-15, sometimes called "Kangaroo"; Czechmaster have since re-done the type to their current standard, but this one proved to be perfectly adequate for my immediate needs, and if lacking in today's level of detail the castings were clean and flash-free, with the minor parts clustered together in their membrane.

The one and only prototype was left in natural metal, but given that my initial intention was to use the camouflage colours I decided that if the war had been sufficiently prolonged the foliage green top surfaces would still be appropriate for island campaigns, and that therefore the underside colour would be that described by Lifecolor as RAAF Sky Blue. There is incidentally no guidance with these paints on the way in which they were used; I've used others in their range for my Sukhoi T-49, and while they brush on easily, they are very matt, a property that led me to add a coat of Xtracrylix satin clear before applying the decals. I thought rather late about armament; the original had six 0.50 machine guns in the wings, but they weren't evident in the casting so thinking that a production version should have four 20 mm. cannon anyway I added Aeroclub's set G041, originally intended for a Typhoon. I didn't manage a very neat installation, but with luck it won't show too much in the photo.

Somewhere I have had for many years a decal set for Boomerangs, with some individual markings, but while hunting for these - which still haven't surfaced - I found an old Ventura sheet for RAAF and RNZAF Mustangs, including one with a sharkmouth. This was too good to pass up (and saved further searching) so what you see is a "Kangaroo" of 77 Squadron RAAF engaged in the closing months of a protracted Asian WWII campaign. I cunningly altered the serial from a Mustang's A68-750 to A62-75 by unusually delicate work with a fine brush, and I liked the "stencil" style of the code letters; the decals themselves were on a very matt film, and I gave them an additional coat of satin, as wll as filling in a gap in the sharkmouth with the Revell's acrylic "Ferrari Red" that I had used for my Hunter F.3+. Just as I was finishing the model I remembered John Baxter's book on "The Alternate RAAF and RAN Fleet Air Arm", devoted to "Australia's Little Asian Wars 1951-1975"; the cover painting has a CA-15 despatching an Indonesian Mustang, with the RAAF aircraft in a "bare metal" finish with "kangaroo" roundels, but having started by looking for a canvas for Foliage Green I decided to stick with it Transferred 19,08.09

Let the pin see the socket

On the workbench as I write is the first of my AZ Spitefuls; when I saw its arrival marked on the Hannants website I was just in time to order a couple for delivery at Duxford, with my thoughts turning to possible colours (I have a leaning towards that particular one of the Forty Shades of Green). The consequences will doubtless appear on the "workbench" page, but until then it's provoked me in to thoughts on fit and fitting, subjects not unknown to be up for discussion when two ot three modellers are gathered together. This is an injection-moulded kit, with the tell-tale signs of being in the low-pressure moulding category, with small pieces not moulded as part of the larger - in this case, the cannon fairings - and substantial "pin" markings needing removal to get a good fit, notably between wing halves and inside the radiator fairings, these last needing a fairly gentle approach with a sharply-angled cutter and final trimming with a fresh knife blade. And there are no pins, and therefore no sockets, to assist or at least guide, assembly.

It has surely come as no surprise to you that I am an assembler of plastic kits - if not necessarily in accordance with the ideas of the kit, or even the aircraft, manufacturer - rather than a modeller, at least accorting to the legendary dictum of Harry Woodman. One of my principal approaches to modelling, even before I got infected by the What If? virus, has for a long time been to make several versions of the same aircraft to enable me to apply variations in colour schemes and particularly unit markings, which has usually involved the assembly of most of the parts as quickly as possible to get to the exciting bit. In retrospect this was I think faciltated by the reasonable assurance that when the pins went in to the socket the pieces would fit satisfactorily, with perhaps a little necessary after-work on seam lines and perhaps rivets (or in the case of some of the Matchbox kits, usually of aircraft I really wanted to make, filling the over-enthusiastic panel lines). I also have from time to time, not necessarily a low boredom threshold, but an urgent and deeply felt need to get on with the next model for which I have conceived a Bright Idea.

One of my very senior modelling friends made a point of cutting off all the pins before fitting the parts, in the firm belief that this way he actually got a better fit than if he had used the pieces straight from the box; I didn't see the point of this, but I may have been influenced by the thought that if I worked as Mr.Airbox or Mr.Fujigawa intended than I would at least have someone to blame if it looked wrong (this was long before I heard the Wise Words of the Witch in "Into the Woods", that from what she saw people thought that in problem-solving what was important was the blame, rather than any amelioration or solution). And while I'm muttering, I am almost certainly quite wrong in feeling than increased expenditure should mean less hassle (any breaking news echos there?). This type of kit used to be relatively inexpensive, but there is now quite literally a price to be paid for a kit of a less-than-mainstream aircraft, even if the kit is relatively simple. Should I/we get seriously grumpy about this, or just take it as a fact of our chosen life? Round about now I am programmed to recall the National Serviceman's mantra, "If you can't take a joke you shouldn't have joined". I shall cheer myself up by working out just how I need to mix That Shade of Green, in which a recent feature in SAMI should be a help, and find where I have put so carefully Joe Maxwell's finest Celtic Bosses. This will be one aircraft which almost certainly will not feature in his upcoming book! Transferred 19.08.09


Eleven Engines, Ten Roundels

There's nearly always one kit - all right, several - sitting somewhere near the worlbench or in a dusty corner of your stirage are that looks at you reproachfully as you passes by and make soft mewing noises, demandig to be made. One such has for sometime had half of its box end removed, making it even more pitiful, and I've known for some time what I had in mind for it; I was galvanised in to action by an upcoming "What If? SIG display, which gave me the necessary deadline. Having teased my colleagues with thRAF GRB-36D with Hunter FR.10 parasitee trailer that I would be bringing a 'fifties RAF aircraft with eleven engines, I did finish just it time, and it was on the table in the RAF Museum at Hendon for the IPMS Barnet show. If you haven't yet peeked at the pictures, the yawning kit was a 1:144th Hobbycraft RB-36D in FICON form, and the eleventh engine that of a Hunter FR.10, thanks to Revell.

Once started. the B-36 went together with no problems, though even in the small scale it did take up quite a but of room. There were no major decisions to take; it became evident early on that if I wanted to diplay it standing on its undercarriage and with the Hunter nestling in its recess - that thoughtfully provided for the RF-84K acommodates the Hunter very neatly - there was no point in including the "trapeze" mechanism. The colour scheme is that of the second batch of Canberras; I thought that the PRU blue undersides would be suitable for high-flying reconnaisance - I really didn't want to do it in overall silver, though of course that was how the Washingtons were finished - and I also used the blue for the Hunter undersides so that it wouldn't stand out against its carrier, and in spite of what I've said for many years I now know that there were a few 2TAF aircraft at least in that finish. The reconnaisance part of the "Peacemaker's" designation is partly taken care of by a selection of radomes under the nose and rear fuselage, and it's occurred to me that I out to add a few random aerials for its elint tasks, but given that I plan to take it around to put on one or two What If? tables during the year, I would worry for their safety.The badge on the fin is that of 199 Squadron, which was was based at Watton with Lincolns in the "radio counter-measures" role in which it had been used in the second World War; the Lincolns were identified, according to Mike Bowyer's "Bombing Colours" by their blue and white spinners, which sited the "six turning" neatly. The 4 Squadron markings for the Hunter came from the Xtradecal sheet, and that for 199 from a Kits at War RAF bombers collection. Corroborative detail rules.

The rest of my recent output has been resolutely single-engined. My leaning towards red stars is patchy at best, but the appearance on the Hannants "New Releases" list of the box-top of the A-Model Sukhoi T-49 prototype intrigued me, and sent me to the bookcase for the "Soviet Secret Projects" book, and the Red Star 16 on Sukhoi interceptors. These revealed that the T-49 had been designed with the alternative intakes to seek performance improvements, but though it did result in an improvement in acceleration it wasn't put in to production. However, I thought that this could have been a useful factor in low level (rat-and-terrier) interception, and a Begemot decal set for the Flagon gave me two different camouflage schemes - the colours are by Lifecolor, based on a photo in the Red Star book - and suitable markings. As the T-49 was unarmed, I used the wing, missiles and under-fuselage cannon pods from a Trumpeter Flagon-F, for whose fuselage I have further plans aimed, like the T-49, at the SIG display at Telford in November.

Ta 152A "Air Min 11", Sept 1945The final two are virtually contemporaries, with both showing promise that became irrelevant at the end of the second World War, and I've always like the look of both of them. The first model - shock! horror! - is of a real aircraft, and increasing rarity in my modelling these days. I picked up its Freightdog Models decal sheet at the Cosford display, and with it an Aoshima Ta 152H-0; strictly speaking it should be an A-1 - and I understand that there's a possibility of a special run of A-1s combined with these decals to be marketed through Freightdog - but consulting the recent Mark 1 book on the 152 by Malcolm V Lowe, it would appear that the only visible difference was in some minor wing panels. I'm sure there's a Reichsluftministerium equivalent of "close enough for Government work". It was one of the aircraft brought to Farnborough after the war for flight testing, and carries the title "Air Min 11".the Roundels look slightly odd, but I suspect taht like those applied to some Spitfires in Japan soon after the War their proportions are those of the pre-war roundel rather than those of the "D-type" to which we have become accustomed. The Spiteful is the AZ kit which appeared on the New Releases page just in time for me two order two for collection at thr Duxford Spring air display, and which was hardly through the front door before I'd started to lay out the parts for a little initial painting. One of the kit options is for a SEAC Spiteful, to which I plan to return, though not using the 17 Squadron markings included. But I wanted to do one quickly - although as it happened it wasn't ready for the intended display occasion - and the recent SAMI feature on the Irish Air Corps Seafire, and the discovery of the decals that Joe Maxwell had prepared for the Brigade Models' two-seater, gave me an instant alternative (another possibility is the scheme of the Japan-based Spitfires of, I think, 11 Squadron). The colour I used is Xtracrylic Interior grey-green, again following the SAMI article; almost as soon as it was finished, of course, the new Joe Maxwell/ Patrick J Cummins book on the Air Corps arrived, with thoughts on this much-discussed shade, but a little late to take account of on this model (the book will shortly be featured in the "Pick of the Month" section). Other thoughts prompted by this kit are in the "Ramblings" bit, which may also be in line for an update soon. I do like the look of it though.

Celtic Bosses

Every so often, as well as a model or two, there's a book that is an automatic choice for this spot, and this is by someone I've known since we met in a model shop in Dublin (as you do). Joe Maxwell is very well known and respected for his decals, generally of Irish Air Corps subjects, and together with Patrick J Cummins has produced what they describe as "an illustrated guide" to the Irish Air Corps. This seems a rather modest summary of their subject; while it is set out aircraft by aircraft, and in a way that shows a considerable regard for modellers' interest, there is considerable historical content.

The book starts with "The Big Fella" and runs through to the recently-delivered AugustaWestland AW.139. It's divided in to six chronological sections, each starting with a historical scene-setting for the years in question, followed with a type by type coverage of each aircraft entering service in that period with the text illustrated with. photos, morphing gradually from black and white to colour and with colour line drawings, frequently with plan views, for those where colour photos are not available. The most recent type shown in this way is Seafire 153, in an interesting shade of pale green; this could give rise to more discussion on which of the forty shades it represents, but given the help and advice listed in the credits - and David Howley, who is of course a Sligo man himself, would appear to be responsible for these drawings - I wouldn't care to argue against the book.

Until the 1960s virtually all the Air Corps aircraft were of British origin, and with a little research you'll be able to find most of them around in kit form, often as a limited-run production whether resin, vacform or injection-moulded. The better-known include Gladiator, Hurricane, Lysander and Spitfire/Seafire, but here also be Hinds, Magisters, Martinets and DH.9s. I am particularly taken with the Walrus - it's illustrated here in its other natural element - and I suspect thet the reason I hang on to my Aeroclub Hector is because of its IAC service. From the '60s onwards most of the equipment has come from Europe, with the VIP transports from the USA, and some may be harder to find in kit form. On the occasion that I first met Joe, Dick Ward and I were over for the air display at Baldonnel, and it was there that I saw the Casa CN.235 MP it its very distinctive blue finish for the maritime patrol role, and I have a feeling that it's been vacformed by Broplan; it would make a very eye-catching addition to any line-up. Those with a What If? inclination should look at page 106, where there's a list of re-equipment possibilities on which the Air Corps sought information in 1948; they don't, alas, include a Spiteful but its wing is there.


For each type there is a brief description of the aircraft's history, and its place in the Air Corps, and also of use and fate of individual aircraft, all very well illustrated. Almost all the aircraft have a "Colours and Markings" paragraph adding to this photo/drawing evidence, all of which will be very useful to any modeller considering adding one, or several, to his shelves. There's no doubt that the book has been conceived and produced with a modeller's as well as a historian's eye, and the standard of production matches the care that has gone in to its preparation and compilation. I am of course prejudiced, not least by its subjects, but this really is an excellent book and one which I can recommend highly. Doubtless many of its subjects are already available on Max Decal sets, and it would not surprise me to see more become available as a result of the book. This will I'm sure be stocked by the specialist booksellers soon, but you can order it directly from with an expected cost of about £35.00. And until the end of June they'll send it to European address post free!


Unflighted Arrows

This, although it has "politics" as part of the subtitle on its cover, is fully in line with my current modelling practice - obsession, if you prefer - in that it is to a considerable extent about what might have been. The cancellation of the TSR.2 is often seen as a watershed moment for the British aircraft industry, but that of the Avro Canada Arrow had an even more traumatic effect in Canada. The author makes no secret of his partisan stance on this subject and this is a highly political book, with those he sees as the guilty parties on either side of the 49th parallel clearly identified (UK readers in the TSR.2 conspiracy camp can amuse themselves by working out the British equivalents). For modellers of the What If? Tendency there are illustrations and accounts of various Arrow developments, including its possible use by the RAF, as well as the Avrocar "flying saucer" and potential derivatives; and I was particularly taken by a study for a USAF VTOL aircraft, with four doubtless thirsty engines and what seems to me not a lot of space for fuel, which could have people reaching for their spares box. It's not a book that can be read quickly; it's replete with footnotes and has a somewhat academic, if angry, air about it. At the time of writing I'm still in the middle of it, but I want to draw it to the attention of those of you who might not otherwise come across it; I only learned about it through one of these e-mails from Amazon which said "If you liked that, then you'll like this", and they were absolutely right. The author who had spent much of his life involved with Canadian aviation sadly died recently aged 44, but the Canadian firm of Apogee Books has put it out both as a tribute to him and a contribution to the debate over the involvement of politics and aviation in in mid-20th century; while its specifics are Canadian there is much that can be read as applicable to the wider world.

Project Books

For the last few years mucProjected VC-10 Variantsh of my information on projects has come in hardback from Midland Publishing; initially on German designs, notably those in the category now widely known as "Luftwaffe '46", and more recently from the series of books by Tony Buttler on British and American aircraft and, with Yefim Gordon, on Soviet projects. I found these two, both from new series though not, as I first thought the third in each, on the Aviation Bookshop stand at Duxford and made off with them in haste, not least to find out what a "Poffler" is (or was). The "B-52 Competition" covers exactly that, and even though we know that the "Buff" has been around since the dawn of time it still came as a jolt to be reminded that the original spec was drafted in 1946 (even more to realise that at the time I was 10!). As well as Boeing's first thoughts, which resulted in a six-turobprop aircraft with a 221 ft. wingspan, this book includes its competitiors from Convair - whose swept-forward project features on the cover - Martin and Douglas. The principal illustrations are line drawings, frequently with inboard profiles showing the placing of crew and weapons, both offensive and defensive, with one or two sketches and a couple of model photos. The Dougla selection includes a couple of parasite aircraft carriers, using Skyhawks and - somewhat less plausibly perhaps - X-3s modified for photo reconnaisance! This book is the third in the "American Aerospace Archive" series, the other two covering commercial developments of the Martin Mars, and the FJ-5, a navalised version of the F-107 (I knew there was a readson for keeping that Trumpeter kit).

Chris Gibson's assiduously-researched compilation of VC-10-based projects covers projects from fairly early in the aircraft's career, including missile-carriers with six Skybolts, designed to supplement the V-bombers and with the option of conbentional bombs in underwing panniers, maritime reconnaisance, freighter and early tanker versions and a "modular" aircraft which could be re-roled with alternative fuselage sections to cover all these tasks. AEW was also studied with the Marconi radar and "fore-and-aft" radomes as projected for the Nimrod AEW.3, particularly in view of a possible shortage of Nimrod airframes. These are all illustrated by excellent line drawings, profile, plan and perspective, and with splendid paintings by Adrian Mann. The Airfix kit doesn't seem to be current on the Hannants website, so I shall have to start haunting the "pre-owned" standsm particularly if I can find a source of 1:144th Skybolts. This also appears to be the third in a series, "Project Tech Profiles", but the "3" in a black box on the cover next to the series title has apparently fooled more than just me; it is in fact a runway marker, with the 617 Squadron VC-10 taxying out behind it!. I am assured that there are at least two more volumes to follow fairly closely on, I understand, other AEW proposals and a Kingston V/STOL. I'll put something hese as soon as I can.

And a "Poffler"? Go on - buy the book! (Transferred 07.08.09)


Went to Sun 'n' Fun and brought back the hat and the shirts (though one was of a battleship). Not only was I unusually restrained in wardrobe, but I only took about five hundred photos; it'll take a wh"Thunderbird" at Galvestonile to sort and select, J-3 floatplane at Jack Brown's seaplane base, to be joined by two ex-Hunter pilotsbut I hope to put some at least in the "Wanderings" section over the next month or so. In the meantime, here are a couple to encourage me, and I hope you, and which I've picked for my Aged Aviator's Boasting Book. Strictly speaking neither were at Sun 'n' Fun; the yellow one was at Lake Alfred and the olive drab/neutral grey at Galveston: I was airborne in both and the adrenalin will last quite a while. And the sun shone seriously, in Florida if not in Texas, the fun was equally serious in both states and the jet-lag is wearing off. Now I'll get back to the 2GB SD card - isn't digital photography so practical? - and pick out a few more for my, and I hope your, delectation and delight. Watch the "Wanderings" section below!

In to the Wild Mid-West!

The day after writing this I'm off across the broad Atlantic, for what may well prove to be my last US aviation tour. We start at Dayton and finish at Oshkosh, which is in itself fairly symbolic; at Dayton we're due to watch their Air Ahow, as well as visit the USAF Museum, and at AirVenture at the newly-reorganised Oshkosh I shall make a beeline for the Vintage field, where on my first visit in 1995 I fell hopelessly in love with every Waco Wacos in the Vintage field at Oshkosh 2002ever built, though its fair to say that the Staggerwings and Stinson Reliants were not far behind them in my appreciation. Judging by the time it's taken me to get my Sun 'n' Fun jpegs in to any sort of order, the holiday snaps may take a while to emerge here, but I'll try and get some in the Wanderings page as quockly as I can (this will be delayed though because the day after I get back it's the meeting of Hunteristas at Old Warden, where the air will doubtless be soggy with nostalgia). Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, and I plan to be at the IPMS Avon show later in the month with a couple of novelties for the What If? SIG table.

The Boss's aircraft

I've flown up the Thames at low level twice in my life, the second time in a Junkers 52 in a year when Boris Becker was winning at Wimbledon (which was why the German pilot didn't want to go South of the River); the first time was in the bomb aimer's position in one of three Valiants that were rehearsing for the Queen's Birthday flypast.

Subjects for this section are sometimes chosen as much for their personal association as for their intrinsic virtues, and this is one of them. One of the "downstream consequences" of the 1957 Defence White Paper - aAnigrand Valiant B.1 148 Squadron very long way downstream, admittedly - was that as a redundant ex-2TAF fighter pilot I was found a non-flying post while awaiting a course which would return me to the Wild Blue Yonder. For about a year I was the adjutant on 148 Squadron, a Valiant unit based out in the flatlands as part of the Marham Wing; the other two squadrons at the time were 207 and 214. I joined the squadron about six months after the Suez action, when 148 had been among the Bomber Command squadrons based on Malta and XD814, the CO's Valiant, had been the first V-bomber to drop bombs in earnest. The boss had been promoted but his crew had remained with his replacement, and they were a source of tales of the episode. According to the Eric Morgan "Aerofax" book on the Valiant, which has been invaluable in both text and illustration while making the model, 814 was one of the three aircraft that carried out the flypast, though whether it was used for the rehearsal - and if it was, whether it was the one in which I lay nonchalantly in the bomb-aining position as we flew up river - I sadly do not know. I failed record it even as passenger time.

I've always liked the Valiant, in spite of seeing prototype WB210 catch fire in mid-air and crash not far from where we lived in Hampshire (I promptly got on my bike, but was stopped from getting near to the bits by the local bobby - boys, eh?). There have been kits over the years, the best probably the early Frog offering in 1:96th scale; I reviewed the relatively recent Mach 2 1:72nd kit for SAM, but it was a lot of work, and it was I suspect because I really wanted a model Valiant that I persisted. When the Anigrand Craftswork 1:144th kit was released therefore I revived my PayPal facility and got one from Hong Kong (complete with attractive stamps). Any hesitation that I might have had was resolved when I expanded the "bits" picture on their website and found that it included decals for XD814; one of the problems for me at least working in this scale is the comparative lack of alternative decals.

My first impression on removing the bigger pieces from their sealed wrapping was that there appeared to be the odd quality control problem; in particular the upper noses of both fuselage halves had quite a substantial hole. I have been - still am - a big fan of this company and its products, and until recently its resin castings have been immaculate, but while I haven't quantified them I get the overall impression of an increasing number of minor flaws. The parts did fit together well, though the pegs on the wing roots needed a little adjustment so that the upper surfces of the wings would line up correctly against the top of the fuselage; and, as quite often these days with resin kits, I superglued and clamped the forward fuselage first and left it to harden overnight before setting the rear part, to take out a slight warp. The kit probably deserved a little more care and a little less haste than I gave it, but as so often I started in a hurry to get it together; my second - which incidentally doesn't seem to have the casting flaws of my first - should benefit from the learning curve on this one. The Anigrand Valiant B.1 XD814transparencies are castings rather than vacformed, and generally I prefer this even if the windscreen pillars are a little more prominent with this method; I painted over the "eyebrow" windows by mistake initially, and had to do a little scalpel work to regain them (more leaning curve!).

The kit instructions show XD814 as "silver" with bright roundels, but my memory of it is white ( it's alas not illustrated in the book). I remember the "silver" - generally, initially at least on WP/WZ aircraft, as being very dull, almost grey, but I'll have the chance to look at that again when I make my second. Most of the squadrons carried unit markings on the fin, but 148 - I did try to persuade my leader that we should carry crossed axes on the tail, but he regarded this as a nasty "fighter" habit, and not one that bomber chaps should copy - just had a small badge forward of the entrance hatch, with the crew names just aft of it. I may get my way later after all these years, if I can manage a little delicate hand-painting. Model Alliance are believed to be preparing a V-bomber decal sheet, and with all three now available from Anigrand I hope they'll produce it in 1:144th as well as 1:72nd. And there was a strong rumour about three years ago that Airfix were planning a 1:72nd Valiant to follow the Nimrod, and while I have no inside knowledge I still have hopes.

In the mean time I'll make the most of this kit, though I'll take my time in deciding whether to do my second "silver" or camouflaged ; I think that by the time the latter were common the Marham Wing had succumbed to the pernicious doctrine of Central Servicing, and unit markings were no longer carried. This is a reasonable kit, and given the variations between individual castings common to most resin kits I trust that the nose blemish on mine was a one-off. As with other kits in this series there are three "extras" from the same era, in this case the Bristol 188, the Fairey FD.2 and the Handley Page 115 (which will also be produced in 1:72nd). On the common decal sheet are the serials for the first P.1127 prototype and the Short Sperrin; I have hopes of the latter in the grey/black Bomber Command scheme, and perhaps I'll find a suitable marking on the small-scale Freightdog Canberra decal. To make me seriously happy I hope Anigrand will consider the necessary changes to fuselage, inner wing and undercarriage fto make the "Black Bomber", the Valiant B.2 which was ironically strengthened for low-level operations and then cancelled although seventeen of this mark were ordered before being changed for B.1s.

One final piece of never-to-be-forgotten trivia. You'll see marked on the canopy just behind the windscreen quite a large "lid" over the pilots' ejection seats; the back-seaters did not have such seats, and in an emergency had to dive out of the port side entrance door, initially protected by a shield deplyed with the door. This, according to the Pilots' Notes was not to be extended above 175 knots; the speed for the separation of the cockpit roof was not to be less that 210 knots. I sometimes still wonder what could have happened during that thirty-five knot acceleration.


Fourth part of the Trilogy

Many years ago Christopher Shores produced a book on the Second Tactical Airforce (in the Second World War) which rapidly became a standard work, with a place on the shelf of anyone with an interest in the air war in North-West Europe. When the time came to update it he was joined by Chris Thomas a historian with an abiding interest in and encyclopedic knowledge of the Hawker Typhoon and Tempest, aircraft that were an integral part of the Second TAF legend; between them they expanded the story in to three chronologically organised volumes with the last, published in 2006, finishing in May 1945. Now, as with all the best trilogies, it's acquired a fourth part.

Much of it covers new or revised information that has surfaced since the publication of the first three books, prompted no doubt in many cases by that publication. There are many "new" photos, some carefully repaired, and a profusion of Chris Thomas' excellent colour profiles, notably in the fifty pages devoted to camouflage and markings; these include the development and profress of the black and white stripes, and the colourful touches on some Typhoon units at the end of the war. There are some new angles on the command's existence, including "erks' eye" stories, the Luftwaffe order of battle between June 1944 and April 1945, and the operational training and tactics of 2 TAF units (did you know they abandoned the "finger four" formation?).. The chapter on squadrons includes details of AOP and Communication squadrons as well as those more usually associated with the command, and the book concludes with its rundown, taking its story in outline up to 1949. There are also a few pages of amendments, corrections and updating for the three earlier volumes.

While researched and produced as a historical reference, there is a definite leaning towards the modeller, especially in this volume, and from the camouflage and markings angle this one could, for a modeller, stand on its own. But as even a cursory glance will show it's much more than that, and I can't think that anyone having bought one will not go for the set. They repay both the occasional glance, for inspiration perhaps - I've found in Vol.4 a photo of a Master III to go with the old Frog kit which has just surfaced in my garage - and not just reading but study. For me this series is a model of how research ahould be presented, in words and pictures, assembled by people who have an abiding interest and enthusiasm for their subject; I'm just glad that it happens to be a major interest of mine and that I can take shameless advantage of the effort that all concerned have put in to the series. If you have the others, you'll surely by this; and if you haven't, go in search of them, There are even items to interest Luftwaffe addicts!

Transferred 02.06.09

Faster, faster....

The fighter projects of the early 'fifties were virtually defined by the need for speed; some started with a clean sheet of paper but many, notably those from Hawkers, progressed in recogniseable steps. The P.1067 Hunter was clearly related to the P.1040 Seahawk, and to push it towards supersonic level flight the P.1083 was given a thinner and more highly swept wing and an afterburner. Construction of a prototype was started and allocated serial WN470, but was abandoned in favour of fitting the standard Hunter airframe with the more powerful 200 Series Avon; this became the F.6, which has recently, with the FGA.9, been the subject of a very good Revell kit.

Colin Strachan, who as Captain Freightdog has already contributed to the general joy oSilver Cloud P.1083f those of us who are working for a better-equipped RAF for the 1950s and '60s, is now offering a resin conversion for the P.1083, described as a "Super Hunter", tailored to the Revell kit. The stout box, with its "Silver Cloud" label - it's in this range that his resin kits and coversions will now be marketed - holds a pair of wings, new tailplanes, an afterburner back end and an underfuselage insert with the "NACA" flush intake. Fired with the expected enthusiasm and the knowledge, thanks to an e-mail from Colin, on the size and placing necessary cutout in the lower fuselage I did the basic assembly of the bodies of two aircraft and took them up to the IPMS Huddersfield show, with the possibility of doing further work on them there. When I tried to fit the first insert though it quickly became evident that I had been a touch hasty; back at the workbench I had to split both fuselages along their lower seams before squiggling the parts through the tailpipe opening - fortunately I hadn't fitted the afterburner plug - and manoeuver them in to place. My original cut outs had been slightly irregular, and needed filler to make up for my inaccuracy; my third - and I still think three shows some self-restraint - had the cut out matched more closely! The photo shows the resin parts in place, below you can now see how they turned out. If you understandably want to add one, or several, to your shelves Colin is expected at Southern Expo and his website is; you can also ask about the Avro 720, mastered like this conversion by Paul Lucas. And the P.1154 should be with us before the end of March.

One 1083 was never going to be enough, and while I intended to produce at least one in-service mark my original plan was to develop the record-breaking theme started by WB188, using the Silver Cloud parts and the F.3 conversion by Pavla already to hand, shown left. Although the Silver Cloud box included two tailplane halves to be fitted when the fin/tailplane bullet was removed - the 1083 was designed without it, and it was only added to the 1067 after buffeting was discovered during flight trials - WB188 had had one for its record attempt, and therefore I used the original Revell parts. The same logic was used for my second squadron aircraft - you knew that would happen, didn't you? - for a rather later stage in the type's life; this was therefore fitted with the "dogtooth" leading edge extensions from the kit, and the underfuselage airbrake positioned a little further back to leave the "NACA" intake in place and therefore the "Sabrinas" to prevent ejected 30mm. cartridge links striking the airbrake fairing. I doubt that the extra sweep of the wing would have negated the need for these additions, and fortunately they're easily added from the kit parts. For this developed example I also used the 100 gallon underwing tanks and the rocket pods from the FGA.9 kit.

Following my recent experience with Xtracrylix on my big TSR.2 I was determined to use them for my three "Super Hunters"; the two squadron aircraft would have the standard day fighter.Silver Cloud WB188 with adeed sweepcamouflage, with silver undersides for the earlier aircraft and light aircraft grey for the later. Xtracrylix have a "Red Arrows" red, which I applied over my usual white base coat, but it didn't look right, and a reference on which I've been working gave the colour as "Roundel Red"; as this isn't in the acrylic range I used a fairly old Xtracolor enamel, but I wasn't happy with the result, which looked somewhat streaky. Wanting to stay with acrylic if possible I found a Revell "Aqua Color" called "Ferrari Red" which seems to be right, giving a rather deeper shade than that originally applied. (Incidentally is there something about red in either medium which makes it harder to clean the brushes? And does it also apply to airbrushes?). I decided that it woult have been logical to fit the more highly swept wing to WB188 for a further attempt on the speed record after Mike Lithgow on the Swift 4 had beaten Neville Duke's time; moreover, it would enable me to use the same serial and decals from the Pavla conversion set and to use the F.3 designation for the whole series (subtle, eh?).

I thought that logically (that word again) would have been be Leuchars-based 222 Squadron, following in tSuuper Hunter F.3a, 222 Sqn Leuchars 1959he footsteps of 43 and the F.1. Their red/blue check marking was on the Fighter Command "Early Hunters" decal sheet that we did for SAM a few years back and of which I just happen to have at least one set aside. For my second aircraft, with in-service modifications, 145's nose marking came from RAFDec Hunter sheet 7213, keeping up my Master Plan of updating the equipment of those squadrons that disappeared in the '50s and '60s, providing I don't have to hand-paint their markings. Both these sheets, and the "2 TAF" SAM Decal sheet, are likely to stay around the top of my in-use decal pile for much of the rest of the year. To follow the P.1083 Colin is planning the P.1109 with a radSuper Hunter F.3b 145 Sqn Akrotiri 1960ar nose and a pair of Firestreaks, and I have already identified a pair of likely units; and there's always the possibility of a "Super Super" variant combining the two conversion kit, and having recently been reminded that there were a few Hunters in 2nd TAF with PRU blue undersides - something which for years I had resolutely refused to believe - there's at least one like that in my future. The P.1083 conversion is very straightforward and easy to apply to the Revell donor kit; my only thought is that because of the way the wing halves are cast the trailing edge is a little thick and you may want to thin it down a little. I confess that I didn't and I'm still very happy with the result. Because of the added sweepback of the solid resin wings there's a good deal of weight needed to sit the model on its nosewheel, and for the two fighter versions I used Aeroclub Martin-Bakers, a Mark 2 for the earlier (WN811) and a Mark 3 for the later (WP615). The serials, after consulting Bruce Roberson's book for "blackout blocks", were adapted from the SAM decal sheet. My final thought was to try and show the increased sweep that the 1083 would have introduced, so I added an F.4 to the modified trio - my natural modesty prevents me from identifying it, but it's a PJ kit - but the difference isn't as obvious in the photo as I'd have liked. Trust me, it's there....


Kingston and Warton (and Weybridge - later)

As noted in my "Wanderings" the production version of the resin kit of the P.1154 was ready for Southern Expo, and one duly came home with me and found itself on the workbench almost immediately (no surprise there, then). It wasn't alone; already started as soon as the decals were set on the batch of P.1083 Hunters were two more Trumpeter Lightnings and an Anigrand Valiant. Of the Lightnings, one at least attempts to replicate real life in the form of an F.1A of the "Firebirds" aerobatic team, its colour scheme perhaps only surpassed by the F.3 of 56 Squadron. The other was the result of the idea of a "hot rod" version to investigate any strangers approaching the Internal German Border from the east, with the ability to climb quickly and in particular be able to fire - literally - a warning shot across any potential intruder's bows. Accordingly I've based a third Lightning squadron at Gutersloh and equipped it with the F.2B; its main difference being the provision of six 30 mm cannon - fortunately Trumpeter include all the necessary bits in the kit - and to to make room for more internal ammunition for the lower pair of nose guns, I've moved the missile launchers to the wing tips and upgraded their load to Red Tops. I had of course decided on the marking before starting the build, and my thought that the 112 sharkmouth from the Modeldecal Sabre set would fit well over the front of the gun pack/belly tank has proved right. Having gone that far, and bearing in mind 92's F.2 with the blue spine and fin, it seemed only reasonable to return to 112's Vampire and, again thanks to Modeldecal, add the Egyptian cat and a green tail (the cats from set 14 were by courtesy of the IPMS decal bank - mine had mysteriously been used already). Because I've been concentrating on getting this and the 1154 done in time to take to Cosford, where they may well be found on the What If? SIG table the "Firebirds" F.1A has lagged a bit, but I'll post a photo hereabouts when it's done if only to convince you that I sometimes build "real" aircraft.

It's over a year since the test shots of the then-Freightdog P.1154 arrived from Anigrand, and mine, in 233 OCU markings, was one of the first models to appear on this website. Others were circulated for comment, and various suggestions were made - notably, I understand about the underside of the fuselage in the jet exhaust area - which necessitated changes to the original moulds. These now having been made the first production batch were available at Southern Expo in its new Silver Cloud boxing, and this is mine. You may recognise the colour scheme as being lifted shamelessly from a Buccaneer that took part in Red Flag some years back and like that aircraft has earth and stone applied over the original grey/green wraparound; in the picture on the left the stone at least is very patchy, and I had thought of leaving it that way given the wear and tear of low level desert operations, but later thought better of it and applied another coat of Xtracrylix (I'm still in my acrylic rediscovery phase). It's also acquired an IFR probe, a pair of underwing tanks and four small practice bombs and their carriers from Hasegawa Harriers. The decals, including the serial, came from the kit, but I decided I couldn't complete a model without a squadron marking and the 4 Squadron emblem on the tail came from the same Modeldecal Sabre sheet as the Lightning's teeth, as did the red/yellow tail letter (although the colours are appropriate, its origin was 26 Squadron). While getting ready to photograph it I found the "grassmat" roll, and thought that could be Harrier-compatible, though I reluctantly didn't add any exhaust scorch marks in case I want to use it again. It may not be totally accurate for Nevada, but I'm sure thethe drivers (airframe) had to practise somewhere remote, and it looks vaguely Scottish.

I'm really pleased we've got the 1154; I know I'm not the only one who's badgered Colin both before and after the original castings appeared, and he's taken it all in good part. An injection-moulded kit has never been likely, thought that would have made it much more possible for me to build something like the number of "Harriers" - the name was orginally allocated to the 1154, and merely retained for the 1127(RAF) - that I would have liked. Good as this kit is, economics and particularly the current value of the pound, mean that it has to retail for £40.00 and that seriously limits not only the overall number I'll build but also the possibility of a few variants and developments; I have a pair of slightly foxed GR.7 kits, and I fancy fitting the later wing and armament to a supersonic version. Without getting just yet in to the "cost of modelling/golf" discussion - oh, all right, argument - which is taking place elsewhere, I recognise that for me the finance element is something of a self-inflicted wound because the aircraft I choose to model these days are those only available in resin and generally from Foreign Parts. And I'd like to work on a supersonic Shar 2 - assuming Their Lordships would ever have compromised on the engines. The other Kingston project which I'd really like in three dimensions and some numbers, and I know I'm not alone in this either, is the P.1121; my review of the Whirlykits one (with added resin) recently appeared in SAM, albeit belatedly, and it may be the only game in town.. Given the present climate though, I suspect that I - we - will be lucky to see it in resin.

Transferred 01.06.09

To the South!

As planned, I took my table at Luton for the Air Enthusiasts' Fair and changed a few kits and books in to money to help fund the GOM modelling for a little longer, but no one approached me with the contact phrase I'd suggested in Mike's World (though oddly, someone did the following Saturday at Southern Expo). I did come away with one book, the Osprey "Elite Unit" on Jagdverband 44; my modelling colleague who's in to Me 262s the way Neil Robinson likes Spitfires didn't think as much of this book, on the grounds that the aircraft weren't as colourful, as of that on JG7 (which I picked up a week later). But for me the story of JV44's formation and short but hectic existence was absolutely fascinating; I knew of its reputation as a unit of Experten, but didn't know the politics behind its setting up, other that its Kommodore was Adolf Galland, after he had been dismissed from his Inspector of Fighters post by the Reichsmarschall. As always with Osprey this book was a major help in to a bit of research I was doing on 262s, and for once the human story was even more interesting, and convoluted, than that of the aircraft.

I added the JG7 volume (also useful) to it the following weekend at Hornchurch, and it's true, their aircraft were more colourful, but it was worth going for more than just the addition to my sagging shelf of Ospreys. It seems a while since I've been to a Southern Expo; either the date's been inconvenient, or it's had a sabbatical or two, but it's a good show even if the parking gets more crowdwd earlier year on year. One of the staff of the sports centre where it's held was having a quiet panic at not being able to get to work on time at 9 o'clock, no one apparently having told her that the car space would be overrun early by hordes of manic modellers! I was delighted to be offered a perch for the Saturday this year - I only planned one day - by Colin Strachan of Freightdog/Pegasus, taking along my three "Super Hunter" conversions which I'd brought back from t'North to help the uncertain see the result (it would have helped if I'd had an Ordinary Hunter to point up the difference). Also there and available for the first time was the production version of the P.1154 "Supersonic Harrier" in its Silver Cloud boxing, which I managed to spread out on a bit of the table and make a start on its pre-painting; it will appear in a reasonably complete state, with comments, on one of these pages shortly. As always I spent a while wandering around the many stands, both trade and club, and adding the odd item to my pre-planned buys (it's all right, I didn't forfeit my amateur status by taking a list - there was room left for the occasional glorious uncertainty). What I really enjoyed very much was a display by the Cleveland club put together as a tribute to Alan Hall, using many of his articles and techniques, with copies of some on the table, to recreate his conversions. The display was overseen by a trio of modellers of a similar vintage to Alan (and even, dare I say it, me) who had been regular followers of his aricles in Airfix Magazine in the 'sixties and had returned to the days of their (comparative) youth to organise this display.One of them, Alan Dent, was kind enough to send me some photos to make up for my having left the camera behind; I really wanted to be able to share these with you, and I'm sure the whole display will appear again later this year, at least at shows in the North. Please go to see it. A good proportion of the models were of the flying test-beds that proliferated in Britain around 1950, particularly for testing the new turbine power plants. The Ashton was perhaps the ultimate test-bed, with six being built covered by four different mark numbers; it started life as the Tudor 9, but by the time of its rollout the name had become seen as unlucky. I lnow the aircraft has been on Magna's list of possible subjects for some time, but like the others in this display this was built following Alan's article and methods. I was really pleased to see bith the idea, and the care and thought that had been put in to it, and there was at least one other visitor to the show even more delighted than me; Chris Hall, Alan's son, was there and was very appreciative of the way in which his father had been commemorated.

One last thought ; one of the helpful notices that accompanied the display assured the concerned modeller that "no new kits were harmed in the making of these models"!

And the (north)west!

There will be more, I'm sure, from the Shropshire Modellers' show at Cosford, spread this year among four hangars including that of the Cold War Exhibition, but I wanted to get a couple of items in quickly. The What If? SIG had its table just off the nose of the TSR.2, and when I arrived (with Hunters and 1154) I found an old friend and colleague who I hadn't seen for at least twenty years, one Jim Bricknell. When we first met he was an ATCO on one of the Western Isles and widely known as "Zapper Jim" from his habit of applying one of those little sticky patches (see "ramblings") to unsuspecting visiting aircraft, and also collecting them, a pastime that seem to afflict many of us at the time; at the early Air Tattoos their collection, as distinct from purchase, became almost a full-time occupation, not least for my older son and the two young ladies working for me in air traffic.

Also on the stand there was one legendary model - and its almost as legendary modeller - and another which I overlooked until I a closer look revealed its true identity. This Meteor PR.19 has been around a very long time indeed, and is reputed to have caused a stir in "Intelligence" circles when its picture was published - in Australia, I believe - without it being identified as a model, and is said to have caused serious ripples among people who thought the Limeys were trying to pull a fast one. Its onlie begetter wasn't Glosters but Kit Spackman, a modeller of a similar vintage to myself who I first met when I saw his "Blue Angels" Buccaneer. For quite a while now Kit has been involved with the airliner SIG - though some of his models for their shows were not precisely as their makers had intended - but it's good to be reunited with him as well.


My second "must show!" is of course, underneath that Suit of Lights, a Matador, suitably armed and brandishing the red cape of tradition and legend. I confess to passing this by without looking closely or picking up the references until hearing someone else's comment, but having had my consciousness properly raised I had to share this with you. Not only has it been made with imagination and wit, it's also a very good model indeed. It is apparently the creation of a hairy Scot - isn't that an oxymoron? - to whom I will give full credit as soon as I've got confirmation of his identity. Breaking News! The North British gentleman with the pronounced sense of humour (pronounced: "sense of humour") is John Murray, to whom I am indebted for the best laugh of the day! John is also a member of the Aerobatic SIG; I hope he tours the shows with this one as well.

Having taken a pair of small-scale Sukhois to the Huddersfield show I appear to have become a member of the 144 SIG, let by my long-term acquaintance David Hart and including the invaluable Mike Verier. I'm delighted to have learned that without any contribution from me - which probably helped - they won the "Best Club/SIG display" at Cosford. It's always reassuring to find that the White Hats still come out on top occasionally.

My apologies for the slightly odd background colour of these two - my small digital camera seems to suffer from the same affliction as my new Canon, as the shots of the big TSR.2 that I took on the latter will confirm. It seems to happen under artificial light; I shall have to find a weekend residential course either on using the buttons on my cameras which aren't "AUTO", or on the simple ways of using Paintshop. At least it shouldn't happen under the expected Florida sun ('n' fun)..

(Added 06.05.09)


To the North!What If? SIG table IPMD Huddersfield

After the Soft South, a period for Britain to recover from its Snow Paralysis and taking advice from those who live that way, I ventured to the IPMS Huddersfield show, impelled by finishing - just - my Big TSR.2 and the promise of a seat behind the What If? SIG table (that's it to the right, though the two heads belong to the next display of which more later). One of the good things about this venue for me is that I get to see several modellers of long acquaintance who don't often venture even as far south as Milton Keynes - imagine - and there's usually more time to chat than at Telford. Some of the Usual Suspects really get around, of course, some of those in Yorkshire on the Sunday, particularly some of the traders, having been at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset for their Saturday show. Having made my number at the SIG stand and made use of the opportunity to take a couple of photos of the TSR.2 in unusually uncluttered surroundings, I found as soon as I could the Pegasus (nee Freightdog) stand. Colin Strachan is using the Silver Cloud name for his resin productions, and had with him the first two of these to be issued under his banner, the Avro 720 jet/rocket interceptor prototype, with a pair of Firestreaks and a selection of British unit markings; and there was a conversion set for the Hawker P.1083 "Super Hunter" with more sweep and an afterburner. It will not surprise you to know this will be appearing shortly on the "workbench" page, probably in more than one guise. From Paul Davis' stand I added a couple of Revell Hunters to my gander bag in what passes for intelligent anticipation; just because I only brought three P.1083 sets back with me doesn't mean I won't need more, and that's even before the entry of the P.1109 to follow.

A few days before the show I found that not only was my old mate Mike Verier going to be there, but that he was manning the 144th SIG table, together with SIG leader David Hart (in the blue shirt), another modelling friend of many years and part of a North-Eastern triumvirate. I shamelessly offered to contribute my two Anigrand Sukhois, not least because I knew Mike was bringing his Trumpeter Backfire; this way I could delay completing mine, and I had wanted to see the two together. There wasn't as big a size difference as I'd expected, but it's not as evident in the picture as I'd have wished; white on white isn't a great contrast.

On the stand next to the What If? SIG was a selection of 1:48th Lancasters, and next to one of them a colour photo that I recognised of a big, cheerful American in RAF uniform sitting with his crew. The Lancaster was AJ-T/ED923, the pilot Joe McCarthy who led the third section on Operation "Chastise" to the Sorpe Dam in that aircraft. After the war he stayed in the RCAF, and was our Wing Commander Flying when we were learning to fly Harvards at Penhold. The farther of the two people in the picture is George Allen, in whose name the table was booked, and who was on the squadron at the time; he was accompanied by another colleague who also knew "Big Joe". It struck me as total serendipity that the three of us met quite by chance at a model show, sixty-five years after the raid with this very personal link.

One of the many good reasons to go up to Yorkshire - apart from the bottle of Henderson's Yorkshire Relish donated by Mike Verier, who tells me that he's the local model clubs' token immigrant - is catching up with my one-time editor and all-round good egg Neil Robinson. As the group Managing Editor, he very kindly allowed Gary Hatcher to open up the SAMI/MAM stand, though in the photo it looks a touch unsteady. Neil is of course discussing matters of moment with three other senior modellers; spot the common distinguishing feature.

Obsession? What obsession?

In the last two or three years there have probably as many words written about the TSR.2 in the model magazines as were in the "real aeroplane" magazines in the aircraft's (very short) prime; I own to contributing a few myself. It seems to have become the equivalent of a charismatic film star who died young, with apparently unfulfilled potential, and whose memory is speculatively revived at irregular intervals. "Failure is an orphan, but success has many fathers"; the impetus for the Airfix 1:72nd kit, which is behind this most recent flowering of interest, is claimed by several. but the name on the birth certificate is surely that of Trevor Snowdon, Airfix presumably being cast in the role of midwife.

While the arrival of the smaller kit made many of us very happy, I don't think we expected it to be followed by its equivalent in 1:48th. Given my preference for multiple production, in assorted colours - and I still have quite a few to realise in 1:72nd - I hadn't expected to attempt the larger version, not least because of the space it would need, during construction as much as when finished, a feeling reinforced by building the Airfix B(I).8 in the same scale; this is currently perched on a far corner of my shelving on top of a box for which I can't find an alternative place either. However, it was the provision of the AS.30 missiles for the Canberra which started my change of mind; having put those to one side, I scrounged another pair from one of my Marlow club colleagues and thought how best to use them and, given my devotion to squadron roles and history, on whose aircraft. The two Canberra squadrons that used these missiles were both part of the Akrotiri Strike Wing, with suitably fitted-out B.16s, 32 and 73; 32 is still existence in a somewhat less aggressive role - though you might consider the carriage of Our Elected Leaders to fall in a small part of this category - and I am saving 73 for another 1:72nd model. The Canberras were replaced in Cyprus by the Vulcans of 9 and 35, and the Bat markings of the former are still on display on Tornado GR.4s, but 35, having returned to Scampton in 1975, were disbanded in 198.; I've always liked their "winged horse's head" marking, and while I knew it was in 72nd on a Kits At War Bomber Command decal sheet for a Canberra and Modeldecal set 70 for the Vulcan, I discovered it by chance on an Xtradecal set for 1:48th Canberras..

Having made the decision to go with The Big One in principle on my usual "How do I know what I'm going to make until I know what colours it's going to carry?" basis, I was very encouraged by the early reaction to the kit both by word of mouth and then by Dave Francis' build of the test shots in SAMI, after seeing them at Telford. The smaller kit had some problems which, although they could be overcome with patience and the Exercise Of Modelling Skills - or at least those which still survive - we all hoped had been minimised, if not overcome, by Hornby's commitment to the quality of its Airfix kits. My hopes have been realised during its construction; admittedly I avoided tempting fate by building it with the weapons bay closed, but I only had to use a little filler around the intakes and at the wing/fuselage join. The canopy seating, especially of the navigator's hood, could benefit from a little adjustment, but I'll see what I can do when I build my second (!) later this year. I tried to take real care with the undercarriage, which had presented problems with the smaller model; Having fitted the mainwheels to the fore-and-aft parts of their legs, and ensuring that the flattened bases of the tyres were correctly aligned with the ground, I fitted these assemblied to the main legs so that the wheels were vertical and when satisfied that they were at the correct relative angles and setting nicely laid the beast on its back like a stranded turtle and left it to dry overnight. This was just about the last bit of my assembly sequence, and it looked good when I set it upright the next day when applying the decals, but at some stage it had an attack of camber, and the main wheels were leaning outwards at the base. As I'd been readying it up to the last minute for its trip to Huddersfield I took it with the wheels splayed anyway, and I shall consider whether or not to perform some sort of corrective surgery, probably involving superglue; one of the suggestions made at that meeting was to introduce a metal axle to each unit, which again I may consider for my second. The camouflage colours (light aircraft grey underneath) were originally brush-applied using, as I always do, Xtracolor, but for some reason this didn't take; so using these as an undercoat I turned to Xtracrylix, which which I've had mixes fortunes in the past, and this solved the problem at a stroke, or at least a series of strokes. The colours in the pictures don't look quite right, but I thing this may be partly because I took them in the artificial light of the hall at Huddersfied - I seem to have the same problem at Telford each year - and then tried to correct them using Photoshop, with insufficient expertise. However they'll give you an Idea, and perhaps I'll add another at a later date with a 1:72nd one to give an idea of the size; it's really big!

As with the B(I).8, I've rally enjoyed making this, even if it did seem to have taken over my life for a short while.With the exception of the decals it is straight out of the box, and is for me a reassurance that Hornby are trying hard to address the "quality" issues that have haunted Airfix from time to time. Later in the year there will be resin accessories from the Aviation Workshop, based on the stores that were made by Paul Lucas, and marketed through Model Aircraft Monthly for the smaller kit. Aviation Workshop are also preparing decals largely related to the ilustrations for the series of articles that appeared in that magazine. which articles - I have it on the very best authority - are as I write being updated and published as a book. The decals, which should be around shortly after this enters cyberspace (or at least by Southern Expo), will include as well as national and unit markings stencilling and variations on the style of "don't walk" lines. Now you know why I shall feel the need to make the second, though I'm fighting the temptation of a third very hard. My will is strong (but my won't is weak).

Transferred 12/04/09

Sir Sydney's finest

The two great commercial successes of the British aircraft industry post-1945 were the Viscount and the Hunter; by today's standards they were uncomplicated aircraft, even if they each went through teething problems during their development, but they combined their advances - turboprop power and swept-wings respectively - with sturdiness and reliability, and introduced many users to these features. Sadly I doubt if there's a Viscount still flying, but there are still Hunters, not only in the warbird/display arena but being used, as they had been in their services, for particular training and live simulation scenarios.

When I was researching the fate of "my" XF317/J-734 I found a Chilean website devoted to the "Hunteristas". This appeared to be an informal grouping of personnel who had been concerned with the aircraft while in service with the F.Ae.C., and thought sufficiently highly of it, and their time around the aircraft to want to continue celebrating that association, and as I found out on my first visit in 2003 - on our way to the Avalon show - there were several Hunters still out there though none were flying. What did surprise me was that the desk staff at the hotel in which we were staying in Santiago, in responding to queries about how to get to the (excellent) Museum, immediately recognised the name of the aircraft; I suspect this was long-term fallout from the attack that four Hunters made on the city as part of the coup that toppled President Salvador Allende. I refrained from trying to find out if J-734 had been one of them, but it was in the final four-plane flypast of the type (it's now on the strength of the Museum, but I don't think it's on show).

Later this year there'll be a meeting of an even less formal British equivalent of this group, or at least a get-together of the old and not so bold. There was a similar event at Kemble two or three years ago, but this year it's being held at a venue less associated with the type, and I'll give more details when they're confirmed nearer the time; perhaps I should start now looking for a Designated Driver. Following Tim McLelland's book last year, there are at least three more books that I know of in the pipeline, with varying modelling potential, so perhaps the aircraft - and by implication me - is now officially Historic. I remember looking down from the balcony at Hendon fifteen or more years ago now to see three or four of the types I'd flown while working for Her Majesty exhibited on the floor, and reflecting even then that perhaps I also qualified as a museum piece.

Apart from being a constant, and at times insistent thread, in my life even if our shared time was short, the Hunter looks like being a regular part of my modelling as well as my reading this year. Revell's two recent 1:72nd kits of the 6 and the 9 have already been responsible for a good selection of decal sets to add to those which you have of course prudently stockpiled from Modeldecal, and more recently Xtradecal, and there have been resin conversions from Pavla, details from Czechmaster, and of course PJ's superb two-seat fuselage. Jonh Adams has also just added resin bits for an F.1-5 - leading edge and tailpipe - to join the metal undercarriage and ejection seat in the Aeroclub catalogue. Brand new is the first of the conversions under the Silver Cloud label (aka Freightdog/Pegasus) for the planned-but-cancelled P.1083 development, now on my mat and shortly to feature on my "workbench" page. This should be followed by the P.1109 (radar nose, Firestreaks) and possibly at least one other variant during the course of the year, and there's likely to be several working their way along my production line between now and, say, Telford. After all, they tick all my boxes; not only are they, approximately at least, of my favourite aircraft, but I can continue to "work for a better yesterday" by re-equipping several long-gone RAF fighter squadrons and perpetuating their markings, if only in my parallel worlds!

Transferred 11/04/09

Colours, markings and what should have been.

Last summer I promised the editor of the SIG newsletter some words on my What If? modelling; it turned out to be longer than I thought, but I decided to take shameless advantage of what I'd already done, and try and explain how and why I got in to it, and how I go about it (or you may think it's a shameful waste of the world's polystyrene and resin resources), and I think it'll fit neatly in to the "Ramblings" category.

Unconstrained by the needs of SAM, my modelling now seems to be geared towards the requirements of; just about all of my current activities are seriously spiced by a counterfactual approach to history. I have thought of them for sometime as "concept modelling", influenced I'm by the term "concept musical" applied originally I think to Chorus Line and Company, but it's dawned on me recently that there is a significant difference. These musicals, and their ilk, are seen as having no - or at least minimal - plot, but for my sort of modelling a narrative plot is essential. It usually depends on a slight variation in historical fact, a failed Normandy landing perhaps, or a serious glitch in the Manhattan Project, and the possible consequences. With the recent rise in the availability of kits of British aircraft in this category I quite like as a significant event the re-election of Alec Douglas-Home in 1964, though I would prefer also not to have had Duncan Sandys as Minister of Defence in 1956/57.

It was while I was on the Hunter conversion course at Chivenor in the very hot summer of 1956 that the Aeroplane published a two-page colour spread of RAF squadron markings, probably all of regular or Auxiliary fighter squadrons (my copy's currently in hiding). I must have been vaguely aware of such markings up until then but that feature, and the imminent posting to my first squadron, focused my attention. At the same time or thereabouts I was building the first of the new generation of Frog plastic kits, of which the Meteor, Hunter and Venom carried unit markings, 600, 43 and 5 squadrons respectively; the Sabre, sadly, carried only a single letter code. A little while after arriving on 67 Squadron I became responsible for applying its markings - the story is in Tim McLelland's recent Hunter book. - and that probably fixed my fixation for life. The consequences of the 1957 Defence White Paper, colloquially known as the "Sandys' Axe", were also a considerable contribution to the scar on my psyche, with nine Germany-based Hunter squadrons being disbanded in very short order and many of them, with their markings, not being seen again. The final brick in that particular wall - or perhaps through that window - was the round of cancellations by the Wilson government of 1964/65, culminating with the carve-up, metaphorically and literally, of the TSR.2.

I had rediscovered plastic kits in Canada in 1955, and by the mid '60s, having flirted briefly with other polystyrene subjects, I was only building aircraft; a few of those would easily qualify now for my self-evolved What If? Requirements. An early Airfix P.1127 was fitted with a radar nose, and carried on its EDSG/white scheme the tern's head of 897 NAS and a fin badge of a red sword on a white shield purporting to identify the "owner" as HMS London. Similarly the Airfix Hunter received swing-wings - from their BAC.111 - and as well as its grey/green/silver camo the markings of 67 Squadron. Any such markings had of course to be hand-painted; it wasn't until the arrival some fifteen years later of Modeldecal that steadiness of hand became less necessary. Prior to that I had managed to "acquire" a few extra Frog decal sheets - often also designed by Dick Ward - through the kind offices of a Good Chap at Margate named Peter Oliver, and sometimes these found subjects for which they were not necessarily intended.

When rather later I succumbed to the "Luftwaffe '46" virus, infected initially by the Huma Triebflugel , I worked out a plan to cover all the possible camouflage scheme variations - preferably without repetition although hesitation was allowed and deviation positively encouraged - and later, if I could find suitable subjects, all the "Defence of the Reich" coloured rear fuselage bands. With the popularity of Luftwaffe aircraft as model subjects a wide variety of that service's unit markings had been available for some time, notably from Microscale, and matching the markings to the appropriate colours wasn't difficult. Given the proliferation of books on Luftwaffe camouflage I had plenty of opportunity to decide which RLM colours would be applicable to which role, and by now these were available in tinlets, avoiding any need to try to mix them by eye. It's always useful to have someone to blame if there's a query on the precise shade of sandgelb, or for that matter dark slate grey.

For me a central part of my What If? modelling - and by the 'nineties this label was now entering general use, encouraged by the setting up of the eponymous IPMS Special Interest Group by Ian Hartup - was and is still ensuring that the colours and markings of the model are appropriate for the role, the period and the owner. As with the Luftwaffe references, my bookshelves are stuffed with volumes - tomes, even - on US and British colours and markings, and while these had originally been bought to ensure that I had the necessary information for modelling actual aircraft, they have now became indispensable when finishing a model which I know would, or should, have looked like that even if it had been unaccountably overlooked by the relevant air ministry or, more likely, the treasury.

As with the colours, so with the markings. It must be about forty-five years since I bought my first sheet of Luftwaffe unit markings from BMW Models in Wimbledon; the German WWII unit markings were much more varied and colourful that those of the British services of the same period, and at that period at least I applied them to models of the aircraft that actually carried them. While there were post-war British markings in decal form, initially from Almark in the late 'sixties, the arrival of Modeldecal and a few broad-minded squadron bosses made it possible for us to celebrate the increasingly colourful British fighter squadrons. Established by Dick Ward and Mike Silk, their first set appeared in early 1969; forty years - yes, really - since that sheet of six Lightning squadrons appeared I remember quite clearly making all six of them at the same time, with the Airfix and Frog/Hasegawa kits; I think it was the first and the last time I've ever made that many of the same type in the same finish. A little later I started to apply them to aircraft that might not have carried them in "real life", depending of course on your version of reality.

Recently my modelling has become angled more and more towards a preferred parallel world or two. Following my lengthy involvement with Luftwaffe '46 I've been able increasingly to work on the almost-products of the British aircraft industry, probably kick-started by Maintrack's "Project X" vacforms of Hawker jet products and then by their resin variations on Typhoon and Tornado (Sir Sydney still rules, OK?). The arrival of the Airfix TSR.2, in spite of the deficiencies of the 1:72nd kit, gave a big boost to aircraft of that vintage and varying probability, to the point where otherwise perfectly respectable people were producing decals and even resin parts to improve, or perhaps just tart up, a kit of an aircraft that only flew 19 times. Another big boost in the last few years for this form of modelling, following on carefully researched and very well illustrated books on German projects, has been the publication of Tony Buttler's "Secret Project" series from Midland Publishing, though I have yet to follow three-dimensionally the more recent books of Russian and American designs.

For me it's become a form of warped but selective nostalgia, particularly for British aircraft and what I feel their use could or at least should have been, especially with the British services. I would like to believe that this could have happened, and if it had then this is what it would have looked like; while I know very well that many will consider "accuracy" as a term impossible to apply to events that never happened, I feel very strongly that for me it's absolutely essential to help bring such possibilities to life. Although Modeldecal sadly came to an end, decals currently available from the Aviation Workshop and Xtradecal are helping me to perpetuate wherever possible units which are no longer in the front line, or indeed totally defunct., particularly fighter squadrons, though thanks to the TSR.2 the occasional bomber squadron gets its turn, to the point where not only does this seem to be becoming my mission but my making a model of an aircraft in the colours that it actually carried is becoming increasingly rare.

One example, not unlike my recent 43 Squadron Lightning F.6; I hadn't originally intended to make a 1:48 th TSR.2, but it was the pair of AS.30 missiles left over from the Canberra B(I).8 that made me think I should. Two of the Canberra squadrons of the Akrotiri Wing carried these, and it seemed therefore that their replacements should carry over the capability; this was apparently a possibility, especially if the Martel was delayed. One of those squadrons - 32 - still exists, and I've already used 73 on a 1:72 nd kit; one of the two Vulcan squadrons that took the Canberras' place was 9, but 35 passed in to history some time back, and is therefore a good candidate. Besides I've always liked their winged horse's head marking and that's available, in two different treatments, from Modeldecal and Kits At War. Camouflage of that period would have been dark green/dark sea grey/light aircraft grey with red/blue tactical roundels and fin flash, which leaves only two decisions, on the underwing roundels and the serial. The forthcoming Model Alliance decals will be too late - I have a show in mind which is driving my completion date - so I'll use one of the Xtradecal sets, but I may leave off the walkways and some stencilling to be applied later.

That's the how and why I got here, and how and why I do it this way; I think it's a rational approach, but then I think rain makes me wet.

ModelKraft '09

Next trip, not much further north and the model show that's closest to home, ModelKraft is the annual event of the IPMS Milton Keynes Branch. It's grown steadily in size, and it's the biggest one-day show that I know, with this year many of the Big Names of the hobby having sales stands. I think this is their third year at the Stantonbury Leisure centre, each year an expansion on the last; my now-usual place, the What If? SIG table, was on on the second floor, at the end of a slightly mazish route, in spite of which many familiar faces - and quite a few unfamiliar ones, some a little bemused - managed to find us. My personal problem was that while there was a slow but wheelchair-friendly lift to the first floor, the second was only acessible by stairs, with which I have increasing problems when coming down. Having therefore delivered a few models to the stand - which have been seen, or will shortly appear, in these cyberpages - I set off to tour the floors, and perhaps even to pick up a package or two. Hannants Londan had followed their parent firm's example by offereing ten per cent off pre orders, for which I was suitably grateful when I learned the price of the second Trumpeter EE Lightning (EE because it's an F.1/2). One of the decal sets for the 1:48th TSR.2 was also waiting for me, and you may well see that somewhere here soon; I'm planning to take it to Huddersfield in two weeks if our current spell of weather allows. My Friend Wendy of the Aviation Book Centre, who always brings a little sunshine in to my drab, wretched life, graciously parted with a couple of new books from the Speciality Press, and I had a chat with Reg Auckland of Guideline about the New SAM and possible further Warpaints. Other stands that I made a point of visiting were those of Freightdog Models for the now traditional discussions on the Avro 720 and the Hawker P.1154, and a first sight of some new Hawker parts - it's a Hunter, Jim but not as we knew it - and Aviation Workshop about their TSR.2 decals and planned resin bits for the 1:48th "BAC Eagle". And I managed a few disposals which more or less matched the outgoings (but I still have several set aside for the Aviation Enthusiasts' Fair at Luton on 7 March). There seemed to be a good attendance - certainly many of the Usual Suspects were in evidence - but I had the same sort of feeling that I used to get at the Yeovilton show, though to a lesser extent, that I couldn't be sure that I'd seen everything. I'm sure I'll be there next year, though.

We were joined behind the "What If?" table by the Venerable Kit Spackman, who I've known for many years and who in recent times has been more usually associated with airliners; but I remember very clearly his immaculate "Blue Angels" Buccaneer which would have been something of a surprise to the US Navy. He brought a few models with him, including his Meteor PR.19 which brought several murmurs of recognition; almost as old as the Bucc, it's become something of an icon for the Imaginative Tendency. I really regret not having a picture or three to put up here; I'll try and remedy that inexcusable omission during the year.

Transferred 22/03/09

Alan W Hall

Alan Hall, I'm sad to report, died early on 6 November in a hospital in Malta. I was one of those who contributed to an 80 th Birthday tribute that appeared in the April 2008 Scale Aircraft Modelling, and I've supplied an update for the next (December) issue, this is a small personal piece.

If you're reading this, I'll make the rash assumption that you are, or at least have been, aware of the part that Alan played in the British modelling scene from the 'sixties onwards.. Alan came from a time when "air-mindedness" and a belief in the products of the British industry were virtues to be encouraged, and he never lost his fascination with aviation, aircraft and the RAF.

While working at RAE Farnborough he edited the original Airfix magazine when that name was synonymous for the general public with "plastic kit", contributing much himself. The magazine became an indispensable choice to us for news and in particular conversion articles, and the use of balsa wood, talcum powder and dope for these is etched imperishably on many modellers' minds. I met him through IPMS and he was one of thosewho appeared at the first evening of the Berkshire Branch. He started Aviation News as a fortnightly produced on newsprint, breaking new ground for its period although Alan would have readily acknowledged his debt to the long-defunct "Aeroplane Spotter". Modelling was always a part of it, with a set of scale plans with a selection of colour schemes aimed primarily at the modeller, and usually a modelling page with kit reviews.

It was joined after a while by Scale Aircraft Modelling. From the first issue IPMS were invited to contribute a column, and as Branch Liaison Officer I was given the task of spreading the word, remaining with the magazine for nearly thirty years. Once I started writing the Tailpiece Alan, although sometimes slightly bemused by my musings, published them unchanged except for the deleting my semi-colons; I never did find out why he disliked them so much, except that he did not think that their use was sound journalism.

While the original "Warpaints", which included the C-130 and the Lightning, were in black and white, the seriestitle was revived in glorious colour, and continues to this day; there was a rumour that it might stop at fifty, but the sixty-seventh has just been published, on the Brigand, and there are still more pending. A few years ago he moved to the relatively benign climate of Malta, where he played a part in the modelling and enthusiast scene on the island, and continued to produce his Warpaint series, himself authoring the recent Gnat. I'm sure that continuing with these books helped to keep him going; to have stopped it would have been like cutting off his oxygen.

Alan always held his opinions strongly; those of us who have worked with him have found ourselves encouraged, enlightened and frustrated in equal measure - and from time to time irritated ! - but it's always been interesting, and I've learned so much from him over the years. It just seems impossible that we first got together forty years ago! Those who are come to our hobby recently may well not realise the part that Alan played both in popularising plastic modelling and in raising its standards, but for British modellers in particular he has been one of the most influential individuals of his, and my, generation.


(transferred 25/12/08)


This is a bit of background for anyone wh may not have run across me in a previous existence.

If at some time in the last twenty-eight years or so you've read the Tailpiece column in Scale Aircraft Modelling what comes next will seem at the least familiar; if, on the other hand you've managed to escape me so far, there are a few facts - well, I think they're facts - which may help to set the scene. Legend says that I've been obsessed by aviation, both full size and model, since I was two, prompted perhaps by living very close to Hendon in the couple of years just before World War II. First models were black plastic "recognition" aids supplemented by wooden kits, and in the late 'forties I had the plastic Frog "Penguin" kits of, among others, the Spitfire XII and the Vampire F.1; most if not all of that series had retractable undercarriages! In my teens my modelling was largely in balsa, not least with Veron kits; and with these and the Penguins both being in 1:72nd scale the template for my modelling life was established.

Her Majesty kindly sent me to Canada to learn to fly on Harvards and T-33s , but it was only incidental to the RAF's plan that while there I took up plastic modelling again, principally Revell kits, but also some from Hawk and Lindbergh. The models had to be abandoned when I left Canada; but after learning to fly in English conditions with the Vampires at Middelton St George, my posting to Chivenor for the Hunter conversion course coincided with the first of the new generation of plastic kits from Frog with as well as a Hunter, a Canberra, a Sabre, an S.55 and a Meteor 8. It's been a long wait for the Xtrakit! My first Airfix kit was bought at Sylt, but my time on Hunters was cut short by Duncan Sandys, and after a year non-flying on a Valiant squadron I failed to fly the Meteor on instruments on one engine. The rest of my aviation career was as an ATCO, largely at London Airways, but my abiding interest in military aviation has continued to now, through forty-five years of marriage, three children and many cats. Modelling has been a major element - I'm a great believer in the IPMS Belgium phrase "Holding history in your hands" - as has attending air shows and since my retirement visiting museums around much of the world. From being fairly eclectic, my modelling interests these days centre on my long-term fascination with units and their markings, particularly of the RAF, and on what have become known as "What If?" models. These have brought an increasing use of resin, these days the material of choice for models of aircraft for niche interests and therefore limited run.

I was already fairly involved with Scale Aircrat Modelling when it ceased publication in 1994; this coincided with my retirement from air traffic control, and I was one of the group that bought it from the receiver and got it up and running again. Having contributed to the first issue on behalf of IPMS, I subsequently progressed to a Tailpiece of my own, but after over twenty-five years, I decided last year to make the break. Someone suggested - it wouldn't be fair to name him! - that I should consider a website for my ramblings, and Tim Callaway of Deltaweb has now enabled me to ramble in cyberspace. This could be fun!

Ramblings (added 02/09/08)

By and large, T-shirts are not me, but I keep near the front of the appropriate drawer the on one that says "It's Capatain Indecisive - or is it?"

When I walked away from the day - or to be more accurate, the day and night - job at the end of the last afternoon duty of 1994, I knew that I would now be largely free of decision-making. I had discovered, and made shameless use of, the many benefits of the widely-held British practice of management by procrastination, whereby most problems could reasonably be expected to sort themselves out in ten days or so, or by then have become sufficiently serious to require the input of someone above my pay grade, and I had every expectation that in retirement any choices to be made would be reasonably self-evident, and in many ways this proved at first to be true, given a habit of picking the obvious alternative or going in to nod-and-smile mode if the proposal came from elsewhere..

This held good through the period when I was involved in the collective management of the revived SAM, and for any contributions I was required to make to the magazine. Having agitated for a book review section I was in a position to monitor those publications we were sent and cherrypick those in which I had a particular interest; most of my modelling was done on much the same basis in that while I still made some models on my own account those that came for review were automatically given priority, at least until they edged in to the "too difficult" category. If any started to drag on a bit, I would turn to something else that had greater personal appeal until I could stiffen sufficient sinews to return to the original.

Breaking my link with SAM, I looked forward to a freedom of almost randm choice in selecting what to build next from all those boxes on the dustier shelves, and also being able to set some of the work in progress to one side without having to feel even a smidgen of guilt, but after a couple of months of GOM I've discovered a new and unexpected factor; should I by whether or not it's likely to be a subject for these cyberpages? I still have this rather sad compulsion toward the *NEW* referred to in the "Happenings" slot, and there are - almost always - a couple of subjects just over the horizon which could well edge almost anything else to one side of the workbench when they arrive, and on which I may well submit my entry for the Little Jack Horner Prize. I can now make, and even write about, subjects which I wouldn't have dreamt of doing for SAM; the AZ Gauntlet is a case in point, because anyone reviewing a biplane kit should be able, or at least willing, to rig it, and I have diminishing faith in my ability or even my patience - mushroom-stuffing comes to mind - to carry out that particular task. I like the Gauntlet, and my unit/markings addiction inclines me toward this kit, so I may well feel impelled to include it, during or at the end of its progress, on another page.

Several choices will always be self-evident, but there's always the unlikely; while I really hope for for more P.1154s from Freightdog, knowing me as you do this won't surprise you. What I can't explain is why I'm looking forward so much to the Fairchild T-46 from Anigrand. It has a passing resemblence to the Miles Student, it will look smart in the USAF blue/white trainer scheme, and quite possibly in th COIN coulours of an Unnamed Sout American Air Force, but none of those really approaches a rational explanation. It's not helped by an unruly part of my brain compressing "T-46 Eaglet" in to "Twiglet" at the least opportunity. Knowing that one will be with me before the end of this week is strangely energising - not a word I use lightly - and as well as ensuring there's space on the workbench without actuall having to tidy up I am ransacking the garage for the Hasegawa T-37 with Williams AFB decals, though I have a feeling that I sold it in a rash moment.

That's probably enough decisions for now, with two Gannets receiving attention following a serious nudge from the Ad Hoc book and the Sea Vixen because it's *NEW*. When it comes to a Nimrod, and especially whether it's to be an R.1 or a AEW.3, it's time for the T-shirt again. It's just a pity that in spite of Mrs. Ackroyd Enterprise's efforts, the Captain Indecisive Y-fronts are no longer available.



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