Bristol Beaufighter, Dassault Mirage IIIc and Seafire XV.
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This Month's significant WW2 Anniversaries:
March 1940 - Unrestricted U-Boat Warfare - German U-Boat Commanders turn their efforts away from Allied warships. Although less tonnage overall is sunk in March 1940, it includes a far higher proportion of civilian merchant vessels, many sunk without warning in contravention of the established Rules of War.
Kreigsmarine Fighting Instructions to U-Boat Commanders state that Fighting methods will never fail to be employed merely because some international regulations are opposed to them. War Order 154 states "Do not rescue any men; do not take them along; and do not take care of any boats of the ship". In many cases U-Boat Commanders continue to observe the rules when practicable, but in 1945 at Nurenburg, Grand Admiral Doenitz will face specific War Crimes charges in respect of this order.
RAF Coastal Command receives its first Depth Charges for use from aircraft (earlier "anti-submarine bombs" having proven ineffective). It would be another year before they can be modified into an effective weapon.
5 Mar - In an attempt to destroy the leadership of the Polish Nation and forever erase its national identity, Soviet NKVD Security Forces, on direct orders from the Politburo, start to exterminate 25,700 Polish Officers, Policemen and Civil Servants in Katyn Forest.
12 Mar - Soviet Union & Finland sign a treaty ending the bitter Winter War, but placing exceptionally harsh terms on Finland.
18 Mar - Hitler and Mussolini agree to form an alliance (Axis) against France and Britain.
Lothians & Borders War Diary
On the Western Front, the Phoney War develops into a growing sense of anti-climax. However, an ominous build-up of forces in Northern Germany and the Baltic, adjacent to neutral Denmark and Norway, goes largely unnoticed.
1st Lothians & Borders Yeomanry continue training in the Arras area. Church Parades, Concerts, Football Matches and a cross-Country competition are held.
Lt Colonel Mike Ansell is appointed as Commanding Officer of the Regiment, as part of a wider policy to replace Territorial Regiment COs with experienced regular Army Officers. An Englishman, formerly of the Innniskilling Dragoons and extremely young for his rank (at 35, the youngest Regimental Commander in the British Army), his arrival is regarded with some bemusement by the Lothians. The previous CO, Lt Col H J Younger (of the famous Edinburgh Brewing family) volunteers to remain as 2 I/C (Second in Command). The former 2 I/C, Major the Earl of Haddington, is invalided home and Captain The Earl of Hopetoun is appointed as 2/i/c of C Sqn.
This has been a difficult month, with some important family issues taking priority over model building. I haven't been idle though and I have 2 projects approaching completion in the next week or so. Whilst I continue to work, here is a quick taster picture:
Dassault Mirage IIIc, Escadrille 1/2 Cicognes, Armee de l'Air.
Mirages could be my third theme of the year, after the Seafires and Bristols (oooh er missus). I've already built a 2000D and an IV, and there are F1s, a IIIE and a 2000C in the stash.
First up then, is this Airfix Mirage IIIC. The real aircraft first flew in 1960, making 2010 its 50th anniversary. It remained in front line service with the French Air Force until 1988, which is quite an achievement.
I first built one of these back in the early 1970s, as an Israeli aircraft in an Airfix Dogfight Doubles set, along with a MiG-15. This really is a very basic kit, but it seems to go together more easily than I remember and it is really not a bad representation of the real thing. As with all Mirage kits (of my experience), the long wing/fuselage joint needs some care and the underside wing/fuselage joints need some filling. Otherwise, given the age of the mould (first issued in 1964), I was pleasantly surprised. Interestingly, the model is not a tail-sitter, so no weight is required!
I replaced the vulnerable nose pitot probe with a pin, which caused me a few problems fairing it in to the radome (I tried superglue, then Tippex, then finally Milliput before I was happy), but otherwise this build is entirely "out the box". The kit is supplied with Matra JL100 combined fuel tanks/rocket pods and an early Matra R-511 air-to air missile. Neither were particularly common fits, but are sufficiently exotic that I will eventually fit them.
My issue came in a relatively recent Airfix gift set, so has some colourful transfers (Heller era, but still in register) for an early bare metal/aluminium aircraft or a 1980s desert scheme from the large French base in Djibouti. I was sorely tempted by the latter, but decided that I wanted this one to represent an early example. the paintwork is almost entirely Humbrol Metalcote, brushed on, with some pencil lines and oily black wash to highlight the details.
I've often felt that it is the most basic kits that provide the most building fun, and this one has been no exception!
More Mirages on my Friends & Allies pages
Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter TF. X, 236 Sqn RAF Coastal Command, RAF North Coates 1944 .
My second "Bristol 100" build is the Bristol Beaufighter, developed from the Beaufort torpedo bomber. There are several better kits of this aircraft available nowadays, but I am going to build the ancient Airfix kit, first released in 1958. It's pretty basic and has some toy-like features, but its still fun, and a bit like meeting up with an old friend you haven't seen for a long time!
Mine is a mid-production moulding, from about the mid 1970s, in a Type 4 box and moulded in typical Airfix silver plastic. It has very little flash and the fit is surprisingly good. Filler (Tippex) will certainly be needed on the major joints, but only because of the mould design. For those like me, who tend to rush their builds, this kit is a dream, as the instructions have you completing most of the major assembly in the first stage, then adding detail later.
Building almost complete
The kit comes with both rockets and a torpedo. I chose to fit only the former, as the real thing couldn't actually have managed both at the same time and I did find a photo marked MB-T armed with rockets, although I am not sure it is the same aircraft. I added some basic detail in the very sparse cockpit, making side and front instrument panels from sprue and plastic card, plus a suitably shaped blob of plastic to become the throttle quadrants. I also added a seat for the pilot (from another long-forgotten and unidentified kit).
The only really difficult part of this build has been painting the invasion stripes; never an easy job with any kit, this one seemed particularly difficult. I'm not particularly fond of decals for these either, but a set of black stripes would certainly have made things easier. These ones were masked out, painted white, re-masked, painted black, edges touched up with an India Ink pen then repainted black as required.
More Beaufighter pictures and Coastal Command aircraft on the Friends & Allies Pages
Supermarine Seafire Mk. XV, 767 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, RNAS Milltown, 1949.
Academy 1/72 Spitfire Mk XIV with scratch modifications and Freightdog Models markings
The Academy Mk XIV Spitfire kit has recieved a lot of criticism, but I really like it. It fits together extremely well, is nicely detailed and isn't too expensive either. However, it does have a strangely bent profile for the rear upper fuselage, and it struggles with the complex downward thrust line of the Griffon engine, giving it a rather awkward look when finished.
However, it is an ideal starting point for a late model Seafire and I have already used one for my Mk.17 conversion several years ago.
This is, of course, the very same "Armagedon kit" that I discovered during my roaming of the abandoned Burlington Nuclear Bunker. I didn't check to see if that one had been built (all I found was the box and some paint tins), but I have to say it raises a few goosepimples, just thinking about it.
Still there are worse kits you could take into the bunker with you.
The Academy kit is very well engineered and comes with a nicely detailed cockpit, plus the option to open the canopy and the port-side access door/flap.
For this build, I intend to use the excellent Freightdog Brits at Sea Part 1 decals, plus a few minor modifications. So far as I can tell, for a Seafire XV, all I need to do (at this scale), is scribe out the wing folds, add the sting hook and shorten the engine cowling to reflect the single-stage supercharger Griffon used by this Seafire.
This latter change will be the most difficult, requiring about 3mm of the nose to be removed. After some thought I have decided to build the fuselage first, then do the cutting.
Firstly the nose is detached and shortened by carefully cutting. I haven't followed a panel line because I wanted to use the exhaust gap as a marker for the shortening. I also cropped the attachment for the air filter on the lower wing to fit the new nose:
Then re-attached. Fortunately the profile seems to be very similar; after flooding liquid glue into the gap and working the 2 parts together I am hopeful that some minimal sanding will be all that is needed to hide the gap:
Then the tail was cropped (using my CMR Mk 45 kit as a template) to allow the sting hook to be attached:
The new hook is made from stretched and curled sprue, with the detached part of the lower tail re-shaped to complete the new sting arrangement. it is perhaps slightly too thick, but good enough for my purposes:
Next up - changing the spinner from 5 blades to four and smoothing out all those joints:
Not much progress during the week, but the weekend is here and I'm whizzing along. After filling in the five propeller blade fixing holes provided in the kit, I used a hot pin to make four suitable sized holes for the new blade attachments, and also taking the opportunity to add a hole for a monofilament thread whip aerial behind the cockpit plus another for a wire guard for the tail wheel (made from some spare copper wire that had been covering a bottle of wine).
The underside also has a coat of sky paint which has been drying/curing for a few days - I have had problems in the past with the masking tape for the demarcation line taking the sky off, so I wanted to be sure it had fully dried.
I have little bit more sanding to do and then I will be ready to do some serious painting.
.... and after an evening's attention:
Nearly ready for decals now. I will leave it overnight to ensure that the enamels are sufficiently cured, then a quick coat of Klear to bed the decals/transfers in. The slightly uneven grey/slate grey boundaries should disappear under a matt coat. I then need to do a little detail touch up and some very modest weathering (its a training aircraft, so it should be reasonably clean).
I also need to replace the curly bit of the sting hook, which has fallen off!
And here she is, just scraping in before the end of the month (I'm not building to schedules, honest):
Post build note - it has been pointed out to me that the Mk XV Seafire should not have the large fin/rudder unit fitted on this model. There is little I can do about this now, although I may have a try sometime in the future. In any event, just as I finished taking the pictures above, the model was caught by a gust of wind and landed upside down on the patio - repairs are possible, but my enthusiasm has failed for the time being. When I fix it, I may well try to reshape the tail at the same time.
More Seafires on my Seafire Pages
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