May 2014
Fairey Barracuda
BAC Lightning F.3


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PoppySelected WW2 70th Anniversaries this month:

Between 2009 and 2015, I have set myself a general modelling theme based on selected 70th Anniversaries from WW2.

All of Europe holds its breath in anticipation of D-Day.

In the far east, the British Eastern Fleet makes its first foray back into Japanese held waters to attack port and oil facilities in conjunction with the US Fleet.

1st May 1944 - The Messerschmitt Me 262, the world's first production jet bomber, enters service.
12 May - Soviet Troops recapture the Crimea from the Germans.
14 May - Generals Rommel, Speidel & von Stulpnagel mount an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Hitler.
17 May - Operation Transom - Fleet Air Arm aircraft attack oil facilities at Sourabaya, Java.
18 May - Allied forces capture the monastery at Monte Cassino after 4 months of fighting.
  Allied troops take airfields at Myitkyina, Burma; the struggle over the city itself will continue for nearly three months.
  Japanese resistance in the Admiralty Islands, New Guinea, comes to an end.
31 May - Japanese forces withdraw from Imphal back to Burma; the invasion of India is over.

Fairey Barracuda Mk.2,
810 Sqn Fleet air Arm, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, British Eastern Fleet
Operation Cockpit, Sabang, Sumatra, April 1944, Operation Transom, May 1944.

Aircraft flown by Lt Cdr AJB Forde RN, CO of no. 21 TBR Wing during the strikes on Sabang on 17 April 1944.

FROG 1/72 with Techmod decals

The Barracuda entered service in January 1943 as a replacement for the Albacore and Swordfish. Designed initially as a radar equipped torpedo bomber, its novel Fairey Youngman Flaps could be extended behind the wing and reversed to act as dive brakes and it was in the Dive Bomber role that the Barracuda saw most success and proved most effective.

Following their success against the Tirpitz, Barracudas joined the Eastern Fleet and participated in Operation Cockpit, the first joint UK-US operations against the Japanese, in what proved to be a precursor to the formation of the British Pacific Fleet.

Operation Cockpit was a diversionary raid requested by the US to reduce pressure on their forces to the East. In return for the loan of HMS VICTORIOUS (as USS ROBIN) in 1943 to fill gaps in the US Carrier Fleet, the USS SARATOGA was assigned to the British Eastern Fleet for its first foray back into the Pacific Theatre. The successful raids were then followed up in May with Operation Transom against Surabaya, Java, although for these raids, the Barracuda were replaced by Fleet Air Arm Grumman Avengers.

© IWM (A 23249)) - Sabang port on fire during the Operation Cockpit raids.

This is one I didn't manage to finish last month for the 70th Anniversary of Operation Cockpit. Frog's Barracuda is another very old kit, first issued way back in 1964 (so it is exactly 50 years old this year!). Mine is the more recent (!) 1974-76 issue (only 40 years then).

The kit is reputed to have a number of difficult shape issues and suffers badly from a lack of cockpit detail, not least the lack of any deck beneath that large canopy. In fact there is a general lack of detail throughout, but it goes together reasonably well and until fairly recently it was the only Barracuda kit available.

This is my second build of this kit; the previous one (seen above, behind this one) was a Russian NovoExport re-issue in a horrible brown plastic. It had no decals, so I sourced a set of Techmod replacements for an Op Tungsten aircraft, but they also included the Eastern Fleet version that I have used on this build. This month's kit is the original FROG version, which comes with some entirely passable decals for another Op Tungsten aircraft, plus a British Pacific Fleet aircraft.

Have a look at my "RN Props" pages for details of my other WW2 Naval aircraft models

BAC Lightning F.3
11 Sqn Royal Air Force, RAF Binbrook, 1984

Airfix 1/72

The Lightning is one of the greatest achievements of the British aircraft industry, but because it did not sit well with the politics and RAF doctrinal strategies of the day, it was never developed to its full potential. Nevertheless, even in its twilight years, it could still outrun an F-15 Eagle with its phenomenal performance.

The F.3 variant of the lightning deleted the original's gun ports and introduced the more capable Red Top missile along with an enlarged and squared-off fin. F.3s remained in service until the end of the Lightning’s career in 1987 although their short-range (they retained the small belly tank) limited their usability. At the very end they sported a wide range of markings, from grey-green camouflage to various combinations of grey.

The old Airfix Lightning kit was very basic. Starting life as an F.1A, it was finally issued with a modified moulding to turn it into (an approximation of) an F.3 variant. It's not the most accurate or detailed of kits and no one will regret its replacement late last year with a superb new mould. But for nostalgia's sake.......

Have a look at my "Friends and Allies" pages for details of my other RAF aircraft models

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Background Image: Inside the Lightning Cockpit.