March 2008

DeHavilland/English Electric F.20 Sea Vampire, 728 Sqn FAA, RNAS Hal Far, Malta 1954.

After the trials and tribulations of last month's Sea Vixen, this was intended to be a quick sanity restoring build. This is the Heller Vampire Mk V converted into a Sea Vampire by adding the enlarged flaps and airbrakes, plus an arrestor hook and cowl/fairing over the tailpipe.

The Heller kit has also been issued by Airfix and is quite nicely detailed and delicate. Panel lines are raised, wheel wells are boxed in and fit is generally good. It went together very quickly, with only the normal Heller detail issues (mainly sprue attachments in rather difficult to fix areas. Like the Vixen, I have added A LOT of lead in the nose to stop it tail sitting. Additional flaps and the cowling come from spare bits of polystyrene plastic card, in this case a plastic cup and an old Xmas selection box!

Here are a few pictures of the key parts of the real thing at Yeovilton; this is actually a development aircraft, but you get the idea!

Vampire Tail

Sea Vampire Flaps

And here is the kit, with the new flaps and hook already fitted, ready to be tidied up:



Nothing is ever easy is it? Finished the after fuselage modifications on Sunday night, using the really thin plastic from the plastic cup because it looked correct scale wise and because I thought it would be easier to blend in to the existing fuselage.

Well it did blend in very nicely, but in my enthusiasm I sanded through the very thin plastic and ended up with a tear. I filled the tear liberally with CA glue Monday and Tuesday night, then sanded down again tonight and it is (almost) invisible.

Two EDSG top coats are on, with one sky underside coat applied. Cockpit is "out the box" except for some paper harness straps. The undercarriage is also now on - unfortunately, despite the large amount of lead behind the cockpit (there is no room in front) it still sits on its tail.

Vampire - nearly there

And here she is: Decals are a mix of those in the Heller kit and various Modeldecal items. Boy, do I hate making up those tiny serials from scratch - but I persevered, and for once they all seem to be in a straight line!.

Sea Vampire

Sea Vampire

Finally, just to top things off, here are my 3 DeHavilland twin-booms all in a row!

Vixen, Venom & Vampire

More pictures and other DeHavilland "Twin Booms" on the RN Jets pages

Gloster Meteor T7. Heron Standards Flt, RNAS Yeovilton, 1966.

Armstrong Whitworth Meteor TT20. FRU, Hurn Airport, 1969.

This particular build arose from a visit to the FAA Museum's Reserve Collection in April 2005. I have never particularly liked the Meteor - it looks too "cobbled together" for me, but to be absolutely honest I love the black & dayglo orange colour scheme of the T7 at Yeovilton. So, I obtained a Matchbox 2-seater from E-Bay and here we are. That was 3 years ago......

I really should have done my research first. The T7 is very different from the later radar-equipped Meteor 2-seaters. The wings are shorter, the tailplanes a different shape, the fin & rudder (and aft end of the fuselage) are very different, and the nose is much shorter (to put it mildly)! The most obvious solution would have been to buy an Airfix or Frog single seater and graft the relevant parts on, but I am too much of a cheapskate for that - this will be an empirical hacking and putty conversion, albeit one that uses the Airfix kit as a template for some of the bits that need to be changed !

15 Mar - The project begins. Major "hacks" are complete and the main components assembled. Once dry, I can start applying some putty to fair in the under-tailplane bulge and build a new nose. The Matchbox kit also has some rather large gaps which will need filling too - looks like tomorrow night will be a "Putty Fest" !

16 Mar - The observant reader will note that there are now 2 fuselages and 4 wings awaiting putty! This kit has some serious fit problems (see the picture), so I have decided to build my next project , a Meteor TT20 Target Tug, alongside it; I can correct the problems on both kits at the same time. The TT20 uses the kit tailplane and nose out the box, but it will need some changes to the lower aft fuselage and a wind driven winch for the Stbd wing. Here they are both at about the same stage, drying before I do some puttying and sculpting (tomorrow night?)

T7 and TT20T7 & TT20

17 Mar - Ha ! - this building 2 at a time lark is quite good fun!

Both airframes are now pretty much in their "vanilla" state and I have begun to address the unique aspects of both. I am trying out a number of new things on these builds - first up is the use of Tippex as a filler for small gaps - hmmm - so far so good, especially drying time. Secondly, something that didn't work well on the Sea Vampire; using monofilament thread for whip antennas. This time I used a heated pin to melt a tiny hole to fix them in and then superglue to fill & fix. Looks good so far and possibly worth a retrofit on some other models (e.g. the Sea Furies)!

meteor 2

20 Mar -

T.7: The pugilistic putty nose is now in place and sanded down, whilst the "high speed tail" has been replaced by a passable replica of an early Meteor tail, using the Airfix MkIII as a template.

TT.20: Airframe complete and I have started scratching the Rushton winch (a surplus Zero drop tank) and the target (sprue and card) plus a simple pylon. After a long search I finally found a diagram that explained how the after fuselage should be modified, with a set of "holes" for target stowage and a bridle for the cables. However, deeper examination suggests that this only applies to sleeve targets on some aircraft and that the Rushton fitted ones are different(?) In the absence of any other information I am going with this - no bridle, no holes, but a pylon and Rushton instead.

Meteor 3

I also managed to pop in quickly to the RAF museum at Hendon to check out how the trimmed wings should look. I think I have it right!

21 Mar - Final sanding down complete and the first coats of paint going on; the T7's nose has been reprofiled slightly to thin it down and up, as I decided it was still too blunt and droopy. The scratch winch for the TT20's stbd wing is complete and in place. The white on the wings and tail of the T7 is a rough undercoat for the dayglo orange panels. The Tippex filler was a huge success - I will certainly use that again!

Meteor first coat

23 Mar - Goodness that orange is bright! It's also some of the most unpleasant paint I have ever used (Revell enamel again); it began to form long "strings" as it was applied, which got everywhere. Fortunately Mrs T's wipe clean table cloth responded well to some white spirit and rubbing!!. A second, very much thinned coat went on much easier.

Cockpit detail (minimal) is applied and the canopies are on. Getting an even yellow colour on the bottom of the TT20 has not been easy, but I think I am there now, and I have even found a diagram that shows how the black stripes should be applied (although they still dont tie up with the photographs I have, which all show something strange happenning on the belly tank). The Rushton and its pylon have still to be attached - infuriatingly, I have now found a third variant of the back end, this time with the sleeve launchers and bridle, plus a smaller Rushton pylon.

Wow thats bright - painted and lids on

T7 cockpitTT20 Cockpit

And here we are finished; which means that I now have a model of every jet aircraft ever used by the Fleet Air Arm except one - which will be coming up soon! But before that, next months first project will be a Meteor III, to complete the trio.

Meteor T.7

Meteor TT20

More Pictures of these and other RN Jet Aircraft on the Jets pages

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