Wednesday, June 10, 2015

SE.5A of No. 92 (East India) Squadron

The SE.5A may not require that much of an introduction. Suffice to say that it was the air-superiority counterpart of the Sopwith Camel and that it acquitted itself quite well after some teething troubles in the late spring of 1917.

The parts count.

The ESCI kit is, I dare say, rudimentary, and I'd guess that it is from the seventies or late sixties. This particular kit has also been re-boxed by several companies. Judging from available plans I would also say that it is a bit smaller than 1/72, and possibly closer to 1/76. In general, the kit comes together well, although the landing gear is a bit fiddly. Since the cockpit is portioned off, I decided to make the model in flight with a pilot, or rather the top half of a pilot as well as a propeller disc. I also added a different set of wheels, a windscreen, the gun sight and a Vickers machine gun from the spares box. The decals worked nicely enough, and after adding rigging made out of stretched sprue the SE.5A was mounted on a stand made out of a wire hanger.

The decals do indeed provide markings for a SE.5A of No. 92 Squadron. This unit was established as a scout squadron on September 1, 1917, and it spent some time in Colney, Great Britain before being sent over to France in July of 1918. It was initially deployed to the Dunkirk area, but it was transferred to Serny in August that same year, and it started scoring victories. The squadron took part in the 1918 Somme offensive where it was heavily engaged, and it remained on the Western Front up to the Armistice, when it had scored 37 victories. The unit had also produced eight aces: Oren Rose, Thomas Stanley Horry, William Reed, Earl Frederick Crabb, Evander Shapard, Herbert Good and future Air Marshal Arthur Coningham as well as future Air Chief Marshal James Robb. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bristol Beaufighter TF.X of No. 236 Squadron.

The molds of the venerable Airfix Bristol Beaufighter were first used in 1958, but there have relatively few options in 1/72 scale: Matchbox had a Mk XXI, and there are some quite expensive Hasegawa Beaufighters to be found. However, Airfix is now going to issue a re-tooled Beaufighter, which seems rather promising (

I decided to give the old TF.X a go after picking up two re-issues from what may have been the 1990s - one for me and one for my daughter - on ebay. I did build several Beaufighters as a much younger model builder, and I made them into both night fighters with homemade antennae. I have always found the aesthetics of the Bristol Beaufighter most pleasing. This time I decided to build the model as described by the instructions, although I decided to go for just the torpedo and to leave the rockets off, thus making it a true "Torbeau", since Beaufighters do not seem to have been armed with both torpedoes and rockets. That being said, it may very well have been that this particular squadron rarely, if ever used torpedoes, preferring to attack with 60lb rockets, while No. 489 Squadron RNZAF used topedo-armed Beaufighters. Photographs of the aircraft modeled do however show torpedo crutches being mounted, so we might assume that the torpedo is mounted for practice purposes or something similar. I also decided to not add any after market parts. The kit is very basic, so a relatively simple interior was added, and so were the landing and position lights, the rear Browning machine gun, various antennae and the torpedo crutches. The engines are rudimentary, but they had to do, and so did the landing gear and the wheel wells. The build was fairly uncomplicated until the fitting of the cockpit canopy, which did have some issues. A piece of stretched sprue had to be added to the rear end of the opening for the canopy to ensure proper fit, and some additional sanding was required.

The decals for Beaufighter MB-T NT950 of No. 236 Squadron in June of 1944 were wonderful. I was a tad concerned about the fit of the fairly large invasion stripes, but the decals settled very nicely, and with some setting solution added, the decals look great on the Beaufighter.

No. 236 Squadron was part of Coastal Command, and it operated in the anti-shipping role throughout most of the Second World War. It became part of the North Coates Strike Wing together with Nos. 143 and 254 Squadrons, and the Wing engaged convoys and u-boats along the coasts of occupied Europe up to the end of the war. This particular Beaufighter was unfortunately shot down off the Dutch coast on October 3.