Conversion w Aeroclub
I became interested in this scheme firstly because of the controversial camo
scheme, recently (re)-discovered by the SAM team when they were researching
and producing the Camoflage & Markings No. 5 - RAF Fighters 1945-1950 Overseas
Based. This unusual desert scheme of Light Slate Grey and Dark Earth over
Medium Sea Grey was apparently worn by 208 Squadron Spit 18s and 213 Squadron
Tempest 6s in Egypt in the 1948-49 period when the RAF was trying to police
the clashes between the Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East. Profiles
of both a Spit 18 and a Tempest 6 are shown in the book, and when I saw the
colour scheme I just had to give it a go......
What also caught my imagination was the fact that the RAF, Egyptian AF and
newly established Israeli AF were ALL flying Spits in this conflict, sometimes
in three-way dogfights over the Negev/Sinai deserts. Indeed, some of the
Israeli pilots attacking the RAF Spits had flown on the British side in the
Battle of Britain - there's truly nothing so strange as history !
I originally intended to model a tear-drop Mk XIV and bought the
relevant Academy kit to do this, However, I changed my mind when I saw the
colour profiles of the Mk XVIII in this new desert scheme. What I needed was a
conversion to make an XVIII. So it was Aeroclub to the rescue with their newly
issued Mk XIV update/correct + Mk XVIII conversion.
The conversion set is extensive - new fuselage, vac canopy, full white metal
interior, new rad intakes, wheels, exhausts, plus, crucially, the extended
chord rudder of the Mk XVIII. Having examined the mouldings, I decided to make
things difficult for myself by only using the nose of the Aeroclub fuselage,
since (a) this is the only area where the Academy kit is seriously out of
true, and (b) the Academy engraving and surface detail is more refined and
generally superior to the Aeroclub version. Lots of sawing, sanding and test
fitting therefore took place before any modelling on the kit was even started.
Apart from cutting off the Academy nose and replacing it with the similarly
dissected Aeroclub parts, I removed the Academy rudder and fitted the Aeroclub
extended chord version. The Academy wing to Aeroclub front fuselage join was a
nightmare, with quite a pronounced step, but repeated filling and sanding
eventually yielded an acceptable result.
For the interior, I used the a combination of the best of the Academy kit
plus some of the Aeroclub white metal. Even with the side access door down,
not a lot can really be seen, and I was content to leave it at that. This
was really a camo scheme project, not a super detail operation.
I had to drill out the underside camera ports for the Mk XVIII, and these
were filled with Krystal Kleer when the painting was done. I also filled in
the outer cannon shell ejector ports on the underside as this armament was
not used on the XVIII.
The mostly model was then primed/sprayed in Citadel Skull White Primer, any
additional filling/sanding carried out, the model was preshaded in Humbrol
Gloss Black an it was off to the paint shop.
Apart from the unusual colours themselves, also of note is the fact
that the colours are reversed, i.e. the Dark Earth colour is where one would
normally expect the Green to be, and vice versa. This is all explained in
detail the Camo & Markings book, but basically seems to have boiled down to a
misinterpretation of the general camo instructions by the painters. It may
have been that they simply put the darker colour where the darkest shading was
on the original diagrams - and in this case Dark Earth is darker than Light
Slate Grey so the colours got reversed !
I used Xtracolor paints throughout, with Xtracolor "Matt" Varnish to finish
after the decals. My old tin of this now actually dries to a semi-matt sheen -
ideal for this post-war bird. Camo demarcations were done using the now
well-known "rolled Blu-Tac" masking method. The leading edge yellow was masked
and sprayed on after the camo, and came out better than I had expected. I used
the kit windshield and the Aeroclub vac rear canopy, since it's a better fit,
and my Academy canopy was mis-moulded anyway......
Decals were from the spares box since nothing exists for this plane in these
markings. Roundels from the 1:48 Xtracolor sheets, serials from Modeldecal
sheets, and the (generic) squadron crest from an Aeroclub Strikemaster decal
sheet, of all places. I decided to model TZ203/J which is shown in a photo on
page 52 of the Camo & Markings book. Apparently 208 Squadrons "A" Flight had
red spinners and "B" Flight blue. This is an "A" Flight bird, and the red is a
nice (shocking?) contrast to the otherwise quite "stealthy"-looking camo
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