Tamiya 1/48 Beaufighter

KIT #

61053

PRICE:

$50.00 (AUD)

DECALS:

One aircraft

REVIEW & PHOTOS BY:

Grenville Davies

NOTES:

Kit decals 8/10

The Whispering Death Bristol Beaufighter Mk 21 

HISTORY

The Beaufighter was flown all through the WWII conflict and served not only in the European theatre but also in the Pacific. The Japanese nicknamed this twin-engined angel "Whispering Death" on account of it’s quiet engines and the deadly effect to which it was deployed. Depending on the variant it had up to 6, 0.5mm guns in the wings and four 20mm cannons located underneath the cockpit. It was also optionally fitted with 8 rocket projectiles under the wings making it a very effective ground attack aircraft.

Figure 1 "Marge" a Mk 21 of 93 (Green Ghosts) Squadron based at Morotai, Borneo, 1945 (A8 – 124)

The Mk. X British Beaufighter was used as the basis for the Australian Beau. This aircraft was built in Australia from 1944 onwards, the first being flown on 26th May 1944. The total number of aircraft built up until late 1945 were 364.

The Australian Beaufighter differed from its counterparts in a number of ways. The first was the inclusion of the Sperry Autopilot, which was recognisable by the bulge present in front of the cockpit. The second was the number of wing guns was reduced to four, these being U.S. 0.50 caliber Browning machine guns rather than the .303’s used in their British counterparts. The Australian Beau’s used supercharged Hercules XVIII engines that gave them the best possible performance.

THE KIT

The Tamiya kit has provisions to build three different aircraft straight from the box and virtually all variants of the Beaufighter are available with the exception of the earlier models with no dihedral on the tailplane.

The kit has a thimble nose for the TFX variant and has the housing for the Sperry Autopilot, as used on the Mk. 21 variant used by the Australians. The kit is molded in dark grey and in my kit the flashing was non-existent with limited sink marks, usually on the inside of the piece and therefore not visible once completed. Curiously, parts included in the kit are not mentioned, especially the thimble nose, the Sperry Autopilot housing, along with an optional tail wheel!

Figure 2 Left hand side view showing bulge on the nose for the auto pilot

I decided when I first obtained the kit that I would build a Mk 21 Beaufighter flown by the Royal Australian Air Force. So I obtained the Aeromaster decal set "Whispering Death Part II" (Kit No. 48-341). I also decided to detail up the cockpit and obtained KMC’s Detail resin set for the Beau’ (Kit No. 48-4016). Tamiya have provided a tremendous amount of detail in the kit cockpit but I felt that it could be improved with the KMC offering. In addition I also purchased Eduard’s photo etched brass (Bristol Beaufighter Mk. VI 48-215) to improve other bits.

The aircraft I had decided to build was flown with No. 93 (Green Ghosts) Squadron based at Morotai, Borneo 1945. This squadron saw action before the Japanese surrender.

Figure 3 A somewhat weathered Australian Beaufighter

CONSTRUCTION

 Cockpit Construction

The construction starts with the cockpit and it is here that the knife and superglue were used to their maximum effect. Where possible the kit parts were used and, where appropriate the brass and resin parts were substituted.

I always seem to have some problems with painting up the instrument panel and the Beau was no different in this regard. I used the resin instrument panel and after painting and dry brushing the panel used the instrument decals from the kit. It is definitely fiddly but the final result was well worth the effort. Sorry about the photo quality in this area.

The rear gunner’s station received quite a bit of attention with a new seat mount, extra ammunition boxes, instrument panels and seat belts. The interior was weathered, although it actually looks worse due to the poor quality of the photo. The interior colour is a Gunze Sangyo, Sky (Duck Egg Green) as called for in the KMC resin set.

Figure 4 Right hand side interior showing cockpit and rear gunner stations – a little heavy handed with the internal weathering, it must have been the dry season!

Undercarriage

I went to town using brass bits and constructed door actuating levers, bulkhead strengtheners and used Bare Metal Foil on the oleos and hydraulic struts, where applicable. Gunze Sangyo, Sky was used within the wheel wells.

Figure 5 Undercarriage, crew access doors, and rocket stores

Armament

I decided to augment the 20mm cannon ports and obtained some brass rod, drilled out the ports and installed the rod to simulate the barrels. The same procedure was carried out for the .50 caliber machine wing guns. The rear gun barrel was drilled using a pin vise.

It states in the literature that when the rockets were installed the wing guns were not used. I opted to leave the wing guns in place and still display the rocket projectiles under the wings. I reduced the four/two wing gun arrangement to two guns per wing, as per the Mk. 21 flown by the RAAF.

PAINT & DECALS

Painting

Having completed all the internal bits and pieces and, having installed the wings and rear tail plane it was time for the fuselage to be painted. Having opted for the 93 Squadron aircraft I searched to find the correct colour for the airframe. Numerous references say that these RAAF aircraft were painted the same colour, Foliage Green, all over. I ended up using Model Master FS 34092, European I Dark Green as the closest approximation.

The cowlings around both the engines were painted in two colours. The inner ring, which extends back to include the exhaust stacks, was painted a copper colour. The inner ring was painted Tamiya XF16 with a small amount of white to simulate weathering. In addition the exhaust stacks were coloured slightly darker on the front part to simulate heat discolouration.

The tyres were painted with Gunze Sangyo, Tire Black and then a light wash of Artist acrylic, Senna was dry brushed around the wheel to simulate the muddy conditions under which this aircraft operated. I also used a light spray of the same Senna back along the underside of the fuselage to simulate mud splattering.

I used a slightly darker green across the panel lines to obtain the ‘shadow’ effect but am not all that happy with the result. The next time I will air brush the lines. I also used a metal paint to indicate weathering and this was liberally applied, as shown in the photos. I decided to weather the aircraft as if it operated under the harsh climate conditions of the jungles of Borneo, which of course this particular aircraft did! As a final weathering I brushed some oil stains from the engines back along the upper wings and smoke from the wing and underbelly weapons.

Decals

I had purchased the Aeromaster Decal set, as mentioned above. The decals were fine with no loss of register. The insignia on the tail fin of the aircraft has a picture of a cartoon duck, perhaps Donald Duck, riding a rocket with the motto "Non Hic Faeces Taurus" – I will leave the translation to those of you who know Latin!

This particular aircraft had the name ‘Marge’ on the nose and has been placed on both sides, the references being unclear. A ‘T’ is located on the nose tip and the roundels were dark blue outer ring and white circle, the traditional red innermost circle being omitted in the Pacific theatre to distinguish the Allies aircraft from their Japanese counterparts.

Once all the decals were attached the aerials were attached. These were made out of invisible thread, which is extremely easy to use and in this scale seems to look right.

The final step was to attach all the clear parts. The framework for the cockpit was achieved by painting Bare Metal Foil in the fuselage colour, cutting it into strips and attaching to the clear part. The rear glazing was hand painted – very carefully! I drilled a small hole in the two clear parts for the port and starboard navigation lights and filled the holes with red and green respectfully.

Figure 6 The Finished Beau

CONCLUSIONS

I thoroughly enjoyed this model and as it is my first Australian WWII aircraft I am relatively satisfied with the finished product. The Tamiya kit is absolutely fantastic and it would build into a reasonable kit straight out of the box. With the additional bits and pieces it has built into a great looking Beau, one to take a special place in my collection.

REFERENCES

 Beaufighter in action Aircraft Number 153, Squadron/Signal Publications by Jerry Scutts

Aircraft of the RAAF 1921-71 Geoffrey Pentland and Peter Malone Kookaburra Technical Publications

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