Airfix 1/72 Lancastrian (Conversion)

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $
DECALS: See Review
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Pavla and M&E parts used for conversion.

HISTORY

The Avro Lancastrian originated in Canada when, in 1942 a British built Lancaster B Mk III was stripped of its turrets and camouflage by Victor Aircraft of Toronto which fitted it with a pointed nose and tail fairing, plus three extra windows. Trans Canada Airlines evaluated the machine for freight service and found that the performance and load carrying capabilities satisfactory. Such was the requirements for high speed transports that the Lancaster was returned to Avro in the UK for more permanent conversion which involved among other things the provision of 10 passenger seats and installation of extra fuel tanks to increase the range to 4,000 miles. In its new form the aircraft inaugurated the Canadian Governmentís transatlantic air service (operated by TCA) on 22nd July 1943, with four tons of forcesí mail.

The British certificate of airworthiness was granted on 1st September 1943, and TCA of Canada initiated conversion of two and later increased to seven Canadian built Lancaster B Mk X aircraft. One was lost over the Atlantic in December 1944 and the original conversion was destroyed by fire while engaged in engine trials in June 1945. The remaining Lancastrians continued to operate the route Prestwick to London in 1946 as a schedule passenger service. In this form the aircraft proved uneconomical and was replaced the following year by Lockheed Constellation after making 1,900 crossings of the Atlantic.

20 Lancasters were converted by Avro for BOAC when problems with the Tudor developed. This involved more detailed conversion than the Canadian aircraft and the designation Avro Type 691 was adopted. This had 500 Imp Gallons fuel tank fitted in the bomb bay. This gave the Lancastrian a range well over 4,000 miles and the first aircraft to be handed over early in 1945 established a record between UK and New Zealand of 3.5 days.

THE KIT

Generally speaking the conversion fits any Lancaster kit at scale of 1/72. I used the Airfix Lancaster BMk III. The review of this kit can be found in other section of the archives on MM kit reviews. The M&E Models of Sittingbourne Kent, UK, consists of five conversion parts to make the nose and pointed tail fairings and a blanking piece for the dorsal turret. The Pavla detail air intakes come from the Edition Aircraft kit No U782-71 Air Intakes for Lancaster mode of resin and these consist of four highly detailed main engine air intakes and eight small side air intakes. The main air intakes make a difference to the Lancaster kit once they replace those on the kit and also have gauze like radiator front seen from the intake interior.

CONSTRUCTION

The kit is built as per instructions for the Lancaster bomber but with the following alterations. The conversion parts of the M&E kit are first removed from sprue, flash trimmed and each half rubbed down until each fairing have a perfect match. Using the one page side drawing given on the red printed instructions, the following were cut off from the Airfix Lancaster kit. Front gun turret is removed, mounting for mid upper turret is also removed using an exacto saw blade, and also the rear turret mounting is removed. To know the exact place where to part the sections one has to take measurements from the scale side view/drawing, in fact it is stated that the panel lines on drawing match to the Airfix BIII kit. If using any other base kit care is taken to match in fairings. There are 7 rectangular side windows to be marked and cut on each side of the fuselage. These are all in same position.  6 windows are equally positioned but the extra window is at the front of the wing leading edge root. An additional single window is located at the rear of the starboard side of the fuselage just ahead of the tail plane. This is not indicated on the instructions and should not be left out. The openings of these windows will later be filled with Kristal Kleer.

Fuselage halves with detail already added to cockpit to personal choice are joined together and their joint is rubbed down. The front and rear fairings are then joined to fuselage and rubbed down. I noted that the front fairing was too pointed in side view and I rounded it towards the nose by building up with putty the top and bottom of this part, shaping it with a file when it set. The mid upper turret blanking piece is inserted and filled and sand to fit flush. This required a small quantity of filler to bring a smooth continuous joint. It is turn for the air intakes to be replaced with finer ones supplied by Pavla Models. These cater for the front intakes and also the smaller side intakes as mentioned earlier. The rest is straightforward and the kit has from now on taken the shape of a Lancastrian.

COLORS & MARKINGS

An initial coat of primer identified imperfections; these were filled with Plasto and then primed again. And wet sanded with 1,000 grit. The Lancastrian is finished in overall natural metal. I found that Alclad II Lacquer ALC-102 as the most fitting duralumin finish. The kit had the windows blanked with square cut tape to prevent mist from the airbrush reaching the canopy interior; and the cockpit canopy masked. The kit was given an overall coat of Humbrol gloss black, which is the proper undercoat for the lacquer. Following a period of drying, the duralumin was applied, using low airbrush pressure and after applying the first coat any small scratches revealed were attended to. The final coat went very smooth and the kit allowed to set and was then ready for decals. The spinners and prop blades were black while the prop tips yellow.

 The civilian registration decals that came with M&E conversion kit fell short of my expectations. The first part that was immersed in water showed signs of cracks allover. This was quickly retrieved, allowed to dry and treated the decals with Johnsonís Klear liquid in order to save them. In the end all went smooth and the kit was completed with wireless and small antennae under the fuselage. The areas in way of engine exhaust were airbrushed with a dark mix of grey and varnish.

CONCLUSIONS

Not a difficult conversion but in doing so a new aircraft type was added to my collection. Had I continued to experience problems with the decals I was prepared to make the RAF Lancastrian that landed in Malta in the mid 50s and which was the same one that made the record flight to New Zealand.

 January 2010

Carmel J. Attard

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