Formaplane 1/72 Hastings

KIT #: ?
PRICE: EUR 11.70
DECALS: None
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Vacuformed kit

HISTORY

Designed to meet the requirements of the Air Ministry’s specification C3/44, the H.P. 67 Hastings was a long-range general-purpose transport that served with both the RAF and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. It was a low wing cantilever monoplane with a tubby circular section fuselage with a layout that also included a conventional tail unit, fully retractable tail wheel landing gear, and the Power Plant of four Bristol Hercules 101 radial engines in the first prototype. This machine first flew on 7th May 1946, a second prototype followed on 30th December of the same year. The initial Hastings Mk 1 production version entered service with the RAF’s No 47 Squadron of Transport Command at RAF Dishforth, UK in October 1948. Superseding the aging Avro York of the Royal Air Force Transport Command the Hastings was truly one of the all time greats of the mid 50s.These were operated by a crew of five and could accommodate 30 paratroops with supplies or 32 litters plus 28 sitting casualties, 50 fully equipped troops or freight. Hastings of No 47 and No 297 Sq saw extensive service during the Berlin Airlift (Operation Plainfare). The Hastings was to make the last operational run to this flattened city on 6th October 1949. A total of 147 Hastings (including 2 prototypes) were built for the RAF comprising 100 C Mk1, 43 C Mk2 and 4 C Mk4. In addition 4 Hastings C Mk3 were supplied to the RNZAF. It replaced the Vickers Valetta with the RAF squadrons No 70 and No 48 continuing service until 1959 with the arrival of the Britannia which took over the transport role on main trunk routes, and turned its  carrying duties to a more tactical role.

The Hastings C Mk2 had Hercules 106 engines; a large area tail plane mounted lower on the fuselage and increased fuel capacity. All Mk1s were modified to this configuration as Hastings C Mk1A. The C Mk3 was generally similar to the C Mk2 except its power plant of Hercules 737 engines and the C Mk4 was equipped to accommodate four VIP and their staff. Variants included 6 of the Hastings C Mk1 contract as Hastings Met Mk1 for weather reconnaissance duties with Coastal Command and 8 C Mk1s converted to bomb-aimer trainers for service with the Bomber Command Bombing school designated Hastings T Mk5. They had large ventral radome and were equipped with radar bombsight equipment. The Hastings was retired from service with the RAF Transport Command early in 1968 as the Hercules C130 was introduced.

THE KIT

One of the interesting vacform kits I made that brings back many happy memories of a time before the C-130 took over is the Hastings and ‘Formaplane’ comes in with their release of the type some decades ago. With the release of the Hastings I am sure that they have been able to satisfy many modelers as they did with their Bobcat, Nimrod, Caribou, Sea fox which were all released long before they appeared in injected form. The release of the Hastings is a different matter because it had never appeared in any other form. Formaplane produced an interesting and reasonably good kit, which comes in white styrene and includes all the necessary parts to produce a realistic 4-engine scale model of this transport workhorse.

 The kit must have interested many modelers particularly those in UK or living close to British air bases. Fortunately several Hastings have been preserved which include a C2 at Duxford and another, a T5, at Newark Aviation Museum both of which I had the opportunity to visit and photograph. Hastings used to make daily stop over at Luqa on their way to the Near East and Middle Eastern bases with logistic support to RAF military bases.

The kit brings the roundness of fuselage and nose and tail fin contours quite effectively. At time of release the kit cost LM5 (today equivalent to EUR 11.7), with clear moldings, clear canopy transparency and a piece of plastic rod to assist building the undercarriage. The instruction has an exploded view of how the parts were to fit together; and useful 1/72 scale plans. The engine cowling and propeller hubs are accurate but have very thin section plastic that can easily get damaged particularly at the corners where the section thickness is thinnest. I do not recall having a decal one can use as sheet to complement the kit. There is a line side view on the box cover only as an indication of the type of aircraft kit inside.

CONSTRUCTION

Just like the Nimrod model that I made before by same kit make, the Hastings was a large model to handle and required a clear worktable whilst rubbing down and assembling the parts. The canopy was of an accurate shape but not quite as clear as I first thought and unless ones mould a replacement from clear acetate there seemed to be no scope to detail excessively the cockpit more than the rudimental 2 crew seats, instrument panel, console and control handles. This certainly was proving not to be a kit that one could rush over a weekend but more the type that one could make a little progress at a time during construction.

The parts are first scribed with a sharp pointed Exacto blade and separated so that each component is then sanded down one at a time and storing the small pieces in a container to avoid getting them lost. Ailerons and rudder hinges are lumpy and needed cleaning out with a scalpel and a triangular needle file. A sheet of wet and dry, medium grade was glued to a large board using a double-sided tape. I often prefer to do the sanding down of large components such as the fuselage and wing parts in a dry procedure, thus avoiding a messy wet workbench. Whilst sanding down one needs to watch out for uneven sanding due to varying amounts of pressure at different points, and this is easy to happen with large components. Before items like wing parts are glued together I found it necessary to rescribe the surface paneling, hinge lines etc, while molding ‘pips’ are removed and their place sanded even.

Each wing half had air intakes cut and undercarriage well cut open using a pair of scissors. The wing parts were then checked for fit and glued together using liquid cement but using tube cement for thick sections. Tail plane parts were attended to and assembled making sure that the end joining section was flat and straight, ensuring a good butt joint. The fuselage halves were sanded to bring to correct round section checking with plan and side views as I went along and checking also with section gauges at different stations provided. The window apertures were cut out by drilling a small hole followed by another using a larger diameter twist drill until filed to the final shape using a set of round files. Windows are accurately positioned but those containing escape hatches outlets are of the wrong shape and were corrected using needle files. These windows are left open until the final stage where they are filled with Kristal Klear in preference to the clear strip of plastic that was intended to be bonded on the inside of the fuselage in the way of windows .An astrodome opening was also cut at the forward roof top. The interior was painted medium gray and attention was then given to the tail wheel well, glazed ventral panel opening under nose, and the cockpit canopy ensuring the right fit in each case. Bulkheads for the fuselage interior were cut, trimmed and fixed in different places inside. Wing roots recesses in form of slots were cut and plastic card strips reinforced the slot outer sides. A tail wheel attachment point made from scrap plastic sheet was fixed on the inside. The two fuselage halves had the cockpit arrangement added and short tabs added to the inside of joint to act as guides as the two halves were brought close together and bonded. These were held together with masking tape as the cement set. Revell Plasto filler was applied to wherever there is a joining part principally at fuselage seam, wing roots etc.

The radial engine cowlings that come with the kit were unsuitable. They are small in diameter, short in length and poorly produced and I replaced with four accurate ones turned from solid Teflon. If one has not this facility one could use four radial cowlings from an Airfix Halifax kit. Spinners are badly attenuated and replaced with solid ones were turned from brass. The propeller blades were undersize and were extended by 1/8 inch by inserting a central piece made from plastic card. Since the blades had a concave back, as these were vacform single blades, 16 in number, and was filled with putty. The final stage involved fitting the radial engines, propeller sub assemblies depicted in the drawing and the assembly was repeated for all 4 engines. Undercarriage wheel wells were built out of plastic card and doors were added. Transparencies, tail wheel, various antennae, and astrodome were glued in place on the fuselage and at the roof. Leading edge air intakes were carefully trimmed and added at their respective places.

Any areas requiring more filler were attended to particularly around the canopy and nose Perspex. I also added a belly radome as I converted my Hastings into a T5. The radome was shaped from a solid piece of yellow pine and treated with sanding sealer and sanded smooth. The assembled model was finally given a coat of matt light gray so that any scratches, undercuts, or uneven surface patches will show up and treated again with more filler. The Mk 5 also had one less window on the fuselage. This was the first window at the front of the fuselage, which was therefore left blank. Finally a bacon light was added to top of tail fin and Kristal Kleer added to tail fin and wing tip lights. A clear plastic tail cone was added from shaped stretch sprue. A nylon thread was added to represent the wireless carried on the fuselage. Crewmembers to 1/72 scale added detail to cockpit and at the same time gave indication of the shear size of the Hastings aircraft. 

COLORS & MARKINGS

Photos of the Hastings T5 that I took at Luqa airfield were carefully studied. These showed the aircraft having light aircraft gray fuselage and wings with upper fuselage in white. Areas on wings, fuselage forward and aft, fin and tail planes were airbrushed in Humbrol Post Office red. The two main fuselage colors being separated by a dark blue cheat line running along the length of the fuselage. I have used decal strip from a micro scale post war RAF insignia sheet, the fin flashes had a white border added. While Model decals provided the serial letters and numbers under the wings and side of fuselage aft. Roundels came from a Frog Canberra sheet. Other surface markings on wings and fuselage came from ‘Runway’ black decal sheet making reference to photos for their correct placements. The kit was finally given an overall coat of semi gloss Micro varnish.

CONCLUSIONS

 This was a delightful model of an unusual subject. It was one of the larger vac-form kits I have built. Since the subject required a certain amount of research work and planning prior to building, I recon this is not a kit for the beginner and definitely needs experience and perseverance. In the end it turns into a pleasing model of an important transport and trainer aircraft that saw service with the Royal Air Force for a good number of years circa 50s and 60s.

REFERENCES

 

http://en.wikipedia.org

Carmel J. Attard

 

November 2009

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