Airmodel 1/72 Vickers Valetta
aircraft name Valetta is a corrupted title derived from the name
the capital city of the Maltese islands. The British had a way to alter a title
of a place for their convenience of preferential pronunciation just like they
did with the “Ta’Qali airfield” which they altered to “Ta’Kali airfield” to
solve the phonetic pronunciation of the letter ‘Q’. How did the title Valetta
originate? The origin comes from Gean Parisott de La Vallette. In late spring of
1565, the Turks under Sulieman ‘The Magnificent’ invaded the
La Vallette was the 72-year-old Grand Master of the Order at the time who fought
in the battlements in the hot Mediterranean summer alongside his beloved knights
of the Order of
Knights Hospitalers. They were outnumbered, besieged, trapped by an enormous
merciless, veteran Turkish Army. Sulieman knew, as did Adolf Hitler and Benito
Mussolini; he could not control the
until he held
In spite of the immeasurable might on the warrior-monks and the local inhabitant
recruits, the Maltese and Knights emerged victorious after 5 months of
continuous daily attacks, of never ending cannonade and prevented the
from becoming their “private lake” of the Turkish armada. The Knights
Hospitaliers and their men-at-arms and locals fought. Five hundred knights and
5,000 men-at-arms against 60,000 Turks…read the number over and over again.
30,000 Turks left dead…and this made an abrupt stop to the Turkish expansion
military aircraft in Malta was a haven if you lived in nearby towns like Hal-Luqa,
and Il-Marsa etc. This was a time way back in the 60s. Even so you could always
go and spend a couple of hours at the threshold of runway 024 or 06at Hal-Luqa
airfield where you could log and take pictures of a wide variety of military
aircraft that comes in to land or perform endless touch and goes. Most common
among these were the local based aircraft like the
PR7 and PR9, Shackleton IIs and IIIs, of 13, 39 and 38 Sq. respectively.
Frequently common was the sight of a slow limbering twin-engine, white and
silver aircraft that did not seem to appeal to anyone but with one exception and
that was me. This aircraft was the Vickers Valetta C1, which was attached to the
always had respect for the Valetta and it offered such an attraction and
fascination to me as it performed a variety of roles as trainer and transport
aircraft and it was indeed a workhorse of the 50s and early 60s, particularly in
the transport role performing duties like an unsung hero during wars as the Suez
campaign and other skirmishes in the Far East, long before the arrival of the
Hastings and Beverley. Before my time there used to be post war Wellingtons
based at Hal Luqa and Hal Far. Understanding at the back of my mind that the
Valetta emerged from the Wellington and the Wimpy my imagination at times used
to take me to the point where in place of the Valetta I would picture a
Wellington making circuit and bumps.
twin-engine Valetta formed part of the
Communications and Target Towing Squadron. Valetta VW856 replaced VX539 and
besides the Communications and
missions conducted by the squadron the Valetta was also equipped to carry loads
externally as well as in the main cabin as one of the roles undertaken by the
local type was that of Air Sea Rescue. During periods of stand by SAR these were
usually of some 48 hours duration, Valetta VX539 carried two Lindholm dinghy
containers under the forward fuselage external hard points. Other containers
were carried within the main cabin together with smoke markers. Crew could eject
the latter from fuselage and for which task the forward entrance door had been
removed prior to take off. Valetta C1
VW856 tests were conducted to check the
suitability of the Valetta in carrying externally the new Lindholm Mk3 equipment
consisting of three containers, which were connected by a 600-yard long buoyant
rope and was slung under the rear fuselage hard points.
The central large container
contained a 9-man dinghy and the two outboard ones contained emergency supplies.
The emergency drop operation was carried at a speed of 140 knots and at such low
altitude of 100 feet over the Mediterranean Sea
the local Valetta there were other Valettas, which were frequent visitors and
using Luqa as a staging post on the way out to the Far and
or on the return journey to
At one time I have logged a long list of Valettas that came to Luqa over a
period as the following list indicates:
RAF Mid East ferry to
ex 233 Sq. ferry to Little
Met. Comm. Sq. to Northolt
ex 5MU ferry to FEAF. 3820.25 A/F hrs logged
Boscombe Down. From
70 Sq. to
ex 5MU from Istres to
ferry to FEAF 52 Sq.
ferry to Comm.Sq.
F.E.Comm. Sq. to
Boscombe Down Flight with B.Freighter XJ470
and Belvedere XG452
C2 Met.com. Sq.
52 Sq. ferry to Butterworth
Ferry to FEAF
Met.Comm. Flt on loan to 70 Sq.
T3 on loan to 70 Sq.
C1 70 Sq.
loan to 70 Sq.
C1 70 Sq. Nikosia
to 52 Sq.
C2. Met.Comm. Flt.
Vickers Valetta was a military development of the Viking airliner as a
medium-rangeTransport aircraft for the RAF. As said earlier these share several
common features and resemblance to the wartime
bomber from which both types have evolved. As a
transport the Valetta was fitted with strengthened floor and a large freight
door at the rear of fuselage, port side.
Valettas of the
Air Force transport wing operated over
the Malayan jungle in support of British troops while others performed a variety
of roles apart from logistic duties at
different RAF bases in different parts of the world
all the time that the Valetta spent in
was a rosy one as in fact the following three crashes
Construction number 371. Type 651/1
first flew on
as VW810 delivered 31-5-49. Operated with 70 Sq. between 2-50 and 9-51 and 3-53
and 5-53. On
on take off from Luqa and was destroyed by fire.
Construction number 427. Type 659/2. first flew on
as VX575, delivered 5-12-49,
Communication Flight 7-50 to 5-53 and 6-53 to 12-53. On
it crashed in a field at Qormi after taking off from runway 32 at Luqa.
Construction number 443. First flew on
as VX497, delivered on
it came to grief when it swung on take-off to avoid hitting man on runway and
It is with regret to say that both of Malta based Valettas ended their life as
fire fighting practice at Hal Safi at the end of their career and therefore none
could survive for preservation by the Malta Aviation Museum, which at the time
was at its stage of infancy.
Modellers who have been in the hobby for some time are in no doubt familiar with
vacform kits as those produced by Contrail, Rareplanes, Esoteric, and Aeroclub
etc. Vacform kits that have been around for some time are those produced by
Airmodel, and who also happened to produce a reasonably priced vacform
conversion kit of the Valetta which is intended to go with parts of the
Wellington kit at a scale of 1/72.
kit comes in as one white polystyrene sheet, which contains the fuselage halves
of the Valetta, tail planes and engine cowlings along an acetate clear sheet
containing a perspex cockpit. In making a start on the Valetta kit one need to
decide from early stage the version is to be made i.e. C1, T3 or a T4 which all
have little variations between one and another. The first one I built was a T3
which was some time ago and more recently I decided on two C1s in view of the
connections this have had with the local station flight when Malta offered
facilities to the RAF at both ta’Qali and Hal-Luqa. Over the years I have
accumulated a reasonable amount of reference material and photos so that I will
be able to make scale models of the Valetta as accurate as I could.
the Valetta/|Viking is produced in injection moulded kit form but this did not
alter my plans to utilise the vacform kits that I had in my stash and besides I
do recommend this conversion even to the first time modeller who wants to start
building vacform kits.
parts from the Airfix Wellington bomber kit are suitable to use to make the
Valetta. Basically these are the wing halves and the undercarriage parts.
Modellers are therefore advised that the work involved in this conversion is
within the ability of the average modeller who already has acquired the basic
skill of plastic modelling if a successful result is to be achieved. I used to
find that rubbing and filing down vacform parts as time consuming when I started
my first vac form kit. This is not so today and care is always needed with every
stage but each modeller will in due course develop his or her own technique.
cut the two fuselage halves from the polystyrene by scoring the outline with a
sharp modelling knife, the first task is to rub down the joint lines to ensure
that a good match and fit can be achieved when the two halves are stuck
together. I found that the best way to do this is to have a large sheet of wet
and dry sanding paper placed with a small fold under the edge of a 1/2”thick
x12”x 6” wooden flat piece. Double sided tape will achieve a good fit of these
together. The next step is placing each of the
fuselage halves on this sanding
paper and starts rubbing backwards and forwards to obtain a satisfactory finish
fairly quickly. The front engine nacelle parts, which are also supplied, are
also dealt with in this way. The next step is to carefully mark with a pencil
the series of rectangular windows and each corner is drilled using a 1/8 twist
drill. The four corner holes are then cut with a sharp modelling knife until a
series of square windows are produced all being equal is size and shape. To
complete this first stage the cockpit is also cut and the finishing of this is
left to a later stage. The cutting of the astrodome opening is left to a later
stage i.e. when the two halves are already joined together.
interior to the cockpit as cabin floor, bulkhead, seating arrangement,
instrument console and control columns and rudder pedals are also scratch built
and added at this stage after reference to photos and drawings of this area. The
layout is painted light grey with touches of black and dark brown seat
cushioning. Interior of the
and /or freight area and floor are also painted at this stage. Intricate detail
to this area is not recommended as the window panes are made of Kristal kleer
which although is clear any detail added will be lost in the end. In the case of
the T3 I have resorted to square cut clear Perspex windows.
pilot and co-pilot seat were made from scrap polystyrene sheet coming as backing
sheet with the vacform parts. Strips from same source, which are about 3/16”
wide, were added around the edge of the fuselage at alternate distance to each
half. These will act as self-alignment and reinforce the parts when these are
glued together. I found Humbrol liquid cement very effective to do the job and
produce a strong bond. After the fuselage was allowed to dry out thoroughally,
putty was applied to joint lines and other areas around the nose to obtain the
correct contour or to fill up depressions and other surface imperfections that
are normally present on this vacform kit as it is starting to show its age.
Needless to say that constant reference is made to a selection of photos and
scale plans that I had at my disposal. Using various grades of wet and dry
sanding and reapplying body putty wherever needed I was able to obtain a much
desired smooth round surface and in doing so completed the work satisfactorily.
this stage one will notice that the principal exterior difference between the T3
and the C1 version was that the T3 carried six astrodomes for use during
navigation training while the C1 only had one astrodome used for observations.
Therefore I simply
had to accurately mark the position of these astrodome with
respect to the version used and drilled 9/16” diameter holes. Frequent checks
using a wooden stick of same diameter was used as ‘go/no go’ gauge in order to
produce equal diameter holes. The astrodomes were made from acetate clear
plastic that I accumulate from new shirt collar stiffeners and chocolate
wrappings using male/female method and a small burner of the kitchen cooker. The
mould male was made from the same 9/16 “d wooden male mentioned before with the
end rounded with a smooth file to take a hemisphere shape. Eight astrodomes were
needed to make the three models but I did make a few extra ones to replace lost
or damaged ones.
the Airfix Wellington parts 40, 41,37,38,36 and 39, one needed to do some
alteration first. Each wing was assembled and a line was marked chord wise and ¼
from the wing tip from where the wing was parted using an exacto saw. The wing
span was then measured so that the final overall span measures exactly14.87” or
better still 7.44’from the centre-line of the fuselage. To simplify the accurate
measurement of the span, a slot is cut at the wing root of the fuselage to take
the locating flat pegs on the inner wing area. This will indicate that the new
wing tips have to be about 1/4 “ inner in the wind and so this amount is cut
from the sawn off wing tip before the tip is rejoined to produce a new wing. The
trailing edge of the wing tip area is then faired gently using a smooth file to
produce a corresponding smooth outline. The surface geodetic structure detail
associated with the
wing is also removed using a generous amount of wet and dry until this will
disappear. New panel lines and elevator areas are then scribed using a sharp
scriber, thin steel ruler and steady grip. The next stage is to produce a new
set of tail planes. I have found that those produced by Airmodel conform to very
early Viking design and match exactly with scale plans that I have coming from
the March/April 1947, ‘Aeromodeller’ magazine. The other Valetta tail planes
were much bigger in overall size using ‘Aviation News’ plans. Nevertheless these
same parts were cut, sanded to correct section, joined together and were
extended at the root end to bring to correct area after these got dry and sanded
to shape. The tail planes were then drilled at the edge so that locating pins
are added to assist to secure in place when joined to the rear fuselage. Be
prepared however to carefully align the parts to correspond well with the tail
section and these should be level when viewed from the front or rear. Putty is
added to the root to produce the required small fillet by sanding to correct
appearance. This in the end becomes a straightforward job in view that I had to
repeat it three times in my case.
in mind that the Airfix Wellington is some 50 years or so old kit I also noticed
that the trailing edges needed trimming down the section to bring to a fine
thinner edge. Fixing the main planes was simplified by first cutting a simple
cardboard template in the shape of the lower surface of the wings looking from
the front. This was made secure in a way so that it will stand
on its own and
the assembled model would rest on it while the glue is setting and at the same
time giving the main planes the correct anhedral while drying for the next 24
hours. The joint area at the root was then given a coat of ‘Plasto’ body putty
to produce a smooth fillet. Airmodel suggests that that the engine cowlings and
propellers come from an Airfix Bristol Super Freighter. As I already have plans
for two Freighters in RCAF and RNZAF scheme I decided not to spoil any of these
and instead I have used the Airmodel kit cowlings, and the props and Spinners
were on one of them obtained from the Aeroclub range of white metal props. These
were very accurate in shape and outline and on the others I used scratch built
ones using Contrail struts to produce the blades etc.
making the undercarriage, the following Airfix parts were used: 56, 57, 58, 59,
54, and 55. The difference being that the wheels needed to be thicker using
plastic card spacers to bring this to correct dimension. Wheel well doors were
also made from plastic card, which were bent to correct shape and cut to size.
Part 72 was utilised as a tail wheel and detail added using stretch sprue parts.
the clear acetate cockpit part was left to the final stage. This was first cut
close to the size required using a pair of scissors and taking care not to
initiate cracking to the rather thick clear Perspex. The next step was to trim
the contact edges using a sharp trimming blade. A measured amount of putty was
all that was needed to have a sturdy fit with a small amount of super glue added
to the exterior joint surface away from the clear areas. Wing tip lights were
cut at this very final stage. Small Perspex pieces were stuck in the space using
super glue and when dry these were shaped with a smooth file followed by fine
wet and dry.
final stage consisted of detailing the model/s. This comprised of reshaping the
air intakes on the cabin roof and around the engine nacelles. The kit was then
given a semi matt white overall finish and any imperfections that still remained
which stood out were treated accordingly. Cockpit framing was carefully hand
painted using a thin brush, around thin masking tape wherever this was required.
Tiny antennae around cockpit, door hinges, small fairings, wireless, and other
detail to the undercarriage were also added.
kit was given its respective colour scheme using Humbrol, Revell, and
Modelmaster colours. I found that the local Hampel brand silver ideal for the
metal finish. This was mixed with a tint of white and few drops of Revell clear
satin varnish for best results. These were mixed well and thinned down to
accommodate the airbrush extra fine nozzle.
list of those Valettas that at any one time served with the Malta CommunicationsSquadron
is quite numerous. Other Valetta came as regular visitors during transit. The
three scale models of the immortal aircraft that I built all had some connection
with Malta Either attached with the local
station flight or came to Luqa airfield at some time as a welcome Visitor.
decals I used came from various sources most of which came from the model Decals
Range particularly the wing lettering and roundels. The No 52 Sq motif on the
fin of one of themodels was hand made decal. Strips of black decal were cut to
form walkways and fuselage trim,
Others made out of thin blue decal
and then filling in between with brush paint. RAF MALTA was made
Roodecal wording, “Royal Australian Air Force”, and adopting the lettering
parting line between the Day-Glo panelling was produced by thin white and silver
strips depending on the area where the
Day-glo orange was. A fair amount of exhaust weathering
was applied to all effluent areas and
finally the wheel and anti glare areas were given a coat
of matt varnish.
three scale models represent as follows:
Valetta C1: VX539. No of production line at Weybridge 181
Construction number: 468 Type 561/1, first flew on 24-5-50 Served with the Malta
Sqn 4-62 till 9-65
28-2-66 used for fire fighting practice at Catterick.
Valetta T3: WJ478, Construction number 603 completed as type 664 Valetta T3.
Visited Hal Far, Malta in 1966
Valetta VW814, Construction number 375 as Type 561/1. Served with Far East Comm.
Sq 12-60 to 10-61 with 52 Sq codes 814. 10-61 to 6-62 and 12-64 to 4-66. Struck
6-5-66. Visited Malta 16-12-64 while
with 52 Sq ferry to Butterworth, Malaysia.
result was quite pleasing and hopefully in not too distant future
I should make an exception and add a
civil aircraft type. An Autair or British Airways
Viking using the same kit conversion and
Aeromodeller March/April 1947 scale
Manual” Vickers Viking” Autair International No42 July 1948 Publication
scale drawings Valetta Mk1 Specification c9/46 Drg 45382 sheet 2 issue B EDH Aug
1946 PS Jan 47
Vickers Viking a LAAS Int Publication Sept 1970
Viking, Valetta and Varsity compiled by Bernard Martin issue ISBN 085130 0383 3
an Air Britain Publication
News scale plans
News Vol17 No7 “ Aircraft in Detail”
Information forwarded by R.Robinson of Fife, Scotland, about Malta based
Carmel J Attard
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