Frog 1/72 E.E. Canberra PR.7
Aussie Decals & NKR Models vacformed canopy used
Australia's Government Aircraft Factory at Avalon, assisted by a swarm of
sub-contractors, undertook licenced production of the English Electric Canberra
B.2 in the 1950's. Produced at a leisurely rate, 48 Mk. 20s were manufactured
from 1953 to 1958, with the factory ticking over in 1959 doing some conversions
to Mk. 21 trainers.
Supplemented by five English built B.2s and a pair of T.4s the Canberras
remained in Australian service until 1982.
The Australian Canberras saw active service during the Malayan Emergency and
Vietnam. They also did extensive photographic survey work in Australia, New
Guinea and Indonesia, participated in exercises, air races and atomic trials.
Several ended their days as targets or on fire dumps, most were scrapped, but
fortunately a number survive in museums or as gate guards, and at least one is
First released in 1955, the Frog kit was for a long time the only way to
build a real Canberra, before it got jazzed up with fighter canopies, gun packs
and silly noses.
Frog rehashed the mould (or maybe made a new one) in 1973, producing a BI.8.
15 parts are moulded in a hard silver-grey coloured plastic, the nice stuff that
shows the flow lines. All parts had been removed from the sprues, probably why
so many bits were missing. There was heavy raised rivet detail on the fuselage
and wings, but only light raised lines indicating the control surfaces. The
startling thing, to those used to more modern kits, is how thick the parts are.
This model will be very strong when built. A couple of minor sink marks, a small
area short shot, and a tiny bit of flash was all that needed cleaning up.
Cockpit detail, duh, solid cockpit with a pilots head and a headrest. Engines?
Well there is a bulge about half way along the wings. Solid at the front, with a
bullet fairing for the starter, and a blanked off hole at the rear. No wheel
well detail, not even a wheel well. Yes there is a hole to plug in the one piece
wheel, gear and door part, another hole for the inner door, about a scale foot
thick. One of the inner doors, the nose wheel and both nose wheel doors were
missing from my kit, so I guess this one is flying, hey! the stand is missing
There should be two clear parts, one for the nose and the other
for the pilots cockpit, but the main cockpit transparency was also missing.
Decals represent one aircraft, WH773 which really was a Canberra PR.7. They
don't look too bad, but I won't use them.
The instructions are
typical early Frog, with an exploded diagram and 15! construction steps. It
suggests adding one and a quarter ounces in the nose to stop it tail sitting. It
also suggest using shellac varnish as a good surface for applying transfers
(what we used to call decals).
Overall it certainly looks like a Canberra. It measures about the right
size, the PR7 had a slightly longer fuselage than the bomber versions. I didn't
count the rivets, I sanded them off.
Lots of sub-assemblies here. I started by dryfitting the fuselage halves, fit
was OK but there was a bit of a warp. With the nose and tail joined I could
stick my finger into the gap halfway along the fuselage. The instructions
suggest holding it together with rubber bands, so maybe it was moulded like
that. After running a bead of liquid poly on both mating surfaces I used some
serious clamps to hold it all together. Next morning I ran some superglue into
the gap right around. It looked like it would hold, but I was not going to take
any chances. I fitted a 5/32” (about 4mm) bolt, with washers and a nut, right
through the wing root. That should keep it together.
About a dozen clothes pegs were used to hold the wing halves together,
and another pair of clamps were used to hold the wingtip tank halves together,
while the glue was hardening.
Now to deal with the canopy. I have a couple of conversion sets to turn
funny Canberras into real ones, one by NKR models, one by Aeroclub. I found the
Aeroclub one first, only one canopy, I was thinking of making a cast and plug
moulding a new one. Then I found the NKR models conversion, not one or two, but
three vacformed canopies supplied. Thanks Earl! I checked with NKR, this
conversion has been OOP for about 15 years.
With the canopy sorted, and a nice vacformed nose cone as well, I gave the clear
parts a swim in floor polish and left them to dry.
Thanks to the clamping and all that superglue, there was not much of a
seam to deal with on the fuselage, a light scrape and sand did it nicely. I took
the opportunity to sand off the rivets, Canberras may be held together by
rivets, but you can't see them in photographs. I also sanded the idiot marks
(moulded in decal
placement guides) off the fuselage and wings. I probably
should have scribed the control surface hinge lines before sanding off the
raised detail, but only remembered in time to do the entrance hatch, and that only lightly. My Canberra is going to be a smoothie.
One half of the fin was slightly under shot, so a touch of filler was
added. I drilled out clearance holes for my bolt, and attached the wings, all
looked good, and not much of a gap, then added the tailplane halves. Again a
good fit with only a small gap. The tailplane dihedral was set by the locator
tabs. I also added the wing tip tanks. I repaired one of the starter fairings
then filled the various gaps and the holes for the u/c and a couple of rough
spots and it was ready to paint.
I decided on a RAAF Mk.20, as I already had Aussie Decals sheet 72039, Canberra
Mk.20 silver schemes. I picked the ARDU version A84-237 as it had a little
colour, green and yellow tail, and I already have built some other ARDU
aircraft. During trials at Woomera, 237 got hit by a Karinga cluster bomb and
destroyed in August 1982.
I gave the top of the fuselage and tail a couple of coats of gloss white, then a
coat of gloss yellow on the tail. After leaving it to dry overnight I masked off
the yellow stripes and I also filled up a couple of spots on the joints that the
gloss white picked up. Then I sprayed the tail dark green. Probably not the
right shade, I used touch up paint that came with my front fence.
After masking the tail, I painted the top of the fuselage gloss white
enamel again. The usual gloss white problem, no coverage, it needed six coats
over a couple of days.
Another few days of paint hardening and I masked the top of the fuselage
then gave the rest of the airframe a spray of gloss black as a primer. Then I
painted it all silver. When it came to remove the masking a large chunk of the
green fence paint came off, from one side of the tail only. I retouched it with
Tamiya acrylic JA green which was not a match, but close.
After painting the cockpit area flat black, I added the NKR vacformed
canopy, which fitted well. I used the kit clear nosecone and hand painted the
cockpit frame with gloss white enamel.
I used the Aussie Decal roundels, serial number and ARDU badge, and used
ejection seat triangles and the fin flashes from the spares stash. The Aussie
decals worked very well, they are thin but hold together well, and the carrier
disappeared on the gloss surface. I
then outlined the small porthole in the canopy with a white “0” from an old
explosive ESCI sheet for the F-105. Explosive because it falls apart when it
gets wet. I didn't use the extensive stencilling and walkway decals on the
Aussie sheet, saving them for the next, and maybe better detailed, Canberra.
A coat of floor polish to seal the decals and it was finished. I have a
box of old stands somewhere, if I find it I'll have a flying Canberra in the
I think I first built this kit sometime in the early 60's. “I think” because I
remember my father bringing the kit home, and sitting with him at the kitchen
table looking at it. I have no memory of us building it or the finished model.
One of the tailplanes has been in my spares box, and the dried, cracked but
unused decal sheet stuck in my file, for many years.
When I saw one at a swap meet a few years ago I grabbed it. It was an
easy and fun build, and I am not nit-picking enough to worry about lack of
detail, or dimensional accuracy. Not a super kit by any means, but it fitted
together well, (with some encouragement).
As usual it spent far longer in the paint shop than it did on the bench.
I enjoyed the build and am happy with the end result.
Stewart Wilson, Lincoln Canberra & F-111 in Australian Service, Aerospace,
Weston Creek, 1989.
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