C.A./Tamiya 1/48 Meteor PR.10

KIT #: ?/61083
PRICE: $?
DECALS: See review
REVIEWER: Pat Earing
NOTES: Kit Bash. Decals: Freightdog Decals Brits Abroad Immediate Post War #FSD 48001

HISTORY

The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies first operational jet aircraft.   Designed by George Carter it first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with 616 Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF).  

The Gloster Meteor PR Mk.10 was a high level reconnaissance aircraft. It was something of a hybrid aircraft, with the long wings of the Mk 3 the tail of the Mk 4, the central fuselage of the Mk 8 and the nose of the FR Mk 9 fighter reconnaissance aircraft, but without the four cannon. The PR Mk.10 carried three cameras, one F.24 in the nose and two F.52s in the rear fuselage. The PR.10 was developed at the same time as the FR Mk.9, and made its first flight on 29 March 1950.   The PR.10 remained in use until 1958-61, when it was phased out in favor of faster, higher flying aircraft such as the Canberra. 

THE KIT

No information provided

CONSTRUCTION

How do we as modelers choose what model to build?  In my case, a build generally starts with a particular aircraft of interest-the more obscure the better-and I see if a kit and time exists to get it on my shelf.  In the case of a particularly obscure, unkitted Meteor, it was an unrepentant case of love at first sight!  Having purchased a set of Freightdog Models decals for a Spitfire project, I came across a blue/grey vixen of a Meteor that I could not put out of my head.  Having no real interest in the Gloster Meteor, I did not have any kits waiting in my queue, but with perseverance an elusive Classic Airframes FR Mk 9 kit and Tamiya Mk III kit were procured.

Starting this build was nontraditional in that I began by making all of the necessary cuts to both the Classic Airframes (CA) and Tamiya kits to create a Meteor PR Mk 10 from Mk 9 and Mk 3-4 kits first.  I was concerned that the Tamiya and CA kits might be too dissimilar for this conversion to work based on my skills; and I did not want to waste a lot of construction time only to toss the mess into the someday locker because of a seemingly insurmountable mismatch.   The swapping included cutting the Classic Airframes and Tamiya tail sections off at the panel line forward of the vertical tail, using the clear Classic Airframes nose sections for the PR version on the Mk 8 fuselage, and also swapping the Classic Airframes wings outboard of the engines for the Tamiya parts.  Fortunately, all of the cutting was accomplished without incident if not without problems

The first problem I encountered was that the cross sections of the two kits were not a match at the tail and I had to put some thought into how to solve the problem. Ultimately, the fix was simple: I taped the fuselage halves and tail halves together and measured the difference (the step).  Using a black marker on the top and bottom of the fuselage, I marked the ¾ mm that needed to be removed from each of the Classic Airframes fuselage halves at the cut for the tail, top and bottom, and sanded a taper from the cut to near the cockpit opening in order to narrow the CA fuselage to match the Tamiya tail section, effectively removing any step between the sections.  Satisfied that what I thought was the most visible part of the conversion was going to work, I began painting the resin cockpit parts and engine fronts Floquil engine black. 

Lacking inspiration for detailing the cockpit, I began to clean and assemble another perceived problem area, the wing center section.  Having looked over the two kits, I decided to use the Tamiya landing gear as I felt it had better overall detail; however, as a result of that decision I also took the time to cutout and modify the main wheel bays from the Tamiya wing to be fit into the Classic Airframes wing section to ease mounting the gear legs.  This required extensive scraping and sanding to thin the deeper Tamiya parts to fit as well as some plastic card to fill a missing ‘wall’ of the wheel bay.  Next I assembled the large engine intakes and front wing spar pieces to the lower wing section, using some filler and primer to remove the rather visible seams.  Next I spent some time fitting and checking that the top wing sections would fit without gaps.  Once satisfied with the fit in this area I attached the upper panels and airbrushed a coat of Floquil old silver on to all of the intake components.

Needing to assemble the fuselage, I began painting and assembling the resin cockpit parts from the CA kit.  The ejection seat was painted first following the kit instructions and best guesses from the few cockpit photographs that I had access to, and then given a dry brush with pastels for contrast and weathering.  Next I detail painted the cockpit side walls, floor, and back wall giving each a dry brush with dark grey paint as well as pastels.  Beginning assembly of the resin cockpit parts required minor trimming as the back wall was wider than the floor.   Once glued up, I tried a test fit of the assembly into the taped up fuselage and discovered two problems: first, the tub assembly was too wide, and second I had attached the front cockpit/landing gear bulkhead in the wrong place.  Additionally, upon closer inspection it was also apparent that the cockpit tub would not sit low enough in the fuselage to allow the nose gear bay molded on the bottom of the cockpit floor to meet with the lower fuselage gear bay opening.  Rather than risk disassembling the rather fragile resin cockpit parts, I opted for an aggressive regiment of scraping the inner fuselage areas with a #10 blade to thin the plastic, therefore allowing the whole assembly to drop and fit more accurately at the nose gear bay opening.  I did, however, need to remove the front bulkhead which promptly broke and split the flimsy nose gear attachment into multiple pieces.  Patience and judicious glue saved the day.  Once things had been repaired and a decent fit achieved, I felt it prudent to check the PR photo nose section to the fuselage for fit issues before committing them to each other. 

Unfortunately, the finely molded clear parts included by Classic Airframes to make the PR version are smaller in cross section than the fuselage resulting in a large step, just like what I encountered with the tail assembly.   As a result, I was forced to sand the forward fuselage in a similar manner to what I had with the rear of the fuselage to achieve a descent fit… making the fuselage even narrower for the cockpit tub-gads!  Continued fussing resulted in all the parts eventually fitting well enough, and I attached the nose sections to each fuselage half.  Because Classic Airframes chose not to provide any details for the camera bay, even with those three prominent windows, I decided to try and recreate some of the camera bay details.  Using photographic resources, I built a camera bay floor and aft bulkhead, some small camera apertures and all the appropriate wiring assemblies.  All of this work also promptly created serious fit problems for the cockpit tub again!  Trimming and fiddling eventually resulted in the attached clear nose sections separating from the fuselage, which in turn allowed access for a more determined scraping with a #10 blade to thin the plastic.   Once things, again, fit properly, I reattached the nose sections, which required a considerable amount of filler to correct, and permanently attached the cockpit tub.  At this time I also added the large metal weight that Tamiya includes for the Mk 3 kit into the empty space just behind the cockpit tub.

With the fuselage assembled it was time to consider how I was going attach the tail section. I created a fuselage plug using a leftover resin casting block  appropriately shaped to fit the dissimilar wall thicknesses of the two kits. Satisfied that a great fit could be achieved I began working on the wings so that I could attach them prior to the tail to ensure that everything lined up correctly when viewed from the front or back of the model.  Using donor resin wing tips shaped to fit into each wing section cavity, I was able to achieve not only ease of alignment but also a great deal of strength for the wing joints.   Watching closely the fit and angles of the outer wing panels, I used super glue to attach and fill the sizable gaps.   At this time I also sanded all of the remaining glue seams in the wing assembly and fuselage, mounted the panel behind the ejection seat and attached the entire wing assembly to the fuselage.  Ready to attach the tail section I glued on the Tamiya horizontal stabilizers and using a carpenters square to ensure a 90 degree relationship to the wings, I glued the tail section onto the fuselage.  The model was now looking very much like a PR mk10 Meteor, and I moved onto the final stages of priming, sanding, and scribing in preparation for paint.

Having taken care with the assembly of the major components, the only areas that ended up needing filler were the troublesome nose area and the lower wing to fuselage joint.  For filler I use 3M acrylic spot putty that is a lacquer based filler.  Additionally, I also use automotive lacquer primer with a very ‘fast’ thinner because of its high build capacity and super hard cured state.  A couple of evenings and these spots were soon sanded, primed and ready to be rescribed.   After a thorough sanding with 400 grit I touched up the panel lines and drilled the camera lens ports in the lower aft fuselage.  At this time I also installed the lower fuel tank; unfortunately, I managed to mount it 4 mm to far forward.  I can live with it but I cannot figure out how I missed all of the landmarks and attached it so far forward.  Nearing the paint shop, I endeavored to attach the final bits and pieces such as the forward canopy section, install the instrument panel, seat, and stick.   Thinking I was clever for not ‘finishing’ the cockpit as a means to reduce labor (masking and touch up) I inevitably made more work for myself as the instrument panel would not go into place.  Clearly I should have painted and attached it when the tub was being installed-nuts!  Looking over the etched Eduard set that came with the Tamiya kit, I realized a solution through judicious bending of a pre-painted brass panel.  Although not entirely accurate, it is in there, and more importantly, I can live with it.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Painting began with a wipe down and pre shading of panel lines with Floquil engine black using my Iwata airbrush.  Next I sprayed the lighter topside shade of medium sea grey using Model Master Enamels cut 1 to 1 with Testors airbrush thinner.  After a couple of days I carefully masked off the top surfaces, installed all of the landing gear doors in their closed positions and sprayed the remainder of the model with Model Master PR blue.  Letting things sit for a few hours I cleaned up mold lines on the Tamiya landing gear and painted both the gear legs and resin True Details wheel hubs with Floquil old silver.  Unmasking the model revealed no major bleed through and the whole thing was given a coat of lacquer gloss clear in preparation for decals.  The last bit of painting was to spray the red engine openings.  This required careful masking and was very tedious, but in the end turned out fantastic. 

I had chosen to build this particular plane because of the artwork on a Freightdog decal sheet I was using for a previous Spitfire build. As such, I had already worked with the decals and for the most part they went on perfectly.  I used an application of Micro-Sol for each application, and to a one they all lay down nicely and conformed to panels and panel lines.  For the most part that is.  I did manage to fold over the second set of under wing call numbers as I was putting them onto the model, and despite my best efforts I could not undo or save them.  Disaster, but not an insurmountable disaster; I used letters and numbers from the spare decal bin to replace the destroyed decal, and although not an exact match I can again live with the outcome.  After another coat of gloss lacquer cut with some Testors Dull Coat to make it a bit more semi-gloss I installed the landing gear, gear doors, and antenna.  The camera ports were given covers using Micro Crystal Kleer and the conversion was finished.

CONCLUSIONS

 What an awesome looking model-the rake of the landing gear is a nice change from all the tail-sitters on my shelf and the model looks tight.  Overall the conversion was very straight forward, and although requiring some pre planning and modeling skills, it is not beyond the skills of the average modeler.  Both the Classic Airframes and Tamiya kits are well engineered and despite some fit issues in the nose area went together very well indeed.  Best of all, I have a unique postwar jet in my collection that I never would have considered! 

Since completing this model, I have built two more from that that same Freightdog decal sheet, with another under consideration.   As a rule, I seldom do more than one kit from a decals sheet… certainly getting my monies worth from this one!

REFERENCES

  Caruana, Richard and Richard Franks.  The Gloster Meteor  SAM Publications, 2004.

Rickard, J (12 February 2008), Gloster Meteor PR Mk.10 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_gloster_meteor_10.html

Pat Earing

May 2011

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