The Lancaster is surely one of the legends of the conflict that is World War 2. Entering service in March 1942, its service on intensive bomber combat operations ended in May 1945, just 38 months later. Yet it was to remain in operational service in a more passive role for another 19 years. In RAF Bomber Command it was rapidly superseded in the years of peace by its designed replacement the Avro Lincoln, but its ability to carry equipment in its massive bomb bay and cruise over long distances for extended periods led to its adaptation as a Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft for Coastal Command, gradually being supplanted in this role in 1951 by the Avro Shackleton, a fourth generation four-engine long range bomber from the same family. The last Lancasters in the RAF were retired from the School of Maritime Reconnaissance in the Spring of 1956.
In the 1950s, other nations had an interest in acquiring surplus RAF bombers, leading to Argentina and Egypt acquiring small fleets of Lancasters. But there were two other countries that would acquire the Lancaster for its long range maritime role and would run each other close for the honour to be the last air arm to fly the type, well into the 1960s. France made good use of Lancaster in the Western Atlantic Ocean to fulfil its obligations to the Western Union, a forerunner of NATO and to support it operations in Pacific Ocean island territories – principally New Caledonia.
It would fall to Canada to make the most comprehensive use of the Lancaster in its years of peace. Canada had built Lancasters for the Allied war effort, so there was a ready industrial base to support the operations of Avro’s versatile creation. In the cold war years, there was a defined need for a rugged, simple and dependable aircraft type to patrol the vast distances of Canada’s land territories and sea regions. Of 424 aircraft exported from Canada’s Victory Aircraft Company to the European war, as Mark Xs, 288 returned and around 100 were refitted for further service under the post war designation of Mark 10. The Lancaster 10P was a specialised photo reconnaissance version; the 10N a navigation trainer; the 10BR Bomber/Reconnaissance and the 10MR/MP for maritime reconnaissance/patrol. It was the latter two variants that would see out their service days as Search and Rescue aircraft, until formal retirement in 1964.
The basis of the Lancaster 10MR is Revell’s Lancaster Mk.I/III, considered by many to be of good quality and well detailed. This is teamed with the Xtradecal Sheet No: X72062 “Post War Lancasters part 2; Canada, Argentina, Egypt” available direct from Hannants in the UK, price £6-99. I also used Eduard’s canopy mask CX211, made specifically for the Revell kit, price £5-99.
The Revell kit is chock full of optional parts, so with a little research it is clear that most of what is needed for the 10MR comes straight from the box. Needed are: Paddle blade propellers; unshrouded exhausts; deletion of the top turret; tall astrodome to the rear of the canopy; plain window on the canopy portside, bulged window to starboard; large bomb aimer’s blister; rectangular bomb aimer’s window; nose and rear turrets with armament deleted.
Additional parts that have to be found are: an ADF antenna to the top of the cockpit; rear facing camera aft of the tail wheel; ventral radar dustbin and additional stub aerials around the upper fuselage and bomb bay.
I have mixed feelings about the use of after market paint masks, usually on the grounds of cost and for simple transparencies I cut my own masks from Tamiya tape. However on this occasion the Eduard masks were essential. Over 100 tiny precision cut masks for every pane of glazing, bubble, bulge and fairing on the airframe. Designed specifically for this kit, they save hours of work and they are absolutely brilliant.
This commenced with fitting all of the small fuselage windows so they could be filled over with Green Putty, since the 10MR was one of the late build Lancasters with a these windows deleted. When the putty had dried, I masked off to each side of the blanked out window strips to minimise damage to the surrounding areas while I rubbed the filler down with progressively finer sanding sticks. Once reasonably satisfied with the finish I flashed over a quick coat of auto primer, then sanded this away to almost nothing as a double check that the old windows openings would be near invisible. Two new rectangular windows were cut in the rear fuselage. All of the remaining small window transparencies were discarded since I prefer to make glazing from Micro Kristal Kleer after painting has been completed.
Revell have provided what seems to be a conventional Lanc interior structure where the roof of the massive weapons bay forms the floor of the fuselage interior. The pilot’s seat is located on the port side on a raised shelf and a bulkhead to the rear defines the radio operator’s station. Seats and tables are provided for the navigator and radio operator and decals for the instrument panels to the crew stations. A very substantial wing spar unit is fitted across the floor/bay assembly to provide positive alignment for the wing structure. The interior was sprayed in Tamiya XF71 IJN Cockpit Green, with the area immediately around the cockpit in Tamiya Matt Black XF-1. The fuselage halves are joined easily since the nose and tail turrets can be added later, being treated as separate sub assemblies. No upper and lower turrets are required and Revell provide well -fitting blanking plates for these areas. The main bomb doors are supplied as one large component that can be split along its centre line if an open weapons bay is required. Mine was to stay closed so the one piece unit was fixed into place.
Since the Lanc 10MR has a relatively complex colour scheme, I elected to build and paint large sub-assemblies to make it easier to handle the masking at the painting stage. The wings were built next and here I found the need to modify the most obvious flaw in Revell’s pretty good kit – the fact that the wing dihedral is far too shallow. This was corrected by making a saw cut the whole length of the lower wing along the line of the dihedral break immediately outboard of the inner engine nacelles. There is a clearly scribed line on the kit parts to guide a saw cut. The corresponding upper surfaces were cut back slightly from the leading and trailing edges. The upper and lower halves were then joined with tube cement and the wings bent upwards to the correct angle. This allowed the saw cut in the lower wing panels to open up and strips of 10 thou. and 5 thou. plastic card were slipped into these slots to wedge them into the correct position. I found that a total lamination of 25 thou. was needed. I used a wing from an unbuilt Airfix Lancaster as a jig for this exercise, although it would have been just as easy to line up the structure with a plan. The wings were tightly taped and left to dry for a couple of days before the surplus card was trimmed away to leave a neat and strong joint. The cut line for the correction is shown as a black line in the construction photos. I have read in some sources that the outboard engine nacelles may need to be trimmed to shape to seat square on the more steeply angled wings but mine seemed just fine. The inner nacelles can be added at the same time, incorporating rib detail in the wheel wells. Thankfully Revell’s construction methods mean that the landing gear can be added much later in the build.
The horizontal tail sections are designed to slip onto a spar that runs through the fuselage so again the tail sections and fin/rudder units were built as sub-assemblies to ease painting.
Hannants instructions give some notes on the modifications required, with some dimensions for the camera fairing. Oddly, no dimensions are given for the belly radar so some further research is needed. References to the Canuck Lancs are not that plentiful so I tried to interpret the dimensions from the side view drawing on the Hannants instructions. The radar dustbin was fashioned from the nose section of a 1:48 torpedo found in the spares box and the rearward facing camera housing from a hacked around rear section of a drop tank. The ADF antenna to the top of the canopy was surplus to a Gloster Meteor that I had built, but could fairly easily be carved from a small offcut of plastic.
The nose and tail turrets are added late in the build so they are assembled and painted separately. The Canadian Lancasters were most often seen unarmed, so the gun barrels were cut off as the turrets were assembled, but I left the bulk of the gun structures in place to fill up the turret interiors. The fuselage was completed with the installation of the flight deck glazing, then all of the transparencies were masked and given a shot of matt black paint so that the interior framing would show up as black, then finished with silver, the exterior colour. The 10MR had an unusual canopy with part of the forward glazing painted, or plated, over and this was easily achieved by omitting the canopy masks in this area.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Xtradecal offer just one Lancaster 10MR on their sheet, FM104 of No 107 Rescue Unit, Royal Canadian Air Force, Torbay, Newfoundland, 1958. This is a colourful aircraft with upper fuselage surfaces of natural metal, wings and under surfaces in gloss light grey. This is dramatically offset with large areas of red to the wing tips and tail surfaces and an orange day glo band around the rear fuselage. The decal sheet has instructions in full colour.
The main airframe components were primed with Tamiya white Fine Surface Primer from a rattle can. All of the paints came from Tamiya’s acrylic range. The wings, horizontal tail and lower fuselage were finished in XF-20 Medium Grey applied with my Iwata HP-C airbrush. The upper fuselage, engine nacelles and gun turrets were Flat Aluminium XF-16. The dramatic Arctic Red areas of the wing tips and horizontal tail are XF-7 Flat Red and the propeller spinners the same colour. Finally the prominent de-icing boots to the leading edges of the wings and tail were picked out in XF-1 Flat Black.
The decals are pin sharp and in good register, reacting well to solvents from the Micro range and applied over a brushed coat of Future/Kleer. The sheet includes plenty of fine striping for the fuselage demarcation line. Wing walks come from the donor kit decals. The whole airframe was given an airbrushed finishing coat of Xtracrylix Semi Matt varnish and the masking to the glazing was then removed. Small windows were filled in with Micro Kristal Kleer.
The main sub-assemblies now comprised the fuselage, wings with engines attached and tail halves with their respective fins. The main airframe was assembled for the first time and left to set over a couple of days. I then added the nose and tail turrets, main undercarriage and doors, while the main wheels were replaced with aftermarket resin versions from Pavla that have much improved hub detail and a flat moulded onto the tyres. Finally the engine exhausts, propellers, fuselage aerials and wing tip lights completed assembly. The final touch was to waft Tamiya X-19 Smoke chordwise across the upper and lower surface of the wings to simulate exhaust staining. As ever, the trick with Lancaster exhaust staining is to paint only three lines of staining over each wing, since the exhaust stream from the outboard pipes of the outer engines is carried straight under the wing due to the dihedral of the outer wing panels. I set the airbrush at about 8-10 PSI and cut the paint 60:40 with Tamiya thinners.
This is a straightforward exercise in steady building and minimal conversion. Masking the various colours is simplified by the fact that most demarcation lines are straight or fall on convenient panel lines. The Canadian rescue scheme is bright and cheerful and a marked contrast to the sombre colours of a World War 2 night bomber. The Revell kit is well engineered and the whole project can be done at reasonable cost. It can be recommended as a conversion project at the easier end of the spectrum
Air Enthusiast Journal. March/April 2000. Lancaster 10s in Canada By Jim Lyzun
Aircam Aviation series No12. Avro Lancaster in unit service by Mike Garbett and Brian Goulding. Osprey Publications Ltd 1968
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