Airmodel 1/72 Vickers Varsity T.1

KIT #: 10
PRICE: $17.60
DECALS: none
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Basic vacuform kit.

HISTORY

RAF requirement for a general-purpose crew trainer were met conveniently by adopting the Valetta design to have a nose wheel undercarriage and special features for the training role. The length of the nose and the wingspan were both increased and an under-fuselage pannier was added to accommodate the bomb-aiming station and 600 lbs of bombs. The result was an aircraft with provision for training pilots, radio operators, navigators and bomb-aimers simultaneously. The prototype flew for the first time on July 17th, 1949 and a total of 164 was produced during the four and a half years that followed. By 1973 about 50 continued in service with training command.

The Varsity was powered by two 1,950 h.p. Bristol Hercules 264 engines that gave a maximum speed of 288 mph. The Varsity had a range of 2,650 miles.

Luqa airfield, Malta has always been an interesting place indeed for an aviation enthusiast to be based. Going back to 1959 no less than 2,553 aircraft of 52 different types were handled by the Luqa ground crew, apart from the locally based aircraft. Most common were the Canberras, which account for 583 being dealt with and 468 were Hastings, 370 beverleys, 251 Hunters and among these were 88 Varsities and the list of varieties continues and on 12th November was the busiest single day with 28 visitors.

Early Varsities were natural metal finish overall with yellow trainer bands across wings and rear fuselage. More Varsities continued to visit Malta. I have picked two specific dates out of several to give more details about these flocks that came on a Friday or Saturday and departed on Monday morning: -

20.6.64 -- WL683 J, WJ944 L, WL627 F, WL639 T, WF372 .A., and WF380 B. The aircraft were now in standard day glow orange with red spinners and the rest was silver and some had white top fuselage and the Squadron was No 1, Air Navigation School. All aircraft departed on 22.6,64.

5.2.65 -- WL683 J, WJ944 L, WJ950 U, WF380 B, and WF382 N. Again these belonged to No 1 Air Navigation School. Other Varsities that came for short stays belonged to No 115 Squadron RAF. This time the colors were once more slightly altered so that some had red day glow tape strips on the usual day glow orange areas on nose, wing tips and tail unit areas.

THE KIT

Once more this is an Airmodel product kit No 10. Same product as indicated in previous Varsity review with a difference that the vac form styrene was of less section thickness and that needed more care during sanding and care is made not to sand down too much with each kit part. Another difference is that I have on this one used the engine cowlings, which come with the kit. In the kit cowlings the two exhaust pipes mounted on each cowling side were added using a small length of sprue which was bored on inside. The overall color also differed and this one belonged to an earlier era when the Varsity was finished in a white top fuselage and the rest silver. Areas usually orange were now in strips of day glow red/orange. The aircraft WJ940 belonged to No 115 Squadron, Tangmere, 1961. It carried the Legend Royal Air Force Signals Command on fuselage upper white area, with a long yellow lightning trim that runs the length of the fuselage.

Undercarriage, cockpit layout on inside and propellers and spinners also came from Aeroclub products for this kit. Prop spinners this time were gloss black and wing tips in yellow.

PAINTING AND CONCLUSIONS

This was a lot more complex color scheme than previous one, maybe the only reason why I have seen several previous kits completed in the gray, white red rather than going through the more tedious masking that this scheme demanded.. The fuselage legend and lightning trim were Aeroclub issue, while the RAF roundels this time were from Modeldecals set.

Fortunately the Varsity kit is still available via www.Airmodel.de and maybe Aeroclub can still come up with the smaller detail parts for the type. It was worth the double effort and this continues to add more color and trainer types to the RAF section of my models.

26 March 2018

Carmel J. Attard

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