Revell AG 1/72 Lancaster B.I/III

KIT: Revell AG 1/72 Lancaster B.I/III
KIT #: 04300
PRICE: $38.00 MSRP ($32.70 from GreatModels)
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New Tool

The Avro Lancaster was a British four-engine Second World War bomber aircraft made initially by Avro for the British Royal Air Force (RAF). It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley-Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF and squadrons from other Commonwealth and European countries serving within RAF Bomber Command. The "Lanc" or "Lankie," as it became affectionately known, became the most famous and most successful of the Second World War night bombers, "delivering 608,612 tons of bombs in 156,000 sorties." Although the Lancaster was primarily a night bomber, it excelled in many other roles including daylight precision bombing, and gained worldwide renown as the "Dam Buster" used in the 1943 Operation Chastise raids on Germany's Ruhr Valley dams.
The original Lancasters were produced with Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engines and SU carburettors. Minor details were changed throughout the production series - for example the pitot head design was changed from being on a long mast at the front of the nose to a short fairing mounted on the side of the fuselage under the cockpit. Later production Lancasters had Merlin 22 and 24 engines. No designation change was made to denote these alterations.
These aircraft were fitted with Packard-built Merlin engines and produced at the same time as the B I, the two marks being indistinguishable externally. The minor differences between the two variants were related to the engine installation, and included the addition of slow-running cut-off switches in the cockpit, a requirement due to the Bendix Stromberg pressure-injection carburettors fitted to the Packard Merlin engines.

There has been a lot of discussion about this kit ever since it was released a few months back. Naturally, there are the "I can't believe they missed something so obvious" comments from some, but for the rest of us, this is a kit that is both well done and reasonably priced.

There have been a number of 1/72 Lancasters and for decades we were pretty well limited to Revell and Airfix and Matchbox for kits in this scale. While none of these kits were truly horrid, it was becoming obvious that something more modern was needed. Hasegawa stepped into the fray a few years back with a new tool kit. It was instantly lauded and condemned, depending on how little or much you knew about the plane. Like all models, it had a few shape issues, but to the vast majority of builders, it was a blessing to have a modern Lanc.

When I heard that Revell AG was also releasing a new tool Lancaster, I have to say that I had to shake my head in wonder as why they would choose to put the funds into something we already had, but I'm pleased to say that this new kit is one that I know will do well for Revell. First off, it is about 40% cheaper than the Hasegawa kit (which retails for $60.00), something that is always pleasant to a modeler. Secondly, it is very detailed  and offers things that the Hasegawa kit does not. For instance, there are two complete Merlin engines that can be displayed without the cowling. There is also a wider range of bomb loads available in the kit.

Of course, this comes with a skill level of 5, which in Revell terms means for very experienced modelers and over 150 parts, so this isn't one of those overnight or weekend builds. In fact, it could be stated to be a fiddly build as there are no fewer than 76 construction steps and a myriad of small pieces. Now some of those pieces could be pared down by keeping the bomb bay doors closed (you have to cut them apart to pose them open anyway), or by not cutting apart the panels to the two engines, but it is nice to have those sorts of options.

The parts themselves are very nicely molded. Engraved panel lines, of course, and there is detail on the inside walls of the fuselage Some of this detail does cause sink areas on the exterior, unfortunately. There is a nicely done cockpit section that includes the bomb bay and a set of stub spars for mounting the wings. Those that know Lancs tell me that the outer wing panel dihedral is too shallow and needs to be increased. Few of us will be cutting the wings to increase this. One area that we should consider replacing are the main wheels. These are rather toy-like and even a bit square. Though the Lancaster did have smooth tread tires available, they were at least curved in cut-away, while these are nearly square. This could be an opportunity to rob one of your older Lancaster kits.

I guess those are the two biggies. The kit will allow either a Mk. I or Mk. III to be built and the instructions will provided clues as to which bits go to which version. It is, as you might guess, mostly small stuff that makes the difference. There are some parts not used, such as larger, paddle-bladed props, bringing hopes for other versions. Two markings options are provided, both in dark green/dark earth over black. Naturally, Revell wants you to use their paints (not available in the US) and so there is some color mixing required. The two aircraft are all very late war when the Luftwaffe was not much of a threat so the Brits moved to daylight bombing. One is the box art plane, a B.III, from 100 Sq with its yellow fins/rudder and wing tips. The other is a B.I from 9 Sq with white outer fins. Decals are nicely printed and provide instrument panels and seat harnesses as well as the usual insignia and data markings. 


So there you have it. Yet another new Lanc kit and one that has not been staying on store shelves for long. I'm sure that Revell AG will do well with this as it is a popular subject. The reasonable price also makes it quite attractive and it is a kit I know you will like.


July 2008

You can get this kit and others at GreatModels and at a discount, too!

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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