|KIT:||Valom 1/72 Albemarle V|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Short run kit with resin and photo etch parts|
I'll be paraphrasing from the instructions on this one. "Due to a lack of locally produced raw materials and the need for a patrol bomber, a 1938 specification was drawn up for a twin engine medium bomber using non-strategic materials. The result was a mixed structure aircraft with the fuselage made of welded steel frames covered with plywood and wings with steel beams, again, plywood covered. The tail surfaces were wood with canvas covered control surfaces. Two 1590 hp Hercules engines powered the aircraft and it was armed with a four gun Boulton Paul turret.
The aircraft first flew in March of 1940 and while it flew well, the expected performance was not up to specifications. Not wanting to toss away all the development time, the aircraft was put into production as a special transport or glider tug, as high performance was not a requirement for those roles. It was also used for special ops from time to time. The upper armament was reduced to a twin gun turret that did not jut out into the air stream as much.
First operational use was during the Sicily invasion of 1943 where it was used to tow Horsa gliders, a role it also performed during the Normandy invasion and during the Arhnem battles. During these operations it also was used to drop lead paratroops who would then mark landing zones. In this role, ten paratroops could be carried in each aircraft.
In all, 602 aircraft were built of which only 32 were equipped as bombers. 14 were sent to the Soviet Union, but their subsequent use is unknown.
Valom has been producing short run kits for several years now and each one of their releases has been of a most interesting aircraft. As with all companies, the learning curve has been steep as their first efforts were rather difficult builds. However, this has been improving as time goes on and the last one I built, the XFV-1, was a lot less work and turned into a super model. This one shows that a lot of effort has been put into the kit. This is Valom's first twin engine aircraft and I have to say that I'm somewhat surprised at the subject. Though built in fairly good numbers, it is an aircraft of which few have heard.
Valom's plastic is well done and the level of detail is as good as any other kit of this type. The sprue attachment points are small though you'll still have to be careful removing some of the finer parts to prevent breakage. There are some ejector towers on the larger bits but these are commendably small and easily removed. All parts have somewhat thick mold seams that will need to be cleaned up and this includes the edges of parts and openings. The kit includes injected clear plastic parts that are well formed and though a bit on the thick side are clear.
There is a small photo etch fret for seat belts, instrument panel, intake grilles, radar antennas and the like. I should mention from experience that the belts are not designed to wrap over anything, else they will prove to be too short. Resin is used for wheels, engines, exhaust, intakes, guns and some other smaller items. I found it interesting that on some of the resin sprues, there are parts on both sides. An acetate instrument sheet is provided to go behind the panel.
Instructions are a nice booklet which offers a history, parts breakdown, and 19 assembly sequences. I've found in the past that the placement of some parts may not coincide exactly with what is shown, however, this set of instructions does have several additional drawings to help with parts alignment and placement. Still, I highly recommend dry fitting every part prior to cementing as standard procedure with any limited run kit. The kit requires 30 grams of nose weight and since there is no room in the nose proper, this will have to be placed in the forward bomb bay. I'd add a bit more just to be on the safe side.
Markings are provided for one aircraft from 287 squadron during the D-Day landings. It is in standard bomber colors with the wide D-Day stripes. Decals are superbly printed and appear to be in perfect register. Since Albemarles were pretty basic aircraft, if you have a reference for another unit and suitable aftermarket letter/number sheets, you could do any that was built. A full color three view painting guide is provided along with paint references for a number of different paint brands.
I do have to confess that I am quite impressed by this kit. Valom has done their homework and by providing a wing spar, it will take care of any concerns over proper wing placement. As with all limited run kits, care in construction is paramount and I'm sure some 'additional skill' will be needed, but the end result will be a most unusual aircraft.
My thanks to Valom for providing the review kit. Visit their website to see what other interesting models they offer.
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