Classic Airframes 1/48 Battle Trainer
|Multi-media with vac and resin parts.|
The RR Merlin made wonders powering other single engined planes of that time, like the Spitfire or the Hurricane… But the Spitfire and the Hurricanes were far smaller ! Its performances, excellent for a bomber in 1936, were totally outclassed in 1939 and the Battle bombers were slaughtered over Belgium.
As the plane was easy to fly, it was converted into a target tug and a trainer. As vision from the back of the single cockpit was abysmal, a second cockpit was installed in place of the long canopy of the original Battle. I keep wondering if that changed anything, but it gave the bird the look of a basset hound which had swallowed a camel.
It’s Classic Airframes : styrene is thick, no locating pin, very delicate panel lines but small parts are rough. On the other hand, we have very nice interior parts, exhaust stubs and prop hub made in resin. The canopies are vacformed, and you get two sets of these for the hamfisted (I am one of those).
Some parts have to be scratchbuilt, like the gear retracting system arms you see under the wing.
Dry fitting tests leave you thinking some heavy work is going to be involved, especially at the wing to fuselage joint. That’s very accurate thinking.
Guess what ? I started working on the cockpits ! Not very original, but it works. The fuselage halves and the resin parts got painted Aeromaster Acrylics British Interior Green. Everything got a gloss coat, before some wash were applied. A flat coat followed and allowed working with pastel chalk powder. Another flat coat and I had two splendid tubs.
The seats are green, their back is leather, the belts are buff with silver buckles. The gloss/wash/flat/pastel chalk treatment was applied on them too.
The various detailswere painted black, and highlighted here and there with colour touches (as there’s not much color reference for Battle cockpits, I let my imagination go). The instrument panels were painted Gunze tire black before a drybrush with some white.
The resin cockpits are glued using CA glue. Then came the plates that cover the tubs, and you realize there that almost nothing can be seen once they’re in place. Too bad… And now trouble begins : all of this has to go inside the fuselage. There are easier tasks…
For the front cockpit, a serious thinninh down of the fuselage walls is needed (thus removing the paint and making a new coat mandatory). For the rear cockpit, I used the modeling equivalent for a fire axe. The guides for the hump have to go, and a length of sprue has to be glued across the fuselage behind the crear cockpit for the tub to fit. The resin parts have to be sanded down too.
Well, the exhaust holes have been blanked out with plastic card, the fuselage halves have been glued and the cockpits have been forced inside the fuselage. Now it’s time for installing the hump which will change a not very sleek plane into something as sexy as a car crash You know what ? Keep your putty tube handy !
Then, there go the wings. The plate that goes under the fuselage goes without fuss (or almost). Then it’s the wing upper parts time.
I checked it was going to be a nightmare, then I built the wings (putty here), and sawed off the leading edges in order to install the landing lights. As I had already spent my two hours of daily lucidity, I succeeded in correctly sawing off only one wing (I attacked the other a bit too far…). I decided to replace intelligence with tenacity, sawed the involved wing in the right place, glued back the wrongly sawed off bits and puttied the new joint lines. When things are complicated, it’s very easy to add some complication to them.
Then, I glued the wings to the fuselage. Well, sort of. There was quite a bit of plastic sheet between wings and fuselage, both on the leading edge and under the wing, to get something clean, as well as a lot of putty.
The tailplanes misbehave too (though are easier to tame).
Now, it’s time to sand the two buckets of putty, rescribe the lost panel lines, and to shoot a test paint coat for checking the sanding blemishes. Once this cycle has been done a couple of times, things can proceed normally.
Now, the canopies are masked, cut from their backing sheet, installed and adjusted. Time to breathe deeply, and off to the paintshop we go !
CAMOUFLAGE & MARKINGS
I chose the Polish squadron bird, because I wanted the sides of the beast yellow. So a coat of Tamiya flat white is shot, then, when it is dry, it’s time for the Testors RAF Trainer Yellow. Be patient, shoot lots of very thin coats, because it doesn’t cover a thing! With patience, things get in order. The leading edges and the sides are then masked.
The upper side of the beast is sand and spinach. I used Testors enamels colours. I shot the Dark Earth first, then scanned the instructions and printed them at the correct size, and cut off masks for the wings, tail planes and fin. I held the masks in place using BluTak, and shot the Dark Green perpendicularly from the surfaces.
The fuselage was painted freehand, but my Evolution airbrush helped a lot !
Then, I sprayed a gloss coat and decalled. The decals were very helpful and reacted very well to softening solutions.
Then, another gloss coat, a wash (burnt umber artist oil paint diluted in lighter fluid), a flat coat, some work with pastel chalk powder and a final flat coat.
As I always do, I kept the bits that break for the end.
The landing gears are simple, but the wheels need some putty, and the mudguards need to bec ut to adapt themselves to the gear. The rectracting systems are scratchbuilt according to the instructions and cyanoed in place, as their backing plate is resin.
The propeller blades and the hub are painted and glued, but some care is needed here as the hub is resin and things don’t hold that well by themselves…
Then, the antenna mast is glued, the antenna wire is made out of stretched sprue tightened with a lighted cigarette, and the landing light glasses are made with invisible adhesive tape. Voilà!
What can I say ? There’s work to do (lots of), result is ugly (very)… On the other hand, it’s original (very, too), and I like it.
This is not a model for the beginner, but it can be done with patience, putty, and average modeling skills. If you don’t want to do the yellow hunchback, I’d say you can use most of this article for building either the bomber or the target tug. But do not forget to thank Mr Jules Bringuier for releasing these kits!
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