Gerald Elliot 1/72 Shackleton Mk. II

KIT #: ?
PRICE: £9 in 1987
DECALS: None provided
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Vac form kit with white metal undercarriage and propeller blades


The Shackleton’s history background and development can be found in several reference books. Rather than repeating same I went through some of its functions in service operations when it formed No 38 RAF Squadron then based at
Hal-Luqa, Malta. In the years after the war circa 1948 a detachment of aircraft consisting of Lancasters was doing its share of patrol as well as an increasing amount of anti- submarine training and other exercises and sorties on search and rescue. By the end of March the Squadron Head Quarters moved to Malta and consisted of a detachment of nine aircraft from both 37 and 38 RAF Squadrons that originally formed at Ramat David conducting several duties over the Mediterranean and the Sahara Desert of missing aircraft and people. But in 1953 the Lancasters were beginning to show definite signs of wear and there was recorded instances of aircraft being scrapped for requiring “abnormal trim for take off”. In January a crew was lost after a mid air collision with a Valetta during a night anti-submarine exercise.

24th September 1953 the first Avro Shackleton arrived and by the end of the year all pilots and aircrew had been converted to the new aircraft. Those early days also brought the Shackleton to a close association with the early days of the Comet crashes. Several SAR duties were flown during January 1954 following a Comet crash near Elba and again in April when a second Comet crashed off the coast of Italy. Both accidents caused worldwide comments and resulted in the temporary withdrawal of the Comet from airline service. In same year airborne escort were provided for HM the Queen at start of her tour of Australia and in May the 38 Squadron Shackletons flew past HMY Britannia as she steamed past Malta. During 1955 Shackletons took part in more ASW exercises. A successful SAR sortie was flown in May when aircraft arrived on the scene just in time to witness the ditching of a Naval Expeditor. A Lindholme drop was carried out, a Dragonfly helicopter was homed in and the crew was saved. In July the Shackleton of 38 Sq provided the first anti-smuggling patrol round Cyprus, involving long tedious hours of flying that was to last for the next four years. At the end of these 4 years the Governor of Cyprus Sir John Harding sent a message of congratulations and in December the Squadron returned from El Adem.

Anti smuggling patrols from Hal-Luqa continued throughout spring 1956. During an exercise a Sea Venom crashed in the sea while making a simulated attack on a Shackleton and a number of sorties were flown to look for survivors. The same year President Nasser seized the Suez Canal and Shackleton of 38 Sq flew several reconnaissance sorties in advance of the possible military action against Egypt. Eventually a detachment of fully armed Shackletons was deployed to Idris. That was the time when they carried sand and black stripe markings on aft of fuselage and outer wings. In November Operation Musketeer, the Anglo French intervention of Egypt started the initial phase, anti-submarine cover was given to allied fleet as it closed the Egyptian coast. In September two of the Hal-Luqa based Shackletons were sent to Nicosia, Cyprus, for anti-smuggling patrols. More SAR duties by the Shackletons were conducted. 3 Sorties were flown to try and find an Admiral Calamai of the Italian Navy who fell overboard from his yacht in an area west of Sardinia. The Admiral was never found but signals of appreciation for the assistance given was received from the Italian Navy.

During a search for an F-86 Sabre pilot the attention of the crew on patrol was attracted by a heliograph flash and a successful Lindholme drop was made to the survivor in his dinghy. During 1957 there were ten SAR incidents with the Shackleton calling on duty on all of them. A lot of time was also spent in locating and shadowing the Russian warships and submarines as they passed through the Mediterranean. Three submarines were shadowed as they transit to Egypt in June. During 1958 an incident records a pilot of an F-100 Super Sabre who baled out at 49,000 ft and was located by the squadron Shackleton after he had been in the water for 40 hours. This showed his appreciation by entertaining the crew concerned in an unparalleled function at Wheelus Air Base where the US pilot was based. A rather more bizarre incident was a search for an unknown man who was seen by the crew of SS Singalhete Prince, 25 miles out at sea and swimming strongly towards Malta.

There were many other follow-up missions over the years many of which involving shadowing the Russian fleet ships as they crossed the central Mediterranean, locating missing servicemen in the desert, locating a missing Canberra jet aircraft of 39Sq that failed to return to Hal-Luqa base, locating an Avro Tudor that crashed in Turkey and had top secret sensitive equipment on board. This was spotted on a mountainside, which was close to the Russian border. Supplies were dropped and the equipment was recovered. The Shackleton remained the stalwart on a good number of missions long time after until its retirement in the form of an Airborne Early Warning system after aircraft types as the AEW Gannet went out of operational service, others were replaced by Shackleton Mk3s and eventually by Nimrod jet aircraft.


There are two ways that one can build a Shackleton Mk2 to a scale of 1/72. Either use a Frog/Revell Mk3 merged with Aeroclub conversion kit for a Mk2; or use a vac form Gerard J Elliot 1987 Kit. I opted for the latter method. The kit comes in a short run type of cardboard box having a side view picture of a Shackleton on the cover. A two-page spread instruction sheet, printed on one side contains part scale plans of a Shackleton Mk 3 fuselage and Mk1 plan view. Strangely enough the box I bought was for a Mk2 and here is where the confusion starts. Eventually I realised that the box was intended to build any of the three types but in reality it is not the case, proper parts for the Mk2 were not included and I had to do a lot of extra work to arrive to the Mk2. Even so the kit contained none of the clear parts suitable for a Mk1.The fuselage parts given conformed only to a Mk 3 which had a much deeper nose shape than the Mk2.

Kit is molded in white acetate. No decals are supplied with the kit and black silhouette sections are given to form bulkheads at different stations along the fuselage as this is a big vac form kit and would certainly strengthen the construction when added.  Strangely enough no bucket radome is given in spite that both the Mk2 and Mk3 use it. So one have to sort out this problem one way or another. 


A standard practise is followed as appropriate to building a vac form model. The white plastic pieces are scored and cut with a sharp knife. These are then placed on a medium/fine sand paper on a flat surface and gently rubbed down on mating edges of the moldings to remove excess plastic. A major surgery was carried out to forward under fuselage area as this had to be reshaped to the style adopted on the Mk2 which differed from the Mk3. (See diagrams). This required altering the lower surface of the nose and adjusting to conform to new shape using plastic card and filler. The four section formers/bulkheads are cut and glued to one half of the fuselages, Wheel well boxes are drawn and cut from backing plastic and fixed in lower wing halves in the inner engine nacelles and aft fuselage where the tail wheel is located. The round blister and square windows are drilled, then cut and shaped with a file.

A length of plastic strip forming a beam is positioned through slots in fuselage wing root section. This will allow the wing parts to be supported when glued in place. The cockpit office is build out of the scrap backing plastic. These include coaming, instrument panel, crew seats, central console etc. Interior painted black and crew seats had seat straps added, instruments painted and control wheels also inserted. I also added a couple of crew figures, which gives a degree of scale to the aircraft size. An observer/nose gunner seat was added to forward fuselage. The fuselage is closed and a radome part that I cast in aluminium using one from a Frog Mk3 kit, as pattern was super glued to the underside of rear fuselage.

Wings, engine nacelles, tail planes and fins and rudders all assembled in a sequence making sure that they are well aligned. Metal undercarriage is glued in place. Metal separate blades are also assembled to the spinners using super glue. Care was taken to fix these well as any miss-alignment of the contra rotating propellers would spoil the overall appearance of the completed model. A vac form clear cockpit was cut and carefully masked prior to gluing it to cockpit. Aerials, ECM roof attachment, and astrodomes were then added. More detail was also added to the wheel well and oleo legs. Tail wheel doors added and details as air intakes reshape to engines was done at this stage.


As no decals come with the kit I had to resort to ‘Controdecal’ set supplied at the time by Peter Sutcliffe. These were not as good and opaque as I would have wished but they served good in this circumstance, as they were the only ones on the market to come to the rescue. The model was airbrushed in semi gloss dark sea grey with white anti glare upper fuselage. Incidentally the white upper finish cooled the inside temperature of the fuselage by 12 degrees Celsius on the ones based at Hal-Luqa improving comfort to the air craw inside.  I decided to represent my Shackleton to one that made frequent visits to Malta during the 60s, i.e. a 210 Squadron aircraft with serial number WL787 coded T.


 I always loved the Shackleton, in fact all the three types and they were so common in our skies that anyone in the street could tell from their varying sound of the Griffon engine if it is a Mk1, a Mk2 or a more recent Mk3 type and even when heard from inside the house whenever the type flew past overhead. Long live memories of 37, 38 and 203 Squadron Shackleton that were based and served for so many years in Malta. Put in a nutshell this was a hopeless kit that with much effort has been turned into an acceptable scale model.


History of No 38 Squadron RAF 1916-1963

Carmel J. Attard

February 2011

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

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page