Avro Lancaster B Mk. I W4964/WS-J "Johnnie Walker", No. 9 Sqn. RAF, HKM 1/48 (1 Viewer)

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Staff Sergeant
Jan 25, 2009
Newark, UK
This is a build I've had in mind for a couple of years now, albeit I'm going to be doing it in a form very different to how I initially envisaged it.

There's a bit of background to this. A while back I bought the Revell 1/72 Lanc, the one with the striking yellow-finned bomber on the box, and that was the scheme I originally intended to do. However my imagination was caught by the other OOB scheme, W4964/WS-J with its distinctive Johnnie Walker whisky nose art, as flown by No. 9 Squadron from RAF Bardney. "J-Johnny" was one of the few "ton-up Lancs", returning from over a hundred missions unscathed. I then found that the aircraft has its very own exhaustively researched and hugely detailed biography in Gordon Thorburn's Luck of a Lancaster:


Amazon product ASIN B00FOGG2HU
View: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Luck-Lancaster-operations-killed-action-ebook/dp/B00FOGG2HU/
I managed to get hold of a second-hand (ex-library, actually) copy and read it from cover to cover in a few days. I'll go into the story of J-Johnny in more detail in the course of the build, but suffice to say that I was captivated by this particular Lanc (I wasn't aware at the time that I'd actually seen a part of the aircraft in my local air museum many times – more on that later!) Deciding I wanted to do her and the brave airmen who crewed her justice within my modest abilities, I switched to the new-tool Airfix kit, which apparently is a more faithful representation, particularly where wing dihedral is concerned; I don't normally care about these things too much, but as I say I wanted to do the best I could with this one. I got hold of the appropriate decal sheet from Kitsworld (much better printed than the Revell decals, it has to be said), and it's sat in my stash ever since.

Recently I've jumped scales from 1/72 to 1/48 and have gone back to my first love, the Supermarine Spitfire, and have been enjoying working in this aging-eyesight-friendly scale. Then I read about the release of a new 1/48 scale Lanc kit by Hong Kong Models, coming in at an eye-watering hundred quid plus, but this is a special one, right? So while I've not yet worked out where I'll put the thing, that's what I've decided to build.

At present I have the kit on back-order, and am in no desperate rush to get started, but with that saying about a journey of a thousand steps in mind I've decided to get a thread started. This build will probably take a good while, in that I'm going to do bits of it when I feel like taking a bit of time off the Spits rather than doing a one-push build. I feel it's one that's worth taking my time over.

Thanks for looking in.

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That's the fella... more details here:

The section of fuselage was used as a shed for many years before being rescued and given to the museum!

If memory serves W4964 actually did 108 ops rather than 106; certainly the op tally on the nose was out by two in the later stages of her career. I'm going to have to re-read the book.
Well, with the arrival of my kit now very imminent my thoughts are turning to actually starting this beast.

I plan to tell the story of J-Johnny as I build her, and to this end I've started re-reading Colin Thorburn's biography of the airframe, Luck of a Lancaster, also in order to refresh my memory of her career and decide how exactly I want to portray this famous Lanc. In the course of her service her appearance deviated from the norm in several ways, all of them temporary; I am already quite sure established that every representation of W4964 out there is incorrect in some way. Briefly, this comes down to how the following features are represented on the aircraft:
  • Op tally markings and additional nose-art, which would have only been complete at the very end of her service with 9 Squadron;
  • Bulged bomb doors to accommodate a Tallboy bomb for Operation Paravane, the first Lancaster bombing raid on Tirpitz in September '44. This is widely thought to be W4964's 100th op (actually it was her 102nd); were the standard bomb doors refitted for the remainder of her service? (If, indeed, she was carrying a Tallboy – some of the 9 and 617 Squadron Lancs on this trip were carrying – coincidentally – "Johnnie Walker" mines).
  • Yellow-outlined fuselage codes for daytime bombing ops.
  • White-painted tailfins, marking out W4964 as a lead aircraft on a particular op (I suspect in August 1944) but not necessarily thereafter.
  • A hole in the belly with a machine-gun sticking out of it – therein lies a tail!
More on these conundrums (conundra?) in due course…


Maybe I misunderstand something:
107 operations (performed by this particular machine, )
244 crews (O.K. , crews changed, went on vacation, etc.)
103 killed in action? in an unscathed plane?
Maybe someone abused stats, or the title is misleading.
Perhaps killed in further missions in another planes?
Perhaps killed in further missions in another planes?

Yes, exactly that. For example: W/O H.E. Wood, pilot of W4964 on two ops (her first to Stettin, 20/4/43 and her fourth to Pilsen, 13/5/43), lost his life while flying ED558/WS-N on an op to Bochum, 12/6/43 (shot down by night fighter pilot Hauptmann Manfred Meurer of 3/NJG. 1, flying a Bf 110 G-4 from Venlo airfield). Buried at Bergh (Zeddam) Cemetery:


Source: Bergh (Zeddam) Protestant Cemetery | Cemetery Details | CWGC

Buried alongside his crewmate, killed on the same op, rear gunner W/O H.G. Watson, who flew just the one op with W4964, the first to Stettin.

The appendices of the book are an absolute goldmine of information.

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