Dirk's 1/72 Airfix Beaufighter "Reverse Lend Lease"

Discussion in 'Start to Finish Builds' started by dirkpitt289, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    Brief History

    Although a lot of histories have been written about individual combat aviation units, Beaufighters in the Night, by Colonel Braxton Eisel, stands out in a crowd because the subject it covers represents something quite out of the ordinary. For one thing, the unit concerned, the 417th Squadron, was one of the relatively few U.S. Army Air Force night fighter squadrons to see extensive operational service during World War II. In addition, the 417th represented a rare instance of "reverse Lend-Lease" in that it was one of only four USAAF squadrons to fly the British-built Bristol Beaufighter.

    British air combat experience showed the USAAF that it was ill-prepared for war in many respects. Not least among those deficiencies was the lack of a suitable night fighter. Although one highly promising design, the Northrop P-61 Black Widow, had been selected for production, it was still in the early stages development and would not become available for operational use until the end of 1944. In the meantime, the USAAF had to settle for the Douglas P-70. An adequate night fighter training platform, the P-70--which had been modified from the A-20 Havoc ground attack plane--lacked the performance required of a frontline fighter. For that reason four USAAF night fighter squadrons--the 414th, 415th, 416th and 417th--left their P-70s behind when they deployed overseas in May 1943 and were reequipped in Britain with Beaufighters.

    The Model

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    The Interior

    The interior filled with injector marks and funky shelves for the pilots to sit on.

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    With the help of this delicate modeling tool ;) we will remove the ejection marks and funky shelvie things for the pilot and crew.

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    We now have a blank canvas to work with.

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  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Looking good so far Dirk. It's an old kit from the 1950's, but pretty accurate overall IIRC. You've got some work ahead of you detailing that blank interior! Have a look at my MTO GB Beau, it might give you some ideas, but bear in mind, in 1/72nd scale, very little can be seen of the inside. If you need any pics or profiles, I think i should have some of that unit.
     
  3. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Very cool Dirk!
     
  4. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    I haven't been able to find much so i would welcome whatever you got. Thanks
     
  5. T Bolt

    T Bolt Well-Known Member

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    What Dirk, Your not going to use those beautifully molded crew members? :lol:
     
  6. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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  7. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Very cool! I was just reading about the reverse lend lease Beaus less then an hour ago.
     
  8. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Leave it with me Dirk, and I'll see what I can find.
     
  9. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Should provide hours of fun Dirk!:D
     
  10. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    After some rethinking I've decided NOT to go forward with scratch building a cockpit for this build. In a way I'm kinda disappointed because of all the research and material I gathered prior to the start of the build. I was really looking forward to it but with so many other things going on I guess one more hollow aircraft on display won't matter, eh? Besides I have another Beaufighter in the stash I can go nuts on at a latter time.

    I always joke and complain about these old Airfix models but the truth is they act as a great test bed for trying out new modeling techniques.

    Here's where we are right now.

    I panted the interior black to help hide the hole that will be the interior. I'll probably also smoke the canopy but I haven't decided yet.

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    Assembled fuselage

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    Wings also assembled

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    I guess we all do things for a reason and it looks like my decision to skip the cockpit to save time was a good decision because now I will need to spend some time on defects such as these.

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    The wings on this are just all messed up and lacking detail.

    The louvers in the intake were missing. After cleaning it up it would be nothing but a gaping hole without some attention.

    Here is what it should look like

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    This being a 1/72 scale model there isn't much that can be done but a little bit of plastic card and it looks a little better

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    The thing I like about the beaufighter was that it was armed to the teeth with six 303 machine guns mounted in the wings and four 20mm cannons. None of which Airfix choose to detail in this kit. Not to fear, a pin vice and some various size bits and we are good to go.

    I'm not familiar enough to know the reason but Bristol mounted two 303's in the left wing and four in the right. Seems it would throw off the ballance but what do I know. :oops:

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    Next it was time to add the four 20mm cannons.

    Here is what the real deal looks like

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    Another missing feature to the Airfix wings was the landing light in the left wing. This is what the real thing looks like

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    First I marked off the area with some strips of tape

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    Next I framed out the new hole in the wing with some plastic card

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    Here is what I used to make the landing light

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    All trimmed up

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    That's it for now. Thanks for looking
     
  11. T Bolt

    T Bolt Well-Known Member

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    Dirk, I looked at the pictures I took this last winter at the Air Force Museum, and the Beaufighter they have there is in American markings so it must be on of the "Reverse Lend Lease" aircraft. I can post the pictures if you want.
     
  12. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    Please feel free to post the photos that is unless its to much trouble. Thanks in advance8)
     
  13. T Bolt

    T Bolt Well-Known Member

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    Here they are Dirk. Hope they can be of help.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Tony Hill

    Tony Hill Active Member

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    Oh I LOVE the Beaufighter. My first ever "big" model was a 1:32 of "Cat's Eyes" Cunningham's bus.

    Looking forward to watching this baby progress, nice work so far!
     
  15. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Very nice work Dirk!
     
  16. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    Great pictures, thanks Glen
     
  17. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Really nice work there Dirk, I like the intakes and landing lamps. BTW, the reason for the 'odd' gun mounting was due to equipment and fuel tank fitting requirements, where space was needed where the ammo tanks would need to go.
     
  18. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    looks great Dirk.
    i've got this kit and have the wings and tail attached to the fuselage but all the other bits are still on the sprues mostly so if you need any spares just give me a shout and you can have them as i definatly wont be useing them.
     
  19. hawkeye2an

    hawkeye2an Active Member

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  20. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    Thanks Everyone for the kind words and the photos :oops:

    Thanks I'll keep that in mind. 8)

    I like said earlier. This is just a test bed for trying out some new skills. I'm not going to be going wild on this one but it is fun.
     
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