H.P. Halifax B.MkIII Dedication.

Discussion in 'Start to Finish Builds' started by Airframes, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Handley Page Halifax B.Mk III, Serial No. LK789, coded MP-L, 76 Squadron, RAF, April 1944. A 1/72nd scale diorama.

    Background.

    This is being built for Mike Harrison, who's Uncle, along with the entire crew of the Halifax, was killed on 25th April 1944, after returning from a raid on Karlsruhe, Germany.
    The Halifax, from 'B' Flight, 76 Squadron, was on approach to it's base at Holme on Spalding Moor (Spaldington), Yorkshire, when it was shot down and destroyed by a Me410 intruder. The crew, all from the RAFVR (RAF Volunteer Reserve), were returning from their 17th Operation, having started their Tour with the Squadron on October 22nd, 1943, with a trip to Kassel.
    Halifax LK789 was built at the Fairey Engineering factory at Stockport, Cheshire, a few miles south of Manchester, in early 1944, being delivered to 76 Sqn on February 22nd. Coincidentally, the last time I built a model of a Halifax was in the early 1980s, at which time I was living quite close to the Fairey factory which, at that time, was still an engineering company, although no longer building complete aircraft. One of my neighbours had worked at the factory, and another had been a Halifax pilot!
    This Halifax had completed 11 operations when it set out for Karlsruhe, and was completing its 12th, when shot down. Of the 17 Operations completed by the crew, the last nine were undertaken in this aircraft, 'L - Love'.

    The Model.
    The aim of this build is to provide a Memorial to Mike's Uncle and crew, and to all of the more than 55,000 members of Bomber Command who lost their lives during the course of World War Two, so that we can enjoy the freedom and peace they fought for.
    The intention here is to build a diorama depicting the Halifax being 'bombed up' at its dispersal at Holme, in preparation for its 12th, and final, mission.
    There is a secondary aim also, which is to (hopefully) help those who are newcomers to the modelling hobby, by explaining and illustrating how to go about building a rather basic kit, compared to today's 'shake and bake' offerings, in terms of planning, what to look out for, and how to correct errors or problem areas, as well as introducing some simple scratch-building techniques which can go some way to improve an otherwise 'empty' model.
    To this end, and because it's the only game in town, I will be using the venerable Airfix kit, which was first released in the early 1960s, and has been re-released on numerous occasions, although currently out of general circulation. At the time of first release, the kit was considered 'state of the art', with what was then finely detailed parts, and rivet details etc. Of course, by today's standards, this is now seen as bordering on crude, but the basics are there, and a reasonable model can be produced out of the box, and with a little work, not unexpected on such an old kit, a very nice model can result - I hope!
    The problem areas, and the solutions to these, will be explained and illustrated wherever possible, as the build progresses, but, as with any build, the first stage (after the research) is the planning, and in this case, that includes the diorama setting, and what is needed on the model to fit the scene to be portrayed.
    A diorama is a picture in 3D, and all elements of this picture should work together to produce the desired image - the picture would look wrong if the main subject (in this case the aircraft) was just dumped haphazard into the middle of an unrelated scene. This means that the base has to be planned around the aircraft model, and the model has to be built to fit with the 'action elements' in the scene being depicted. Each and every item has to have a reason for being there, and each section element has to be 'doing something' to complete the picture, rather than just being there for the sake of it.
    Even in the relatively small scale of 1/72nd, a heavy bomber dispersal and its associated equipment and personnel, takes up a lot of space, therefore some compromises have to be made, without detriment to the 'picture', in order to produce a finished product of manageable proportions.
    This is where the planning pays dividends, by allowing the builder to construct the scene comfortably, and building the aircraft model to the requirements of the desired scene.

    The Build.

    As the model will be shown being 'bombed up', this will entail some surgery, as the kit is moulded with the bomb bays, and all hatches, in the closed position. So, before attacking plastic with knife or saw, it is necessary to check that those areas which need to be removed, can be removed, without affecting the rest of the construction, whilst maintaining the structural integrity of the model. Checking this will also help in identifying if the mouldings are accurate, or not, as the case may be - it would be a bit embarrassing to find that one has cut away the wrong piece!
    An overall inspection and test-fitting of the parts, will also indicate where any corrections or modifications may be needed, and allow the planning and measurement for any intended scratch-built areas, such as extra interior detail.
    So, on with the first stage of the build process, with the photos below explaining what's what.
    PIC 1. The Airfix kit in one of its later issues, obtained from a specialist dealer I use quite often, at 'normal' prices.
    PIC 2. Using scale plans I've had for over 30 years, the fuselage halves were checked for general dimensional accuracy and location of hatches, turrets etc. This exercise indicated that the fuselage (not including nose transparency and rear turret) is 2mm short at the tip of the nose, and 2.5mm short at the tail turret platform, equivalent to a combined overall length discrepancy of approximately 1 foot. To be honest, this doesn't concern me too much, as the overall 'look' is fine, and this will not be noticed once the model is built and painted. What is possibly more important, is the location of the mid-upper turret which, in the kit, is slightly too far forward. With some surgery, this could be corrected, but again, in the overall appearance, it's hardly noticeable, so I'll accept it as it is.
    PICS 3 and 4. Something which would be noticeable is the shape and thickness of the opening at the bomb aimer's position, so this will be filed down, thinned and re-profiled to give a more scale appearance on the finished model.
    PIC 5. Test fitting pays dividends - ten fold! A first test fit shows that the extreme tail area is mis-aligned, and investigation showed that this is due to the locating pins and holes being slightly 'out', no doubt due to the age of the moulds. This was simply rectified by enlarging the locating hole, and filing down the pin, to allow some vertical movement when the time comes to join the fuselage halves. The rather 'heavy' turret fairing will also be thinned later.

    Rather than make a long, complex initial post, I'll split this introduction, and continue in post Number 2, immediately following this.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Really looking forward to this Terry, and fantastic idea making it a tutorial!
     
  3. deckape

    deckape Member

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    Ahoy Terry
    Looking forward on your Halibag dedication build I know you will do her justice I love those old airfix kits they bring out a lot of memories for me they still are tops and cant be beat. This is going to be a fun watch.

    Boat Two thumbs up buddy
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Thanks Evan. With a couple or three new modelling members, and many of the 'old' questions being asked again, I thought it might help a bit. Might as well pass on some of my experience - can't take it with me when I pop me clogs!
    So, to continue with the introductory bit, the inspection of the kit and test fitting goes on, looking for any problem areas, and deciding what needs to be done to correct things, or to modify the kit parts to suit the requirements of the diorama.
    PIC 1. With the fuselage halves taped together, the surface and jointing faces are inspected carefully. The first thing that's apparent is the profusion of rivets, rather heavy for this scale but, I must add, not as pronounced as they were when the kit was first released, moulded in black plastic. These will be lightly scraped or sanded down, leaving just a ghost image, which should look acceptable under paint and the various clear coats. In this scale, I'm not going to spend hours re-scribing panel lines which would not be seen on the real thing unless a couple of inches away, unless they are those which are prominent on the real aircraft.
    Further inspection reveals that the joints are not perfect, with areas which might possibly need some attention, and others where there is a slight mis-alignment, a sign of the age of the moulds. Note the uneven appearance of the two escape hatches on top of the fuselage, which would cause problems when it's time to fit the transparencies. These, and other similar flaws, will be corrected by some simple trimming or sanding before any construction starts - it's much better, and far easier, to correct such minor things at this stage, rather than have them cause major problems later.
    PIC 2. Moving around the fuselage, and checking the moulded panel lines for the bomb bay doors, shows again that these are mis-aligned. This is not a problem, as the 'doors' will be open on the finished model. The kit moulding will be cut out and discarded, as the doors on the Halifax, when open, were in two parts per side, with each side split into two sections towards the rear, so these will be scratch-built using a suitable gauge of plastic card, which will be illustrated much later in the build.
    PICS 3 and 4. What has been identified, which is more important, are the actual dimensions of the bomb bay, and its postion relative to the H2s housing as moulded. Note the position of the aft end of the bomb bay on the scale plans, compared to the kit mouldings. Again, thanks to planning and test-fitting, this is not a problem, as the error can be corrected when cutting out the bomb bay aperture.
    PIC 5. When checking the port side elevation, it was found that the main crew entry hatch, the rounded rectangular moulding above and slightly aft of the H2s blister, is not quite the correct shape. As the hatch is going to be modelled in the open position, once again this minor error can be rectified during the 'surgery' stage. The hatch cover itself folded upwards and inwards, and will not be seen, in this scale, on the finished model, so that can be ignored - unless I get all detail-concious and add it anyway!
    PICS 6 to 8. Finally, as far as the fuselage stage is concerned, the interior can be assessed. The only area where anything will be seen on this model is the cockpit and nose, and even then, not much will be visible fully in this scale. The kit provides parts for the cockpit and Flight Engineer's station, behind the pilot, with the latter's seat on the raised floor, 'suspended' above the wireless operator. This arrangement is shown in the full-size cutaway mock up, photographed at Elvington. The steps leading down to the nose compartment, and the Navigator's Port-facing seat, are moulded onto the Starboard fuselage half, and these will be enhanced or replaced as needed. On the Port fuselage half, beneath the two side windows, are mouldings representing the Wireless Operator's table (left), and the Navigator's desk (quite some detail for an early 1960s kit), which are separated, when fitted, by the forward bulkhead part, which also incorporates the cockpit instrument panel on its upper section. These will form the basis, improved as required, for the extra detail which will be scratch-built at this stage in construction, and the Bomb Aimer's compartment will have a floor made and fitted, along with some basic representations of the bomb selector and fusing panels, and 'computer' for the MkXI bomb sight, plus the sight itself. Internal fuselage framing will also be added, and some basic cockpit detail and Flight Engineer's compartment detail. Anything aft of this area will be totally invisible, so apart from painting in the appropriate colour, no further interior work will be tackled.
    However, as the fuselage bomb bay will be open (the Halifax also has bomb bays in the inner wing panels), a bomb bay 'roof' *** mid-fuselage floor will have to be scratch-built, along with the front and rear bomb bay bulkheads, and this will need to be done before any other internal work can be completed.
    That's it for now, and I hope you find this of interest, and to those new to the hobby, I hope it is also useful and informative.
    The actual build for this Memorial diorama will commence in the next installment, coming very soon!
     

    Attached Files:

  5. Vengeance

    Vengeance Member

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    Great idea Airframes, I'll be watching with great interest, already learning!
     
  6. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Thanks, and good to know at least one person finds it useful!
     
  7. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Not just one Terry! :)
     
  8. destrozas

    destrozas Well-Known Member

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    Terry sincerely hope the development of Halifax as I have the same model you have here, so I have a great example of what the plane, I have not looked at the information they wanted to take time and do it well, you know details by all sides. I'm torn between the B MK III or Special that I also like very much.
    good to start early so that you have to put your other 6 in this good work.
     
  9. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    top stuff Terry, this WILL be good!
     
  10. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    With Wayne and Evan. Terry, a such tutorial is always welcome greatly. :cool:
     
  11. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Looking very much forward to this build Terry. Once again, I'm pleased that you took up Mike's desired project with enthusiasm. Mike was a big help to me in researching my Me410 build and has also accumulated information which he shared with me on the LW pilot who shot down his uncle's Halifax.
     
  12. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Jolly good show old boy! :thumbright:
     
  13. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  14. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    I'm going to be watching this with great interest. Not so much for the subject itself but because its such an old kit with a lot of TLC required. Its going to be great to see how someone with your skills handles this one.
     
  15. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Wow! Thanks very much to all of you for the votes of confidence!
    As with those other models I've built for relatives of aircrew lost, or since deceased, this one has special meaning to me, almost as much as it will to Mike, the eventual owner of the finished model. Building such a model, with a positive link to the history of the actual aircraft, and the men who flew in her, brings things in to perspective, and really reinforces the feeling of re-creating a moment in history, in miniature.
    There are some, perhaps misinformed or somewhat narrow-minded, who may decry models and modelling as 'kid's stuff', and others who may prefer an 'off the shelf' die cast or such, but of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, most, if not all of us on this forum, share the same or similar interest, if not passion, for aviation of the period, and specifically aviation, and all that it encompasses, from World War Two, which, of course, has a major bearing on the models produced by our members, either at 'Master class' level, or by the youngest 'beginner', who has never before picked up a model kit. Because of this, we, as modellers and spectators of the modelling, are not only enjoying a relaxing (some of the time!) hobby which is creative, and delivers a finished product at the end of the labours and expenditure, as well as gaining knowledge through research, and we are also creating a 'picture', in tangible 3D, of a period in history which otherwise could be lost for all time.
    Many of you will be aware that I am also a sort of aviation artist; but any painting or drawing I produce of an episode or event in aviation during WW2 can only be as accurate or 'descriptive' as my now degenerating skills will allow, to my interpretation of the event or scene concerned. However, with a model which is produced as accurately as is reasonably and physically possible, and in this case, as a diorama, with accurate and authentic 'set dressing', that same event or 'scene' then becomes, in its own way, the 'real thing', recreated in miniature, looking as it would have done at the time, without errors of proportion or perspective which often have to be introduced into a 2D image in order to look 'right', and with colours and textures as they should be, as opposed to the artistic licence sometimes needed to create lighting effects, moods or movement in a painting.
    My primary aim is to achieve this authenticity to the extent where the finished diorama will depict the scene as it would have been, or as close as possible given the lack of photographic assistance, in order to create a tangible, and worthwhile memorial.
    In attempting this, I thought it about time to pass on some of the knowledge and experience gained in fifty years of modelling, albeit that the physical skills and abilities, as with the painting, are degenerating due to disability, so that others may benefit in some way, however small, from techniques and practices that I, and I'm sure a number of others like me, take for granted as being 'the norm', assuming that everyone knows and uses these techniques and practices.
    I just hope that the tutorial part of this build proves helpful to some, and interesting to others, and, more importantly, I hope that the finished diorama is worthy enough to be a memorial to the crew of the Halifax, and the 55,000 other young men lost during the course of Bomber Command operations in World War Two.
    I will post the first stages of the actual build very soon, but meanwhile, thank you all again for your interest and confidence in this project.
     
  16. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    Terry do you have this info ?

    the Hali shot down by II./KG 51 pilot Leutnant Wolfgang Wenning as his 5th victory.
     
  17. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Thanks Erich. Yes, Mike has provided a lot of background information, including a link to info and pictures of the crash site, and an account by another crew (who obviously survived) on the same operation.
    Once I've fully read all of the documents, I'll be including some snippets at relevant points in the build.
     
  18. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    This will be, lack of a better word old boy, magic!
     
  19. woljags

    woljags Active Member

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    good topic Terry,i'm sure it will be a great build and interesting thread to follow
     
  20. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    wil be following this one Terry not just for the tips of the trade but i have enjoyed your other commision builds
     
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