Drive a military vehicle on the public roads in most of the UK and, beyond a few stares which we can convince ourselves are down to admiration, you probably won't elicit much of a reaction. The worst you might suffer is the occasional comment about 'playing soldiers'. But that isn't necessarily the case in Ulster where there are areas best avoided if you are driving a green machine of any age or era. That's something members of the Ulster Military Vehicle Club (UMVC) have to bear in mind, and particularly so if their chosen vehicle happens to be one of the uparmoured Land Rovers that appeared on the TV news almost daily during what was known as 'The Troubles'. Drive one of those onto the wrong estate and the inhabitants are unlikely to draw the distinction between a lovingly restored ex-military vehicle and one that is in current service and possibly considered fair game.
As most students of aviation history, particularly the WW2 period, the RAF's Eagle Squadrons were manned by American pilots who joined up prior to USA's entry into the war in December 1941 and many of these air combat experienced pilots later transferred to the US Army Air Corps when the first elements arrived in UK in May 1943., when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth welcomed a nucleus of the 78th Fight Group, with their P-47 Thunderbolts to RAF Duxford. To commemorate that arrival a group of current historic warbird operators recently recreated 'The Eagle Squadron' to perform at UK air shows during this years summer season, commencing with the Imperial War Museum's Spring Air Show, flying aircraft representative of those operated by members of the original Eagle Squadrons' and the USAAC during the period. These include Hawker Hurricane Mk.X, Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I, Republic P-47G, and North American P-51 Mustang, plus Boeing B-17.
After a period of a decline in numbers, The Royal Air Force Model Aircraft Association is growing, and its well-attended spring showcase reflected the new ebullient mood. Due to other commitments for Flying Scale Models next day at The Indoor Scale Nationals, I could only attend RAFMAA Warbirds on the Saturday - but what a day! A full day's scale warbirding, in bright sunshine, and light winds! There is no event on the scale calendar like RAFMAA. First of all you have to be invited. Then you and your vehicle have to be booked in. You must also to take your passport as proof of identity. Once you get to the chosen Station - this year it was RAF Wittering - you have to be admitted by armed Guards. Once inside, you camp within the strictly fenced perimeter. All very reassuring. Next morning, the Briefing is as crisp and informative as you might expect, and the organisation of the flight line is second to none. Flying began briskly and continued all day. Please accept my apologies if one or two model details are a bit basic.
Glamour has much to do with pleasing aesthetic appearance, often coupled with notable achievement. In terms aesthetics, the Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8, was an 'achiever' largely thanks to the bravery and determination of the crews who operated it on the 'boring' but vital missions they flew over the Western Front during WW1. But the aesthetics is another story! More than four thousand R.E.8 artillery reconnaissance aircraft were built and the only conclusion one can draw from, this figure is that this aeroplane was one of the most successful flops in the history of aviation. (R.E. stands for Reconnaissance Experimental). It was successful in the award of large contracts to several constructors and in the results of hazardous sorties by its courageous flying crews, but it was a flop in that it was designed to an ill-conceived specification and, from the outset, was inadequate for the duties it was intended to perform.
Most scale modellers are familiar with the Ford / Stout 'Tin Goose' and Fokker F.VIi trimotors. However, Britain had its own three-engined airliner in 1930s, the Westland Wessex. The Wessex first flew on the 21st February 1929, and was originally fitted with the Cirrus engine of 95hp. It was designed for two crew and four passengers and proved to be a reliable design that impressed prospective operators with its economy and comparatively short take-off run. The Wessex was just the ticket when Sir Alan Cobham set up his air service between Guernsey and the UK mainland. Ten examples were built. Re-equipped with the Armstrong Siddeley Genet engine of 140hp, providing the Wessex with a maximum speed of 122mph/ and a range of 420 miles. For those who collect obscure facts of aviation, as a stop-gap, the Wessex prototype was first flown with an off-the-shelf Westland Wapiti rudder. It functioned so well, the design was retained for all ten production airframes.
The kit is presented as a limited-run package with three sprues of seventy-three delicately detailed plastic parts plus the addition of a fret of photo-etch and three resin components. The photo-etch is particularly pleasing as the machine-gun jackets and a full complement of harnesses are thankfully provided, which I feel is always is a big plus in such builds. The cockpit is just jammed full of detail and really builds into a fabulous interior. The bomb storage area between the pilot and navigator is one such section that is highlighted with etched metal bomb-holding cradles that rest over the lower floor bomb openings. These apertures can also be added as an etched section or a plastic piece. I chose the latter option as the fit of this section into the floor looked a bit ropey and the plastic piece could be manipulated more easily. The fuel tank on which the pilot sits is a resin piece as is the exhaust outlet pipe for the engine unit. Two pieces that do, from a detail point of view, benefit from being reproduced in resin.
As with its bomber sibling this kit has also taken a hammering on various Internet forums regarding its accuracy. To some extent this can be justified as similar mistakes have been made as with the earlier kit. The main topic of discussion has been the shape of the nose cone. I have been able to do a side-by-side comparison this time with an Italeri kit and the main difference is that the radome of the HobbyBoss kit tapers to a point too quickly whereas the Italeri kit has more of a curved profile. Regarding the other big problem (the only one I corrected on the IDS) the shape of the tailerons, which have been replaced. The new parts now have the correct squared-off tips and kinked leading edges. Revisions for the ADV include a completely new cockpit and forward fuselage, wing gloves, tailerons, chaff and flare dispensers and stores. Parts breakdown is also very similar to the earlier kit with a multi-part fuselage and the options of open flaps, slats, spoilers, airbrakes and thrust reversers.
This new kit comprises 27 injection moulded parts, 3 clear transparencies (canopy and two belly windows) and one resin part (engine front) and it makes up into an accurate replica of the this World War II workhorse fighter. The kit itself offers simple construction with the only area of caution being the correct positioning of the tubby fighter's landing gear assembly. Thankfully, the instructions clearly show the sequence to be followed and I experienced no problems interpreting them. Finely engraved panel lines adorn the kit throughout. No trimming was needed to install the five-piece cockpit, however the seat comes without any belts. Given the seat position height in the cockpit, the shoulder straps are clearly visible directly below the headrest through the canopy, so their addition was necessary, along with lap belts, which I fashioned from tape cut into thin strips. Simple painting enhanced the resin nine-cylinder R-1820 engine front and it fitted well within the cowl ring. Before I knew it, the basic airframe assembly was completed. I did have to use some filler on the wing halves and fuselage seams but that was minimal.
About 60 parts on a single sprue are moulded exceptionally clean as flash is limited to a minimum and the other imperfections like visible tool separation or sink marks are not present at all. The surface of larger parts is polished to a high gloss and features fine engraved panel lines, as are all other details like the cowling and gun bay cover fasteners, spent cartridges chutes or the interior of the wheel wells. The clear sprue contains a single canopy and gunsight; the former being both thin and crystal clear. The cannon barrels are perfectly cast in resin, but etched parts are not included. The decal sheet, printed by Techmod, is beautifully printed in perfect register and having good colour density, including a set of stencils. While the first box (#72037) offers machines from the European theatre of operation, this issue covers 'tropicalized' machines of the RAAF (BSI64, No.54 Squadron), USAAF (JK707, 307th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Group) and RAF (BR30I, No.249 Squadron & MA292, No.615 Squadron). The kit also provides many alternative parts, for instance different main wheels (five-spoke and with covers), propellers (de Havilland and Rotol), standard and short-span wing and two sets of upper wing gun covers.