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Hasegawa's new 1/72 scale
Avro Lancaster B.Mk.III

by Alan Roffey

 

Lancaster B.Mk.III



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Introduction

 

This is the first Lancaster I have made since I was a boy. That`s some time ago. The options until this Hasegawa kit came along were not for me. The Tamiya 1/48 is too big to keep anywhere, and the 1/72 Airfix and Revell kits are too old for my liking. I like the Lanc, but I`m no expert on it, so thanks go to my mate Chris for his advice on some of the details.

What gave me even more inspiration than usual to build this kit, was that three friends and myself crawled all over the inside of the real thing at Coningsby, UK, home of the BBMF. This was an amazing opportunity, and it made us realise how difficult it must have been for the crews. All four of us had a little difficulty in negotiating the main spar, and we were not wearing any flying equipment. As for sitting in the rear turret; well, I wouldn`t have fancied that job.

I digress. Back to the kit. Make no mistake, this is a big project. I made the parts count 278, the instructions consist of 16 sections, doing the payload is a job in itself, and it was a bit of a monster to spray.

 


 

Construction



Although a very good kit the cockpit is, frankly, very basic. However, I`ve never really been a `cockpit modeller`, so this didn`t bother me on a kit of this scale with a closed canopy. The same can be said for other interior areas, such as the bomb aiming platform, which I don`t recall being much like the kit`s rendition. I only did a bit of dry brushing with Aeromaster Sky and Rub `n` Buff, and used the kit transfers for instrument panels. Some care was needed. I almost got the cockpit floor the wrong way up. Hasegawa tell you to paint the yellow disc on the pilot`s head armour facing forward, but I`m sure I`ve seen photos with it facing to the rear.

The fit of the fuselage halves was good, and dry fitting the wings showed a similar story. I`ve read articles about how this kit can be painted, transferred and weathered in sub assemblies before putting the whole thing together. Well, while there are some advantages to this, such as handling, this sort of approach isn`t for me, so I stuck the wings on, and the tail, even before I`d put the engine nacelles on them. However, I did of course leave the turrets off to prevent damage.

 

 

I nearly always make at least one fundamental error in a kit through simple carelessness or not following instructions. It must be something to do with age and/or eyesight. On this one it was getting part D3 the wrong way up in one of the undercarriage bays, but the correct way up in the other. This part I presume is something to do with the undercart activation system, but it doesn`t really show with the undercarriage in place.

It was about this time I noticed something I`d never noticed on the Lanc before; the way the outboard nacelles slant inwards slightly at the bottom when viewed head on, unless Hasegawa have it wrong, or it`s an optical illusion?

Anyway, I decided to depict an aircraft with those pesky small windows along the fuselage painted out, as per the wonderful box artwork, but they still had to be installed of course. It`s not at all clear to me why these were included in the real aircraft in the first place. What purpose did they serve? Anyway, with hindsight, it would have been a lot easier to affix these prior to attaching the wings!

 



 

Painting and Markings


Paint

I elected to spray the upper surfaces first, as this would make masking easier between the black and the upper colours. I`ve always thought RAF Dark Earth was inappropriately named, as it isn`t really dark at all, is it? Anyway, this went on first as it`s lighter than RAF Dark Green (which was appropriately named). I usually pre-shade, but I didn`t on this model as you cannot pre-shade black, and I wanted to try something different on the upper surfaces, more of which later. After marking out the camouflage pattern with a pencil, I started to spray the green free hand, but didn`t like the look of it, so stopped and masked off with children`s play dough to give a much sharper (and more authentic) demarcation. In the photos you maybe able to spot on the nose of the aircraft where I didn`t redo the free hand bits. This is because I class myself as sometimes being a bit of lazy model maker. Time is a premium.
Then masked off for the black on the undersides, and the main paint job was complete. It sounds easy when you read it like that in articles, but it seemed to take for ever. It`s a lot of aircraft to spray. My instrument of camouflaging was a Badger 150.

I don`t think a lot of modellers do this, but what I like to do next is put the undercarriage on. It`s just a habit I`ve got into over the years. The instructions were not too clear on the location points for this, but I figured it out, although a lot of dexterity was required. Something else I hadn`t noticed before is how the undercarriage legs lean backwards slightly at the bottom. Not very observant am I. One sad thing about this kit is that the tail wheel looks like it came out of the Tamiya 1/48 box, it`s so obviously over scaled. I don`t understand how they got this wrong.



Decals

Now some Humbrol gloss coat for the transfers (the fact that I say transfers instead of decals is an age thing), which I only spray where the transfers are going to be placed. Another strange habit of mine. Not being a Lancaster expert, I made a hash of the red lines on the underside, putting them in the wrong place. I should have consulted my friend first. Apart from that, they went on well with Micro Sol.

 

 

I`ve read a few articles where people have complained about Hasegawa transfers, saying they are too thick, but I`ve always found them the best, and commendably thin. However, they did leave the letter `R` out of the word `Reich`. Oh dear! I`m afraid this was slightly beyond my hand painting skills to correct, so I had to leave it. Never mind.



Weathering

As the black could not be pre-shaded, I post faded the panels with Aeromaster matt varnish with two or three drops of Aeromaster Dirty White. This breaks up the blandness of the underside and the fuselage sides.
On the upper surfaces I sprayed along panel lines with quite a thin mix of black and brown artists oils thinned with lighter fuel. Why lighter fuel? Well it was just something I read in an article, and I`ll try anything once. I wasn`t entirely satisfied with the effect, and felt that perhaps a wash all over by hand brush may have been better. Perhaps next time. I then varnished with a mix of Polyscale satin and matt, but felt this looked a bit too shiny for a Lanc, so went over again with Humbrol matt coat, but lightly to leave an eggshell effect instead of flat matt.

The exhaust staining is Humbrol matt black streaked over the wings, with Aeromaster US light gull grey on top of this near the exhausts. This colour seemed a good match with colour photos in Roger Freeman`s `RAF of the Second World War in Colour`. It was also sprayed on the nacelle sides.

Oil staining with thinned Tamiya semi gloss black was applied around the engine areas, and a little Rub `n` Buff Pewter colour was added for paint wear.

I didn`t chip the prop blades as looking at many photographs from three books did not produce any examples of Lancaster propellers in such a condition.




 

Finishing Touches



Removing canopy masks always gives me a sense of satisfaction, and it was no exception on this kit, the Eduard masks doing the job very well. In forcing the forward bomb door actuating arms in place, I dislodged the bomb aimers platform. This was very difficult to relocate through the opening for the front turret, and after affixing said turret, the part came off again, so I`m afraid I gave up on it!

The bomb load on a Lanc makes you realise that, although we love these aircraft for many reasons, it was a machine capable of much death and destruction. 18 250 pounders and a Cookie; that`s a lot of explosive.

 

 

The bomb doors fitted OK, but I wondered from looking at photos if they are a bit too far open.

As this model is 1/72, I wanted to use .05 `rig line` for the aerials, but frankly my eyesight could not cope with this. I simply could not see it clearly enough to put into the drilled location holes. Therefore, I had to resort to .15 instead. I painted it Citadel Colour Boltgun Metal. I used to use enamel paint for this, but found that over time, it shrank the wire and snapped aerials off!

One problem I always get from handling is finger acid wearing off paint from wing trailing edges. I found wearing a surgical glove unsatisfactory as it affects my sense of touch. Painting over the affected areas is not appropriate as the colours look different because of the weathering process. Therefore, I rub the edges with graphite powder.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this model. I am hoping Hasegawa/Tamiya/Trumpeter will continue the theme with a Stirling or Halifax.


 

 

Additional Images

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Images and Text Copyright 2006 by Alan Roffey
Page Created 23 March, 2006
Last Updated 22 March, 2006

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