Book Review: Flight Craft 18 “Special” – British Military Test and Evaluation Aircraft The Golden Years 1945 – 1975

17227
Flight Craft 18

This volume of the Flight Craft series differs somewhat to those I have reviewed previously. Typically, the books concentrate on a single aircraft type such as The Spitfire or the ME-109 for example, this one differs in that it covers a genre of aircraft.
Prototypes and test aircraft are always at the forefront of development, and they can often be radically different to the aircraft they are intended to replace, this book covers British Test and Evaluation aircraft during what was probably the busiest period of aircraft development for the British industry, 1945-1975.
This post war environment and the rapid shift in predicted warfare tactics this period bore witness to massive developments being made in everything from avionics to electronics, weapons to power plants. This volume concentrates mostly on the colour schemes and markings of these aircraft during this period.
The book starts in the 1940’s with 1945-1950 being looked at. The chapter begins, as do the others in the book, by describing the conditions and developments the period was to bear witness to and there plenty of fantastic photographs and the superb full colour profiles of aircraft that we are by now used to finding in this series of books. There are profiles of some fantastic and unusual aircraft in this section including the Armstrong Whitworth AW.52, Saunders-Roe’s SR.A1 and De Havilland 108 Swallow.
Next, we move into the 1950’s, a decade that due to the Cold war saw much development of British aircraft, it witnessed the quest for supersonic fighters. There are profiles of what have become very famous aircraft in the Gloster Meteor, the English Electric Canberra and the Hunter, accompanying these are profiles of test versions of the Lincoln B2, the Avro Lancaster B.1 (special) and the Fairy Gannet amongst many other aircraft.
The 60’s is looked at next, which was a decade of decline really for the British aviation industry, the cancellation of the TSR.2 project is often looked at as the focal point of this decline. This was a project that so much of the British aviation industry was focused on that its cancellation was to have massive repercussions for the sector. The increase in development costs for new aircraft types was causing more collaborative efforts with other countries to come to the fore. Still this meant that aircraft such as the HP.115 and BAC 221 which were produced as part of the Anglo-French Concorde project for example. The 60’s did see the birth of one of the real highlights of British aircraft design the Hawker P.1127 was developed into what was to enter service as the Harrier. There are also references for aircraft such as the Javelin and some rotary wings in the form of the Westland Scout and Whirlwind.
Finally the book moves into the 70s and there are more variants of the Canberra, Javelin and Hunter looked at along with things like the Vickers Viscount, Handley Page Hastings, there’s even a VC-10 and a Shackleton to name just a few of the aircraft in this chapter and there are again rotary wings in the form of Westland Wessex and the Sea King.
Overall this book is a fantastic resource for the modeller, again as with all Flight Craft books this should provide great references and inspiration to maybe get a conversion or two on the bench or look at reproducing some of the fantastic and rarely seen schemes the test aircraft of the post war period wore with pride. The photographs and profiles are good quality and the accompanying text and captions are informative. This volume is definitely one you should pick up if you like aircraft of the period.

I would as always like to thank Pen and Sword books for allowing me the opportunity to review this book. You can pick up your copy of this book, along with many more great titles at their website.

Advertisements

Book Review: Flight Craft 16 Hawker Hunter in British Service

16511
Flight Craft 16: Hawker Hunter in British Service

This issue in the Flight Craft series focuses on the Hawker Hunter in British service. This is an aircraft that has always been able to lay claim to being one of the most elegant jets to have graced the RAF in service. It is a design that despite its emergence during a period of rapid advancement in British aviation, was able to remain in service until the final flight of XL612 in 2001.

The Flight Craft series are fantastic resources for modellers and this edition is no exception, as always the aircraft’s history is looked at, starting rightly with the prototypes of the design we move swiftly through the various marks to enter RAF service. The concise descriptions of the upgrades each revision saw are often accompanied by the reasons the modifications were sought, all alongside the usual excellent standard of photographs that are always present in the series.

Next the book continues by covering the two seat variants of the aircraft in a similar manner and then moves on to take a brief look at the naval GA.11 variant, again all accompanied by great quality images and captions.

The Camouflage and Markings section comes next with its array of fantastic artwork covering many of the types and schemes the Hunter has been found in during its history. This section has been my favourite part of previous Flight Craft titles and this is no exception. The quality of artwork really is fantastic and the with the variety of schemes covered you are sure to find inspiration for a future build.

Modelling the Hunter is covered next with images of some great completed kits and conversions before finally the book moves on to look at the Hunter’s cockpit, this includes some great detail photography of the cockpits and ejection seats.

Overall this book is yet another great addition to the Flight Craft series, if your planning a build in the future of pretty much any variant of the aircraft in British service then there should be something for you in this book.

I know I say this at the end of every book review but my thanks really do go out to Pen &Sword for the continued opportunity to review titles like these. You can pick up your copy of this book, along with many other fantastic titles over at their website.

SR struggles! (Entirely of my own making)

20190511_202414.jpg
Well the SR-71 progress is almost back where it was a week ago!

Sometimes kit’s just do not want to be built, at least that’s the feeling I am starting to get with this SR-71. After slipping with the scribe on my first attempt at reinstating the detail I lost during sanding, I had to fix the damage. So I filled and sanded the area a couple of nights ago and yesterday went to re-scribe the lines again.

I know it’s been a while since I was building regularly but I really should have avoided the schoolboy errors that were to befall me, how I did not see this coming I don’t know.

This is where the problems started. Error number 1: I had forgotten to de-tac the Dymo tape I use as a guide when scribing!

So my process when scribing is usually to use the edge of Dymo embossed label tape as a guide for the scribe line. I usually lay the tape and just do a really light line first, peel part of the Dymo tape back to check the line is positioned correctly and then lay the tape back down and go over the line a couple of times. I only peel part of the tape back so that I can lay it back down in exactly the same position.

Unfortunately what happened was I tried to peel the tape back to check the initial light scribe and because it hadn’t been de-tac’d it managed to pull a part of the primer and filler I had previously applied to the panel right off with the part of the tape I lifted.

What I should of done then is lay the tape back down to continue with the scribing then worry about fixing the panel after this was done… but again I didn’t do that!

Instead of doing that though error number 2 came along as panic and frustration set in and  I took off the Dymo tape and out came the sanding sticks, fillers etc as I proceed to fix the panel.

What this then meant was today I had to try and re align the new piece of nicely de-tac’d Dymo tape to the line I had previously scribed which I could now barely see due to the remedial work. True to form I got the alignment wrong as you can see in the picture below and made a mess of the panel line for the 2nd time!

20190511_202351.jpg
Re-scribe is really not going to plan!

So the filler and sanding sticks are going to need to come out again, unfortunately a little of the previous fill has also chipped away during the failed scribe due to the 2 attempts not quite lining up so that will need tidied up too.

For now though I think it’s time to take a breather and break out the Airfix Hawk as I don’t want frustration to set in. Oh and if your wondering why the canopy frames look so poorly fitted its because they haven’t actually been worked on yet. I just clipped them off the sprue and blu-tac’d them in place to protect the cockpit interior during prime and paint.

Anticipation! The Academy 1/144 Rockwell B-1B Lancer


I know I don’t usually make posts like this but I thought I would share the above video from one of my favourite model related Youtube channels with you. The channel is ScaleModelAircraft and if you like building things with wings I would highly recommend checking Dusan’s work out and giving him a Sub if your a regular Youtube user.

This kit is one I have been looking forward to since it was announced and Dusan’s build has really got me eagerly anticipating it’s release. As you will see from the video the kit has adjustable swing wings, bomb bays that can be built open or closed, paint masks for the canopy and Cartograf decal sheet covering 3 airframes.

It’s my understanding that this kit will also be re-boxed by Doyusha in Japan and have a different decal sheet included in their boxing. I am really looking forward to being able to pick up both boxing’s as it looks like a kit worthy of multiple builds.

So are there any kits you are looking forward to over the next 12 months? I love it when something gets announced that really peaks my interest. Makes me feel like a kid waiting for that birthday present you have been nagging your parents to buy since the day after your last birthday!

Building resumes.. Kind of!


Well it certainly has been a while since I worked on a kit, and whilst not technically building I did manage to dig the Revell SR-71 from the bowels of the cupboard it’s been stored in for the last however many months it has been and look it over.

Truth be told I couldn’t really remember what I was doing with it before it got boxed away so whilst my workbench isn’t actually back in location I managed to set the spray booth up on a coffee table and get a coat of Vallejo black primer down on her to have a look see at the state of play.

20190422_174527.jpg
A quick coat of Vallejo Black Primer went down on the SR-71

So whilst the coat wasn’t the most even I have ever put down it did show up a couple of issues, a slip with the scribe became obvious as did an area near the cockpit that would need a little further attention with the filler and a sanding pad.

Whilst these aren’t too major an issue I think I may need to wait until I have my bench set up again before I tackle the issues.

20190422_184852.jpg
Nothing a little filler and sanding can’t fix, although I am puzzled as to how it occurred.

Workbench should be going into place later this week, although I am also looking to increase my work area with the addition of a new bench, the better half is also going to be joining me in the studio once her jewellers work bench arrives and then I am also looking to add a laser cutter / engraver to the studio too.

Exciting times are ahead but first of all we have the largest show on my calender this year, the Scottish National Scale Model Show 2019. Whilst I don’t think I will be in much of a position to enter anything this year, truth be told I will struggle to add much to the clubs display either as many of my built models have been damaged during the home renovations.

Whilst the damage for most of the kits should be easily repairable it does give me the opportunity to cherry pick the ones I actually want to put back on display, whilst replacing those I don’t want back on display is providing a good reason to get back building regularly again.

 

 

Book Review: De Havilland Comet. The World’s First Commercial Jetliner

17156


This volume of World’s Greatest Airliners looks at what in my opinion is one of the most beautiful airliners to grace the sky, De Havilland’s Comet. The book’s concise text is accompanied throughout by some fantastic images of the aircraft, and whilst I could never grow tired of looking at photos of the Comet, its storied history during such a time of development and change for the aviation industry makes for great reading.

The book begins with a brief introduction describing the build up to the Comet’s first flight, an event that saw Britain as the world leaders of jet airliner development, barely four years since the end of the second World War.

We then jump back 7 years to look at the circumstances that lead to the development of the Comet. The formation of the Brabazon Committee during the war believed that there would be the need for 6 different types of aircraft to serve the Empire’s post war civil aviation requirements, Type IV being the most radical of the requirements. This was a demand for the fully jet powered airliner the Comet was to end up fulfilling.

The book follows the Comet’s rapid development, from authorisation to production in barely 4 years, leading up to that exciting afternoon on the 27th of July 1949 that saw her roar into the skies above the Hatfield factory.

Continuing to look at the Comet’s seemingly unstoppable rise, the initial success and the development of the Comet is covered. This saw it grow not only in engine power, efficiency and customers, but even in size as the Comet 3 prototype comprised of longer fuselage to accommodate increased passengers and fuel loads as the Comet moved, without rival, into routes all over the world. All with levels of luxury not before seen in the sky.

On we continue to what was some of the darkest days for the type, the loss of multiple aircraft and many lives lead to the grounding of the entire Comet fleet in 1954. The subsequent investigations are looked at as well as briefly describing the testing methods that lead to discovery of the ultimate cause of the accidents.

The rebirth of Comet which saw the development of the airframe into the larger Comet 3 and 4 saw BOAC again place its faith in the type. Indeed, it used the extensive testing period the Comet had endured because of the 1954 accidents to its advantage describing the Comet 4 as ‘The worlds most tested jetliner’

Next, we move on to the Comet’s slow decline that begins with BOAC, the Comets biggest supporter to date, moving its fleet over to the larger Boeing 707 to enable it to remain competitive on the scheduled routes whilst moving its fleet of Comets to its smaller subsidiary airlines across the Empire.

Overseas operators are covered next with Comets being used by airlines across the world, but the aviation industries shift towards chartered flights during the 60’s for the rapidly expanding package holiday market was already seeing the type become uncompetitive.

Still the type was to remain in service with what had become the operator of the single largest fleet of Comets, Dan-Air, until the end of 1980 when the type made its final commercial flight.

As the book nears its end it looks at the Comet’s service with the RAF. The chapter covers the roles of types during their service with 216 Squadron and 192 Squadron, the latter being renumbered 51 Squadron, before the most extensive modifications saw the Comet inspired maritime patrol aircraft The Nimrod come into existence.

Before ending the book, the author treats us to a chapter of anecdotes from RAF Comet pilots Brian Burdett and Peter Bowright

As you may guess by the way I go on a bit in this review this is an aircraft and story I love. The tale of its birth from war time meetings to its retirement at the dawn of the 1980s is one that provides times of fantastic highs of record-breaking journeys and cutting-edge development and terrible lows.

It took place during a time of great turmoil for the British aviation industry, which saw many of the famous names from wartime aviation disappear. Whether that be due to liquidation or their merger into large corporations desperately trying to be able to keep the British aviation industry competitive and relevant on a global stage.

Thanks to the author, this is a story any aviation fan can enjoy. Whilst including enough detail to keep the enthusiast interested, I think the balance is well done and it should not be off putting to those with just a passing interest in the subject and throughout, the story is accompanied by an array of beautiful photographs.

I would as always like to thank Pen and Sword books for allowing me the opportunity to review this book. You can pick up your copy of this book, along with many more great titles at their website.

Book Review: Flight Craft 13 The Gloster Meteor In British Service

15044


This volume of the Flight Craft series takes a look at Britain’s first generation jet fighter, The Gloster Meteor.

Starting with the prototypes the book contains a wealth of reference photos all with concise captions whilst the accompanying text provides one with a detailed history of the aircrafts development through the years moving through each of the production variants, explaining the alterations made during each stage where possible and pointing out both the visual and non visual differences between them.

There is a treasure trove of images for scale modellers and the good news doesn’t stop there! The book covers the history and development of types used by the UK including Photo Reconnaissance, Night Fighters, Targets, Tugs and Royal Navy Meteors plus some of the more unusual configurations in the Miscellany section before moving on to the Camouflage and Markings section.

This section contains 22 pages of full colour art work that was specially commissioned for the book, there are the familiar side profile images along with some of the aircraft being shown from a second either topside or underside view, again a fantastic resource for the scale modeller.

The book then moves on to provide a list of Scale model kits that were available for the Meteor at the time of writing, all the major scales are covered and whilst some more recent re-boxing’s may not be covered it does provide a fantastic source of information about each kit listed including which variants can be built and are covered by the decal sheets included. There is even a brief list of Alley Cat Conversion Sets. Finally we are treated to a gallery of various Meteor Models that have been built by well known modellers.

I had no personal experience with the Flight Craft series prior to reading this volume and I find myself wondering how I have missed these in the past. This volume is a fantastic resource for any modeller wishing to build a British Meteor, or even for anyone with an interest in the aircraft type.

As always my thanks go to Pen and Sword Books for the copy to review, please head over to their site for your copy!

Book Review: Airkraft Modelling Guide #1 Fighters and Attack Aircraft of the Vietnam War

Airkraft Modelling Guide #1: Fighters & Attack Aircraft of the Vietnam War
Front Cover of Airkraft Modelling Guide #1: Fighters & Attack Aircraft of the Vietnam War

So as my last book review wasn’t really something especially for the modeller I thought that I would ensure that this next review definitely was!

For this review I am looking at the AirKraft Modelling Guide #1 which has been put together with HobbyZone and the paint manufacturer Hataka so of course their products feature heavily. This issue covers the fighters and attach aircraft of the Vietnam conflict and despite the paint manufacturers heavy presence, the builds covered offer solid advice and technique demonstrations along the way. The build articles themselves provide a very useful insight to the kits covered along with many of the aftermarket parts used too.

The Introduction offers great images along with historic information on Air combat over Vietnam
The Introduction offers great images along with historic information on Air combat over Vietnam

Whilst the title is retailed as a book I suppose it would be more accurate to describe it as a bookazine I suppose, but for the price of £10 its not too expensive for what you get with the book containing 96 pages of lovely full colour spreads. There’s also a great little introduction at the start of the book covering the history of the use of air power over Vietnam and how it was used changed the way wars were fought for decades to come. Some of the images in this section are understandably in black and white but this if anything only adds to their atmosphere.

It's not just American Aircraft that are covered, there are NVAF types covered
It’s not just American Aircraft that are covered, you will be glad to see there are North Vietnamese Air Force types covered too.

There are a decent number of builds covered by the book and whilst there are of course multiple Phantom builds, there is a decent variety of aircraft and kit manufacturers covered in several scales, besides its not like you can ever have too many Phantoms.

The Airfames/Kits covered by the book are:

  • Eduard’s 1:48 F-4J
  • Hasegawa’s 1:48 F-104C Starfighter
  • Eduards 1:48 F-4B
  • Meng’s 1:72 F-102A Delta Dagger (Case XX)
  • Rodens 1:48 JOV-1A Mowhawk
  • Kinetics F-5B Freedom Fighter
  • Monogram/Revell’s 1:48 F-8 Crusader
  • Academy’s 1:48 Mig-21MF Fishbed
  • Italeri’s 1:72 F-4C/D/J
  • Tamiya’s 1:72 A-6E Intruder (Experimental Camouflage)
  • Trumpeters 1:48 F-100C Super Saber
  • Italeri’s 1:72 Martin B-57B Canberra
  • HobbyBoss’s 1:48 MIG-17F Fresco C
  • Airfix’s 1:72 Cessna 0-1 Bird Dog
  • Eduard’s 1:48 A-4E/F Skyhawk
  • Trumpeter’s 1:48 A-37A Dragonfly
  • Fujimi’s 1:48 Grumman KA-6D Tanker
  • Revell’s 1:100 AH-1G Cobra
  • Airfix’s 1:48 English Electric Canberra MK.20 (RAAF)

Now I think you will agree that this is a pretty impressive list especially so you certainly get a lot of bang for your buck with this book.

The full colour images that accompany the builds and finishing techniques are superb
The full colour images that accompany the builds and finishing techniques are superb

Each one of the aircraft are covered by their own full colour build article, detailing the builders process from start to finish, including any aftermarket they have used, issues they have overcome, additional detailing they have scratched and the finishing techniques they have used.

Now I love the aircraft from this time period, the aircraft were all such a massive leap forward from those of the second world war and those SEA Camo schemes make them look all the more purposeful when compared to the grey schemes that many airframes sport these days, so every subject in this book is right up my street so to speak.

Personally I love this book and I look forward to looking over future issues of the series, you can get the title from SAMpublications over at http://www.sampublications.com/books/airkraft/airkraft-1-vietnam/prod_1145.html as well as other retailers.

Book Review: Adventures of A Cold War Fast Jet Navigator

Cover of Adventures of A Cold War Fast Jet Navigator by Wing Commander David Herriot
Cover of Adventures of A Cold War Fast Jet Navigator by Wing Commander David Herriot

This book is a great tale of life in service during throughout a major part of the cold war. The author manages to take you along with him on his journey from early life in Glasgow to his deployments in service in the Royal Air Force, and along with all the hard work came many amusing incidents that really shows the great comradery between colleagues that seemed ever present no matter where the author found himself stationed.

Whilst operational stories are always interesting to aviation enthusiasts, the authors stories of how these crews let off steam and really did live the work hard, play hard lifestyle are not only often funny, but I thought it showed a real human side to the RAF during a time when almost everything they did in training and practice sorties was ultimately aimed at preparing for having to go beyond the Iron Curtain in one way or another.

For me I ended up finding it was these anecdotes of lighter moments that really made the book, not to detract from the rest of it mind you, but they really seemed to make the book go beyond merely an operational history for the author to make it feel almost feel like an old friend or relative was recounting stories from years past over a drink or two. If you have any kind of interest in the RAF, or those that serve then this is definitely worth a read.

As always thanks go to Pen and Sword books for the copy to review, you can find the book for sale on their site for which a link can be found in the links section of this sites menu.

Drone done

Completed D-21 Sitting on it’s trolley
Completed D-21 Sitting on it’s trolley
Completed D-21 Sitting on it’s trolley

It’s been a while since I have done a completion photoset! Well this isn’t really a true completion as it’s only part of the kit really but as I think it’s the first one this year (shocking I know!!) I am counting it. Having said that we are going to be in for a few completions very soon.

I present to you the Lockheed D-21B High Speed Unmanned Reconnaissance Drone as launched from the underwing of B-52’s during the cold war.

You can’t really see any of the trolley she is sitting in the photos but to be honest I was more interested in making the most of the fleeting sunshine to try and make the natural metal finish look as good as I could.