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Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) the Dambusters - 1:72 Airfix

New Airfix Lancaster Lancaster Operation Chastise

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#1 Paul A H

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 09:36 PM

Avro Lancaster B.III (Special) the Dambusters

1:72 Airfix

 

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Few aircraft have the ability to capture the imagination and affection of the public, but the Lancaster surely ranks as one of them. The basic design of the Lancaster evolved from the less than successful Avro Manchester. Although the design of the aircraft was sound, its performance in service was significantly undermined by its chronically unreliable and underpowered Rolls Royce Vulture engines. Avro's Chief Designer resolved the problem by proposing an improved version with a larger wing and four of the less powerful, but far more reliable, Rolls Royce Merlin engines.

Initially designated the Manchester III, the aircraft was renamed the Lancaster and entered service in 1942, the same year that the Manchester was retired from front line service. Once in service, the Lancaster proved to be an excellent aircraft. Its vast bomb bay could accommodate any bomb in the RAF's wartime inventory, right up to the 12,000lb blockbuster. Later in the war the aircraft was adapted to carry a range of special weapons, including the innovative Upkeep mine and the huge 22,000lb Grand Slam bomb, both designed by scientist and engineer Barnes Wallis.

The Lancaster's place in history was secured on the night of the 16th/17th May 1943. On this date, a force of 19 Lancasters of the specially formed 617 Squadron attacked a group of four dams in the heart of Germany's Ruhr Valley. The aircraft carried the unique Upkeep mine, popularly referred to as the bouncing bomb. This weapon was the brainchild of Barnes Wallis and was designed specifically for use against these dams. As a result of the raids the Möhne and Edersee dams were breached, causing massive flooding and the loss of electrical power for hundreds of factories in the region. Eight of the participating aircraft failed to return, and of the 133 crew who took part, 53 were lost. It is estimated that around 1,600 individuals were killed on the ground. 34 of the survivors were decorated, with the leader of the raid, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, awarded the Victoria Cross.
 

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When Airfix announced their release schedule for 2013 just before Christmas, it was the cause of much celebration and excitement around these parts. One of the many cherries on the cake was a new tool Lancaster, promised in both Hercules-engined B.II and Merlin-engined B.III special versions. First to be released is this, the B.III special version. The kit is presented in a fairly large top-opening box adorned with an atmospheric image of a Lancaster cutting through the moonlight skies of the Ruhr Valley. Six sprues of plastic have been crammed into the box, and together they hold a total of 265 parts. Four sprues are given over to the Lancaster B.III itself, the fifth is for the Upkeep mine, its trolley and the conversion parts for the airframe, while the last sprue contains the transparent parts. The kit is nicely moulded. Whilst I've seen finer panel lines in my time as a reviewer, the panel lines on the external surfaces of this kit don't stand out as being overly trench-like. The overall shape of the model looks good and I couldn't detect any serious shape errors from examining the parts on the sprue.

Those hoping for a richly detailed kit will not be disappointed with this model. The interior is very well appointed, providing plenty of interest where needed. Assembly begins with the roof of the bomb bay and the spars for the wing. The rest of the model builds up around this core structure. The bomb bay itself is very nicely detailed, although little of it will be seen unless you choose to finish the model as a standard B.III (and if you choose to do this, you'll need to provide your own decals and ordnance). Onto this part are added the spars for the wings. The spars form internal bulkheads at their centre, and extend as far as the main landing gear bays in the inner engine nacelles.

The flight deck is comprised of a raised floor, a two-part pilot's seat, a folding seat for the flight engineer, a control column and a two-part instrument panel. Forward of the cockpit is the bomb aimer's position, for which a nicely moulded bomb sight is included. Aft of the cockpit are the navigator's and radio operator's stations. Sidewall detail is moulded in place on the inside of the fuselage halves and in my opinion it looks excellent. An optional ventral gunner's position is provided too. Before you join the fuselage halves together youll need to drill a couple of small holes in pre-marked positions. These are required in order to fit the mechanism for the Upkeep mine later on. The fuselage window glazing must be installed at this stage too. I for one dont fancy masking all of these windows, so I'm hoping that Eduard will release a set of masks for this kit before too long!
 

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Once the fuselage halves have been joined, assembly moves on to the wings. I have to doff my cap to Airfix at this point, as they have been very clever indeed. Not only do the two wing spars mentioned above aid with the alignment of the wings and strengthen the structure of the model, but they also form the fore and aft walls of the main landing gear bays. To complete the structures, you just need to add the rib and frame details which run parallel to the fuselage. The end result should be a pair of landing gear bays which are superbly detailed as well as nice and strong. The ailerons are moulded in place but the landing flaps are separate assemblies, and very nice they look too. The elevators and rudders are all moulded as separate pieces and so can be posed in a variety of positions if so desired.

The engine nacelles are fairly simple, but the front faces of the radiator intakes are moulded as separate parts. This means that you wont have troublesome seams to clean up, which is always a plus. The struts which connect the landing gear doors to the undercarriage legs are moulded in place. This means that, should you build the kit with the gear down, you should be able to achieve a good, strong fit at the first time of asking. If you wish to build the kit with the gear up, then you just need to cut them off. I really like this approach and I hope it works as well in practice as the instructions suggest. The landing gear legs themselves are well moulded and nicely detailed and the wheels have flat spots moulded in place.
 

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At this stage you are required to add the assembly for the Upkeep mine. If you paid attention and remembered to drill the required holes at the start of the build, then this should be straightforward. The mechanism itself is very nicely detailed, as is the large, drum-shaped mine. As mentioned above, there is a very nice loading trolley included. If you want to build the model as the centrepiece of a diorama, this feature will be a real boon. All that remains to do now is add a few small parts such as the DF loop and elevator actuators, the propellers and the transparent parts. Airfix have suggested that you assemble the turrets last of all, but you could just as easily build them at the outset and set them to one side. The frame lines on the transparent parts are clearly marked and there are some spare turrets included which hint at future options.
 

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A choice of two schemes is provided on the decal sheet:

  • Avro Lancaster B.III Special E0825/G, reserve aircraft flown by Flight Lieutenant Joseph Charles McCarthy DFC (Royal Canadian Air Force), No. 617 Squadron, Operation Chastise, Scampton, 16/17th May 1943; and
  • Avro Lancaster B.III Special E0927, flown by Flight Lieutenant Robert Norman George Barlow DFC (Royal Australian Air Force), No. 617 Squadron, Operation Chastise, Scampton, 16/17th May 1943. This aircraft and the crew were lost in action.

The decal sheet is nicely printed and includes a small selection of stencils, as well as a decal for the instrument panel and a rather nifty little map for the navigator's table.
 

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Conclusion

Lancaster fans already have a reasonable choice of relatively modern kits from Hasegawa and Revell. Although neither kit is flawless, both are pretty good. In light of this, some may be surprised that Airfix have chosen to go to the expense of tooling yet another new Lancaster. They shouldn't. Airfix sell kits of Lancasters like Ford sell cars; it's simply what they do and a decent Lancaster is essential to their continued success. Happily, this kit looks to be a real gem. It is nicely detailed, well moulded, cleverly designed and combines detail and buildability in a single, clever package. I can't wait to get stuck in!


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Review sample courtesy of logo.gif


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#2 Speckled Jim

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 12:00 AM

I have been waiting for this review!

 

And Paul I have to apologize I ignored the main words and looked at the pictures until I hit the decal and went "Is that a Map!?" - Airfix take my Money.... take it .... take it Now! hahaha that alone made me do this -  :yahoo: 

 

This looks like a real winner and I'll be cashing in my Revell one for an Airfix one I think!

 

So happy

 

James



#3 Big Kev

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 09:52 AM

Nice review. Looks a decent kit. How much is it likely to be?

 

Side note: you might want to consider adding a few apostrophes where they belong; they seem to be missing from every single place they should be. Not having a go by the way, I just found their absence a bit odd given the generally articulate nature of the review as a whole. It's almost as if your keyboard is missing that character!

 

Kev


Edited by Big Kev, 21 April 2013 - 09:53 AM.


#4 Tiger331

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 09:58 AM

Reading between the lines of your excellent review am I to understand that you can build a standard B Mk III from this kit (with, as you say aftermarket decals and ordnance).....?.....so the kit does include a full dorsal turret assembly, bomb bay doors etc ?.

I thought I would have to wait and cross kit the B Mk II with this kit but that does not seem to be the case now ?

Mark

#5 The Wooksta!

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 09:59 AM

Yes.  All the bits are there.  Lots of nice spares!

 

Probably more for the "standard" release but you get the front glazing for the FN82 tail turret PLUS the two .50 call machine guns and the breech mechanism. There are also open exhausts for post war aircraft.

 

Two things I'm not keen on:  

 

One: the fact that you have to build the kit in the order Airfix states, mainly the wings.  That wheel bay, whilst cleverly designed, has to be installed first and then the wings go round it.  Which means you can't build the wings and engines as separate assemblies then bring everything together for final assembly.  

 

Two: The bomb doors are in two parts, as opposed one piece and the modeller scores a line and it's in two.  Not everyone wants to display the bomb bay open.


Edited by The Wooksta!, 21 April 2013 - 10:00 AM.


#6 Paul A H

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 11:10 AM

Nice review. Looks a decent kit. How much is it likely to be?
 
Side note: you might want to consider adding a few apostrophes where they belong; they seem to be missing from every single place they should be. Not having a go by the way, I just found their absence a bit odd given the generally articulate nature of the review as a whole. It's almost as if your keyboard is missing that character!
 
Kev


:lol: That is almost exactly what happened! The review was written in Word and then pasted into the forum software. For some reason the forum software couldn't recognise the apostrophes and so removed them. I promise you that's the truth - I'm not just thick!

#7 Ragtag

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 11:19 AM

Great review and a lovely looking kit, some money to be spent here I reckon.



#8 Seahawk

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 12:37 PM

I read on another forum that, although the dorsal turret glazing and fairing is present in this boxing, the actual turret interior is not.  Can anyone confirm either way?



#9 Val

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 12:40 PM

The problem I can see with this kit is trying to smuggle it past the other half... Size of the box will make that one huge problem! Kit looks fantastic!
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#10 Harry Lime

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 04:31 PM

I read on another forum that, although the dorsal turret glazing and fairing is present in this boxing, the actual turret interior is not.  Can anyone confirm either way?

Yes,

 

The other forum is speaking drivel! Parts D24, D15 (2 identical parts are provided, both numbered D15) and D7 are the mid upper parts. I can confirm that everything needed to build a standard B.I or B.III is included in the kit, all the parts for a Dambuster are provided on a seperate sprue. I can also confirm that the gift box set comes with a full decal sheet that includes a map for the Nav's table!

 

Mark.



#11 Navy Bird

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 05:09 PM

Oh man, there goes my wallet again! More kudos to Airfix, and also to Paul for a great review!

 

Cheers,

Bill

 

PS. Anybody want my Revell and Hasegawa kits?


Edited by Navy Bird, 23 April 2013 - 09:19 PM.


#12 chaddy

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 05:21 PM

Yes,

 

The other forum is speaking drivel! Parts D24, D15 (2 identical parts are provided, both numbered D15) and D7 are the mid upper parts. I can confirm that everything needed to build a standard B.I or B.III is included in the kit, all the parts for a Dambuster are provided on a seperate sprue. I can also confirm that the gift box set comes with a full decal sheet that includes a map for the Nav's table!

 

Mark.

 

Seconded.

 

Presumably then they'll be releasing a BI/BIII by merely substituting sprue G (the specific Dambuster parts) for a sprue with some "normal" payload.

 

There is one thing which is a pity. There appears to be a decal (4) that represents the WOP's equipment and goes on the back of part D14. There is also the WOP's/Nav's table, but no seat for the WOP. A minor point, I know, and unlikely to be seen. However, to go to the trouble they have and not finish it off seems silly. Guess I'll be delving into the spares box.

 

 

Cheers



#13 John

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 05:25 PM

I'm just thankful it's got the fuselage windows this time - drilling them out on the previous moulding was no fun at all.

 

It looks like Airfix will be the benchmark 1/72 Lancaster for a long time to come - as they were with the 1980 version.

 

John



#14 Harry Lime

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 05:52 PM

I'm just thankful it's got the fuselage windows this time - drilling them out on the previous moulding was no fun at all.

 

It looks like Airfix will be the benchmark 1/72 Lancaster for a long time to come - as they were with the 1980 version.

 

John

 

John,

 

I'll have to agree with you on both points!

 

Mark.



#15 Seahawk

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 05:54 PM

Yes,

 

The other forum is speaking drivel! Parts D24, D15 (2 identical parts are provided, both numbered D15) and D7 are the mid upper parts. I can confirm that everything needed to build a standard B.I or B.III is included in the kit, all the parts for a Dambuster are provided on a seperate sprue. I can also confirm that the gift box set comes with a full decal sheet that includes a map for the Nav's table!

 

Mark.

 

Many thanks!



#16 Geoff_B

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 07:08 PM


Presumably then they'll be releasing a BI/BIII by merely substituting sprue G (the specific Dambuster parts) for a sprue with some "normal" payload.

 

 

Cheers

I don't think it does, i did hear that to arm the conventional Lancaster BII you need the Bomber support set with its full range of bombs, support vehicles and accessories. However by the time the new I/III comes out next year they might have added the bomb sprues and maybe some other parts to do the late war/post war variants. Might be interesting to see if we get a Tallboy and/or Grand slam version too ?



#17 Honeybee

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 07:38 PM

Hi

As of five mins ago my Lanc was built and painted and is now ready for decals and final assembly. I have a few point, not to detract from the kit, but noted on building and may help.

 

First, do not try get the spars through the slots in the fuselage without opening them a little. It is a VERY tight fit and the end of the spars are very delicate and bend easily. Trust me on that, won't happen again.

 

Secondly, make sure you put the spars on the correct way round, especially the rear spar. There are pips on the back and they have a hole to go through in the fuselage.

 

Thirdly, and god knows why, Airfix have moulded in the escape hatch windows, not a big problem to drill out but..........

 

Fourthly, part G23, the upper turret blanking plate, next time I'll leave it loose and not glue it into the fuselage halves until after they are joined. Not sure but I think it'll fit better, I don't like blanking plates

.

Fifth, the nacelles fit great but then there are four panels that cover the undercarriage legs on the inners and the wing leading edge on the outers (F7, F8X2 and F9), they don't fit very well at all, obviously something to do with the different engines but care needed.

 

I like this kit, I paid top dollar last week and thought maybe a fiver too far but at MK show today was £25 and I'd be very happy to pay that. Over all better than the other two, maybe a little overengineered in the undercarriage department but not too hard and best to build in the manner Airfix have portrayed in the instructions. A belter, roll on the B.MkII.

 

Regards

Paul



#18 Paul A H

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 07:54 PM

Apostrophes re-inserted :)
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#19 chaddy

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 09:37 PM

However by the time the new I/III comes out next year they might have added the bomb sprues and maybe some other parts to do the late war/post war variants. 

 

Wasn't that along the lines of what I suggested. Or have I missed something? 

 

I think you have mis-read my post. I never mentioned the upcoming BII. However, since you have raised the subject, I for one, would be most surprised if you had to purchase the Bomber Support set just to add a payload to it. I think it's far more likely that the payload will appear with the BII and when we do get BI/BIII the sprue with the payload from the BII will be included with that.

 

Cheers


Edited by chaddy, 22 April 2013 - 10:30 AM.


#20 Big Kev

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 11:58 PM

:lol: That is almost exactly what happened! The review was written in Word and then pasted into the forum software. For some reason the forum software couldn't recognise the apostrophes and so removed them. I promise you that's the truth - I'm not just thick!

 

Oh, I believe you! Makes perfect sense. Probably Word was using so-called 'smart quotes' and the forum software removed them. They're not part of the ASCII character set, but AFAIK IPB is Unicode-aware. A bit odd, but there you go.

 

Kev







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