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maltadefender

Alex Mackie's Malta Hurricane intruder - FINISHED!

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OK here goes!

James Holland's book Fortress Malta is a good introduction to the war on the island, albeit one drawn mostly from previously-published memoirs. To my mind the best bit is the prologue, a dramatic 're-enactment' of the last moments of Pilot Officer Alex Mackie.

Essentially on January 27 1942 Mackie, of 1435 (night fighter) Flight at Takali, was the first of several Hurricanes preparing to take off at dusk for test flights due to the installation of long-range tanks for intruder duties over Sicily. As Mackie took off in Mk.IIb Z3571 'J', however, six Messerschmitt 109s popped over the hill behind the nearby town of Rabat, three of them breaking off after Mackie's Hurricane and the other three strafing the airfield.

1435 Flight officers were billeted in the old Xara Palace in Mdina. This is a view down from the terrace where later in the year a machine-gun was set up for off-duty pilots to take pot-shots at enemy aircraft attacking the airfield - reportedly with one 109 downed. The 109s that attacked Mackie would have swept in from right to left in much the came conditions.

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With the aircraft badly damaged, Mackie force-landed over behind the hill from which the Messerschmitts had appeared, halfway between Rabat and Dingli near St. Catherine's church. Hitting the unavoidable dry stone walls that mark out the fields in that area, Mackie was thrown out of his aircraft and discovered, conscious, nearby. Locals gave him whiskey but he slipped into a coma before transfer to Mtarfa hospital where he died two days later. The hospital is now a school, seen here:

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And Mackie is buried at Capuccine cemetary in the Three Cities:

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Meanwhile parts of Mackie's Z3571 have been restored and fitted to the rebuilt Hurricane Mk.IIa of the Malta Air Museum:

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So with all this in mind I decided that the only way to get over the shock and disappointment of my Hellcat nightmare was to build Mackie's plane from my stash of 1/72s. The first problem? Turning a Mk.IIc into a 12-gun Mk.IIb...

I drilled out the holes for the exhaust shrouds and long range fuel tanks and, after building the wings, I filled in the holes for the cannons with Miliputt, expecting to be able to paint on the canvas masks. Except of course the tips of the four outer machine guns protrude from the leading edge! I therefore cut the muzzles off the four cannons and glued them into place, smoothing the inboard guns into the wing with more Miliputt.

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After that I gave her a coat of flat black (Humbrol rattlecan acrylic)

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Currently I'm finishing the build and painting the cockpit glass (one panel at a time - masking hell!!!)

More to follow...

Edited by maltadefender

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Thanks Antoine... this morning's work on weathering:

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Because Takali was waterlogged for much of December/January I thought some mud splashes would be needed from muddy wheels:

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The only problem now is trying to sort out decals. As you can see b-type all over, quite rough... hmmmm...

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I found the decals and then... ummm... lost them. Wifey thought they were rubbish and so put them in the bin with the remains of the dog's breakfast and an open flat bottle of Diet Coke. Words currently fail me!!!

Edited by maltadefender

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Finally got the cockpit glass painted.

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A few more scuffs to put on the bottom of the cockpit hood and on the hand hold on the fuselage. I'll save glueing the glassware in place until I've sorted the decoration.

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Looks like a composite B-type decal for the fuselage, a modified late-type fin flash, home-made 'J' and serial number. Not a big ask then!!

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Thanks to ideas and encouragement from Troy the roundels are sorted and the 'J' codes. Only hurdle now is the serial number, which I tried to hand paint and then had to go over with another coat of black. Might just have to live without!

After the disappointment of the Hellcat I'm rather enjoying this one, however. At least it looks meaty, even if Tom Neil described the performance of a Hurricane with Vokes filter and long-range tanks as akin 'to a nippy Tiger Moth'!

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Edited by maltadefender

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Fascinating story mate, really brings the build to life. Must get to Malta some day.

Looks like your nearly there with the Hurri, well done. :thumbsup:

Deacon

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Thanks guys,

The decals are coming together - correct fin flashes thanks to Troy Smith and fingers are crossed that Colin at the decal bank thinks he might be able to cobble together the right serial number.

I have to say that despite having only been a member of the forum for a short while, the way everyone chips in is absolutely astonishing. If it weren't for my fellow members neither night fighter would have seen it through to the end, plus I've enjoyed seeing all the other builds, chewing the cud on research and some ace trading.

Aside from getting married it's been the highlight of 2010 so thank you.

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Oh dear!

I'm afraid that the final few decals for the build have not arrived, as they got posted to the wrong address!

Until the decals are all on I can't put the matt coat or the cockpit glass on.

And today's the last day.

Group Build crash'n'burn!

I will finish the model ASAP and post, but that's me out of this one.

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That's a real shame.

Are the decals likely to arrive tomorrow? The Group Build finishes at midnight on Saturday.

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Hi Jase,

Afraid nothing in today's post and I'm off to visit my parents this afternoon, not getting home until Sunday. Never mind, it's been a huge learning curve and PO Mackie will be remembered with a nice little model before long.

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Here she is at last...

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Now how is this for a thread resurrection. ;) As stated in the "what are you reading" thread, I've just embarked on the James Holland book, "Fortress Malta" I guess as a continuation of the enthusiasm for the subject I felt after reading Tony O'toole's "No Place for Beginners". The opening of this book is a masterful setting of the scene imho & like many modellers would, I immediately felt I'd like to model poor Alex Mackie's machine, google brought me quickly to this thread, but mindful of the necessity of having references where possible, I found very little on the net about the Malta Night Fighter Unit, later to become 1435 flight. Does anyone have any info on their planes, finish, code colours etc etc. Failing that, I'll just copy Maltadefenders rather nice build, it looks the goods to me. :)
Steve.

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Hi Steve,

Fortress Malta is the ideal starting point to immerse yourself in the theatre as it's sort of a 'greatest hits' compilation of many first-hand works and historical studies to date. Holland links it all together readably and then you're off on a world of adventure to get into the detail if you fancy it.

Original MNFU Hurricanes were as much of a mixed bag as the day fighters. Night undersides with standard upper surfaces - a mix of Desert and Temperate Land Scheme - seems to be the norm in early days. Through the second half of 1941 the numbers of Hurricanes available went up, they could organise themselves a bit better and dedicate full-time night fighters, painted all over black like Mackie's.

That was the first model I completed on Britmodeller, having arrived here to see how people (mainly Tony, of course) depicted Malta-based aircraft. Come a long way since then but Mackie's bird retains pride of place in the showcase!

Let me see what sort of images I can pick out to help.

All best, Nick

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That would be great Nick. What you say about early NF Hurricanes being a mix & match of colours but more organised by the time intruder ops over Sicily were being organised makes sense. I'm new to the Malta thing, I'm blaming O'toole for getting me into it. ;) but I can see that there're quite a few models to come out of it & thats without dabbling in funny coloured Spitfires. :)

Steve.

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There's funny colour debates from stem to stern on Malta! Whether it's the later camouflage on the Gladiators, the use of Desert on Hurricanes, the paint on the Heinkel spy plane and everything in between. My favourite 'find' so far is a PRU pink Hurricane.

About to do two more Malta builds on the Spitfire and Hurricane GBs. Again, contentious colours on both!

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