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The Bristol Beaufort – Airframe Detail #10 ISBN: 9781912932214 Valiant Wings Publishing The Beaufort was originally designed as a torpedo bomber by Bristol, using the experience they had gained in developing the then-excellent Blenheim. They were ready in time for the outbreak of WWII, and as well as their prescribed role, they were also used as light bombers, undertaking many ‘Rhubarb’ missions over enemy territory in the so-called ‘phony war’, embarking on daylight missions that saw heavy casualties, although the accidental loss tally outstripped combat losses, surprisingly. Roughly 1,200 were built in the UK, with the total being elevated to almost 2,000 by additional Australian-built airframes that were known as DAP Beauforts. They were rapidly overhauled by the German fighters and were withdrawn from frontline service as early as 1942, by which time they had also been tasked with Aerial mine-laying. From then on, they were assigned to serve away from the front, and saw extensive use as a trainer, which might go at least some of the way to explain the high attrition rate due to accidents. The Mk.IA had an improved turret fitted at the rear of the crew compartment spine, that was notable because it was more square in profile, and torpedo bombers were fitted with early ASV radars, the antennae for which were mounted on the leading edges of the wings. A further development of the Beaufort was the Beaufighter, which used important components of the Beaufort that included the wings and engines, with a new cut-down fuselage that was comparatively low and streamlined, with a powerful cannon armament under the nose that was useful in its assigned duties as long-distance heavy fighter, and later nightfighter, where it excelled. Some obsolete Beauforts were even converted to Beaufighters to make further use of the shared parts, which gave many of the original airframes a more honourable end than they would otherwise have seen. In an attempt to improve on the original Mk.I that took up the majority of production, the designers created additional variants that used other engines, had faired over turrets when they were to be used as trainers, and even a project that saw the fitment of a pair of Merlin XX engine that didn’t achieve the desired effect, so was cancelled, in much the same manner as the Merlin powered Beaufighter that managed to be “underpowered” despite the pedigree of the engines that propelled it. The Book This book is part of the Airframe Detail range by prolific author Richard A Franks, with profiles and plans by the equally prolific Richard J Caruana and example model produced by Steve A Evans and Libor Jekl. The book is perfect-bound as usual and consists of 96 pages within a card jacket, printed on glossy paper stock throughout. It is number 10 in the Airframe Detail series that concentrates more on the aircraft in question, with just a short section to the rear with an example build of the recent kit in 1:72 from Airfix and the brand-new 1:48 kit from ICM, which we reviewed recently here. The book is broken down into sections as follows: Introduction 1. Technical Description Detailed coverage of construction and equipment 2. Camouflage & Markings Colour side profiles, notes and photographs 3. Beaufort Builds Builds of the 1:72 scale Airfix Mk.I by Libor Jekl & 1:48 scale Mk.I by Steve A Evans Appendices i. Beaufort kits ii. Beaufort accessories, decals & masks iii. Bibliography iv. Beaufort Squadrons Despite the Beaufort being well on its way to being obsolescent by the time World War II began, it still saw extensive service, even after being withdrawn from front-line fighting, much of it occurring in the Pacific theatre with Australian built airframes and Commonwealth crews. The introduction gives you a brief history of the type, with the main bullet-points of its career called out over several pages, and separated out into its main operators. This is followed by the technical aspects of the type, which goes into great detail and includes a ton of photos of the interior and other places that we don’t always get to see, especially as there aren’t too many airframes in existence these days. The profiles are found in the 2nd section of the book, and show dozens of profiles of various airframes along with photographic evidence, and has a page of diagrams showing the stencils and markings locations for the type. The sheer level of detail given within the pages is perfect for the modeller, and will be of use to anyone from novice to super-detailer, with some of the photos and drawings showing the interior, subassembly layout, the instrument panel and other fine details that could improve your build, many of which I haven’t seen before, especially the repair and maintenance photos, some period and some of preserved airframes that should give anyone wishing to show off the interior excellent references. Libor Jekl's build of the recent Airfix kit shows what can be done to the 1:72 model, and results in a lovely example that anyone would be pleased to have in their collection. Until recently, your choice of kits in 1:48 wasn’t what you could call wide, until ICM corrected that with their excellent new kit, which Steve A Evans has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, with a build that should sell many new kits for ICM. Conclusion Another Excellent and timely volume from Valiant and an interesting one as usual, showcasing this under-appreciated aircraft that did what it could with the talents it had available, despite being a little over-the-hill at the time. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of