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  1. Just completed, the recent Airfix 1/72 kit of the Gloster Meteor F.8, with my own markings for an Armament Practice Station Acklington, example from 1956. The APS Acklington was where, for 10 years, all RAF fighter Squadrons went for live gunnery training using the Druridge Bay ranges on the Northumberland coast. The APS had a full squadron's worth of Meteor F.8s, and as a reserve squadron they participated in RAF Air Defence exercises, scoring many 'kills', and they were also allowed to compete in the annual Fighter Command competitions. They were not too popular as they usually won! That's because all of their pilots were instructors, and they got lots of practice in their day job. VZ494, L, APS Acklington, 1956 (25) w by Philip Pain, on Flickr VZ494, L, APS Acklington, 1956 (29) w by Philip Pain, on Flickr VZ494, L, APS Acklington, 1956 (2) w by Philip Pain, on Flickr VZ494, L, APS Acklington, 1956 (27) w by Philip Pain, on Flickr VZ494, L, APS Acklington, 1956 (16) w by Philip Pain, on Flickr VZ494, L, APS Acklington, 1956 (5) w by Philip Pain, on Flickr VZ494, L, APS Acklington, 1956 (28) w by Philip Pain, on Flickr The markings shown were standard on all of their Meteors, and the 'squadron bars' replicate the towed-target markings. Their badge on the engine nacelles consists of the RAF Acklington APS crest flanked by the towed-target bars. I could not find a front view of their Meteors, so can not confirm that the individual letter 'L' was displayed on the nosewheel door. From photos, the following serials and codes have been identified - VZ494 'L' (small engine intakes); WA760 'R' (small intakes); WA963 'D' (intakes not known); WE855 'F' (small intakes); WH279 'X' (small intakes); WK932 'M' (small intakes); and WK985 'W' (large intakes). The two 'L' and 'W' had the four aerials on top of the wings, while 'F' and 'M' definitely had no aerials. Unfortunately, none of the available photos could identify which style of ailerons were fitted - I changed them three times on my model, but I'm still not sure! As for this new Airfix kit, it was a challenge. In very many ways it is excellent, but there are problems. The fit of the parts is far too tight with no 'wriggle room'. For example, the wings click on tight, but adopt insufficient dihedral in the process. The main undercarriage legs are in the 'flying' position and the model will sit too high on the ground. I just chopped a large chunk off where they were glued. The mainwheel hubs are wrong, being 'dimpled' on both sides. The port sides should have concentric rings as hubs. I filled the dimples in and painted rings on them. The cockpit floor extends too far forward and fouls the nose bulkhead. Chop a lump off the front of the floor. The wing trailing edges are far too thick and thinning the insides doesn't work as it will affect other parts. So I thinned them on the outside as best I could. There are a couple of parts shown on the construction diagrams which aren't in the kit, namely the support for the nosewheel door, and the 'towing lug' (?) for the rear of the belly tank. The mountings for the four top-of-wing aerials are moulded on the upper wings, but if your chosen aircraft didn't have the aerials then the mountings need to be sanded off. Will I build any more examples of this kit? Yes, definitely, and hopefully my lessons learnt will shave a couple of weeks off producing the next two.
  2. Recently finished, but just some quick photos on an indoor background; XD220, 618, 736 Sqdn Lossiemouth, Acklington B of B, 15 Sept 62 (3) w by Philip Pain, on Flickr XD220, 618, 736 Sqdn Lossiemouth, Acklington B of B, 15 Sept 62 (5) w by Philip Pain, on Flickr XD220, 618, 736 Sqdn Lossiemouth, Acklington B of B, 15 Sept 62 (7) w by Philip Pain, on Flickr XD220, 618, 736 Sqdn Lossiemouth, Acklington B of B, 15 Sept 62 (8) w by Philip Pain, on Flickr The first airshow I ever attended was the 1962 RAF Acklington Battle of Britain display, and the 736 Squadron aerobatic team from Lossiemouth were lined up with their six Scimitars. I remember them well, the only active Scimitars I ever saw, but no spotters logbook in those early days. The full serials list has since been found on the web, plus some photos which show three different variants of Scimitar - some with refuelling probes - some without - and one with the early non-radar nose. None of the six had drop tanks fitted, which was normal for aerobatic displays. So I've picked '618' XD220 for my model, and this just happens to be one of only three surviving Scimitars - it is now on the USS Intrepid museum in New York harbour. The Xtrakit model is a bit of a nightmare, it looks like a Scimitar, it is painted like a Scimitar, but put a tape measure anywhere near it, a Scimitar it ain't! The wings are too short, at the roots; the tailplane is too large, also at the roots, and the tail and wing tips are all the wrong shape. The lower fin trailing edge needs extending to a correct shape, and there are other inaccuracies, most of which I have ignored. I do intend to add the drop tanks to the model, as optional 'clip-on' extras, just like the real thing, but I haven't done this yet as their pylons need correcting. I had to make my own squadron markings for the model, and the double lightning flashes on the fin were a challenge. I eventually did this by taking a strip of masking tape and freehand cutting it in half with scissors, the two halves then being angled apart on the model. This took many trial & error attempts to get right, and both sides of the fin are somewhat different. At the last count I used 37 individual strips of masking tape on this model! But the end result more or less matches my 59 year old memory.
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