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  1. GAF (Avro) Lincoln Enhancement Set for the Blackbird Models Conversion 1/72 Red Roo Models Following on from the success of the Lancaster, Avro's infamous chief designer Roy Chadwick, developed the Lincoln as a natural evolution with the purpose of being able to fly higher, further and with a greater payload as a result of the longer wing span, greater fuel capacity and more powerful Merlin engines. Despite the prototype being first tested in 1944 shortly after D-Day, the Lincoln was too late to see service in WWII although was intended to join the Tiger Force against Japanese forces. Apart from the extended wings and fuselage, the nose was redesigned significantly incorporating optically flat panels instead of the characteristic Lancaster blister nose ti improve visibility for the bomb aimer. A further modification included a Boulton Paul turret armed with two .50 Browning machine guns. As well as this was the introduction of a mid upper Bristol turret with two 20mm cannon to significantly improve defensive firepower. The Lincolns began to replace the 4 engine heavies in RAF service soon after the war with plans to produce versions in Canada and Australia. With the end of hostilities, production in Canada was ended with only one aircraft produced, but the Department of Aircraft Production in Australia (later known as Government Aircraft Factory) produced 73 Mk.30's. The first of these entered service with No.82 wing at RAAF Amberley in 1949 where they replaced Liberators. In the 1950's, the RAAF needed the Lincoln to perform anti-submarine- duties. To incorporate the necessary equipment, 20 aircraft with modified in to Mk.31's with the most notable difference being a 6.5' nose extension. Whilst this enabled carriage of the anti-submarine equipment, the long nose made it incredibly difficult to land, particularly at night due to poor visibility. 10 of the Mk.31's were later updated to MR Mk.31 to facilitate maritime reconnaissance duties. The RAAF Lincolns took part in bombing missions along side the RAF aircraft in the 1950's operating out of RAF Tengah in Singapore during the Malayan Conflict. The RAAF eventually retired its Lincolns in 1961. The enhancement set This set is designed to enhance the Blackbird Lincoln conversion set for the Airfix Lancaster B.II that was released two years ago. Whilst the Blackbird set isn't the only conversion around (Paragon which is like rocking horse poo and the readily available Flightpath set), it is the only one for the latest Airfix Lancaster kits. I built the Blackbird kit last year (HERE) and as you can see below, it builds in to an impressive replica. Whilst the Blackbird conversion contains most of the key features to produce a pleasing Lincoln, there are still gaps in the parts list necessary to complete an accurate conversion. I addressed several of these details by scratch building, but used the Airfix FN.82 rear turret as the next best thing to the Boulton Paul 'D' type turret that was actually fitted. This is where the Red Roo set comes in with particular focus on the Australian variants, namely the Mk.30 and Mk.31's. Before I get in to the part contents, it's important to pay homage to the instructions contained in this enhancement set. I know from the build above how much research is required to complete the Lincoln conversion accurately and Red Roo have made this element of the build stress free by including an incredibly comprehensive 13 page A4 colour instruction booklet. Diagrams and detailed explanations clearly navigate the builder through the finer details of the Lincoln assembly referring to both the Blackbird conversion and Airfix Lancaster donor kit. Further, on page 11, there is a matrix of all the Mk.31's produced with the variations in turret armament , flare outlet plate, rocket rails and roundel configurations. Whilst this set is focussed on the Australian variants, the instructions would of been most welcome in building my RAF rendition of this forgotten bomber, in particular, the angular cut necessary on the rear fuselage to achieve the correct profile after inserting the fuselage lengthening plug. The parts supplied come in various formats, resin, brass coloured white metal, platicard and steel wire. The contents are: Correct Bristol Type D rear turret - resin base and gun mount with clear resin front and rear sections & white metal .50 brownings Mid upper turret - resin base and early / later clear resin cupolas, white metal 20mm cannon .50 Browning barrels for front turret - white metal Rocket rails that were carried on the Australian variants (paper template included for accurate location under the wings) Gun laying equipment blister Strike camera housing Various aerials carried by RAAF variants (white metal, resin and steel wire) Resin windows for the Mk.31 extended nose Correct tail wheel The resin components are of very good quality. The mid upper turret is located further forwards than on a Lancaster due to the extra weight, so a 15mm diameter hole will need drilling in the fuselage as explained thoroughly in the instructions. It's important to check your references on the aircraft you are building as to whether it used the early 'flatter' cupola or whether it uses the later more rounded version which has the strengthening frame across it further back from the centre line. The white metal components are nicely represented, although given the nature of the material, slightly less well defined in detail compared to the resin. That said, the perforations in the .50's are good as you can see in the photo below. The clear resin parts are nicely moulded and look to be accurate. In the review set, the later mid upper cupola has a few minor bubbles and slightly more distortion in comparison with the early version, but with a dip in Kleer, all parts should look good. Notable in the review pack was two copies of the 20mm cannon Conclusion Clearly, tackling a build that involves cutting up a kit and inserting significant plugs and additional detail is not aimed at inexperienced modellers, so this enhancement set does expect a degree of modelling competence. One could argue that some of the parts contained should of been included in the Blackbird conversion (correct BP rear turret in particular), so it is great to see a solution available. Having built the Blackbird conversion which is a great set in itself, this enhancement set would of made the build much easier, both in terms of the research provided in the instructions and the additional parts that would normally require scratch building (20mm cannon and mid upper base for example). Of course, buying a conversion and then an enhancement set pushes up the cost somewhat, but if, like me, you had wanted to build a detailed Lincoln for many years using a good donor kit, the investment is justifiable. Given the contents of this set, whilst it is primarily marketed as a RAAF enhancement, it is equally valid on an RAF variant too. Review sample courtesy of
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