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From Failure to Failure


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@Procopiusand I decided a few days ago that a Blenheim buddy build would be a great way to start the New Year.


We've each chosen an airframe, and with Edward's Wimpey finished and with my Zero nearly so, we can make a start.


I’ll let Edward introduce his own star, but mine will be the most recent Airfix boxing, the IV bomber, in the OOB markings of 107 Squadron. The aircraft featured is seen here at RAF Leuchars, not a million miles from chez 06/24:





Whereas choosing a subject was easy, choosing a thread title took a little more work. We toyed with many options:


  • "The Scarlet Caterpillar", Churchill’s description of Marlborough’s army en route to Blenheim, too obscure;

  • "Britain First", the name of Lord Rothermere's private antecedent of the Blenheim, was discarded on grounds that the name's appropriation by the far right made it unsavoury;

and the mottos of our two chosen Squadrons:

  • Nous y serons ("We shall be there")
  • Si vis pacem para bellum; (Translation: "If you want peace, prepare for war")

But in the end, what better than Churchill’s words of encouragement:  "Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

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Note the "Made in UK" logo, does the return of manufacturing to the UK signify an increase in quality?


Not on first inspection, the plastic is a darker, strangely mottled grey, reminiscent of the shiny stuff in Airfix kits of yore. It has a subtle, grainy texture on the surface, not clear if this is the plastic or the mould faces.


It does not seem as cleanly finished as the Asian competition, and in places looks quite poor indeed, the pilot may take more than a little effort for example. First impressions do not bode particularly well, but we shall see.

Edited by 06/24
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7 minutes ago, Stew Dapple said:

Nice. I've built the short- and long-nosed versions of this kit and enjoyed both, I hope you will too :) 

We will be relying on you, Obi-Wan Dapple, when the going gets hard/confusing/messy, to keep us on the true path.

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Hello 06/24

I'm in too if you don't mind !!

But I will wait the 1/48 one from Airfix to start a Blenheim, did I say A Blenheim ??

Gonna followthe Procopius one Too of course !

Nice choice !!



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Hello everyone! We all made it to the future intact? Everyone kept their arms and legs inside during the transition to 2018, I trust? No? Report to the nurse immediately. The rest of you, here's what I'm a-buildin'.


I decided to do Blenheim If L8715/NG-R, of 604 (County of Middlesex) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force. This aircraft was flown by both Flying Officer (later Group Captain) John Cunningham OBE DSO** DFC*, a former De Havilland test pilot of later "Cats Eyes" fame and twenty aerial victories as a nightfighter, and Pilot Officer (later Squadron Leader) Ian Joll DFC, who claimed at least four victories. Joll is the subject of one of those curious anecdotes that wartime so often produces; he was shot down while strafing parked Ju52s in the Netherlands, but thanks to the efforts of friendly locals, was able to escape back to Britain, showing up on his mother's doorstep literally ten minutes after she'd received a telegram from the War Office saying he was missing. Joll later worked on the infamous Great Pajandrum project before sadly dying young in 1977. After his wife's death in 2014, his medals and logbooks were auctioned off by Spinks, which so often seems to be the case. 


Cunningham was dismissive of the Blenheim, saying it "was a very nice flying machine, but it was a useless war machine". I highly recommend the IWM interview with him I've linked to above, the sound quality is excellent.


I'd seen somewhere that 604's Blenheims had their turrets removed for speed, which gave me some consternation, but that actually doesn't seem to be the case, going by these photos from April of 1940. 


24564224067_ea30b8a630_k.jpg20180101_084831 by Edward IX, on Flickr


Somewhere alone the line I got carried away, and decided to also build Blenheim V BA875/W, flown by Wing Commander Hugh Malcolm of 18 Squadron on the doomed attack on an airfield near Chouigui which won him a posthumous Victoria Cross. His citation reads in part:


"[O]n 4th December, 1942, Wing Commander Malcolm, having been detailed to give close support to the First Army, received an urgent request to attack an enemy fighter airfield hear Chouigui. Wing Commander Malcolm knew that to attack
such an objective without a fighter escort—which could not be arranged in the timeavailable—would be to court almost certain disaster; but believing the attack to be necessary for the success of the Army's operations, his duty was clear. He decided to
attack. He took off with his squadron and reached the target unmolested, but when he had successfully attacked it, his squadron was intercepted by an overwhelming force of enemy fighters. Wing Commander Malcolm fought back, controlling his hard-pressed
squadron and attempting to maintain formation. One by one his aircraft were shot down until only his own aircraft remained. In the end he, too, was shot down in flames. Wing Commander Malcolm's last exploit was the finest example of the valour and
unswerving devotion to duty which he constantly displayed."


Malcolm (who was all of twenty-five and from Dundee) was leading a scratch force of Blenheim Vs (then called Bisleys, as they sometimes were), from 18 (nine aircraft) and 614 (County of Glamorgan) Squadron (two aircraft); no close fighter protection was provided to the bombers because Spitfires from both the RAF and the USAAF had been heavily engaged with Luftwaffe fighters in the general vicinity. One Bisley burst a tailwheel on takeoff and aborted, and a second experienced engine trouble en route to the target and crash-landed, but all nine of the remaining aircraft were shot down by Bf109s from JG53 and JG2; aside from Wing Commander Malcolm, seventeen other men were killed.


So I'm doing a Blenheim at the start of its career, in 1939, when it was still new and people had high hopes (though Cunningham, a hard-eyed realist, wasn't numbered among them), and at the end, long after everyone knew it was too old and slow and weak to fight, but continued to throw them at the enemy. 


The Blenheim V kit is from 2001, which makes it...eep! Almost twenty years old. I had my first kiss in 1998 (not with Mrs P, sadly, though I knew her then and would have leapt at the chance), so this is going way back into dinosaur times for me. I'd held off on building this one for a while, on account of the separate propeller blades and general fiddliness of early 21st-century short-run kits, but I got a prop jig recently, and if not now, when? And if not me, who? (Probably whoever lugs all the kits out of my basement once I snuff it.) Sometimes a man has got to trust that he's up to the challenge. That's not really something I'm good at; most of my life consists of failures to make the grade, but maybe 2018 will be the year that changes for me, and maybe my unhappy country can right itself, and maybe, just maybe I can make myself into the man I'd like to be. But more proximately, maybe I can mask a Blenheim V by hand. A man who can do that can truly do anything. 







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Well... If PC is sneaking in a second, I may find room for something from the Greek debacle, but that will require research (a coat of looking at, as someone once said).


Meanwhile, unlike my colonial counterpart, I have not snuck in any family free days, so have only just started to get paint on the interior green bits, (pleasingly the paint behaved this evening):


25561618228_4f2f7cac87_c.jpgBlenheim IV by jongwinnett, on Flickr


39431647491_3694b54339_c.jpgBlenheim IV by jongwinnett, on Flickr


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As you know, I enjoy a wee glass of something while I model, so what better than a beer brewed within sight of Leuchars, the wartime setting for my machine...


24565701957_555d191714_c.jpgModellers aid by jongwinnett, on Flickr


Meanwhile I thought I might share the quality workmanship of the pilot figure:


38723801424_916d352105_c.jpgBlenheim IV by jongwinnett, on Flickr

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20 minutes ago, SmashedGlass said:

I gave that last posting a like simply because of the IPA in it. :penguin:

Unfortunately it's one if those over hopped, fizzy concoctions aimed at twenty something bearded types, sadly I am not one...

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Aha, the trans-atlantic duo is complete and with two more models! You're spoiling us Ambassadors.

Great background PC, as usual :)


18 minutes ago, 06/24 said:

Unfortunately it's one if those over hopped, fizzy concoctions...

Oh, shame. Many happy returns Jon (burp!)

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2 hours ago, 06/24 said:

Meanwhile I thought I might share the quality workmanship of the pilot figure

Here Airfix have gone out on a limb, because only 666 (City of Goatswood) Squadron ever equipped its pilots with shoggoths. Really limits what you can accurately build.



Meanwhile, in Michigan:


39404766692_3ca76332c5_k.jpgIMG_2689 by Edward IX, on Flickr


Don't be fooled by the toothless smile, he'd eat you alive if he got half a chance.




I've tried to get cracking along, but the MPM kit is of course rather dodgy and tricky. It would reward more care than I'm capable of giving, so I can only hope it fails to punish me for what I attempt. It's needed only a little filler so far, but a lot of prepwork to ensure this:


27658011489_beaf3e27f1_k.jpg20180101_113155 by Edward IX, on Flickr


A sort of shelf holding the radio is supposed to butt-join with this bulkhead, forming an inverted L heading back into the fuselage, but apparently nobody thought to check whether or not it fit -- the wings slot into recesses on the fuselage sides, and these obtrude well into the interior. I made much use of my handy-dandy micro-chisel (one of my better modelling investments) to hack a path through. I'll still probably need to place a shim in to fill a slight gap, as there's simply no way it can sit as low as they apparently intended it to. I'm sure the rest of the interior will feature similar delights. Just so you get a sense of the quality of the molding, here's the MLG; the one on the right has been cleaned up as much as I dare:


39434970851_0d81a3a849_k.jpg20180101_123333 by Edward IX, on Flickr


The center struts on both broke from the crushing tectonic force created when I clipped them off their sprue and had to be reglued. Promising!


Anyway, the Airfix kit might as well come from another universe in terms of how different a ballgame it is. (And as a side note, my other Blenheim If kit, which I opened first, had two Sprue Es and no Sprue D; so I've had to send a plea into Airfix spares for one...and while we're talking, does anyone have a spare clear part 4, the glasshouse roof? I trod on one a while ago and never got a replacement.) I've been referring to the excellent Haynes Manual for the type as I go along (probably the shortest amount of time between purchasing a modelling reference and actually employing it for me ever), and it seems to indicate most internals were the interior green colour the RAF used...maybe not the case, of course (maybe Eau-de-nil in 1939?) but I decided to go with it.


38727107414_cedb0953aa_k.jpg20180101_130611 by Edward IX, on Flickr


I painted the tanks visible in the wheel wells silver, then masked them so that the mounting brackets could be green. Shazam:


38727105404_ecac399dce_k.jpg20180101_130817 by Edward IX, on Flickr


That was probably a really good use of my time.


As an aside, I recently learned from Jamie at Sovereign Hobbies that it's best to stir Colourcoats with an electric stirrer rather than give it a mighty shake (as I generally do, under the fond hope that it exercises my noodle-like arms), and I dug out my Badger paint stirrer and did just that and WOW. It really does make a difference. The paint looks gorgeous and goes on even better. 


After some test-fitting, I decided to attach the top part of the wing first, and then add the lower half once it was firmly in place, to ensure a good fit.


27658013579_a07fbd8b38_k.jpg20180101_113151 by Edward IX, on Flickr


I know some have suggested to do each fuselage side entire before closing them, but that seems to cause issues with fitting the wing, so this seems to me to be the best course to take.


I attached the lower half of the wing and that's where I've left off:


24568937187_79f02f9681_k.jpg20180101_135258 by Edward IX, on Flickr











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Just now, 06/24 said:

Rapid progress, I am but a sloth in comparison. 

Ah, your love for your family is your weakness. I'm just puttering away and not thinking of another human being on earth.



It's marvelous.

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Just now, 06/24 said:

I'm not sure I own this many clamps:

Clamps: they're not just for perverts and handymen anymore.


One really can never have enough clamps, I feel this very strongly.

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