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Heather Kay

1/72 Fairey Rotodyne: Heather relives her childhood!

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I had been following the progress of some of the various vintage Airfix kits here, and wondered what I had in my stash that might suit. Then I remembered I had a Fairey Rotodyne box, and so far no-one else had suggested building one for the Group Build.

 

I never really thought I'd be interested in taking part in any group builds, and here I am!

 

Scalemates tells me Airfix first produced the Fairey Rotodyne kit in 1959, roughly contemporary with the actual aircraft development. I have very definite memories of helping my father build what must have been the 1970s reboxing when I was barely 10 years old. The box art is very nostalgic, and I can recall the struggles we had trying to get the clamshell doors to work, as well as painting the machine. Happy days.

 

27746561577_81576f90c0_b.jpg

 

My box hails from the 1990s Humbrol era. That art survived three boxings, but oddly got darker with each re-issue. My memory has me convinced the 1970s paints and transfers (they were not decals in the good old days!) matched the darker navy blue on this box. I think memory is playing tricks with me. I love that tiny freighter on the Thames. I've only just noticed it's not even close to being in proportion to Tower Bridge!

 

28741814608_cc9fe497ea_b.jpg

 

Why did I buy this kit? Why do any of us buy kits? It's a hobby. We buy kits that speak to us. That's why I have a TSR2 on my shelf, and a Gloster Javelin in my stash. It's only recently I've consciously restricted myself to a specialist period and interest. What can I say? I suffered a bout of nostalgia when I saw it on the shelf. Besides, who could resist at that price! 

 

27746561347_b94e5ce1fd_b.jpg

 

I bought the kit nearly twenty years ago now, and the moulds would have been nigh on forty years old. Yes, there's flash. Yes, there are sink holes and ejector pins. Yes, the plastic is hard and a bit brittle. Yes, there's a whole swarm of rivets. It's a classic Airfix kit! I recall the one from my childhood being moulded in that silvery grey plastic, with the patterns that formed around the sprue gates on large parts. Anyway, cursory inspection reveals everything there, no missing bits, nothing really badly moulded, and generally what you'd expect.

 

27746561787_66713bbb02_b.jpg

 

27746561167_9fe6140ae1_b.jpg

 

27746560697_3cdbe67a77_b.jpg

 

41896927364_5e84ca6d6f_b.jpg

 

Instructions. Humbrol period stuff, with detail paint colours marked as required. Sadly, some of the colours aren't in the current Humbrol range, and I don't have any in my paint box either. I feel I may need to dig into the alternatives to see if I can come up with a good match to … 

 

40807197140_d891388ccc_b.jpg

 

These rather pale transfers, dating from the 1990s reissue. I'm happy I won't have to mask up the fuselage stripes, but I need to match the French blue for the greenhouse at the front. This could be interesting.

 

So, what's the plan? I find myself in an odd month where we're away on a couple of trips around the country. This means my normal "day job" is sufficiently disrupted it makes no sense to try and do any paying work. I've convinced Best Beloved that this build might just be quick enough to do in the time between our travels. Ho ho! The end date for the group build near the end of September also means I don't have to rush to finish it if I don't want to, or something else crops up. 

 

My original idea when I bought the kit was to do a "what if" of the Rotodyne in RAF Transport Command livery. I'd still like to do that, but it may take longer than I plan to spend on this build. I rather like the idea of attempting to build the kit - albeit with modern tools and techniques - as I would have done as a kid. No fancy extras, just what was in the box. If I can get the clamshell doors to work, and the rotors and props to go round, that would be fantastic! The question of what to do about the rivets that will succumb to the inevitable fit and finish issues arises. Others have sanded them all off, but then it would lose that essential classic Airfix look and feel. Therefore, I shall attempt to retain as much riveting as I can. Equally, in traditional "Saturday morning on the kitchen table modelling" style, I won't look at too many prototype references so I won't be tempted to add extraneous detailing.

 

Right, let's first of all see if I can find some suitable paints, and then get stuck into sticking things together!

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this is one of those that I will be stalking!

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Probably one of the best GB starts I've ever read on BM Heather, so nicely worded (why are females so much better at writing then us cavemen folk?)

Anyway - I can honestly say that you will get hooked on GB's once you've had the taste of one. They are so rewarding and very encouraging that you won't be able to stop. 

The best part is that you'll get to know so many more modellers and they'll praise your work as you go along. It also pushes you to complete kits that some of us would have stalled after hitting the first hurdle. Looking forward to your Rotodyne build, it's already shaping as an entry with so much promise and potential. 

 

Cheers.. Dave  

 

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4 hours ago, the South African said:

this is one of those that I will be stalking!

Stalk away! 

3 hours ago, Rabbit Leader said:

Probably one of the best GB starts I've ever read on BM

Thank you for that, and the encouragement. Although I've been building kits on and off for most of my life, I've already learned some useful new tips and wrinkles from members sharing their work on this forum. Always learning, as they say.

 

Right, on with the motley.

 

42619773811_36a1f9863d_b.jpg

 

We begin, as is traditional, with the cockpit. By most modern standards, this is about as basic as it comes. At least there are seats and control columns, so one must be grateful for small mercies. Having reviewed a couple of online builds of this kit which went into a bit of detailing behind the instrument panel, I've decided to keep things simple and just add some harness straps. The nose wheel gear goes in at this stage, though I shall leave the wheels until a bit later. Airfix designed the kit with some play value, so the undercarriage could be retracted - though not the gear doors. I think things will end up glued in place to avoid unfortunate collapses on the shelf! I must remember to add some ballast weight behind the bulkhead. I think I shall also fit a blanking sheet over the bulkhead door. There is nothing else inside the fuselage - and no, I am not intending on fitting a floor or seats in there! In fact I am seriously considering painting the windows black on the inside...

 

42619775621_53c21d9d79_b.jpg

 

Painting begins. I didn't have the right Humbrol colour for the floor and seats, but it won't be all that visible inside anyway. Incidentally, I did find Humbrol 14 gloss French Blue is available, but only as enamel. It's been ordered, and I will see if it matches the transfers well enough. I suspect a little bit of white might need mixing in to get a good match. I've been thinking about painting this thing, and I have a plan I'll describe a bit later in the build. 

 

I do have an airbrush. I shall use it for the main painting. For little details, like the cockpit and wheels, though, I find the hairy stick quicker. My spraying setup isn't really geared up for small items, but that will change in the coming months.

 

28746389818_e3bc962461_b.jpg

 

This pair of reprobates are supposed to be the flight crew. Much more reminiscent of Airplane's Otto Pilot, I fear they're not even worth retaining in my Bits Box. Besides, for an experimental aircraft, surely the test pilots wore proper gear and crash helmets. This model will be grounded and crewless.

 

41901497074_9948723ee8_b.jpg

 

Masking tape harnesses in. I don't think I'll even bother to paint them. This boxing includes transfer IP details. Older viewers will remember cutting the IP out of the instruction sheet and gluing it in place. Using the transfers this early in the build was a useful dry wet run to check the sheet was still usable. I think it'll work, but when I get to the big side transfers it might get tricky. I am considering painting and applying the transfers to the fuselage before fixing the wings and tailplane in place. It'll be much easier to wrangle the large stickers on to the sides without the engine pods getting in the way. 

 

41901495734_ee21dd5b44_b.jpg

 

The seats butt right up to the bulkhead, so I wasn't too bothered about getting the "straps" aligned neatly down the backs. The cockpit parts are now set aside to dry properly.

 

41901496434_ea4df3fcb1_b.jpg

 

After a little gentle scraping along the edges of the fuselage halves - these older kits always seem to have a small ledge on them - and a gentle sanding along the mating faces, time to see how the fuselage fits together. Well, it's not too bad for something approaching 60 years old. I've seen much worse.

 

42619776031_97cf0e892c_b.jpg

 

From the back, it looks like a bit of work will be needed round the clamshell. Rivets will be sacrificed, but in a good cause. I might get to deploy my new toy tool to reinstate some.

 

42619774641_3a18c60abb_b.jpg

 

There is some serious shrinkage associated with locating pins which will need dealing with. With the clamshell doors temporarily fitted, it's plain there's going to be a fair bit of work to do for a nice finish. It rather looks like the idea of having working doors will have to be shelved.

 

41901497284_1a84da7132_b.jpg

 

Sinkholes along the upper front fuselage aren't too bad, but will still need filling. Funny how the rivets align with the sinkholes. While I want to try to retain the characteristic Airfix riveted appearance, it is very tempting to eradicate all of them and reinstate with my new riveting wheel toy tool. Perhaps it might pay to see how much damage filling the sinkholes caused before I make that decision.

 

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Underneath. Yuck. Potholes nearly as big as those on our nearest motorway. One builder elected to make the upper fuselage joint as neat as possible while retaining the riveting as much as he could, and to eliminate all rivets underneath in the search of a smooth joint. The reasoning was underneath is hard to see without picking the model up. I can understand that.

 

41901497584_0e258b5090_b.jpg

 

Those doors are really going to give me some grief, aren't they? Another reason for fixing them closed is the utter lack of any internal detail. Another time, I might look at scratching something together, but not on this build. 

 

40811706140_d1a2edf3e1_b.jpg

 

The model can be built with the passenger access doors open and steps deployed. Looking at this lumpen set of steps, I think I'll go with the doors closed. 

 

I've trial fitted the front transparency, and amazingly it isn't a bad fit at all. With luck I won't need to sand or fill much when I get that far. Anyway, I think the next job will be to make up some masking for the cabin windows and get them stuck into the fuselage sides.

 

Onwards!

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Hello Heather, I am really glad you have elected to do the Rotodyne! It was on my list to do for this GB, but I had already allocated it to another potential Group Build! I had also thought about a What If? - this one would have been in the Raspberry Ripple colours. I might still try it after my Queen Elizabeth liner is done.

 

You have made a great start so far, and am looking forward to your progress and great updates!

 

All the best,

 

Ray

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Posted (edited)

1920px-SFF_002-1055526_Fairey_Rotodyne.j

By Johannes Thinesen - The SFF photo archive., CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1615013

 

I'm not sure when the Rotodyne ditched its middle vertical stabiliser:

 

fairey_rotodyne.jpg

 

I would say this next one was inspired by Pink Floyd, but the Rotodyne was a number of years too early for that. This is Battersea Power Station in the background isn't it?

 

fairey_rotodyne_london.jpg

 

 

Note that all these photos show a long instrumentation boom on the front of the aircraft that is not present in the kit. 

Edited by VMA131Marine

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Posted (edited)

Looks like another station  to me, as Battersea's chimneys are at the corners.  I'm curious to know now which station it is though.  Fulham? 

 

I worked at Battersea for a month in 1987 as an asbestos chemist before going to Brighton B.

Edited by JosephLalor

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Nice choice Heather.

482/04002-8/04002
Fairey Rotodyne
1/72 scale.
Available as 482 from 1959 to 1972.
Issued as 04002-8 from 1973 to 1977.
Reissued as 04002 from 1996 to 1997.

 

Type 2C Box. 1959 to 1963.
oldrotodyne.jpg~original
(Thanks to ATF)

Type 3C. Striped Airfix logo with kit name under logo.
airfixboxstyles0023.jpg
(Thanks to ATF)

Type 4D Box. Dual coloured round logo. 1972 to 1975.
1959AC359232mfs.jpg~original
(Thanks to ATF)

Type 11C. Box. Angled logo. Block Skill Level. 1994 to 2003.
1950s_280442161.jpg
(Thanks to ATF)

Also issued by Plasty (Germany) as kit series 1644 number 2 (1960s).

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There was a heliport at Battersea, and I understand the Rotodyne flew in and out a couple of times under test. Quite where that photo is I can't say. Someone will identify it.

 

I don't know when the central fin appeared/disappeared. I did find a Flight Global PDF with an article on the Rotodyne. I'm ignoring the internal photos in that article. I don't want to spend forever scratch building anything for this build! 

 

41905473164_8bf64b1526_b.jpg

 

Masking the cabin windows. A little tedious, and if you have a Silhouette cutter and the software nouse you might find it of use.

 

42573113832_3c118380eb_b.jpg

 

I suppose it took me about half an hour or so to mask all the glazing here. I used MEK to wick around the frame inside the fuselage. The windows are actually flush with the outside, so I hope I can get the masking tape back off after all the painting without accidentally pushing anything inside the buttoned-up fuselage! I slapped some Squadron green putty on the sinkholes. I hope I can clean up without losing too many rivets while things are still separate.

 

42573114262_8a700fa20c_b.jpg

 

The cabin door is moulded as two parts, and the instructions expect you to fit it in the open position. I'm going to have to do some styrene shimming and filler here, and in true kitchen table fashion I managed to get a gluey fingerprint where I didn't really want one. :doh: Once it's dry I'll tidy up and see what riveting I've lost. 

 

I've had a rethink on painting the inside of the glazing. Having seen the inside views in the above linked article, the interior would have been wide open and you could see across the fuselage through the windows. I'll paint the interior black anyway.

 

I think I'll work on the wings and tail parts so they're all nice and set for cleaning up later.

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4 minutes ago, Ratch said:

Nice choice Heather.

Cheers Ratch. I'll have to work on an edited thread for the Airfix forum. I'm ignoring them a bit of late. 👍

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2 hours ago, VMA131Marine said:

 

fairey_rotodyne_london.jpg

 

Is it  Brimsdown Power Station?

 

https://goo.gl/images/CgKDAW

 

This is another Airfix kit that I never quite got around to building. I’ll enjoy this vicariously please!

 

Trevor

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17 minutes ago, Heather Kay said:

I don't know when the central fin appeared/disappeared.

The FROG kit doesn't have the middle fin:

 

FROG_Rotodyne.jpg

http://projectswordtoys.blogspot.com/2010/05/up-and-away-frog-rotordyne-model-kit.html

 

But the Revell kit (1/78 not 1/72) does have it:

26575SDC17810.JPG

https://www.kingkit.co.uk/product/revell-aircraft--00013-fairey-rotodyne-1-78

 

RG0013-2.jpg?1352385726

 

It's kind of amazing that three separate kits were made of this aircraft and it didn't even see service.

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5 minutes ago, Max Headroom said:

Is it  Brimsdown Power Station?

Doesn't look like it. The building the chimneys are sitting on is much smaller than the one in the picture with the Rotodyne. I am fairly certain that the Rotodyne is somewhere in or near Central London in that picture though.

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Good to see this on the go. I have one in a similar build state to yours. It has sat like that for a number of years now. I'm trying to do one shelf of doom build to one new build so it may see light of day this year. I have the BEA decals for it though.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Heather Kay said:

27746561577_81576f90c0_b.jpg

 

My box hails from the 1990s Humbrol era. That art survived three boxings, but oddly got darker with each re-issue. My memory has me convinced the 1970s paints and transfers (they were not decals in the good old days!) matched the darker navy blue on this box. I think memory is playing tricks with me. I love that tiny freighter on the Thames. I've only just noticed it's not even close to being in proportion to Tower Bridge!

 

Here's a modern perspective, with HMS Belfast for scale:

 

tower-bridge-hms-belfast.jpg

This photo of The View from The Shard is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

If the freighter in the middle of the river on the Airfix box art is supposed to be a typical 500ft long, then the Thames would be half a mile wide and the towers of Tower Bridge would be a thousand feet tall.

Edited by VMA131Marine

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26 minutes ago, Max Headroom said:

Is it  Brimsdown Power Station?

 

https://goo.gl/images/CgKDAW

 

This is another Airfix kit that I never quite got around to building. I’ll enjoy this vicariously please!

 

Trevor

This is captioned as being at Battersea Heliport. It's obviously the same power station as the one in the Rotodyne picture.

df2859278d62c7459112654bca807e32--royal-

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2 hours ago, VMA131Marine said:

This is Battersea Power Station in the background isn't it? 

 

54 minutes ago, Max Headroom said:

Is it  Brimsdown Power Station? 

No, Fulham Power Station.

The Battersea (Westland) Heliport was on the south bank of the river in Battersea, The view above is taken from the heliport and is looking north across the river, ergo the power station on the opposite bank must be Fulham.

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3 minutes ago, Dave Swindell said:

 

No, Fulham Power Station.

The Battersea (Westland) Heliport was on the south bank of the river in Battersea, The view above is taken from the heliport and is looking north across the river, ergo the power station on the opposite bank must be Fulham.

From Google maps, it looks like the spot is now occupied by Harbour Club Chelsea

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Wow, this is what I call thread drift!

 

Trevor

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28 minutes ago, VMA131Marine said:

From Google maps, it looks like the spot is now occupied by Harbour Club Chelsea

Close, bottom end of Imperial Park

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1 minute ago, Max Headroom said:

Wow, this is what I call thread drift!

 

Trevor

But in a good way!

 

It's all Rotodyne related.

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I'm glad this thread is generating some interest, and it's pleasing that the location of the power station has been identified. Who cares about thread drift when it's all good information, eh?

 

28754502598_1f8d0374a7_b.jpg

 

I slapped some matt black about the innards. While this dried, I tackled the clamshell doors. They aren't moulded symmetrically, so I elected to glue them together and sand them to the right profile. I didn't take a photo of that.

 

27758521137_019d9d1036_b.jpg

 

The final acts for today were to stick the fuselage halves together. With moulds of this age, it pays to take your time. I started with aligning the rear upper section, taping it together at first, followed by some liquid cement in the join. I moved to the front section and did likewise, and followed up both with clamps. Since then I've also done the bottom of the fuselage. Once they've all set, I'll take a proper squint at what needs doing to fit the clamshell doors properly. I suspect it won't be a quick job.

 

Yes, I have left out the main rotor pin. I will be chopping that about so the rotors can be lifted off the model for transport. 

 

I've also joined together the wing halves and tailplane parts. They can dry overnight and can be cleaned up tomorrow, along with the fuselage joins. I want to try and get the fuselage painted, or at least in primer, before I attach any sticky-out bits. I also had a play with my new riveting tool, a Trumpeter thing I picked up last weekend. Quite impressed so far, though I do need to practice to get the best results. 

 

For a type that only had one flying prototype and failed to make production at all to have so many kits appear says a lot for the times, I think. When this kit and the Frog one (and presumably the Revell one) appeared in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Rotodyne was The Future. The British aerospace industry led the world in many ways, and flight of all kinds was still exciting and new. Eventually, of course, it would transpire that the Rotodyne would disappear - political reasons and so on - but the kits linger to remind us of what might have been had things turned out differently.

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A compelling thread Heather - thank you :).  It perfectly captures the nostalgic feel of the GB.

 

Just a thought about the fuselage stripes:  my painful experience with building airliners (admittedly smaller scale than this), is that it's usually better to cut such large sections into smaller pieces before applying.  In your case though, you'd have to make sure that the joins didn't line up with the rivets!

 

Talking of which, have you seen these 'rivet decals' (various other sizes are available)?  They're 3D so are good for replacing Airfix's finest. Here's some I used on a vacform S-61.

 

P1090370.jpg

 

P1090385.jpg

 

Cliff

 

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27 minutes ago, CliffB said:

A compelling thread Heather - thank you :).  It perfectly captures the nostalgic feel of the GB.

 

Thanks Cliff! 

 

Yes, I've seen others use the 3D rivet transfers. I've had experience of Archer transfers, although they still leave the carrier film in situ. For this model, I think running the Trumpeter wheel about will probably suffice for replacing sanded rivets. 

 

I shall look at splitting the strip transfers. It might make it less likely for sweariness issues should the transfers split. The transfers are already in sections, but it might pay to divide further. A bridge I shall cross when I come to it. 👍

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