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Airfix Lancaster BI or BIII?


fishplanebeer
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Dear All,

 

The next kit on my bench is the excellent Airfix Lancaster BIII which I intend to build as an early BI instead but not sure of all the differences between the two versions so any input would be great.

 

My understanding is that the BI and BIII were identical, apart from the early BI's, as Avro built the airframe to the current spec irrespective of the origin of the engines that would subsequently be fitted to it. Apparently the Packard Merlins came with a superior tool kit and the yanks tweaked the carburettor so that the flight engineers panel instrumentation was slightly different but externally a mid/late production BI would look exactly the same as a BIII and only by referencing the serial number can you confirm the mark.

 

As far as my early BI is concerned I intend to fit the shallower bomb aimers blister, borrowed from the Revell kit, omit the mid-upper turret coving and give it a distinctly matt finish so is this all that I need to do as not sure about the side windows and the rear FN turret in the kit? I know early BI's definitely had the side windows showing but later BI's and BIII's appear not to have them so were the simply painted over or did Avro delete them from the fuselage at some point I wonder?

 

I've read much about the apparent differences between the BI and BIII such as the presence of paddle blade props and H2S randome but this does not seem to be correct as the Lancs used on 'Chastise' were all BIII's but definitely had needle blade props. And as for the Canadian BX's they presumably had Packard Merlins and included some bespoke changes to the bomb bay doors but otherwise were effectively BIII's?

 

Any input/knowledge would be greatly appreciated before I make a start in order to ensure that the finished model is as accurate as possible.

 

Kind Regards

Colin.

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The windows were often painted over and Avros did delete them later.  This has been discussed elsewhere on the site, so a search should bring up better references.

 

The paddle blade props were a late production improvement with no respect to mark numbers.  Ditto H2S.

 

There were a number of different bomb bay door standards depending upon the anticipated load.  A central bulge extending rearwards for the 8000lb, bulged aft across the width for the Tallboy.   Again, discussed elsewhere.

 

Didn't the Canadian ones have the forward Martin turret amidships, and so were perhaps closer to Mk.VIIs?  Sorry, but I'm a Halibag modeller and not fully up with all the Lancaster's foibles.  No doubt others will come along to tidy up my comments.

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Hello

Quite a task, Colin. Not only there had been substantial differences between factory fresh aircraft, but Lancasters had also been modified during their service. Here is one example (and my apologies for a low-quality photo):

i-img1024x768-1572442651qulqpa11875.jpg

 

Although I am not quite certain about it, I also believe S for Sugar had been delivered without an H2S, but had been retrofitted with one later. Perhaps narrowing your search down a bit? Cheers

Jure

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Many thanks for the feedback so far, much appreciated.

 

My plan for the build is to use the windows and needle blade props provided plus only adding the nose/port pitot tube with no other aerials that were found on later examples. Plus I will be leaving off the dorsal turret coving, using the flatter bomb aimer nose blister from the Revell kit and applying a distinct matt overall finish.

 

I have considered adding a ventral gun turret but can't find photos of any examples where this was fitted so will desist from this as I have no evidence to support the precise nature of its installation and location.

 

I'm assuming the rear turret in the Airfix kit is the original FN20 (?) variant and not the lighter/modified version as fitted to the BoB Memorial Flights PA474, so this should also be OK I think?

 

In terms of scheme it will be an example from 44, 97 or 106 Squadrons, all of which operated this early version, so much more research required on my part here to build a specific aircraft.

 

Kind Regards

Colin.

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Research is the key. 

There is no reason why you cannot put the usual nose blister on. A very few Lancaster had the shallow blister , it being more prolific on the Mk. II.

 

A bit of background  . . .

The Canadian MK. X was basically a Mk. III it was just designated Mk.X to leave space for further British developments such as the Mk. VII. This was to introduce the electrical turret and a number (50) of standard Mk. I/III that SHOULD have had that particular turret fitted,  (but it wasnt available so they became known as the Mk. VIII Interim)  had the standard FN mid-upper turrets fitted. The MK. VII had the mid-upper turret moved further forward up the fuselage and was actually positioned over the bomb-bay. As already stated, items such as H2s, prop types and bulge bomb doors were operational requirements rather than being Mk.  specific.

 

There are a number of photos showing 44 Squadron operating the Lancaster some of which are quite clear.(some in colour)

44 & 97 flew the first daylight in 1942 to bomb the Augsburg diesel engine factory so that might be a consideration ??

(S/Ldr Nettleton earned the V.C. for leading the attack).

 

Good luck with your research 

Ian

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Hello

As Ian said, aircraft taking part in Augsburg raid would fit your criteria nicely. Here is a link to a one of the webpages describing the raid, which also includes a photo of L7578, KM-B, of S/Ldr Nettleton on a practice flight. Here is the same photo from the collection of IWM:

large_000000.jpg?_ga=2.129924746.7630223

© IWM HU 91969

 

L7578 did not take part in the raid, though. However, R5508, KM-B (Nettleton), R5510, KM-A (Garwell), L7536 KM-H (Rhodes), R5506 KM-P (Sandford), L7548 KM-T (Crum) and L7565, KM-V (Beckett) from 44 Sqn and L7573, OF-K (Sherwood), R5537, OF-B (Hallows), R5488, OF-F (Rodley), R5496, OF-U, (Penman), L7575, OF-Y (Deverill) and R5513, OF-P (Mycock) from 97 Sqn had, so perhaps typing these serials into a browser might yield some result. There is at least one colour profile rendition of S/Ldr Nettleton's R5508 with a ventral turret, so if you happen to come across a photo, which would confirm this assumption, I for one would very much like to see it.

There is a photo of L7540 while in service with 83 Sqn with fuselage codes of her previous owner (44 Sqn, KM-J) showing through:

 

large_CH_017903_1.jpg?_ga=2.205067670.76

© IWM CH 17903

 

There is also a colour profile of L7571, as well as Corgi model of the same aircraft. However, I have never seen a photo of the real aircraft. Cheers

Jure

Edited by Jure Miljevic
Code letters added
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Does not the Airfix kit come with two bombaimer blisters? One the early shallow and the other the deeper one. Just use Part H18, the shallow option. 

 

Also, why would you omit the upper turret, unless you plan to build a Lanc that didn't have one.

 

 

 

 

Chris

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8 minutes ago, dogsbody said:

Does not the Airfix kit come with two bombaimer blisters? One the early shallow and the other the deeper one. Just use Part H18, the shallow option. 

 

Also, why would you omit the upper turret, unless you plan to build a Lanc that didn't have one.

 

 

 

 

Chris

Yes, the Airfix kit comes with everything needed to build early or Late Lanc (except different radiator intakes). I’ve just built an early one in the GB, the only thing different is that I left the mid upper fairing on...

 

 

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12 minutes ago, dogsbody said:

Also, why would you omit the upper turret, unless you plan to build a Lanc that didn't have one.

Chris,

 

Maybe he meant he was going to remove the large coaming or collar that I see in some Lancaster photos? I see some with and some without- were there two different dorsal turret types fitted? I'm not much of an authority where Lancs are concerned. The Martin .50 cal. turret fitted to Mk VII's and Mk X's didn't have a collar, but did have a flat strengthening plate that surrounded the turret which was moved  forward of the standard turret location to maintain the c.g, I think..

Mike

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Yeah, what they all said!

 

I have an Airfix Lanc and a Revell Lanc left in the stash, they both come with the parts to build a MkI or a MkIII, but there are subtle differences between early and late, early, narrow propeller blades, shallow bomb aimers dome, low astrodome above the navigator, late, Paddle blade props, deep bomb aimers dome , tall astrodome, the last Lancaster delivered to the RAF was a MKI, Turrets are another difference, as Mike has pointed out above!

 

I found the The Haynes manual a good source of information and the wikipedia page also details a lot of the differences between various marks!

 

Granto 

 

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50 minutes ago, 72modeler said:

Chris,

 

Maybe he meant he was going to remove the large coaming or collar that I see in some Lancaster photos? I see some with and some without- were there two different dorsal turret types fitted? I'm not much of an authority where Lancs are concerned. The Martin .50 cal. turret fitted to Mk VII's and Mk X's didn't have a collar, but did have a flat strengthening plate that surrounded the turret which was moved  forward of the standard turret location to maintain the c.g, I think..

Mike

 

I'm fully aware of the turret difference. The B.X with the mattin turret had it fitted a bit farther forward than the FN turret. I have only seen a few photos of Lancasters without the coaming around the FN turret and it's been a long time since I last saw one. 

 

1 hour ago, woody37 said:

Yes, the Airfix kit comes with everything needed to build early or Late Lanc (except different radiator intakes). I’ve just built an early one in the GB, the only thing different is that I left the mid upper fairing on...

 

 

 

I wasn't aware of a difference in the radiators between the RR engined and the Packard engined Lancs

 

 

 

Chris

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1 minute ago, Graham Boak said:

There was no difference, but there was between earlier Lancs and the tropicalised ones that Airfix missed in the B Mk.I(FE) kit.

 

Okay. That I knew.

 

 

 

Chris

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Chris,

 

I only intend to omit the ventral turret as I cannot find any photos of it actually being in use/installed. The mid-upper will be there but just minus the coving as this was not a feature of the very early Lancs and I think wasn't introduced until a few months after it originally entered service. I think the Lanc came into service around March 1942 and the mid-upper turret coving added in May but my dates could be not exact.

 

In terms of the actual Lanc I intend to build I'd like to do an early one from 44 Squadron that flew on the Augsburg raid but decals are proving to be a problem with the codes and serials being the early medium sea grey. I cannot find any after market decal sets that would suit and I'm no expert in terms of making my own, plus the 'A' fuselage roundels are also a bit tricky to find in the correct size so any suggestions please.

 

Kind Regards

Colin.

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4 minutes ago, fishplanebeer said:

Chris,

 

I only intend to omit the ventral turret as I cannot find any photos of it actually being in use/installed. The mid-upper will be there but just minus the coving as this was not a feature of the very early Lancs and I think wasn't introduced until a few months after it originally entered service. I think the Lanc came into service around March 1942 and the mid-upper turret coving added in May but my dates could be not exact.

 

In terms of the actual Lanc I intend to build I'd like to do an early one from 44 Squadron that flew on the Augsburg raid but decals are proving to be a problem with the codes and serials being the early medium sea grey. I cannot find any after market decal sets that would suit and I'm no expert in terms of making my own, plus the 'A' fuselage roundels are also a bit tricky to find in the correct size so any suggestions please.

 

Kind Regards

Colin.

 

Very good. Carry on.

 

 

 

 

Chris

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You might try logging onto that well-known auction site and doing a search for "1/72 Lancaster Decals" or do an internet search for the same. At least you will be able to see what's on each sheet- then you just have to cross your fingers that the sheets are either still available or aren't priced like a King's ransom!

Mike

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Dear All,

 

I'm now minded to make the model as KM-M, serial number R5493, as this was apparently the first Lanc to be lost on operations during a 'Gardening' sortie over Lorient in March 1942.

 

Same issue applies in terms of a source of codes and serial number in medium sea grey so any help would be greatly appreciated although I'm assuming the squadron codes would have been larger than the individual aircraft letter as shown in all the photos I have of the early 44 Squadron machines.

 

Kind Regards

Colin.

 

Kind Regards

Colin.

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Sorry,

 

Just to add that the only pic I have found of the ventral turret in place is the well known one of the second prototype DG595 that is featured in the 'Lancaster At War' book by Garbett and Goulding. All other pics I have of early Lancs show no sign of it at all and if it was installed then presumably an eighth crew member would have been required to operate it but I cannot find any reference to a 'ventral gunner' ever being part of the crew?

 

Kind Regards

Colin.

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Been trawling through the IWM site:

 

large_000000.jpg?_ga=2.26854141.19459061

 

Lancaster B Mark III prototype, W4114, on the ground at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment, Boscombe Down, Wiltshire. W4114, originally a standard B Mark I, was fitted with American-built Packard Merlin 28 engines at Avro's Manchester works in August 1942 and sent to the A&AEE where it underwent performance trials and fuel system analysis. A ventral turret was also fitted at Boscombe Down for additional turret trials. From November 1943 until the end of the war, W4114 served with Nos. 1654 and 1660 Conversion Units.

 

 

large_000000.jpg?_ga=2.23126650.19459061

 

In August 1942 Lancaster I R5727 became the first of its type to fly the Atlantic, having been chosen as the pattern machine for production of the Lancaster in Canada. It is seen here at Prestwick airport before the flight.

 

 

I know it's not what you're looking for, but pictures of early Lancs fitted with a ventral turret are rare.

 

 

 

Chris

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There seemed to be a variety of Squadron code sizes particularly early in lancaster use. Normal size was 48” but I’ve seen some which were 36”. I may have some generic codes and roundels in the stash that you can have if you know what you’re looking for. 

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Dear All,

 

It seems the serial numbers on the early Lancs were indeed red and not grey so an error on my part and now will be much easier to now sort from the various decal sheets from Xtradecal amongst others, although the sea grey codes and A1 roundel will still require further investigation.

 

On a more general note I've now found an additional photo of the ventral turrent installation on R5556/KM-C which is featured in the long out of print Aero Data International No 10 - Avro Lancaster B1 (page 193) so will copy and share shortly. Not brilliant but at least it's evidence that it was installed at some point and adds to those that have already been gratefully added to this thread.

 

Just to add that the BX seems to have been a standard BIII fitted with Packards but shipped with no turrets installed, these being done in the UK once they arrived, so initially the mid-upper turret would have been the standard FN version in the normal position and not the Martin version in the more forward location.  However later BX's were subsequently fitted with the Martin turret in the more forward position when the turret finally became available. 

 

The early lack of supply of this turret resulted in the BVII, basically planned as a standard BI/BIII but fitted with the new turret in the more forward location, having the normal FN turret installed so making them the BVII interims/or just standard BI/BIII's. The Lanc 'Just Jane' at the LAHC is an example of a BVII with the forward turret position but sadly has no turret fitted, just a plexiglass representation but great to have a taxy ride in! The benefit of the Martin turret was that it had the heavier calibre .5mg's and was powered by on-board batteries so not relying upon the pneumatic power from the engines. I can't recall exactly which engine provided power to this turret but clearly if it was disabled then the turret would be u/s.

 

Kind Regards

Colin.

 

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Dear All,

 

Sorry to pester but how can I insert a jpeg from my desktop into the post please as I've never done this before and can't find this option anywhere?

 

Kind Regards

Colin.

 

Ps. forgot to mention that the BVII had the FN 82 rear turret fitted which housed two .5mg's

 

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Hello Colin

Thank you for the information about the R5556 photo. Now I, too, am searching for a suitable SGM code letters decals ...

I think there is no possibility for a direct photo upload. One have to post a photo on one of a many host websites and then link it to BM. Cheers

Jure

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Jure,

 

Thank you but have no idea how to do this being of a certain age, but the reference is there is anyone can find a copy of the book which is well worth buying as it includes excellent 72nd scale drawings for the BI.

 

On a final note re' colour schemes all the pics I've seen of early BI's suggest that the internals of the turrets were painted in Interior Green so that they tend to stand out somewhat. I presume at some point they were painted black to blend in with the overall colour of the Lanc but the early ones definitely seem to be in this standard interior colour.

 

And by the way when the press were first given access to the Lanc there was a shortage of .303 mg's so apparently broom poles were used as substitutes to create the desired effect! A bit 'Dad's Army' but in March 1942 morale was vital.

 

Kind Regards

Colin.

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Well Hell's Bells, Eunice! I looked through that book but missed that. I have a PDF copy of the book on my 'puter and I guess I scrolled through too quickly.

 

 

49765778466_a52da338f6_b.jpg

 

 

Also, the FN turrets were hydraulic not pneumatic.

 

 

 

 

Chris

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