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D.A.P.'s First Beaufighter in 1/72


Beggsy
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Hello all, long time, no WIP!

 

Well, I've recently picked up a kit and some aftermarket that are of particular interest to me, so I thought I'd share how its going.

 

First, a bit of background.  I work at Boeing Aerostructures Australia, which (through a long history of mergers, purchases, privatisations and re-brandings) used to be the Department of Aircraft Production, which during the second world war produced Beauforts and then Beaufighters (and then Lincolns, Canberras and Mirage IIIs post-war).  The site is still in its original location, and the original factory is still operating, though we now build control surfaces for commercial airliners rather than entire aircraft, and the airfield out the back is now a park with a bridge in the way of where the runway was!

 

Anyway, with Airfix's Beaufort coming out at some point, and decals (yes, already bought in anticipation :) ) already available for T9450 (the first airplane to roll out of the factory), I thought I'd build that as it's pretty important to the site, historically.

 

At this point you might be thinking "Silly Beggsy, he accidentally wrote Beaufighter in the title!".  While I've made that mix-up plenty of times (including on this forum!), it's not a mistake this time.  The Airfix Beaufort isn't out yet, so while I wait for that I thought I'd build our first Beaufighter instead.  The Australian Mk.21 Beaufighters were largely similar to the British TF.X variety.  The main differences were a very prominent housing for the Sperry autopilot in the nose, a frameless and unarmed rear canopy, extra wing-guns and block-tread tires (plus many, many other localizations).  Conveniently, Airfix make a rather good (so I'm told, I've not built one before) TF.X, and I was able to order a conversion set from High Planes Hobbies in Singapore.  It hasn't arrived yet but I'm sure it will eventually.

 

Here's a picture of the aircraft to be modelled, Beaufighter A8-1 from the ADF Serials website:

Beaufighter_A8_1_000_148_484.jpg

What can we see in this photo?  Well, we can tell that A8-1 does not have the extra .50 caliber machine guns in the wings.  These were introduced from A8-3 onwards.  Its engine cowling leading-edges have not been painted black like many in-service examples were.  The colour appears to be simple foliage green all-over with no squadron codes and bare-minimum RAAF markings, and white strips at the front of the cowlings and on the "gills".  Like other early Mk.21s, the aft wingtip lights are present, though they seem to have been painted over or deleted entirely on the majority of these aircraft.  Other than that, she's a pretty standard looking Mk.21. 

 

In total, the aftermarket for this project will include:

- Resin block-tread wheels from Barracuda (present and accounted for)

- Resin engines (somewhere in the US postal system)

- Eduard Photo-etch flaps (somewhere in the Australian postal system)

- Aires landing gear doors (somewhere in the US postal system)

- HPM Conversion set (somewhere in Singapore with DHL, along with my Mirage IIIO kits)

- Eduard photo-etch general detail set (somewhere in the US postal system)

 

Thankfully, I don't need any of those to do the first few bits of work, at least, so lets get cracking!

 

I'll be basing the build off of this boxing:

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I jumped straight in and assembled some of the cockpit details.  At this point, I hadn't actually bought the Eduard detail set and I wasn't planning to as I couldn't find it in-stock anywhere.  Thankfully it looks like it will still be easy to apply most of the parts retroactively.

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I'm pretty happy with the detail in the cockpit itself already!  Here are some closeups:

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However, after a test fit of the parts, I realised that the space between the spars may be visible through the cockpit.  I took a look at some photos of the interior of the real thing and then started to attempt to vaguely match some of it with stretched sprue and styrene sheet.

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There will be more to come on that, even before the photo-etch arrives.  Next, I turned my attention to the cannons on the underside.  Airfix gives you this piece:

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It's got some nice surface detail but the cannons are blanked off (a product of the injection molding process, I imagine) so I decided to drill them out.

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Lastly I had a go at the wings.  There's nothing on the inside of them (with the landing gear bays being molded into the bottom half), so I went ahead and stuck them together along with the posed ailerons.

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It was at this point that I remembered those photo-etch flaps I ordered.  The ones that need the bottom half of the wing cut out.  Oh dear.

 

Will Beggsy be able to make it work, or will he have a couple of scrap flaps on his hands?  Tune in to the next update (or maybe the one after, who knows?) to find out!

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Its a great kit, just needs care with the engine cowls, I fitted the Eduard etch to the cockpit which helps alot but you will need to file the side wall detail off in places and one the fuselage is closed you wont see anything behind the seat. I was planning to scratch the bulkhead behind the pilot and the air bottles in the tail but neither would be seen.

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The cooling gills may be unpainted metal. Bare looking gills are fairly common on Bristol engine cowlings.

 

On the upper inboard wings of the Airfix kit are little teardrop blisters. These will need to be removed.

 

 

 

Chris

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Thanks!  I spotted that one of the Airfix schemes needs the blisters removed as well, so finding out if that applied to DAP aircraft as well was on my to-do list.

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Alright, a fair bit more work has been done!  I'm getting close to the point where I won't be able to do anymore work until the aftermarket parts start showing up.

 

Firstly, I added a little more greebling to the interior:

49791246327_7737bbacdb_b.jpg

 

There will be a few more pieces added after the interior is spray-painted, that would either shadow other areas from paint or be too hard to mask.  I did a fit-check and in the process determined that there is a chance that some of this may actually be visible.

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Next, I decided to remove those blisters on the wing.  Here's a before and after shot.  I think the process worked out quite well!

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To do this, I first had a go at it with a file to remove the bulk of the material.

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I then took a 320 grit sanding stick to it, to further level the area.

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Next up was 400 grit sandpaper until I couldn't feel an edge where the blister was.

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At this point I used a fine saw to join up the panel line across the blister location.

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Next was 600 grit and 1000 grit sandpaper...

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...followed by 1500 grit and 2000 grit.

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Finally, a Tamiya 3000 grit sponge was used to blend out any last marks, and the panel lines were cleaned of dust.

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And here are the two wings together.  No blisters here!

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Later in the evening, I decided to start painting the interior.  I checked the Eduard instructions and it looks like everything I'll be adding is pre-painted, so I could go ahead and paint the plastic before it arrives.  Unlike some of the other bits I'm waiting for, I'm getting regular tracking updates that assure me it is slowly making its way towards Australia.  Anyway, I started with a coat of Tamiya acrylic rubber black (XF-86) over all of the interior parts:

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Then, I got busy with colour (and forgot to take any in-progress photos).  I sprayed a mix of "interior gray-green" that was one part XF-26 (Olive Green) and 6 parts XF-21 (Sky) from a high angle to try and leave some black shadows.  The parts were then dry-brushed with XF-2 (Flat White).  Next, I picked out the seats and some sidewall detail in various other colours with a brush.  To weather the lot, I added chipping with Vallejo 77.701 Aluminium Metal Color, then dusted Tamiya Weathering Master powders over the whole thing (sand and gray).  I was originally planning to add a wash as well, but I don't think the parts need it.

 

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I tried a dry fit of a few parts to see how they'd look together, and to see if I could see any of the detail behind the cockpit.  It's looking good!

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That's all for now.  Hopefully some fun detail parts will arrive soon and the assembly can progress further!

 

 

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Wow! That's looking great. I've been thinking of starting something else, once my wife is feeling better. I was a bit torn between two or three kits, but one is the Airfix Beau. You've got me leaning in that direction.

 

 

 

 

Chris

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  • 2 weeks later...

I got it done!

 

49836710161_3ec76b8c06_b.jpg

 

On one wing, I cut out the entire flap area, top and bottom halves.  I had hoped that the combined flap and cove would fill the gap on their own, but they weren't deep enough so I had to split the cut-out piece in half and glue the top back in.  I then filled all the gaps in that wing with stretched sprue, then rescribed all of the panel lines.  Here it is after a quick shot of paint to test the surface.  It probably needs a little putty to fill the scratches.

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And here are a few more images of the installed flaps.

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In other good news, the Mk.21 conversion set arrived!  I'll be using these three pieces, with work on the control panel starting forthwith.

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The set also came with enough decals to make up the (thankfully simple) markings for A8-1.

 

Finally, I came across a few more pictures of A8-1 on the Australian War Memorial website.  Here it is before its first flight:

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The sheen on the gills around the engines seems to confirm that they are indeed a metallic colour rather than white.  Unlike the first photo I found, it has a block, rather than diamond, tread on the port main gear and black spinners.  There's not much to be gleaned from the other two photos, but they show it in-flight:

 

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While none of these have the "A8-1" marking visible, I'm fairly confident that the captions are correct and this is the aircraft in question.  In the one where it's shown in the factory, the wing guns are not fitted, so it's either A8-1 or A8-2.  In the second image, there don't appear to be any large codes marked on the aft fuselage (same for image 3), and it has the clear rear-facing wingtip lights that were only present ob early aircraft.

 

That's all for now!  I'm still waiting on some interior photo-etch to arrive before I can close up the fuselage, so I might have to temporarily divert my attention to a nice pair of Mirage IIIO models that that arrived along with the Beaufighter conversion kit! :D

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Very nice! It is very reassuring when you can model a specific and well documented airframe. I found the Airfix Beaufighter well engineered and a great kit to build, although I rather spoiled mine by replacing the fuselage with a FROG Beaufort one! I expect when you finally get your Airfix Beaufort, the wings and tail will feel strangely familiar...

 

Regards,

Adrian

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This is going to be lovely.  I've loved the Beau ever since I read an issue of the kids' was comic "Commando" which was entitled The Black Beaufighters and was about the early Beau nightfighters.

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Nice background to your Beau build and I’ll do my best to follow this WIP from now on. It’s all looking very impressive so far and am sure it will look perfect once finished. 
Cheers.. Dave 

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No model update (and it could be quiet for a while as I wait for parts), but here's another photo I found from the Australian War Memorial, pretty sure its A8-1 around the time of its rollout.

 

7493679.JPG

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Great work, Beggsy.  I'm looking forward to further updates.

 

Unfortunately  if you're not using a vac formed canopy,  I very much doubt your nice work between the wing spars and on the fuse side walls will be seen without the aid of a torch and magnifying glass.

 

Still, we all know it's there. 👍

 

Rgds

 

Martin

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  • 3 weeks later...

Good news!  The Eduard photo-etch finally arrived (after a month of no tracking updates), so I got straight to work on the interior and have suddenly found myself with a very Beaufighter-esque looking assembly on my desk.  So without further ado, here's what's been done.

 

Before sticking the fuselage together, I had to paint up the tailwheel.

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Then, it was on to the interior parts.spacer.png

 

The high-planes Mk.21 instrument panel looks great!

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Since I knew I'd be painting a bit of the interior colour on the tailwheel, I got the photoetch into the landing gear wells so that I could give that a coat, too.

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While I was at it, I also painted the flaps.spacer.png

 

Finally, I started on the rear observer's canopy.  I'm not going to glue it yet, as it will need a fair bit of polishing first, but I made the cutout in the fuselage.  Unfortunately I overshot the length, so here it is with a shim being installed.

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And here's the shim after cleanup.

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Next up, the landing lights.  The wing cutout was painted black, as was the divider between the two lights (molded into the back of the clear cover piece).  The lenses were made with two dots from a Moltow Liquid Chrome pen.

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Finally, here are a few shots of how it currently looks, but with the canopys and autopilot housing dry-fitted.  It's looking a lot like a Mk.21!

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I am loving how clear the front canopy is.  The photo-etch was definitely worth it.

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Now for the dreaded step.....filling and sanding.  Hopefully I won't need too much.  The left-hand wing root and the join of the nosecone were a bit rough, but I think I got the rest of the seams lined up pretty well when I glued them.  We shall see!

 

Edited by Beggsy
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  • 7 months later...

Hi @Beggsy,

 

Have you made any progress on this project? I'm planning on doing a similar conversion on the Airfix TF.X with the HPM Mk.XXI conversion set, both of which are on order. Although the HPM set includes decals, I'm leaning toward Novascale's N72026 set for No.93 Sqn RAAF.

 

Hoping to see some more on this soon.

 

Kind regards and happy New Year,

 

Mark

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Hi!  Its been a long time since I worked on this as I had to pack everything up and move house.  I'm starting to tire of my current project, though, and may come back to this one soon.

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  • 8 months later...

Well, it's been a while.

 

The Beaufort build came and went, as did plenty others.  And then I suddenly had the urge to pick this up again.  In a whirlwind of work, I got a bunch done and forgot that I'd been posting photos here!  So here are some belated shots.

 

Last time I checked my regular hobby supplier's website, Eduard's masking set for this kit was in stock, so that was a must-buy.  I then proceeded to finish polishing up the rear canopy, then got both attacthed to the model.  I also added the landing gear legs and some other assorted pieces.  A coat of black paint followed.  I'm becoming quite fond of priming in black and modulating the final cammo colours.  Sometimes my efforts are a bit too subtle to see, but it makes the airbrushing of monotone schemes a bit more entertaining at least!  After the black, I realised there were a few more pieces to add, so I got them glued on too.  I'll have to do the black again, but that's no big deal.

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I also assembled one of the Vector resin engines.  It was a little too wide for the cowling, so I had to cut off some detail from the top of the cylinders.  It would never have been seen anyway, but it's still a shame as they were very nicely moulded.  After assembly, I sanded off a bit of raised detail on the front of the engine, and thinned down the propeller shaft.  Those two modifications made it work quite well with the Eduard photo-etch.

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The engine cowlings are also together, minus the kit engines and the 3 internal struts which are being replaced by the Eduard etch.

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The Aires gear doors got some black paint, to be followed by interior green.  I think these will look great once painted.

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Finally, while browsing an actual brick-and-mortor hobby shop a while ago (before the latest lockdown), I came across some CMK hedgehog exhausts that looked way better than either the Airfix or HPM ones, so I got those and started work on them.

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This is now my primary project, so hopefully the next update will be much sooner!

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update time!  The Foliage Green (Mr. Hobby H302) went down well.  I added a tiny bit of white to do the canvas control surfaces, and then used lighter and darker shades to add a bit of variety around the aircraft.  Then, I painted up the gear bays, re-did the flaps and added the gear doors.  As of right now, it's also had a gloss coat added where the decals will go, and I'm waiting for that to dry.

 

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I'm really pleased with how the flaps and gear doors look!

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The propellers have been painted up.

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And I've painted/assembled the engines/cowlings.  The resin exhausts from CMK were a big upgrade from both the Airfix and HPM parts.  I see that CMK now offer an entire conversion set, it looks pretty good and I'll keep it in mind if I'm going to build another Mk.21.

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Finally, I had a go at the wheels.  Eduard don't provide a circular mask for these, presumably because Airfix provides wheels with separate hub and tire pieces.  I've got one-piece Barracuda wheels though.  Luckily, I had an idea that allowed me to spray the hubs without tedius masking with flexible tape:

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Those are the Airfix tire-halves, blue-tacked to the wheels.  The result was pretty good.  A black wash around the hub covered up a tiny bit of green overspray onto the tires.

 

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So that's the state of play.  I'm hoping to get the decals on tonight, and a flat coat if they set quickly enough.  Then it will just be installing the sub-assemblies and a couple of small details to make and attach.

 

 

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On 9/12/2021 at 6:03 PM, bigbadbadge said:

Can't wait to see decals in place.

 

Your wait is over!

 

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Here's the link to the RFI:

 

This one turned out pretty good in the end, I'm super pleased with it!

Edited by Beggsy
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Good one! It's come up very nicely. It's always great to see the local product in these WWBM pages. I've paid homage to A8-328, the DAP Beaufighter at Moorabbin (ex Lord Mayor’s Children’s Camp at Portsea), which restoration I worked on as a teenager. I was familiar with Fishermans Bend in the 60s, when both GAF and CAC were in full swing, and the runways were still there albeit derelict. I also got to know the precinct a little in the 90s, when I surveyed remains of a 150' wooden vessel in the tidal mudflats opposite CAC main entrance (now buried under a rock mole). All very different now. Re the B&W with easterly aspect over the runways; I wonder if that is the famous Swallows biscuit factory chimney smoking on RHS? Cheers.

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