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Tribute to "The Other Few": an anti-invasion Bristol Blenheim


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On 13 July 2020 at 4:38 PM, dogsbody said:

Great idea on the engine/cowling assembly.

 

 

 

Chris

Yeah, I wish I'd done that on mine!

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I've managed to get plenty done throughout the week.  There were no real problems doing any of the next steps so this post will mainly be photos. First, after a few coats of Humbrol Beige Green, Dark Earth then Dark Green the Blenheim looks a little bit like this:

 

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I then fitted the undercarriage which went on easily without any problems.  Then the cowlings, same there although they required a bit of assistance to stay on and at the correct angle. At this point I had already applied a gloss coat ready for the decals.

 

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And finally, here she is with the decals!  I decided to represent R3816 as she would have looked at the start of the Battle of the Barges before night operations really started in earnest. Later she would have been repainted in Night underneath, and there's a fairly well-known photo of her with this camouflage applied dated 1941.

 

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Next up will be some subtle weathering and final assembly.  I hope to have this mostly done this weekend so I can clear the building board for the next project!

 

Thanks for looking!

 

Matt

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Hi all,

 

Not much progress lately, unfortunately I've discovered a cracked canopy (shame I didn't check earlier!) so have requested a replacement from the Airfix spares department.  It could be a while until I finish her off so in the meantime I'll get on with my second project in this group build.

 

Matt 

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5 hours ago, Stew Dapple said:

Ah, that's a shame Matt, but still plenty of time before the end of the GB anyway :) 

 

Cheers,

 

Stew

Or I could always buy another Blenheim and use the replacement canopy on that! I’m really enjoying this build and was already thinking of a fighter Blenheim to go with this one 🙂

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  • 2 months later...

Hi all,

 

Finally, an update.  The good news is Airfix spares are on the way.  The bad news is they were only posted a week or so ago, so will now surely be too late for this GB.  

However, I couldn't resist buying another Blenheim.  I enjoyed the first one, but I wanted to also build a 105 Squadron machine as well.  Besides, I purchased some Sovereign Hobbies Colour Coats and obviously needed a few models to try them out on...  So, a bit of blitz building later (following almost the same process) and the second Blenheim is almost ready!

 

I did two things differently this time.  On the first model although I glued the fuselage halves together first (rather than making a complete nose section and a complete tail section, and glueing these together) you'll notice I omitted the entire canopy until the final stages.  My reasoning there was to avoid any fogging from glue.  However, test fitting the (cracked) canopy on the first model proved to be very fiddly.  So this time I glued the side windows on first.  This worked fine.

 

The second change was in the undercarriage.  I found this fiddly to fit after joining the wing halves so I wondered if it's possible to fit the undercarriage to the spars first, then glue the wing halves together afterwards.  This in fact worked extremely well and made the undercarriage much easier to assemble:

 

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So, here's where I'm up to now.  Blenheim number 2 is all painted, gloss coated and ready for decals (minus the engines and a couple of fiddly bits at this stage).

 

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Actually this photo reminds me of another thing I've done differently:  this time I opened up the canopy to make the cockpit detail a bit more visible.  I thought of this because on my canopy the rear half was warped upwards slightly.

 

Today's job then will be to get the decals on, followed by some subtle weathering, matt varnish and adding the final bits.  Easy in two days before the GB closes, right?

 

Thanks for looking!

 

Matt

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Hi all,

 

Decals are on, so I can reveal the identity of the second Blenheim.  It's T1826/GB-B of 105 Squadron.  This aircraft flew throughout the Battle of Britain and seems to have been Sqn Ldr Gordon Key's favoured aircraft for a period of time during the Battle of the Barges, although other pilots also flew this aircraft.  

 

105 Squadron's ORB records T1826 as completing eleven bombing missions during this time period, including five against the invasion ports of Ostend (18/9/1940), Dunkirk (20/9/1940 and 21/9/1940), Calais (24/9/1940) and Boulogne (30/9/1940).  It also completed harassment raids on German occupied airfields in August 1940, and went on to attack other targets in France and Germany in 1941, including Brest, Hamburg, Bremen and Wilhelmshaven. 

 

Group Captain Gordon Key, OBE, DFC was born in Devon on 1/1/1914 and saw action in the air at both the beginning and the end of the Second World War.  He was an reportedly a "much admired pilot and an inspirational leader".
 
In May 1940 Key was a flight commander in 105 Squadron, flying obsolete Fairey Battles from Villeneuve, when the German Blitzkrieg struck France and the Low Countries.  Like other Battle squadrons, most of 105 Sqn's aircraft were destroyed in attempts to prevent the Wehrmacht's attack; however Key survived and appears to have played an instrumental role in preventing 105 Sqn from being merged into other units.

 

The squadron was re-equipped with Blenheims in June 1940, and Key led raids on targets including German gun emplacements at Cap Gris Nez, the invasion ports, the Krupps armament works at Essen and on the Focke-Wulf aircraft factory at Bremen.  The last two proved eventful: on the Essen mission, Key overshot the runway in poor weather conditions and chased the flying control van "clean off the airfield and into the boundary hedge!" (See the photo below, which comes from the excellent book "Battle-Axe Blenheims, by Stuart R. Scott).  On the Bremen flight, Key's gunner (Sgt Foster) shot down a shadowing fighter in a "shower of sparks". For his efforts Key was mentioned in dispatches and in March 1941 awarded the DFC.

 

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Later, Key was promoted to Wing Commander and commanded 18 Sqn (also flying Blenheims) from April 1941.  Four months later Key was rested from operations and was appointed staff officer to Air Chief Marshal Sir Wilfred Freeman for two years, but Key really wanted to return to active duty.  Eventually Key was posted to Burma and commanded 910 Wing, flying Thunderbolts. After the war Key commanded 45 Sqn (Beaufighters and Buckmasters) in Ceylon (Sri Lanka); RAF Upwood (1956); and RAF Persian Gulf (1959-60).  His final RAF appointments included JIGSAW (the Joint Inter-Service Group for the Study of All-Out Warfare).  He died on 29th October 2008, aged 94.

 

So, here's an overall view with the decals freshly applied.  This shows T1826 just before the Battle of the Barges, when the undersurfaces would have been repainted night black.

 

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The codes are from Xtradecals "Battle for Malta" sheet (and a spare "B" from an unknown sheet that happened to look exactly the same!) and the serial was made from individual letters from other spare sheets.  These were small and fiddly but went on really quite straight (surprisingly so!) with the assistance of Microsol.

 

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That's all for now, while I pop back to the workbench to do more decalling on my Spitfire!

 

Matt

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Looking good Matt B) I reckon you're on course to finish in time, also don't forget the group builds ends midnight Saturday GMT so you Aussies might get a bit longer in your local time as well :D 

 

Cheers,

 

Stew 

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Hi all,

 

A bit of weathering later, and we have a completed Blenheim!  I have really enjoyed working on this, from my research before the GB started trawling through Operations Record Books to find out more about the "other few" to building and participating in this forum.  I'm glad I have been able to pass on some tips about the Airfix Blenheim along the way which I hope others will find useful, and in turn I've learned lots from others on this forum too.

 

Pictures are below, and I'll add these to the galley too.  Comments welcome!

 

Matt

 

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