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'Reparing the kites at Sywell' Brooklands Aviation 1940/41- Airfix Wellingtons and T2 Hangar


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Hi All,

 

As some of you know, I am Trustee at Sywell Aviation Museum and in recent years have been building dio's for the Museum charting Sywell's history.

 

Brooklands Aviation were based at the airfield and overhauled and repaired over 1800 Wellingtons during the war to the 1950s. 

 

The idea for this project was inspired by two things -firstly the donation of a wonderful painting, painted by the airfields wartime artist Frank Spencer. Frank was an apprentice and having no access  to painting materials during the war, used offcuts of plywood Wellington flooring and aircraft dope to paint his pictures all of which carried a different serial number of a machine repaired at the airfield. They usually simply show an aircraft in flight - this one has one of the hangars behind (R type side opening) in camo - in a nice touch if you look closely you can see the firewatchers post on top (until this was donated we didnt know there was one as it has since been removed) and inside the red dope and silver geodetic of a Wimpey being recovered by the mainly female workforce nicknamed the 'Dope Judies'.

 

50205054548_ca671595cb_k.jpg950F086A-C178-4604-BCF2-4FD8E09BAFA2 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

50205053978_c56f990647_w.jpgBFE1F371-338D-4A00-9277-B2E79E699C65 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

50205053968_a67b54d549_m.jpgA6FEBFCB-20D3-4A90-97E1-66B319E14DD5 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

 

The second element was the issue by Airfix of their superb Wellington - mainly because per the prototype, the detail is superb and includes that at the wing roots which matches period photos of wartime maintenance. 

 

50205053033_966c85436e_k.jpg4AD96E75-CB5A-4801-98AE-BEA47BF49B36 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

Finally this year Blotz issued their T2 hangar kit - it is superb - more anon. So the idea of having a maintenance hangar was born.

 

Hangar - 

 

The blotz kit is laser cut MDF and is absolutely brilliant but the surface detail is simply engraved and you can see the tabs from the connecting pieces. This didnt cut it for me so I decided to completely reskin it in Slaters corrugated plasticard. Blotz do the hangar in slices - ie front/rear with doors and middle slices which is a really clever idea but unless you reinforce the join then you have a weak point. Accordinly I simply skinned both at one go, side by side. If the kit has a weak point it is the doors. They are fine if closed but if you want them open - three each side - then they are too thick and also really should have detail in relief. I used two each side and pretended the third door was hidden.

 

I got the MDF base cut for it and also found a supplier of mirrored acrylic on ebay and for £6 got the rear wall cut - they had the machine to get a far cleaner cut in acrylic than i ever could!

 

I think the effort of reskinning it was well worth it - I used the painting to get the correct camo colours.

 

50205859397_0a857c65d6_k.jpgC25FBEC7-C359-4723-9727-34EE3799F802 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

50205054363_648f64e124_k.jpgF2A875BC-42D1-4931-8BC8-17BA6F445648 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

50205859232_697dd956d5_k.jpg8424EED5-3D45-4CD3-B5A6-391EB5A34C8F by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

50205859107_2616c6a2eb_k.jpgECBC4B2D-45BD-41E8-8FAD-ACCC423AC50E by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then decided to light it! I used mini industrial lights from Layouts4U - cheap as chips but two of the six I discovered were duff after wiring them in series so only four were used. At 3v they were too dim so I bolstered them with two larger LED which did the trick. 

 

50205858127_059b8a3dfe_k.jpg9948A6C3-B395-4467-BC61-F01F23290FA3 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

 

Wellingtons

 

Yep - built em without wings! A cracking kit I painted one as being 'doped' and another in camo as you can see. The handling trollies were modified bomb trollies from the Airfix Bomber resupply set which fitted under the bomb bay of each nicely, four stubs of cocktail stick and a scratched tail support - job is a good un.

 

Figures - Airfix railway and spares box - lovely white metal lathe and pillar drill and bench from Wills - very nice too! Lister autotruck from Sgts Mess. Outside oil tank from a railway supplier. 

 

50205053363_0e7a678d03_k.jpg0ED03BE2-A7C3-41A2-9C94-4D238C4FBA26 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

 

50205858492_83ff596a53_k.jpg296A52CD-2CDB-4F1D-A4AD-7820FFAF8126 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

 

50205582276_7fe2008870_k.jpgECA6E297-5073-4532-8E04-EA8C9450532B by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

50205582051_1d06abb430_k.jpgD6746D05-775D-40C0-848B-69D5836685DB by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

 

50205858782_5699aa1ecd_k.jpg49F7B7C1-D6EA-4E82-90D4-6746D273CD37 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

 

 

 

50205581911_f4d67eac72_k.jpgA26404A7-3E09-4C46-849C-95830275B6C3 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

 

50205858322_b81a0e6954_k.jpg87A319C3-478E-473C-88F1-D857D8566400 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

50205858222_a029a53c0f_k.jpg92439478-7E22-4AA6-A500-D3DF009D0A52 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

 

Its the biggest project I've ever undertaken and it felt wrong not completing the Wellingtons! I am really impressed with the Airfix kits which are brilliant and the Blotz hangar which provides a perfect canvas to work on and detail. I always try to push myself with each new dio, this one introduced buildings and scratching and 'lectrics!

 

 

 

50205857937_09a9052c98_k.jpgD77EC9E7-1655-4ADE-A928-566EE1A6FDD5 by Ben Brown, on Flickr

 

 

Hope you enjoy looking at it

 

ATB

 

TT

 

 

 

Edited by TEXANTOMCAT
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Thats just fantastic in every way possible. This whole diorama is a fitting tribute to the museum and helps tell the story of the important ‘behind the scenes’ war effort. May the donations continue to roll in, you deserve it. 
 

Cheers and very well modelled.. Dave 

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Thanks very much chaps! You see why I didn’t need the wings now Dave!🙂 
 

The white metal Wills set with large, bench and pillar drill is super and well worth getting. 
 

I had to remember to paint the opposite side of both Wimpeys in a slightly different way to make it look as if there were four in there not two !


 

ATB 

 

TT 

 

Edited by TEXANTOMCAT
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Thank you! Actually not far off- I have a spare recovery set and am now well used to not completing aircraft so I fancy butchering a Vampire! Brooklands built them in the late 40s early 50s before production was moved to Little Staughton so I foresee a Queen Mary with a pod on! 

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Ben, Wot they said. A lovely tribute to the hard working souls that kept the RAF going.

8 hours ago, TEXANTOMCAT said:

the mainly female workforce nicknamed the 'Dope Judies'.

I love that, never heard it before, but I won't forget it now. Bless them.

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11 hours ago, Pete in Lincs said:

Ben, Wot they said. A lovely tribute to the hard working souls that kept the RAF going.

I love that, never heard it before, but I won't forget it now. Bless them.

Thanks Pete!

 

ref the Dope Judies I don’t know whether it was a national nickname or a local Sywell one but having spoken to many of them the nickname was well used.

 

They worked 6 days (sometimes 7) days a week on 12hr shifts sewing the fabric by hand with socking great vicious looking sewing hooks. The fabric was stitched to the geodetic in teams - first they would hang the ‘bag’ or ‘sheet’ then a team would taughten it with a few holding stitches before going down each seam. 
 

imagine doing that on a Wellington- not a small aeroplane- for 6 years in damp cold and unheated hangars. Most of the ladies are now in their 90s and have terrible arthritis in their hands due to the repetitive sewing of very stiff cloth. 
 

I can commend to you the excellent book Backroom Boys by Edward Smithies- it was released by Past Times (which usually did generic rubbish) but this is an absolute gem packed full of stories which will surprise you including quite a bit from aircraft factories- well worth the £2 it will cost you second hand!

 

thanks again 👍

 

TT
 

 

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A fabulous looking dio Ben, you've made an amazing job of it. Sywell definitely sounds like a place to add to my list for the next time, whenever the heck that might be. :( The book recommendation sounds like one to chase down too.

Steve.

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Cheers Steve - Sywell is a small Art Deco aerodrome just north of Northampton  - we have a small Museum, it's next door to a bar, restaurant, 737 flight sim, The Blades Aerobatic team, most of the Great War Display Team, plus two Spits, P51, Sea Fury, 5 Me109s.... :)

 

https://www.sywellaviationmuseum.org.uk/

 

 

The Backroom Boys book is here for a couple of quid -

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Backroom-Boys-Personal-Stories-of-Britains-Air-War-1939-45-Edward-Smithies-Us/383396952097?epid=1025206223&hash=item59443d3821:g:gN0AAOSwrj9eMenb

 

if you want to splash out on a bit of holiday reading I also commend THIS Backroom Boys - by Francis Spufford - it is absolutely brilliant!

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Backroom-Boys-The-Secret-Return-of-the-British-Francis-Spufford-Accep/283962767374?epid=86424007&hash=item421d7ff80e:g:V6wAAOSwqAFfIZpY

 

 

ATB

 

TT 

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Its a bit of a gem - only discovered it the other week in the Museum book sale pile and the artwork drew me in Pete - you'll deffo enjoy the Spufford book too - in essence its a series of chapters on British scientific breakthroughs from  Concorde to Black Arrow to even the computer game Elite for the BBC computer in the early 80s (it was the first self-evolving computer game) to the Wellcome Trust funding DNA sequencing then publishing it online to beat the Yank company who were trying to patent Human Genes. Its a superb book -in fact if you don't enjoy it - I'll give you your money back matey!

 

TT

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Great build and very evocative. I’m drawn to wimpeys for several reasons, grandfather served in them and I live not far from several crash sites, including husbands Bosworth Aerodrome. I really should pop over to Sywell esp as we regularly get ‘your’ aircraft over head 👍

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