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Hampering the barges - H.P. Hampden B. Mk.I [Completed]

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Exactly 80 years ago, at around 21:00hrs on Monday 12th August eleven Hampdens (5 from 83Sqn and 6 from 49 Sqn) took off from their Scampton base for the Dortmund-Ems canal.


Identified early on as a target after the Battle of France, this canal was a supply route built in the late 19th century to get a direct connection from the Ruhr area to the North sea.

Aquaducts carried the canal over part of the Ems river, creating choke points in the route that the Germans used to transport river barges to captured ports in Holland via the Rhine river.

Bomber Command Headquarters felt  that destroying the  aqueducts (codenamed M.25 & M.25A) was key to disrupting the movement of supplies (and later, the barges themselves) towards the proposed invasion ports. Several raids already took place from end of June onwards, mostly unsuccesful apart from one minor breach.

To be armed with adapted Aerial dropped mines with a delayed fuse based on Aspirin (the headache stuff!), the best crews from both squadrons would be selected to do the raid.
For two weeks, the crews trained intensively, following the local canals in Lincolnshire in preparation for the attack.



One of these pilots was a young Guy Gibson - who ended up not going on this raid because it was his birthday.

(Apparently, BC felt it was not a good idea to send a man out on a high-risk mission as a present)


Six aircraft were to be used as a diversionary attack, and the other five for the bombing run.

The five crews designated to attack the canal aqueducts in attack order were:


Sqn Ldr Pitcairn-Hill (83 Sqn)

F/O Ross (83 Sqn)

Flt Lt Mulligan (83 Sqn)

P/O Matthews (49 Sqn)

Flt Lt Learoyd (49 Sqn)


I intend to build this as P4403, EA-M - 'Babe' Learoyd's aircraft.






Valom's box art and version allows for the photographed EA-F aircraft.  Should not take too much to get an M and the rest of the serial from the decal storage :)


Plastic looks lovely detailed,  although the fit is not always exact.




I also have replacement clear parts (currently shipped by AZmodel with a new boxing).




Edited by alt-92
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Great choice!  I'm interested to see how this goes together, not least because I managed to get my hands on the AZ boxing of this kit.  It does look good.



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So with luck we will have two different makes of Hampden covering both the VC's - nice! If you have problems with decs, my Airfix one has the markings for Learoyd's plane which I won't be using. Airfix show it with the high demarcation and black up the fuselage sides, which may not be correct. I know that Hampdens seem to have had the low demarcation including all of the fuselage up to the end of 1939, and the one I will be modelling has a sort of  hybrid scheme with the black starting to "creep" upwards on the fuselage rear according to photos at the time - similar to the Valom box art I suspect , but nowhere as high as Airfix show, and the booms are still green/brown whereas they show black almost to the top! There are indications that some did have the high demarcation/black booms before the end of 1940 though it seems more common in 1941.



Edited by PeterB
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PM inbound :) worth it for the Pinoccio nose (heh) art alone :)



As far as I can determine, the available picture of P4403 does show that high demarcation, and the not-black serial (red, judging from the fin flash tone).


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  • 1 month later...





@PeterB kindly sent me his remaining markings for Learoyd's M for Mother, together with the Airfix scheme



Perhaps a bit unorthodox, but I decided to start with some subassemblies without the fiddly bits.

This also points out the differences in the kit engineering a bit more, and what to look out for.
The engines look nice, but probably could be improved upon by some thin wires to simulate the rods on the real thing.



Some handy pics can be found here:



Cockpit detail is a bit sparse, but the narrow fuselage itself will probably not leave too much visible anyway.



Did get a Yahu panel together with some canopy masks anyway.



First, get the undercarriage plates onto the bottom wings.





Fit isn't exact on Valom's Hampden, so you will have to expect some bending, scratchbuilding and corrections in places.

One place where that is needed and as such pointed out in the destruction manual is on the tail section.



Since this is a butt-join, the instructions will ask you to add a plug of sufficient size to make the join and provide a mounting for the tail wheel.


I also PVA'ed one of the engine cowlings for a semi-dry fit  - needs a bit of repair due to a tiny moulding defect - but it's the only one.




Keeping the details on these parts while smoothing the seams will be a challenge. 

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I've just caught this build - so I'm now following with interest, as I built the Airfix Hampden in April.

It looks like you've got all bases covered, having found a photo showing the high demarcation,

and PeterB's leftover decals.

I built this aircraft for the Pinoccio the Archer noseart. Did I ever say that I'm an archer? 

I hadn't appreciated the history  and heroism associated with the aircraft - until I started building the model.

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A Bristol Pegasus:



Trainee engine fitters study a Bristol Pegasus 9-cylinder radial engine at No. 2 School of Technical Training, Cosford, Shropshire.


The Pegasus pushrods are the black tubes going from the gear casing up to the cylinder tops. There were two pushrods inside the tubes, one behind the other.


On a running engine, the cylinders would be black, or a much darker shade than the ones in this picture. It's hard to find good pictures of Pegasus engines.





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The newer, 1930s built aquaduct codenamed M.25A was damaged earlier in an attack on July 25th. However, the Germans were well aware of the importance of these transport canals and these weak points were built in such a way to limit impact on a breach.
On each end of the aquaducts, emergency locks were in place to shut off the canal.


an aerial view of the Ems crossing. The upper structure is the newer one, the older M.25  - the target - below



Not only would they be able to restore and repair the earthworks in weeks, but  the defences around the aquaducts were increasingly more heavy.

Multiple batteries of 37mm, 40mm and 20mm light Flak emplacements were put along the canal approaches, and even several heavy 105mm AA batteries were added.




Engine tart-up: 0.6mm lead wire, looks like it will do the trick.
Because it is rather empty inside, I started work on some evergreen strips to build up the deck above the bomb bay.

This also will allow for a rear bulkhead structure behind the cockpit.


Edited by alt-92
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...and while the CA was out, some work on the cockpit seat & brass PE provided with the kit.

Also made a plug adapter for the tail & mountpoint for the tailwheel. 

Might have a go at replacing the barge pole that is supposed to be the control column.



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I haven't thought of what to do with the bargepole yet, but in the meantime:


Closed off the gaping echo-caves at the wing roots, and added some framework which at least livens up things a bit.

To-do: back office ribbing with the radio table, and the front office  navigator's table. 

Test-fitting and peering through the window openings points out that you don't need to go full monty :P





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On the night of August 12, the five crews selected for the canal raid started their approach from the south of the target.

Each crew navigated their way individually towards the location, as was customary - no formation, just each a/c with their navigator using dead-reckoning and planning to arrive at the same time.

The sequence :


Sqn Ldr Pitcairn-Hill (83 Sqn)
F/O Ross (83 Sqn)
Flt Lt Mulligan (83 Sqn)
P/O Matthews (49 Sqn)
Flt Lt Learoyd (49 Sqn)

Sqn Ldr James Pitcairn-Hill, the first to attack, threaded his way northwards through a curtain of flak and blinding searchlights.
Levelling out at 100 feet above the canal he maintained a rock-steady bombing run and released his bombs before banking away from the danger zone. Although badly damaged by the intense light flak he limped home to England.



On y va!

The engines were done in Tamiya NATO black and drybrushed gunmetal.




A test assembly for the landing gear. Very fiddly and thin. 



It's supposed to attach to four small locating holes in the lower wing. Might have to add some more support structure in the wheel wells.




Boxed in the opening for the two landing lights as well.



I think I might be mostly done with the interior, just the front end that needs the seat and table added. 

Plenty of test-fitting along the way, everything still lines up and closes tightly :)




The yoke is somewhat resized (still a bit too large).  Yahu IP is a better fit than expected. 


Decided to give our pilot a backrest consisting of a scrap of card, with plastic putty structured to form a cushion.
Will drape some longer belts over that.



The back office:



The area directly behind the cockpit doesn't show when the fuselage is closed up, so I haven't added the Elsan. 
This is good enough for the scale :D



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A lovely kit and and you are really doing it justice. The interior detail is very nice. Love the back office door.


I always get drawn to the Hampden builds. It is the one aircraft I would like to see in a 1/48 new tool. 




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  • 2 weeks later...


The moulding is a bit rough, but careful scraping and sanding (and a smidgen of surfacer 500) helps. 

Tip for those who want to have a go at the Valom: spend time thinning the trailing edges a bit and pay attention to the camber on the leading edge.

Bit of paint to detect gaps - small one on the inside wing root, and some on the other as well that will get some more 500.



Scraping and sanding also works very well to get a good, near-gapless fit to the fuselage.




Just a bit more needed on the trailing edge of the flap.




Which brings me to the following Q:




I'm going to add sidewalls to the wheelbays, but am a bit in a quandary with regards to what crossbars would need to be fitted higher - taking into account the flimsy landing gear attachment points.

Any ideas?

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12 hours ago, alt-92 said:

Any ideas?

I am assuming the question is with regard to those dimples. As the wings are glued together, I would go in from the engine opening and glue decent polystyrene blocks on the inside face and the then pin with copper or brass wire depending on the diameter of the undercarriage leg. In 1/72, if too small you could sleeve with polystyrene tube, but I do not think this will be necessary. Apologies if I have misunderstood.  


That Valom kit looks very nice indeed. Nice restrained rivetting. Excellent build underway.



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That I could work with :)

I'm planning to drill out the holes for the gear, and will use the suggested blocks/strips as support at the rear of the gear so it will bear ( :P

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  • alt-92 changed the title to Hampering the barges - H.P. Hampden B. Mk.I [Completed]

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