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Whitley: Bomber? Para transport? U-Boat hunter? Why not all three!

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Hi everyone!


The recently completed Battle of Britain group build has left me with a few kits in my stash that I didn't get to, so here I will present one of them.  The first kit I've decided to pull out of my stash is the Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley.  The kit is 1/72 Airfix, for which I've purchased Eduard's details set and masks set.  I gather from other builds Eduard omitted a couple of windows so I'll have to do some extra masking (not too much I hope!).  A couple of photos:






Now to the subject.  The particular aircraft I've decided to build is probably quite a famous one, or at least, it should be.  It started life as a bomber and participated in nine bombing missions over France and Germany.  Then in February 1942 it was used on a highly successful paratroop mission.  After eight more bombing missions, this aircraft, along with its squadron, was transferred to Coastal Command where it hunted U-Boats in the Bay of Biscay.  It even managed to spot one, although the U-Boat spotted the Whitley in time to crash-dive and escape.  Quite an interesting service history then!


Along the way the Whitley I'm building was flown by a number of different crews.  One of its pilots was particularly well known, but it was also flown by other crews including one less-known pilot who later had a very lucky and dramatic escape in after evading six German fighters in another Whitley.


I'll relate more on the story of this aircraft and its crews during the start of the build very soon!


All the best,



Edited by MattG
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  • MattG changed the title to Whitley: Bomber? Para transport? U-Boat hunter? Why not all three!
13 hours ago, MattG said:

I'll relate more on the story of this aircraft and its crews during the start of the build very soon!

My kind of build thread :popcorn:

I'm in!

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Thanks everyone for your likes and comments so far!  


I’ll start this instalment with a bit of history behind the aircraft I’m building: Z9322/MH-G of 51 Squadron RAF (later transferred to 77 Squadron).  


I’m fascinated by going through the RAF’s Operations Record Books so once I find a subject that attracts my interest (often from a particular combat or raid) I’ll often research the aircraft I’m building in the level of detail you’re about to see below to establish what else it was involved in and which other crews flew it.  At the time of writing (November 2020) these are free to download from the National Archives.  Some examples of these records are below.


Z9322 aircraft was a Mk.V Whitley, built as a bomber to Air Ministry specification 106962/40 at Baginton near Coventry.  It was delivered to the RAF between August 1941 and November 1941, and was delivered to 51 Squadron at Dishforth.  51 Squadron had operated Whitleys since February 1938 and had dropped leaflets over Germany on the very first night of the Second World War.  Z9322 flew its first operational mission on 7 December 1941.  Missions flown by Z9322 that month were:


7 December 1941
Bomber Command dispatched 251 aircraft against various targets.  The primary target was Aachen, which was bombed by 130 aircraft in atrocious conditions – 10/10ths cloud, rain, snow and ice.  Two aircraft were lost, one to a night fighter.  51 Sqn contributed fourteen aircraft, one of which aborted.  Seven were part of the force attacking Aachen.  Z9322 however was one of four 51 Sqn Whitleys that attacked Dunkirk.  These aircraft encountered slight heavy Flak and a few searchlights.  


11 December 1941
Z9322 was one of five 51 Sqn Whitleys that attacked a town believed to be Bonn.  


17 December 1941
Bomber Command turned its attention to Brest, where the warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were holed up.   51 Sqn dispatched 17 Whitleys, with an eighteenth aborting.  All crews unsurprisingly reported intense Flak, and one Whitley returned damaged.


23 December 1941
51 Sqn dispatched fifteen Whitleys to attack Cologne in 9/10ths cloud.  Crews reported light Flak and all returned safely.


28 December 1941
Fourteen 51 Sqn Whitleys took off to attack Emden.  F/Lt Potter, flying Z9322, aborted with instrument problems.  Of the thirteen other aircraft, ten reported bombing Emden, one bombed another target, one returned with its bombload and one was missing.  This aircraft, Z9202, was claimed shot down by night fighter pilot Oberfeldwebel Siegfried Ney of 6./NJG 2, 10km west of Texel.


The above five missions are all represented in the Operations Record Book as follows:





Whitley production:  http://britishaviation-ptp.com/aw38.html#prodlist
51 Squadron Operations Record Books:  AIR-27-491 series
Bowman, Martin; Bomber Command Reflections of War – Cover of Darkness
Bolten, Theo; Nachtjagd Combat Archive series


Progress and Sprue Photos

Now to the kit.  I’ve made a little start on painting the interior but in the meantime here are some sprue shots.  I note the wheels are coming off already (one wheel is loose on the sprue) – hopefully not an omen even before I start!













That's all I have time for for now.  I'll be back later with more operational details and maybe some progress photos.


Thanks for looking!





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On 11/7/2020 at 6:45 AM, dogsbody said:






Glad you could join in Chris!



On 11/7/2020 at 8:45 AM, alt-92 said:

My kind of build thread :popcorn:

I'm in!

Thanks!  I really enjoyed your recent Hampden build so I was really looking forward to doing something similar myself.  It will be fun!



On 11/7/2020 at 11:21 AM, 72modeler said:

Made it to the bar! Can't wait to see the progress and hear the rest of the story!


Glad you could make it Mike, plenty of room at the bar!



On 11/7/2020 at 9:17 AM, Biggu said:

Me too !


Great, good of you to join in.



On 11/7/2020 at 3:14 PM, Putty Animal said:

Love the Whitley.  Looking forward to the build.  :)

Thanks!  I love it too and it was an important aircraft in the early war years.



14 hours ago, Broadway said:

Sounds interesting, i'll be watching too.


Glad to have you along!

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