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"Strong and Faithful" - 233 Squadron, Their Dakotas and the Flying Nightingales


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After pondering the next project for a week or so, waiting for inspiration, it actually came from an unusual source.  My wife sent me this photo and said "isn't it about time one of your projects was about what women did in the war?"  She's right, as usual, it definitely is about time.

 

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Two weeks after D-Day the RAF's Dakota's began to be used as Air Ambulances with nurses of the WAAF flying outbound with the supplies and ammunition and returning with wounded servicemen.  These women soon became known as "Flying Nightingales" and it is in their honour this project is purposed.

 

Choosing my subject aircraft was also quite easy because I've actually been inside it.   FZ692 was built for the USAAF, delivered to the RAF's 233 Squadron and then joined the RCAF in September 1944 with 437 Squadron, the Huskys.   

 

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FZ692 while with 233 Squadron.

 

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Not FZ692 but it would have been marked very much like this 437 Squadron RCAF Dakota.

 

After the war FZ692 remained with the RCAF and when finally struck off charge in 1973 it continued earning its keep with Environment Canada as an environmental monitoring aircraft.  When its professional career finally ended in 2014 (think about that for a moment!), it was donated to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum where it now enjoys an active [airworthy] retirement.  I used to live quite close to the museum and visited many times, even as recently as 2019 on a visit back to Canada, and have been on board several times (though sadly, not for a flight, much to my regret).

 

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A lack of available display space forces me back to 1/72 scale.  Not my favourite scale at all, but I have no room for a 1/48 scale Dakota III and my recent 72nd scale Lancaster wasn't so bad - the newer Airfix kit is is.

 

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I'm going to have a couple of challenges in the markings, depending on when in its active service I model it.  If I go with the RAF markings as at or just after D-Day I'll need to find some way to add the "KWICHERBITCHEN" and mission markings.  If I model it later, at "Market Garden" with 437 Squadron  RCAF (which is the current plan) I'll likely have to paint much of the markings but the the "Royal Canadian Air Force" writ large on the fuselage is something I'll need to search for.  The RCAF markings also off more weathering opportunities.

 

I'll make a start tomorrow, all are welcome to follow along.  Please don't be shy about offering advice as the Dakota is new territory for me.  Tips, tricks and accuracy hints are all very welcome.

 

Cheers;

Mark.

 

 

 

Edited by mark.au
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This Italeri C-47 has decals for „Kwicherbitchen“. I have a couple unused decal sheets from that kit - if you want one, it‘s yours. Might take a while till it gets to Australia, I guess.

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11 hours ago, obermartin said:

This Italeri C-47 has decals for „Kwicherbitchen“. I have a couple unused decal sheets from that kit - if you want one, it‘s yours. Might take a while till it gets to Australia, I guess.


Thank you!  Very much appreciated, I’ll send a PM with address.

 

Cheers,

Mark

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Posted (edited)

A marathon Interior Green painting session brings me to this point.  Prior to that of course I assembled the interior.  
 

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Very little will be seen beyond its colour, and those that have followed my other builds know I don’t need much excuse to avoid working on cockpits.   Couple that with it being 72nd scale and this will pretty much the extent of the interior.  The exception will be the area around and visible from the cargo door as I’ll be displaying this one with that door open.

 

Photos of air ambulance Dakotas show a typical configuration of seats on the port side, cargo bulkhead on the starboard side so that’s how I configured mine.  
 

After I’ve completed the weathering on the interior I’ll button up the fuselage and push through the assembly.  Meanwhile @obermartin has very kindly sent me some decals for 233 Squadron’s iteration of FZ692 so that’s the one I’ll mark up.  After an extensive search, I think I’d have to get custom decals made for 437 Squadron’s RCAF markings, particularly the ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE on the fuselage; I’ve not completely ruled that out for a bookend build at some time in the future.


I guess I’ll need a new name for the WIP; “Anytime, Anywhere” is 437’s motto, and “The Huskys” is their nickname.

 

Edited by mark.au
Afterthought.
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I am working on same kit at the moment. Better watch out the cockpit platform fits in slots in fuselage perfectly. Otherwise it causes  some extra work on top /nose.

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Interior looks good Mark,  I am really looking forward to seeing this little beauty progress. Love these machines . Used to watch them as a youngster in the late 70s and early 80s coming into land at Lydd.  The sound was awesome went they were taking off too. 

Great job.

Chris

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9 hours ago, TheFlogger said:

I am working on same kit at the moment. Better watch out the cockpit platform fits in slots in fuselage perfectly. Otherwise it causes  some extra work on top /nose.


Thanks for the heads up, I’ll keep an eye for that when I insert the cockpit.

 

4 hours ago, bigbadbadge said:

Used to watch them as a youngster in the late 70s and early 80s coming into land at Lydd.  The sound was awesome went they were taking off too. 


That must have been great to see.  I’ve seen them fly a few times, but really only at air shows.  There was a working Dakota that I nearly got to fly in at an airfield in Nigeria when I was there, but that’s a whole different story.

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48 minutes ago, mark.au said:


Thanks for the heads up, I’ll keep an eye for that when I insert the cockpit.

 


That must have been great to see.  I’ve seen them fly a few times, but really only at air shows.  There was a working Dakota that I nearly got to fly in at an airfield in Nigeria when I was there, but that’s a whole different story.

I have lovely memories of the Dakotas flying in and out, they almost used to cross the corner of our school playing field and as the crow flies the end of the runway was only about 250-300 yds away from there . Saw mainly Dakotas, along with Bristol SuperFreighters, Viscount and Heralds.  It's amazing to think they were still working after all their original service . What great machines.  

Chris

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Really nice!  I built this kit a few years ago, and can offer some advice as you progress.  Please take care with the fuselage windows, which may tend to sit too deeply in their sills, so you'll want to carefully regulate how they fit relative to the outer "skin" of the airframe.  You'll want to drill out that small window on the left-hand side of the fuselage, adjacent to the venturi intake.  Also, the engines are going to drive you nuts.  If you're not averse to painting/detailing the P&W R1830's BEFORE you assemble the cowlings around them (and sand the seams), that might be the best path to take.  Otherwise, it will be a struggle to properly align the fully assembled/sanded cowlings and get the engines to fit right.  The underside fuselage assembly is a nice design, and you should not have too much trouble with the fit of the wing roots, despite how they look.

 

On the other hand, pay close attention to the fit of the rudder against the vertical fin.  The real thing sits flush and tight in comparison with the Airfix design, so you should sand/file, fit, and repeat the process until it looks snug.

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Nice idea for a build Mark, you've chosen a good looking scheme with a great back story. Bring it on. :)

Steve

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Hi Mark, I don't know if you're intending to detail the interior to any degree but this google search, which I arrived at from doing a google picture search from the photo of the three young women at the top of this thread, has some interior shots in some of the threads you might find useful.

Steve.

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Thanks for that @stevehnz, some good pics in there.  As it happens, I’m not doing too much to the interior, only around the cargo doors.  Here’s where I took it before clothe fuselage.

 

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Not much more than a simple wash, dry brush and chipping with a silver pencil.  I’ll do more weathering around the entryway later.

 

I took great heed to @TheyJammedKenny!‘s advice when joining the fuselage and achieved a nice dry-fit.  There was a small gap at the top of the fuselage which closed with very little pressure.  Below, note that the seam forward of the astrodome is glued and behind is not.


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I worked my way around the fuselage, gluing as I went.  Because I absolutely suck at joining fuselage halves I still ended up with a step on the upper fuselage seam which took some effort to fix.  Below, it’s almost done, the paint showed one last area to fix (the zinc chromate yellow happened to be the nearest colour to hand when I reached for a colour to spray-check the seam).

 

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Once I’ve re-scribed the missing panel lines the fuselage will be done for the time being and I’ll set it aside while I work on the wing assembly - I’m actually going to attach them before painting which is a bit unusual for me lately.  I must say that I’m enjoying this one, the kit so far has been a pleasure to work with.

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Our BBMF Dak is currently painted in these colours, in fact she's up today, pilot display practises. Best of luck with this, looking forward to the build!

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I always like to see a Dak on build. One thing I would have done is to make sure the tags on the fuselage( asper your image with red circles) and all other parts where the part is attached to the runner is cleaned off all around before joining ....... saves a bit of cleaning up after. Also the fillets for the wing to fuselage is fun. I would take it careful here and ensure the joins are lined up nicely. The undercart can be a bit fiddly but worth the effort in the end. Looking forward to seeing this progress.

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Is there a reason why you chose not to drill out the little window above the venturi on the fuselage left-hand side?  It's not too late to do so.  I did this AFTER I built and painted my C-47, and it was a real pain, but the kind of thing that TonyOT would do, so entirely do-able.

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11 hours ago, Paul J said:

One thing I would have done is to make sure the tags on the fuselage( asper your image with red circles) and all other parts where the part is attached to the runner is cleaned off all around before joining ....... saves a bit of cleaning up after.


Thanks for the heads up on the fillets.  Regarding the spruce gates, I leave them on as the glue melts them together and the clean up after joining, when the gates are also glued, has less risk of gouging the surface (hope that makes sense?).

 

5 hours ago, TheyJammedKenny! said:

Is there a reason why you chose not to drill out the little window above the venturi on the fuselage left-hand side?  It's not too late to do so.  I did this AFTER I built and painted my C-47, and it was a real pain, but the kind of thing that TonyOT would do, so entirely do-able.

 

I think it will look better painted black and the recessed window area filled with clear gloss.  I did this with the fuselage windows on my recent Lancaster and it looked every bit as good as opening it up.  That window is so small, and the interior so dark there, I felt there’d be zero value in actually opening it up as no light would go through it anyway.  Who is TonyOT?

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Great progress Mark, lovely to see the fuselage together.   

Tony is a great modeller on here he did some lovely DAKs, Venturas, Catalina, Mossies  and a Beau, I may have missed some, in the Australian and New Zealand group build.  

Keep up the good work 

Chris

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This is cool... if you are looking to do a 437 bird, you may want to try and see if IPMS Canada or some of it's members have the older IPMS Canada decal sheet available... it has the 437 bird on the sheet

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4 hours ago, mark.au said:

recessed window area filled with clear gloss

Of course, this is a valid approach, too!  

 

TonyOT is one of the other modelers on this forum, and his creative output is something to behold!  

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2 hours ago, TheyJammedKenny! said:

TonyOT is one of the other modelers on this forum, and his creative output is something to behold!  

 

Thanks, I looked him up - he's certainly prolific!

 

3 hours ago, Biggu said:

This is cool... if you are looking to do a 437 bird, you may want to try and see if IPMS Canada or some of it's members have the older IPMS Canada decal sheet available... it has the 437 bird on the sheet

 

Ah ha, I'll try this route.  I've also begun work on creating the decals for the 437 markings - I've got it in mind now that I'll build both as I'm enjoying this little Airfix kit so much.

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Great project Mark, excellent choice of markings, I enjoyed reading the thread and backstory from the beginning. It’s a shame printing in white is so difficult, causes me lots of headaches. Best wishes for the rest of the build and getting the decals.

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Modelling update coming later but I've wanted to share this little side project...

 

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...which is a template for a decal sheet for the 437 Squadron markings (and another airframe, the one pictured in the first post above).  The only thing I'm not certain of is the name "Fort Ellice" for FZ692 as there's no name on the visible on any photos, either contemporary or wartime, to show what it was named.  I do know that 437 named their aircraft after Hudson's Bay Company outposts, so I looked up the list and picked one I liked the sound of.

 

I've sent these off to a decal printer to check its viability, if it looks like it'll work I've got what I need to build both the 233 and 437 versions of FZ692.

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  • mark.au changed the title to "Strong and Faithful" - 233 Squadron, Their Dakotas and the Flying Nightingales

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