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Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk. V***FINISHED***


PeterB
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These days we are used to companies either merging or being taken over, but it is not a new phenomenon. The company founded by W. G Armstrong was a major player in heavy engineering and armament, when in 1897 it merged with one of its rivals to become Sir W G Armstrong, Whitworth and Co Ltd. They expanded into building cars in around 1906 and then set up an aircraft subsidiary in 1912, but when they were taken over by another big conglomerate – Vickers in 1927 to become Vickers Armstrong, the car and aircraft arm were split off and merged with the Siddeley-Deasy company. It continued to trade as Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft even after a take over by Hawkers in 1936, but after building the Argosy freighter the name changed to Hawker Siddeley in around 1960! A-W aircraft were originally based at Whitley, a suburb of Coventry, hence the name chosen in 1935 for my next build. but they moved to a larger site at Bagington in the late 1930's.

 

In 1972, Frog brought out their Whitley and I bought one. It was a nice enough kit and filled a glaring gap in the aircraft of Bomber Command, but it remained the only mainstream kit of this aircraft until Fly released theirs in around 2011, but I seem to remember it had mixed reviews. Then I saw that Airfix intended to release one at last and so I put in a pre-order - it arrived in 2015 and has been in my stash since then for a variety of reasons but now I hope to get it built. And here it is-

DSC06313-crop DSC06315-crop

 

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Quite a lot of plastic on some of the biggest sprues I have seen in quite a while - it is certainly British and I think it qualifies as big! Compared with my MPM Wellington II, this should be fun - I hope. I have to clear a few other builds from my desk and get another storage shelf put up in my roof, but should be able to start within a few days.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

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When I got mine, my first thought was that's a lot bigger than I expected! My second thought was wow that looks like a good kit! And yes, it is a fantastic kit, an absolute joy to build.

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Thanks Adam.

 

A few years back I "acquired" a copy of a book that gave a lot of info about the early bombers such as the Whitley but I have changed computer a couple of times since then and have either lost it, or else the file became corrupt and I had to scrap it. No idea what it was called but it is slightly annoying. I have probably enough other refs to be going on with anyway.

 

Pete

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I'm excited to see you're going to be tackling this, Pete. I have one in the stash I got for s bargain price. I was going to sell it, but when I looked at the sprues again I couldn't do it, it looks so good! Instead I've found an example used for RATO trials that I can consider part of my R&D collection :)

 

Looking forward to seeing your build. Great introduction, by the way.

 

Mike

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Posted (edited)

Hi Mike,

 

I have seen a pic of the RATO test version somewhere - given its normally short take off I am not sure quite why it would need any help unless seriously overloaded but it should be an interesting project!

 

Like several of its contemporaries it suffered from the 100ft limit on wingspan to fit hangar doors, so it was given a high lift thick wing, though that probably incurred a drag penalty. Also, when it was being designed flaps were not in favour so the wing was angled up quite a lot - 7o I think, to give good short field performance, although in the end flaps were fitted but it was decided not to re-design the wing. This resulted in the characteristic "nose down" flying angle that we see in pics and documentaries.

whitdown-crop

The above may be a bit extreme but you get the idea! Landing and take off runs were very short as a result - the stall speed was something like 68mph and pulling the nose up to "flare" on landing would make the wings act like a big air brake I imagine.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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I'm developing a bit of Airfix Whitley envy here Pete. Airfix certainly seem to be on a bit of a roll these days, their recent issues are quite amazing.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, TonyW said:

I'm developing a bit of Airfix Whitley envy here Pete. Airfix certainly seem to be on a bit of a roll these days, their recent issues are quite amazing.

Hi Tony,

 

I don't know exactly when Airfix started to produce the current generation of kits with the improved detailing and engineering - perhaps it was their third moulding of the Lancaster starting back in 2012 but I never bought one of those? So, for me this was the first of the new style kits, and when I opened the box and saw the instructions I was a bit overwhelmed by how complicated it looked. Of course since then I have built the Beaufort and Phantom F-4K, together with the Bf 110 and Ju 87 and realised that with a lot of care and perhaps a bit of luck they are not as hard as they look. The new style of step by step graphic instructions do make things somewhat easier although they are not completely idiot proof as I and I think others found with the engine assembly on the Beaufort, where a couple more illustrations would have been a good idea. On this kit the seperate nose assembly and the fact that there is a roof section for the main fuselage suggest possible alignment issues but we will see. The use of more sub assemblies together with drop-in turrets should simplify some parts of the construction and painting and the use of wing spars on larger kits is a definite plus. My only grumble so far is the choice of only two schemes/markings - a very early one, and one of the few in all over black. It would have been nice in a kit of this size and cost to see another option in the more "normal" camo l;ike the Cheshire one, but there we are - I can always work round that though there are no suitable decs currently available 7 years after the kit was released so I might have to fall back on my generic letters/markings stock. Also they provide different canopies (one with an astrodome and one without) and different bases for the rear turret for each version but with no explanation, which would have been nice.

 

Unlike many of their recent kits, as there is no surviving complete example  I doubt they would have been able to use a laser scan for much of the kit, so I have no idea just how accurate it will be - it should at least be better than my old Frog one. As to your vacform one - I wish you luck!

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Morning Pete,

 

Ratch organised a visit to Airfix at Margate quite a few years ago and I managed to tag along. A splendid day out was had by all.

Airfix were working on the release of the Valiant at the time and had prototypes in their showroom. That would date the visit somewhat.

I was surprised at how small the actual company is. Airfix is a brand, run by a handful of people, who sub out the tool manufacturing and actual making of the kits. The Garret Lane days are long gone.

Margate at the time was a distribution centre with the design staff offices to one side. The enthusiasm of the staff was quite incredible. They really wanted to make the best kits they could. Balancing the finances and supply chain issues was an ongoing nightmare at the time and I sometimes wonder how they survived. Someone decided that Brit kits were the way forward and we are now enjoying a feast of kits that I for one never thought would appear. All the V bombers, Whitley, Yet another Lancaster, two if you count the radial jobby. US and Brit ground support stuff as well.

A 1.48 Lightning, Sea Vixen, and a Javelin! The recently announced kits for this year continue to amaze me. 

 

All this lot must be quite a gamble and the re-releasing of old kits, where the tooling is long paid for, must be going some way to paying for the new stuff until it earns it's own keep.

All this waffle is a long winded way of saying that Airfix sometimes could add yet more value to their issues. The decal choice for the Whitley being an example. It's possible the design team were so knackerd just bringing the thing to market they went with two options, leaving others for possible future releases. The aftermarket usually dive in to cover in the meanwhile. 

 

Anyway, enough of my babbling, let's see some more of your Whitley build! 🔬

 

I'm off to order up a couple of kits. They won't be getting any cheaper with the way the worlds going, so get them while you can is my plan.

 

Tony. 

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This is a great kit! It goes together quite well, the details are quite nice and looks good on the shelf.

The main tricky point is the engine nacelles and how they mates to the wings. Lots of dry fit needed there!

I think I have a WIP here somewhere, and there it was:

https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235040422-the-moosejawed-bomber-aw-whitley-mk-v/

 

Good luck with this one!

 

 

 

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Been out of the modelling loop for som etime and I don't think I'll be back in earnest for a while, but I'll be following this one. I actually had this kit, briefly, before moving it on in favour of the GR Mk. VII version, because I fancy doing a coastal command scheme. Enjoy the build.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi,

 

Before anybody asks, I still intend to build this kit but due to the pressure from other GB I have not started it yet. However, progress is being made and I should be able to look at it before long! I just need to complete my Halifax in the Matchbox GB and the Tornado in the Bomber/Strike GB, and they are both well on the way. I also need to get at least one more shelf put up in my attic to store all the ruddy things on!

 

Pete

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Posted (edited)

Ok,

 

Still have not got round to putting the shelf up but I have managed to clear my desk, and now the Matchbox Halifax is completed I will make a start on this. However before I start abusing plastic, having learnt from the sorry saga of the Halifax I have started a bit of research - Airfix offer two options, both of which have problems for me. The first is N1380 of 103 Squadron, which is believed to be the first aircraft to intentionally drop bombs on German soil when it was involved in an attack of the seaplane base at Hornum on the night of March19/20 1940. The ORB held at Kew confirm that it was in that raid and that after two or three more missions, it was one of a number of planes sent out to bomb river bridges to try and slow down the German advance into France on the night of May 20th. It did not return and was believed to have crashed near St Quentin. It has the early colour scheme with very low demarcation line, no fin flashes, and seems to have had a Type A1 fuselage roundel, the yellow outer ring of which may or may not have been painted out depending on which source I believe..

 

The other option is Z9226 of 10 Squadron which Airfix say is as in December 1941. The problem is that although it started appearing in the ORB in late October of that year, the only mission it tried to fly in December ended due to the Port Engine running rough when warming up. I notice that Warpaint note that it was lost on December 28th 1941, but if that is correct it was probably with another Squadron by then as 10 were switching to Halifaxes and it is not in the ORB. I would still have been tempted to build it as a counterpart to my Halifax which first went operational in late December 1941, but it is in the all over black scheme which I don't actually like, and after all it is my kit!

 

So short of hitting my diminishing stock of code and serial letters, I may well end up building the first option - I need to decide as there are one or two different parts in the kit depending on which one you do.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Posted (edited)

Incidentally, in case you are not aware of this, the link for the National Archives at Kew is https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/. If you set up an account (free) you can access a lot of records, and they are still free to download at the moment, though they ask you to limit yourself to no more than 10 a day and 100 a month! The ones I am currently looking at are the Operational Record books (ORB) and you can search by Squadron and year(s). There are several types available - the best are the ones labelled "record of events" as these show the aircraft taking part in each mission. The "summary of events" just gives an overview such as crew and aircraft movements, change of bases etc and only briefly mentions the operations. In the column "aircraft type and number" what you get depends on who filled it in! If you are lucky then you might get something like "Whitley V P5005 N" so you can tie in a specific aircraft - fighter squadron ORB usually just give the type and serial which is less helpful to the modeller. However some entries may just say "Whitley V DY-N or just N, and in one or two cases just Whitley V. As you may gather I have been looking at P5005 N of 102 Squadron in 1940/41 as from June 1940 when it first seems to arrive, the second pilot was sometimes a certain "P.O. G L Cheshire" and within a couple of months he became first pilot - of course he flew in several planes and seems to disappear at the end of 1940 - he transferred to another Squadron in January 1941! He was flying P5005 on the night of 12/13 November when it was hit by flak and caught fire. The crew put the fire out and he bombed the target before bring the plane back with a ruddy great hole in the fuselage, for which he was awarded the DSC.

Whitley_V_No_102_Sqn_damaged_1940

 

The plane itself flew at least 16 missions, possibly more as in December 1940 the ORB stopped showing the serial for a while so the "N" listed may not have been this plane which might have been written off - if it was repaired and back in service it may have been the "N" that crashed on landing at 3.31 am on March 21st 1941 - the crew survived.

 

One thing which becomes apparent is that the tempo understandably increased dramatically following the German attack on France, with raids every 2 or 3 days, weather permitting. Also it is clear that aircraft were replaced every 6 to 9 months irrespective of whether or not they were lost. The batch with P serials first started to arrive in about June 1940 and was gone by March 1941, perhaps earlier due to the gap in recording serials I mentioned earlier.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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19 hours ago, PeterB said:

a certain "P.O. G L Cheshire"

 

Just in case anyone is wondering, this was Geoffrey Leonard Cheshire, Baron Cheshire, VC, OM, DSO & Two Bars, DFC who rose to Group Captain by the end of the war and founded the Cheshire Homes  nursing home charity after the war. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Cheshire

 

19 hours ago, PeterB said:

The crew put the fire out and he bombed the target before bring the plane back with a ruddy great hole in the fuselage, for which he was awarded the DSC.

DSO , not DSC , which is primarily a naval award.

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Posted (edited)

Well, I have made a start. There are 70 construction steps set out over 12 pages in the instructions and this is the end of step 7.

 

DSC06611-crop

 

Quite a long way to go yet but that is the end of Page 1! I am not quite sure why I bothered painting the lower part black as I am building it with the bomb bay doors closed so it won't be visible - force of habit I guess. So far the fit is very good.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Posted (edited)

I thought that I had put all the bits in, but since seeing these photos I have added the radio operator's gubbins which I had overlooked. The second pitot doubled up as navigator so his seat was on rails and pivoted - he could either be alongside but slightly behind the pilot facing forward, or else, as I have done it, sitting at his table.

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And this is the nose section buttoned up at the end of page 2.

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I then made a start on the rear section.

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and now that is together so I am near the bottom of the fourth page of instructions having completed step 18!

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I am not entirely convinced about the way Airfix have provided a 3 part rear fuselage - ok it gets rid of the difficult joint at the top but replaces it with 2 at the sides, which could be better - I guess they may pass as panel lines. And yes, I did paint the outside of the door in error, and it is not the best of fits.

 

Now it starts getting trickier as we come to the lower centre section complete with spars and it looks slightly complicated. Airfix would have you fit the wings and engine parts as well before joining the 3 sections together which may make it a bit cumbersome to handle - does anybody who has built this kit have any suggestions about whether or not it is better to fit the wings later? At least with the very low demarcation paint scheme it should be easy enough to paint either way. Those ruddy "letter box" windows could be a pain so I have ordered an Eduard masking set - they can be a sod to put on but do seem to work pretty well.

 

Incidentally, in the 3rd pic down the circular hole in the rear floor is where the ventral turret had been fitted on earlier Marks and was useful for dropping supplies and parachutists - the so called "Joe hole" from the nickname for agents - "Joe's" as they were not supposed to tell the aircrew their name - either real or code!

 

Pete

 

 

Edited by PeterB
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Posted (edited)

One or two small niggles but I quite enjoying this build, and as a result it is going together pretty quickly. This is the centre section.

DSC06670-crop

I have added the two wing spars, the rear bomb bay sides and roof, and a walkway between the spars, together with some windows. Compared with later kits such as the Beaufort the location of the spars is just a little vague, though as was reported several times when the new style Airfix kits first arrived, the tolerances are so tight that just a little paint could throw them out. I have cleaned the joints up but perhaps not quite enough. Given the slight question mark over alignment I thought I had better press on and add the wings to check everything was true. The engineering is a bit strange. The lower wings go on first and the only real point of contact is with the spars and about 1 cm at the rear, together with a tab between the spars as there is a ruddy big cut-out for the wheel bays.

DSC06674-crop

Not the strongest of joints so I stuck the upper wings on as well to firm things up - bit of a struggle but with patience and a certain amount of brute force and clamps I got there in the end.

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A dry fit suggest the joints should be acceptable though they will require just a touch of filler. The structure is actually very robust and the wingspan is less than I thought so handling may not be as bad as I feared.

 

I mentioned a couple of niggles, one of which was the slight vagueness of the fit. The other is the landing light in the leading edge of the Port wing. Airfix have provided a very nice light with a couple of lamps moulded in it, but there is a gaping hole behind it so I painted the wing inside in grey/green. You will have noticed I have painted the area inside the wheel bays in the same "RAF cockpit colour" out of habit but I have just noticed Airfix say that the interior should be aluminium - I am not entirely convinced and the Warpaint book on the Whitley unfortunately does not have pics or painting detail. There is of course no reason why it could not be aluminium like the contemporary Hurricane wheel bays, though I have always understood that with night bombers it was either grey/green or black, as I have done on my Hampden, Wellington Mk II and Halifax Mk II. Easy enough to change it before I start building up the engine nacelles but does anybody have any reliable info on this? 

 

So I have now finished Page 6 out of 12 and 28 steps out of 70, and managed to empty 2 of the sprues so it is coming along nicely. At this rate I might just possibly have time to try and build my ancient Airfix Stirling Mk I but we will see.

 

Pete

 

 

Edited by PeterB
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  • PeterB changed the title to Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk .V - A Question!
Posted (edited)

Hi Chris @dogsbody - you usually seem to have a lot of detailed info so have you got anything on the inside of the Whitley undercarriage bay?

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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3 hours ago, PeterB said:

Hi Chris @dogsbody - you usually seem to have a lot of detailed info so have you got anything on the inside of the Whitley undercarriage bay?

 

Pete

 

The best I've got:

 

52080676780_edf59ea082_b.jpg

 

49696167771_2cb172e835_b.jpg

 

 

 

 

Chris

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Thanks Chris, 

 

That confirms what I have found myself - the legs and wheel hubs were sometimes silver, but seem to have been generally painted black. The insides of the doors are dark - maybe grey/green but I think more likely they were black like all the other bombers I have built, so that is what I will go with.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

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  • PeterB changed the title to Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk .V

More progress - I fitted all the bits and pieces into the wheel bays on the wing itself - I remembered to confirm the undercarriage legs will fit into their locating holes as they go on much later and it will be a real pain to get at the holes once the nacelles are on.

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I then assembled the nacelles and fitted them.

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They are not quite as good a fit as I would have liked, though that may at least partly be down to a lack of preparation as mentioned earlier, though I think they are perhaps also suffering from the strange way the lower wing is constructed but nothing a little filler will not fix. I checked the wheel legs again to make sure they were vertical so that should be OK. The one strange thing is that unlike virtually all the other pieces which have good positive location with pins/sockets or ledges, the drum shaped Gallay radiators at the front do not seem to have anything to fit on to, and to make matters worse Airfix would have you fit them after the nacelles are closed which involves a juggling act with tweezers - most odd. Anyway I managed in the end though it was a struggle so no points for Airfix on that part of the assembly.

 

I have not fitted the exhausts as it will be easier to paint and fit them later, but I have added the bomb bay doors and the flaps, so the next step is to join up the wing assembly with the two fuselage halves, but I think I will do a bit of filling and filing first whilst the parts are easier to handle. As I am doing it with the bomb bays closed I can miss out that bit including making and fitting the bombs and cutting up and fixing the doors, so that is effectively 43 steps complete out of 70.

 

It is a pretty good kit and I am enjoying it - but it is not perfect!

 

Pete

 

 

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The Eduard masks have arrived and I am not entirely happy with them. In the past the ones I have used were on a fairly dark yellow sheet and it was fairly easy to see the cut-outs around the individual masks. These are on a much paler and perhaps thinner sheet and they are very hard to see, I have therefore decided not to use the ones for the 26 small fuselage windows as they would probably be a sod to find and handle, so I have painted them with liquid mask.

 

The fuselage joints are fairly complicated and although they fit quite well there are a few gaps - don't know if that is down to the kit itself or me being clumsy.

DSC06688-crop

Anyway it is glued and filled so I can press on.

 

Pete

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  • PeterB changed the title to Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk. V***FINISHED***

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