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Short Stirling Mk I Series III ***FINISHED***


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Ok,

 

The chances of me completing this before the deadline are slim unless we get granted an extension but after my struggle with the new Whitley I felt the need to get back to basics. Yes, there are a lot of parts but I will be doing it with the bombays closed and may not do the tractor and trailers so that so together with the parts specific to the Mk III cuts out about 100 of the 270 or so!

DSC06729

 The kit was originally released in 1966 according to Scalemates and was the second kit in Series 6, the first being the Sunderland in 1959. At 10/6 (52,.5p) it was at the time the most expensive Airfix aircraft kit and I got it for a Christmas present. I build that one as the later Mk III but I will build this as the early Mk I - more on that later as I think Airfix made an error with the decs. Compared with the most recent Airfix  RAF Bomber release, the Series 5 Halifax, it was far better detailed to my mind, and streets ahead of the old Wellington and Lancaster (first moulding of course).

 

This should be fun, but then I though that about the Whitley!

 

Pete

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Mike,

 

It's a fairly big model with quite a lot of parts, but the only complicated bit will probably be that massive undercarriage. I seem to remember building it at about the same time as the Revell Fw 200 Condor which also had a complicated undercarriage and I have that to look forward to when I build the more recent replacement. I seem to remember Pat building one of these not too long ago and that his was badly warped. This seems not too bad, though one wing was a bit bent and I ended up using CA glue and clamps on the inner engine nacelle.

 

DSC06734-crop

Being black I have had to fiddle with the exposure and contrast so you can actually see some detail. Since then I have added the 12 individual doors to the wing bomb cells - the Halifax had them too but Airfix did not bother to provide the open option on them and neither did Matchbox on theirs - not sure which I prefer as they are a bit of a pain to glue in the closed position. As is usually the case with "working" control surfaces there is a scale 6" gap around the ailerons which I will partially fill.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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  • PeterB changed the title to Short Stirling Mk I Series 3
Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, 12jaguar said:

Always interested to see a Stirling, but please amend the spelling LOL

So presumably you know a bit about the Stirling (unlike me)? If so any idea what colour the cockpit area was. I had assumed black like Lancasters then found a photo which suggests interior grey/green with black IP etc.

 

When I first started building aircraft kits in the late 1950's I used everything in the box - well I had paid for it hadn't I! That meant undercarriages down and crew figures. After a while I switched to wheels up and used stands, so again used the crew figures, but about 20 years ago I went back to undercarriages down as I had more storage space, the undercarriages looked a bit better and I had figured out how to box them in as well, so no more crew figures! Anyway, Airfix stopped providing them with many new kits a few years later, but with this kit it looks like I will have to use at least the gunners unless I want to scratch build turret interiors to support the ruddy guns! Actually the crew in this kit are not too bad, though as ever the poses are poor - why did Airfix go through a phase of moulding both pilot and co-pilot sitting with one leg and one arm sticking out- they remind me a bit of the "Cossack" dancers who toured with the Red Army Choir! The turrets should be trapped in the fuselage as it is closed up but I might be able to get away with leaving them off until nearer the end, thus reducing the risk of the gun barrels being broken off.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Posted (edited)

I think I bought this kit about 20 years ago and according to Scalemates it is the 1983 re-boxing, which as you can see is from the period when Airfix stopped using Roy Cross' superb artwork and switched to a photo of a built (often not very well) model. In fact I think it is slightly earlier as although the artwork is identical the Scalemates box is clearly marked Series 7 whilst this is still marked as Series 6 and on the box it says it was made in France, presumably by Heller, in 1982! Incidentally some of Roy's artwork is now being offered on e-Bay at anything between £700 and pushing £2000! Anyway, except for the one warped wing and a bit of flash it seems to be in fairly good condition though the decs are badly yellowed.

 

As I mentioned earlier pics I have found suggest the cockpit was, like the rest of the fuselage interior, painted mostly in grey/green so that is what I have gone for.

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I am :poop:at figure painting and I don't know if the crew wore leather/sheepskin jackets over normal uniform or maybe full cold weather gear, but I have gone for the former in spite of my tin of Humbrol RAF Blue having gone off, so I mixed something similar. I have however painted the one gunner with legs in the full brown clothes, as I am guessing they got a bit cold! I was debating whether or not to fit the ruddy windows after my experience with the Whitley where half of them fell out, but these are maybe a bit big for Krystal Kleer - on the plus side they should be easier to mask than the "letterbox" ones on that kit. I am pretty sure I would have checked to make sure all the bits were there when I bought it on e-Bay but one of the supports for the dorsal turret is now missing - no problem as I do not intend it to rotate.

 

I must now apologise for doing a bit of an Enzo and missing out several construction stages but I seem to have got the bit between my teeth as the saying goes - the fuselage is now joined up and most of the work on the wings done and primed.

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The primer has shown up a couple of joints that need a bit more work but the fit really is not too bad. The fuselage seams will no doubt need some work as the various gaps leave it a bit weak and it sags a little where the two halves meet, but except for the tail surfaces and the undercarriage it is pretty much finished in terms of major structures. I might even manage to finish it but a lot could go wrong yet!

 

Incidentally, like the previous RAF bombers, Airfix print an "instrument panel" on the instruction sheet for you to cut out and glue on - this one was blue, which is a bit better than the red one on my old Wellington but I copied it in B&W - I have no idea why they did not just stick to black print on their ruddy instructions, but they certainly used Black, Blue, Red and maybe even Green over the years! Maybe it is like their plastic early on - whatever granules they could get cheap they used irrespective of the colour, or so my book on Airfix says.

 

Believe it or not I am actually enjoying this build - well at least so far - I still have the scaffolding tower undercarriage to do!

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Hi Pete

 

The cockpit is indeed Cockpit green as is the Bomb Aimers compartment. However, everything aft of the cockpit bulkhead is in aluminium (except for Mk Vs)

 

I built the Airfix kit as a Mk III last year in the markings of BK716 which is the aircraft recently recovered by the Dutch Air Force from the Markemeer

 

regards

 

John

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Quote

but with this kit it looks like I will have to use at least the gunners unless I want to scratch build turret interiors to support the ruddy guns!

I built the Stirling a few years back... I just cut the heads off the figures, painted them black and pretended that they were the actual mechanism... it works well enough, you'd never really notice at this scale and when the turrets are all buttoned up.

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  • PeterB changed the title to Short Stirling Mk I Series III

I said earlier I though Airfix may have made a mistake with the decs, and this is why. Until I started on this kit I had not paid a lot of attention to this plane other than reading William Green's “Famous Bombers of WWII” Second Series. Whilst that book gave quite a bit of info it did not go into too much detail and so I always thought that there were really only 3 bomber models followed by a couple of transport ones, and the Mk II with Wright Cyclone engines earmarked for production in Canada was cancelled after either 3 or 4 were built. I fairness Green does say that the first few did not have the dorsal turret but were instead fitted with a ventral one like the early Whitley, Wellington, Manchester and the prototype Halifax but it seems it was slightly more complicated – there were actually 4 slightly different versions of Mk I though sources vary in terms of detail.

 

According to Squadron Signal the Mk I with the Hercules II engines was quickly replaced by the Mk I Series I with more powerful engines and both had the ventral turret but as with the other aircraft mentioned it proved to be problematic as whenever it was lowered the extra drag knocked up to 25mph of the top speed just at the time when the plane needed to go as fast as possible if under attack. Not only that but it seems the FN turret fitted to the Stirling had an unfortunate habit of lowering itself – particularly when being taxied across bumpy grass, so on the Series II the turret was removed and provision was probably made for beam guns though it is not quite clear from my sources exactly when that came about. There was also a mounting on some for a single manual ventral gun where the turret used to be, but apparently neither of these extra sets of guns were actually used much if at all in practice.

 

From the 81st production Stirling onwards a dorsal turret was fitted in the Series III, either with or without the ventral gun, and therein lies the problem. Airfix provide decs for what they claim is N3709/K of No 7 Squadron (MG). That Squadron was in fact the first to receive Stirlings at the end of 1940, though they did not begin active service until early 1941, and I have seen plenty of photos of their machines including an MG*K but not N3709 which would have been the 74th made and so probably a Mk 1 Series II. I doubt that it would have originally had the dorsal turret like this kit if Squadron Signal are correct, though of course it may have been retro-fitted at some point, and indeed there is a photo in the Warpaint book of N3675 with a dorsal turret when with an OCU on April 1942, and that was probably a Series I! Actually, Warpaint differ a bit from Squadron Signal in terms of the differences between the Series I, II and III, and according to them the interchangeability of components meant that it was hard to tell which Series a plane was from, so maybe Airfix are right after all. Anyway, the decs are not brilliant having yellowed and the fuselage roundel is out of register so I will make it as a different machine. The early ones, particularly those without the dorsal turret, had a similar camo scheme to the Whitley with a very low demarcation line, but apparently with very tall fin flashes, but I am going for the later straight edged high demarcation, though not quite as high as on the kit painting instructions.

DSC06740-crop

At least I have seen no evidence of the Kilfrost anti-icing paste being used on the Stirling except for one old Profile pic which seems to show it on the leading edge of the vertical tail. So, I will finish the fuselage with the black after a bit of tidying up and trying to mask the ruddy windows, and then I can add the vertical and horizontal tail units.

 

So far so good.

 

Pete

 

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Posted (edited)

I guess that most of you have seen the oft repeated story about why the Stirling was not a great success – the Air Ministry insistence that the wingspan could not be more that 100ft so it would fit in a standard hanger, resulting in a thick high lift wing which reduced both speed and ceiling. Also there was a width restriction on the fuselage to fit the British railway loading gauge which may have been one of the reasons why the bomb bay could not take large bombs, though I think it was mainly due to the original spec being for lots of 500lb or 1000lb bombs. I don't know if it is true or not, but I do know that the Halifax had a similar restriction on span, hence I believe the clipped wingtips on early versions, and that later Shorts offered an improved version with a span of 139ft 9 inches and more powerful engines that, at least on paper, could do over 300mph, but were turned down. Whatever the case, it was the first true heavy bomber for the RAF and in spite of its its limitations it was far better in terms of payload /range than anything the Luftwaffe had except the He 177 when that eventually was sorted out.

 

Somebody like Graham who has a better understanding of the aerodynamics will probably tell me I am wrong, but I suspect thick and relatively short span wings benefit from a high angle of attack during take off. The Whitley also had a thick wing and had it angled up a lot, though that was at least in part due to the original design not having flaps to improve lift. In the case of the Stirling it had flaps from the start and the wing was "level" but it was mounted a bit higher up the fuselage, and as  consequence it had a very long undercarriage to get the nose up. Here are the kit parts less the wheel halves and separate hubs.

DSC06742-crop

On the prototype the u/c collapsed so it was strengthened, and looks pretty massive - like something I.K. Brunel might have designed, but it was still a weak point of the design. As you will see later it is a bit weird with the doors mounted on the rear struts and hanging well below the wells when on the ground - the retraction sequence/mechanism must have been interesting!. It also, like the Supermarine Attacker, had two tail wheels. The Fw 200 Condor had perhaps an even more complex undercarriage but rather more conventional in appearance.

 

Pete 

Edited by PeterB
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Except for the inevitable touching up the wings are done, other than the undercarriage and props of course.

DSC06744-crop

I have used the alternative short intakes on top of the cowlings, and likewise the shorter exhausts - the kit also comes with longer versions of both for the Mk III. One of the prominent features on the Stirling was the large hatches on top of the wing which provided access to the fuel tanks - the Sunderland was the same. The kit hatches have very pronounced raised edges and with hindsight I perhaps should have sanded them down a little, but the roundels settled down fairly well after two or three doses of Micro Sol. The exhaust collector rings at the front of British radial engines - usually of Bristol manufacture such as the Mercury and Hercules - have always been a bit of a debatable subject in terms of colour. Over the years I have seen kit instructions to paint them brown, grey or bronze. Fairly recently I have read somewhere that they were actually made of stainless steel so over time that would tarnish with the considerable heat involved, rather than rust. They may have been painted I suppose, but unless it was special heatproof paint (grey perhaps?)  it would soon flake off I guess - I have read that a special paint was used on actual exhausts in some cases. Whatever, this is my take on tarnished - a mix of aluminium, red/brown and antique bronze. As with the back end of the F-100 Super Sabre there is of course scope for a complicated streaky finish but I could not be bothered!

 

I am still waiting for some decs from Hannants but have narrowed the choice down to 4 aircraft. Because the serials are very close to the horizontal tail I will not glue those on until after the decs are on. My wife, bless her, has suddenly taken into her head to paint the kitchen so that is complicating matters as I have problems getting at the sink to wash brushes after painting, and there is no chance of using my airbrush at the moment, but I should get this finished before too long with a bit of luck, and then I really must concentrate on the 3 builds I have not yet started for a couple of other GB.

 

Pete

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Posted (edited)

Hi Mike,

 

Hopefully but I am still waiting for some decs I may need which may have been delayed by the Jubilee celebrations! Anyway, I have put the serial on though I may need to change it if the decs don't arrive, but more on that next time.

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I have also fitted the tail surfaces, which brings back a memory from the past, when "I were a lad" back in West Yorkshire, where the talk every Christmas seemed to always get round to "stone floors and outside toilets", and modellers like myself had very little info on planes of WWII or indeed any other period. There was of course no Discovery Channel with loads of documentaries, and no internet, and about all there was in the way of books were a few Ian Allan paperbacks ( I had two, one on RAF planes in WWII, and one on German planes in WWI I think) plus what you could find in comics, one of which I believe was the "Victor" from about January 1961 (according to Wiki). One of the characters in that, transferred from the earlier "Rover" I believe was a Sergeant bomber pilot called Matt Braddock VC, and in one of the stories I seem to remember he was flying a Stirling - a plane about which I knew very little at the time. The bit which has stuck in my memory is the description of one climbing slowly up through the clouds and how the tail broke through first and looked "like a shark's fin". Quite a good description I think when you remember most of the other RAF bombers of the time had somewhat smaller twin fins, though the Wellington also had a single one which was almost as big! I was reminded of that years ago when for my 50th birthday my wife bought me a "flying experience" and we were "cloud surfing" in a small single engined Piper, so I can clearly visualise what they meant in the story. I wonder if any of you also remember that series?

 

Incidentally, besides the Braddock stories, the Victor also provided me with a very useful booklet on WWII aircraft which not only included the British, German and American ones I was in some cases only slightly familiar with but also French, Italian, Japanese and Russian ones I knew almost nothing about, and just in time for the Revell UK release of many of the fighters it contained from 1963 onwards - Ki 43, Ki-61, Ki-84, CR.42, MC. 200, I-16 etc! Not too long afterwards, as I mentioned in one of my "Turning Japanese GB" builds, I discovered the William Green "War Planes of the Second World War" series of books and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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  • PeterB changed the title to Short Stirling Mk I Series III- Getting there!
Posted (edited)

Bit stalled at the moment. When I went to put on the codes for the one I hope to model I realised that they were non standard "narrow" ones, probably to get round the ruddy windows which I guess were a left over from the early intention to use this machine on daylight raids. Some had normal sized codes and either painted round or over the windows whilst 7 Squadron sometimes used much smaller than normal codes for their "MG"  but a full sized individual aircraft letter. I ordered some from Hannants that look the right type but although they were posted a week ago they still have not arrived - I will give them until the weekend and if they have not turned up I will change the serial and use codes I already have. The delay is one of the reasons  I have started on the O/400 though if I had any sense I would be working on my Do-17 pair.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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The decs arrived today and are no better than the ones I have already got so I switched from W7455/B of 149 Squadron to W7451/D of 7 Squadron.

DSC06766-crop

As I mentioned earlier, some of 7 Squadron's planes used the full sized 48" codes for the aircraft letter but smaller ones for the "MG" Squadron code. I used 30" which seem about right though some illustrations seem to suggest that 24" could have been used in some cases. These early Stirlings do not seem to have lasted very long on operations, usually about 4 months before they either went to another squadron or more likely to a training unit - an OCU usually. This one did not get that far as it first seems to have flown operationally in December 1941 and wiped off its undercarriage during a heavy landing from a non operational flight in early March 1942!In fact I suspect it only flew one combat mission on December 9th, when it was scheduled for a daylight raid on the Ruhr but due to 10/10ths cloud this was switched to an anti shipping patrol. Off the Hook of Holland it spotted a tanker with two flak ships as escort and attacked, but was hit by flak which wounded the navigator and damaged the tailwheel and no bombs were actually dropped. The accompanying W7440 was also shot up and one of the undercarriage legs collapsed on landing - not a good result and one has to question the wisdom of attacking flak ships in daylight! On the same day other planes from the Squadron attacked Brest in daylight and were only slightly luckier.

 

Pete

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Wings on!

DSC06770-crop

Now I am getting somewhere. Just the turrets and undercarriage to do.

 

Pete

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I have got most of the undercarriage on.

DSC06772-crop

As it is black there is virtually no contrast so I have had to overexpose it somewhat so you may just be able to see it. There are actually 4 wheel doors. Once I have done a bit of touching up I will add the normal looking ones to the sided frames. There is another door on the front of the main legs which folds down to fill a sort of wedge shaped gap at the front, between the side doors, and then there is another door which is slid back over the rear nacelle when the wheels are down and just visible behind the wheel well. Clearly there must have been "knuckle joints" so that the main leg folded as it retracted and as I said before the geometry of all the struts and jacks must have been a real "plumber's nightmare". Even though it had been strengthened it remained a major weakness and returning home with battle damage must have been stressful - if it collapsed it was a long way to the ground!

 

Pete

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Undercarriage on.

DSC06777-crop

I know that the Whitley had a fairly short undercarriage but the Stirling towers above it - the pilot's head must have been about 21ft above the ground when parked! As I said earlier I guess Shorts went for the long undercarriage to get a nose up attitude for short take-offs but why they went for such a complicated design is unclear, and with hindsight it was probably a mistake.

 

So, turrets. props and a few odds and ends and it should be done.

 

Pete

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I have added the pitot heads that Airfix forgot and now everything is on bar the turrets.

DSC06817-crop

Won't be long now!

 

Pete

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  • PeterB changed the title to Short Stirling Mk I Series III ***FINISHED***

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