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Vickers Valentia, K3604. Sudan, 1939 - a Contrail Kit


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The Vickers Valentia is the tenth 1/72 aircraft kit I've made since I restarted modelling in 2020. But it's the first vacform, and nothing really prepares you for that. Fortunately, JWM was already working on one and his Valentia K3160 WIP pages (https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235109961-vickers-valentia-contrail-172/) provide a masterclass in tackling the idiosyncrasies of these Contrail kits from the 1980s.

 

There are parts that don't fit well, scored lines that are almost invisible, parts so thin the plastic can even melt if the putty is exothermic, and ludicrously inadequate instructions. The kit needed a fair amount of scratch-building to prepare items that weren't in the box or to replace parts that were plain wrong for this aircraft. I was lucky to find an unopened box so I could see from the beginning where I'd need to improvise. So no complaints, some things you just have to learn.

 

It can be difficult to find information on aircraft from the interwar period. Around eighty of these 'Type 264' Valentias were built, and none of them survive. However, I had a personal lead-in, as it were, as my dad had flown in one on the Khartoum-Nairobi route AND HE TOOK PHOTOGRAPHS. Working through his negatives from 1938 to 1941 was the starting point of all my recent builds.

 

So here she is - K3604, code 'B', of 216 Squadron RAF, at Malakal in Sudan (now South Sudan), on Sunday the 8th of January, 1939, where they had a flat tyre on the rear wheel.

 

52585192364_edd37c49b9_o.jpg
p7_57_doublex by Sandeha Lynch, on Flickr

 

Aircraft fabric paint on a black and white photo shows up as white under an equatorial sun. I was almost tempted to paint the body all white, but instead I picked a metallic paint and reduced the shine with around 20% satin white.

 

52738957639_27858c4260_o.jpg
IMGP0455x by Sandeha Lynch, on Flickr

 

The ribs on the rear of the fuselage and on the wings below the engines are 0.5mm hemp cord, the same as used for model ship rigging. And following Jerzy's lead, I bought 1.5x2.5mm ABS strips for the main wing struts and used another 2mm rod for the exhausts. For the tail struts with a wider profile I took a couple of rods, glued them together, and filled the groove with putty.

 

52739191558_05ccec3fd2_o.jpg
IMGP0448x by Sandeha Lynch, on Flickr

 

The kit has Pegasus II engines as required, but there were no exhaust collector rings in the box. Instead, 1mm ABS rod was cut up and glued against a plastic ring cut from the body of an old Letraset ProMarker pen; the diameter and thickness were very close, and filing, putty, and paint did the rest. Antique Copper paint, some Plaid FolkArt acrylics I had - 20 years old but still good. I also had some 3mm brass tubing from another project I did 20 years ago which was a perfect sleeve for a 2mm prop shaft - I now have the smoothest running propellers ever.

 

52738957729_a175f059eb_o.jpg
IMGP0481x by Sandeha Lynch, on Flickr

 

Jerzy was also on point in removing the individual window sections and inserting one long strip of clear plastic with painted divisions - so much easier, though it was still tricky to keep the glass clean. The cockpit seats are small squares of ABS sheet in a stack, with an upright piece forming the back. I used grey and Cockpit Green on the interior. Seat belts and instrument panel are from a Kora Fairey Gordon kit I'd bought from LFModels two years before. Well, it's from the same period!

 

52739116865_370952cbc7_o.jpg
IMGP0475x by Sandeha Lynch, on Flickr

 

One of the undercarriage struts broke at the elbow when I was trimming off the flashing. It was such a weak point I reinforced them all by gluing the flat side to 1mm ABS sheet and then trimming them to a better shape. You don't want them to look too heavy of course, but the finished aircraft is no lightweight at 150g. Fortunately, the black injection plastic wheels were pretty good and just needed filing around the edge. The tail wheel may also have come from the Gordon kit, as my own version had used a skid.

 

52738706141_b4776ebae3_o.jpg
IMGP0467x by Sandeha Lynch, on Flickr

 

I haven't added rigging to any of the biplanes I've built and without practice there can be no skill, so I wasn't about to try it with this model. Maybe next time.

 

The original Contrail decals needed cleaning up as the glassine paper had stuck to them but they were tough enough to withstand a wet cotton bud. And a creative drop of paint was needed in converting the supplied K2340 decals to K3604 under the wings, the 2 taking on the role of a 6. Juggling the small code numbers around the tail was very tricky. The 'B' on the fuselage is in two sizes; an old ModelDecal '105' sheet was good for the nose and a Kits-World paint mask on a clear decal sheet did the rear.

 

52739191623_fe98b42b3b_o.jpg
IMGP0474x by Sandeha Lynch, on Flickr

 

Faults? Yes, quite a few in planning and assembly. There is a slight distortion at the tips of the wings. I used 1mm ABS sheet strips to reinforce the length inside but should have added more around the extreme edges - in some places the vacform wing plastic is probably no more than 0.3mm thick. Getting the fuselage cuts right for the angle of the lower wing to slot into was also difficult and needed Milliput packed in below.

 

For contrast, this shot shows a Fiat CR.42 Falco I made a couple of years ago. Both 1/72. Who knows, they may have met in the skies above Sudan and Eritrea.

 

52738957819_51976ae0cf_o.jpg
IMGP0464x by Sandeha Lynch, on Flickr

 

I started cutting out the parts in November '22 and worked on it in shifts. Challenging? Very. Satisfying? Immensely.

 

52738957694_9c8192c459_o.jpg
IMGP0452x by Sandeha Lynch, on Flickr

 

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Great to see your finished build! The alu dope livery looks a bit differently but on other hand - similar to mine as well :) This is a very machine with unique esprit,,,,

Regards

J-W

 

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It's always a pleasure to see one of these old Contrail biplane kits finished to such a high standard. You've done a superb job with this one. It's even more impressive given the fact that this was your first vacform kit.

Contrail produced a fantastic range of RAF pre-war aircraft, most of which I've got in my long term stash awaiting a suitable display cabinet.

Thanks for sharing it with us here.

 

Chris.

Edited by cngaero
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Bravo! Creating a finished model from a Contrail kit is a victory in itself, and especially as a first taste of vacform construction. And your model gives a convincing impression of this whale of an aeroplane! It's almost crying out for a couple of figures as a scale reference.

 

Impressive work.

 

Kind regards,

 

Joachim

 

 

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Bigglesof266 - thanks for the trophy! Amid all the jets on Britmodeller the Valentia is certainly a rare one.

 

JWM - it was really fortunate that you were actually working on a Valentia when I began searching for one. Your notes have been a huge help, so thank you.

 

Bell209, cngaero, mahavelona, and Spitfire31 - I suspect we have all been spoiled by injection plastic technology; one often hears of vacform kits "in the stash". Hopefully yours will come out to play at some point, though granted, clear bench-space is a necessity.

 

I've been looking around for a 216 Squadron nose insignia 1/72 decal - an eagle carrying a bomb - but I haven't found one yet!

Edited by Sandeha Lynch
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1 hour ago, Sandeha Lynch said:

JWM - it was really fortunate that you were actually working on a Valentia when I began searching for one. Your notes have been a huge help, so thank you.

 

Thank you! I am also very grateful for your help, especially for photos (and your story with it) which allowed to construct a kit in a very well documented scheme! 

Regards

J-W

 

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  • 4 months later...

great job !

I have started years ago the build of the three Victorias/Valentias that the Contrail kit contains. However I am still stuck at the fuselages stage. Your model shows stripes on the upper fuselage that are much more blended on mines. Have you added plastic stripes or something to simulate the fuselage ribs ?

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1 hour ago, beekeeper said:

great job !

I have started years ago the build of the three Victorias/Valentias that the Contrail kit contains. However I am still stuck at the fuselages stage. Your model shows stripes on the upper fuselage that are much more blended on mines. Have you added plastic stripes or something to simulate the fuselage ribs ?

Thanks, Beekeeper

I used 0.5mm hemp cord, made for model ship rigging, bedded in with Tamiya liquid glue. I think it would have been better if I'd used the 0.25mm, but it worked out once I'd wiped putty along the lengths.

 

You should look at JWM's thread where he shows the use of stretched sprue and putty. I think he got a better result once it was sanded down - something I couldn't do on the cord as it would have frayed!

 

 

It's a choice, since the original body definitely appears too flat, likewise on the lower wing beneath the engines. In the end I feel the raised cords make a positive impression on an aircraft that has no rigging - it's a little something for the eye to fix on.

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20 minutes ago, Sandeha Lynch said:

look at JWM's thread where he shows the use of stretched sprue and putty.

Sandeha, I appreciete your quoting!

Indeed, to emphasize the longitudinal structures covered with fabric I used stretched sprue positioned using tape and glued with Tamiya  liquid cement. Then I smeared between them the Tamiya standard (grey) putty.

To imitate  external ribs on fuselage I suggest to wrap around Tamiya two pieces of tape, with a distance between them of the width of planned rib. Then smear Tamiya putty around filling the gap between the two tape belts. Next day remove Tamiya tapes and very gently smooth a bit the edges using 600 grid sanding paper. The rib formed out from putty will have the height of the tape, so it will be not too high. 

Regards

J-W
 

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