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On Heather's Workbench - Strike Hard, Strike Sure: RAF Bomber Command 1940


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Good progress on the bench today, unlike the Old Trafford Ashes test…

 

Airfix Stirling

 

Dry-fitting showed the inner nacelles needed padding to let the grafted engines and cowlings sit neatly. I also took the precaution of drilling the centres of the nacelles out and dropping some styrene tube in there to guide replacement prop shafts.

 

Airfix Stirling


I took the old kit props, which tidied up pretty well. Some careful chopping and drilling let me replace the original shafts with some brass rod. Happily, the new kit spinners fitted without problem. The spinners on the first Stirlings were a bit blunter in shape, so I carefully spun the things up in my Dremel and gently sanded the point back a bit. I couldn’t go too far in case it broke through, or a blade got pinged off.*

 

Airfix Stirling


Another dry fit, and I still think the prop is projecting too far out. I have a cunning plan, though.

 

Airfix Stirling


There’s a ridge in the back of the prop spinner that could be shaved away. There’s also a raised ring in the centre of the exhaust supports. That can be sanded flatter - no-one will notice - which will hopefully let the prop sit a little deeper in the cowling.

 

I am feeling quite pleased with progress. Still time for Captain C*coup and his Merry Crew to appear, though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Yes, one blade did just that. Happily, the break was clean and I could drill and pin it back in place.

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Amazing progress Heather.

I like your attention to detail, and that you 'work out' a soloution and apply it so successfully.

I am also glad you are 'mortal' and like all the rest of us, have incidents like the prop blade pinging off, when you'd rather it didn't.

Brilliant stuff, look forward to the next instalment.

Thanks for sharing.

Kevin 

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Airfix Stirling


Oh, I’m pretty pleased with that. The old kit had a step where the cowling was glued in place. I applied some filler to it and set about it with files and sanding sticks to round it off. I think that hints more at what the real thing did at the front of the nacelle.

 

Airfix Stirling


I’m not sure, but the engines look like they project a bit too far forwards. Nothing's glued on yet, but I’ll sleep on it and do some comparisons with photos of the real thing tomorrow. I think it’s the length of the spinners that’s throwing things. Still, mightily pleased with today's bodgery.

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33 minutes ago, Heather Kay said:

Still, mightily pleased with today's bodgery.

 

I find kitbashing really inspiring. Hope to do it myself some day :) with all these examples for reference. I guess you need a good knowledge of common parts across airplanes.

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14 hours ago, Pete in Lincs said:

They look just right to me.


Ta. They still look okay this morning. I think I’ll not worry too much, considering the rest of the bodgery compromise modification I’ve done!

 

14 hours ago, marvinneko said:

I guess you need a good knowledge of common parts across airplanes.


It always helps, but you can’t beat good clear photos of your chosen subject. In the case of the Stirling, the essentials were all there. I could have used the original kit engines and cowlings. They would have needed a bit of effort, but they would have been okay. Getting the Wingleader book was a revelation, and helped me identify areas that needed work to make the specific version of the plane I wanted. Of course, it’s often easier if there’s a decent kit. While I enjoy bending bits of plastic to my will, it’s always nice to just shake the box and get a decent model.

 

Airfix Stirling

 

The tail wheel bay divider has been done. It’s just some simple black styrene with some shaping. It’ll barely be seen under normal circumstances, but it’s now there.

 

Airfix Stirling

 

To help me decide about the engine positions, I fitted the old kit carb intakes. You can see the filler in the sinkholes. There was a fair amount of flash to tidy up, and the black plastic tends to go powdery when sanded, but I was amazed they fitted the replacement cowlings without argument.

 

I'm afraid I need to dig out the paint booth again.

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Airfix Stirling


Yes, I have a new particle filter on the extractor. I had set out the squadron codes, then started to work out the position for the roundels. I discovered I had got the codes the wrong size. I have to scale and recut them. I think I may have rushed the design process last week. I’ve pressed in with painting the fuselage roundels anyway. Let’s see if I can avoid misalignment this time.

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You know the drill. Mondays at Heather K Towers tend to be bitty and random, so I use the excuse to extend my weekend. :like:

 

Airfix Stirling


I got carried away last night. I had sprayed some more Medium Sea Grey in readiness for the squadron code letters to be applied. Somewhere between cleaning up the airbrush and leaving the model to dry enough for masking to take place I completely forgot that was what I meant to do. Instead, planning ahead, I decided to get the Night Black all over the undersides so it would have all night to dry nice and hard.

 

Muppet. Anyway, this morning I spent a good while masking the black areas before I could respray the grey and get the letters on.

 

A momentary sidetrack: the reason I had made an error on the letters. Actually, I wasn’t wrong. They were correctly scaled for the original Type A1 roundel I’d designed. As a quick and dirty rule of thumb, codes were usually the same height as the diameter of the blue ring. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it helps when gauging scales and stuff. I cut a new set of larger roundels - and forgot to enlarge the letters to match. Like I said, muppet.

 

Sidetrack over.

 

Airfix Stirling


Look, I know I haven’t sorted out the turrets yet. I just wanted to get the thing painted, or at least under way. The turrets can be installed at a later date because they just slip into the space. While I was spraying the Dark Earth, I considered how to apply the Dark Green. After the Wimpy escapade, I don’t really feel confident about slapping masking on. So, I’ve decided to hairy stick it.

 

It'll be fine. Trust me.

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Airfix Stirling


:inlove:

 

There were standard patterns laid down for single and twin-engined aircraft. I can’t find anything in my references covering four-engined planes. So, by a process of elimination and photo peering, I came down to this pattern as an interpretation of what the chosen aircraft looked like. I may well have it wrong somewhere, but I’ll go with it. Again, the markings stencils worked pretty well, with just a tiny amount of bleed. 
 

This seems like a good place to pause. With luck, I can pick things up again over the coming weekend. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of small items waiting to be painted, and they can get done when I get a few minutes.

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There certainly were standard patterns for four engined planes, or more generally large monoplanes.  Not having them immediately available, I'd say your wing follows the correct basic principles for all types, but perhaps it's more like a smaller aircraft expanded in size.   However I'm pretty sure that the fuselage wouldn't have a slim segment of one colour disappearing partway around: if it is present on one side of the fuselage it will be present on the other.  I suspect you may be more likely to find a plan view of a Lancaster or Halifax than that of a Stirling, but either would provide a good guide.  The Manchester in the Wingleader might help, but that may  be more likely to have a twin pattern.  However, there is, I believe, a Stirling Wingleader - and certainly a Lancaster one.

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1 minute ago, Graham Boak said:

However I'm pretty sure that the fuselage wouldn't have a slim segment of one colour disappearing partway around


I understand. It was an interpretation of one photo of the early machines. I think I will revise it. One problem I have is almost every photo of the pattern I want only shows one side and you never get to see wings! A potential problem with working from Lancaster or Halifax images is they tend to be later period with the high black side camouflage.

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4 minutes ago, Heather Kay said:

It was an interpretation of one photo of the early machines. I think I will revise it. One problem I have is almost every photo of the pattern I want only shows one side and you never get to see wings!

The book of British Aviation colours, long OOP and in demands for the colousr chips, there is a .pdf here

https://www.seawings.co.uk/images/colour charts/British Aviation Colours of WWII.pdf

On page 50 there is a drawings of the basic disruptive pattern for 4 engine bombers, which goes to a low demarcation, but is the inverse of your pattern.  

perhaps of use?  

 

I was recalling an image in Stirling At War (which I presume you have?)   taken at an HCU, which showed the wing pattern...

It's online, but not as useful as I recalled,  but it's fantastic photo that I hope adds to the thread,  the angle shows exhaust detail and aileron actuators(?) are not usually seen

untitled-3.jpg

 

The chap interviewed in this sections had massive amount of Stirling hours, and said unloaded at low level it was great to fly... 

Note the light colours, I presume aluminium dope internals on the nose turret. 

 

My main memory of the Airfix kit was it was one i wanted as child, but was never available, or was out of budget when it was...  Ironically I now have 2, both given to me slightly started...

 

Not sure if has been mentioned, but bits of the Mickle Fell Stirling , are now on display at the RAF museum.

https://warbirdsnews.com/aviation-museum-news/short-stirling-tail-section-on-display-at-raf-museum.html

 

Great work of the old beast.   

 

HTH

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Don't be in too much of a rush, I've just seen photos of L7605 which do indeed show something in the fuselage pattern that might be similar but I suspect just a wave.  This is of the RHS but the mirror image so not a help for how it wraps around the top of the fuselage.  One guide however, using the high demarcation pics/plans, is to count the number of colour changes along the side.  They are the same, so imply there's a wide band of DE on one side which appears on the other as rather thinner, rather than a very wide band of DG on one side and the disappearing "blob" on the other. 

 

I've looked in the two Ian Allan Bomber Command books but they don't have plans for the low demarcation on any of the heavies.  They do however have art for the Lancaster and Halifax, which look very much like your pattern if somewhat elongated for the narrower wings, and it does indeed look like that of smaller twins but bigger.  Perhaps I was a bit premature there... You may well be able to get a good idea of the fuselage from the early Wellington kit, which I believe you've got?  I don't have the Warpaint, but should have the Profile around which might have more.  And Bowyer's Bombing Colours, but these are in the loft. 

 

Changing the subject slightly, before you start on the Halifax be sure to get the Alfred Grainger plans.  The Matchbox kit has a terrible nose, and both terrible engine cowling/props.  Grainger will give you a guide to just what it should be like.  But I still think neither kit, and none of the aftermarkets, have the right intakes for the Mk.I series i and ii, which I suspect is the period you'll be interested in.  But all those joys await you.

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@dogsbody, @Troy Smith, @Graham Boak

 

Thanks to you all for the input. As ever, it’s much appreciated. 
 

Chris, the Warpaint plan Pattern A was the one I used for the wing pattern and basic fuselage demarcation. The book also has a profile of N3641, my chosen aircraft, but would you believe it is only showing the starboard side - and so do both photos of the aircraft I have! I was kind of left guessing how the pattern went on the other side. Handy for working out how the split between black and camouflage was handled under the wings and tailplane, though.

 

Graham and Troy, in the Wingleader book there are clear shots of both sides of sister aircraft N3638. It’s at Boscombe Down on trials, and has yellow underside. Of course it’s using Pattern B. I always struggle to swap mirrored patterns when working on a model - and I should've spotted there isn’t the orphaned Dark Earth patch behind the fuselage roundel. 
 

The upshot is I will revise the paint I’ve done. It won’t take long, even though I’ve rushed ahead and removed the masking!

 

Troy, dig one of those Stirlings out and build it as Airfix intended. It’s an imposing model, even with the gimmicks of the period. 

 

Graham, thanks for the heads-up on the Matchbox Halifax. I managed to source a Revell MkI, so hopefully - aside from the Merlin intakes and propellers - it should be a fairly easy ride. :fingerscrossed: I need to order that Wingleader Manchester book, too. 

Edited by Heather Kay
Attack of the Errant Apostrophe.
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Well.

 

Airfix Stirling

 

Rubbish photo, but it’s a big model! I usually think about a matt varnish about now, but I don’t think this needs it. I’m very happy with the finish of the paints I’ve used. Today, instead of working, I painted the cowlings to match the main camo, painted the props and engines, glued the engines into the cowlings, retouched that errant patch of Dark Earth, and stuck the tail wheels in.

 

Airfix Stirling

 

I think that looks okay. Things to sort out: turrets :frantic:, exhausts, painting the tail wheels and main gear, sorting out one of the main wheels where it’s all gone a bit knock-kneed, gluing the wings and undercarriage in, making aileron control horns, painting the exhaust collectors, fitting stay wires to the antenna mast, and an antenna cable. I suppose, somewhere in there, the glazing masks can come off. I’m leaving them in case I change my mind about varnish.

 

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Beautiful work. I admire the way you handle setbacks, sort through unsolicited help-- sticking to your guns when you're sure and adapting when you want to-- and produce these kinds of results. It's such a pleasure to follow along.

 

The photo in the soft light really shows a lovely finish. Something about the angle and capturing that undercarriage... very cool. Feels "real" somehow.

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This looks really sweet!  How much dihedral did the wings have when unloaded?  It looks almost like they had zero.  Getting this right on a big aircraft is sometimes the bane of my existence, and I have unpleasant memories of breaking the wing roots on my Revell C-54 in order to get the wings symmetrical.  It looks like fitting the gear will help with your efforts.

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17 minutes ago, TheyJammedKenny! said:

How much dihedral did the wings have when unloaded?


I really don’t know. The aircraft looks like Shorts designed it never to bend at all!

 

The model has a fair dihedral, when the wings are properly seated in the fuselage slots. You can tell, from dry fits, when it’s about right because the undercarriage is perpendicular to the ground. The nacelles are angled to match the wing. If you don’t properly seat the wings, they appear droopy and the wheels angle inwards.

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With the Stirling sat forlornly, in bits, on the Shelf of Doom, I’ve made a decision or three.

  • I’ve finally got off my backside and ordered clear transfer paper. I’ll be able to print the serial number, which I keep forgetting about.
  • A transfer means I may well need to varnish to seal it in (I had tried to use the stencils I made, but they were not quite amenable to coming off the backing cleanly.
  • I have to rebuild one of the undercarriage units because it literally fell apart on me - just like the real thing!
  • I really need to sort out storage boxes for both the Luftwaffe and Bomber Command collections.

Looks like a busy weekend ahead.

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