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Vickers Wellington Mk.IA/C (A08019A) 1:72


Mike

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Vickers Wellington Mk.IA/C (A08019A)

1:72 Airfix

 

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The Wellington began development in the mid-30s, utilising a technology designed by Barnes Wallis, the Geodetic airframe structure, which was a weight-saving method of creating a diamond-shaped framework that was then covered with fabric layers that were doped to shrink and give the surface strength.  As the clouds of war began to gather, the specification was changed that required a more powerful engine, and the specification also saw two competitors reach service in the shape of the Hampden and Whitley bombers, which were superseded very early on in the war, while the Wellington carried on in service until the end of hostilities.  Production also continued throughout the war, despite the Wellington being outclassed by the four-engined heavies that came on stream early in the war.

 

The first prototype flew in 1936, and the second prototype was amended following issues discovered, one of which resulted in the loss of the first prototype and the death of the navigator on board.  More changes were made in time for the first production batch that was designated Mk.I, which were followed by the Mk.IA that changed the turrets to Nash & Thompson, strengthening and moving the landing gear forward, with the facility engineered in to take either the Pegasus XVIII or Rolls-Royce Merlins, although in practice the Pegasus was used for all 187 of the Mk.IA, some of which were built down the road from my home, at Broughton on the outskirts of Chester.  The Mk.IC followed, and added waist gunner positions, and some of this mark were used by Coastal Command as the GR.Mk.VIII.  Later marks used various engines, including Merlins, Bristol Hercules, and P&W Twin Wasp 2800s.  The flexibility of the Wellington was seen in the slightly larger Warwick that still looked like a Wellington despite its many differences.  The Wellington was also used as a torpedo bomber, Air-Sea Rescue, Submarine hunter, and transport for troops and equipment.  After the war, many were converted to other duties, and used as the basis for experimental conversions, while others ended their days towing targets for more modern aircraft or anti-aircraft crews to shoot at.

 

 

The Kit

This is a reboxing of the 2018 tooling of this well-known aircraft, with new decals to depict different airframes from the original.  The kit arrives in a red-themed top-opening box, and inside are six sprues of dark grey styrene, a clear sprue, a sheet of decals, and the instruction booklet that is printed in spot colour, with a sheet of glossy colour-printed decal and painting profiles for both options slipped between the pages.  Detail is excellent, with extensive reproduction of the Geodetic framework inside and out.  The exterior shows the framework pressing through the fabric outer surface, while inside the fuselage the frames themselves are depicted, including where they run across the windows, one of the defining elements of this unusual aircraft.  The rest of the detail is just as good, including optional interior details that can be left out by the modeller in a hurry, or doubts the parts will be seen on the finished model, and this is the theme of the first page of the instructions, showing all those parts in green.

 

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Construction begins with the internal floor of the fuselage, which is partly geodetic itself, with solid sections where the majority of crew footfall will be.  A bulkhead that is also criss-crossed with frames is added to the front end, and joined by the radio equipment that has a small table moulded into the lower edge.  A half-bulkhead is also included with a moulded-in seat for the radio operator, then a short, angled bulkhead creates the front of the bomb bay under the floor, adding another at the rear, which is moulded in clear plastic and should have two rectangular windows left clear once it is painted, as shown in a scrap diagram.  The pilot’s seat is glued to the opposite side of the radio bulkhead on two supports, with a short length of floor holding a side console and receiving a bow-tie control column, noting that the floor section is tilted slightly down to the front, as shown in a scrap diagram nearby.  The crew’s Elsan toilet is fitted on a small spur of floor near the rear of the aircraft, leaving only the rear gunner in trouble if there’s an ‘incident’ there.

 

The fuselage halves are prepared differently depending on whether you intend to pose the bomb bay open or closed.  To close the bay, the six short bay doors on either side should be trimmed from the parts, cutting out three flash over holes under the aft fuselage, and removing a small section of the fairing that smooths the airflow over the nose turret to fit the new turret fittings.  There is some serious detail painting needed to pick out the framework from the interior of the fabric skin of the aircraft, which might look like hard work, but if you first spray the metallics, and cut some strip masks to protect them when you spray the red dope surface, you might save some time and touching up of wobbly hand-painted areas.  A rack of oxygen bottles and a well-detailed stretcher bed are fixed to the port side, along with another piece of equipment, all of which are shown from both sides of the windows over which they are mounted – a timely reminder that the parts need painting on both sides before installation.  The floor assembly is glued into the port fuselage half, and is joined by the instrument panel, which has rudder pedals moulded-in, and five decals that are supplied instead of raised panel details.  A squared oval bulkhead is fitted in the nose in front of the instrument panel, and another D-shaped bulkhead is mounted some way behind the radio room, adding a table between the two walls, and fixing a chair to the floor on a couple of pegs, then another D-shaped bulkhead fits further back with an equipment package in the bay it creates, then two curtain-like inverted V parts support the fuselage at the rear of the bomb bay, adding two more bulkheads in the tail, and joining a narrow piece of floor between the main floor and the first of the tail bulkheads, and in the nose, a panel that can be fitted open or closed as you wish, with two scrap diagrams showing the correct arrangement.  The nose and tail turrets have their rings completed by adding inserts to them, with more equipment and cylinders fitted in the starboard fuselage before the two are mated, trapping a substantial spar between them, and fitting the bomb bay door part in position if you plan to close the bay.

 

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Your next choice is wheels up or down.  To pose the wheels down, you start with two inner cowling sides with a piece of girder-work trapped between them, which is then slotted into the lower wing from within, adding a pair of clear landing lights whilst in the neighbourhood.  The wings are then closed around the assembly, adding the ailerons, which can be posed offset if you wish.  The firewall and bay doors close the cowlings for those posing their model in-flight, but if you are leaving the wheels down, the twin gear legs and a retraction yoke are inserted into the bay before fitting the firewall, sliding the wings over the spars, and gluing them in place.  For wheels up, another bay part covers the tail-wheel bay, but for wheels down the wheel with integral yoke is fixed in place, and a single part forms both bay doors, on a double carrier that fits inside the bay area.  The tail fin is separate from the fuselage, as is the rudder, both made from two halves each, slotting into the tail in the usual manner.  The elevators are both two parts each, and these have separate flying surfaces that can be offset, as can the rudder.

 

Without engines, the Wimpy isn’t going very far, so Airfix have supplied the radial engines are single well-detailed parts that mount on a tapered convex fairing, with the cowling slid over the engine, locating on exhaust collector pipes that hold it at the correct distance from the lip.  If you have left the bomb bay open, the munitions are each made from two halves, with a tab moulded-in to mount them on the highly detailed bay divider walls, which have the inner doors moulded-in.  The two painted and assembled dividers are then installed along the length of the bay, using tabs and slots to locate them firmly in position.  The defensive turrets are each made up from two halves of the armament and the turret ring, sliding the clear glazing over the gun barrels, and closing in the rear with a styrene part, with doors engraved where the crewmen would enter and exit.  They slot into position, and adding clear parts continues, filling in the large rectangular panels on the sides of the nose first, putting the astrodome on the fuselage between the wing roots, plus the long side windows and a diamond window in the nose, whilst covering the trapezoid side gunner windows with styrene parts, as the aircraft depicted didn’t have weapons fitted.  The canopy is installed later, and can have a side window posed open by using a different clear part, finishing by putting the bomb aimer’s glazing under the nose.

 

The main gear wheels are made from two halves, and have a small flat spot at the bottom to portray the aircraft’s weight on the tyres, splaying the legs out to insert them between the two struts.  Underneath the aircraft, a towel-rail antenna is fixed into the three holes opened earlier, with a pitot probe under the starboard wing, plus exhausts on the engine cowlings, and a long fuel-jettison pipe is inserted into holes in the underside of the wings, outboard of the engine nacelles.  The three-bladed propellers are moulded as a single part per side, and they are installed on a convex cover that hides a spindle that can allow the prop to remain mobile later, adding a spinner to the centre of the props, and gluing them into the centres of the engines once they are painted and the glue has cured.  Under the nose, a crew access ladder is provided for use if you have opened the crew hatch earlier in the build behind the bomb aimer’s window.  An aerial mast and faired-in D/F loop are mounted on the spine behind the cockpit, with a short outlet for what appears to be the flare port on the port side at an angle.

 

 

Markings

There are two decal options provided on the sheet, allowing you to build an RAF and a captured airframe in German markings.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Wellington Mk.IA No.9 Sqn., RAF Honington, Suffolk, England, 18th December 1939
  • Wellington Mk.IC Luftwaffe, formerly 311 Czech Sqn., 1941

 

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Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  For the painted-out roundels of the captured airframe, Airfix have provided templates on the profile pages for you to paint the areas out on the upper wings, which were painted with RLM82 green circles, while the underside was completely repainted yellow, and the fuselage roundels and tail flashes were obliterated by a patches of RLM82, the closest match to Dark Green they could probably find without pulling out their colour chips and fan decks.

 

 

Conclusion

The Wimpy is a well-loved aircraft, and while it wasn’t the best British bomber of WWII, it was flown in large numbers in many guises.  The detail in the kit is excellent at this scale, with options to deflect flying surface, pose the wheels up or down, and open the bomb bay if you wish, including bombs to put in there.  The decal options are a bit away from the usual too, which helps broaden the appeal further.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Hi

    nice review

   one pet hate i have is when a manufaturer appears to block off part of a sprue

   the clear parts sprue seem to be missing something, for the cost it would be nice to give the modeller some stuff for the spares box, at little cost to them 

    cheers

       jerry 

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