Airfix 1:72 scale Avro Lancaster build

Avro Lancaster B.III DAM BUSTER special, Airfix 1:72, 1980’s vintage

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So Airfix has a fantastic new 1/72 model of the Avro Lancaster, what to do with the 1980’s vintage Airfix Avro Lancaster in your to do stack of unbuilt kits?

I’ve had a few Lancaster kits, of various detail and accuracy, in my unbuilt collection for several years now, Revell, Hasegawas and Airfix.  Rather than try and ditch them on eBay, I thought I’d build the lot that are taking up space in my garage, before allowing myself a go on the new kit.

My daughter is covering WW2 in her history class, and the story of the Barnes Wallace bouncing bomb caught her imagination, so the BIII Special Dambusters was selected.  I decided I would try and depict the Lanc flying low over water. This meant I would not have to detail the undercarriage bays, but would have to simulate the props in motion.

I started by glueing the wheels, wings, tailplanes, engine nacelles, and the bouncing bomb.  Then all were set them aside to dry cure while I detailed the cockpit interior.

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Filler was required on all joins, but not too bad considering the age of the molds.

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The interior of the wheel wells, only show shallow surface representations of struts.  If displaying the wheels down, I’d need to block off the front, and back, of the well.

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Seen on the lower wing, are the locating hole for the outer engine nacelle, and the deep slot for the inner nacelle, making alignment easy.

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The fit of the wheel well/engine necelle was suprisingly good, needing minimal filler between the wing and nacelle.

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While not as large as some of the 1960’s efforts, there is raised surface detail including rivet detail.  I sanded this off, my philosophy is a 1/72 scale aircraft looks ok without rescribing panel lines.  So having justified my laziness, I continued building my smooth Lanc.

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Despite careful positioning, the join between the engine fairing and the wing needs sanding and filler, to make an acceptibly smooth transition.

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The fit of the tailplane assemblies was good, and the snug fit between the vertical & horizontal stabilizers gave the appropriate right angle between the two.

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The rudders do not move, but the elevators are designed to do so.  This makes the join between the two look overly large, but again, laziness dictated leaving them as designed.

 

The parts for the, Dambuster special, are molded on a seperate white sprue, and comprise the bomb, bomb support bars, spinning chain, and fairing for the bomb bay.

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The bomb parts are the two circular ends, and three parts making the barrel.  Care is needed to make sure three outer parts are aligned with each other and the circular ends before the glue cures.

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The bomb is molded with groves on the outer surface. This may have been an attempt by Airfix to represent the wooden cladding on the early development bombs.  Early testing of the bomb caused the wooden cladding to disintegrate upon impact with the water, so the cladding was removed exposing the smooth metal surface.

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Filler was applied to grooves of the bomb, then sanded until smooth.

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The under surface ailerons needed filler to even them out.  The upper surface detail was left untouched.

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Not glued yet, the fuselage was dry-fitted to make sure the interior would fit, as well as the bomb bay fairing.

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Dry fitting the fuselage made it obvious, that the interior was far too spartan.  I’ve seen amazing detail added to the interiors of model planes, but I did not want to put that much effort into it.  So it was at this late point, I decided the build a map table & seat, and paint the stringers.

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The stringers were painted free-hand due to the parts being already glued in place.  With better planning, I would have been able to paint straighter lines before interior parts were added, but they look effective once the fuselage is closed and glazing is added.

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This kit does not include a wing spar, something the crew would have to contend with when traversing the fuselage.  I was going to add this, but the dry fitting showed it to be too far back, and obscured by the wall by the map table, so I did not add a wing spar.

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The front and rear gun turrets were inserted before gluing both sides of the fuselage, and securing with rubber bands.

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A superglue tube was the perfect size for adding tension to the bands behind the cockpit.

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With a kit this age, it’s inevitable there will be a fair amount of filling to do.  My method is to paint the seams with grey paint, and once dry, sand again, and paint again until a smooth finish is achieved.

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After I was happy with the fuselage, the wings were glued to the fuselage.  Make sure this is dry-fitted first, and as glue sets, keep checking the angle of the wings.  I did not have any difficulty with the wings, the fit being good, but and suitably snug.  The recesses that accept the wing roots mean little filler is needed at the wing root.  A similar method was used for attaching the tail control surfaces to the fuselage.

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I used a spray can to apply a coat of black gloss enamel.  Once the black paint was thoroughly dry, I masked the demarcation line for the fuselage upper camouflage, gun turrets and blocked of the cockpit.  Then hand painted the Earth and Dark Green upper pattern with Humbrol enamels.

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Once dry, gloss clear varnish was sprayed on the upper surfaces, in preparation of applying the decals.

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Decals were applied to the sides of the fuselage, tail-fins, and lower flying surfaces and tail.  The undercarriage doors come joined together, and were a good fit over the wheel well.  If displaying the undercarriage down, the doors need to be separated with a sharp blade.

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Once dry, a coat of flat varnish was applied to protect the thin, often brittle kit decals.

 

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Roundels and walkway warning lines were added to the upper flying surfaces.  A lot of care was needed and several times the black lines broke while being slid into position.

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After aligning broken lines as best I could, decals were locked down with a clear flat varnish.

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Upper surfaces view with all the kit decals in place.

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Tail after all the kit decals have been applied.  Without the rear turrets glazing removed, it is easy to see the lack of turret detail.

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The upkeep (bouncing) bomb before installation.  I opted for a reddish brown primer as the color for the bomb.  The raid took place with some aircraft carrying bombs camouflaged in black by the ground crews, and other aircraft, who’s grounds crews were presumably too busy, left the bombs as delivered from the factory, in only paint primer.  I can find no information as to which aircraft carried which color of bomb.

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The belt drive and holding arm was glued and allowed to dry.  The upkeep bomb/mine was then glued to the belt drive side and the opposite holding arm was glued in place.

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The glazing for the cockpit is broken down into three pieces, two side windows and the windscreen to observation dome.  Not sure why Airfix chose to do it this way, but it makes for a more difficult installation.  I used model glue to attach the side windows to the cockpit sides.  Before fully set, the rest of the canopy was carefully overlaid so the angle and alignment of the side windows could be set.

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Once the side windows were thoroughly dry, the main canopy was added using white glue.

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White glue used to fill in the landing lights.

 

 Last updated: 10th May 2014.

 

 

5 thoughts on “Airfix 1:72 scale Avro Lancaster build

  1. Do you know where you can find models of the Tall Boy, Glam Slam and bouncing bombs can be found. I’d like to use them as visual aids in an American History presentation.

    • Hi,
      The Airfix special ‘Dambuster’ is available at http://www.squadron.com for $31.99. This is the newer offering from Airfix, and is a lot more detailed than the kit my build was based on. They also have the updated Airfix BI/III, but this does not contain parts to make a B.I special. The Airfix B.I special kit is getting hard to find, but you may still be able to pick one up on Ebay. Hasegawa also made a Lancaster B Mk. I “No. 617 Squadron Special Mission” with the modified fuselage and Grand Slam bomb. Despite the sensors and propaganda of the time, a good account of the raids, and life in Bomber Command during WW2, is “Enemy Coast Ahead” by raid leader Guy Gibson V.C.
      Best of luck with your history presentation!
      Cheers Dai

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  3. Thanks for a very detailed story of building the Lancaster. I am just returning to modelling and picked up some useful tips, such as dry fitting the fuselage, adding details etc. I was also interested in what the crew wore, colours and the like, so enjoiyed seeing what you did. Thanks.

    • Michael, thanks for the kind words.
      Typical gear for RAF bomber crews during WW2:
      Leather helmet – Brown leather
      Leather flying jacket – Brown sheepskin leather
      Wool trousers – RAF Blue/Grey
      Boots – Black or brown
      Fleece boots – brown sheepskin leather
      May West inflatable life preserver – Yellow
      Variation could be personal choice and the position of the crew. I’d imaging a rear gunner, some of whom removed Perspex panels for better visibility, would have had the full fleece getup. Pilots, co-pilots may have opted for less cumbersome trousers, especially give then confined interior of the Lancaster. Also, Operation Chastise on 16–17 May 1943, and to avoid radar, was flown at low level the whole way there and back. The supplied Airfix crew have the bomber jacket, so I went with brown jackets and blue grey trousers.
      Cheers,
      Dave

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