Heads together, we decided that we would each build the kit, pick three different colour schemes and then chart our progress and thoughts on our various social media platforms.
Best Laid Plans…
Several months ago, during one of those online conversations that can best be described and light and without any really sense of direction, my good friend Drewe Manton and I got to talking about all things Airfix and in particular, their newly released Beaufort. Though an aircraft that I know little about, the attractive lines of this most important of twin-engined machines, has often caught my attention, so the release of one I fancied building was something not to ignore.
As the conversation moved on, we came to a rather loose agreement that we would both build one. Last Year, Jonathan Mock (he of The Interesting Model Co. parish and creator of the poster that accompanies this update) and I had embarked on a number of ’10 Day Challenges’, timed events during which we would build the same kit, keep progress to ourselves and then reveal all at the end of that week and bit of work. They were fun, so when the chance to work alongside another modeller came up, I was more than interested. Drewe and I planned something similar, chatted about it and tried to set a start date…
A few months went by and life somewhat got in the way of any heady plans that we’d intially discussed, so the whole thing kinda slipped by and as with all of the best laid plans, nothing happened. Then a few weeks ago, I noticed some chatter about the kit, so contacted Drewe once more to ask if he was still up for a build. Kits in hand, new plans formulated, we decided instead to still complete the kits, but do so within a looser timeframe, chart the progress rather than keep everything under wraps and then compare notes such as they were at the end of our respective builds. And then word spread and before we knew it, two had become three…
Jennifer Wright, she of Jenesis Models fine page on that there YouTube, is one of the UK’s finest modellers, so when she gatecrashed the party, we had little choice but the let her stay and see what the three of us could come up with. Having three very different modellers who tend approach their builds in three very different ways, was a delight to be part of, knowing as we did, that no matter what, modellers would get a really balanced look at a kit that was widely available and likely to be very popular. Heads together, we decided that we would each build the kit, pick three different colour schemes, Drewe opting for the 217 Sqd. machine in Extra Dark Sea Grey/Slate Grey/Black, Jen for one in – I think – desert colours and mine as an unpainted, natural metal demonstrator. We would then chart our progress and thoughts on our various social media platforms and then once built, the plan is to bring the models together and auction all three of them off in order to raise some money for a charity of our choice. Three models, three modellers and an auction at the end. Simple.
The Airfix Beaufort
Having built the Airfix Beaufighter and thoroughly enjoyed the ride, I was keen to take a look at another of their Bristol aircraft kits. How would it go together? What level of detail could we expect? Would the fit and accuracy combine to allow a smooth build and accurate replica at the end of the process?
First impressions are really very favourable with this kit. Open the box and you are faced with 159 pale grey and clear parts that are all finely moulded, with zero evidence of flash, sink marks or manufacturing imperfections. Surface detail is excellent, panel lines being sharply defined and comprehensively rendered. Fabric surfaces are a delight, their accentuation being spot-on, with just enough dip to look recognisable, without being overdone. Where needed, raised surface panels, hinges and blisters are in place, with the odd rivet here and there adding to the party.
The shape and accuracy of this kit really is something to behold. I know that Beauforts are something of a minefield when it comes to specific details around individual variants, so the designer has been careful to replicate as closely as possible the two aircraft on the decal sheet. This is no generic kit with a hit and hope attitude, this is one that has a plan of action and then sticks to it. Of course, a change in direction by the modeller keen to build something a little different may well require additional research and perhaps the alteration of specific details, but as far as this kit is concerned and the choices offered, you are on solid ground.
In terms of finer detail, the kit really scores well and shows what Airfix are capable of in this scale. The cockpit for instance is well-appointed with all of the major features that you rightfully expect, present and correct. Despite the amount of glazing that wraps around the nose of the real aircraft, in 1/72 you would have to look very closely to see much more than what is supplied. Indeed, modelling friend and erstwhile author Mike Williams, pointed out that he had used an Eduard set to detail his, only to find that much of his labours simply vanished once inside the glazing! I may add some seat straps and a tidy paint job, but I’m not sure I’ll travel much further than that.
Whilst on the subject of the interior, Airfix do actually include detail that runs the length of the fuselage, passing backwards from the cockpit’s rear wall, all the way through to the turret. Lovely as this is, unless you make some attempt to have the port access hatch in the open position (if that’s even possible…) you will see literally nothing within the fuselage, so any additional work or clever painting might well be better used where it can be seen…
The engines, their nacelles and the undercarriage are equally well-served, the undercarriage in particular being a superb depiction of the sturdy landing gear used by the real aircraft. Though slightly simplified, the Bristol Taurus engines are neat enough, what can be seen through the open cowling rings being enough to pass muster. Their design is such that it will be difficult to show off much more, replacements should they be available, needing to be sought. Given that my model was to be more about the finish and less about the replication of tiny details, I was happy to note their appearance and move on.
Glazing is a very noticeable part of the aircraft’s character, so it is pleasing to see that they have dealt with it in a way that results in super clear sections and unlike the tricky Blenheim with its facetted canopy, an area that looks to be easy to assemble! The framing is well-defined without being obtrusive and the tabs that connect the parts to the sprues, fine and looking to be easily removed. Along with the canopy sections, the clear sprue includes both the turret as well as navigation and landing lights, the former a most welcome inclusion.
Along with the plastic parts, the kit includes decals and painting instructions for two aircraft, one from 22 Squadron and the other from 217. For more information on these choices, please follow the link here to the Airfix website where you will find specific detail on both machines.
The Coming Weeks…
With this introductory look at the kit out of the way, I can now begin my part of the builds. I’ll be posting regular updates on here so that you can follow the progress and will then collate the entire project into feature that will appear in Model Airplane International magazine, Jen will be posting on her YouTube channel that I’ve linked to above and Drewe will be regularly updating his ‘Drewe’s Model Blog’ site, the first update being seen here. In the meantime, thanks very much for reading this and good luck to my compatriots who I know will also come up with something super for you to enjoy!