New 2019 Airfix range unleashed

The new 2019 Airfix range was unveiled on the Airfix website at 2pm on Monday 7th January and for the modelling community, it was an exciting way in which to launch into a new year, especially as the range included no fewer that three previously unannounced new tooling projects, each one spectacular in its own right. This trio of new tooling delights were backed up by a plethora of modified tooling announcements, kits benefiting from new scheme options, much requested kit re-introductions and a new range of 1/35th scale military vehicles. In fact, there is so much information to bring you that this first blog of 2019 will be devoted to providing an overview of the new range, before we revert to bringing you more individual product development details in our next edition. As we do a little blog shuffling due to Christmas and the range launch, you will not have to wait long for this either, as the next edition is due to be published next Friday (18th January), where we will be enjoying a little Blackburn Buccaneer indulgence. Following this, Workbench will be back on schedule, reverting to its fortnightly publication slot. Right, it’s about time we took a closer look at all these new model announcements.

A trio of new Airfix toolings

With the 2018 release of our Handley Page Victor K.2 kit, we actually gave modellers a subtle hint as to the forthcoming subject of a significant new tooling project

We know that there is nothing our beloved readers like to hear about more than a new Airfix model tooling announcement and over the last three and a half years, we have been privileged to bring Workbench readers the exclusive announcements of many a new Airfix project and usually before anyone else gets to hear about them. This is something we look forward to repeating in the future, but in the case of this 2019 range launch, we are already playing catch up with no less than three new tooling projects which were all announced last Monday. Although we intend to provide more information on the individual development details of each project in forthcoming editions of our blog and also chart the progress of each as they negotiate the various production stages up until their eventual release, for now, lets just take a closer look at each of the new models joining the latest Airfix range.

A06021 – Blackburn Buccaneer S.Mk.2 Royal Navy

As one of the most capable post war British strike jets, the Blackburn Buccaneer saw extensive service with both the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Air Force. This computer rendered 3D image from the Buccaneer project gives us all some idea of what we can look forward to

Aviation modellers will have been overjoyed to see the mighty Blackburn Buccaneer re-joining the Airfix 1/72nd scale range, but this time benefitting from all the expertise and production advances available to the development team. The Buccaneer has quite a long history with the Airfix range, with the original Blackburn NA 39 tooling first appearing back in 1960 and incorporating a couple of design features which made this an extremely popular addition to the range. It would, however, not be until 1989 that a newly tooled S.2B RAF variant of Britain’s famous Banana jet joined the Airfix range. As one of the most potent low level strike jets to have ever served with the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Air Force, a newly tooled example of the Buccaneer is always a regular request submission to our Telford suggestions box and initial responses to the announcement of this kit appear to be overwhelmingly positive. It was extremely interesting to note that the appealing artwork produced in support of our late 2018 Victor K.2 Tanker release featured a pair of Gulf War Buccaneers taking up station behind ‘Lusty Lindy’ to top up their fuel reserves – if only we had a pound for every time we heard the comment – you just need a new Buccaneer now to go along with it. Well, you now have your new Buccaneer and ‘Lusty Lindy’ fans have the opportunity to re-create this fantastic box artwork in plastic. As usual, we are very much looking forward to bringing you more details from this project as they become available.

A03091 – Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F ‘Fresco’

As one of the most distinctive early jet fighters, the MiG-17F will be a popular addition to our 1/72nd scale kit range

Inducting one of the world’s most famous early jet powered fighters into the Airfix 1/72nd scale hall of fame, those looking for something a little more Soviet in nature will be pleased to see the announcement of our new MiG-17F ‘Fresco’. Initially intended as an effective bomber killer and possessing more potent armament that its diminutive predecessor, the MiG-17 proved to have more than just a passing resemblance to the famous Mig-15 and retained much of its airborne agility. With this agility causing significant problems for the latest and more advanced aircraft of the USAF and US Navy during the Vietnam War, this fighter indirectly led to an immediate American programme to develop a new breed of agile fighters, capable of dominating any future aerial battlefield (this programme eventually resulted in the introduction of the F-16 and F-15). This distinctive Soviet fighter is undoubtedly an aviation classic and with over 10,000 aircraft produced, we are looking forward to seeing a myriad of appealing schemes adorning finished examples of this model, in the months following its eventual release. Watch this space for more Workbench ‘Fresco’ details.

A04104 – de Havilland D.H 82a Tiger Moth

Destined for Airfix greatness, our new 1/48th scale de Havilland Tiger Moth already looks like being one of the highlights of the 2019 range and one many Workbench readers will be looking forward to getting their hands on

Undoubtedly one of the most important aircraft of the 20th century, the de Havilland Tiger Moth was the aircraft responsible for training many of the pilots who went on to see British and Commonwealth service in the RAF during WWII and was an aircraft which was described as being easy to fly, but difficult to fly well. Interestingly for an aircraft which made its first flight in 1931, the Tiger Moth is still providing the same service today as the one it performed during the Second World War, by allowing future Warbird pilots the opportunity to gain valuable tail dragger experience before progressing to a more powerful trainer, such as the North American Harvard. An aircraft which is still familiar to millions of people, examples of these beautiful aeroplanes also allow members of the general public to experience the thrill of what still has to be considered relatively basic flying, with several operators offering experience flights from airfields around the country. Indeed, any Duxford Airshow will usually be preceded by the sight of numerous Tiger Moth experience flights taking place, as there seems to be a never-ending stream of people clamouring to take their place inside the open cockpit of this famous aeroplane.

The long association between Airfix and the Tiger Moth dates back to 1957, when the first 1/72 scale kit was introduced to the range in the original bagged presentation packaging. This classic kit was a regular in many an Airfix range, benefiting from a series of cosmetic presentation changes, until a completely new and much more detailed kit was released in 2014, again in 1/72nd scale. With the release of this new Tiger Moth in the slightly larger 1/48th scale, the famous attributes of this magnificent aircraft will be presented to an even greater modelling audience, who will all come to appreciate that whilst this may not be a Spitfire or Messerschmitt fighter, it is still one of the most significant aircraft in the history of flight. Our new 1/48th scale de Havilland Tiger Moth already seems destined to enjoy the coveted Classic Airfix status. We are excited at the prospect of keeping you informed on this beauty, as it negotiates its model flightpath through the development process.

Fillet-less Mustangs, Widows and Vixens

This latest 1/48th scale P-51D Mustang release presents the aircraft without the more common addition of the tail fillet, giving the aircraft a distinctly different appearance

As many Airfix fans will be aware, there is an incredible amount of work that goes on behind the pages or every new catalogue and the latest 2019 range is certainly no exception. Aside from the fantastic news of three completely new model tooling announcements, the range is so full of new and interesting models that it is difficult to know where to begin – let’s attempt to guide you through a few of the highlights.

One of the recently released new model toolings in 1/48th scale to have already proved a popular addition to the range is the magnificent North American P-51D Mustang and the latest catalogue includes a release featuring additional parts which almost makes this kit as good as a new tooling release. The definitive combat variant of the Mustang was the P-51D, which introduced the low back rear fuselage and teardrop canopy appearance to this classic fighter. Indeed, the earliest examples of this variant looked quite different to later Mustangs of the same series, as they were produced with a relatively straight back and did not feature the more usual tail fillet addition to the rear fuselage which was commonplace on this variant. These early examples were found to suffer with some flight stability issues, which required the later modification of a tail fillet to be fitted to the base of the tail, solving the problem immediately. This interesting period in the Mustang’s development produced an aircraft which looks distinctly different to other P-51Ds and one which served as the mount of several of the most celebrated USAAF ‘aces’ of WWII – this latest release from our successful Mustang tooling will also include two of these iconic ‘ace’ schemes and will undoubtedly be of great interest to Mustang aficionados and Eighth Air Force enthusiasts alike. Other recently released new tooling projects to benefit from additional parts during 2019 are the attack bomber version of the Messerschmitt Me262 jet, the Doolittle Raid North American B-25B Mitchell, Vickers Wellington Mk.VIII and the magnificent 1/48th scale Hawker Hunter F.4, which presents modellers with an earlier variant of this classic British jet fighter.

We simply had to include this computer rendered 3D image, as it attempts to replicate the queue of B-25B Mitchells on the crowded deck of USS Hornet, prior to the launch of the Doolittle Raid

The unmistakable profile of ‘Black Mike’, one of the most distinctive Cold War jets to have ever worn the famous roundel of the RAF. This artwork is not the final version for this release and is being used for illustrative purposes only

Several other kits have been enhanced by the addition of interesting new scheme options for the modeller to consider completing their build projects in, most noticeably the beautiful and iconic ‘Black Mike’ Phantom scheme worn by RAF No.111 Squadron’s most famous FG.1, one of Britain’s most distinctive Cold War jets. This famous aircraft was selected as the aviation canvas for a striking squadron commemoration for Leuchars based No.111 ‘Treble One’ Squadron, intended as a high-profile acknowledgement of the illustrious history of this famous flying unit. In the past, the squadron had operated large formations of Hawker Hunters (The Black Arrows) and English Electric Lightnings during the classic jet era, thrilling tens of thousands of Airshow enthusiasts with their demonstrations – wishing to mark this aviation heritage, the Phantom was given a handsome gloss black paint scheme and adorned with the famous yellow Squadron markings of No.111 Squadron ‘The Tremblers’. Phantom FG.1 XV582 was selected because her extensive service dictated that she was categorised as a limited fatigue life remaining airframe and it was initially intended that this visual tribute would just be a short-term arrangement. The smart all black Phantom caused so much interest that she immediately became one of the most distinctive and popular aircraft in RAF inventory and although initially only intended for static display duties, the aircraft continued to be flown for a short while, as it seemed anyone with the authority and capability to do so wanted some flight time in this beautiful aircraft. Retaining its ‘M’ code, Phantom XV582 was quickly referred to as ‘Black Mike’, a name which has become synonymous with British Phantom operations and one of the most distinctive jet aircraft ever to see Royal Air Force service. From the enthusiasts’ perspective, her new found popularity and the decision to allow the aircraft to continue flying for a short while resulted in a number of stunning air to air pictures being taken, which now serve as a fitting tribute to the British Phantom and its years of exceptional service throughout the Cold War period – this will definitely be a popular scheme with many modellers and a striking way in which to finish the relatively new Airfix British Phantom tooling.

Other kits to benefit from new or additional decal scheme options in the coming year are the Hawker TyphoonGloster Gladiator,Jet Provost and Boeing B-17G in 1/72nd scale, the Ju-87 Stuka in 1/48th scale, a new ‘captured’ Luftwaffe scheme for the 1/24th scale Hawker Typhoon and confirmation of the four scheme options to be included in the recently announced 1/24th scale F6F-5 Hellcat.

The Vintage Classics range can now boast one of the most interesting aircraft of the Second World War amongst its ranks, in the shape of the sinister looking Northrop P-61 Black Widow

There is no doubting that the Airfix name means many things to a great many people, but certainly invokes a pleasurable nostalgic trip back to the carefree days of modelling before jobs and mortgage payments got in the way. Nothing speeds us back to memories of those days than the return of some classic Airfix model kits to the range and we have been truly spoilt in this regard with the announcement of the latest catalogue. Some of the most iconic kits from the past have been re-introduced, either to the main ranges or as part of our Vintage Classics revival – seeing the original artwork used on these kits once more is a real treat for Airfix fans. Classic kits such as the Bristol Bulldog and RAF Dominie T.1 will allow some nostalgic modelling to be planned during 2019, as well as heralding the welcome return of the Northrop P-61 Black Widow, without doubt one of the most interesting looking aircraft of the Second World War and a deadly, specifically developed, nocturnal hunter.

Our 1/48th scale de Havilland Sea Vixen is probably the model we are most implored to re-release by Airfix fans, so its inclusion in the 2019 range will be welcomed by many

As far as the most heavily requested kit re-introduction goes, this honour definitely has to go the 1/48th scale de Havilland Sea Vixen, one of our most popular kits in this scale to date and one which will be wholeheartedly welcomed back into the range by thousands of modellers all over the world. They can now look forward to adding one of these distinctive twin boom fleet defenders into the second half of their 2019 build schedules, as this fantastic model is due for a June release and destined to create something of a modelling clamour. As so many people have been waiting for this kit to re-appear, it may prove to be something of a short lived return, as we are definitely expecting some legacy purchasing to take place, with modellers making sure they have a couple of Sea Vixen reserves in the stash, just for posterity’s sake. As the kit is currently on the Airfix website for pre-order, it could be a good strategy to ensure you have one reserved well before its anticipated release date, just to avoid any disappointment after such a patient wait for its return.

‘One small step for man, one giant leap for modellers’

No conspiracy theory here, the classic Airfix Apollo 11 Eagle Lander is back in the range as part of the 50th Anniversary moon landing gift set

Coming on the back of the centenary of the end of the Great War and RAF 100 last year, 2019 will be another year of significant anniversaries, including the 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon, one of the most significant human achievements and a source of fascination for millions over the years. For anyone who is old enough to remember watching the Eagle Lander on the surface of the moon and the crew of Apollo 11 being the first humans to set foot on earth’s natural satellite, it is difficult to imagine any event having more impact on their lives as this – the entire world was glued to their television screens for the duration of this mission and absolutely everyone must have been talking about it. In commemoration of this lunar achievement, the 2019 range includes the re-introduction of a trio of classic space models, each one with links to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the intrepid crew of Apollo 11 – a Saturn V rocket, a moon landing gift set and an astronaut figures and accessories set. These fantastic models represent some of the most famous releases in the history of Airfix and many Workbench readers will undoubtedly have fond memories of building these kits over the years. As our skills have increased with time, perhaps attempting these models once more will result in the most accurate scale representations of the actual craft most of us will have ever achieved and will undoubtedly rekindle an interest in the fascinating subject of space exploration.

Many modellers will be delighted to see the return of a decent selection of Airfix ship kits in 2019, including the magnificent 1/600th scale HMS Hood – a true Airfix Vintage Classic

The new 2019 range also marks the welcome return of several nautical model kit releases, which will be great news for the many modelling enthusiasts who regularly request the re-release of some of our ship models during the Telford weekend or directly via our usual e-mail address throughout the year – as you can see, we really do take notice of your requests! The latest model range includes an impressive selection of ship kits, from the stunning RNLI Severn Class Lifeboat to three different versions of Titanic and a selection of classic sailing ships, to the impressive HMS Hood, which was the pride of the Royal Navy at the start of WWII. What with this collection of classic ships and the return of some space related releases, there will be plenty of Airfix modelling nostalgia doing the rounds during 2019.

Rumbling towards D-Day 75 – New Airfix armour

The first box artwork reveal for our new 1/35th scale Military Vehicle range features this British Army operated M3 ‘Honey’ light tank

If military vehicles are your thing, the latest Airfix range will be one of the most memorable for many a year and includes an impressive selection of kits in two distinctly different scales. To mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, our Vintage Classics rangehas increased dramatically with the inclusion of some of the best loved 1/76th scale tanks and military vehicles in the history of modelling, each one presented in classic packaging, using the original box illustrations wherever possible. The latest announcements include the distinctive Wehrmacht SdKfz.234 Puma armoured car and the impressive Scammell tank transporter, along with a fantastic selection of ‘Hobarts Funnies’, which were a series of modified tanks designed to perform specific tasks during the amphibious D-Day landings in Normandy. Again allowing modellers of all ages the opportunity to build some of the most iconic kits from the Airfix back catalogue, these magnificent models will be of interest to wargamers, military enthusiasts and those simply looking to produce their own modelling tribute to this year’s 75th anniversary commemorations.

A new armour range which has already been the cause of some modelling excitement is our new 1/35th scale range of highly detailed kits, introducing some of the Second World War’s most famous military vehicles to the 2019 range in this slightly larger scale. Allowing us to swell the range with an instant collection of impressive 1/35th scale military vehicle kits, these models are being released in partnership with one of our modelling associates, but will be given a distinctly Airfix flavour before they appear on the website and in good model stores everywhere. Benefiting from new box artwork and Airfixised instruction booklets, the initial range consists of 16 tanks and one US tractor, each one produced to exacting standards and incorporating impressive levels of detail. Each model will include two meticulously researched scheme and decal options for the modeller to consider and the kits will be released in three production batches throughout the year – we intend to bring you much more information about this exciting new range in the coming weeks, but are pleased to share some exclusive images with you straight away.

Announcing the existence of this range and acting as a section header in the catalogue and on the Airfix website, the box artwork for the M3 Stuart light tank has already been produced and shows what we can look forward to when the rest of the models advance towards release. It shows an M3 in British Army service, secured from the Americans via the Lend-Lease act and providing a welcome boost to Britain’s offensive capability in their hour of need. The first US tank to see service with the British Army, the M3 was well made, reliable and easy to operate, earning it the nickname ‘Honey’ amongst its British crews. Despite its diminutive good looks, the Stuart light was quickly outclassed by the majority of German armour and whilst it continued to be used throughout the rest of the war, it was mainly in the role of a highly mobile reconnaissance tank.

We are pleased to bring you this exclusive first look at the two scheme options which will be included with the release of A1362 Pz.Kpfw. 35(t) German light tank

Each of these new armour releases will include two scheme options for the modeller to choose from and we have the exclusive first look at the options to be included with the forthcoming Panzer 35(t) release A1362. A relatively advanced tank for its time, this Czech designed and produced light tank tells a fascinating story about the years leading up to the Second World War and how the German military were extremely resourceful in equipping their forces with weapons. Even though Blitzkrieg proved to be a frighteningly effective military tactic at the start of WWII, the rearmament limitations placed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles meant that they were not as well equipped as they would have liked and captured weapons were immediately pressed into service wherever possible. The light tank model 35 was in widespread Czech military service at the time of the German occupation in 1938 and 244 machines were commandeered for immediate Wehrmacht use. They were used extensively during the invasion of Poland and the strike west, but by the time of the offensive against Russia, a lack of spares and continued mechanical issues saw the type relegated from front line operations. Highlighting the fascinating history of this tank, the letter (t) used in its description identifies is as tschechisch (German for Czech).

Without doubt, when you think of tanks, you invariably conjure up an image of the mighty German Tiger, which still seems to represent the epitome of effective tank design, even though the first examples began to appear on the battlefields of Russia and North Africa back in the Autumn of 1942. This fearsome weapon must have served to bolster German resolve at this stage of the war and spread panic amongst the Allied forces, as this monster was almost impervious to attack by existing British designs and its might 88mm gun could effectively target and destroy opposition tanks well before they were in a position to return fire. Although there have been many better tanks introduced across the world since the advent of the first Tigers, there is still an enduring fascination with this mighty fighting machine which is as strong today as it has ever been.

For many people, the work tank begins and ends with the mighty German Tiger, one of the most distinctive vehicles ever created by man and one which enjoys almost mythical military status

This first range of 1/35th scale tanks includes no fewer than five different examples of the Tiger, each one presenting the tank at different stages of its service career and serving to further enhance our infatuation with this distinctive machine – if the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the epitome of German air power during WWII, then the armour equivalent was unquestionably the Tiger tank. In yet another Workbench exclusive for our readers, we would like to end this overview of the new 2019 Airfix range by bringing you two hot off the press images of a built sample from the new Airfix Tiger 1 kit, which we think you will agree look extremely impressive. As with all the other kits featured in the overview above, we look forward to bringing you regular updates throughout the coming year and promise you plenty of exclusive first looks at all the modelling projects you are most interested in.

AIRFIX new-for-2019 NEW KITS+Figures ON 1/76

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North American P-51D Mustang 1:48

A thoroughbred fighting aeroplane, the P-51D Mustang was produced in greater numbers than any other variant and introduced a number of improvements over earlier models. With a new wing design, teardrop canopy and lower rear fuselage, the P-51D was the mount of many USAAF aces and became the primary US fighter in the European Theatre, following its introduction in mid 1944.

Scale 1:48
Skill 3
Flying Hours 3
Number of Parts 147
Dimensions (mm) L205 x W236
Age Suitability 8+

dehavilland-heron-mkii


Douglas A-4B/Q Skyhawk 1:72

The A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier-capable ground-attack aircraft designed for the US Navy and Marine Corps. Skyhawks were the Navy's primary light bomber used over North Vietnam. The Argentine air force also used the type during the Falklands War in 1982.

Scale 1:72
Skill 2
Flying Hours 1
Number of Parts 75
Dimensions (mm) L178 x W116
Age Suitability 8+


Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F 'Fresco' 1:72


Messerschmitt Me262A-2a ‘Sturmvogel’ 1:72

Despite being the most advanced aircraft of WWII, Adolf Hitler insisted that the Me262 be developed into a fast attack bomber, diverting valuable resources from much needed fighter production. Known as the ‘Stormbird’ the attack version included hard points for two 500kg bombs under the nose of the aircraft, with its speed making it almost invulnerable from Allied air interception.


de Havilland D.H.82a Tiger Moth 1:48

Even though the classic de Havilland Tiger Moth has to be considered one of the most important aircraft in the history of British aviation, it rarely receives the popular respect it deserves and is usually in the shadow of more glamourous types, such as the Supermarine Spitfire and de Havilland’s own Mosquito. Despite this, without the availability of thousands of Tiger Moths to train a constant stream of pilots for military and civilian service, Britain and her Commonwealth would have been in real trouble during WWII and most pilots who would go on to fly the numerous Allied aircraft types of the Second World War would have ‘learnt their trade’ on this classic training aircraft.
Coming from a successful line of biplane designs, the DH.82 Tiger Moth made its first flight in October 1931 and was the result of the Company’s founder wanting to produce an aircraft superior to its predecessors, whilst possessing enough appeal to attract interest from several different aviation sectors. Its success resulted in an immediate order from the RAF, who viewed the aircraft as an ideal primary trainer for pilots beginning on their flying careers and destined to fly their latest front line aircraft. Their modest original order was followed up by several subsequent orders and as the world descended into conflict in 1939, the Royal Air Force would have around 500 Tiger Moths on strength. Many more examples were owned by flying clubs all over the country and many of these would also being pressed into military service, due to the need to train as many new pilots as possible. With its growing reputation, the aircraft also secured many overseas orders, ensuring that the de Havilland production lines were fully committed in supplying this superb aircraft.
From the perspective of the student pilot, the Tiger Moth was a relatively stable and forgiving aircraft to fly, with few handling vices and generally supportive of the odd silly mistake. It has been described as an ‘easy aeroplane to fly but a difficult one to fly well’, which seemed to have made this the ideal aircraft to serve as a primary/basic trainer for large numbers of future pilots destined for the war effort. As Britain prepared for invasion during the early summer of 1940, there were plans for the gentle natured Tiger Moth to show a much more aggressive side and support the Spitfire and Hurricane pilots they had previously trained. ‘Operation Banquet’ called for the use of every available aircraft in the defence of Britain’s coastline, attacking any potential invasion force by all means at their disposal. This would see even the most unlikely of aircraft equipped with bomb racks and given a new offensive capability. Should a German invasion have been attempted, there would have been the very real possibility of swarms of bomb laden Tiger Moths raining fury on the enemy troops below, as Britain used every means in her power to ensure the failure of such a cross channel incursion. Thankfully, due in no small part to the qualities of this effective pilot maker and the resolve of the Royal Air Force, German invasion plans were indefinitely postponed following the Luftwaffe’s inability to score a decisive victory during the Battle of Britain.
With many Tiger Moths remaining in airworthy condition, it is interesting to consider that this famous basic training aircraft is still doing the same job today as it did during its service introduction in the 1930s. The magnificent Tiger Moth allows potential Warbird pilots the opportunity to gain valuable experience flying a ‘taildragger’ aircraft, before eventually moving on to display the Spitfires and Mustangs which thrill the crowds at Airshows all over the world.


Gloster Gladiator Mk.I/Mk.II 1:72

The Gloster Gladiator was developed from the Gloster Gauntlet as a private venture, and represented both the peak and the end of the biplane fighter. In many air arms it smoothed the transition to monoplane fighters, and in confronting aircraft of its own era it performed well.


Northrop P-61 Black Widow 1:72

One of the most distinctive aircraft of the Second World War, the P-61 Black Widow was the first US aircraft designed specifically for combat at night and the first developed with radar as its primary method of target detection. Powered by two mighty Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp engines, this was a very big aeroplane for a fighter, but if it managed to detect an enemy aircraft, its impressive array of offensive firepower would usually result in the Black Widow living up to its sinister name. It is thought that a P-61 Black Widow operating in the Pacific Theatre scored the final Allied aerial victory of the Second World War, in the hours just prior to Japan’s surrender.


Savoia-Marchetti SM79 1:72

The Savoia-Marchetti SM79 ‘Sparrowhawk’ was Italy’s main medium bomber of the Second World War and one of the most effective bombers operated by Axis forces. With its unusual three engined configuration, the SM79 was a relatively fast aeroplane, possessing excellent endurance, which made it especially effective in operations over the Mediterranean. As a torpedo bomber, the SM79 earned a reputation for being one of the best anti-shipping aircraft of WWII and should the aircraft have to land on water as a result of damage sustained during an attack, the wooden wings and fabric covered fuselage gave the crew ample time to take to their life rafts. After the armistice with Italy, around 36 ‘Sparrowhawks’ continued to fight with the Germans, some wearing Luftwaffe markings.

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Hunting Percival Jet Provost T.4 1:72

For most RAF pilots serving between 1960 and 1988, the Hunting Aircraft (BAC) Jet Provost will be an extremely familiar aircraft to them. Forming the backbone of RAF pilot training during this period, the Jet Provost was distinctive by its broad fuselage profile, which allowed for a relatively spacious side-by-side cockpit arrangement.


Hawker Typhoon Ib 1:72

By 1943 the RAF needed a dedicated ground attack fighter, and the Typhoon was suited to the role. The powerful engine allowed the aircraft to carry a load of up to two 1,000lb (454kg) bombs. From September 1943 Typhoons could also be armed with four "60lb" RP-3 rockets.


Henschel Hs123A-1 1:72

As you might expect from a new aircraft manufacturer previously involved in the production of railway locomotives, the Henschel Hs123 biplane attack aircraft was as tough as they come. Intended as a dive bomber and close air support aircraft, the Hs123 performed well during its combat introduction in the Spanish Civil War, however, its lack of range and relatively small bomb load saw future development suppressed due to the impending introduction of the monoplane Ju-87 Stuka. Despite this setback, the aircraft still in service at the start of WWII were sent into action, with its pilots perfecting the art of close air support for advancing ground units. Proving to be extremely rugged, these agile little biplanes could absorb significant levels of damage, pressing home their attacks and bringing their pilots home safely. Serving through the Blitzkrieg attacks against Poland, France and the Low Countries, the Hs123 would come into its own during the savage fighting on the Eastern Front, where aircraft would be based close to the front lines, flying several offensive sorties each day. The aircraft proved so effective, that they were only withdrawn from service in the spring of 1944 and only then due to a lack of serviceable aircraft and spares.

NEW TOOL Hawker Hunter F6 1:48 AIRFIX A09185

Schemes:

  • 1) XF418 4FTS Brawdy
  • 2) XF509 4FTS
  • 3) Dutch AF

 

As far as classic British jet aircraft are concerned, few would argue that the beautiful Hawker Hunter should be placed at the head of this group, entering RAF service in 1954 and still providing training support almost 40 years later. The definitive interceptor version of the Hunter was the Mk.6 and by the end of 1958, all of the RAFs day fighter squadrons in Britain and Germany were equipped with these aircraft

airfix RELEASE UPDATE

McDonnell Douglas FGR2 Phantom 1:72

Schemes:

  • 1) XV466 D, No1435 FLT, RAF Mount Pleasant November 1991
    2) FGR.2 XV469 H 2 Squadron June 1976
  • 3) FGR.2 Phantom XV408 92 Squadron RAF Germany

 

As the Royal Air Force were looking to update their strike and close air support capabilities in the 1950s and 60s, they were initially expecting indigenous British designs to fulfil both of these roles, but spiralling development costs and government intervention saw them forced to look overseas for their new aircraft. As one of the world’s most successful multi-role jet aircraft, the McDonnell Douglas Phantom was selected for both the Royal Navy and the RAF and even though it was procured at a time of great uncertainty for the British aviation industry, it proved to be both a capable and popular aircraft in UK service.

Scale 1:72
Skill 3
Flying Hours 3
Number of Parts 160
Dimensions (mm) L247 x W162
Age Suitability 8+

Expected: January 2019

Pre-Order NOW

airfix Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat in 1/24th scale

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airfix weekend update 01/11/2018 + 2 Full scheme painting guides

Retaining an interest – Mustang IV and IVs

The Merlin/Mustang combination proved to be so successful that performance data supplied back to the US encouraged them to consider using the British engine in all future production variants, however, there was a big problem. Just as Curtiss had no manufacturing capacity at the beginning of the Mustang project, so the British could not spare any Merlin engines, especially as the disappointing Avro Manchester bomber had just been re-engined with four Merlins, as this magnificent powerplant continued to be the backbone of the RAF. The answer lay with the Packard Motor Car Company in the US and the licenced mass production of an American version of the Merlin Engine – work on the US built Merlin engines began immediately and as the first units became available, they were supplied to North American Aviation for use on their Mustang assembly lines. As had been indicated by the trials in Britain, the performance of these latest Mustangs was spectacular and it would go on to make a significant contribution to the outcome of the aerial conflicts taking place across the world. Merlin powered Mustang fighters built for the USAAF were referred to as North American P-51B (aircraft built at Inglewood, California) and P-51C (built at Dallas, Texas), which were more or less identical other than their factory of origin and referred to as Mustang IIIs in Royal Air Force service. As America was now in the war and plans were progressing to mount an all-out aerial offensive against Germany and enemy occupied Europe, it would not be long before British and American Mustangs would be operating in close proximity to one another.

 

For greater combat effectiveness in the European Theatre, RAF Mustang III fighters traded their original hinged cockpit canopy for the bulged Perspex ‘Malcolm Hood’, which greatly increased the pilots visibility

The combat introduction of USAAF Mustang fighters in European skies did not take place until late 1943, but they would have an immediate impact on the conflict which had already been raging for four years. Bombers could now rely on fighter cover for the entire duration of their mission, which led to an immediate reduction in losses and the start of a steady decline in the effectiveness of Luftwaffe fighter opposition. Mustang ace Brigadier General Thomas L Hayes famously quoted “the Merlin powered Mustang possessed three qualities you need most, if you are going to escort bombers all the way to Berlin – range, range and range”.

Continued development of the Mustang led to the introduction of what many consider to be the definitive variant of the Mustang, the P-51D. Maintaining the performance of this superb fighter, the D variant dispensed with the high ‘Razorback’ fuselage of its predecessor, in favour of a design which allowed for the addition of a bubble canopy, greatly increasing the pilots visibility. It also featured greater firepower and a much improved gunsight, which made the aircraft even more effective during combat encounters with the Luftwaffe. By this time, the Mustang was the main fighter of the USAAF and production of this latest variant was again split between the North American manufacturing plants at Inglewood and Dallas, although this time all aircraft manufactured would retain the same ‘D’ nomenclature. The only sub-variant of this Mustang were aircraft equipped with a different propeller, due to the preferred Hamilton Standard units being in short supply – Mustangs finished with the slightly smaller Aeroproducts propeller were known as P-51Ks.

As consistent champions of the Mustang, the RAF were obviously keen to secure this latest version of the P-51 and around 900 would eventually be delivered for use by the British. Possessing the same impressive range performance as the machines which protected US bombers deep into Germany, many of these RAF Mustangs would be used to protect long range strike aircraft on missions across the North Sea, or against strategic targets in Germany, as Bomber Command began strategic daylight bombing operations again from 1944 onwards. In British and Commonwealth service, the P-51D was referred to as the Mustang IV and P-51Ks which utilised the alternative Aeroproducts propeller, the Mustang IVa.

With the undoubted pedigree and enduring appeal of the North American P-51D Mustang, it will come as no surprize that our recently released new 1/48th scale tooling has proved incredibly popular and the latest model in this series is just about to arrive in good model stores everywhere. A05137 presents the modeller with two attractive schemes representing Mustangs which operated in the colours of British and Commonwealth units in the final months of the Second World War, including one Mustang IV which has to be considered as one of the most flamboyantly presented fighter aircraft to see Royal Air Force service.

North American Mustang Mk.IV KM272/QV-V ‘Dooleybird’, Flight Lieutenant Arthur ‘Joe’ Doley, RAF No.19 Squadron, Acklington, Northumberland, England, late 1945.

Full scheme painting guide for Flight Lieutenant Doley’s uniquely presented RAF Mustang IV

Just as the Mustang transformed USAAF fighter escort operations on missions deep into Germany, so the RAF would use the impressive range of the aircraft to provide fighter cover for strike aircraft which would previously have operated autonomously. These missions included anti-shipping strikes by Beaufighters and Mosquitos along the coastline of Norway, which could last almost six hours in duration, with most of the flying time taking place over the vast, unforgiving expanse of the North Sea. Ensuring German units in Norway were never in a position to threaten the eastern coast of Britain and importantly, keeping significant forces occupied in the region and unable to reinforce units further south, these dangerous long range operations continued right up until the eventual end of hostilities in Europe and in their own way, were as demanding as any flown by pilots serving through WWII. As Bomber Command decided to re-commence daylight strike operations from 1944, the European Theatre witnessed the unusual situation of both RAF and USAAF Mustangs providing bomber protection cover in the same airspace at the same time and as the Luftwaffe finally began to crack under the unrelenting pressure, Allied Mustangs were free to hunt for anything they deemed a suitable target. At this time, there must have been hundreds of Mustangs flying in European skies, both British and American, and all manner of production variants – even the first Allison powered Mustang Is were used right until the final stages of the War in Europe.

Flight Lieutenant Arthur S ‘Joe’ Doley joined the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and went on to fly Spitfires and Hurricanes with Nos 610 and 87 Squadrons, in Britain, North Africa and Italy. He later joined No19 Squadron at Peterhead in February 1945, where he was introduced to the Mustang IV and long range operations over the North Sea, very different form the shorter range combat operations he had been used to in North Africa and Italy. Even at this late stage of the war, Doley was kept extremely busy on these shipping strike protection missions and undertook at least 12 of these missions during the last few weeks of WWII, with several further missions aborted due to various technical issues. Following the end of hostilities, No.19 Squadron relocated to RAF Acklington on 13th May 1945, where it continued its association with the Mustang, even though the aircraft looked very different from their appearance during the final weeks of the war. The rather dishevelled camouflage appearance associated with aircraft operating over large expanses of ocean had gone, to be replaced with a handsome natural metal presentation, which really suited the striking profile of the magnificent Mustang. It was during this time that Flt. Lt. Doley began his association with a particularly striking Mustang and one which must be considered one of the most distinctive piston engined fighter aircraft to see service with the Royal Air Force. Mustang IV KM272 QV-V was resplendent with its blue and white spinner and front engine cowling, but also carried name ‘Dooleybird’ in large red letters on the port side of the fuselage. With an olive drab anti-glare panel and additional yellow detail, this was a particularly attractive aeroplane, which has since gone on to become of great interest to modellers searching for something a little different when working on a Mustang project. With the appealing additional size associated with 1/48th scale kits, this eye-catching scheme is sure to appeal to plenty of modellers following the release of this new kit.

An interesting story associated with this aircraft and its pilot will make this attractive scheme appear all the more appealing to modellers, when they learn that former Flt. Lt. Doley donated his log books to the archives of the RAF Museum in 2014. This complete record included all of his wartime flying and records from his pre-war civilian flying experience, along with some photographs from his personal collection. Some years earlier, the former RAF pilot was in a store in his home town of Wolverhampton, when he picked up a model kit that looked rather familiar. The box artwork on this 1/72nd scale Matchbox kit release featured the distinctive Mustang he used to fly at RAF Acklington in 1945 – it must have been both a shock and extremely satisfying to see his former mount presented for modellers to enjoy. A couple of years earlier, he had been approached by a chap who was writing a book, asking if he could borrow his wartime log book – Mr Doley was happy to oblige and he stated that the book included a small picture of his ‘Dooleybird’, which is where the model references may have originated from.

North American P-51K Mustang KH676 CV-A, No.3 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Lavariano, Italy, July 1945.

The magnificent North American Mustang was one of the finest fighting aeroplanes of the Second World War and was to see extensive service with British and Commonwealth air forces

As Europe was plunged into war in the late summer of 1939, Britain needed all the help she could get, but knew she could rely on the support of the Royal Australian Air Force. Offering to send six squadrons of aircraft and their support personnel to the UK, this was in addition to the 450 Australians already in Britain to collect Short Sunderland flying boats ordered by their government – these aircraft were to remain in the UK, with No.10 Squadron RAAF (under RAF control) becoming the first RAAF and British Commonwealth squadron to see action during WWII. Australian squadrons would go on to make a significant contribution to the war effort, with 17 squadrons operating under RAF control, most notably as members of Bomber Command and with the Desert Air Force in North Africa and the Mediterranean.

No.3 Squadron RAAF was formed at Point Cook, Victoria in September 1916 and almost immediately moved to Great Britain to undergo intensive training, before eventual deployment to the Western Front the following year. The squadron undertook reconnaissance and light bombing missions and earned a reputation for tenacity and operational effectiveness in the face of the enemy. After the commencement of the Second World War, the squadron was on the move once more, this time to Egypt, where it would begin a long association with the American built Curtiss P-40 fighter, flying operations in support of the 8th Army and the intense battles of the North African campaign. It would later participate in the liberation of both Italy and Yugoslavia, earning a proud reputation for its determined and accurate strike attacks against Axis shipping in the Mediterranean. With a victory tally of 217.5 Axis aircraft destroyed, No.3 Squadron remains the highest scoring fighter unit in the Royal Australian Air Force.

In November 1944, No.3 Squadron exchanged their ageing Curtiss P-40s for the new North American Mustang IVa (P-51K),becoming the first RAAF unit to operate the Mustang. At this time, they were based in Italy as part of the RAF First Tactical Air Force and carried out dive bombing and ground attack missions against targets in Italy and Yugoslavia, continuing to do so until the end of the war in Europe. Australia would eventually take around 500 Mustangs, with the aircraft initially assembled by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and later fully manufactured under licence. Interestingly, by the end of the Second World War, the Royal Australian Air Force was the 4th largest in the world, behind Britain, America and the Soviet Union. Many RAAF aircraft can be distinguished from other Commonwealth aircraft by the application of the Southern Cross markings on their rudders, a star constellation only visible from the Southern Hemisphere, which is considered Australia’s oldest national symbol.

North American Mustang IVa (P-51K) KH676 served with No 3 Squadron RAAF under RAF control from April 1945 until August the same year. It was regularly flown by Flt. Lt. Alan ‘Dusty’ Lane, who as part of the Desert Air Force had previously flown Spitfires with No.451 Sqn RAAF and No.111 Sqn RAF, before joining No.3 Sqn with their new Mustangs. With an extensive service record which saw him fighting in the Middle East, Sicily, France and Italy, Lane would eventually be credited with two aerial victories, one shared victory and one enemy aircraft damaged. It is thought that Lane flew this aircraft in July 1945 as part of a victory flypast arranged by the RAAF to mark the end of the war in Europe, whilst his squadron was based at Lavariano airfield in Italy. After the war, Dusty Lane joined Australian National Airways as a pilot, eventually rising to the position of Director of Operations – he also became a significant personality in the preservation of WWII aircraft, helping to ensure that such aeroplanes as a Wirraway, Mustangs and a Mosquito all being saved for future generations to admire.

The impending release of this latest Mustang from our relatively new 1/48th scale tooling will only continue the popularity of this famous aircraft as far as the modeller is concerned and will encourage people to consider two striking late war schemes which represent Mustang operations by British and Commonwealth air forces. Due for release next month, it will be interesting to see if these unusual scheme options force people to consider how this American aviation classic owes more than just a passing mention to its often overlooked British heritage.

Magnificent Mustangs

As one of the most famous aircraft of the Second World War and with more than 15,000 examples produced, the Mustang has not only gone on to represent Allied industrial supremacy during the final months of WWII, but also a source of fascination for historians and modellers alike. Viewed as the aeroplane which finally tipped the scales of aerial supremacy in favour of the Allies and heralded the beginning of the end for the once vaunted Luftwaffe, it also represents the time when thousands of American servicemen and their machines arrived in Britain, bringing their considerable military might and North American culture to sleepy villages all over England. These interesting aeroplanes often reflected the confidence of the men who flew them in combat, with many being resplendent with the addition of striking nose artwork, something which was rarely seen on RAF aircraft – whilst the Americans were over here, they were determined to make their mark.

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Looking for something a little more esoteric from his Mustang build, Peter Cosgrove has gone for the unusual presentation of this Israeli Air Force fighter

Certainly qualifying as a rather exotic Mustang scheme, this beautiful model built by Peter Cosgrove represents one of the 100 or so Mustangs which found their way to Israel following the end of the Second World War, becoming the backbone of the fledgling Israeli Air Force. These attractive markings are about as far away from USAAF Mustang colours as it is possible to get, but certainly underlines the scope of options available to modellers looking to build one of these iconic fighters.


A ‘Starter Set’ is not just for Christmas

Spectacular box artwork is not just restricted to the latest aviation releases, as this Mini Cooper S image proves

As the school half-term holidays come to an end and Bonfire Night is just around the corner, retailers will already be putting the final touches to their Christmas stock planning, as we head towards the busiest trading period of the year. From the committed modellers perspective, this time of year presents us with an opportunity to start dropping a few little hints as to what we might be hoping to find under the tree on 25th December, but for other more casual hobbyists, it is probably more about the surprise of seeing what might turn up on the day. One range which retailers are desperate to keep good stocks of throughout the year is our Starter and Gift Set range, models which are supplied complete with glue, paint and paint brush, just about everything you might need to crack on with your new model. Suitable for just about every type of modeller, from the youngster starting out, to those of competition standard (and everyone in between), these kits are perennial top sellers and it can be difficult for model stores to keep a full range of these popular kits, especially around Christmas time.

This full artwork file from the A55310 Mini Cooper S Starter Set project has never previously been published and shows what modellers can look forward to with the release of this kit early in 2019

The range features an impressive selection of subject matter, from HMS Victory to the mighty Vulcan bomber and whilst aircraft models certainly feature heavily, they are by no means the only options available. To highlight this fact, the two images above are being shown in Workbench for the first time and feature the product line artwork and digitally produced box artwork in support of the early 2019 release of 1/32nd scale Mini Cooper S A55310. Without doubt one of the most recognisable vehicles on today’s roads the MINI stands out from the crowd with its smart exterior design and stylish cabin presentation, continuing the legacy of this extremely popular small car. Finding sales success all over the world, this new MINI design is for many people the standard against which all smaller cars are now judged and includes a range of models and options which genuinely has something to appeal to everyone. The Cooper S modelled here features a 2 litre engine, smart white alloy wheels and a rather distinctive Union Flag roof, which may look stylish whilst driving around town, but could have its drawbacks if the car was forced to serve as a getaway vehicle after a crime had been committed and the police helicopter was hot on your tail. Catering for all modelling tastes, the Starter Set range is sure to receive plenty of attention over the coming weeks, so why not have a quick look at the current range when next visiting your local model store, to see what they have on offer.

A ‘Flight’ of Airfix Hawker features

A flying thing of beauty

Exclusive first reveal of the beautiful artwork which will accompany the release of our new 1/48th scale Hawker Hunter F.6 kit

As far as the Airfix modeller is concerned, there are just so many interesting projects on the go at the moment, that each edition of Workbench is packed with updates and information from new model releases which are all fast approaching their scheduled release dates. One new kit which will certainly be high on the future build schedule of many a modeller is the 1/48th scale Hawker Hunter F.6 and this magnificent new kit takes a huge step towards its much-anticipated release with the unveiling of the captivating artwork which will grace the box presentation of this model. There will be few who argue against the Hunter being considered one of the most attractive jet aircraft ever to take to the skies, however, the first Hawker designed jet to enter RAF service was much more than just a looker, proving to be an exceptionally versatile aircraft and a huge export success for the British aviation industry. With its sleek lines and distinctive saw tooth wing leading edge, the F.6 was the definitive fighting version of the Hunter, a real pilots aeroplane and one which provided the Royal Air Force with one of the most capable jet aircraft of the early post war era.

For an aircraft which looks as capable as the Hunter and one which impressively continues to support military flying operations to this day, it is interesting to note that the prototype aircraft took to the air only 12 years after the first flight of the world’s first jet powered aircraft, the Heinkel He 178 back in 1939, an aircraft which looked very different to the sleek and purposeful Hunter. With many notable ‘firsts’ to its name, a specially prepared example of the Hunter managed to capture the World Speed Record for Britain and with 1972 Hunters eventually being produced, these magnificent aircraft would go on to have long and successful operational careers, many serving in the colours of several international air arms and some being involved in combat operations. Even though the Hunter was designed as a capable fighting aeroplane, the one word which is almost universally associated with the aircraft is beautiful – this really is a most attractive aeroplane and one which makes many contemporary designs seem a little dull by comparison. As mankind finally achieved a mastery of the air, could the Wright brothers have ever imagined that such a handsome aircraft as the Hunter would one day allow a man to visit the playground of the gods and soar amongst the clouds for a few precious moments? This may sound a little fanciful, but when admiring the impressive artwork featured above, it is easy for us to imagine just how extraordinary an experience this must be for the relatively small number of people who are fortunate enough to earn their wings and keeps the rest of us dreaming of one day becoming a pilot ourselves.

The lead scheme presents this attractive RAF No.63 Squadron Hunter, which was adorned with this distinctive tail as part of the squadron’s Battle of Britain commemorations

The new Hawker Hunter F.6 box artwork features an aircraft which benefitted from distinctive tail markings, applied in commemoration of the pilots of the famous ‘Few’ who fought so gallantly during the savage air battles during the summer of 1940.  Hawker Hunter XE597 was constructed as an F.6 fighter at Hawker’s Kingston-upon-Thames factory in 1956 and taken on strength with the Royal Air Force on 31st August the same year. It joined RAF No.63 Squadron at Waterbeach on 7th November 1956, where it was coded ‘A’ and later becoming the commanders aircraft. In preparation for the 18th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the Squadron’s annual Airshow commitments, it was specially presented with a striking black and yellow checked tail, which must have looked rather spectacular on this already handsome aeroplane. XE597 was photographed wearing this scheme at a number of events during 1958, although it is not known how long it retained the scheme following the end of that Airshow season. On 6th May 1959, XE597 returned to Hawker Siddeley for conversion to FGA.9 and a new career in the close air support role.

A state of alert – this is how the Hunter will look when it greets you in your local model store from next month

Hawker Hunter XE597 would go on to enjoy almost 30 years in Royal Air Force service, operating in the colours of Nos. 66, 63 and 56 Squadrons as an F.6 and Nos. 208, 54 and 1 Squadrons following conversion to FGA.9. It would end its service career with No.229 Operational Conversion Unit at Chivenor and finally the Hunter Tactical Weapons Unit at Brawdy. Following the end of its flying days, it would spend time as RAF Bentley Priory’s gate guardian and finally an instructional airframe, before being scrapped, with just the nose section surviving. This has now been beautifully restored and can be seen displaying at Airshows and cockpit meets up and down the country to this day, helping to bring the many virtues of the Hawker Hunter to a new generation of admirers.

The Hawker Hunter is undoubtedly one of the most significant aircraft to see service with the Royal Air Force and a genuine classic amongst post war jet aviation types. Its handsome good looks are about to woo a new modelling audience and produce a stylish addition to many a display of model aircraft. Hawker Hunter F.6 A09185is fast approaching its scheduled November release date and if you were hoping to secure one of these magnificent new models, you need to act now. As has been the case with many recent new tooling releases, we expect this kit to sell out really quickly and it may be several months before further kits become available. To ensure you don’t miss out on one of the first batch of kits, please contact your usual model supplier or head for the Airfix website and hunt down your Hunter now.

Hawker Sea Furys under foreign skies

In support of the second release from the new Hawker Sea Fury tooling, the artwork features the two RAN Sea Furys flown by Royal Navy exchange pilots during the 1955 shooting down of a rogue Auster Archer off the coast of New South Wales

Sydney Camm and his Hawker design team did not just possess an impressive record in producing attractive jet aircraft for the RAF and Fleet Air Arm, they could also boast arguably the most aesthetically pleasing and certainly one of the most potent piston engined fighters amongst their unrivalled design credentials. The Hawker Sea Fury can trace its origins back to the accidental landing of a Luftwaffe Focke Wulf Fw190 fighter at an RAF airfield in South Wales, presenting British military planners with a pristine example of this new fighter, which had ruled the skies since its introduction during the late summer of the previous year. In order to combat the threat posed by the Fw190 and its subsequent variants, the Air Ministry issued a requirement for a new high performance fighter, which should be more capable than any other aircraft currently flying. Based around flight data obtained by evaluating the captured Focke Wulf, the new aircraft was to be lightweight in design, heavily armed and utilising the most powerful engine that could be married to its diminutive airframe – Hawker’s design submission bore an uncanny resemblance to the Fw190, but replaced its rugged, workmanlike appearance with that of a cultured fighting thoroughbred. Although the new fighter was later dropped by the RAF, the Fleet Air Arm were delighted with this potent new fighter and welcomed the Hawker Sea Fury into naval service in 1945.

There are some kit releases you just know are going to be popular with modellers all over the world and that was certainly the case with our 1/48th scale Hawker Sea Fury FB.11which arrived earlier this year – a larger scale example of one of the most attractive aircraft ever produced and another product of the prolific Hawker design team. With built examples of this new kit gracing the Airfix stand at last year’s Scale ModelWorld show, it seemed as if everyone was planning to add one of these beauties to their 2018 build schedule and we are certainly hoping to see plenty of examples on display at this year’s show. Indeed, the release of this kit was slightly delayed at the beginning of the year and it did prove rather difficult to obtain an example of the Sea Fury at first (if it had not been pre-ordered), with available stocks only just arriving in model stores over recent weeks. The exclusive artwork reveal featured above confirms that the second release from this popular new tooling is also just around the corner and this time features Sea Furys which operated under the colours of overseas air arms – Export Furys. This new kit will be supplied with three attractive scheme options, each one possessing an interesting story all of its own, but perhaps none so unusual as the one attached to the lead scheme and the incident which inspired the fantastic box artwork.

Hawker Sea Fury FB.11 VW645, No.805 Squadron, Royal Australian Navy, Nowra, New South Wales, Australia, August 30th 1955. Aircraft flown by Lieutenant John Bluett (RN), who shot down an unmanned Auster J/4 Archer (VH-AET) over Broken Bay.

Full scheme details for the Auster killing Sea Fury FB.II frown by Fleet Air Arm exchange pilot Lt. John Bluett on 30th August 1955

 

As Royal Navy Officers Lt. John Bluett and Lt. Peter McNay prepared to embark on their latest training sortie on 30th August 1955, little did they know that this day would see them involved in one of the most bizarre incidents in the history of Australian aviation and allow one of them to apply a unique kill marking to his Hawker Sea Fury FB.11. The men were on exchange posting with the Royal Australian Navy, which allowed them to fly their aircraft in conditions which were usually much better than the weather back in the UK and spend some valuable time with another major Sea Fury operator. As they planned a gunnery practice sortie, both Sea Furys were fuelled and armed in readiness for what should have been a routine training flight and another uneventful entry in their respective log books.

On the same day at Sydney’s Bankstown Airport, a private pilot had hired an Auster Archer J-4 for some practice flying and a series of take-off and landing circuits at the airfield. Flying alone, his first landing proved to be rather eventful, with the engine cutting out on final approach, but as the aircraft was only ten feet above the runway, he gently brought the aircraft down and safely came to a halt. With the brakes applied, the lone pilot set the throttle, climbed out of his seat and attempted to swing the propeller himself, confident that the aircraft did not have an underlying technical issue – the engine sprang into life and immediately resulted in the unmanned aircraft accelerating down the runway. The brakes had failed to hold and despite his best efforts, the hapless pilot was unable to prevent the Auster from gaining speed and climbing into the air without him, narrowly missing the control tower but seemingly in a relatively stable manner. Circling the airfield for a few minutes, a rising wind altered the course of the unmanned aircraft, sending it in the direction of the city and the much larger international airport. Clearly now causing significant concern, a general alert was issued and a navy aircraft was diverted to intercept the Auster and shadow it, providing real-time reports on its position and flightpath to authorities. It was soon joined by a pair of RAAF Sabres, but as these were unarmed, there was little that they could do and left the scene after being informed that an armed Wirraway trainer was on the way, with orders to shoot the Auster down.

That should really have been the end of the situation, but it proved to be just the beginning of a bizarre series of events which saw this incident last much longer than it should have done. With the pilotless Auster now over the sea, the Wirraway was cleared to shoot it down, but as this was being done using a hand held Bren gun fired from the open rear position and the aircraft were now at much higher altitude, the aircraft made two unsuccessful passes, using up the entire magazine – unfortunately, the operators hands were now so cold that he was unable to change the magazine and the Wirraway had to withdraw from the chase. The matter appeared to be firmly in hand when a No.75 Squadron Meteor arrived shortly afterward and lined up behind the Auster, with the aircraft squarely in its sights. Firing its guns, strikes were noted on the wing of the Auster, but after only ten rounds were unleashed, the Meteors guns jammed and the unmanned aircraft continued on its course – Auster 2, RAAF 0.

The Meteor pilot tried everything he could to bring the Auster down, performing a series of close-up, high energy manoeuvres, attempting to disturb the airflow around the aircraft, but with his guns firmly jammed and with the Auster happily maintaining its course, his fuel situation necessitated a return to base and another RAAF Meteor being ordered to the area. The radio chatter had been picked up by the two British Sea Fury pilots who were by now in the air in their armed aircraft and ready to lend their expertise. Informing the incident controller of their availability, the two fighters quickly arrived on the scene, just before the second Meteor and made short work of their civilian target. Having circled the rogue aircraft for a short while and ensuring the necessary clearances were in place, Lieutenant John Bluett lined up the Auster in his sights and gave it a short burst, sending it crashing into the South Pacific Ocean and ending what proved to be a rather eventful morning. The pilotless Auster had managed to fly itself for over two hours, taking a track over the suburbs of Sydney and up the coast of New South Wales, before falling to the guns of one of the world’s most capable piston engined fighters.

The two British exchange pilots landed their Sea Furys at Sydney’s International Airport, before returning to their base at Nowra, presumably to enjoy the attention of their now famous exploits, although they will have probably cited low fuel as the reason for their divert. On arrival back at Nowra Naval Air Station, the pair were greeted enthusiastically by ground crews aware of their unusual ‘victory’ and it was not long before Hawker Sea Fury FB.II VW645 was adorned with an unusual kill marking on its port side fuselage, under the front canopy framing.

Hawker Sea Fury FB.II TG113, No.803 Naval Air Squadron, Royal Canadian Navy, HMCS Warrior, Canada, 1948.

The handsome colour scheme adopted by the Royal Canadian Navy certainly helped to highlight the stunning good looks of what is considered by many to be the ultimate piston engined fighter

 

As one of the most potent piston engined fighter aircraft ever produced, the Hawker Sea Fury entered service just too late to see action during the Second World War and occupies a place in aviation history where the ultimate piston designs were having to give way to the advent of jet powered aviation. Even though the Sea Fury could match the performance of many of the first generation of jet fighters, it represented the zenith of piston powered technology and with jet power clearly set to define aviation development in the years to come, the world’s navys were already looking to get jet aircraft on their carriers. Despite this, for a few glorious years, the Hawker Sea Fury proved to be an extremely effective fleet defender and strike/attack aircraft and secured some lucrative overseas orders for Hawker Aviation, who by now were already working on aircraft such as the Sea Hawk and what would become the Hunter.

With a requirement for a capable fleet defender and replacement for their ageing WWII types, the Royal Canadian Navy were admirers of the Sea Fury and would eventually take 74 aircraft to serve from their carrier HMCS Warrior and at land based stations, protecting their ships and providing cover for other more vulnerable naval aircraft. Identical to the aircraft serving with the British Fleet Air Arm, the Canadian aircraft were initially drawn from existing Royal Navy inventory, with later batches constructed under new contracts. The Canadian’s loved their Sea Furys and used the aircraft successfully until the summer of 1956, when their aircraft were placed in storage and their carriers saw the arrival of their first jet aircraft, the American McDonnel F2H-3 Banshee. It seems that a number of the stored Canadian Sea Furys had very few hours flying time on their airframes, some as little as 4 hours, having only been flown during post production test flights. Stored in a large wooden hangar, it appears that many were destroyed when this hangar set ablaze, before the aircraft could embark on a new career as unlimited air racing aircraft in the US.

Sea Fury FB.II TG113 is a fine representation of a Royal Canadian Navy Sea Fury FB.II and wears the classic scheme applied to these beautiful aircraft whilst in Canadian service. Although the colours appear similar to the ones applied to Fleet Air Arm machines, the Canadian Government published specific painting instructions for their Sea Furys, although these were written guidelines, supplied without the benefit of any physical colour references. This has led to some modelling confusion over the years, with many simply assuming that standard Royal Navy colours were applied to all Canadian aircraft. This has proved to be incorrect, however the lack of definitive colour references ensures that this remains something of a hot topic and one which still requires exhaustive research. Thankfully, whatever colours are applied to the Sea Fury, it is not possible to detract from the handsome profile of this magnificent looking aircraft.

Fokker built Hawker Sea Fury FB.Mk.51 6-46, aircraft flown by LtZV1 Rolf Idzerda, ‘Aerobats’, VSQ 860, Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service, NAS Valkenburg, The Netherlands, 1953.

As the first export customers for the Hawker Sea Fury, the Dutch Navy were also the recipient of some licence built Fokker constructed aircraft, including this machine, which represented VSQ 860’s ‘Aerobats’ formation display team in 1953

 

Significant as the first export customer for the Hawker Sea Fury, the Royal Netherlands Navy were early admirers of the potent naval fighter and used the aircraft from both their land bases and on board their carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman, formerly the British Colossus class aircraft carrier HMS Venerable. The Dutch were also granted a production licence for additional aircraft, which were manufactured by Fokker and designated FB Mk.50 for the FB.10 and FB.Mk.51 for the definitive FB.II variants. Despite their admiration for the aircraft and securing production rights, the Dutch would only use the Sea Fury for a relatively short period, replacing it with another Hawker design, the jet powered Sea Hawk in 1957.

Dutch Hawker Sea Fury FB.Mk.51 6-46 initially served with the Fleet Air Arm, but was transferred to the Royal Netherlands Navy in 1946, where it was assigned to HNLMS Karel Doorman. Wearing these distinctive markings, it was one of four aircraft which made up No.860 Squadron’s aerobatic display team, ‘The Aerobats’, who performed precision aerobatic display demonstrations using this most potent of piston powered aircraft. In the summer of 1953, the Aerobats unexpectedly attended the large NATO air display held at Soesterberg air base – led by LtZV1 Rolf Idzerda, the team delighted the huge crowds with their thrilling displays of aerial prowess and the striking appearance of their specially presented Sea Furys, which were resplendent in their bright orange cowling and spinners. In August the same year, the team were awarded second prize at the Dutch National Formation and Aerobatics Competition, quite an accolade for a team which operated these mighty fighters, with their huge propellers and powerful engines – not the most appropriate aircraft in which to fly formation aerobatics. August 1953 would prove to be a significant month for this particular Sea Fury, as it would go on to suffer a landing accident whilst recovering to its home carrier, sustaining damage which was serious enough to see the aircraft written off as uneconomical to repair – a sad end for a rather distinctive Sea Fury.

With three attractive scheme options to choose from, this November release will be a popular choice for a little Christmas build project

 

With three interesting and attractive schemes to choose from, it is going to be difficult to decide which of these export Sea Furys to finish our models as, following the November launch of this second 1/48th scale release, but as each one tells an interesting story in the history of this most potent of piston powered fighters, it not a problem that will cause us too many sleepless nights. Perhaps the most pressing issue will be whether to compete the Auster killing Sea Fury as it appeared during the shoot down incident or following the addition of its unique artwork applied afterwards – such modelling pressure.