EE Canberra B(I)8

Airfix 1:48 English Electric Canberra B(I)8 by Pat Camp

PICT0011To English aircraft enthusiasts, the Canberra is an iconic post-war aircraft and this kit release is from another post-war icon: Airfix models. Many modellers of my age group were weaned on a diet of Airfix kits during their childhood until we became attracted to those exotic kits being imported from the orient and girls wearing the latest fashion of mini skirts!

The aircraft developed from a requirement issued as long ago as 1944 for the conceptual design of a jet powered medium bomber that would utilise high speed and high altitude to evade enemy fighters. The prototype bomber first flew in 1949 and its aerodynamically smooth profile proved to be highly adaptable to various roles such as tactical bombing, photographic, electronic and meteorological reconnaissance, electronic counter measures and – as in the instance of the B(I)8 version in this kit – night intruder and ground attack duties. This later variant differed noticeably from its predecessors in having a fighter style canopy set to one side to improve visibility for “specialised interdictor” ground attack duties, where the aircraft could be armed with a wide range of guns, rockets, conventional and nuclear bombs. Over 1300 Canberra’s were produced both in the United Kingdom – by English Electric, with Handley Page and Short Brothers also producing aircraft under license – and overseas: by Martin (as the B-57) in the United States and Government Aircraft Factory (GAF) in Australia. The aircraft served a long and illustrious career with the RAF and was retired only recently after an impressive 57 years of service.

So what about the kit? Well, this is a big kit of substantial weight and, correspondingly, comes in a large, strongly constructed box. Remove the lid and you find the main parts – the fuselage halves and wing sprue – protected by bubble wrap from the six other parts sprues that are contained in a single polythene bag. The transparencies are in their own bag within this. There is a well produced 14 page instruction booklet detailing construction over 39 steps. It includes a message of gratitude to those who helped Airfix with the kit and that is a nice thing to do for the volunteers in the various museums listed. Humbrol paint numbers are given, but no other colour information.

Also in the box is a comprehensive and well printed decal sheet and fold-out colour guide for the three finishing options in the kit. These are for the B(I)8 of No.16 Squadron, RAF Laarbruch, Germany in 1972 depicted on the box art with its shark’s mouth design and finished in a camouflage scheme of Dark Green and Dark Sea Grey over Light Aircraft Grey, although the painting guide calls out silver for the undersides which is contrary to that given in

Profile 11 “Canberra Part 2” published by the The Aviation Workshop Publications Ltd. The second option is for a similarly camouflage finished B(I)12 of No.14 Squadron, RNZAF, Ohakea, New Zealand in 1968. The third is for a B(I)12 machine of No.12 Squadron, SAAF, Waterkloof, South Africa in 1969-1975 finished in High Speed silver. No French option is offered, but two B(I)8’s were delivered to CEV and used at Bretigny and Istres so well worth researching these if you want to have your model in French markings.

As for the parts, this is the first of the newly tooled kits that I have examined since the company’s latest renaissance and, knowing that it is produced in China, I was keen to see if the mouldings resembled those from you-know-who. The answer is that they do not: they combine the Airfix heritage in being solid and simple to assemble with modern manufacturing techniques to produce parts that are crisply moulded, free of flash and distortion. Dry assembly of the fuselage halves showed a perfect fit and a perusal of the seven sprues of parts revealed some delightful detail and finesse, giving me confidence that this kit should go together nicely. The construction of the airframe looks to be fairly straightforward and much of the parts count is accounted for by the generous weapons stores for inclusion in the detailed bomb bay and on underwing pylons – although the instructions lack information about what these are which is disappointing.

This kit looks as though it will build into an accurate, albeit basic, looking Canberra. There are one or two places that you may wish to correct, such as the shape of the fin fillet and tips of the elevators. Panel lines are slightly soft and overdone – particularly on the rudder – whilst there is a complete absence of panel lines on the horizontal tail surfaces. There is plenty of scope for detailers amongst you to work on the cockpit, bomb bay and wheel wells, but the basic kit will also build into a fine model of the aircraft straight out of the box. Some nice features are the tyre bulges on the undercarriage wheels and the nose section being a single transparent piece which I think is an excellent approach. The other transparencies are also nicely done. You will need to rise to the challenge of placing 100 grams of weight into the limited space of the nose to avoid the model from tail sitting – this will be difficult to do unless you happen to have access to some depleted uranium to use as your weighting material – although Airfix include a support prop should your best efforts not prove successful!

Assembly starts with the seated aircrew. Yes, aircrew – that is a rarity these days! However, unless the Canberra was crewed by children then they are under scale. The kit has a control column rather than yoke that I think was actually fitted. The cockpit canopy comes as two parts, but on the B(I)8 the canopy was not opened; access being by the side hatch in the nose. The instructions make it clear not to have the canopy positioned open.

Let me confess that I know little about the Canberra. Yes, it evolved at an exciting time in aircraft development and was a great feat of aviation engineering, but its simple, smooth aerodynamic lines and lack of propellers means that it never really stirs up my emotional juices in the way that a Spitfire does, or powerful jets such as the Eurofighter (substitute Rafale here for my French readers) do as well. Grossly unfair I know, but will this build be the start of a love affair for this aircraft? Let’s see……

The lid of the box gives a helpful list of the paints you will need to complete the model, but makes no mention of any other materials you will need. Such as material of the sort and of the quantity that you may find on a church roof. Yes, this model desperately wants to be a tail sitter and you will have to make quite an effort to persuade it to do otherwise. True to scale really, as it seems the real aircraft also exhibited this tendency if you didn’t fill the windscreen wiper bottle first before putting fuel in the tanks (okay, I’m exaggerating somewhat – you know me!). This would be highly embarrassing for the “oik” who made such a mistake and I, for one, did not wish to bear such a stigma! Airfix say you need to put 100 grams into the front of the `plane, which calculates out to 9 cm3 lead. Whilst I have a good stock of lead back at home in England, I have nothing here in France. I took a look around the local Bricolage but found nothing of use. I toyed with the idea of asking Melissa to bring some lead in her luggage when she next visited me here in France, but decided that would be matrimonial suicide. So I Googled for lead suppliers and found a suitable source from a mail order fishing tackle company. They supply lead in small strips 100mm x 25mm x 1mm size [1] and this turned out to be just right for the model and I did not have to do very much cutting (for which normal scissors were used). Each strip weighs around 25 grams, so four would be needed, so I ordered five for luck, plus some lead wire for future projects. The cost of the order was around 25 euro including delivery, so not at all cheap.

[1] [2] [3]
Build of the model started with some metal bashing. [1] shows the small packs of lead, each containing a strip 100 x 25 x 1mm and weighing around 25 grams. [2] shows some strip cut and folded to fit into the hidden nooks and crannies of the cockpit area, along with some lead wire. There is also some lead beneath the floor. Most of the lead weight went onto the top of the front wheel bay [3]. The green areas are bits of Duro left over from work on the seats.

I assembled the main cockpit parts together and then added lead to the various nooks and crannies in the forward spaces [2] – the further forward you can get the weight the more effective it will be. Once these areas were filled, the remainder was attached to the top of the nose wheel bay [3]. This is the ideal place to attach the lead as it minimizes the stress on the glued joint with the fuselage, thereby reducing the risk of it detaching later on. You need to place the lead where it will not interfere with the curvature of the fuselage, the angled cockpit bulkhead and bomb bay forward bulkhead (the roof of the bomb bay nearly caught me out!). I used Devcon epoxy resin to glue the lead in place and everything ended up rather tight in the end [4]. Incidentally, Airfix do provide a support post for the back end in case you are unsuccessful and the model wants to sit on its tail. The pole looks a good representation of those actually used for the real aircraft as photos on will show!

[4] Jumping ahead a bit, but this photo shows how tightly everything went together. The cockpit, wheel bay and bomb bay have been glued to the left fuselage side just before the other half was fitted.

I had very little reference material giving close up details of the Canberra so “trawled the net” for information. I found a number of build reviews of the kit and some photos of the real aircraft. Those that were most useful for the cockpit area were found of B(I)8 WT346 preserved at Wigram, New Zealand on This shows the fighter cockpit version retained the yoke type control column rather than the joystick the instructions say to use. Fortunately, there is a suitable one supplied with the kit so I used this. Although the photos do not give comprehensive coverage of the internal areas, I found enough to allow me to add some extra detail to the Airfix parts as shown in photo [5]. Electrical enclosures partly visible in one of the reference photos were made up from pieces of resin casting stub left over from an Aires set [6].

[5] Further details added to the cockpit were grab rails in the bomb aimers position (that were supposed to line up with the side windows, but didn’t!), extension to the floor carpet, piping and hoses (the hoses being from wire-wrapped guitar string). A cable harness runs against the rear bulkhead and beneath the headrest of the navigator’s seat. The lever of a hydraulic pump lies at the side of the pilot’s position.

Interestingly, the navigator did not have an ejection seat – unlike the pilot’s – and he would have to bale out in traditional style in an emergency. I decided the Airfix part needed some modification to get right. I detached the upper box and then reduced the height of the seat using one of the photos in the above website as a guide [7].

[6] Some electrical boxes were made up from resin pouring stubs that were filed to a rectangular shape. Holes were drilled in the ends for cable to be run from fine copper wire. The free end of the wires were glued down to a strip of plasticard to stop them being bent out of shape during handling. The parts were superglued to a piece of scrap sprue for handling and painting, being snapped off when the time came to glue them into their final place. The photos below show the boxes painted up and in position.

The pilot’s ejection seat, although well detailed, doesn’t fit together too well. I used the internet to get information about the type of ejector seat used for the period of interest (having already decided to go for an early version – but more about that later), which seems to be a Martin Baker Mk2CA. I eventually constructed the seat as described in [8] and added the pull chords from two fine wires, one painted black and the other yellow, that I then twisted together and bent to the required form.

[7] The navigator’s seat was modified by having the headrest sawn away and the height of the seat back trimmed back by 2mm. The top edges were thinned and a seat harness added from lead sheet. Airfix provide cushions for the seat and back, but these were not visible in the reference photo so I left them out. A slot in the pan of the seat was covered by plasticard. The seat was glued to the bulkhead after painting. A cable harness was routed over the top of the seat and the headrest attached above this [5]. The seat was then painted in dark grey with the harnesses in blue.

The cockpit parts and inside surfaces of the fuselage that would be visible were given an airbrushed coat of Alclad primer followed by Humbrol 67 dark grey. Various shades of grey and black oil paint were applied to emphasise the light and shadow – I did this at a model show and many visitors to the stand expressed interest in the technique. Various gauges and other details were picked out in red and yellow, following the reference photos as close as possible. Final highlighting was done with titianium white oil paint applied by a fine brush as I prefer this method over dry brushing as you can be more precise about the position and strength of the highlights. The cable harness was painted brown to represent the tape wrap that was applied. The air hoses were blue with their rubber end connections in black with a little silver line added for the metal band around the rubber [9]. The carpet was painted green and suitably faded around the window area as is indicated from one of the reference photos.

[8] Airfix supply sufficient parts for three seats, so there was plenty to experiment with. I glued the pan of the seat to the ejector rails, keeping the seat back parallel to the rails. The early pattern of seat (Mk2CA) does not appear to have the notched seat cushion as provided in the kit, but has a slot. This was made by gluing a piece of plastic section across the front of the cushion and filing to shape once dried. The back cushions, harnesses and chute cover on the top of the head rest were made from Duro epoxy putty. Various other details were added from plastic rod and left over photo-etched parts. Painting of the seat was based on photographs of contemporary Mk2 seats which appeared to have natural linen coloured cushions rather than the bronze green often seen on more recent types. The harness was painted in RAF blue as seems to be standard, but I am not sure if that is correct for the 1960’s era of the machine I was portraying.

I made no major changes or additions to the fuselage insides in the cockpit area. There is a fold-down seat for the navigator that is stored just to the rear of the access door, but I did not make one of these. However, I did add the light over the navigator’s table from a small disc of metal and some more oxygen hose hanging in a loop near the navigators area as these will be visible if you were to peer through the open access door.

There is a small window behind the navigator’s table. The moulding for this is rather thick and has a shrinkage dimple in the centre. I thinned the surrounding flange of the window so that it fitted further into the hole in the fuselage and protruded outside [10]. I wrapped some micromesh around a cylindrical pot and polished the inside of the window until it was smooth and all blemishes had been removed. The window was dipped in Klear and – once this had dried – superglued into place. The coating of Klear prevents the plastic from fogging due to the fumes from the glue. Later in the build, the window was filed, sanded and polished until it was flush with the outside of the fuselage.

[9] The painted cockpit with seats and electrical boxes added

The internal parts were assembled to the port fuselage side. I did not find the internal detail of the bomb bay to be too convincing, so decided I would build my model with the bomb doors closed. (For those of you that decide you want to fit out the bay, there are some bombs supplied in the kit which attach to a curious long piece which I assume to be an auxiliary fuel tank).

  [10] The protruding navigator’s window can be seen in the left photo. The right photo was taken after the window had been filed, sanded and polished smooth with the fuselage side.

I positioned the bomb bay whilst the two fuselage halves were held together and applied glue to tack it in place to the port half through the opening for the cockpit. Once secure, the starboard side was removed and further glue and pieces of sprue were added to make it nice and strong. The nose wheel bay was added after I had checked there was sufficient clearance for the lead. I used coarse abrasive to remove some of the lead to the front and back until everything fitted neatly – but remember lead is toxic so take the necessary precautions when handling it. The fit of the wheel bay to the inside of the fuselage was not too positive, so I trimmed it here and there to improve it as much as possible and used epoxy resin to glue the part in

[11] Nose wheel bay epoxied in place to the port fuselage side.

place. Once this had set, the starboard side was lifted off once again [11] and then the cockpit assembly was added. For installing the cockpit, my trial fits had convinced me that it would be best not to glue the section of top fuselage to the cockpit (as the instructions say to do), but to do so once the fuselage halves were glued together. So I applied a generous blob of glue to the rear bulkhead and attached it to the sloping front of the wheel bay, whilst once again holding the starboard fuselage in place and using the top piece to make sure the cockpit was correctly aligned.

Whilst working on the fuselage internals, I also tackled the main wheel bays. These are nicely detailed, but benefitted from some structural and plumbing additions using photos obtained from the internet [12].

[12] Detailing of main undercarriage wells comprised plasticard structural beam with flanges formed from Duro, with lengths of fine wire and strips of plasticard to represent the various hydraulic lines and supports that were visible in photos available at the time. I later found more detailed coverage on the Britmodeller site and more items could have been added. The right hand photo shows the painted parts that were primed with Alclad, airbrushed Humbrol grey 67 and then shaded using a glaze of black oil paint with artist’s linseed oil. Details were picked out with titanium white oil paint it came out looking really good – I only hope the remaining black surfaces of the aircraft turn out that good !

Airframe construction, corrections and additions.

[13] A rather disappointing result was the gap between the instrument side panel and the panelling over the cockpit. It had been aligned with the top cover dry fitted before the cockpit was glued into the fuselage. If I had done it after it had been glued into the fuselage (the stage when photo [4] was taken) the result would have been better – so don’t you make the same mistake !

Whilst the kit will build into a good representation of the Canberra straight from the box, there are inevitably some areas where improvements can be made. These range from minor to significant, easy to difficult: so you may want to be selective on those you choose to do. Also inevitable is that you will discover fresh information at a late stage in the kit build that you wish you had known about earlier or that contradicts something else you were working to. I’ve had a fair amount of that during this build, so I will try and steer you a straight course through all these turbulent waters!

The fuselage halves fit together very well, as do the wings and tailplane. For the fuselage, I ran a generous bead of Revell “Contacta” tube cement along the mating edges on one side and then quickly added the other half and applied gentle pressure to allow some of the melted plastic to squeeze out from the joint seam. I use clothes pegs and other clamps where possible – such as to hold the fin together – whilst I pressed the fuselage halves together with hand pressure. Once everything is holding in place, I set it aside to harden thoroughly before handling it any further. I had a small problem with the cockpit [13]

I added pieces of cut sprue to reinforce the other side of the bomb bay. After some trials, I decided the best way to fit the bomb doors would be to glue the two halves together first of all. Some reinforcing was added to the inside of the join [14].

[14] Bomb door halves glued together and the join reinforced with plastic strip prior to fitting to the fuselage.

I had also decided to install the Boulton-Paul gun pack which is supplied with the kit. When this was fitted to the aircraft, the bomb bay doors are divided into two sections, so some panel lines were scribed onto the otherwise plain outside surface of the kit bomb doors. The gun pack itself should also have had some lines cut, but I found the tight curvature of the part made it difficult to do accurately and so it was left as it was. However, I did do some work on the cannon barrels. Firstly the muzzles were trimmed so the end of the barrel was flat (it was domed) and the bores were drilled out. The real cannons were 20mm caliber, so I first drilled them out 0.4mm which looked far too small for the outside diameter. I toyed with the idea of replacing them with fine tubing, but in the end drilled them out so they looked about right (what a thing to admit to!). They look mighty powerful and would not be out of place on a Warhammer tank. Combined with the four rocket packs I intend to fit beneath the wings the plane will look well “tooled up”! For those of you who are interested, there are after-market resin gun-pack replacements available from The Aviation Workshop and Quickboost. These have a more accurate profile as well as correctly represented panel lines and cannons.

The assembled bomb doors and gun pack were glued to the fuselage in two steps so that it fitted correctly. It needed to be glued down one side first of all and – having waited for the glue to set – the other side was teased into position and glued in place. The final result was a good fit.

A similar approach was taken with the cockpit panel. However, whilst final fit was good, it was not perfect and some filling and sanding was needed along the aft end.

Wings and things…..

The wings and tail were glued together using Revell “Contacta” liquid cement (rather than the tube cement use for the fuselage) because the joint surfaces are wider and a more fluid glue allows the parts to be squeezed closed together: I have found this to be a problem when using the thicker tube cement. Incidentally, I only use the really thin liquid cements for joining small components or where access is possible from the hidden side of the parts.

I glued the tailplane to the fuselage, but left the wings off for painting as the quality of the fit is very good and should assemble without any gaps visible (famous last words?).

Remember to open up holes in the bottom wing for any stores you want to add. It seems the Interdictor version rarely carried underwing stores or the wingtip tanks, however many photographs show the underwing pylon attached. I chose to glue the pylons in place before assembling the wing halves because you can apply pressure to the part at this stage during gluing and thereby obtain a strong join without any gaps visible. The large locating holes in the wing underside for the tip tanks were filled with sprue from the kit, filed smooth and had panel lines cut in.

The ailerons have thick upper and thin lower halves, so it is important to not get these mixed up! I think there may also be a part number error in the instructions, so watch you don’t get caught out. It is worth writing “P” (port) and “S” (starboard) on the mating surfaces of each half before you remove them from the sprue (and do this for the elevators as well). Although I assembled the correctly mating parts, I did find that my assembled ailerons were slightly too thick compared to the wing. So I suggest you trial fit the aileron halves against the glued wing and be prepared to thin the parts if needed before gluing them together. By the way, Britmodeller says each aileron droops by 2 degrees at the normal rest position (except for the PR9 version which has powered airlerons) unless locks are fitted.

The kit ailerons lack panel lines or other details. From a look at my references, it appears there should be a trim tab on the inboard end with a manual tab protruding from the trailing edge just to the outside of it. The push rod for the trim tab is on the top of the aileron. I marked the trim tab position in pencil first of all. Scaling from photos, I made the trim tab 4.5mm wide 25mm long. I next went over the lines using a needle held in a small pin vice. Several light scribing cuts were made until there was sufficient depth to act as a guide for the next tool which was an Olfa-P cutter (available from Hobby craft and useful for cutting through thick plastic). I used a steel rule held to the part using miniature spring clamps as a scribing guide. The Olfa-P cutter has an annoying habit of wondering away from the scribed guide line if it is not of sufficient depth. Finally, I ran a few strokes with a proper panel scribing tool – this has a shaped point that is more curved that that of the Olfa-P cutter and gives a better looking result. The push rod for the trim tab was made from 0.5 mm plastic rod. Cut through a piece of rod at a shallow angle to give you an overlong piece. The use your steel rule to position it so it is angled square to the trailing edge. Apply more glue to make sure it is well attached. Trim it to length once the glue has set.

Manual trim tabs were added from plasticard [15].

[15] Aileron manual trim tabs were added from plasticard. The easiest and neatest way of making this was to cut a 10mm strip from card of the required thickness. Glue this into position on the trailing edge of the aileron. Once the glue has set, trim it to the correct depth (1.5 mm in this case) using cutters (use a steel rule as a cutting guide) and then trim the ends to the required angles.

Britmodeller mentions there is a problem with the shape of the wing tips and ailerons. I haven’t checked this as yet, but shall do shortly. There is other work needed in this area, as the wing tip lights are a very poor fit. The shape of the joining surfaces is quite complicated in that has a stepped arrangement. The step is square edged on the wing, but radiused on the light covers. Again, I checked through reference photos and it looks as though the lights should have been square edged. The light covers are handed, so I applied a dot of red paint to identify the port light cover before snipping it from the sprue. The mating surfaces were cut and filed to fit to the wing. Some polishing was attempted and then the mating surfaces were given a coat of Johnson’s Klear. The reference photos showed the structure of the wing to be visible though the light cover (although I could not see any red / green light!) and so this detail was drilled and cut into the wings [16].

[16] Structural detail added to wing lights. Completed assembly after gluing with epoxy resin and polishing smooth.

This was then painted using a range of light to dark aluminium colours before gluing the cover in position using clear epoxy resin to fill any gaps. I later discovered that the wing tip shapes are slightly incorrect. They are too rounded and so I modified these using a drawing, checked against photos, for shaping [17]. Unfortunately, it is not possible to get it absolutely right as there trailing edge should be more rounded and there is insufficient material to do this. The problem with the tips combined with the lights means that replacement by after-market parts would be a good idea – should they become available!

[17] (Partly) corrected wing tip profiles.

The jet intakes come as upper and lower halves and the engine cone and compressor is a separate part that is trapped between them during assembly. It will be difficult to mask the inside of the intake for painting and I shall probably end up painting this area freehand using a brush.

The compressor and cone were given an airbrushed coat of Alclad primer and the nose and cartridge starter tubes sprayed with Alclad aluminium. There is the correct number of three cartridge starters depicted on the compressor moulding, although only one is represented on the outside of the intake cowling. If you assemble the compressor so that the cartridge tube lines up with this marking, then the port engine will be incorrectly aligned – the kit has them as being “handed”, but they are not shown to be in reference photos. The cartridge cover plates on the outside on the cowling are quite complex shaped so it will not be possible to duplicate them exactly. The assembled intakes are a reasonably good fit to the wings after a bit of judicious filing.

The compressor blades were painted with various tones of aluminium (silver printers ink plus Paynes gray and black oil paints) to highlight their shape. The distinctive support structure in front of the compressor was painted in semi-gloss black [18].

The outlet casing is a single piece moulding to which you glue a separate jet pipe from behind [19]. The walls of the jet pipe and outlet casing look far too thick and I would have made more of an attempt to thin them had the necessary tools with me here in France. I found it a problem to align the jet pipe concentrically and to get a good fit of the outlet casing to the wing, so take your time here and do plenty of trial fitting. The engine end of the jet pipe locates within something inside the wing and as I had already firmly glued the jet pipe to the casing when I came to assemble it to the wing this caused me a problem – it would have been better to have glued the casing to the wing before the glue to the jet pipe had fully hardened. The jet pipe and inside of the casing were painted prior to assembly, referring to photographs to get the correct brown colour of the jet pipe. I found Humbrol M170 “Brown Bess” was a good match for the jet pipe. The inside of the casing was Humbrol 53 gunmetal and outside Humbrol 191 polished metal with iridescent white oil paint added for highlighting.

[18] Engine compressors painted using Alclad aluminium, enamels and oil paints. [19] Engine exhaust casing and jet pipes finished in enamels before assembly.

The wing flaps are four separate parts and the internal detail seems to be reasonably accurate. The detail moulded into the upper wing half is not quite so convincing, but I did not alter this. Cammetts have a PE set available to improve this area if you are so motivated. The flaps are not usually left dropped whilst the aircraft is on the ground – except during take off and landing – unless the aircraft has been parked for some time and they droop as hydraulic pressure is lost. Nevertheless, I shall take the dramatic decision to show my flaps in the lowered position and so I added a simple actuator arrangement to each from wire, plastic tube and plastic strip to make it more interesting inside [20]. I intend to finish the inside of the flaps in black, so not much will be visible anyway, apart from a piece of polished steel actuator rod to catch the eye.

[20] Actuator detail added to flaps with wire and plastic tube & strip

Tail Assembly.

I made quite a few changes here. The first was a quite dramatic change to the fillet radius on the leading edge of the fin [21]. The curve radius of the kit is far too large and a lot of sanding was done to correct the profile. Fortunately, one of my reference photos was taken square on to this part of the aircraft and I was able to trim the profile until it was a good match to the photo. I used a strip of coarse micromesh wrapped around a large X-Acto knife handle to do the curvy bits and sanding sticks for the flatter areas. I do the sanding wet and clean the abrasive frequently. Finish with finer grades and check all scratches have been removed. Fortunately the thick wall of the Airfix mouldings were just about sufficient to take the change without breaking through – although I was very close to doing so.

[21] Fin fillet radius before and after reshaping.

The next part to get modified was the rudder. This has excessively deep lines engraved in places where the actual aircraft has only rows of small rivets. I used short lengths of plastic rod to fill in these trenches, using liquid glue and a roller (the X-Acto handle again!) to make sure the plastic was fully pressed into the grooves [ 22].

[22] Stages of working on the kit’s rudder. Top left: The deep trough panel lines filled with short lengths of plastic rod. Top right: These were sanded smooth and rivet marks applied using Trumpeter’s “Rosie the riveter” tool. Bottom left: Additions were a tab on the top corner of the rudder and trim tab push rods to each side of the rudder. Bottom right: rudder attached to modified fin.

Everything was given a sanding once the glue had set. The rivets were applied using Trumpeter’s copy of the “Rosie the riveter” tool. This was my first time using this tool and it seems to have performed okay – I shan’t really be able to tell until the primer coat is applied. I also added what looks to be a trim tab to the top corner of the rudder using a similar method described earlier for the manual trim tabs for the ailerons. I also added trim tab push rods to each side of the rudder, first by gluing a piece of plastic rod into position followed by a small rectangle of lead film pressed into place and trimmed to shape after gluing.

[23] Tail taken directly to fuselage by use of Milliput.

The tailplanes are a reasonably good fit to the fuselage, although I had a small gap along the lower sides which had to be filled with some Mr Surfacer. I then made a couple of corrections to the kit. Firstly the leading edge of the tailplane should go straight to the fuselage – the kit has the tailplane stub square to the fuselage which is incorrect. This was corrected using Milliput [23]. The second correction is at the trailing end of the stub moulded into the fuselage.

The Canberra fuselage was actually curved here and so I carved and sanded the stub away in this area [ 24]. It required the elevators to be extended to compensate and this was done using plasticard: an oversized piece glued into position and then filed & sanded to shape.

[24] Raised portion at rear of fuselage smoothed off and elevator extended to fill the gap.

In fact the elevators had a couple of further changes made: the tip profile was altered to bring the radius further back [25] and trim tabs + push rods were added using the same method described previously for the ailerons. The trim tabs were added to the inboard ends and measured 33 x 4 mm. The push rods were fitted to the underside only. This information was gleaned from drawings which came with The Aviation Workshop decal sheets and checked against photos. The elevators tended to adopt the fully up position (which measures out to 20 to 25 degrees when looking at photos) when the aircraft was parked, unless locks were installed.

[25] The tips of the elevators were reshaped to increase the curve towards the back end

There are replacement tail and rudder sets available from Two-Mikes Resin and from Cammetts.


The various windows for the bomb aimer come as a single moulding which is a good fit to the fuselage [26]. This benefitted from polishing and then dipping into Johnson’s Klear. The part has engraved edges for the two side windows and the dome. I masked off the clear areas with Tamiya tape cut to shape in position. The small navigator’s window (by which I mean the window is small, not necessarily the navigator!) which had been fitted so that it protruded proud of the fuselage outsides was filed, sanded and polished back to the curvature of the fuselage, nicely removing the annoying sink mark in the part. This was also masked off as was the glazing of the canopy [10]. A coat of Humbrol 67 dark grey was airbrushed over to represent the black inside of the aircraft. Any gaps in the joins were now filled and sanded smooth before applying another coat of Humbrol 67: this being done to avoid any of the light grey filler being visible from the inside of the model. It was at this point that I saw from the Britmodeller website that the shape of the side windows, particularly the angle of the top edge, is incorrect on the kit. Also the nose glazing is too domed and should be more pointy. Finally, the optically flat portion for the bomb sight is too small and at the wrong angle. I think the nose glazing will be too difficult to alter, particularly now it is firmly attached to the fuselage, and the effect is not too far out unless you compare it side by side to photos. Also, the profile of the canopy hood is also slightly incorrect, but once again most would not notice the error unless comparing it directly alongside photos.

[26] Left top: The transparencies, polished and dipped in Johnson’s Klear. Right top: Glued in place with superglue, but no filler was used at this stage. Tools for masking are Tamiya tape, a clean cutting board, tweezers and the excellent miniature Swann-Morton SF13 handle with a new round-ended blade. This is available from Scalpels & Blades. Left middle & bottom: Masking in place over the clear areas.

Finally, I added additional panel lines to the rear end of the fuselage, using the drawing from The Aviation Workshop as a guide after having confirmed from photos that these are correct. Notably absent from the kit is the rear access way in the underside of the fuselage. Some artistic license was called for so as to connect these in to some of the lines already on the kit. Having done this, I came across a drawing which showed that the lines on the kit were correct. However, the drawing also shows an excessively sized radius to the fin and side windows with the wrong shape along the top edge – so I suspect this was an erroneous drawing that was used by Airfix.


Airfix supply a number of antennae for attaching to the kit, but I could not see many of them in use on B(I)8 aircraft apart from a dorsal one that was visible in some photos, but not the aircraft I intend to represent. Britmodeller says antennas 37A, 38A and 39A were not fitted to RAF B(I)8s. In fact, I have left all antennas off and plugged the locating holes.

The main wheel halves were glued together and the joint seams smoothed off. The tyres have a realistic weighted effect moulded into them.

Rocket packs – four of these were assembled as I intend to depict my Canberra well “tooled up” for action. These, along with the cannons in the gun pack that would not look out of place on a Warhammer tank, would make my aircraft pack quite a punch.

Colour Scheme

The Canberra’s had a long service history with the RAF and, consequently, went through a range of colour schemes. B(I)8’s were first introduced into service camouflaged Dark Sea Grey BS 638 and Dark Green BS 641 over black undersurfaces. The underside colour was changed to High Speed Silver in the early 1960’s and the demarcation line between upper and lower colours moved down the fuselage and wrapped around the wing leading edges. A further change was made from the silver to Light Aircraft Grey BS 627 in 1966 when paint was changed owing to aluminum not being available in the polyurethane finishes being used from that time.

From a perusal of photographs of repainted Canberra’s it is evident that areas such as wheel wells, the inside of undercarriage doors and the inside of the flaps were sometimes repainted in the new colour and sometimes not. Whilst this helps to make life “interesting” for we modellers, it does make it difficult to know exactly how the aircraft you have chosen to model was actually finished in these areas. Unless you do what I chose to do, of course – and that was to paint the aircraft in the original black undersurface finish.

As well as modelling aircraft and ships, I also like to paint figurines. Shades of paint are used to bring out light and shadow to make the figure look realistic. I am trying to evolve techniques for applying to other types of model to get the same end result. My approach is to utilize the undercoat (and sometimes even the primer coat) for the shades from highlight to shadow and then apply a transparent coat of the final colour.

But before we apply paint, there is some preparation to do: the wheel wells were blocked off with card and all the surfaces were degreased with a wipe over with alcohol (I recommend a 30 year single malt variety – only the best)!

The model was painted in subassemblies: the fuselage, wings, elevators and ailerons, with smaller parts Blu-Tacked onto a piece of wood.


Grey acrylic aerosol car primer was sprayed onto the model. This went on well, but it reacted with the Humbrol dark grey 67 previously applied around the nose and cockpit. There were also some seams that needed attention with Mr Surfacer and it became evident that the cockpit insert was too high on the starboard side. This was sanded back and all the primered surfaces were given a rub over with #3600 grit Micromesh used wet. The nose transparencies had to be given another coat of paint before a second application of primer was made. This time I used Lifecolor black acrylic in the hope it would not react so badly with the primer coat. To no avail, unfortunately, and yet more sanding was needed, some more dark grey and then hand brushed Humbrol primer 01. The result was not very good, but I pressed on anyway.

The black undersides were painted first. These were undercoated with Tamiya TS 4 grey that had been decanted from the rattle-can and applied by airbrush. Hot water was used to drive off the propellant before spraying.

This was given a light rub over with #3600 grit Micromesh and Tamiya Gunship grey TS 48 (which is darker than TS 4) was airbrushed onto shaded regions of the aircraft.

Further preshading was applied by hand brushing using oil paints [ 27]. I mixed a dark grey from ivory black, Paynes grey and zinc white with linseed oil. Once this had dried thoroughly, two glaze coats of ivory black with linseed oil and Humbrol thinners were applied to complete the undersurfaces [28].

Artist’s linseed oil is used as a “medium” with oil paints to improve flow if the paint mix is “too stiff”. It can take a long time for the paint to dry depending on the drying conditions, so you can use an alternative such as “Liquin” which dries much quicker. If all else fails, you can mix the oils with clear varnish. A glaze coat has a lot of medium added so that the colour is transparent. This mélange will then need to be

thinned (I only use Humbrol thinners for this) before airbrushing.

There are a pair of panels inboard of the nacelles and these were airbrushed Humbrol 83 ochre over grey 28.

[27] Top Undersurfaces are undercoated ready for top glaze coat
Bottom Left Detail picture of pre-shading
[28] Bottom Right undersurface detail of top glaze coat

The undersurfaces were then masked off with Tamiya tape. Also useful was left over masking material from an Eduard masking set. The discs for masking wheel hubs had been used on an earlier model, but the tape that surrounded them was useful for the curved demarcation line at the wing and tail leading edges. As I say (often to my wife’s annoyance) “don’t throw anything away – it might come in useful”!

Now onto the camouflaged upper surfaces. I airbrushed an undercoat of Humbrol Dark Grey 32 over vertical surfaces – along the fuselage sides, the fin, rudder and leading edges of the wing and tail. Grey 156 was applied to lighter areas of the upper airframe, with a highlight of Revell grey 43 along the fuselage spine, leading edge of the fin, along the jet nacelles and along the centre of the wing and tail chords. Use the paint to bring out the shape of the aircraft and areas of light and shade. This was given a light going over with #3600 grit Micromesh and then given a glaze coat of Humbrol Dark Sea Grey 164 with Liquin.

With the Dark Sea Grey dried, it was masked off for the dark green [29]. A darker shade (Humbrol 163) was applied to the vertical surfaces and into area of shadow, followed by a lighter green tone – Humbrol 150 – along the top of the fuselage, jet nacelles and areas of the wings and tail. Once again this before being given a glaze coat of Xtracolor X1 BS241 (ex BS 641) Dark Green with Liquin.

Panel lines were oil paints with linseed oil applied by brush. This is a fairly quick and tidy method if the surfaces are smooth and not matt. Two shades were mixed for each colour (including black for the undersides).

Once these had dried, the model was given a light going over with #4200 grit Micromesh (used wet) and given two airbrushed coats of Johnson’s Klear + 25% window cleaner.

[29] Dark Sea Grey masked off for Dark Green to be applied


Although I purchased decals from the Aviation Workshop (Markings sheet MAS-48146 and stencils MAS-489018), I did use some supplied with the kit and found them to be well printed, opaque and went on the surfaces well. I think the blue of the roundels is a little too bright, though.

My selected decal pack from The Aviation Workshop has markings for 9 aircraft: 5 B(I)8 variants and 4 PR.9. Two of the B(I)8 have the black “Interdictor” undersurfaces. Unfortunately, there are no markings provided for the yellow dashed lines for beneath the wings and so – galloping to my rescue – came John from the IPMS Canberra SIG who kindly responded to my plea for help on with some more of the yellow dashed lines from Airfix sheets donated to the IPMS decal bank.

The TAW decals are not very opaque and this would be a big problem for the roundels over the camouflage, so I airbrushed a light grey disc in the location of each roundel [ 30]. It would have been so much easier had the decals been more opaque or if white discs had been provided to apply first of all.

[30] Undercoating the roundels
Left top roundel position measured and marked onto the model. Disc of masking tape put in place and the surrounding tape addded
Right Top: centre Centre disk removed and ready for airbrushing
Bottom completed undercoating . Also visible to the left is the bare metal panel atop the fuselage that was airbrushed Metalcoat Aluminium at the same time

The position of the roundels was measured out from an official drawing kindly posted on britmodeller. However, the 16 squadron fuselage band did match up well to the roundels and had to be cut into sections – the overlap being visible owing to the see-through nature of the decals. If I was to do this model again, I would select one of the simpler options from the decal sheet!

I had few problems with the stencil decal sheet, although the instruction sheet for decal placement has print which is far too small to see which decal goes where and I had to squint through a magnifying glass to read it.

I used Microset with the decals. It was very difficult to slide the decals on the surface – they wanted to stick where they were. So a lot of decal handling was needed and one or two got damaged. The deeply engraved panel lines were too deep for the decals to follow and so I lightly cut through the decals along the panel lines and applied Microsol. Once this had set and the surfaces were given a wash to remove residues of the Microset and Microsol, the panel lines were painted with oils over the decals.

The decals and paintwork were given a final coat with a mix of Johnson’s Klear with window cleaner [31].

[31] decaling completed and the model given a final sealing coat of Klear before assembly

I carefully cut around the cockpit masking to reduce the chance of paint being lifted as the tape was lifted.

The decals around the cockpit hood were applied after the masking had been removed. The decal film was trimmed back to the lines before they were applied.

The framing on the nose glazing was brush painted in dark grey enamel.

The flaps had been painted along with the fuselage and wings. The lightening holes were picked out with a glaze of black oil paint with linseed oil rum around the circumference of each. A light grey oil mix was used to add a highlight where the light would catch on the edges.

Rocket pods were airbrushed Alclad aluminium and the centre portion masked off. The tail nozzle was airbrushed Alclad aluminum + dark aluminum. Some Humbrol gun metal Metalcoat was added to this mix and airbrushed over the nose sections. Black oil paint with linseed oil was applied to highlight around the tips of each rocket, and a little silver used to pick out the warheads.

Aerial added to the underside of the fuselage at the tailplane, and pitot tube to the nose glazing.

Undercarriage legs were painted black, apart from the hydraulic rams that were airbrushed a mixture of Alclad aluminium and dark aluminium.

The wheels were painted in tyre grey and shaded with a dark grey oil mix. The hubs were brush painted in shades of silver printer’s ink with Paynes grey oil paint.

The undercarriage was fixed into place and the moment of truth had arrived – would the plane be a tail-sitter? No – it was fine. However, there is a lot of weight on those legs!

Completed Model

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5 Responses to EE Canberra B(I)8

  1. James Comber says:

    I am very impressed with the quality of workmanship that you have put into your model of the Canberra. I am a former member of the RNZAF and served on Ohakea Air Base on three occasions. 1959, 1961 & 1966/67. I was at Ohakea when the Canberra’s were delivered. They were a gracious aircraft and performed very well for our Air Force. We also operated a squadron in Asia in the 60’s. I was a Ground Communications Technician. I did not work on aircraft but maintained and serviced the control tower communications and navigational aids that were on our airfield so was very close to the action and observed closely the Canberra operations on a daily basis. I would be interested to learn if model kits of the Canberra are still available and can you obtain the NZ decals.
    I have been to Romsey on serveral occasions, we have friends who live at a small village called Michlemersh. After leaving the Air Force I worked for a company in Middlesex for three years called International Aeradio Ltd. We were in the UK last June and July and interestingly visited Romsey while staying with our friends.

    Best Regards


  2. Patrick CAMP says:

    Hello James,
    I an delighted you like the Canberra build. The Airfix kit is one of their newer releases and is available in 1/72 and 1/48 scales. There are some other makes of kit available as well.
    If you are interested in building one in RNZAF markings then have decals for a B2 (set MA-139) and B(I)12 (set MA-144).
    You will find a lot of Canberra enthusiasts on, so I recommend you place a question on their “Cold War” forum.
    I hope this helps and you enjoy your build of this aircraft.

  3. Mike Brooke says:

    Congratulations on the superb standard of your build. XM 268 was ‘my’ jet when I served
    on No 16 Sqn, at RAF Laarbruch form ’64 – 67′. My brother bought me the model and I am
    part way through the build. Like you I live in France and I’ve got to the point of getting the
    centre of gravity in the right place; your tips have been very helpful!
    I have written abook that is going to be published in May by the History Press. It is titled
    “A Bucket of Sunshine” and we are trying to find a suitable picture to use on the front cover.
    The best source seemed to be the Canberra Galleries at the website.
    However, I’ve been in touch with Damien, the guy who now looks after it because the
    photos there are too small for the publisher to use. Damien told me that he couldn’t help as the site’s founder is now deceased and none of the source material is accessible. Do you know where I might find a picture of a B(I)8 in flight
    that would be a suitable size and definition for the publishers to use?
    Best Wishes, Mike Brooke

  4. John N says:

    Synchronicity is a strange and wonderful thing. I decided to try my first Airfix kit for over thirty years and saw the Canberra for a tenner, so snapped it up. Ironically, something that made that split second image of the B(I)8 on the shelf even more attractive was that I have just finished the Kindle version of “Bucket of Sunshine” (and enjoyed it immensely mr B) which fleshed out the real aeroplane and its operations beautifully, thus preparing me for god knows how long, of intense relaxation, frustration and probably the realisation that the model itself was the cheap bit.

    I will never aspire to an expectation of knocking out something even remotely like the quality of the model shown here, but it has inspired me to go and buy a few more bits and make my better half aware that nights of peace and tranquility might only just be around the corner. Well done on your model it looks absolutely superb.

  5. Pat says:

    Synchronicity indeed! – it’s nice to read these anecdotes and I thank you for your kind words about my model. I hope all goes well with your build and that you enjoy your return to the hobby.

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