Avro Lancaster

On The Workbench. 1/72 Avro Lancaster BMkIII “Dambusters”by Tony Adams

DINGHY, breach in the Eder Dam (Morning after the attack) I have finally started my Hasegawa Dambuster Avro Lancaster BIII This article covers the initial steps in what will be bound to be a lengthy project.

I expect everybody reading this will know something about operation Chastise – the attack on the Ruhr dams by 617 squadron. I have in the process of researching this model found out a lot more of the operation that is was glossed over in the film. I can particularly recommend Dambusters by John Sweetham , www.dambusters.co.uk and www.thedambusters.org.uk.

The aircraft I am going to model is AJ-N “Nut” flown by Pilot Officer Leslie Gordon Knight (RAAF) which was the final aircraft in the first wave of attacks and scored the hit on the Eder dam which destroyed it. (It’ll make a change from AJ-G “George” Guy Gibson’s aircraft). For this feat three of the crew received medals. They of course where the “lucky” ones, 8 of the 19 planes involved in the raid didn’t return.

In addition to the Eduard “Big Ed” photo etch set which I got for a song on EBay, I have purchased a few extra odds and ends, by the time I finished saving £20 on the etch set is going to cost me a packet!

Initial Impressions:

The mouldings are not quite up to modern standards (I’ve been spoilt by too many Eduard and Tamiya kits lately). There is some nasty sink marks on the fuselage sides which will need filling, some nasty looking ejection marks are present on the inside of the cockpit and in the wheel wells, hopefully most of these will be covered by photo etch. There is some raised riveting on the wings, which I will have to be careful not to damage. The transparency parts are nice and thin which is good seeing how much detail I plan to chuck inside. The Eduard photo etch and resin engine set by CMK are very impressive, this will be the first time I have played with resin, what wonders await?

To over pimp a Lancaster add oodles of etch A few bits of resin And a wizard Merlin

Right on with the build…

Starting with the cockpit and a razor saw. The first thing to be attacked was the navigators / wireless table for which the unattractive blocks representing the radio equipment and the crew seats where cut off. A new etch table surface an partition between Radio operator and navigator where stuck onto what was left of the original part [3]. This was painted Tamiya X-71 Cockpit Green with a quick wash of X-71 with a little added white to make the surface look used. Etch crew seats replaced the L shaped blocks of the original.

[1] Cockpit as Hasegawa intended [2] Time for a saw [3] Radio operator / navigator bulkhead

A similar exercise was performed on the pilot’s platform which was supplemented by some nice looking folded storage boxes [4]. Etch was available to cover the cockpit floor which was fortunate as the sink marks in this piece where huge. This was painted and the dry brushed with silver to represent wear [5]. The pilot seat was supplemented with a new armoured head screen and arm rest. The orange circle (which I have seen in several photos) was hand painted [6].

[4] Pilots platform [5] Cockpit floor [6] New pilots seat

Meanwhile I filled some of the cockpit wall sink marks with squadron filler, it took a number of repeated attempts to get this right, I always seem to struggle with filling. With the cockpit sides prepared I added some etch detail , comprising of a number of wall panels and hand rails. I added the co pilots seat in the down position (This is a fold away seat that was only used when carrying a “second dicky”. Generally newly qualified pilots used this seat when flying their first operational mission with an experienced crew. The cockpit sides were painted green and given a wash of promodelers to make them look suitably grubby [7].

Once this was done it was time to start adding detail from the painted etch fret, this comprised of flight engineers and bomb aimers panel to the starboard side, and additional panels for the navigator to the port side.

The wireless and Gee set were made up, through a sandwich of printed parts, I used a small piece of plastic card to represent the radio tuning panel, flooding it with Klear to give it a glass covered look.. Unfortunately I’m sure you wont be able to see these works of art when the model is complete [9].

[7] Co pilots seat [8] Bomb Aimers panels [9] Wireless operators kit

I was looking forward to making up the pilot instrument panel, which didn’t disappoint, it looks stunning [10]. Once again a little Klear was added to represent instrument glass. I did attempt to add the unfeasibly small engine throttle leavers, giving up after the fourth one hit the floor, somehow I don’t think the kit will be much poorer for their absence. I did manage to get the rudder pedals in place

[10]Pilots Instruments [11] Flight Engineer panels [12] Wireless / Navigator positions

With the addition of seat belts the interior is just about complete [11,12], the one thing left to do is to create a map showing the route to the dams to put on the navigators table. I intend to do this by creating a decal (thank you Brian Boot).

Map (actual size)
    Is this really necessary in 1/72nd scale?

And Pause Here…

I now took a four month holiday away from this project while I pursued other projects. When I stopped this build I was making excellent progress having just about completed the interior, when I returned to it I encountered a problem .
Windows or no windows


In researching the Lancaster I had found a source that stated that most Mk IIIs had the windows in the fuselage removed and consequently one of my first operations was to fill the window openings, painting over the inner surface and filling the outer surface with Mr Surfacer on top of the clear plastic inserts. It wasn’t until I was about to close the fuselage that I found a photo of the aircraft I was modelling taken just before the raid and the windows were clearly visible – Ahhhhh.[13]

I now had to fix the windows; this was achieved by removing the filler with a sanding stick followed by a good work out with a polishing stick. I used a cocktail stick to scrape off the paint on the inner surface. The result was just acceptable , I don’t suppose anybody took the time to clean the windows so the resultant “frosty “ look is probably realistic.

Completing the crew space


The final job before I closed the fuselage was to create a decal for the map which was to sit on the chart table. I scaled the map down (left) and then printed it on normal paper. I then cut out a piece of decal sheet and taped it over the image and then reinserted the paper and printed again, thus saving the maximum amount of decal sheet. However I was puzzled that the image wasn’t clear and after a few minutes disappeared into a number of dots. I took a look at the decal paper and found it was for laser printers- “sugar”. I had also had a sheet of transparent inkjet decal paper and not wanting to wait ; I used that, fixing the decal on a piece of thin white plasticard to provide the white base. This gave a reasonable result. [14]

With all the interior completed I proceeded to dry fit the fuselage halves. This produced further puzzlement as I ended up with a huge gap[15]. I spent considerable time filling down the cockpit floor and then the dashboard but it still wouldn’t fit! After several hours I finally found that the problem was with the bottom of the dashboard not locating with the cockpit floor, a quick push with a pair of tweezers and the fit became perfect.

[15] [16]

A quick lick of plastic weld with reinforcement from masking tape and the fuselage was soon joined ( this would be the last time I would see all that beautiful detail… sob[16]) The seam lines were soon cleaned up with Mr Surfacer and a fine sanding stick it was then onto the wings.
Hacking the wings to bitsI had brought a resin control surface kit containing ailerons, elevators and rudders [17]. The first job was to clean this up. This was the first time I had used resin parts and I was a little daunted by cutting the parts from the formers. So plastic saw in hand I attacked the resin. I was surprised how easy it was, the resin was softer than I expected and it wasn’t too much effort to cut away the former and clean up the parts. It was now time to hack at the kit parts, ailerons first. With a scalpel I lightly cut along the aileron panel lines of the port wing [18], after three or four passes the part came away. I then offered up the resin part and found it was 0.5 mm to small leaving a gap (b******) this was something I would have to deal with later. I cut the upper wing surface, now to the correct size and the continued with the starboard wing.

[17] [18]
[19] [20]

The flaps were then cut from the bottom surface of both wings. I now had to thin the remaining plastic in the wing to accommodate an insert on which to mount the new ailerons, which I did with a scalpel [19]. The upper flap resin pieces were then glued to the wing and then the top and bottom wing surfaces glued together. I created a small insert from plasticard to fill the gap mentioned earlier in the port aileron.[20]
Engine nacellesI then started to construct the engine nacelles, the first job was to remove a particularly nasty injection point in the radiator bulkhead followed by the addition of a new photo etch radiator. The small outlet behind the outlet was drilled out [21] before the outer engine nacelles were assembled [22]. A small amount of filler was required to fill some gaps.

[21] [22]

The inner nacelles had to be subjected to further cutting to allow the wing flaps to be in the lowered position, in addition the port engine need more radical work as this engine was going to accommodate my resin Merlin with all the covers off. [23]. The complete forward section of the nacelle was disposed of f’rwd of the engine bulkhead. Before these nacelles were constructed the wheel wells were painted semi gloss black and the visible oil tank red. Etch parts were then added to spice up the wheel wells and then the completed nacelles glued to the wings.[24]

[23] [24]

To be continued
That’s your lot for this month, I have much more to tell and it does become a tale of woe , but your have to wait until next month for the next instalment.

Grand Plans

I have been thinking of how I might do justice in displaying the huge amount of detail that I hope the finished kit will contain. The resin engine must of course be displayed with cowls off and I want an excuse to leave the cockpit side panels open in order to maximise the view in the interior.I have come up with a plan to create a pre raid airfield diorama, depicting the aircraft undergoing pre-flight maintenance. To this end I have purchased Airfix’s flight refuelling and recovery set (EBay) from which I intend to use the Coles Mk7 crane hauling a propeller up to waiting “erks” servicing the exposed engine (I am hoping that nobody notices these kits are 1/76!). This will involve a certain amount of scratch building of a engine service platform and I will need to create an Upkeep bomb trolley as I doubt that this sort of work would be undertaken with the bomb in place. In this scene I have been inspired by “Lancaster” by M Garbett and B Goulding which I picked up for a song at the Farnborough show. This book along with details of the exports of the aircrew goes into great detail on what took to get these great aircraft off the ground. The ground crews did an incredible job working in very difficult conditions with poor equipment and very little sleep.

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