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'80 Years ago' Part 5: "let's just crack on shall we?"

In historical terms we've moved into the wet, cold autumn of 1940 with shorter days and threatening skies. The enemy is now more one of unforeseen accident and mechanical failure than the battered Luftwaffe ensconced in their French bases across the Channel.

Autumn is my favourite time of year but this is all a bit odd as I have lived in the southern hemisphere for over ten years now, yet still cannot get used to the seasonal reversal. In my head it should be a time of mists and frosts, of poppies on a certain Sunday and a drawing of curtains and lighting of fires, not barbecues and warm spring days.

Anyway enough nostalgic longing, picking up from the previous post which laid out the plans to get stuck into not one but two large-scale projects at once, here's episode 5 which is a brief update on the trials and tribulations with styrene, resin and etched stuff.

The whole shooting match has once again been prey to workload, variable energy levels indeterminate illness and a lack of suitable paint with which to adorn the insides of the Hurricane and Spitfire. With the arrival of a consignment of supplies from darkest Auckland, I have just about finished the cockpit painting but I'm not on track to start putting major components together as promised in the last instalment.

(A reminder: All of the images are taken with an old iPhone SE which is not long for this world and will shortly be replaced with a new all singing, all dancing iPhone 12 mini).

As I've said before in this series and in my 'on the bench' Francophile He162 article, I tend to recoil from the building process in a mess of sticky fingers and joints lines which refuse to disappear no matter how fastidiously I fill and sand. Painting is another matter though and I enjoy the application of paint much more. I can't say i'm looking forward to the mythical wing root gap problem of the PCM Hurricane.

The story so far: William McKnight's Hurricane - Pacific Coast Models Hawker Hurricane MkI.

I've chosen to recreate P2961 as it appeared at the hight of the battle in September 1940.

Michael Martchenko's painting, 'McKnight's Hat Trick', is one of the most famous depiction's of 242 Squadron's greatest aces - Willie McKnight and Douglas Bader - as they return to base to celebrate their victories on August 30, 1940; Bader 2, McKnight 3, the rest of 242 Sqn 8; all without loss to themselves.

It depicts McKnights a/c at the height of the fighting and herein lies a problem. All of the available decal sheets offer P2961 as it was presumed to appear over the winter of 40/41 with the black port wing and sky spinner/tail band scheme. There is as always, some conjecture about the options as there are only two images of McKnight's Hurricane. Both of which are of poor quality and don't show a complete airframe. It's safe to presume that the August version in Martchenko's painting is a 'standard' 242 machine (supplied new after Bader sent one of his invective laden rockets to Fighter Command about the operational readiness (as recounted in Paul Brickhill's book)). It's also presumed that McKnight's unique asymmetric skeleton and scythe nose art, was applied by macKnight himself some time during the early summer. Anyhow, the scheme is a long way off. . .let's get back to the gubbins.

The 'office'

There's not much to say about the PCM cockpit apart from its quite nice in places, a bit clunky in others and once its buttoned up inside the cramped side walls of the Hurricane mostly out of view.

I was impressed with the etched pre-painted panel. A revelation in terms of subtle detail and with a nice blob of ancient Humbrol clear gloss has brought the dials and bezels out a treat!

The story so far - Denys Gillam's Revell Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIa (converted to Mk Ia)

I've chosen to recreate N3093 as it appeared around mid to late August 1940. It's a MkIa so some basic work will need to be carried out on the Revell MkIIa to fix the minor differences between the two marques.

With the arrival of some 'nearly right' colour from from the lovely people at Hobby City in Auckland I was able to put some paint on the Spits innards at the same time as the Hurricane.

The panel had a little more work done to the bezels and the kit decal used as the dials. O left it on its backing sheet and superglued it to the back of the styrene panel. Pushing a round file through from the back builds up a 'lip' of styrene and creates a nice instrument bezel. Unfortunately doing this is not entirely accurate and the decal dials didn't quite line up with the holes. . .

The images sort of explain what's been going on, and will be going in just as soon as I can rediscover the modelling mojo and summon up a bit of energy.

Oh yeah that seat. I know what you're thinking, it should be that weird red compressed paper thing. In reality many early seats were conventional pressed metal and painted green. It also made it easier to create a contrast between the green and dark brown leather seat.

The seat and the armour plate is from Roy Sutherland's Barracuda Studio resin product range. A must have compared to the clunky kit seat. I'm also using his wheels, ailerons and the radiator/oil cooler resin.

The Barracuda seat was painted with Windsor & Newton oils - Burnt Umber and Yellow Ochre over the Games Workshop Chaos black rattle can primer. These were blended to give a worn leather highlight. I am quite chuffed with the effect. There's a HGW fabric harness to complete.

Don't judge the rough edges, it's been a bit of a bizarre year.


I am unhappy with aspects of the Revell cockpit and in particular the side wall detail so have invested in some of Roy Sutherland's superb resin details. Although the snap shot set is designed for the Revell Mk IX, the sidewalls are just about standard and can be modified to Mk Ia standard without much angst. You can check it out at the Barracuda web site.

What's next?

In the next post we'll look at installing the cockpits and building the main assemblies of each kit.

"We shall remember them"

Kia kaha. Be good, be kind stay safe, stay well.


Wellington - 11th November 2020.

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