All at sea with a Beaufighter and a rather fetching, yet obscure Coastal Command scheme
If you've been following this blog and my unfunny wafflings on Twitter, (all five hundred and sixty-six of you now, awlrighty!) you'll know I've been wrestling with several issues for quite some time, not least is a complete and utter lack of modelling motivation. My mojo has yo yo'd and 'spirit bombed'. (What is a mojo? and why is yo-yo terminology as silly as skateboardering).
"This ain't no technological breakdown. . ."
As the skewed proverb and Chris Rea says, the road to hell is . . .well, apparently littered with badly fitting part-baked kits resulting from iffy modelling skills and attention deficit spectrum disorders. So the chance online encounter with a canny lad called Simon on Twitter who started a fundraising competition for the Children's Heart Unit at the Freeman hospital in Newcastle on Tyne in the UK, was uncanny and has rekindled my recent engagement with and love for this hobby.
The long and short is that the competition/fundraiser is based around the completion of any WWII model kit of your choice with a limiting value of 20 quid and no additional fancy gear such as resin, decals or enhancements. A cracking idea and one, which although I can't competitively enter (due to living in exile) got me thinking about supporting the event and taking part as a non-com (there's prizes for those who live in the UK, but really that's not the point). If you haven't already, why not get behind #kitoffforchuff?
So what could I get for the equivalent of twenty pounds, ($40.00NZD)?
I know, a Tamiya Beaufighter Mk VI nightfighter. Right up my flarepath!
The inspiration for this came from my well thumbed first edition copy of C.F. Rawnsley and Robert Wright's book 'Night Fighter.' It's a ripping yarn of 'Jimmy' Rawnsley's journey from air gunner in the back seat of John Cunningham's 604 (Auxiliary) Squadron Hawker Demon to the right-hand seat of a DH Mosquito witnessing RAF night fighting move from a defensive role to that of deadly hunter in the night skies over Europe.
Its writing is typical of post-war non-fiction literature, the language reflects an England that has all but passed now (but one which I suspect many people secretly pine for). The book, redolent of a hierarchical class system where people knew their place and role, or if they didn't someone would jolly well put them in it. Several incidents leave the reader in no doubt that there was an uneasy class system going on in the cockpit and Rawnsley often alludes to being made to feel a little foolish for speaking out of turn.
My copies yellowing, musty pages contain a typically reserved slightly stiff upper account of blunt, visceral events. The grisly, incandescent end of unseen foes or the shocking deaths of diffident young men who were touched by the invisible hand of 'Sir Isaac'.
Recounting feats of airmanship on both sides while alluding to the ever present dangers of flying in the dark, the writing hails from an era where politically correct mindfulness held no place in the struggle for survival against a heavily armed enemy and the forces of aerodynamics, fickle machinery and the weather.
Great twin-engined dollops of inspiration. . . or, so I thought.
The reluctant builder
I keep harping on about how I'm 'a painter, not a builder', and that I tend to recoil from the building process. I'm that model maker who has two left thumbs, but the Tamiya Beaufighter VI is the living embodiment of the hackneyed 'shake and bake' kit. It literally is vice-less. For this hapless butcherer of sprue gates, the thing is a joy.
I don't have many in-progress images as it literally went together so quickly and to be frank, there's not much to see anyway. The inside of the Beau is cavernous but largely invisible once the halves are stuck together, so in line with the competition 'rules', I kept the paintwork to some basic diffuse shading, dry-brushing and chipping.
One thing that does stick out like the proverbial pitbull's minerals on the Tamiya kit are the twin intake pipes ahead of the Hercules' hedgehog exhausts.
These are depicted as little more than lumps on the Tamiya kit. To be a little kinder to a kit which so far has gone together with no filler, no swearing or gratutious acts of violence, it is getting on a bit and the details are a little vague, so I mustn't grumble eh.
In fact the cockpit, when compared to the recent Revell TFX shows its age too, and the Hercules' are rough guesstimates, but hey, it was ok in 1990 something. Anyway I started off by trying to drill these pipes out, gave up and ended up removing, drilling and adding some slightly oversize Slater's tube (which I must have had for at least 20 years).
I'm quite chuffed. Mostly with the effect but also with managing not to totally mess up.
It was just barrelling along at this point, and still meant to be one of those matt black creatures of the night resplendent in a coat of RDM2a 'special night' over the standard satin finish. (The description of RDM2a apparently causes fist fights on the internet).
But as luck would have it, I was wandering around Pinterest and started seeing Coastal Command aeroplanes of which if I'm being honest, even the fugly ones look pretty cool. I remembered a poor image of an all white sea-going Beau from the long out of print and hard to find 'Beaufighter At War' book and got to thinking. . .
With a recent flurry of Coastal Command models popping up in my Twitter timeline to make the point that I should investigate further, (we are spied on every single moment online) I started to think that maybe the black beast was really a bit passé. And anyway, it's a MkVI so I couldn't replicate Rawnsley and Cunningham's 604 flat tailed aircraft.
Flip, didn't think of that.
What's the alternatives?
Boy, did searching for this image on the internet take some effort! Now yes, it's not strictly a MKVI and yes it has additional stuff on it like the Yagi ASV aerial, but the night fighter kit comes with rocket rails, the DF blister and assorted other day fighter bits which keep me just within the parameters of the competition (remember I can't technically enter due to living in the arse-end of nowhere).
Anyhow forget awkward kit stuff, there's other interesting things in the massively over exposed image. The two 303 ports either side of the rocket rails for starters, and what appears to be (red?) primer or some gunk sealer around the wing root. A bit of greyscale sleuthing/colour presumption (colour guessing monotone - not to be recommended, see my other posts about colour) says it's the same tonal value as the red of the wing roundels and the 303 port covers, so it could be red oxide primer?
Why it's there who knows, is it waterproofing, are they draughty, do they leak, do the wings come off? I mean if you know of other Beau's with this bizarre and randomly applied stuff, do please let me know. Other oddities are the collector rings which appear to have been painted white too, although that just might be down to poor tonal image contrast or inept darkroom printing or a bad neg or, or. . The prop hubs are white though.
Anyway i'm just about ready for primer and making the call on going black (to match my cold heart) or white (to match the bleached carcass that is my bank account).
As for the kit, yeah get one, they are most excellent and even ham fisted clots like myself can make a decent fist of things. if you've got one in the stash then crack on and build it.
Simples, and good for the mojo.
As always Kia kaha. Be good, be kind to each other, stay safe, and go well wherever you may be.
Updated - Wellington - June 2021.