I am a retired Biomedical Scientist (40+ years in the NHS clinical laboratory service) with a life long passion for aviation. This passion was started when my father took me to the 1953 SBAC show at Farnborough.
I was hooked by the sights, sounds and smells of the day, and I remember us attending just about every year's show up until about 1963, which was when I took up playing bass guitar in a Shadows type group. This continued until 1976, causing my aviation interests to take a bit of a back seat. What fun those days were! I remember my first modelling forays with Airfix 2/- bagged kits from Woolworth's. The Spitfire and Whirlwind helicopter were early models that I can recall building. I can still recall the excitement of going in to Woolies and seeing a new kit hung on the rack.
Frog models were also attractive, in sturdy boxes with very evocative box art. Such models as the English Electric P1A (predecessor of the Lightning) and the N113 (prototype Supermarine Scimitar) were to die for, but were relatively expensive (5/11 if my memory serves me). Imported American kits (Linbergh and Aurora I can remember) were completely out of the range of my pocket. I also built Veron and Keil Kraft balsa and tissue flying models, but these were generally less than successful, but good fun to build nonetheless.
Relatively late in life I achieved an ambition of getting a PPL, and I now have a 1/12th share in a Piper Cherokee based at White Waltham. I have nearly 1000 hours with instrument and instructor ratings, and fly as often as time, weather and funds permit. One way or another, aviation has been a fairly dominant feature in my life! However, I also have a great liking for steam locomotives. Having been born and bred in Devon, I have a particular liking for those of the GWR.
I never lost my interest in modelling, and although the basics are the same as they were 50 or so years ago, the range and detail of after market items available is bewildering. I am looking forward to spending time "torturing plastic" again after all these years.
00 scale Battle of Britain Class loco “Biggin Hill” in British Railways (SR) livery circa early 1960s. The kit was originally available in the late 1950s / early 1960s under the Rosebud trademark, and then succesively marketed by Kitmaster, then Airfix and nowadays by Dapol. Built out of the box but with some additional scratchbuilt pipework and brake linkage mechanism. ModelMaster transfers and nameplates replaced the rather dated items supplied with the kit.
Heller Breguet Alize - 1/100th scale. Entry for 2012 6 Month Competition. After a paint spraying disaster, the opportunity for something a little more creative presented itself.
Dans la Mer(de)
British Railways (Western Region) 2-6-2T 61xx class locomotive. 00 (4mm) scale. Built out of the bag from the Dapol kit (ex Rosebud, Kitmaster and Airfix) with the addition of Fox Transfers' numberplates and BR totem.
These locos were built for commuter services in the London area. Typical duties were Paddington to Aylesbury via High Wycombe, and from the same terminus to Oxford, Windsor, Reading and Basingstoke.
2-6-2T 61xx class loco
This is 92220 “Evening Star”, a class 9F heavy freight loco, another in the Rosebud / KitMaster / Airfix / Dapol range of 00 gauge plastic kits.
This was the final steam locomotive built by British Railways at Swindon in 1960. It was withdrawn from service in 1968 and is now preserved at the National Rail Museum in York. Built out of the bag, but with Fox lining decals, etched nameplates and smokebox number.
RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch - 1/72nd scale scale Airfix kit of the British Power Boats Type 2 high-speed RAF Air - Sea Rescue (ASR) launch, known as the "Whaleback" from the distinctive shape of the deck and the beautiful sculpted lines of the hull.
Powered by 3 Napier Sea Lion engines of 500 hp each, the 63ft long boat had a maximum speed of around 36 knots with a range of about 500 miles. Defensive armament was provided by 2 turret mounted 0.303 Vickers machine guns, twin machine guns mounted on either side of the pilot house and a 20 mm Oerlikon cannon on the rear deck. The crew consisted of Captain, medical orderly and 7 sailors.
The RAF ASR motto was “The Sea Shall Not Have Them”, and many aircrews owed their lives to the ability of the launch and its crews to be able to detect and rescue them with speed and efficiency. The model was built out of the box with the addition of Ez-Line for the rigging.
William Stanier (1876-1965) became Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London Midland and Scottish (LMS) Railways in 1932. Soon after his appointment, he focused on refurbishing and standardising the coaching stock of the LMS and developed coaches that later became known as Stanier Coaches. These designs were extremely popular and successful and many were still in service in the mid 1960’s. There are many examples of these coaches operating on Heritage Railways throughout the UK today.
This Dapol OO gauge model of a 57 foot Stanier Corridor Brake Coach (BR Midland region, ex LMS) is derived from refurbished Airfix / Mainline / Rosebud tooling purchased by Dapol in the 1980s. The model was built out of the box with addition of some internal glazing.
Hawker Sea Hawk F1 - Frog, 1/72nd scale.
The Hawker Sea Hawk F1 first flew in 1951, entering service with the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA) two years later with 806 Squadron.
The F1 was armed with four 20mm Hispano Mk V cannons. It was powered by a single 5,000 lbf thrust Rolls-Royce Nene 101 turbojet. The F1 had a maximum speed of 599 mph at sea level and a range of 800 miles on internal fuel. It is considered by many as one of the most elegant of Sydney Camm’s designs.
This kit was produced by Frog in the early 1950s and represented the cutting edge of kits in its day. The model has been built out of the box, deleting the undercarriage and the moulded pilot’s head, but with addition of Modeldecal transfers. Finishing is a mixture of Humbrol aerosol spray and brush painted enamels.
Sea Hawk F1
Hawker Hunter FGA9, Frog, 1/72nd scale.
This is the 1970s Frog kit of Sydney Camm’s Hawker Hunter, surely the most beautiful of jet fighters ever built? First flown in 1951, Hunters are still being used actively in the 21st century. The model was built OOB, using Humbrol aerosol paints with markings representing an aircraft of 54 Squadron RAF, based at West Raynham in 1968. Although an elderly kit, it still captures the classic lines of this aircraft.
The model is built OOB, with the exception of lowering the flaps and the leading edge slats. The Scimitar was a twin engined transonic Naval strike fighter, later used in the aerial tanker role. The markings represent this aircraft XD321 when it served with 800 Naval Air Squadron aboard HMS Eagle in 1964.
De Havilland Heron, Airfix 1/72nd scale.
This Airfix 1/72nd scale kit of the De Havilland DH114 Heron was first released in 1958. An excellent kit in its day, it still builds into an accurate and pleasing replica of this elegant 4-engined light transport aircraft. The type was used by many airlines around the world, but also by the RAF’s Queen’s Flight, and in the case of this aircraft, G-AORG, by the Royal Navy for over 20 years. This model was built out of the box, painted with Humbrol spray enamels and decorated using the kit transfers.
You can see a video of this particular aircraft here (YouTube).
De Havilland Heron
BR Standard 4 Mogul 2-6-0 ca 1950, Dapol, OO/HO Scale.
This is another one of the Dapol (ex Rosebud / Airfix) range of OO / HO scale steam locomotive kits. The moulds must be at least 50 years old now, and the kit shows its age, but nevertheless it makes up into a pleasing rendition of one of British Railway’s standardised designs of the 1950s that were to be found on general haulage duties in the North West and Scotland. The appellation "Mogul" was given to locos having a 2-6-0 wheel arrangement.
Built OOB with additional Fox and Modelmaster transfers.
Type VIIC U-boat, U203. Revell 1/72nd scale.
This is Revell’s big kit (1.1 metre long) of the Type VIIC U-boat (unterseeboot). The model was built oob and was finished with a variety of Humbrol acrylic spray and brush paints. I used Ez - line for the rigging and Humbrol weathering powders and washes. The kit is superb and goes together very well. The only challenge is dealing with the size of the model.
U203 met her end in the North Atlantic on 25 th April 1943 when she was sunk by a Fairey Swordfish aircraft of 811 Fleet Air Arm squadron flying from HMS Biter. The U boat “Wolf packs” were rightly feared by the crews of ships sailing on North Atlantic convoys. However, as aircraft radar capabilities improved and RAF Coastal Command aircraft became more capable, the pendulum swung in favour of the Allies and increasing numbers of U boats were sunk. By the end of the war, 28,000 German U boat sailors had been lost at sea, representing no less than 70% of the 40,000 U boat crews.
Type VIIC U-boat
City of Truro locomotive, Dapol, OO scale.
City of Truro was built at Swindon in 1903 for the Great Western Railway (GWR) company to a design by George Churchward. It was partially rebuilt in 1911 and 1915, and renumbered 3717 in 1912. Whilst hauling the "Ocean Mails" special from Plymouth to London Paddington on 9 May 1904, City of Truro was timed at 8.8 seconds between two quarter-mile posts, corresponding to a speed of 102.3 mph (164.6 km/h). In the light of this, some consider the locomotive was the first to attain the speed of 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h). Since then, this claim has been the subject of debate.
This OO scale kit is one of the surviving ex Rosebud / Kitmaster / Airfix range, now produced by Dapol. It was built “out of the bag” with no modifications apart from Modelmaster nameplates, transfers and numberplates.
City of Truro
Hawker Hunter F.4, WV322 in 43 (Fighting Cocks) Squadron colours ca. 1957. Academy, 1/48th scale kit.
This is a single seat Hawker Hunter F4, WV322. In 1959, she was returned to Hawker at Blackpool for conversion to a 2 seat T8C for the Royal Navy to be used as a Buccaneer pilot trainer. Service with the RAF followed before being sold to a private owner in 2001. I was fortunate to have a flight in WV322 as a 60th birthday present in 2007. It is my future intention to build a model of this aircraft in its 2 seat form when I flew in her.
The model is the Academy 1/48th kit. Conversion work required removal of the wing leading edge extensions and modifications to the tailpipe. I used Fantasy print shop transfers to supplement those in the kit.
On the bench at the moment is a Bristol Superfreighter (aka by pilots as the Bristol Frightener), surely one of the ugliest aircraft to fly?
My latest build of the old Airfix kit - I can remember building this kit as a boy, 55 - 60 years ago! - of the Bristol Mk32 Superfreighter, known to pilots, with much justification it seems, as the Bristol Frightener, (or more affectionately as Biffo....remember the comic character Biffo the Bear in the Beano) as its single engine handling was challenging to say the least!
The kit was built OOB, using Halfords and Humbrol aerosol sprays, with Silver City transfers by S and M Decals. The 2 cars (Mini Cooper and Morris 1000 convertible) are 1/72nd scale by Cararama and Classix Transport Treasures respectively.
In service the aircraft could accommodate 3 family sized cars (that's 1950's size cars!) and up to 20 passengers on routes from the Kent coast to northern France. Many people have fond memories watching these aircraft at Lydd and Lympne airports. Competition from cross Channel ferries eventually drove the service out of business.
Bristol Mk.32 Superfreighter
Pervical Provost T1, Matchbox, 1/72nd scale.
This is the Percival Provost T1, built OOB from an ancient Matchbox kit, representing an aircraft of the Central Flying School based at Little Rissington. Matchbox were quite adventurous with their choice of subjects, moulding their kits in 2 or 3 colours for those who felt disinclined to paint their model. However, they were generally accurate but characterised by deeply engraved panel lines. The Provost entered service with the RAF in 1953, replacing the unloved and unlovely Percival Prentice. Powered by a 550hp Alvis Leonides radial engine, it was a fully aerobatic advanced trainer, serving the RAF until replaced by its jet powered development, the Jet Provost.
Airfix 1/48th dH Mosquito PRXV1.
Built out of the box. The kit shows its age but nothing can detract from the beautiful lines of "The Wooden Wonder". Decals by Airfix, Xtracrylic PRU blue brush painted. The canopy was a real challenge.
This is the Airfix 1/12th scale 1930 4.5 litre “Blower” Bentley. Built out of the box but with addition of wire mesh fronting the radiator, carburettors, fuel tank and headlights. Paints were Humbrol aerosols (I find these and Halfords’ aerosols to be consistently good quality). The kit is in many ways straightforward to build, but I had a number of problems, the main challenge being to align the radiator and the bonnet. This model represents one of a team of 3 similar cars entered by Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin in the 1930 Le Mans 24-hour road race. Birkin had worked with supercharger expert Amherst Villiers to modify the standard 4.5 litre Bentley, (much to W.O.Bentley’s displeasure), achieving a power output of 240 bhp in comparison to the 110 bhp of the standard unblown 4.5 litre engine. Birkin’s race tactic was to draw the competing Mercedes of Carraciola and Werner into a high-speed duel. This it did successfully, eventaully forcing the Mercedes car to withdraw from the race with a wrecked engine. However, W.O.Bentley’s prediction of the unreliability of the supercharged engine came true, with the car having to retire after 20 hours due to engine problems. Having a wheelbase of 3 metres and weighing almost 2 tonnes, the Bentleys were christened “les camions plus vite” (racing lorries) by Ettore Bugatti. Notwithstanding this comment, no other cars could touch the blower Bentleys for outright speed.
Supermarine Swift FR5 1/72 model by Xtrakit
The Supermarine Swift entered service with the RAF in 1954, after a protracted development. Like its stablemate, the Hawker Hunter, the Swift initially suffered from a variety of aerodynamic and equipment problems. Early versions were quickly withdrawn, but after extensive development, the FR5 emerged, entering RAF service in 1956. In the photo-reconnaissance role, the Swift finally began to show promise as a Cold War warrior, eventually serving with distinction with RAF Germany until superseded by Hunter FR10s in 1961. Some kits are an enjoyable build. This one, for me, was not one of them. I built the kit “out of the box” and used a mixture of Tamiya acrylic brush painting and trusty Humbrol aerosols. The decals (I still think of them as transfers…..) were a nightmare, either refusing to part company from the backing paper, or annoyingly, then folding themselves into a tight ball or worse, fragmenting into small pieces floating around the saucer of water! The markings represent an aircraft serving with 2 Sqn. ca. 1961.
Douglas DC-3 Dakota 1/72nd scale These aircraft were known in British European Airways (BEA, which some said stood for “Back Every Afternoon”) service as the “Pionair”. They served BEA well in the late 1940s and 1950s. It was said that the only replacement for the DC3 was another DC3! This is the Airfix 1/72nd kit built OOB but with Aircraft in Miniature Transport Wings transfers. The transfers were a bit of a challenge, being very fragile. However, following some advice from a fellow Club member, a spray coat of clear lacquer improved matters greatly. The kit has been re-tooled and goes together quite well. My first ever flight in an aeroplane was in 1955, aboard a BEA Pionair from Southampton (known then as Eastleigh Airport) to Jersey. The air hostess (as they were then known) gave us barley sugar sweets to suck (to make one swallow and equalise the pressure on the eardrums) and cotton wool to put in one’s ears to reduce the din from the engines! Oh happy days. Having seen the recently released decal set, I could not resist making the model as a reminder of that flight.
Supermarine Spifire TR9, The model is by the Czech manufacturer AZ Models, and was built “out of the box”. This is a model of one of a number of 2 seat Spitfires operating from various locations across southern England, providing flight experiences (at a price!) to members of the public. 2 seat Spitfires, based on Mark IX airframes, were built immediately after WWII, for the Indian, Dutch and Irish Air Forces. A small number of these found their way into private hands following military service, and together with a number of new 2 seat conversions, are now doing brisk business. This particular Spitfire Tr9 MJ 627 is operated by The Heritage Hangar at Biggin Hill. A good friend flew in this aircraft in October 2018, and so I decided to build this model as a memento for him. The kit goes together quite nicely, and to my eye at least, captures the graceful looks of the original, even though the second cockpit is rather bulbous and obtrusive. It was finished with Humbrol and Halfords acrylic aerosol sprays.