1/48 Tamiya Lancaster B.III (Special)

Gallery Article by Rob Nieuwenhoven on Oct 15 2019



Barnes Wallis was a genius. He co-designed the R100 airship, Vickers Wellesley, Wellington, Warwick and Windsor with his geodetic structures. His later work also contributed to the Concorde and Panavia Tornado unique designs but it is for his bombs that he is best remembered. Wallis realised that destroying the German dams would cause immense disruption to the German war effort and dedicated his time (usually his own time) to designing a bomb that could do the job. No aircraft then available could lift the massive bombs Wallis envisaged that could deliver the 'earthquake' explosions needed to breach the dams but Wallis discovered smaller charges placed right up against the wall would deliver the breach he was looking for. The RAF hierarchy was convinced and the new Avro Lancaster was found to be able to carry the 6000 lbs mine (known as the 'bouncing bomb'. The story of the Dambusters is well documented and 617SQN continue their proud heritage now, having recently converted to the F-35A. 19 aircraft departed on 16 May 43; only 11 returned the following morning but they had breached the Möhne and Eder Dams in an outstanding display of night navigation and airmanship skills.

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Tamiya's Lancaster was introduced in 1975, when it was hailed as cutting edge. It's now showing its age. I managed to pick mine up (an original release of the Dambuster Grand Slam Bomber Lancaster) as part of a deceased estate sale for a paltry $40 AUD - too good to refuse, despite its size! Adding the Eduard 'Big Ed' set bumped up its price to twice that and the additional sprues from Tamiya I needed for the correct propellers and wheels made it around $120 - still less than the retail price being asked for the kit alone now. I also used the Falcon canopy set to get the correct nose blister (it'll provide canopies for the Beaufighter later, too). The kit went together well and I elected to paint the cockpit and flap well interiors RAF Interior Green as my research suggested the direction for those to be painted black probably hadn't been incorporated in the Lancasters used by 617SQN at the time of the raid. After assembling the two halves, I knocked my Bluetooth speaker off the shelf onto the fuselage, smashing a massive hole in the fuselage and spitting interior parts about the room. The model almost went into the bin then but I found all the shattered pieces and, with the help of Tamiya's excellent adhesives and Mr Surfacer, managed to resurrect the disaster. Utilising Chris Ward and Andy Lee's excellent 617 Squadron Dambuster Squadron at War I made my own spotlights and added them where the photos showed the nose light and where one photo seemed to show part of the rear light. The VHF antenna was made from 0.3 mm wire and added to the nose where the photos showed it. The whip antennae on the spine were not added as the photos don't show them fitted but the wire antenna to the fins was cut and fitted (I later realised I'd attached them to the canopy too far outboard but too late to move them). I used the new engines that fortunately came with the new sprues for the props and wheels as they are much better than the original moulds but had I to recess the exhausts as my home-made shrouds wouldn't fit over them in their default position. The radiator cooler flaps were opened up I their closed position, too. I was pretty happy with how it all turned out.

A fair way into the build I read about the incorrect location of the kit's wireless operator's windows and couldn't leave them that way once I knew they were wrong. A bit of filling and cutting gave me corrected window positions and some spare clear PET and a few coats of Future gave me new windows. All raised panel lines were rescribed, where required and the spar caps were reduced in height to something closer to the example in the Australian War Memorial, which I also referenced a couple of times. The lower turret position was sanded down to something more like the photo references I have for the Type 464 mods. The model was primed with Mr Surfacer 1000 and painted with Model Master enamels using Top Notch masks. Future gloss coats were applied before decaling. The kit decals ink came off the decal film (despite coats of Micro Liquid Decal film), so I couldn't use them at all. I had the Kits-World Lancaster general markings decals but didn't use them as the font was wrong (they should have broken lettering as solid stencils weren't available then) and the blue looked too light. I used the Techmod Lancaster B.I decals for the general decals and Xtradecals provided the serials and squadron markings (these pushed the spend up another $40). I marked the aircraft as ED887 'AJ-A', captained by SQNLDR Melvyn 'Dinghy' Young, one of the crews who never returned. This was to line up with my model of 617SQN Tornado GR.4 ZD844, which was also marked as AJ-A when I had a ride in it. The decals were coated with Future flattened with Tamiya X-21 and a light weathering was applied using pastels and crayons as these aircraft were only a few weeks old when they flew on the raid.

It's turned out well enough but it's huge! I'm not sure where I'll put it eventually but for now it's dominating a shelf in my room.

Rob Nieuwenhoven

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Photos and text © by Rob Nieuwenhoven