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1/48 F.M. Handley Page Halifax Mk.II by Tsonos Megas
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hallifax head2

Tsonos Megas strikes again!!!! This time with his latest masterpiece, an unbelievable Handley Page Halifax in 1/48 scale... Grab a cup of coffee, sit back...and enjoy him!!! 

1/48 F.M. Handley Page Halifax Mk.II

by Tsonos Megas

hallifax head2

LINE RED

HISTORY

his

The Handley Page Halifax was one of the British front-line, four-engine heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. A contemporary of the famous Avro Lancaster, the Halifax remained in service until the end of the war, performing a variety of duties in addition to bombing. The Halifax was also operated by squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Royal Pakistan Air Force and Polish Air Force.

(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handley_Page_Halifax)

KIT

Initially not as effective as it was hoped to be by its designers, the Halifax was steadily developed into a heavy bomber second only to the Avro Lancaster. Robust and purposeful, the Handley Page Halifax operated with distinction in every role and not only that of the heavy bomber. A model of this bomber in 1:48 is essential in completing even the most basic collection of the aircraft of the wartime R.A.F. Bomber Command.

Until recently the only way to model a Halifax in 1:48th scale was to use the Sanger vacform kit, which covered all types of the Halifax, but required a degree of skill and experience in order to build it. The surprise release by Fonderie Miniatures, of an injection moulded Halifax MkIII, offered modellers a long awaited kit, to place alongside the Tamiya Lancaster. Usually an injection kit is regarded as a much simpler build but the work needed to build this model crossed into the scratchbuilt side of things and nowhere near the usual modern standared of an injection moulded kit. Here the options are, to either builds the model as is, or to strive towards a more serious, accurate approach, an approach I believe the Halifax richly deserves.

During the making of this model, two main sources of information were used, the plans drawn on the Merlin-engined Halifax by A. Granger M.I.S.T.C., and published in Aerodata International No.7 and the 'Halifax B.Mklll Explored' cd-rom. The work had to be carefully planned, so as to avoid more bad surprises than the ones inside the box. Construction was divided into six sections, namely the main fuselage, the fuselage nose section and cockpit, wings centre section and bomb bay, the undercarriage legs (complete with main wheels), the tail unit and the wing outer sections and nacelles. In addition to these, all secondary details, turrets, propellers, the inevitable Merlin engine were modelled during the drying times of the main construction sections. My decision to convert the B.MkIII into the B.MkII series added a little more work to the project, but the work needed to make a decent Halifax out of this kit made the conversion a secondary matter.

CONSTRUCTION

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In the following twelve steps I will examine how the Halifax was built, while at the same time following the sequence of construction.

WINGS

The Wing Centre Section

The wing centre section had to fulfill two main purposes. First it had to support the weight of the finished model through joints strong enough for this purpose. Secondly it had to be dimensionally correct so the centre section could be used as a guide to the rest of the construction. These requirements demanded a scratchbuilt centre section. Construction started from the fuselage sides and specifically the ones on top of and including the bomb bay at the point of the wings intersection. The bomb bay roof is perpendicular to the fuselage sides and an 'H' shaped section made of thick plasticard, starting to get things rolling... In order to have adequate strength, two brass beams were glued on the bomb bay roof and intersected with two more that were to act as spars for the wing centre section airfoils (photo 1), soon to be attached to the fuselage sides. The four brass beams were also soldered together at their point of intersection. The wing aerofoil thickness is constant within the centre section so eight pieces of thick plasticard were cut to the aerofoil shape, clamped together and sanded down to a uniform appearance. They were assembled to form the wing root bomb cells and to allow for the construction of the landing gear wells, shortly afterwards. The wings centre section meets the outer wings just outside the inner nacelles. This includes the landing gear wells that form the inner nacelle rear sections as well. The inner walls of the landing gear wheel wells are essentially the aerofoil sections of the wing, extending to the top wing surface which also forms the roof of the compartment. Four pieces of thick plasticard cut to the shape of the nacelles rear section sidewalls (photo 2), were joined at the previously constructed wing bomb cells, so as to complete the centre section. All the airfoil sections are now covered with a piece of thin plasticard that formed the skin of the wing centre section uppersurface. A similar piece was used to cover the area between the wing bomb cells openings and the flaps, forming the wing undersurfaces. The front and rear spars, visible through the openings of the wheel wells and wing bomb cells, were cut from plasticard and inserted.

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The Wing Outer Sections

First the wings upper surfaces were mated with the lower ones with a thick piece of scrap plastic inserted in between them to act as a reinforcing spar. Then the wing outer sections were glued to the centre section assembled in step 1, using two-part epoxy glue. Extra care was taken here to ensure an accurate wing dihedral. The span of the finished assembly was now measured and the wingtips were cut down to the proper dimensions for the Halifax B.MkII, which had square not round wingtips. The wing surfaces of the F.M. kit were moulded in a soft plastic which was a little bumpy so its surface smoothed using Milliput epoxy putty (photo 3). during which all surface detailing was eliminated. At this point the engine nacelle rear sections were fitted and finished. Their construction was based on the ones provided by the Sanger vacform kit, which was put into good use here, as the F.M. kit provided the more bulbous, more rounded rear sections of the radial Bristol Hercules engines. Milliput helped to obtaining the correct shape on all four nacelles (photo 4). The flaps and ailerons cutouts were filled with Milliput and sanded to shape in preparation for the relevant surfaces installation.

Next was the construction of the nacelles front sections, in other words the engine cowlings. Three in total, as the starboard inner engine was to be shown in more detail without cowlings. These are of mixed construction, being built from balsa wood blocks and plasticard (photo 5). Balsa wood was used here to obtain the contours of the engine top covers and the rear fairings behind the oil and coolant radiators. The length and width of the nacelle front sections were determined by the dimensions and shapes of the engine firewalls and the diameter of the propeller spinner back plates. Cyanoacrylate glue was used to soak the balsa wood after shaping so as to achieve a hard surface to work on the details later on. One radiator housing was carved from balsa wood and plastic, and duplicated four times (photo 6) in resin in order to ensure all the radiator housings look the same. The engine exhaust apertures were cut through the finished nacelles; and all were sprayed with Gunze Mr. Surfacer 500. The radiator housings were fitted in place and the completed engine assemblies into their relevant positions on the wings (photo 7). The detailing was carried at the time that the the wings were rescribed.

Wing Detailing, Flaps and Ailerons

It is doubtful if a 1:48th model of a four-engined bomber such as the Halifax can ever be completely finished. It is perhaps more accurate to say that a model like this is usually stopped at a very advanced stage of its construction. An indication of this is the host of small wing details that can always be added. Exterior surface paneling, fuel tank vents, cable cutters, lights of every sort, fuel dumping hoses on the undersides, balance horns, to name a few, must all be there when the model enters the showcase. Work on the wings continued with the ailerons and flaps. The aileron and flap fabric covered areas were made from very thin Evergreen plasticard that was lightly scored using a pencil on the insides. It was applied over the length of the ailerons and flaps, to produce the wavy effect of the doped fabric stretched over the stringers on the real thing. The ailerons and flaps were cemented in place with the aid of small lengths of brass rod for added strength (photo 19). I decided to put the flaps at their lowermost position, something not uncommon in photographs of the real aircraft. The drop in hydraulic pressure after engines shutdown, released the pressure in the relevant accumulator ('recuperator' in the terminology of those times), in the 'down' line of the flaps system.

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Following the fitting of the flight controls, the addition of the majority of the wing surface details was carried out. The entire wing was sprayed with three and in certain areas, four layers of Gunze Mr. Surfacer 500. After drying, the whole surface was sanded just enough to form a base for the panel line scribing and riveting. Needless to say, the plans were followed closely throughout this process, mainly because the panel lines would later be used for further measurements as the construction was progressing, and not just for aesthetic reasons. As with every aircraft of this era and size, the scribed panel detail is not enough to replicate the real thing and some raised detail also has to be present. The idea here was NOT to sand the surface of the wings after riveting so that the raised marks could serve as a raised detail work. In addition, Archer Fine Transfers has done a wonderful job in producing raised details made of resin in decal form that can be applied just like any decal to a surface before painting (photo 20). Thus both types of surface detail were now present on the wings and the jet-like toy plane effect was thankfully avoided. The inner nacelles flap-attached retractable rear sections, the fuel dumping hoses and navigation lights were cemented on the wings at this point, the smaller details were added after painting.

WHEELS

Undercarriage

As soon as the box was opened, the undercarriage showed its bad asymmetric shape, an indication of things to come...

Having the Sanger kit well before the F.M. one, I had hoped for something better from F.M. but actually these were worse. Both kits shock struts being completely useless (photo 8). The undercarriage really needed to be constructed early in the wing assembly, so as to allow for better measurements to taken. With the measurements done, the fixing of the undercarriage to the wings could take place at any convenient time. The plans were followed and the undercarriage main components were constructed from plastic block and plasticard around four brass tubes (two per assembly (photo 9) and the contours that were not flat were filled with Milliput and sanded to shape.

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Where the wheel axles are fitted four brass tubes were soldered in place, while at the top, two more brass tube lengths were fitted for the pivot points of the undercarriage. On the nacelle sides, soldered directly onto the brass 'spars', four vertical beams (brass rods- two per side) provided the retraction pivoting points (photo 10), and serving as the main gears attachment points to the nacelles. Before proceeding to make the drag struts, a check of symmetry was carried out to ensure that all was well with the shock strut 'bridges' themselves, which was achieved by inserting two lengths of steel tube (photo 11) into the holes of both axle and pivot points at the 'bridges' and at the nacelles simultaneously. No deviation in the measurements would be acceptable. The drag struts were also constructed using small diameter brass rods to add strength to the whole assembly. Plasticard was used to complete the drag struts, scrap plastic and photo etched details added the finishing touches to them. The finished drag struts were mated to the shock strut 'bridges' (photo 12) and painted in the appropriate colours. Undercarriage retraction hydraulic lines, brake lines were cemented directly on the main gears (photo 13) and both assemblies were put aside for installation. The main wheels were provided with the F.M. kit. Painted in a tire brown colour, and thoroughly dried, they were given their final treatment when the finishing took place, some months later.

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Wheel Wells, Wing Cells and Bomb Bay

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Much work was ahead now as the model needed to have its wings finished in one single assembly. The question here was whether to continue detailing the wing assembly, or to move on to the fuselage. I decided to complete the wing assembly including the first steps into the fuselage bomb bay, a decision I later acknowledged as a useful one, as the work required to construct the bomb bay, would have been very demanding with a fuselage and, perhaps the tail unit attached. Work started with the detailing of the wheel wells, there is not actually much to be seen in there, except perhaps the stringers on the wheel well roof (photo 14), the landing gear locking mechanisms and hydraulic plumbing. Lead wire and details made from scrap plastic and resin bits were added and painted in black. Once the undercarriage was installed this area would be filled, and the detailed sidewalls and roof would mostly be hidden from view. The wing bomb cells were more important as this area is more readily seen. Six cells on both wings provided enough space for details to be added, a boring operation to be repeated six times. Each main compartment was divided by two sidewalls that in turn, formed the sides of each cell. The sides of the cells and the roof were detailed with stringers made from thin Evergreen plastic strip.

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Plastic rod was used to simulate the framework (photo 15) under which, each bomb carrier would be suspended. The cells were now painted black and a lot of shading and dry-brushing was done to bring out the details. All the cells would later be finished by adding the total of 24 doors, (plasticard), hinged by 48 hinges (photo-etched) and 'operated' by another 24 rods, cut from lengths of Evergreen plastic rod and painted accordingly. Finally, three bomb carriers that were sourced from the Eduard range of photo-etched products completed the assembly in the starboard cells (photo 16). In the port ones, only one carrier was used, hanging from a scratchbuilt portable winch, by means of thin steel wire cut to length and passing through one of the three opened circular panels on the wing uppersurface. The fuselage bomb bay roof is a criss-cross pattern of longitudinal and lateral members comprising a horizontal framework strong enough to carry a bomb load and the airplane flight loads. Not the easiest thing to model in 1:48th when one considers the hundreds of lightening holes that had to be opened before assembly. Through these holes (photo 17), pass some of the aircraft systems, making the construction even more complicated, and a modeller's finest moment. It really depends both on good reference information, and one's experience in modelling large bombers. Thin plasticard started to give shape to the framework. With the help of a sharp pencil, I marked the 23 lateral (spanwise) frame positions on the plasticard simulating the roof surface, and with the aid of photographs, determined the width of each frame, in relation to its position on the roof. The six rear and the four front frames are thinner on the real bomb bay, while the thicker and wider frames are found near the spars and between them. Before cementing each lateral frame to its position in the bay roof, the holes were drilled out. With all the lateral frames installed, work proceeded swiftly to the longitudinal crossmembers. These are mostly trapezoidal in shape as the difference between the lateral frames width actually dictates. Reference photos reveal differences in the numbers of crossmembers between two given frames, being usually in groups of four, five or of six pieces (photo 18). Taking care to divide equally the spaces, the time-consuming process was eventually finished ended with impressive results. Now only the fore and rear bomb bay walls remained to be added along with the eight doors that cover the compartment. These were next in line along with the plumbing and final detailing. Each one of the doors was made of pewter sheet which helped to simulate its contours whilst at the same time being riveted and folded in two so as to form an inner and outer side.

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The final assembly of the bomb bay doors to their respective places was only done after the main fuselage was assembled on the centre section. The compartment was painted in a very dark grey colour to allow for scale effect and to help in bringing out as many details as possible. After painting and shading and dry-brushing using oil colors as well as dry pastels, the bomb release relays, tubing and the bomb doors operating mechanisms were put in place using cyanoacrylate sparingly. 

FUSELAGE

The fuselage was already cut away so as to allow the construction of the wings, and it seemed sensible to divide up the fuselage in such a way as to have the maximum of openings for working in the interior. The fuselage halves were in a sorry state and in need of reworking and required straightening. Joining the two halves together would help to rectify the problems in the process. Thus the nose section up to frame 10, which is the position of the flight mechanic's instrument panel, was cut and worked on separately and will be referred to later. From frame 10 to the rear turret, the fuselage was worked as a whole, as the interior detailing could be easily inserted from the opening over the bomb bay, and the crew entrance at the port lower side of the rear fuselage. Another problem presented itself now as the rear turret looked like it was under scale. Careful measuring of the fuselage width revealed a progressive error culminating in a maximum of 4mm, towards the rear end, which meant that the rear turret would not be able to accommodate a human being in 1:48 scale! In addition to this, all the openings such as the emergency exits, the mid-upper turret circular cutout and the crew entrance would have to be repositioned as per the plans.

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One shudders at the thought of the work that will also be required to the tail unit as a result of the incorrect fuselage width. At this point the decision to start the model from the wings so as to ensure a correct wingspan and thus a correct fuselage width, at the point of the wings-to-fuselage intersection paid off. The rest of the fuselage could be simply test fitted on the intersection and corrected accordingly, but the one in hand (photo 21) would have to be straightened first. Working with lengths of square section brass tube a ladder-shaped frame was soldered together. The width of the 'ladder' plus the thickness of the plastic of the fuselage halves had to be equal to the fuselage width in accordance with the plans (photo 22). The fuselage halves were clamped with clothes pegs and secured to the brass frame with two-part epoxy resin glue and were left to dry thoroughly (photo 23). When dried, any resulting gaps would have to be filled with plasticard and any openings as well, so they could be repositioned at a later stage in the process. All this would have to be done without stressing the plastic, because that could result in a possible crack at the joints due to mishandling or breaking as a result of the temperature usually generated when using cyanoacrylate glue. A secondary frame, coinciding with the aft bulkhead of the bomb bay, and also made of brass rod, was glued into place and both fuselage halves held together with the aid of a vice (photo 24). Finally, on the inside of the fuselage roof, behind the mid upper turret cutout, one more brass length of U-section helped to straighten the rear fuselage and add strength to it. The tail unit attaching points were eliminated, as they would be reopened to accommodate the reworked tail unit later. Milliput was used over all the fuselage exterior (photo 25) so as to smooth out the defects and irregularities and prepare for spraying Mr.Surfacer 500, which would also help in checking the correctness of the fuselage contours (photo 26). The fuselage cutouts were now marked with a soft pencil and cut open, in their correct positions as per the plans. The interior details visible through the crew entrance door and emergency exits forward of the mid upper turret cutout were added at this point. The small circular side windows were also drilled out at this stage, but at a larger diameter than the plans, so they could be masked and painted at the correct dimensions later. This helped avoid the overscale fuselage thickness being seen through the transparencies. The fuselage was now cemented to the wings; the seams were filled with putty, and sprayed with Mr.Surfacer 500 during which the wings were masked. The fuselage exterior detailing was scribed at this stage (photo 27) and work went on with the tail unit, for a change...

The Tail Surfaces

The Halifax tail unit is mounted on the rear fuselage topside and is of a simple construction, the horizontal stabilizer can easily be made as one unit. The F.M. kit provided the horizontal and vertical stabilizers for my assembly, in a soft yellowish plastic that could be cut and sanded to the shapes needed for the conversion to B. Mk.II status. The vertical stabilizers were fixed to the horizontal with small brass pins in addition to the normal gluing procedure. A piece of scrap plasticard was inserted in the middle of the horizontal stabilizers upper surface (photo 29), its dimensions helping to achieve the correct tail unit span for the model. The finished assembly was treated the same way as the fuselage and wings and detailed before the elevators and rudders installation. As a result of the altered span of the tail unit the elevators were made of plasticard, being actually a little smaller and different in plan shape as the fuselage widens between them. They were detailed with strips of thin plastic to get the fabric covering effect with the aid of Mr.Surfacer 500.

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The rudders were left as they were (photo 30), with little to be done except for filling with epoxy putty on their leading edges. Now the tail assembly was inserted in an opening made in the fuselage top, and secured with two part epoxy glue. The glue curing time allowed for any slight corrections to be made in their alignment. When all measurements were satisfactory the whole thing was put aside to dry. The rear fuselage top at the point of the opening was repaired with Milliput. The remaining small details such as trim tab.

COCKPIT

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The Nose Section

There are two main reasons for dealing with the nose section separately. One is that all the delicate work in the cockpit could be damaged during the construction of the rest of the fuselage. The other was that inserting the details through the openings, would allow for the finishing the exterior in one piece, before starting the inside work. In turn, this would allow the trouble-free conversion of the nose section to Halifax B. Mk.II status. As mentioned above, the fuselage was separated at frame 10, just at the point above and behind the bomb bay front bulkhead. In order to have a good mating of the assemblies at the end, the nose section halves were glued together while being taped (photo 31) to the rest of the fuselage. This resulted in only the smallest amount of Milliput having to be applied over the joint later. The overall fuselage length was now checked, the tape removed and the work of converting the contours started by reshaping the fuselage in front of the windscreen. The fuselage contours around the front turret were next in line and finally the bomb aimer's opening was shaped, so that the transparency could be added later.

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Now that the exterior was finished it was time to look inside, only to see three months of work that was in store for me. The interior detailing work had to run as far behind the flight mechanic's instrument panel as visible. Much of the starboard sidewall was visible, so an insert extension towards the rear (photo 32) was made of thin plasticard. Photos indicated the fuselage area behind the flight mechanic's compartment was left unpainted. On the model the visible area was simulated with pewter instead of plastic strips. Keeping the starboard side as a guide, the port side frames and stringers were added next. The floor panels were inserted and great care was taken to avoid losing the scale between the crew stations, in other words, making one crew station smaller than the other. This can happen easily if for instance, thicker plasticard is used to divide the empty space into compartments. It is a problem peculiar to models of large aircraft, mostly multi-engined types. The Halifax and Stirling with their two-storey crew compartments are particularly tough going. Thin plasticard was used at the bulkhead between the wireless operator's and navigator's positions, as well as behind the pilot's seat. The floor under the pilot's seat was carefully positioned so as to allow for the correct height of the wireless operator's compartment. The wireless operator's and navigator's tables were fitted in place and the assembly was given a coat of interior green for a start. The different shades of interior green of the floors, sidewalls and bulkheads were achieved with the use of dry pastel chalks and oil colours. Now the heavy detailing started in earnest...each and every piece of equipment was separately modeled and painted before installation. Wartime photographs were used as a guideline, as the photo coverage of the two Halifax bombers surviving today, although meticulous, can only be advisory after more than six decades have passed.

I worked from the deeper areas of the nose section towards the top and the front. The area immediately behind the nose turret was given less attention as the details could easily be obscured by the presence of the pilot's instrument panel and the turret itself. The pilot's and flight mechanic's instrument panels (photos 33 and 34) were made by painting black over

a transparent piece of acetate cut to shape and masked off for the bezels. After removal of the masks, decal instrument dials made by Reheat Models were applied on the reverse, under the clear bezel windows. Red and green areas were painted between dials and finally, an ivory colour was painted over the reverse side which helped to show the decals detail in full. The rest of the pilot's cockpit, the engine controls (photo 35) and the navigator's compartment (photo 36) were next in line of attention. The top fuselage frame behind the pilot's head was made of brass rod because at the final stage of the construction, the aerial mast would have to be glued securely on top of it to permit the tensioning of the model's nylon thread aerials. In hindsight even this was not enough. The correct decision was to solder (instead of gluing) a brass-made aerial mast, because the one used, detached from its place twice during the tensioning of the aerials of the model.

34-35 

At this stage, the already finished nose turret found its place in the nose (see next step). The nose section's equipment installation complete, the canopy framing was proceeded with and along with it came the gluing of the transparencies. The ditching exit transparency on top of the cockpit canopy was left for last as it would be cemented in the open position. The transparent panels above the flight mechanic's compartment were fitted after the nose section was cemented to the rest of the fuselage. This allowed for any minor corrections to be performed during the nose section cementing procedure, without risking possible damage of the transparent panels. One of the last pieces of equipment installed was the Mk.IX Course Setting (Vector) bombsight that was in general use throughout Bomber Command at the early stages of the night war. This was a scratchbuilt affair (photo 37), it was cemented in place shortly before the bomb aimer's window, so as to be protected from any mishap. The window itself is transparent acetate plastic, heated and pressed over a balsa mould.

36-38

The same production method was also used for the side-mounted teardrop blisters that characterized early marks of the Halifax.

Obviously, the exterior scribing and detailing (photo 38) of the fuselage nose section was done before its assembly to the rest of the model. The fitting of the nose to the fuselage necessitated the use of some Milliput. The sanding and smoothing of the surfaces erased some of the detailing done previously. It was repaired in its final form, giving a uniform appearance to the fuselage (photo 39); the joint lines now being hidden completely.

The Gun Turrets

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The differences between the Halifax marks also include the gun turrets. In the Halifax B. Mk.II there were three Boulton & Paul turrets, namely the types "C Mk.I" (nose), "C Mk.II" (mid-upper), and "E" (rear). All of them were of essentially the same construction and operating principle, being electro-hydraulic and using the same basic equipment like 0.303in Browning guns, G. Mk.III A reflector sights etc. Modeling the nose and mid-upper turrets was the same procedure as the turrets interior was almost identical. All turrets were modelled using black plasticard instead of white, to avoid painting and only the smaller details were actually painted. Spare photo-etched metal parts such as instrument boxes and switchboards were chosen either already pre-painted or were not painted as their natural metal appearance was helpful. The 0.303in. Gun bodies were painted in a gun metal colour, and the barrels were left for last. The nose turret cupola was taken from the Sanger Halifax (photo 40), while the mid-upper and rear turret cupolas (photo 41) were made from transparent acetate heated and formed over balsa moulds.

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In the mid-upper turret, the turret framing was built so that the detail work would have something to be attached to. Black-coloured copper detailing wire from Little-Cars (photo 42) was used in this instance. After attaching the transparency of the turret, the turret framing was again worked on the exterior, using black-coloured household aluminium foil and pewter. Archer Fine Transfers surface detailing rivets were applied before painting, and the turret was attached to the already painted fuselage top (photo 43). Then a problem presented itself, as the overall dimensions of an already large turret like the B&P C Mk.II were found to be out by about 1mm, making my turret a little overscale. Thankfully, the model's size helps in not making this instantly apparent.

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For the tail turret, work went on as usual, but instead of modeling the turret framework and attaching the transparency afterwards, the opposite was done (see photo 41) due to the fact that the turret rear section and entry doors can be assembled after all interior detailing was carried out. Thus, all interior framing was attached to the transparency, and on the outside, the Archer resin rivets were applied directly onto the glazing, as with the real thing. The turret back and doors, painted in black, were now fitted and the finished turret was cemented in place. The type "E" turret Browning guns could be serviced from the outside of the turret, through detachable clear panels, to simplify maintenance. This is shown on the model, (photo 43) the starboard side panel being removed to show the breech covers in the open position on the gun bodies.

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ENGINE

Propellers and Engine

The 13ft diameter Rotol propellers tailored for the Rolls- Royce Merlin XX engines for the Halifax B. Mk.II, were right-hand turning instead of the left-hand turning DeHavilland units provided in the F.M. kit for the Halifax B. Mk.III. Such was the thickness of the kit propellers that, they were easily reversed in pitch and direction of rotation, by simply sanding down the excess plastic!

Actually this was not quite as easy as it sounds; one blade was used as a jig so as to help in not overdoing it with the sanding. Continuous measuring and checking of the twelve blades ensured that all would look the same when finished. The propeller spinners were made of white plasticard which was heated and pressed over a balsa mould (photo 44). The kit spinner backplates were used as a jig for the correct cutting and centering of the spinners, as well as determining the cutouts where the propeller blades would be inserted. The propeller hubs were used as provided by the kit, and served as a centre point inside the spinners for the correct positioning of the blades (photo 45). One propeller was assembled in the feathered position and used in conjunction with the engine shown undergoing maintenance, with a malfunctioning engine which has had to be shut down during flight. All propellers were shown in different states of weathering. Their age can be shown by worn paint exposing their brass sheaths, located on the blade leading edges. Artist's oils were used to simulate oil leaks as well as de-icing fluid sprayed over the surface of the blades when flying in cold conditions.

One Merlin engine is as I have already said, shown uncovered and in need of maintenance after an oil pressure loss that resulted in the leak seen over the wing and the starboard inner nacelle. The relevant propeller was feathered, and the probable cause is focused on the propeller governor. Although this is not the worst case scenario, it can give a glimpse of the times, and the difficulties men and machines were facing. To start with, a suitable resin Merlin engine was chosen and detailed in the usual way. The exhaust stubs were fitted but not the exhaust collector which was attended to, after the painting of the engine. Next, a firewall was made out of plasticard and the engine framework mounting points were marked and then drilled out. On the engine and on the firewall, small holes were drilled in preparation for the piping, the details which were to be added after the assembly of the engine and the mounts, to the firewall (photo 46).

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The twin radiators for the engine and the oil cooler were scratchbuilt and assembled as a single unit. The radiator block was installed under the engine (photo 47), and all the piping was fitted at this point. The assembly was given a coat of Alclad Steel mixed with some Aluminium and left aside for a while. When the Alclad had dried, the cylinder block rocker covers were painted in gloss black without masking, and any excess spraying around them was cleaned with a small brush with white spirit. The various details were painted next and the lower parts of the engine were given a rather heavy treatment with artist's oils, which also included the lower portion of the firewall. The exhaust collectors, eight in all were made from scratch and painted in a matt brown colour. Then it was the usual weathering carried out using dry pastels, and I tried not to keep to the same shades for all the exhausts, working mostly in pairs, one pair for each engine. The finished engine was assembled on the nacelle after the model was painted and weathered. The same is also true for the propellers, the exhausts and secondary details.

PAINTING

Painting and Weathering

All the openings of the model were sealed in preparation for painting. The transparencies were masked using Bare-Metal Gold (photo 48) (useless as a colour for bombers you may think, but ideal for masking!). A typical, straightforward painting of the model was performed in the colours of Bomber Command for the war period. Xtracolor Dark Green X1 and Dark Earth X2 for the topsides, as well as a mixing of Humbrol Gloss Black 21 with Xtracolor Medium Sea Grey X3 for the undersides were used. My intention was to give the stressed effect on the fuselage sides and (to a lesser degree) on wings undersurfaces, the base colours were followed by airbrushed shades of grey and pure black. The successive use of these 'three shades of black' produced the desired effect (photo 49). Additional masking of the rivet lines was deemed necessary for a more 'crisp' appearance of the effect near the corners formed by the rivet lines themselves. Obviously one can only get better with experience, as the black is

probably the most difficult colour to master. This technique was followed for the topsides colours also, and was a lot easier to execute. The high gloss finish of the model formed the basis for the decals application. The Xtradecal series of products was used for the roundels, code letters and serial numbers. Warning lettering and small decals were obtained from the F.M. decals provided with the kit. A wash of oil colours over the camouflaged upper surfaces was done at this point, using black and raw umber oil colours suitably diluted in Xtracolor thinners. Care was taken not to upset the decals during the process. The model was weathered using mainly oil colours; the chipping effect being done with the aid of Mr. Metal Color's Chrome Silver, applied sparingly with a small-sized pointed brush. Exhaust stains were sprayed on the wings using a matt brown/black mixture.

The entire model was sprayed a light coat of Model Master's Mattlack, and was left aside to dry. As the model depicts an early Halifax, a question of sheen had to be answered first. It has to do with the application of RDM2 Special Night on the real plane, which was a very matt 'oil-lamp' black that was prone to peeling badly with use. The model should to be painted matt on the undersides and more satin on the upper surfaces. An undesirable shine difference would be produced, at least to my opinion. So I decided to keep the model's appearance on the matt side.

The top surfaces were given just a slight rubbing with a piece of soft cloth instead of going towards a satin varnish. With the matt varnish dried so as to be treated safely, the weathering continued with the application of the inevitable oil leaks and stains that completed the appearance of the model as an in-service machine. The exhaust marks were then finished with the use of dry pastel chalks.

Finishing Touches

The time for the small details has now arrived. Gradually, the fuel vents, landing lights, pitot tube, gun barrels, aerial mast and aerials, engine and propellers, found their way onto the model. The matt varnish was in the airbrush in a state of readiness, to remedy any accidental glue spillage. Looking at the finished model, one may find more small items to add, there are always details to go into a model of this size but a line has to be drawn, and in my case this line is now reached. The model can now be classified as complete and a glance at the history of the real thing looks as an appropriate way to finish this article.

ADDITIONAL

all

LINE RED

engine nose 1 2

gen1 13 5 14

general gen2 9 big halifax

16 17 18 19

LINE RED

hallifax head

CONCLUSSION

The model represents an anonymous Halifax B Mk..II series I, one of the many aeroplanes of Bomber Command not to participate in any significant way to the greater effort. As A.M. Form 78 and A.M. Form 1180, kindly provided by the RAFM Hendon indicate, two accidents and a propeller fly-off that resulted in a forced landing were enough reasons to keep this bomber in the shade. This was the very reason I picked R9376, ZA-D, which was delivered to No10 Squadron, 4 Group, at Leeming, Yorkshire, on November 26, 1941, only to operate for a little less than a year, before being struck off charge on November 21, 1942. While with No10 Squadron, on December 13, 1941, R9376 sustained damage caused by a nose-over and was repaired on site. She passed to No138 Squadron, and again to No10 Squadron where, on June 29, 1942, it hit a concrete slab hidden in long grass,whilst landing, bursting a tyre and sustaining more damage, but was soon to be returned to service. Finally, on November 14, 1942, during a training flight off Melbourne, Yorkshire and during take-off, the port outer propeller flew off, followed by most of the engine cowlings. R9376 force landed straight ahead, in the hands of Squadron Leader E.K. Greswell and crew, and was struck off charge as category E. Misfortune notwithstanding, R9376 helped in training, actually providing experience to more crewmen than the normal team of seven flying in the night skies over occupied Europe... This model of the Handley Page Halifax B. Mk.II series I, took part in the IPMS Scale Modelworld 2009 Competition and was awarded a Gold Medal in the conversions class in the aircraft category.

 

Bibliography

Aerodata International No7: Handley Page Halifax (Merlin-engined variants), Philip J. R. Moyes, (plans by A. Granger, MISTC), Vintage Aviation Publications Ltd., 1979. Halifax in action, aircraft number 1066, Jerry Scutts, Squadron/ Signal Publications, 1984. British Aviation Colours of WWII, RAF Museum Series Vol.3, Arms And Armour Press, 1986.

Halifax Special, Bruce Robertson, Ian Allan

Ltd, 1990.

British Aircraft Armament Vol. I: RAF gun turrets from 1914 to the present day, R. Wallace Clarke, Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1993.

The Bomber Command Handbook 1939¬1945, Jonathan Falconer, Sutton Publishing Ltd, 1998.

Bomber Command 1939-1945, Ian Carter,

Ian Allan Ltd, 2000.

Pilot's and Flight Engineer's Notes (Halifax III &VII), Air Publication 1719C&G, reprint by Crecy Publishing Ltd. The Halifax B. Mk.III Explored, Aircraft Exploration Series 3, PC CD-ROM, Flyingzone Publications, 2006.

 

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Text and Photos by Tsonos Megas

 


 

Last Updated ( Κυριακή, 19 Σεπτέμβριος 2010 )
 
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