Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.V, Airfix 1/72 (A08016)

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.V, Airfix 1/72 (A08016)
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The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley was one of three British twin-engined, front line medium bomber types that were in service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) at the outbreak of the Second World War. Alongside the Vickers Wellington and the Handley Page Hampden, the Whitley was developed during the mid-1930s, according to Air Ministry Specification B.3/34, which it was subsequently selected to meet. On 17 March 1936, the first prototype Whitley Mk I, conducted its maiden flight, with Armstrong Siddeley Tiger IX radial engines, but the most numerous variants (Mk.V) were those with Rolls Royce Merlin X engines (1145 hp each). In 1937, when the Whitley formally entered into RAF squadron service, it was the first of the three medium bombers to be introduced. The Whitley was the mainstay of RAF’s night offensive during the first two years of the War. It was the first bomber to appear in the skies of Berlin; the first to drop bombs on german soil and the first to attack targets in Italy.

Following the outbreak of war in September 1939, the Whitley participated in the first RAF bombing raid upon German territory and remained an integral part of the early British bomber offensive. By 1942, it was being superseded as a bomber by the larger four-engined "heavies" such as the Avro Lancaster. Its front line service included maritime reconnaissance with Coastal Command and the second line roles of glider-tug, trainer and transport aircraft. Whitley was the most extensively build of the Armstrong Whitworth designs, production reaching a total of 1824 aircraft (according to William Green’s “Famous Bombers of WW2”). The last one left the assembly line on July 12th, 1943, but the main variant Mk.V had already retired from Bomber Command in the Spring of 1942, performing their last operation on April 29th of that year. Few months later the last Whitley VIIs were retired from operational service with Coastal Command.

Building the Airfix kit in 1/72 scale (A08016)

This is a project that lasted quite long, working on it from time to time and it was my first experience with a completely new tool Airfix kit (152 parts, first released in 2015).

The general impression is good. The model is huge considering the scale (36 cm wingspan) with clean parts, in light gray plastic, without annoying mould signs, clear transparent parts and thin, well-printed decals.

The whole construction was completely OOB (Out Of the Box), the only addition being the fabric seat belts by Eduard, an unnecessary extra, hardly distinguished after closing the fuselage and cementing the canopy, but I just wanted to try it. They behave almost like a decal, hard to fold, and I don't think there is any reason to use them at least in 1/72 scale, especially in a closed or “greenhouse style” canopy of a WW2 bomber.

The fit of the larger parts is very good and most of them join together in a seamless snug, except for the transparent parts of the "greenhouse" cockpit that create an ugly step on the starboard, which needs persistent trimming with a needle file/wet & dry paper and attention to eliminate it properly.

The smaller parts of the kit look like somewhat abstract castings (machine guns, bombs, etc), but in such a great model overall, they probably pass unnoticed. However, the barrels of rear machine guns were replaced by resin aftermarket items.

One of the drawbacks are the bomb hatches, which in order to be cemented in the open position, all relevant parts must be cut and separated with the modelling knife. Then they suffer from poor fit and unfortunately there are no location pins to help the modeller achieve the correct angle.

The painting was done using Tamiya colors, the exact mix ratios of which unfortunately were lost, as I kept them in another file which accidentally was deleted. For Dark Earth as a primary colour I used a mix of Tamiya’s XF52 + XF54 + XF2 (1:1:1). This was lightened afterwards with Matt Flesh and more White, in order to achieve three different shades, used in successive coats (allowing sufficient drying time in between) for a more realistic effect. For the Dark Green the mix was: XF61+XF65+XF2 (1:1:1) as the primary colour. This was then lightened with Yellow and White and finally darkened with Matt Black.

Fading was applied with heavily thinned enamel filters, giving an almost overall wear. The fabric covered wing surfaces (which admittedly are not so realistic as I would like) were highlighted carefully with coats of heavily thinned oil colors. The resulting image was supplemented with panel line washes of Tamiya and Ammo of MIG relevant products. For the exhaust stains effect on the engines I used Tamiya German Grey XF63 (which is extremely dark) and Buff mainly - no black at all. I outlined the streaks with the Dark Gray, according to photos from Lancasters, since both planes were using the same engines and have similar dihedral. Then the inside area was filled with various shades of Buff, lighter at the center. I used an Iwata HP-B 0,2mm airbrush and the paint was heavily thinned 85-90% with Tamiya laquer thinner. Low pressure and steady hand are necessary to create this effect.

So, there you have it, a very realistic Whitley MkV bomber in 1/72 scale from a nice, new tool Airfix kit. Not too difficult for the average modeller, with enough detail and certainly a worthwhile addition to any WW2 bomber collection.

Useful links:

https://admin.hornby.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/A08016-Instructions.pdf

https://www.pla.gr/armstrong-whitworth-whitley-mk.v-1-72-p-5882.html?sess=359e8ffdd5daa441c7144522b2aeae72

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armstrong_Whitworth_Whitley

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