Avro Lancaster B Mk.1/Mk.III
Four Engined Bomber
Kit No. 00553. 1:72nd scale
I am not sure how old the Airfix Lancaster is but it must be 15 yrs since it's re release came out so a new kit is certainly overdue. Hasegawa have come up with new up to date version using today's engineering technology with engraved panel lines and some very fine part mouldings. I had both to hand so I built the two kits for a comparison check and found very little difference in the finished models but there are some in the construction and details. The newer cockpit has much more detail in it but not all is correct it seems and the fuselage holds spars for the main wings and the tail planes which fit into recesses so no cement can show, this makes it so much easier to align the wings at the proper angles. On the Airfix model all the turrets rotate but on the new kit they don't and while the new bomb bay is much better detailed with hangers for each bomb the old bay has a more usual load of three bombs across each row against the newer one with four, that is possible but a very tight fit so three was the norm is seems. Both kits give you the alternative of open or closed bomb doors but the new kit unlike the older one gives clear fuselage side windows as opposed to just engravings on the sides.
The new kit has the main wheel bays moulded in the lower wing half whereas the old one has the bays in the nacelles, the landing gear struts on the old kit are a bit basic but strong while the newer set are more detailed but very delicate. Each new leg is made up of five very fine parts and includes the linkage to the doors which you will need to bend outward to reach the doors. The new wheels are bulged with "flat bottoms" but remember that Airfix wheels were moulded before flat tyres were the fashion.
The new Hasegawa engine nacelles come with separate exhausts and shrouds to give you a choice of fitting and the small intakes come as individual parts but do not have the tiny screens in front of them as the Airfix kit does. The outer nacelles are not fully faired into the wing leading edge, unlike the Airfix kit, but you do get a choice of propellors, pointed and paddle type.
Separate actuators for the ailerons are a feature on the new kit but not on the old and you get some clear wing tip nav lights for this new version plus separate mass balances for the rudders.
Hasegawa's canopy comes in several pieces, there is an alternative high or low astra dome and the side windows come bulged or flat but these fit on using the same method as the airfix windows. The main canopy part V3 has the escape hatch in the forward row of top windows when it should be in the second row as is the Airfix kit.
The new model has the radar dish included in the H2s dome and you get the Monica aerial for the tail moulded on plus the nose aerials and alernative pitot tubes for early or late Lancasters.
There is one big mistake on this model,the tail wheel is much too big almost 1/48th I would say and it makes the model sit at an unnatural angle, in fact it is appx one and a half times the size of the Airfix tail wheel.
Construction of the model is straight forward and quite easy, the instruction sheet is quite clear with full painting guides all the way through.
The decal sheet provides markings for three aircraft, PO+S from 467 Sqdn summer 1944, PO+S 467 Sqdn May 1944 and PO+V 467 Sqdn summer 1943.
Note how large the roundels are here they should be smaller as on the Airfix wing.
Painting was made very easy with both kits as the assembled wings and tailplanes could be painted before adding to the fuselage, my models had the top colurs painted first and then masked along the fuselage and engine nacelles for the black undersides.
I used Xtracolor for one model and Revell paints for the other but after the coats of Klear were added I can't tell which is which.
My Airfix model had the rivets rubbed off and some panel lines scribed on but the Hasegawa model was built as is and at Telford SMW last weekend very few people could tell the difference between the two, as a comparison goes not much to choose from overall just the details provided with the newer tooling.
I chose to make up my model in the markings of an old pal of mine who flew in Lancasters during the war he was with 75 NZ Sqdn first with Stirlings and then moved to 7 Sqdn on Lancs, his pilots name was F/O Mee and his planes always carried the code letter M, I have chosen one of four aircraft he flew in to complete 31 ops, a full tour of duty.
I have a copy of my pal's log book and recorded in it is an incident which took place on the night of Dec 2 1943, they were destined for Berlin but were attacked by an Me 110 on the way in, severe damage, which rendered the gun turrets, compass and intercom unserviceable, was inflicted on his aircraft, my pal also was hit in the head with a cannon shell. The pilot pressed on to the target released his bombs and turned for home, after leaving the target area another fighter attack developed but aided by skillful directions given by his gunners F/O Mee avoided further damage and flew home to make a safe landing at base.
My Pal recounted to me that he was hospitalised on Dec 3rd where they replaced the top of his skull with a silver plate and released from Hospital Dec 30th and back on ops in January 1944 with his crew, but by March his injuries caused him to come off ops and the first time his old crew went out without him they were shot down over Berlin and there were no survivers. Thanks to these guys courage we are able to tell the tale today.
Ted Taylor Nov 2005