This was a fine quality model by Chinese manufacturer Kinetic only let down by extremely poor instructions, lack of comprehensive painting guidance, and no ordnance whatsoever!
Apart from that, the build itself was relatively straightforward. The real challenge was masking and painting the camouflage. I used the new stretchy masking putty by AK for the intricate pattern which only roughly conformed to the actual one depicted in the instructions.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Falklands conflict in 1982 so it was an appropriate project! 24 were deployed by Argentina to the islands but were destroyed by the British at Goose Green and Pebble Island before the start of major hostilities. Some captured Pucaras were returned to the UK and displayed in museums.
Here is what Kinetic says about the Pucara
… Argentine ground-attack and counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft manufactured by the Fabrica Militar de Aviones. It is a low-wing twin-turboprop all-metal monoplane with retractable landing gear, capable of operating from unprepared strips when operationally required. The type saw action during the Falklands War and the Sri Lankan Civil War.
The Pucara (Quechua:Fortress) was designed for operations from short, rough airstrips. The retractable tricycle landing gear, with a single nosewheel and twin mainwheels retracting into the engine nacelles, is fitted with low pressure tyres to suit operations on rough ground, while the undercarriage legs are tall to give good ground clearance for underslung weapons loads.
This is a new release by Airfix and overall a fine model with fine recessed panel lines. There were a few glitches, e.g. holes were missing for attaching parts D52 and C31. I messed up the varnishing process and as a result ruined the kit decals, which had silvered badly anyway. Luckily, I had some roundels and code letters in the spares box which worked better. There was the option to make the all-black night fighter version but I preferred the more colourful standard dark earth and dark earth with black underside version.
At the start of WW2 and before the introduction of the heavy bombers, the RAF had to make do with the stop-gap bombers, the four twin-engined Hampden, Blenheim, Whitley and Wellington, and worst of the bunch, the Fairey Battle. These aircraft constituted the backbone of Bomber Command well into 1942.
The Whitley V was powered by the excellent Rolls Royce Merlin and could cruise at 165mph with a 8,000-lb bomb load over short distances.
‘A vital part of Bomber Command until the introduction of the four engine heavy bombers, the Whitley took part in the first RAF bombing raid on German territory, and also performed many leaflet dropping sorties in the early days of the war (see below). Always intended for night time operations the Whitley was a slow machine with docile handling characteristics but with a ceiling of just 15,000 ft with a full bomb load it was still vulnerable. After its retirement from front line bombing duties many served with the RAF’s Coastal Command or as a glider tug and transport machine.’ (Airfix).
According to Max Hastings: ‘ The Whitley looked for all the world like a rather pedantic, middle-aged pipe-smoker, with its jutting chin mounting a single Vickers K gun and its extraordinary tail-high attitude in flight. On its debut in 1937, Flight magazine wrote: ‘The Whitley is as kind to its crew as it is likely to be unkind to any enemy down below’. Yet in reality the essential weakness of all Bomber Command’s early wartime aircraft was their mass of inadequate ancillary equipment prone to technical failure and their utter lack of basic comfort for crews compelled to live in them for ten hours at a stretch. Each aircraft carried a crew of five: two pilots; a navigator; a wireless operator, who usually spent much of the trip with his1155 set in pieces in front of him, or struggling to coax more power out of the Whitley’s generators; and a rear gunner, who nursed his four Brownings in a power-operated turret mounted between the twin booms of the tail’. (Max Hastings, ‘Bomber Command’, 1979).
‘Bomber Command launched its first attack of the war against a land target on the night of 19 March 1940, when twenty Hampdens from 5 Group and thirty Whitleys of 4 Group attacked the German Seaplane base of Hornum, on the island of Sylt, a few miles west of the German-Danish coast.
Seven of the Whitleys came from 10 Squadron at Dishforth in Yorkshire, led by their flamboyand squadron commander, Bill Staton. The crews were full of excitement and apprehension to be carrying a live bomb load at last. There had been so many months of dreary ‘nickellin’-dropping propaganda leaflets over Germany, an exercise which they heartily agreed with Arthur Harris had done no more than ‘provide the enemy with five years free supply of lavatory paper’ (Hastings, ‘Bomber Command’ 1979).