Hawker Hurricane Mk.I Tropical. Airfix 1:48.

The ‘Hurrie’ ready for take off from Sidi Barani, Egypt, 1941.

The Hurricane was getting towards obsolescence by the start of WW2, but this tough, partly fabric covered aircraft played a crucial role in the early part of the war and went with the BEF to France in early 1940. We all remember the scene of them getting shot up at the start of the movie ‘Battle of Britain‘, shown elsewhere on my site.

Quite a bit of work went into the construction of this kit although most of it you can’t see as it’s inside the fuselage! Airfix have taken to adding a lot of interior details to their models of late, no bad thing in my opinion.

There were one or two oddities with this kit, one of which was having to cut out a sizeable piece of plastic under the nose.

I used my modelling saw to hack out the indicated piece
The removed piece. Why didn’t they just mould it that way!?
Some of the interior frames. There was an option to expose the breeches of the Browning machine guns, which is a nice touch, but having already done that on a previous Mk.I Hurricane, I elected to leave them covered. The paint scheme was going to be tricky enough!
Masking off the wings before spraying the aluminium leading edge
And underneath…
The Hurricane always looks like she means the business from head on. Overshadowed by the Supermarine Spitfire of course but still a lovely looking kite in my opinion and the vital work horse of the Battle of Britain. They were more numerous than the Spitfires, and being slower, were mainly tasked with attacking the Luftwaffe bombers.
Despite its fiddly nature, this scheme was irresistible. Flown by Sergeant Pilot F.H.Dean, No. 274 Squadron.
A fair bit of weathering-the trick is knowing when to stop!
I read this short memoir by Roald Dahl during lockdown, which partly inspired me to make this model. As I recall, he joined the RAF in Kenya and trained in a Tiger Moth, then progressed to a Gladiator in Iraq and finally flew combat missions in the Western Desert and Greece. He crashed in Libya and for a time lost his sight. After recovering, he was sent on the futile mission to Greece where he took part in dog fights. He was forced to give up the service from a black out he suffered during an aerial duel if I remember correctly, probably as a result of his crash in the desert. It’s a great story.
In Greece
Later sent to Palestine

Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc. USAAF. Operation Torch. Airfix 1:72.

This is the recent release by Airfix which I opted to do in the USAAF markings just for something different! It’s a very pleasing kit despite the fact I made a pig’s ear of hand painting it and had to strip it all off again! I used Hataka blue line paints from their North Africa set at first but found the paints extremely thin and added too many coats which led to an uneven finish and obscuring some of the fine detail. I went back to my trusty airbrush and favourite AK interactive paints of RAF Middle Stone, RAF Dark Earth and RAF Azure Blue.

The kit has an amazing amount of interior detail for this scale and has fine recessed panel lines, a lot finer than some of Airfix’s other recent releases.

Unfortunately, you can’t quite see all the little details in the cockpit but believe me they are there! It is unusual in this scale to have a separate cockpit tub.
307th Fighter Squadron, Twelfth Air Force, United States Army Air Force, La Sénia , Algeria, November/December 1942.
I found a discrepancy in the instructions to do with the exhaust stacks. Both sets of stacks had little pipes protruding front and back but it appears the American version didn’t have these so I removed them. You can check with the photos below. I believe on good authority, i.e. my researcher Doug, that this had something to do with warming the guns.
Note the blanked roundel on the starboard wing. As this was a Spitfire in American service, it is in keeping with the standard practice of American markings at that time which only had one star on the upper wing.
At first I thought the exhausts protruded out too much but having checked photos, I believe they did stick out quite a bit, which makes sense as they would have wanted the exhaust fumes to be far out from the fuselage. The yellow rim around the star markings was used in Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa, to match the RAF insignia in order to avoid ‘friendly fire’ incidents. The American pilots were brought to England first to train intensively in flying Spitfires.
The belly, again with a blanked roundel. I added the big slipper tank (for extra fuel) just for interest. The big front filter and slipper tank do obscure slightly the elegant lines of the Spitfire but from above it still looks beautiful!
The alternative RAF version flown later in Italy

Operation Torch was the Allied code name for the simultaneous Anglo-American invasion of North-West Africa on November 8, 1942. General Eisenhower was in overall command, a surprising choice as Eisenhower was relatively unknown at the time. A press officer referred to him as ‘Lt. Col. D.D.Ersenbring’!

Torch had several strategic objectives:

  1. To trap Rommel’s Afrika Korps between the British forces moving from the East and Americans invading from the West.
  2. Gain suitable bases for further operations in southern Europe.
  3. Tighten the blockade of the Axis by concentrating on Southern Atlantic and Mediterranean sea routes.
  4. Help solidify the alliance with the USSR by taking some pressure off the desperate and weary Soviets and show them the Western Allies were serious about invading Europe and defeating Hitler.
  5. Prevent Franco’s Spain from entering the war.
  6. Forestall any similar action by the Axis.


Three separate task forces made up the Torch invasion. Some 35,000 American troops left the United States for French Morocco; another 35,000 came from England to take Oran in western Algeria; and a third task force of 10,000 Americans and 23,000 British moved from England to take Algiers. The British and American naval forces transported all the troops in this undertaking.

The landings began on November 8, 1942. The British managed to get ashore with little difficulty, but the French forces at Oran and in Morocco did not surrender until November 10 and 11.

The operation was complicated by a confused political situation. The attempt to win a rapid French surrender was foiled when the anti-British Adm. Jean Darlan returned unexpectedly to North Africa two days before the invasion He at first led a fierce French resistance. Some French forces in North Africa were loyal to General Charles de Gaulle’s liberation movement in England; others backed General Henri Giraud, who had just escaped to France from a German prison camp; and some were pledge to their commander, General Henri Petain, head of the Vichy Government. Darlan broke with Petain and ordered the surrender of Algiers on the evening of November 8th.

From: Louis L. Snyder’s Historical Guide to World War II

The British were initially opposed to a landing on the Atlantic coast as they were primarily concerned with moving into Tunisia and trapping Rommel. However, the Americans were concerned that if anything went wrong, they would not be bottled up in the Mediterranean and should have an Atlantic escape route just in case. They got their way!
A well-written book on Torch

Now for some entertainment!

From the great movie ‘Patton’ starring George C. Scott. A nice example of ‘ululating’!
This incident didn’t happen but hey, its great to watch those Heinkel He-111s!

Airfix 1:48 Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.1

An unusual beast, the Defiant is usually seen as a failure.

This is my version of the Airfix 1:48 Defiant, a fairly recent release. I was having lots of trouble with my airbrush (it happens often!) so decided to brush paint instead for a change. Quite pleased with the result. You just need to thin the paint properly, take your time, and apply several thin coats The camo may not be quite accurate but it is near enough!

Added a fair amount of chipping

The Boulton Paul Defiant was the only ‘turret fighter’ to enter service with the RAF. A contemporary of the only other turret fighter, the Royal Navy’s Blackburn Roc, the Defiant was conceived as a fighter that would be able to enter a bomber stream and cause havoc with the four machine guns bristling from its turret and the turret would also enable it to defend itself from enemy fighters.

However, despite its sleek lines and powerful Merlin engine, the Defiant proved a failure as a daytime interceptor. During the Battle of Britain, the Defiant proved fairly successful at first as enemy pilots were taken by surprise. But the Luftwaffe pilots worked out its weaknesses, especially the lack of forward firing guns which meant head on attacks from enemy fighters were often fatal.

The Defiant was soon relegated to a night fighting role were it fared better, before being eventually re-assigned to Air Sea Rescue and training duties.

Building the kit was not as challenging as I was expecting. However, the instructions are a little confusing with so many options for the turret, open, closed, sideways facing or rear facing, with the back upper panel either raised or lowered! Took some figuring out believe me!

No 264 Squadron, Martlesham Heath, Suffolk, England, July 1940
A surprisingly large aircraft
Behind the turret sits the green canopy cover which can be raised or lowered in real life depending on which way the turret is facing
Box Art
Was left scratching my head at first when I saw all the turret options!
In the end I plumped for the rear firing turret option with closed canopy just to keep things simple!

‘The Boulton Paul Defiant is an aircraft which has suffered from a great deal of misinformation and scorn over the years, though it remains a quirky favourite of many people. It is said to have been a hopeless failure in air combat, yet only thirty-seven Defiants were ever shot down by the Luftwaffe, while recording 152 victories of their own: a healthy ratio. In fact, the Defiant had only had two really bad days in aerial combat: 13 May 1940 when B Flight of No 264 Squadron lost five of its six aircraft over Holland, while claiming five German aircraft shot down, and 19 July 1940 when seven out of nine Defiants of No. 141 Squadron were shot down by superior numbers of Bf.109s, four of which were claimed in return. It was this action more than any other which has dogged the reputation of the aircraft.

I have spoken to many ex-Defiant aircrew over the years, and not one of them had a bad word to say against it. Those who flew with No. 264 Squadron, which undertook all but one of its combats in daylight, saw no reason for the type to be taken off day fighting; they totally believed they could hold their own against the Bf.109s, and the records show that they were right.’

From ‘Boulton Paul Defiant: An Illustrated History’ Amberley Publishing 2019

by Alec Brew

Hawker Hurricane Mk 1. Ready for Battle diorama. Airfix 1: 48 scale gift set.

The chaps on the wing are armourers loading the classic Colt-Browning machine guns, four to each wing.

This is the Airfix set starring a Mk. I Battle of Britain Hawker Hurricane in 1:48 scale. The aircraft is so well-known, I wont say anything about it save it was a very rugged aircraft and easy to repair and maintain in the field. The only extras I added myself were the hoses made from plastic tubing.

It was a very enjoyable project brim full of details and well worth the money! The dog’s name is Scamper, by the way!

A very busy scene! A problem fitting it all in!
I like the pilot running figure though not quite sure why he is running to the ‘Hurrie’ when a pilot is already clambering in! Perhaps he just wants to wish him good luck!
Refuelling hose and electric starter generator
Battle of Britain (1969) “France, May, 1940”
Love this scene, especially when the Me109s swoop in!

Bristol Blenheim Mk.IF Airfix 1/48 scale.

Bristol Blenheim Mk.1F in Desert scheme. It was nicknamed the ‘flying greenhouse’ and the reason is pretty apparent from the photo!

I have always considered the early type Blenheim a rather ugly looking aircraft and much prefer the longer nose Mk IV version but when I saw a review of this all-new kit by Airfix I was sold! The moulding quality appeared to be a lot better than some of their recent releases with very good surface details particularly on the wings which have very fine panel lines and rivets both raised and recessed. I have shown a number of photos of different stages of the build process to convey something of the above average complexity of this kit.

It was the first modern bomber to be delivered to the RAF and one of the first aircraft to use all-metal, stressed-skin construction, powered gun turret, retractable landing gear, flaps and variable pitch propellers.

Despite these advantages, the Blenheim stood little chance against the German Messerschmitt Bf109 during daylight operations and was soon relegated to a night fighting role.

The Blenheim was one of the stop-gap bombers that the RAF had to use until the new generation of ‘heavies’ came into service such as the Avro Lancaster.

Here is what Len Deighton has to say about the Bristol Blenheim IF in his book, ‘Battle of Britain’:

‘This unfortunate aircraft was an attempt to operate a long-range heavy fighter variant of the Blenheim light bomber. Equipped with four Brownings in a ventral pack under the fuselage, one gun in a rear turret and one in the port wing, it was hopelessly slow and clumsy in action against German fighters. Even when transferred to a night fighter role, it proved too slow to catch most German bombers to which it was vectored. The seven Blenheim squadrons in Fighter Command on 1 July 1940 could play little part in the Battle. Their fate showed the futility f the Air Ministry doctrine that it was better to put anything into the air than nothing.’

Box art
Two markings are offered for this kit, the conventional dark Dark Earth, Dark Green, Black or overall Black night fighter version. I decided to opt for the more attractive Mediterranean camouflage scheme of Dark Earth/Middlestone over Azure Blue.
Optional decal sheet used for my preferred Desert/Mediterranean scheme.
Instructions showing complicated undercarriage assembly almost a model in itself!
Preshading the panel lines and canopy masking. It was a tricky (and scary!) operation to join the two large canopy halves together down the centre line. I posed the top hatch open.
The intricate undercarriage assembly with integrated oil tank which extends into the engine nacelle. I thought these would prove too fragile but they are remarkably sturdy. The wheel wells are also highly detailed.
Cockpit. Behind the pilot’s seat is a dinghy.
The kit comes with a lone seated pilot figure. Unfortunately the rest of the crew seem to have gone AWOL.
This Blenheim was part of 45 Squadron based at Helwan, Egypt, 29, July 1940. Sorry about the plastic palm tree I must find something more realistic!
The beautiful RAF azure blue. Maybe should have been a tad lighter! The bomb bay is closed. There is an option for a four gun ventral pack under the fuselage but I believe this particular version didn’t carry one which is a shame. Note flattened tyres to convey weight.
Close up port wing showing highlighted panel lines.
Rivet detail. Cowl flaps are open.

1 32 Spitfire Mk IXc by Tamiya

Spitfire Mk IXc in Desert Air Force camouflage. This one was a member of 145 Squadron flown by Squadron Leader S. Skalski (5 kills).
The gorgeous box art

This was my first ever Tamiya 1 32 model and it was a sheer joy to build! The kit exudes sheer luxury and the level of detail is extraordinary. Everything fits perfectly and you end up with a wonderful display model straight out of the box (OOB). I chose the tropical scheme rather than the dark grey/green shown on the box top as it’s one of my favourites.

The Merlin 61 engine was fitted to the existing Spitfire Mk.V variant to match the performance of the newly encountered German Fw190s. It retained the same sleek lines of earlier Marks but the body of the aircraft was elongated by 9 inches to accommodate the new engine which incorporated a two-stage supercharger. The Mk IX also added 70 mph to the Spitfire’s top speed and 10,000 ft to its fighting altitude.

A four-bladed propeller was added to handle the astonishing 20% increase in power.

The Spitfire Mk IX became the most numerous and arguably the greatest variant of this legendary aircraft with more than 7,000 delivered to the RAF, Soviet and other Allied air forces.

Note Polish flag (reversed) and five white swastikas ahead of windscreen.
Tamiya supply a glossy brochure with the kit which has detailed photos of the real aircraft.
Excellent reference. Highly recommended when making this kit. Shows other Marks of Spitfire as well.
Photo from above book of an actual Spitfire at Temora Aviation Museum. This is a Mk.VIII although it would have been the same as the Mk. IXc. The well of the floor-less cockpit was a tangle of wires and devices to operate the machine.
The book gives a detailed guide to the various assembly stages
This photo from the book gives an idea of the fantastic engine detail. I left off a panel in my model to expose some of it.
Some of the alternative marking options for the Mk. IXc although not all are included in the kit. These would have to be sourced after-market.