Blackburn Buccaneer S.2C. No. 800 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Eagle, June, 1971. Airfix 1:72

Fleet Air Arm ‘Buc’ just landed!

Another one of my ventures into classic British post-war jets, this time the famous Blackburn Buccaneer which entered RN service in 1962 ‘to counter the significant threat of a massive Soviet naval expansion programme’ (Airfix).

This was quite a challenging kit as most jet models are and needed a bit of forethought before actual construction. There is an option for folded wings as it is a carrier aircraft but I decided to keep mine down as I like the lines of this aircraft so much. As you can see, I have also deployed the airbrake at the back of the aircraft although initially I had left it closed which required a bit of delicate surgery to remove it!

The model has been primed with grey primer. The pilots came with the kit. A lot of modellers leave the pilots out which I think is a pity as it adds a bit of interest. Besides, I like to get my money’s worth! A little filler was needed round the nose cone and engine air intakes but nothing too drastic!
The markings underneath had to be applied before the underwing stores and fuel tanks were added. Some careful masking was needed as well, as can be seen. The jet pipes can be seen in the undercarriage bays which I gave a burnished look to replicate heat. Have no idea if its realistic but it looks nice! The key to these modern complicated aircraft is patience!
The funny looking airbrake assembly
The fuel tanks and Matra rocket pods had to be assembled and painted separately
And here she is in all her glory sitting on the deck of HMS Eagle. The other option was an Ark Royal aircraft. The slight sheen of the satin dark sea grey comes through but not too much as I wanted an aircraft that looked slightly weather beaten and faded, perhaps having seen a few Atlantic gales!
I enhanced the panel lines slightly using a black wash and airbrushed Tamiya ‘smoke’, which is ideal for this type of weathering. It is very subtle and you can add or subtract with thinner as much as you like according to taste. There are a few stains towards the rear of the jet where the exhaust fumes would have exited.
The Buccaneer was a very rugged design for obvious reasons and has a curious ‘coke bottle’ shape which apparently enhances the aerodynamics, but don’t ask me why!
I left off quite a few of the tiny stencils underneath as I could barely see them and they were just too fiddly for this old dog to bother with! Unfortunately the code letters ‘silvered’ slightly, probably due to lack of gloss so good thing they are underneath and out of sight! One tiny detail was missing from sprue D, part D15, which I believe is an air intake device? I refashioned another one from scrap and am quite proud of the result. It is the elongated thing to the right of the starboard intake, which is the left one in the pic, oh heck, you know what I mean!
I went to a lot of trouble to get the canopy to close and then later decided to leave it open dohhh. Incidentally, I had to hand paint the desert yellow lines on the canopy frame, not the most pleasurable of jobs but had to be done as masking would have been virtually impossible in this scale. Overall I am pleased with the look and I shall never say grey jets are boring ever again!
The box cover depicting the Ark Royal version. Both are attractive schemes.


Just a note about the Buccaneer from James Hamilton-Paterson’s book ‘Empire of the Clouds’. Apparently, the Navy had been against the TSR.2 (the eventually aborted ‘Tactical Strike Reconnaissance’ aircraft ed. )because they had been promised a carrier-borne strike aircraft for their own use, the Blackburn Buccaneer, and they worried that the TSR.2 project would consume all available funds before the Buccaneer became airborne. The RAF wanted an aircraft which was to be supersonic, which the Buccaneer unfortunately was not, and after the Lightning anything else was considered a retrograde step. As he puts it, ‘Additional heat was supplied to this argument by the ancient inter-service rivalry in which the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm each pretended the other hardly existed, let alone was competent to fly an aeroplane’ (!).

In the end, Blackburn came up with a proposal for the P.150 supersonic version of the Buccaneer.

Airfix states:

British thinking at the time was to use their new strike jet to destroy the Soviet ships with a combination of conventional and nuclear weapons. Capable of extremely high speeds at low level, the Buccaneer proved to be ideal even though the performance of the first Buccaneers to enter service was affected by a lack of power from their two de Havilland Gyron junior engines. Addressing most of the issues which prevented the early aircraft from realizing their full potential, the Buccaneer S.2 was a much improved platform, boasting a modified wing, increased fuel capacity and a pair of powerful Rolls Royce Spey engines. This new variant provided the Fleet Air Arm with a truly exceptional strike aircraft, which excelled in the low-level environment. As the Royal Navy retired their larger carriers in 1978, their much-loved Buccaneers were transferred to the care of the Royal Air Force (along with their pilots I might add), who were already admirers of the many qualities possessed by the aircraft and grateful for this increase in their inventory. At its peak strength in the early 1970s, the Buccaneer equipped no fewer than six Royal Air Force squadrons.’


Max speed: 667 mph

Armament: various combinations of unguided bombs, laser-guided bombs and the Red Beard tactical nuclear bombs. 4 Matra rocket pods, 2 x AIM-9 sidewinder or 2 x AS-37 Martel missiles, or 4 x Sea Eagle missiles.

An interesting video showing how the Buccaneer used a feature called ‘boundary layer control’ to be able to fly at extremely low level. The Desert Storm version is one I hope to make one day!

English Electric Lightning F.2A. Airfix 1:72

She is quite a beast even in 1:72 scale! No. 92 Squadron, Royal Air Force Germany, RAF Gütersloh, 1974. Lightnings were used as all-weather interceptors to interdict Soviet bombers in case of nuclear attack. This was known as QRA ‘Quick Reaction Alert’ and they were on standby 24/7, 365 days a year, ready to scramble in seconds.

Despite this being a relatively new tooling by Airfix, it had a number of issues. I found it impossible to get the fuselage halves to join near the nose without major surgery inside to the jet intake, fortunately none of which can be seen when complete. It also needed liberal amounts of superglue. Even then I still had to sand the sides to get the canopy to fit better but still not 100%. The missiles were a nightmare to attach and I should have done that at the start and not at the end when the model was already painted! Still, as an experienced modeller, you get used to these problems and overall I am fairly pleased with the final result. This was only my second Lightning model. I built the Frog/Novo version many years ago which I painted all silver from a spray can! Needless to say, I have come a long way since those days!

The iconic Lightning has to rank as one of my all-time favourite jets and I should imagine every young boy who saw one flying dreamed of being a Lightning pilot. I remember seeing one at Exeter airport air display as a child. It was deafeningly noisy at low level and after streaking past the crowd just above the runway it went straight up like a rocket almost vertically and disappeared into the blue in seconds. Unforgettable!

Armament: 2 x Firestreak or Red Top AAM and 2 x 30mm cannon
The large belly for fuel. The Lightning was a gas guzzler with limited range unless it could be re-fueled mid-air. It is said pilots would have to check their fuel gauges about every 3 seconds!
Capturing the sleek lines. The Lightning was built for speed and could achieve Mach 2+, the only UK-designed-and-built fighter ever to do so. It also had a phenomenal rate of climb and could reach a ceiling of 60,000ft!
I used Vallejo Duralumin acrylic metallic paint for the bare metal finish. I lifted some after masking as it is so thin so needed a bit of touch up. A quirk of the Lightning was the fact that its nose wheel retracted forwards into the undercarriage bay instead of backwards. As the take-off was so fast, if a pilot didn’t retract it in time, the wheel would be impossible to raise due to the power of the air flow. Scary!
A unique feature of the Lightning was the engines within the fuselage, one on top of the other. These were Rolls-Royce Avon turbojets, which could use afterburner or reheat especially on take off.
From the front it’s hard to tell if it’s a Lightning or Soviet Mig-21! Note the cambered wing.

The Lightning was an incredibly complicated piece of engineering and it took about 1,000 hours of maintenance for each hour of flight. This fact together with its ‘short legs’ or restricted range, meant that it was not a great export success although some were bought by the Kuwaiti and Saudi air forces. It was later developed by the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) and equipped 9 squadrons which were the backbone of British air defence for a quarter of a century. The Lightning was eventually superseded by the Tornado, a far more boring plane in comparison in my opinion!

Box. This was a gift set and came with the basic colours in the usual pots, which were pretty much useless! I used Vallejo Green Olive instead for the main camouflage colour.

Hunting Percival Jet Provost T.4 Central Flying School. Airfix 1:72 scale

Hunting Percival in RAF Red Pelicans display team livery

This is the famous Jet Provost trainer, a rare venture for me as I usually concentrate on weapons of mass destruction as you have probably noticed if you are a follower of my site! However, it was later developed into a ground-attack aircraft under the name Strikemaster and developed by BAC (British Aircraft Corporation). The Jet Provost served in the RAF from 1955 to 1993, quite a longevity! Of course now the RAF uses the Hawk trainer instead.

Airfix info:

‘The Jet Provost was introduced in the late 1950s and quickly became the RAF’s premier jet basic trainer. The T3 model, introduced in 1959, featured an uprated engine and an improved canopy design, offering the side by side seated pilot and pupil a much improved view. The Provost was a joy to fly, forgiving and easy to learn on, with many of the 1960s and 70s RAF front line pilots learning their trade on its un-swept wings. Its reliability and strength also added to its suitability as a jet trainer and the addition of wing tip tanks on the T3 also added to its endurance. The T4 model was visually identical to the T3, but featured a more powerful engine again, and both variants served with a wide variety of RAF squadrons and training colleges. The T4 even served with the RAF’s Red Pelicans display team. Today a few ex RAF Jet Provosts remain flying, their suitability as training machines making them highly suitable for civilian jet operations’.

This kit was a breeze to put together which was as well, as the painting was quite tricky. The upside is that you really don’t need to add a varnish finish and can get straight on with the decaling.

As this is a trainer, the instructor and pupil sit together in tandem. The logo ‘Central Flying School’ is just aft of the fuselage roundel but its hard to see in the photos.
Sitting in the palm of my hand to show the diminutive size of the model!
The only way I could figure to hold it while airbrushing was to stick an old paintbrush in the fuselage through the rear exhaust! Notice the latex glove as I had to be careful not to leave sticky fingerprints while working on the model.
Has a very low undercarriage. I added weights inside the nose as recommended in the instructions.
It is similar in appearance to the American Cessna Dragonfly with the tandem seating configuration and straight wing. But very attractive, in fact it does remind me of the flying insect! To the left is the small pot of red gloss paint which came as part of the kit, along with black, grey and silver.
This is how I kept the model safe while working on it. It required several fine mist layers of red gloss. Luckily, there was just about enough paint for the job!
Box art. Airfix also make the Jet Provost in other schemes, but I like this one for the sheer simplicity.
I believe this is a Strikemaster I saw at Fairford although I have no idea who it belongs to
Another Jet Provost also at Fairford this time in RAF colours.