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Modeler #04, John Trueblood

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This is my RAAF Mk 21 Beaufighter from the Tamiya TF Mk X. I've depicted my Beau as a grizzled veteran of 93 Squadron in 1945. I've always been fascinated with the Beaufighter. Although it was a big fellow, it was surprisingly fast, agile and deadly.  As a boy I read a short story by the magazine reporter Gordon Gaskill. His article "Fifteen Feet Above Hell" described a Beaufighter raid on a target in Libya.

He wrote about flying over a herd of camels grazing in the desert brush. Noting that they didn't even look up as the Beaufighter approached, because by some "devilish miracle of engineering, you can't hear a Beaufighter coming toward you". Mr. Gaskill wrote that all the noise went out the rear, and you don't hear a sound until it is directly on top of you. Then it's too late. "The Camels fled in terror only when they were nearly sheared".

Ever since then I had wanted to build a model of the "Beau". It was a long wait but finally Tamiya produced a series of Beaufighters. This is my second one. When the kit was first released I built a Mk 1f night fighter "Bambi".

Following is a list of the modifications and fixes I made to the Tamiya kit.

Changed the wing guns from the .303s to the .50s. I also filled the mysterious 2nd set of shell ejector chutes that Tamiya molded into the wings.

Moved the gun camera to the port wing and filled the panel lines and camera aperture on the starboard side. I sanded down the small rectangular patches Tamiya had molded onto the tops of the wings. I can only imagine that the Tamiya engineers studied and measured an aircraft that had received some repair patches.

Added the Sperry Autopilot housing and the small cooling vent in front of the windscreen. I replaced the oil cooler intakes, added their mounting bolts and replaced the "hedgehog exhausts with the crisply molded ones from Cutting Edge.

Made a new set of wheels and tires. The Tamiya hubs were fine but the tires were a total mystery. I mounted Mosquito tires onto the Beau's rims. I added the retraction mechanism for the tail wheel. I replaced the main gear doors with the Cutting Edge set and super detailed the landing gear & wells. The gear wells each received lots of "fiddly bits"

Removed the strange humps incorrectly positioned on the tops of the horizontal stabilizers and made new, more to scale actuators from brass rod and sheet. These were attached to the bottom of the stabilizers. I added the fuel vents and drains, and the vortex generator to the front of the
observer's canopy. I added MV Products lenses to the landing light housing, and shaped, colored and polished the position lights.

Replaced the simplified kit Bristol Hercules engines with the resin offering from Cutting Edge.  I went the full distance, including wiring each of the 28 cylinders, adding the cowl stiffeners and fabricating the exhaust manifolds. I cut short lengths of soft solder for each engine cylinder and
bent it to shape.

Now it was time for the interior. I had excellent references including the nice set of photos Brett provided in his reference article about the Beau. I had a great time putting in all sorts of things; (this includes stuff like the articulating table lamp above the navigators desk, tail drift sight, and
the spare ammo racks) If I could find a picture of it I tried to cram it in. Most of it can't be seen, but as they say "I know it's there".

I wanted to finish my Mk 21 as a "war weary" veteran. Everything got glued together with Tenex. Seams were checked and touched up with Mr. Surfacer. I polished the bare plastic and sprayed the model with a few light coats of SNJ aluminum. I then mixed up a variety of shades of Polly Scale RAAF Green. In as much as I planned to work over and weather the paint finish rather aggressively, I thinned the Polly Scale with my secret thinner, Scope Mouthwash. Don't ask me why but the Scope really makes for a durable paint finish. I chipped the green paint away to expose the silver. I wet sanded the plane with MicroMesh cloths and applied various lighter shades of Polly Scale for a faded effect. The panel lines were picked out with an oil wash and a soft lead drafting pencil. Further weathering was done with oil paints and chalk pastels.

I didn't know how modeling judges would react to such a heavily weathered aircraft. My Beaufighter was completed in August of this year and has since been entered in 2 contests. It won "Best of Show" at the [edited] contest. However, at the recent [edited] event it failed to place. So I guess the jury is still out.

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