Beaufighter


Contributed by Ray Phillips

Kit

Kit Manufacturer

Scale

Price

Options

Out of Box (OOB) or Modified

Rating (1-10 10=best)

Tamiya Beaufighter NF IV

Tamiya

1:48

$28

markings

Alternate set of markings

10

Webmaster's note - Yes, I've broken with my 'I've built and reviewed this kit" policy, but I also asked for this review after providing this kit while doing some "collection trimming." Enjoy the review! - Eric

"íBEAUí AS IN BEAUFIGHTER"

Actually the dictionary defines Beau as among other things "A Dandy." And frankly, Tamiyaís Kit for the Beaufighter is really just that A Dandy.

I bought this kit from your Webmaster, Eric McCann, after I had written to him requesting the cost of both the Beaufighter and Lancaster kits. Upon opening the kit I was struck by the nicely- finished moldings and the clean-looking sprues. I had not built a scale model since I last carved one out of wood in Birmingham, England, during the height of the Blitz. Only that time it was a Spitfire. All the rage among schoolboys at that time for obvious reasons.

To get back to the kit, I went out and bought several types of glue, CA, Testorís slow-setting type and finally Superglue. Iím a bit chary of using the latter because I always end up with lots of fingers stuck together ! Then I studied the instructions. They seemed straightforward, only I didnít realize some of the symbols were for paint color and for non-painted surfaces. I then went out and bought a whole slew of Testorís small bottles of enamel. I didnít know then that it would have been better to have used Acrylic instead of the oil-based paint. That came later after a few messy cleanups.

Everything went quite well on kit assembly. The fuselage halves are a thing of beauty I donít know how Tamiya gets them to fit so accurately. My blue haze of self-contentment continued until I got to the undercarriage. I noticed that the undercart could be installed in a small subassembly that fitted into the engine nacelles. So I immediately pushed the subassembly modules (without the undercarriage) in place and promptly forgot about the undercarriage till later. I had learned a couple of things off the net and also ordered some Masks for the wheels and canopy. Plus some Aeromaster decals. The Black Magic people had to be telephoned three times for non-delivery over four weeks, although I had previously paid them and kept quoting the shipping order number to them. They kept losing it. Finally, the masks arrived. By this time I had got up to glueing the canopy on. After suitable soaking and drying the clear part in Future (Gee those web tips are great arenít they?) I glued it into the fuselage. I didnít notice at the time that it was what in Britain we used to call "skew-whiff" Ė meaning it was slightly misaligned on one side. It wasnít till I really had a closer look later that I realized there was a small gap under the left side of the canopy where it fitted the fuselage side. I felt like kicking myself. I hurriedly applied some putty and tried to hide the error. Sorry, it was still somewhat visible. Under similar circumstances my Dad used to say "if you hadnít mentioned it I wouldnít have noticed," that was true because several fellow hobbyists didnít really see it until I stupidly pointed it out. (Motto: keep my mouth shut in future.)

I bought an Aztek airbrush on sale via the good offices of Mark Hoffman (see him often on Hyperscale). The airbrush seemed to work ok for the first couple of times when applying acrylic flat gray paint. I had also bought some Black Magic camouflage masks.

I did run into a small fit problem with the wings. The two wing roots didnít seem equal in height above the wing attachments where they joined the fuselage. Try as I might I couldnít get them both to look the same at the roots. I thought well they really canít look at both sides of the fuselage at the same time can they? (Refer to mouth-shutting advice quoted above.)

By the time I got around to installing the masks for the brown painting part of the green and brown camouflage pattern, my wife and I found they worked fine on the wings, but didnít seem to fit worth a darn on the fuselage sides. Next time Iíll save my money and just mask-off with tape or cutout "post-its." Lucy then brought her fine talents to bear on masking and painting the canopy. She did a beautiful job and I silently said to myself "you know who can do the fiddley stuff from now on donít you ?"

By this time I was ready to install the undercarriage. When I got out the numbered parts I couldnít believe my eyes. All those darned small pieces just to make up the criss-cross structure of the landing struts. In fact, I couldnít get any of them to hold still long enough to glue them in to position. I eventually got them stuck, but they didnít look quite right. Sure enough when trying to insert them as a dry fit into the subassembled receptacles in the nacelle undersides they proved to be far too wide. I went to bed in a huff trying to figure out how I was going to get them in. The next day I thought the heck with it and got out the trusty Dremel with suitable sanding disk and went to work. When the strut sides were finally paper-thin they fitted into the slots. I thought well itís now hidden and sure enough if I didnít mention this problem I felt I could get away with it. After all, who really picks up the planes and carefully looks at the underside of the nacelles without the ownerís permission? No permission would ever be forthcoming so . . . end of problem.

I then installed the fancy decals and they went on as advertised with Microsolve (or is it Microset?) and they looked great. My wife did a great job of hand-painting the tires in Ďdirty rubberí black. I donít know how she kept the black paint off her previously-painted gray wheel hubs, but she did ! We finally finished up spraying Future on and then Dullcote. I only made one mistake. I mixed the Dullcote with alcohol without realizing it had to be thinned with lacquer thinner. I really clogged up my airbrush and it also didnít spray worth diddly. I wonít be doing that again.

Proudly, I put the plane on top of one of my tall, black wood stereo speakers and felt quite chuffed that Lucy and I had finished our first model so well. At least the neighbors, relatives and close friends said it was great. I wonder if they were just being kind . . . ?

Next project is a Hawker Fury - I think; Eric says he has a spare kit. The last time I saw one of those was on a cigarette card before WWII. I wonít tell you about my more recent terrible trials and troubles putting together a 1/32nd scale "Matchbox" Tiger Moth. No! it isnít finished (it now resides in a half-finished condition in the shed in a box in the corner). Please donít mention either spiders-web thin cabane or wing struts to me for at least six months.! Also, I donít think my skills are quite up to building the "Monster" otherwise known as the Lancaster just yet.

Hope I havenít bored you. Oh, by the way, go out and buy that Tamiya Beaufighter kit - I think itís a "beauty" and after all if I could put it together so can you.

Raymond Phillips

Eric's note - Review content exactly as sent, save for breaking up one paragraph...I've got to talk to him about writing more, don't you think? Pictures will be forthcoming...