Saturday, 14 September 2013
Once of these is the Avro Vulcan, arguably the most iconic British built military aircraft with the possible exception of the Spitfire. However, in common with pretty much every kit of the Vulcan ever produced, their kit represents the later B.2 version with the expanded wings and tail machinery. My customer wanted an early B.1, with the straight wing planform. An extensive web search gave me cause to believe that the conversion should not be too difficult, indeed one or two other modellers had converted B.2 models to B.1s with reasonable success, but not the Anigrand offering as far as I could find. So I was in virgin territory here. Oh well, I like a challenge.
I started by joining the upper and lower fuselage parts, which were very slightly warped but nothing that could not be held together with a little tape. I did not bother with any cockpit detail, including the two seats provided in the kit, which have no floor to locate them on anyway. If you wanted to detail the cockpit, some scratch building will be required. However, trust me, it's not worth the effort as nothing will be visible. I simply painted the interior flat black.
The wings then went on to the fuselage without too much trouble as there are good locating lugs (unusually for a resin kit!). But the undercarriage bay areas are provided as separate flat plates that go underneath and these did need some care to fare in to the wing properly. This was not related to the wing conversion and would have been a problem regardless.
After installing the tail fin (with a small amount of re-shaping as the early B.1's had distinctly rounded tips) I then chopped off the tail tip of the fuselage. The B.2 Vulcan had an extended tip containing avionics but this would need to be converted to a smaller version for the B.1. I used the tip of a 1/48 Phoenix missile from my spares box which seemed to be of the right size and shape and with a little help from some Milliput and a lot of sanding down, managed to provide an acceptable looking fuselage tip.
However, email conversations with my customer at this stage resulted in us deciding that we did not actually want the Blue Steel missile (as the early straight wings would never have carried one). Therefore, with some effort, I removed the Blue Steel bomb bay and replaced it with the "normal" one. I also took this opportunity to push a packet of lead shot into the forward fuselage as the "tail sitting" risk on this model is borderline. Making good on this repair made after painting was tricky, but I got there without having to strip the whole thing down and re-do it. We had also agreed to make this model represent VX770 (one of the prototypes) and this particular machine did not include the bomb aimers blister either. So that had to be removed and made good as well. Oh well!
Looking at the few available pictures of VX770 I figured that there was an Avro logo tail crest, which I found on-line and reproduced as a decal. There was also an interesting nose marking which I could not quite identify. After much searching and digital photo enhancements, I realised it was some kind of Avro anniversary marking and even though I could not identify the words, it did not matter in this scale so I "fudged" something that looked about right and used that. A final coat of flat varnish and the main body of the aircraft was done. I did not attempt to apply any weathering. In 1/144 and on a pure white aircraft (that was only supposed to be a prototype anyway) I would only end up ruining it.
And so she was finished. After all the trials and tribulations I was actually rather pleased with the result. It's still a reasonably size model even in this scale. And if you want an early B.1 in this scale there is currently no option but a kit bash like this one. This kind of conversion is probably the most satisfying type of build in many ways, as it tests the modellers skills to the limits and if you end up with a good result, you really do feel like you have achieved something.