Long-time readers of my waffle will probably recognise the bits of model in the photo. It’s the TSR2, destined one fine day for a diorama depicting preflight checks of the first prototype in the 1960s. As we are blessed with a four-day weekend over Easter, I decided it was time to take a break from making models for other people for a day or two.
This aircraft model has been sitting in my display cabinet, almost complete, for ages. I thought all I needed to do was tidy things up, get the wings to fit properly, and apply the decals. How hard could it be?
Quite hard, as it turned out.
While I was working at the wing problem, I managed to dislodge a couple of components. In for a penny, I disassembled the other parts while I worked, so as to avoid further accidents. It was about now I noticed the white paint was taking on a definite yellowish tinge.
The real aircraft was finished in a matt white. For whatever reason, white enamel paint ages with a yellow tinge, something that afflicted railway coach liveries in the 1900s as well. The recommended course of action is to add a dash of blue to the white. I had done this, but it still faded. It wasn’t a consistent fade either. On thinking about it, I reckon it was the varnish that was off. Something had to be done.
I mixed a fresh batch of bluish white, and decided the best way to sort things out would be to airbrush it. I repaired the earlier mishaps, fitted some masking, and I have been applying a couple of thin coats of the new paint. Hopefully it’ll dry nice and hard overnight, and I can get a good coat of gloss varnish on things in the morning.
The plan is to try and get this model properly finished to my satisfaction. Then all I need to do is work on the diorama. That might take a while longer!
Having completed the Collett build, I decided to have a week or so just working on personal projects as a sort of break from railway models. I’ve got several very long term projects on the back burner—in fact, it’s getting a bit crowded back there—and just occasionally I shift one to the front for a bit to see if I can get it closer to completion.
One of those projects is a TSR2 diorama. The plan is to represent the first prototype XR219 sitting on the apron at A&AEE Boscombe Down, being prepared for its first flight towards the end of 1964. I have the aircraft, almost complete, just needing some final paint and the transfers applied. I have acquired some of the ancillary vehicles that are visible in documentary footage of the time. It is one of those vehicles I have been giving some attention this week.
This is a Sentinel Mk1 aircraft tractor. It’s a 1/76th scale whitemetal cast kit from BW Models, and like the real thing weighs an absolute ton. You can see the paint is mostly complete, and I have fabricated a finer windscreen to replace the chunky frame in the kit.
There’s a bit of paint detailing to do at the rear, to pick out lights and reflectors. Some protective varnish, some suitable transfers, and some subtle weathering, and this will be complete and can go back in its box until the diorama is created.
Just to give a sense of scale, here’s the highly-trained British penny doing the honours.
Lurking amid the detritus of my workbench, and taking about as long to emerge from its cocoon as the real thing, is TSR-2 serial XR219.
Did you know the real aircraft, if they had gone into production and squadron service with the RAF were to be called Eagle? TSR, incidentally, stands for Tactical Strike Reconnaisance, being the key roles for the aircraft in service.
The real world seems to be heading ever further through the looking glass, and the temptation to blog about and comment on all the lunacy going on is a hard one to overcome. I had intended this year to be one where I wrote more about happier things, so let’s see if I can redress the balance a little.
As you may be aware, I enjoy most forms of transport. I love the history, the stories, the tales of human endeavour to go ever bigger, faster and higher. Having had a run of railway models I have been working on for clients and friends, I decided my modelling bench needed something a little more high tech. While my aerial interests tend to be firmly planted around 1940 for the most part, I do have the occasional flirt with things a little more recent—if you can call the mid-1960s “recent”, that is! It is easy to forget now, but in the 1950s and 1960s, Britain’s aircraft industry was world-beating.
Currently on my workbench, and not in a particularly photogenic state right now, is a 1/72nd scale BAC TSR-2. I am trying to go to town with this model. Thanks to various after-market manufacturers, the model has authentic cockpit interiors, the correct ejector seats, lifted canopies, wheels that are suitably bulged to give the impression of weight, more accurate engine details and crew access ladders. I have added extra detailing to the wheel wells, given an impression of the hydraulic pipework around the undercarriage, and generally pimped the whole thing. It is currently in bits going through several coats of paint before the decals are applied.
I am never quite content to simply build a model in isolation. What I plan on doing with this bit of British aerospace history is to place it some kind of context. If you watch the following video (part of a four-part upload to YouTube), and head for around the six-and-a-half minute mark, you’ll see the only example of the TSR-2 to ever fly, serial XR219, surrounded by all kinds of ancillary equipment and vehicles on the apron at Boscombe Down. I plan to create a diorama to show the aircraft in just this situation—or near to it.
(Incidentally, if you can spare an hour and this kind of thing interests you, it is worth viewing the whole set of videos. It puts the story of the TSR-2 project in its historical context. The elderly chap in the glasses is Roland Beamont, who was the test pilot on the project and also a Battle of Britain fighter pilot.)
Amazingly, most of the vehicles and bits are available in kit form from BW Models. At one point, I reckoned I could spend over £100 from that source alone! I have reined back a little, and while I save my pennies and wait for paint to dry I am working out the best way to create the concrete apron.
I am not trying to recreate the exact scene in the grab above. I am sort of aiming for something that may have occurred a few minutes before the film was shot. The aircraft will have been towed into position, and I plan to have the tow bar and tractor having just unhitched. The protective covers over the engine intakes and exhausts will be in the process of being removed. The oxygen and power generator trolleys are being positioned. The refueller and the CO2 truck will be there, too, and probably a Land Rover or similar.
Now, quite what I am going to do with this diorama—which will probably be almost a metre square—remains to be seen. Once I’ve photographed everything, the vehicles and aircraft will end up in the display cabinet, but the rest will end up in storage. Perhaps one of the museums might like it for display…
Another might-have-been of the British aircraft industry was the Fairey Rotodyne. I have a kit for one of those stashed away somewhere. Current ideas revolve around the “what if” had the RAF adopted the aircraft as originally envisaged in the late 1950s.
This last week three of us took a four-hour drive from Kent to just the other side of Birmingham in order to visit the RAF Museum Cosford. None of us had ever been there before, and with the added attraction of rare public access to the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre, we decided it was worth the trip.
And it turned out to very well worth the trip. It’s a horribly long way for a day out—especially in November—but we enjoyed it a lot. Highlights for me were seeing a BAC TSR2 in the flesh, seeing progress on recreating a Handley Page HP.52 Hampden in the MBCC, and seeing the happy faces of youngsters on various school trips as they scampered around the museum exhibits.
The RAF Museum Cosford is free to enter, like the main museum at Hendon, London, but you have to pay for the car park. At £3 for a full day, it’s not that expensive. If you have any interest in aerospace history with a skewed British perspective, make time for a visit. You won’t regret it.
I’ve had a scanner that could perform transparency and negative scans for a while, but it had been a bit limited (35mm uncut strips only, no slides, etc). Doing any quantity of scans was always a bit of a chore, frankly.
About a year ago I purchased a better scanner, with pro level features. It was loaned to a small company I was involved in, and when they sadly went bust I got the machine back. Just recently a friend upgraded their Mac and I was essentially given their old G4 Mac mini. Ideal for a scanner station, where all it has to do is drive the scanner and run the software.
So I’ve been doing some scanning.
To familiarise myself with the kit and software I have begun the task of scanning a whole bunch of negatives I had selected a while ago. There’s stuff in there from a model railway show where I was “official” photographer, random stuff shot on black and white negative film, and some colour slides from the other half, dating back over four decades. All good stuff to learn how the scanner works, as I intend to try and drum up some business for it.
Anyway, the Vulcan is one of my favourite images—and aircraft. Shot on the old Olympus OM10 on Ilford HP5 ISO400 neg film, the plane was displaying at a Duxford air show in the Autumn of 1988. There’s another shot in the Flickr stream where the plane is almost directly overhead, silhouetted against some patchy clouds. I had forgotten I even took that shot.
Anyway, I guess I should plug the business. Please visit the Imagic Design web site and find out what I can do in the way of design and stuff.