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ASR 3

28 Aug
2012

matchbox diecast planes With Europe finally at peace and hostilities with Japan at an end, the RAF had Cunliffe-Owen convert some of its Lancaster airframes to ASR. Mk 3 standard, equipped with a Mk IIA lifeboat under the fuselage and Merlin 224 engines. I decided that the ASR Lancaster would be a good subject for the first in a series of conversions of the Airfix kit that I was doing to post-war standard. Looking for an unusual and challenging conversion based on a 1:72 Lancaster, Ray Howlett chose to produce the post-war Lancaster ASR. Mk 3. At the time of starting my Lancaster conversion the only kit available was the Airfix В. Мк I/III. Although the marks are marketed with different box art, the two kits are identical. Airfix reworked the kit in 1979 from its original mould of the 1960s, taking the opportunity to fill in the side windows as featured on the early Mk I aircraft, although their outline is still highlighted on the fuselage sides. Above: The fuselage is marked out for the removal of the upper turret. The plaster mould for the blanking plug for the resulting gap is also shown, (all Ray Howlett) scale 1 32 Above: Detail was added to the cockpit area using Plasticard and plastic strip This picture: Fuselage assembly, showing masked cockpit and resin top blanking plug in place. elow: Aeroclub six-stub white metal exhausts were installed using the drill-method to make their slots. hobby airplane Left: The tailplanes and vertical tails have been a d d e here. This is fine if you wish to model the early Mk I, but they will need to be removed for all other versions except the В. Мк I (Special) ‘Grand Slam’ and ‘Dambuster’ aircraft. The kit also lacks cockpit detail, which is a shame, since the turrets and bomb bay are quite detailed considering the age of the kit. A listing of aftermarket accessories obtained from a website showed a number of conversion parts, but no cockpit interior or fuselage plug to replace the top turret, which was removed on some aircraft. Fuselage construction To start my ASR aircraft I first had to remove the upper turret and replace it with a plug that followed the contours of the fuselage. I had in my collection a aircraft models for sale Magna Lancastrian conversion kit which has the required part, but since I wanted to build a Lancastrian, 1 used this part to help me produce a part for my ASR model (perhaps Magna could market this part for other Lancaster conversions?). The result was a somewhat basic piece, but it fitted, and with some filling did the job. Next came the cockpit. I installed the floor as per the instruction sheet and added some detail. The large canopy of the Lancaster gives the modeller an opportunity to add light framework to the fuselage walls, a navigator’s table and seat, with instruments, and a bracing strut for the flight engineer’s seat. To finish I added seat harnesses. All the details were scratch built from Plasticard and stretched sprue. Painted in interior green, with tan to represent a wooden table top, black for the instrument boxes and decals from the spares box, my cockpit had a little more life than that of the kit. At this point you can follow the Airfix instruction sheet for assembling the fuselage, front turret and rear turret (assembled with or without the guns). You will need to research your individual aircraft, however. I chose a subject without guns, which meant I had to blank off the slits where the guns would have protruded. Plasticard strips were used on the front turret and clear strips in the rear turret. Then I masked the turrets, canopy and bomb aimer’s blister and the fuselage was ready for final assembly. Before cementing the halves of the fuselage together, remember to insert and glue the homemade plug into one half of the fuselage. rc airplanes plans Engine assembly Many post-war Lancasters had their flame dampers removed and this was the case with the ASR. Mk 3 aircraft. I began this modification by filing off all the dampers, leaving only a faint outline as a guide for drilling and positioning the new six-stub Merlin exhausts. These are available from Aeroclub, as part number V040, in white metal. Two packs are required to complete all four engines. The exhausts need to be fitted 3 mm in from the front of the engine in a 2-mm wide slot 14 mm in length. I carefully drilled 2-mm diameter holes along the 14-mm section then, using a knife, removed the plastic between the holes to produce a slot. The slot was then filed until the exhaust stub part fitted correctly. With this accomplished, the exhausts were glued in place and the process repeated for the other positions. I should mention that Airfix supplies standard propeller blades, but that by the time the Lancaster B. Mk III entered service paddle-bladed propellers were being fitted. This is a small point, but replacement parts are again available from Aeroclub, as part number P113/V031, which contains four propellers and their spinners, in white metal. Once modifications to the exhausts were complete assembled engines and wings as per the Airfix instructions. Be prepared for some poor fitting when assembling the main engine parts. I chose to leave out installing the undercarriage until later. scale model hobby Above: Using Fimo modelling material, a block was formed to the overall size of the lifeboat. The block was placed on the bomb bay doors and pushed down firmly until its upper surface followed the contours of the bomb bay doors. Shaping of the lifeboat continued with the aid of sculpting tools and section templates, until the correct hull shape was acquired. Finally, it was carefully removed from the bomb bay with thin wire. Lifeboat planning and construction When I decided to undertake this conversion, 1 knew that the addition of the lifeboat would take some research and planning and that information might be scarce. Researching Cunliffe-Owen produced only one side view drawing of the boat. Next 1 focused on the squadrons operating the type, establishing that 203, 279 and 178 squadrons were among the main users of the ASR. Mk 3, but unearthing no new lifeboat details. Then, after hours of fruitless time on the internet I eventually found a site on St Eval, Cornwall, which displayed a number of black and white photographs, including several of No. 203 Sqn Lancaster ASR. Mk 3s with and without lifeboats. With this information, together with details obtained from books, I felt I had enough to draw up some plans showing the dimensions of the boat as 30 ft (9.14 m) long, 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) wide and with a bow depth of 3 ft (0.91 m), tapering to a stern depth of 1 ft 6 in (0.46 m). scale model planes The next step was to make the basic shape of the boat and after experimenting with various ideas I finally chose Fimo modelling material. One 58-g block is enough. Fimo is easy to work and allows you to shape the lifeboat hull without fear of it drying prematurely. Using the bomb doors from the kit to give the contours of the fuselage underside, I moulded the rough shape of the boat then, with the aid of photographs, 1 continued to sculpt the shape until a satisfactory result was achieved. Note that I suggest you don’t leave your sculpted shape attached to the plastic bomb bay doors – remove it with a thin wire, used like a cheese cutter, as soon as possible – there was an indication of a change to the surface of the plastic around the area of the Fimo, but once it had been removed I wiped the plastic surface with white spirit and all was well. Once you’re happy with its shape, bake your lifeboat as per the instructions, at 130°С (266 °F) for 20-30 minutes and allow it to cool. Now you have a hardened replica of a lifeboat and you need to work towards its finished shape. Using your references, start military scale model Left: The lifeboat was cemented to the Lancaster’s underside using two-part epoxy. Once this had dried, any gaps between the hull and fuselage were filled before more sanding achieved a satisfactory finish. Check the alignment of the bow and stern with the bomb bay centreline. Below left: Rubbing strakes and other detail were added to the lifeboat. A coat of primer shows up minor imperfections. by marking a centre line on the inside of the hull, together with four lines across the hull. These allow the use of templates in acquiring the correct finished shape. The process will take time and you should offer the hull up to the underside of the fuselage from time to time to check the alignment of the bow and stern. Once satisfied that the hull is near completion, glue it to the fuselage. I used two-part epoxy rapid cement for this. Leave it to dry and then, using body putty, fill any gaps and make final adjustments to the hull shape. Now detail can be added. I fabricated all the following from plastic rod and strip: rubbing strakes (0.75 mm in diameter, from plastic rod) which run from stem to stern on both sides, added at the point where the top of the hull attaches to the underside of the fuselage; two more strakes (0.75-mm square) running 15 mm from the bow and following the contours of the boat, to finish flush with the stern; three release units fixed amidships and made from 2- x 0.05-mm plastic pieces; two 2-mm square, 0.05-mm deep plates located on the hull sides; and, finally, two strakes 30-mm long and 0.75-mm square were positioned parallel along the bottom of the hull 35 mm from the bow and 5 mm each side of the centre line. It would be fair to say that owing to the poor quality images 1 had to work from, there could be more detail that the modeller might wish to add, but I was happy that the main detail was now in place. Now having a complete airframe with lifeboat attached, it was time to add the undercarriage. I did this as per the instructions, followed by a little final filling an rubbing down. With the undercarriage masked a light grey spray undercoat was applied (since 1 live in France, I used Auto K, a CFC-free auto filler/primer from a car colour range), but I think Halfords has a similar product in the UK. Those last few gaps and bumps were now treated and it was time to think about a colour scheme. Painting and finishing Colour scheme and markings details for Lancaster ASR. Mk 3s appear to be a little vague. Some were delivered in camouflage, some in white, with Medium Sea Grey applied to their fuselage, wing and tailplane uppersurfaces, and a broad white leading edge on all their flying surfaces. One article suggested all-over natural metal, while the captions on the St Eval website mentioned overall white, especially for No. 203 Sqn aircraft. So, with most of my information obtained from websites, 1 chose to go with the all-white scheme and aircraft RE217/CJ-F. As with most white aircraft, these Lancasters did not stay pure white for very long. All the aircraft pictured showed signs of weathering, with oil and exhaust stains and faded markings. The Airfix kit has fine raised rivet detail with very few engraved panel lines, but by the time you have rubbed down the joints most of this detail has gone. I was happy with this, so with the airframe finished in white it was time to add an array of aerials. ASR. Mk 3s displayed different aerial combinations. Most aircraft had ‘H’-shaped aerials either side of the nose behind the front turret, then various combinations of blade and whip aerials situated in front of the cockpit and along the centreline of the upper fuselage. On the underside two aerials were located between the radome and the tailwheel, either line astern or, in some cases, side by side. These aerials would have been associated with different equipment during the ASR. Mk 3’s operational career and thus an array of aerial sizes and locations is possible. These, along with the rudder balance weights, are not contained in the kit but are easily made and can now be added. Moving onto the decals, these came from numerous sources. Xtradecal X72061 and 041, Aeroclub AD005 Shackleton codes, some of the decals supplied in the kit and the trusty decal box, all contributed to the final result. The walkway stripes were applied first, followed by the roundels, fin flashes, serial numbers and codes. The latter were applied in black under the wings and using red Aeroclub Shackleton decals on the fuselage. Although outlined in white, the red gives just the right impression of faded darker red. Xtradecal supplies a No. 120 Squadron badge on X72061 and with a little careful painting this makes an acceptable No. 203 Squadron badge. Two observation windows on the port side, together with a single window in the crew door on the starboard side, were added in dark grey decal. Decoration for the lifeboat consists of a small roundel on its bow and two black squares, one on the bow and the other just below the rubbing strake, 30 mm from the stern. With the decals all in place and the model suitably weathered, a coat of Matt Cote was applied to bring the various finishes together, leaving the final job of fitting the radio wires. Again these appear on some aircraft but not on others. The photographs I used clearly show C)-F with these antennae. plastic model plane kits Conclusion This conversion was been a challenge, but the end result is a Lancaster which plugged a gap in Air/Sea Rescue capabilities from the end of the war until the early 1950s and the arrival of the Shackleton and helicopters. When I started with the idea of producing a post-war Lancaster that would not be too difficult, but would still present enough of a challenge to make the project interesting, I knew the Cunliffe-Owen lifeboat would take some research and that the lifeboat’s construction would be long and slow, but apart from this everything else looked straightforward. I took time to think the construction process through, however, having not built an Airfix Lancaster for many years. I had no other choice of kit, but hoped the revamping by Airfix in the late 1970s would give me a fair starting point for my project. With very few after-market accessories available I would have to make the best of what this kit had to offer. With the challenge now set, and thanks to La Poste here in France, the kit arrived undamaged. On inspection I realised this was a kit from an old mould, with flash on some parts, slightly distorted fuselage halves and heavy clear parts which remind one of an old pair of spectacles with thick lenses; 1 couldn’t wait to get started! Work on the upper fuselage went well. The blanking plug took some thought and time and the exhaust modifications, although slow, turned out well, producing the lifeboat took the longest time, but 1 think it captures the lines of the original well. Overall the fit of the Airfix parts really showed the age of the kit, especially around the engines. Revell has offered the modeller its interpretation of the Lancaster from time to time, but is now out of production except for its ‘Dambuster’ version and I am not sure it would be any better than the Airfix product. Since I began the conversion I iasegawa may have come to the rescue with its new Lancaster B. Mk I/Ill kit and at at about £30 a copy I certainly hope so. Despite all the problems, I did enjoy this challenging build, especially making the lifeboat from scratch. 1 hope I have captured the essence of the Lancaster ASR. Mk 3 and filled a small but interesting gap in the aviation history represented by my scale model collection. plastic aircraft model kits The port side of the Mk IIA lifeboat shows the roundel positioned at is bow. Note the added detail. Connected themes: cessna 152 model, diecast model airplane, models of planes, ASR 3, photo of airplane, miniature planes, buy model airplanes.

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