Sunday, June 17

Partial Test Shot Build: Hong Kong Models Avro Lancaster Mk. I in 32nd scale

At the recent Shizuoka Hobby Show we were treated to a great man exciting new models, none more exciting to us than the Hong Kong Models 1/32nd scale Lancaster Mk I test kit that made an appearance. What was even better than that was the opportunity to put a large section of the kit together in a test build to show you the fit and the feel of the kit. See what we thought about this test kit as the full model nears completion in our test shot build...

(Partial) Test Shot Build: Avro Lancaster Mk. I
Hong Kong Models 
1/32nd scale 
Kit Wing Span: 971.55 mm
Kit Length: 665 mm
Expected: September 2018 (TBC)
Price: TBA
Before the show in Shizuoka, we had already seen this model in CAD form, and we knew a few things:
  • The first kit was going to be an Mk. I Lancaster.
  • The boxing would include the markings for three Lancasters including "S" for "Sugar" & "B" for "Bob" (These two or one could be changed - time will tell)
  • The kit would include a full bomb load including a "Cookie"
  • The surface texture was to be both recessed and some raised rivets.
  • The kit is to be released in both Mk.I and Mk.III versions (so far).
The marking for 1st release will be S for Sugar.  R5868 is just visible to the right of the S, indicating that the aircraft was originally ordered from Metropolitan-Vickers at Trafford Park as a Manchester Mk I, but was built as a Lancaster B Mk.I
The second is "G"  for "George" from the famous 460 Squadron (Australia) Lancaster bomber 'G' George resting at Binbrook
Here are just two of the CAD images we had of the model that we featured on an earlier story.

When we got to the show Hong Kong Models mighty new kit of the Lancaster in 1/32nd scale from  Hong Kong Models was on display - well the fuselage was anyway! The front of the Mk.I and the later Mk.III from what we can see was there, made up in both clear and grey plastic so you could see the shape of the nose and the joint on the forward part of the wing.
The nose gunner's position and bomb-aimers position in the nose with a full interior of both those positions including most of the equipment for both stations.
The early Mk.I, with the windows present on the sides were on display. Note that the surface texture has not been applied to this kit, this test shot is only to finalize the shape of the kit before the last details are decided upon and added.
I could not see any ejector pin marks, any sink marks or mould defects on this clear version. I did think at the time that it would be nice if we could get a clear fuselage version on one of their kits in the future wouldn't it?
Closer details of the cockpit and gunner stations are here...
Seeing the model was great, but we had a surprise in store for us. Hong Kong Models had brought another kit sample in sprue form (the main fuselage and most of the parts) to make up and to show you - so we decided to take a look at this - the Mk.1 Lancaster test kit in the best way we could, by building it up to show you.

The Test Shot
This is what we got - Laid out attractively for you here in that showroom style we love here at TMN. (Not the final boxing for those who don't like to read).
In the box there was:
  • Two fuselage sprue halves
  • Six other sprues in a light grey that contain parts for the forward fuselage and the nose section
  • Two clear forward fuselage sprue halves
  • Two large clear sprues with turret and cockpit transparencies amongst others

What Was NOT in the box that we got:
  • Both side wings and tails.
  • Bombs, bomb bay doors, most of the gun turrets, wheels, engines and a lot of the rear of the interior of the aircraft
  • No Photo-etch
  • No Decals as of yet
  • No colour call outs or schemes
  • No instructions (but that made things fun)
Fist the parts we received: These do not have sprue names, and as there are no instructions yet so it was difficult to locate and identify some of these parts, I will talk about what these individual arts are but leave how they go together for the construction part of the article.

The front half section of the large bomb bay floor is a little like the shape of the original to my eyes on this sprue, the attachments are not there of course, but this is a good start with no sink marks but there are ejector marks in the hollowed out sections.
The front section of the bomb bay on the real Lanc, the rear is a flatter surface for the larger bombs to be located in.
This sprue had a bunch of parts that made up the forward insides of the cockpit around the radio mans position. The equipment of the navigator and radioman is all on this sprue.

The floor of the front cockpit with the curved cover of the instrument panel, to the right of that the arch shape of the front underside of the bombay, to the left is the starboard side cockpit side wall, below that is the instrument panel for the pilot. Lastly, the cockpit floor with the front facing down and left.

The front gunner's nose turret internal parts are next, with the controls, the brackets of the guns and its frame, the bucket style seat and lastly, the barrels and the .303 browning guns themselves are on here.
This is a large sprue with lots of smaller parts on it from the front cockpit, most importantly the pilot's seat and controls with the side instrument control panels, the base frame of the nose gunner's turret, the bombardier's nose panel frames and his seat. Lots of other little bits in there that we will see in construction.
This sprue contains a lot of the parts that we could not use in this build as they are for the rear of the fuselage. The long rear gunner's ammo chutes are on the left, with the four boxes being the two halves of the ammo boxes these belts come from. There are the arched parts for the fuselage braces and lastly, on the bottom-right of this picture is the rear tail bracket that fits snugly inside the fuselage tail and acts as a placement and rigid part.
Here you can see the rear half of the fuselage. This is the windowed Mk.I fuselage (the front to the left). This test kit came with none of the surface detail we might expect in the final release as the raised and recessed rivets are still being worked on. The lugs for the wings and tail on this kit can only help with construction.
The rear of the fuselage outsides with the tail gunner's position being on the right-hand side of the photo. The two holes in the rear are lugs for the tail so the lugs can push-fit into the tail section and be taken apart for transportation if that is your type of thing.
Here you can see the inside of the fuselage. Now we will look at this in closer detail in three pictures, notice something though straight away?
The port rear inside fuselage: What I was mentioning is the complete lack of ejector pin marks, sink marks or any other signs of this looking like a model. Sure there are notches for the pins that secure the halves in place, but nothing, and I have looked, in the way of blemishes inside the kit. This is great moulding prowess, and a notch up on the previous kits from HK that all had to be sanded or worked (or covered up) to a satisfactory level for the completists who want a "schmick" interior.
The centre of the interior fuselage with the bracing on display again, and again we could not find any imperfections on the inside.
Like the previous large-scale HK kits, this model comes with the slide in fitting wings that hopefully can be detached and put back together again for transportation or storage. Some might think this a gimmick, but others may love it and the option is there with this kit. We will test it out when we get the full kit to make later on.
The first of the clear halves for the front fuselage section. This starboard side ranges from the front wing spar forward. There is another of these for the other side, they join the rear at a natural join in the fuselage like the real aircraft.

Have a close look at the inside of this front fuselage half. Rumours are that some of the initial batch of these kits will have a clear fuselage as a bonus. If that is true then the zero blemishes displayed again inside this kit will save a whole lot of elbow grease in sanding, cutting and then shining the sanding marks off - HOURS of work saved there. This would also give people an option to either paint or not paint the interior if the modeller likes that type of thing, or just paint the whole lot as they would do normally. There will be a rush on these clear fuselage kits I think if the surface detail is added to these.
Two transparent sprues are included with this kit. One with the large Lancaster canopy inside it. The front and rear turret transparencies are here also with the two types of nose bubble type for the bombardier.
The teardrop shape H2S ventral mounted (ground bombing) antenna fairing dominates the second clear sprue. The bottom right has the top turret transparency halves, while there are all of the other windows and transparencies on this sheet also.
That was it for the walk around of the spues that I have to put together. Now let's build it!

What I did have was a bunch of CAD drawing which I used for construction, and these served me fairly well in building what I did have over the next three nights.

I wanted to put his kit together easily and without damaging the clear parts. I found a new hobby glue in Japan att he Shizuoka Hobby Show that has all of the texture of wood glue, but it is self-levelling and it does not smear the surface and simply balls, then rolls and rubs off the surface if you wipe at it a few times. It is made by a Japanese company called "Cemedine" and it is called "Cemedine special adhesive glue high-grade models for hobby glue". This was 20 ml (CA-089) - you can get if from this website for AU$ 4.24 (¥ 349). I thought why not give it a try on this kit?

I was taking a bit of a punt using this glue, but I had a good feeling about its properties after I saw it being applied to model kits with a brush, then levelling over the surface in Japan at the show. I did not get much out of the explanatory documentation on the back even with help from a Japanese speaking friend.
The glue comes with a thin applicator in the tip also for precise, but not needle precise applications.
Here are the two halves of the front fuselage glued together with this new Cemedine glue. Can you see any flaws inside the mould? I couldn't after looking very hard. There are notches in the kit that are lugs to receive various bits of the wall-mounted equipment though.
You can see this clear nose section glued together with the glue. Only the seam is evident, no scarring from the glue is present, with only the pins to join the two halves extra to what would be a clear vision through the front nose. Do you like it? Some might, I thought it is a good option to have. I would say that clear plastic is always more brittle.
With the help of the CAD drawings, I was able to put together the front nose cockpit section on the forward floor of the cockpit. Starting from the rear of the picture (on the left) we see the station of the radio operator, on a revolving pole is the Riado Operator's seat, with the Pilot's station, raised on the right-hand side of the picture. 
this picture only shows the sidewall and the trim tab control, the yoke and the instrument panel in place. No Pilot's seat in there yet. Plenty of detail however of the panel which we hope will have a decal option also - if not, a steady hand can paint this well-detailed panel. I am not sure if the control levers are added with plastic or Photo-Etch which will surely be included in the finished kit also.
The pilot's seat took a little bit of putting together, in that the parts took a little trimming underneath the seat (the locating rods) for them to fit each other. Nothing that cannot be trimmed down easily even by this muppet.
The real thing with the pilot's seat in there. I had to remove the left controls and shift them to the right to get the pilot's seat in there. Notice the rear headrest armour plate has some ejector pin marks. Again this is a test kit I would expect these to disappear, if not, they will not be difficult to remove.
A similar view of the real thing
The Pilot's seat and station from above, with the Navigator's station behind that. The instruments on the starboard wall were added here. You can see the navigator's seat swings around on the pole to be stored out of the way when needed. 
A better view of the Navigator's station and equipment.
A view from directly above after the starboard cockpit wall is in place.
A picture of the navigator's post in a Lancaster. The equipment above the Navigator's head is mounted on the inside of the fuselage as we will see in a later picture.
The Radio set on the table for the Radioman behind the Navigator's position. The big radio set is pretty well replicated, however, there would have been plenty of slightly different equipment in these aircraft throughout their time so my reference pictures might be a little off - pretty close though...

The real thing, only slightly different to me.
Here you can see the whole cockpit sealed up and ready to be "inserted" - the good thing about this set up is that in this state, it can still be wiggled into place - that means that you can paint the cockpit and crew stations and put them in AFTER you have sealed up the outer fuselage if you like. A little like the Junkers Ju-88. this is great news I thought.

Next, I placed the few simple items in the Bombadier's station, the padded seat rest, the bombsight and the two instruments either side of his position.
The bombardiers station in the nose from behind.
The rear structural support between the tails is here, shown from the side, it is moulded on top just like the real thing that the gunner had to slide over to get into that rear-mounted gun turret.
The Fraser Nash Turret sported two .303 Browning machine guns in a partially rotating turret. The parts are again in good order with no defects and no parts so small that they break when holding them. Little or no seams to remove either.
A pair of .303 Browing Machine Guns are here made up, with slightly hollowed out barrels that some people may or may not want to replace no matter what. The guns I think are pretty good, with a cooling jacket and barrel decal that could only be surpassed I think by metal guns made from Master Model of Poland if that is your persuasion. 
Here are both the nose gunner's turret without the plexiglass and the cockpit ready to be installed inside the fuselage. Breath in! we are about to squeeze these a little to fit...

First the front turret, it simply slides in on its base without a problem. I forgot to say that the turret frame and guns went together without any effort at all even without the benefit of instructions!
Ok I thought I might put together the shapes from the three turrets we have also - the left is the top centre FN50 turret, the nose FN5 turret and the right is the rear 4 x .303 browning turret FN 20.
The top and the rear Fraser Nash turrets in place, albeit without interiors which are still in progress.
You can insert the front turret into the nose after the fuselage is made up with a little wiggle in two movements as we see in these two pics below.
While we are at it you can see the range the turret can pivot here also once in position.
OK, so there we have it - partial construction is done once the front and rear sections of the fuselage are secured. Mine fits here without glue! However, I think you will glue your halves together on the completed model even though the seam on the aircraft follows a natural aircraft seam.
A close up of the cockpit - only a few of the boxes do not have rear fills in them, but that is only a concern if you get, or want to display the clear fuselage option (which is not yet guaranteed anyway but we think HK will do it.)
It is LONG, but not as long as it is wide - and we might see that if we get to build the wings at some time in the future...

A note about the glue I used - it held up very nicely, with any excess simply rubbing away after it pilled up, and the thin applicator was great, so it is one I can recommend if you would like to try it for your clear parts.
If I was not excited about this kit I am even more so now - the moulding expertise shown off here to make these fuselages so cleanly without defects and the shapes and curves of this bomber are executed with so much care that I am really looking forward to seeing what is next with the surface texture, wings and the rest of the Lanc.

Adam Norenebrg

More about this kit nearer release. Thanks so much to Hong Kong Models for giving us this opportunity to build some of the test kit of this, much anticipated forthcoming kit...
Thanks to my buddies I met at Shizuoka who gave m the "Cemedine special adhesive glue high-grade models for hobby glue"