Tuesday, November 10

Construction review: 1/32nd scale Avro Lancaster B Mk.I Nose Art Kit From HK Models.

Hong Kong Models has launched their nose into the market with an all-new kit of the Lancaster - but this kit is something different... If you are one of those modellers who want the 32nd scale Lancaster but do not have space or the cash for a full-sized kit, you can now get the nose section as a stand-alone model. A kit in large scale with all the drama at a 3rd of the space and price of the full kit. We have built it for you to show you all about the model and how it looks once together in our review...
Construction review: Avro Lancaster B Mk.I Nose Art Kit
From HK Models
Item no #01E033
1/32nd scale kit
Plastic injection moulded kit with photo-etch for seat belts included
Extra bonus clear starboard side of fuselage included
Mounting trailer included
Markings for four nose arts included
Dimensions 218mm x 12mm x 68mm
171 plastic parts
Price: $91 AUD from Hobbylink Japan
Waaaaay back in June 2018, we got the chance to build the first section of the Hong Kong Models Lancaster B Mk.I fuselage section here on TMN. We loved the kit and it went together very easily and it was plenty detailed for most modeller's tastes. We were asked by a few people "Would HK Models just sell the nose section of the kit?" which we thought was a radical idea, but a good one never the less.

Such an evocative plane, with so many nose art choices, it makes sense to see this in a simple nose art edition...
The nose section of the test shot of the regular kit we build in June 2018. See this test build to find out more about how this section goes together...
Hong Kong Models Lancasters so far:
Since that time we have seen the full B Mk.1 (Kit No #01E010) in 2018, and then the "Dambusters" B. Mk III kit (No #01E011) released in 2019. YOu have a clear option to build two types of very historically and pretty accurate Lancaster types from the box or to add the already plethora of extras from aftermarket companies.
There has also ben a recent release of a combined 1/32 Avro Lancaster B Mk.I Limited Edition Merit Exclusive (01E012) from HK Models
This release cuts out most of the kit and features just the nose section, we thought what better way to show you just what you are getting in this (full production kit in this case) from this new kit.
Building the kit - the best way to review...
To properly see for me (and you) what has changed since we built the test kit in 2018 we thought the best way to properly review it is to build it up, unpainted and raw in a "Dry run" if you want to use bombing parlance, showing any problems or proponents as we put it together. 

Contents of the kit - this is the closest to an inbox you will see here...
Before we start putting sprue to the glue we thought we would divert and show you the three nose-art choices included in this boxing. There are of course other decals out there already - Kitsworld Decals comes to mind, them having several full decal sets of the Lancaster in 32nd (and that 32nd scale Buccaneer but that's another story), but the choices here in this box are pretty solid.
Marking Choices:
Four marking choices are supplied in this "Nose Art" boxing, and a good thing too, as the nose and wonderful artwork on these Lancaster is what people buy the kit for, they are:

Profiles of the noses of these four kites:
Lancaster B MK.I, W4783/AR-G No 460 Sqn RAAF, Binbrook UK, May 1944. "G"  for "George":
"G-George" flew 90 operational sorties over occupied Europe with 460 Squadron and is the second-highest on the amount of mission undertaken in a surviving Lancaster (behind R5868 S for Sugar of No. 83 Squadron RAF/No. 463 Squadron RAAF/No. 467 Squadron RAAF (137 sorties). On average, most operational Lancasters were shot down before they had reached 20 sorties: of the 107,085 sorties by Lancasters despatched in bombing raids on Germany 2687 aircraft went missing. G-George has the added distinction of bringing home, alive, every crewman who flew aboard it.

From the famous 460 Squadron (Australia) Lancaster bomber 'G' George resting at Binbrook 
Upon retirement from combat duty in 1944, G-George was flown to Australia by an all-RAAF crew of Bomber Command veterans and played a major part in raising war bonds during a round-Australia publicity trip. Post-war, it was left to decay in the open air at RAAF Base Fairbairn, before being moved to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in the early 1950s.
In 2003, G-George returned to display at the Australian War Memorial in the new ANZAC Hall after a five-year restoration program at the Treloar Technology Centre which restored the aircraft as faithfully as possible to its wartime configuration.
Lancaster B Mk.I R5868/ OL-Q "Q for Queenie" No 83 sqn, RAF, Wyton, UK June 1943. 
Built as part of a batch of 100 Manchesters ordered from Metropolitan Vickers in 1939 but built as a Lancaster B I. Issued to 83 squadron as OL-Q then to 467 squadron as PO-S this aircraft completed 137 operational sorties. Originally "Q-Queenie" of No. 83 Squadron, R5868 logged 79 sorties (the first against Wilhelmshaven on 8th/9th July 1942, the 79th against Milan on 12th/13th August 1943) before joining No. 467 Squadron in November 1943 We do not know the exact date that R5868 had ‘Devils of the Air’ nose-art applied, but it did have it by May/June in 1943.
In September 1943 the bomber was assigned to No. 467 RAAF Squadron where it received a new code "PO-S" or (s for Sugar as it was better known). That is the alternate markings of this aircraft.

Lancaster B Mk.I R5868/ PO-S "S for Sugar".
Lancaster B I R5868 "S-Sugar" is the oldest surviving Lancaster. It was delivered to the RAF in June 1942 and flew for the remainder of the war. It originally as "Q-Queenie" with No. 83 Squadron RAF from RAF Scampton. 
Adorned with the famous dig at Goering, "No Plane WIll Ever Fly Over the Reich Territory" tagline. "S-Sugar" flew with No. 463 and No. 467 RAAF Squadrons from RAF Waddington. This aircraft was the first RAF heavy bomber to complete 100 operations (going on to fly 137 sorties). It is now on display at the RAF Museum.
Avro Lancaster R5868 ‘S for Sugar’ completed her 100th operational sortie in early May 1944 and on her return to RAF Waddington, found almost the entire station and British Pathe News there to greet them. During the previous night, the crew had just fought off ten concerted attacks by Ju88 nightfighters, which seemed determined not to allow this famous aircraft to have her moment of glory, but in the euphoria of the moment, this detail seemed to be of little interest. ‘S for Sugar’ would end the war with an impressive 137 operational sorties to her name, with her final ops being repatriation flights for Allied prisoners of war in May 1945. It is fitting that this historic aircraft now serves as a treasured centrepiece display item at the RAF Museum, Hendon and is reason alone to visit this exceptional museum.
Lancaster B MK.I, RF128/ QB-V “Victorious Virgin” from No 424 Sqn, RCAF, Skipton on Swale UK Spring 1943.
The plane's nose artwork was modelled on an original 'November 1944' Alberto Varga pin-up. The aircraft was made famous in some ways by the artwork on the nose and on one of the bombs that she carried. The bomb artwork shows a winged tiger breaking out of an Easter egg and this particular bomb was a special present for Hitler from the squadron.
At the time, crew member and budding artist, Leading aircraftman (LAC) Matthew C. Ferguson practised his craft on several aircraft from 1941 until 1945, he painted on at least four different types of aircraft, he helped develop station and squadron badges, pioneered placing artwork on bomber jackets worn by aircrew, and even painted artwork on bombs. 
“Victorious Virgin” flew the squadron’s 2000th four-engined sortie on 21st March 1945. The 4000 lb “cookie” bomb was painted by Ferguson and labelled, “An Easter Egg for Hitler.” 
The single Decal sheet with four different markings for three different Lancasters (in four incarnations). Surely aftermarket sheets sales figures will go through the roof when everybody wants their own example. Printed by Cartograf, mine were sharply printed into the smallest detail. 
There was however a large misstep here, no cockpit dial decals are present. Do yourself a favour and go to Airscale for the individual decal sets for the Lancaster dials, they also do the whole panel and controls for this Lanc and they are excellent!
Photo Etch
Speaking of photo-etch, we have a small sheet with several belt straps for the crew memebr's seats, the aircraft equipment blanks,  and the bombsight's bracket are all here.
The Build:
For this build, I pretty much knew what was coming, and what I needed to look out for in the process because of my previous build of the test kit. I pretty much followed the instructions on this one, and we will go step by step through the kit to keep everyone on the same page with this guide.
Step 1
First thing's first - (as always) and the pilot's seat is the no.1 concern in step no 1. The simple seat construction is pretty sturdy, made up from twelve plastic parts that include the seat cushion and the pilot's armoured head shield.
The photo-etch sheet is deployed straight away, with the pilot's harness being represented. The metal performs a whole lot better as soon as you run the lighter over the metal to anneal it. This makes it much softer and so it falls more realistically over the corners of the seat. Not a bad solution out of the box. Of course, some of you might want to put a pilot in there, so you may have to thread the harness around him.

Step 2
The table shared by the Navigator and the Wireless operator at his position in front of the Marconi T1154/R1155 transmitter/receiver set is next to be built. Part X4 which is the partition between the crew and backing of the wireless set has some large ejector marks that need a 5-minute sanding to remove before you install it in there.

The wireless set itself goes together rather easily, with the details of the radio pretty nice to this modellers eye when you compare it to the original set. The depth of the knobs and fascias is spot on. The only thing you may need are decals for some of the fascias. The 'Fishpond' Indicator, part of the H2S system is at the bottom left of the photograph, while the The T1154 Transmitter (top) and Receiver R1155 (bottom right) operated on the HF band (High frequency, typical 1 to 30 MHz).

The side of the wireless set that faces the cabin wall has a simple photo etch shape that closes it all up, I suppose it is a limitation of moulding to create a good box shape so metal fixes that gap.
The navigator's station is on the reverse side of the table top. The Gee MKII Indicator unit is mounted on a swivel frame to the left of the Navigators section. The "Gee" Indicator on its bracket replicates the original pretty well in size, depth and detail. details like the switches and knobs on the receiver and the perforated side match the photo below pretty well, you will have to add any wiring yourself of course.
Step 3
The rear panel on the bulkhead/ partition just before the wireless operator's station houses the emergency oxygen bottles on the right-hand side, with the large bell-shaped Oil reservoir on the upper left-hand side. This went together very simply, but part of me thinks that this whole section could be omitted in your build if you want to see the inside of the cockpit a little better.

Step 5
We put together the simple construction of the H2S Indicator & 207 Switch Unit now. this is positioned to the front/right-hand side of the Navigator's table. The bracket and parts went together again very easily, with the closing up of the box with the supplied photo-etched part. The end result is excellent in comparison with the real thing, though the extra cabling will have to be included by the modeller.
Step 6 & 7
the instrument panel of the Lancaster is next, with the Large, oval topped instrument panel is a pretty good match for the original, some may want to add their own detail or that of a coloured photo-etch replacement or the Airscale part we mentioned earlier - it is up to the modeller's choice, but given some decals for the dials (also Airscale) you can get a pretty good result out of this kit. The rudder pedals are luckily thick enough to take a bit of handling as they are a bit fiddly to construct. 

On the rear of the panel (not seen by the modeller once this is in position) those ejector pin marks on the rear of the IP will need to be sanded, and wires coming out of the instruments would also be an addition I would make.

Step 8
A simple construction of the front lower bulkhead of the node/ bomb aimer's compartment involves P26 as the F24 high-speed camera (that filmed the results of the bomb run). Again there are a few ejector pin marks you need to remove from the wall panel. I do not have any pictures of this I am sorry - but I am sure you can work this step out for yourselves...
Step 9
The main floor of the cockpit is populated over several sub-assemblies in step nine. The Navigator's seat on a swing mount on a pole, the wireless operator's seat is also here. Both of them require the supplied photo-etch added seatbelts.
At the rear left of the photo and the part, we have the Wireless Operator's chair. You will notice the rather large pedestal on the top right of the picture. There is a debate about it being a little too high which I tend to agree with. Gary Wickham's forthcoming build of this kit will illuminate this subject a little more. For now, we are building out of the box and I will leave it as-is

Here you see the Wireless Operator's seat with the photo-etch parts I added. Using a lighter's heat to anneal them allowed me to bend and fold them so they looked like cloth straps.

The second part of Step 9 instructs you to combine all of the sub-assemblies you ahve made up until now and land them in position on the cockpit island.

The pilot's seat sits in pretty tightly next to the trim controls on the right-hand side, so test fit it before you stick it guys n' gals.

The pilot's control yoke is a pretty good representation of the real thing, as is the rotary transformer power supply unit that goes underneath the Navigator's table to transform the power for his equipment.

A larger picture of the whole Navigator and Wireless Operator's position looking from Starboard to port. I would add wiring to this if I was going to take the build any further, some would go further and that is totally possible. The ethos of this kit was to supply enough detail in the box to get by, but alternatively to be a good bae for extra detail.

The Navigator's chair swings in and out of position according to your needs. Note the photo-etch seatbelts supplied int he kit are in-situ.

The real thing, only needing to be bedded into the port side fuselage wall, that would add the ground position and air position indicators.
The Flight Engineer's panel wall reverse side also need to be sanded free of any ejector marks, especially as it is exposed on the clear fuselage choice (it's totally visible from the starboard outside otherwise).

The instrument panel is then added into the sockets provided for a snug and accurate fit.

The pilot's seat, the beam approach and radio panels on the sidewall to his left, the instrument panel in front of him and the trim tab on the plinth to his lower right-hand side.

The real thing below. Individual aircraft differences aside this is good as a base. Extra cabling and decals for the instruments would be almost of what you need, though many builders would go for the coloured photo-etch or Airscale option.

Step 10
We switch tot he front section now of the nose gunner's section. Step ten has the modeller putting together the frames that the gun sits in, the cradles the 303 Browning machine guns sit on and the swivel mounts that the guns rotate in. Parts Q1 and Q8 have a socket and lug combination with a fixed angle. I found I did not like this set-up to better align my guns... 

You could also drill out the partial hole in Q7 to make the guns fully swivel.

...These two parts are not really at the best angle to sit inside the bracket that captures them. Cut the lug to the swivel socket out and put the guns in at the angle you want them to go into, or better still leave the
The top frame of the gunner's position is fitted, as is the dunner's bosun chair. The photo-etch parts do not really have an exact attachment point so you will have to study photos of the station to make or position yours.
The frame that sits in position over the gunner's station and the bosun chair style seat ready to be put together...

The base that the turret sits upon will need some more ejector pin removal before the swivelling parts sit in place...
I prepared the photo-etch seatbelt straps that I have bent in order to depict it hanging down from the seat.

The pretty well reproduced twin Browning .303 machine guns for the Fraser Nash turret's armament ar enow cleaned up read to be placed on their cradles. A comparison with the real thing in these pictures below give a good account for the plastic parts. These have semi-hollowed barrels and would work well enough for most people. Some may want to use Master Model .303 barrels as a replacement as these are worth the money on ANY kit of this scale.

The frame and seat on the left, the twin guns and pivot mounts in the centre, and the controls for the gun on th eright in the photo below before installation.

...and here they are together - 

The detail on the pilot's gun station and R/T panel is pretty good.

The clear perspex part of the Frazer Nash turret and the plastic back encapsulates the guns and the gunner's station and sit on that flat base now...

The clear parts enable you to see into the turret pretty well.

Step 11  
The bomb aimer's rest also has a photoetch seatbelt attached to it. Annealed with heat from the lighter, this went into a folded position pretty easily. 

Step 12  
The starboard side of the fuselage is next to be put together in step twelve. The parts to be added are (from front to rear)  P28 - photo flare switches,  P17 stick bomb timing release, P54 release contactor dial for the lifeboat, P54 air bomber's handrail and P46, the bracket for the 2nd pilot's "Dickie" seat.

An interesting development of the Lancaster kit and this model, in particular, is the totally transparent starboard side of the nose fuselage. I was amazed to see just how clear it was moulded, and the absolute lack of any moulding or ejector pin marks on this. It is not like some other models that are partially clear. It is ready to secure into place as is without polishing - just keep it dust-free if you use this option! This is an excellent option for HK to give us, but fo those who want the normal grey plastic, that option is also provided for with the grey starboard side also offered. 

We will make this kit with the clear version of starboard fuselage.

The port side of the fuselage is also pretty neat, showing all of the necessary finely detailed recessed rivets you would come to expect. There are no raised rivets, however, and I know many prefer a mix of both realised and recessed. This is for me a better solution for weathering to keep them uninformed.

There are some large moulding pins to remove, this is, I guess, how they make the fuselage halves without affecting the sides of the aircraft.

A good representation of the inner ribbing of the Lancaster is provided.

A look at the starboard side of the aircraft, the large plastic part is the flight engineer's panel back, the one we took the ejector pin marks off from earlier...

Step 14  
The port side of the inner fuselage is loaded with equipment next. Starting from the rear (left) to the front of the nose (right) we have: the X14 - crew light call box, X17 - identification lightbox, A1134A amplifier, X16 - intercom junction box, X8 - general services panel, P50 - Pilot's window bracket, P15 - Mark XIV bomb aiming computer and P64 - bombsight in the very front nose.

Here is all is in place. I used the plastic part for the base of the bomb aimer's sight. In Gary's build, he will use the supplied photo-etch part.

Step 15  
The two completed halves go together in this step. The pilot's instrument panel may need to be moved slightly to fit under the windscreen mount, but it all fits in there easily in my build without fit problems.

A word to the wise - if you are using the clear fuselage then make sure you clean and dust bust it before you secure the parts in place.

Another "pro"-tip, use something like elastic bands to keep the fuselage together while securing it. I used some tape the first time and had residue all over the clear fuselage that was a bugger to remove...

Step 16  
Depending on which aircraft you are depicting you have the choice of bomb aimer's vision port to choose from at this point.

While we are looking at the underside of the aircraft the bombay is shown here, there are several ejector pin marks in there, ewww.

Step 17  
The folding "Dickie seat" for the second pilot/flight engineer attaches to his panel via two pretty simple connection points, you might want to customise these as the connections to the wall look a little too simple. P35 is the backrest for the chair. It is now after these two fuselage halves are together you can add the dome-shaped receptacle around the FN4 front turret - it simply wiggles in there.

Step 18  
Step eighteen sees the front bomb aimers perspex observation bubble go into place, the FN 5 front turret again wiggle into place, over that goes part P5 which is the turret hood which pretty much locks the FN 5 turret into place on the kit. Part P23, the AD/F loop aerial is placed in its receptacle before the canopy goes into place.

A montage of the steps to secure the front FN 5 turret in place. The bracket/siding for the turret swivel to be placed into goes in first...

...then the turret itself wiggles into the socket, the turret hood as I said earlier lock it into place. We then have a nice representation of the front of our Lancaster.

Step 12 (what step 12 now?)  
Depending on which Lancaster you want to depict out of the four options in the box, you add or omit perspex bubbles to make your version. I used white glue to secure this into place.

Step 19  
Depending again on which option you are making, the time now for adding P53 - the  "Rebecca" aerial, a blind landing aid, P58 - the pitot tube, P21 - the cooling vent are all added or omitted now.

The details on the port side of the aircraft.

Step 20  
A very cool/innovative part of this kit now, the trolly that was designed so that this nose section of the Lancaster can be displayed on. These were in fact used in real life in the construction of these beasts, and many photos of them in use in vast workshops are available to the modeller. It is a wonderful idea to include it in this kit.

Several types of these trolleys existed in different factories and not all were the same.

Step 20 & 21
...involves us putting this simple trolly together. 
The simple sprue that houses the trolley parts is moulded with the same fine detail of the rest of the kit.

The bottom frame is sandwiched together and the four wheels and the screw-down brakes go into place now.
Step 20-2
The bottom box frame is built on to with uprights supported diagonally that drop into lugs holes on the base. 
I left this construction to set a while before moving on to ensure a strong structure.

The parts in a little more detail. The only bit one might add is to paint/ draw spirals into the screw-down brakes for the stand.
The completed stand goes together easily and quite fast.

The nose section simply site into the drilled out holes we made earlier in the construction (before the two halves were glued together) and Violla! we are done!

The completed nose art kit:
Now we have a walk around the completed nose art section. Most people, of course, will fully paint and weather this in and outside, and I would also of course, but we wanted to show you exactly what is in this kit, and how it builds and what it looked like once put together.

The brutal but beautiful lines of the Lancaster are captured here pretty well, and the stand is a great addition to the kit, a very smart one indeed.

The clear starboard side in show here. It is up to you if you use this or the grey part, or even if you do a cut-out like our man Gary Wickham is doing on his build...

Closer detail inside the clear sided Lancaster. Using the clear part is a great move, and putting it on the opposite side to the one that usually houses the noise art (the port side) is also a great idea by the model makers.

This kit is an excellent idea from HK Models for a few reasons. For them, they have made the most of their moulds and decals, for us it is a chance to have a smaller representation of the Lancaster in a large scale, almost the best of both worlds. The inclusion of the clear side of the fuselage and the trolley for it to sit on is another novel idea that modellers will appreciate greatly.
A much more talented modeller than myself, Mr Gary Wickham also has this kit, and he is making a cut-out version of the kit to fully expose the interior even more than a clear fuselage. His full build, upgraded using scratch building, some aftermarket and some wonderful painting and weathering is soon to come here on TMN. 

Stay tuned...
Adam Norenberg

You can get more information on this kit and a list of distributors to hassle about it from the  Hong Kong Models website...