1/72 Revell (Matchbox) Wellington Mk XIV


Wellington Mk XIV


by Anthony 'Pappy' Papadis


Introduction

I have to admit that I have a soft spot for the Vickers Wellington. Though not as popular as the Flying Fortress or Lancaster bomber, the “Wimpy” was still a significant player in during WWII.

The kit

This was boxed as a Revell item, but its origin is in fact the venerable old Matchbox kit. Matchbox kits were aimed squarely at the pocket-money market, and to this end, details like cockpit interiors and undercarriage were often simplified to save cost and complexity. I did not measure the kit, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of the kits dimensions. In fact, the rivet counters can stop reading now, because I simply wanted a quick and easy build, rather than something that would need lots of fixes.

The kit markings supply two options, a Mk X serving with 99SQN, and the subject of this build, a Mk XIV serving with 458 (RAAF) SQN in Bone, Algeria in 1943, although the instructions erroneously state it is 456 SQN.

I thought the RAAF scheme looked the more appealing, and the maritime scheme is a pleasant change from the typical Bomber Command schemes.

Due to the sparse detail in the cockpit and simplified undercarriage detail, I decided early on that this kit would be built “wheels –up”. Construction followed the instruction sequence pretty closely. Since this kit would have the landing gear retracted, I spent some time making sure the undercarriage doors would fit neatly. I added some plastic strips to the edges of the gear doors where the two doors meet to form tabs. This helped support the doors whilst the glue set. Care here would mean less filling and sanding later.

I cut apart the tail wheel and re-glued the forks at a lower angle to depict the ‘relaxed’ position when weight is removed ie in-flight.

Other tweaks included

• Drilling out the shallow landing light depressions in the lower left wing and making new lenses from heated clear sprue using the “mushroom” method. A stretched sprue end is held near (but not in) a flame until a mushroom head forms. This is then snipped off and glued in place.

• The rudder counter balances were made from plastic strip and PVA glue blobs.
• Some ignition harness wiring was added to the engine cylinders form fine copper wire.
• The three identification lights under the nose are represented by a decal. I drilled three shallow depressions and painted them chrome silver. Once all camouflage painting was completed, each one of these depressions had a clear lens fitted. I made these from blister packaging using a punch and die set. The lens was then given a coat of clear red, blue or amber as appropriate
• The wingtip navigation lights were cut out and chunks of a clear red or green plastic was glued in place. I bought a couple of cheap tooth brushes for this purpose and simply cut the chunks of plastic from them. Once the glued had set, the wingtip lights were then sanded to shape.

Modifications

458SQN Wellingtons were armed with torpedoes, depth charges and could also carry wing mounted Rocket Projectiles (RP). The RP wing batteries were used to destroy or disable surface running U-boats. The Wellington Mk XIV radar was located in a bulge beneath the nose. The forward gun turret was deleted. They were also fitted with a Leigh Light, a powerful spotlight developed by Wing Commander Leigh (RAF). The idea was to approach a surface running U-boat at night using the radar, and when within weapons range, use the extendable Leigh light to illuminate the target before it could submerge.

I wanted to depict both these features, and as they are not provided in the kit, they would need to be scratchbuilt. I could not find any pictures of the wing RP batteries so cheated and used a pair of Bristol Beaufighter items. I must thank the ever helpful David Edwards at this point for rummaging through his spares box to provide the rockets (thanks David!!).

The Leigh light fairing is provided in the kit (part 77), however the unit is depicted in its stowed configuration. I used a section of 10mm acrylic tube, capped with .010” plastic sheet to represent the unit. The ‘light’ is a carburettor air inlet taken from a 1/12 motorcycle kit and painted chrome silver.

 

Painting

The kit was masked and given an overall coat of Floquil reefer white. This would provide both a primer and the base colour. Once dry and any flaws corrected, the hard demarcation between the top and sides was masked off and the upper colours of Slate Grey and Dark Sea Grey were airbrushed freehand The main wheels were then picked out with a brush, as were the exhaust stubs.

Weathering

The masking was now removed and I started to apply paint chips to the wing leading edges, cowl ring lips and carburettor/oil cooler intakes. This was done with a 000 paintbrush and thinned paint. The trick is to be random.

Next I applied a grey wash to the panel lines. Matchbox kits were well known for their heavily engraved detail (“trenches”) so I took the precaution of painting Mr Surfacer 500 into them and sanding them prior to the painting phase. I found that this reduced their width and depth satisfactorily.

Once the wash was completed, decals were applied. These were applied directly to a puddle of Future, and immediately brushed with more Future to seal them in. I experienced no decal silvering.

The kit was then given a quick coat of matt varnish (acrylic, as I find the enamel/oil based clear varnishes tend to yellow with age on white or light colours) before the engine nacelles and belly had a mixture of dark grey and brown pastel powder applied. I also noticed that this provided an unexpected bonus, the simulated fabric covered metal frame of the aircraft skin was shown off to good effect. The Brown pastel was also extended to the cowls.

A final coat of matt varnish sealed everything.

Final Assembly

The canopy masking was now removed and all the delicate bits like the tail wheel, aerial mast and a scratchbuilt pitot probe were added. I also added the radio antennas using a product called Ezy-line. This stuff is a stretchy rubber polymer material, that can stretch up to 700% of it own length. The great thing is that it only need very slight tension to look taught, but can take alot of punishment before it breaks. Stretched sprue is very fragile by comparison and can be a little fiddly to work with.

The picture above shows the sort of abuse that the Ezy-line can absorb once glued in place. The antenna insulators were added using blobs of PVA glue painted white.

The model was then mounted onto a simple stand fashioned from some wood scraps and acrylic sheet.

The kit retained its moulded in slot for a display stand in the bomb bay, however the old Matchbox trademark clear stand was not included (sigh!). I made a simple base from two wood off-cuts and some 2mm acrylic sheet. The vertical stand was also fashioned from 2mm acrylic, and the base and vertical had slots cut into them to provide a readily portable item. The vertical part of the stand had a tab corresponding to the slot width and length, which is inserted into the belly.

Not readily apparent in this picture, but the use of pastel powder for the exhaust stains also had the unexpected bonus of showing of the simulated fabric over the geodetic structure.

 

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