(Matchbox) Wellington Mk XIV
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.
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
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.
• 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
• 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.