Plastic Spitfire Kit

1:1 scale Airfix Spitfire as featured on the James May Toy Stories series shown on BBC2, complete with a model pilot.

To see if he can entice a new generation of kids into enjoying model kits, James May assigns a group of pupils with constructing a life-size model of Airfix’s notable kit – the Spitfire. While May must train up the pupils in becoming an organised model-making team, the kit’s life-size parts require a specialist company in Cornwall to create these and handling the issues their creation cause. When the kit is finally created and brought to an air museum for construction, the real test comes with the completed model being able to hold itself together, especially when the supports for the main body are removed. The project proves a success when the completed kit can be showcased to an audience that include the pupil’s parents and RAF WWII veterans.

Behind it is the BOAC de Havilland Comet 1XB.

Avro Anson

The Avro Anson is a British twin-engined, multi-role aircraft built by the aircraft manufacturer Avro. This Anson is on display at RAF Cosford.

Avro Anson

The first prototype flew on 24 March 1935 and subsequently 174 of the type were ordered. The Anson became the first aircraft in RAF service to have a retractable undercarriage.

The Avro Anson was placed into service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and was initially used in the envisioned maritime reconnaissance operation alongside the larger flying boats. After the outbreak of the Second World War the Anson was soon found to have become obsolete in front line combat roles. Despite being obsolescent, it remained in Coastal Command service until 1942.

Avro Anson

British European Airways (BEA) inherited thirteen Avro XIXs during 1947 and used them on some of their Northern Ireland routes. It was not considered a good passenger aircraft due to its excessive noise and vibration and it was phased out the following year.

Large numbers of the type were instead put to use as a multi-engined aircrew trainer, having been found to be suitable for the role, and became the mainstay of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The type continued to be used in this role throughout and after the conflict, remaining in RAF service as a trainer and communications aircraft until 28 June 1968.

Westland Wessex HC.2

This Westland Wessex HC.2 was on display at RAF Cosford. The HC.2 was a RAF Troop carrier for up to 16 troops, the prototype was converted from an HAS1 and an additional 73 were built.

The Westland Wessex is a British-built turbine-powered development of the Sikorsky H-34. It was developed and produced under licence by Westland Aircraft (later Westland Helicopters). One of the main changes from Sikorsky’s H-34 was the replacement of the piston-engine powerplant with a turboshaft engine. Early models were powered by a single Napier Gazelle engine, while later builds used a pair of de Havilland Gnome engines.

I didn’t realise that the last RAF Wessex helicopters (Cyprus based HC Mk 2s) retired as late as 2003.

I always had this idea of Westland Wessex helicopters flying about for games set in my world of the Second English Civil War or Team Yankee. For 20mm games there are plenty of choices, both kits and diecast models. For 15mm Italeri do a 1/100th scale Wessex die cast kit which would work well.

For larger 28mm scales, you are probably looking for the 1/48th Revell plastic kit.


Boulton Paul Sea Balliol

This Boulton Paul Sea Balliol was on display at RAF Cosford.

Boulton Paul Sea Balliol

The Boulton Paul Balliol and Sea Balliol are monoplane military advanced trainer aircraft built for the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA) by Boulton Paul Aircraft.

Boulton Paul Sea Balliol

Developed in the late 1940s, the Balliol was designed to replace the North American Harvard trainer. It used the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. The Sea Balliol was a naval version for deck landing training.

This particular Balliol was one of a batch of 20 that were ordered by the Royal Navy in 1950. Consequently it is fitted with naval features such as an arrester hook that the RAF aircraft did not have. The engine fitted to the aircraft is a later variant of the famous Rolls Royce Merlin.

Balliols only lasted in service for a few years before being stored. This example was later reactived for trials work which allowed it to be preserved.

WL732 is the only original and complete Balliol preserved in the UK.

Percival Pembroke

The Percival Pembroke is a British high-wing twin-engined light transport aircraft built by the Percival Aircraft Company, later Hunting Percival.

The Pembroke was a development of the Percival Prince civil transport. It had a longer wing to permit a higher fully laden weight. The prototype flew on 21 November 1952. Production was complete in early 1958.

It entered service with the Royal Air Force as the Percival Pembroke C.1 in 1953 to replace the Avro Anson for light transport duties. As with other RAF transports, the passenger seats are rearward-facing for improved safety.

The RAF’s Pembrokes were modified to extend their lifespan in 1970. The last unit to use them was No. 60 Squadron RAF based at RAF Wildenrath in Germany, these were withdrawn from use in 1988 and were replaced by the Hawker Siddeley Andover.

BAC Jet Provost T.5A

The BAC Jet Provost is a British jet trainer aircraft that was in use with the Royal Air Force (RAF) from 1955 to 1993. It was originally developed by Hunting Percival from the earlier piston engine-powered Percival Provost basic trainer, and later produced by the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC).

This BAC Jet Provost T.5A is on display at RAF Cosford.

In addition to the multiple RAF orders, the Jet Provost, sometimes with light armament, was exported to many air forces worldwide. The design was also further developed into a more heavily armed ground attack variant under the name BAC Strikemaster.


Junkers Ju52/3M (CASA 352L) at RAF Cosford

The Ju52 was the last in a series of corrugated metal-skinned Junkers aircraft. The first aircraft, fitted with a single engine, flew in October 1930. The first three-engined version, the Ju52/3m, flew in April 1932. Orders for this robust aircraft, which could carry seventeen passengers or eighteen troops, soon started coming in and included an order for three from the pre-war British Airways, the Junkers Ju 52 at RAF Cosford is painted as Junkers Ju 52 (G-AFAP) of the pre-War British Airways Ltd.

By 1934, the newly-formed Luftwaffe was flying bomber-transport Ju52s and the type was soon in action with the Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion, which fought on the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War. In August 1936, Ju52s carried out what was then the biggest air-transportation operation ever mounted, carrying 14000 of General Franco’s troops from Morocco to Spain.

During the Second World War the Ju52 became the Luftwaffe’s standard workhorse and was known affectionately as ‘Tante Ju’ (Auntie Ju). Flown mainly as a transport, it also fulfilled air-ambulance and, more unusually, mine-clearance roles. For the latter it was fitted with a large metal hoop which could be energized by a motor to explode magnetic sea-mines.

After the Second World War it was built under licence for use by the Spanish Air Force.

In its time, the Junkers Ju52/3m was rivalled only by the Douglas Dakota as a transport aircraft. It was used by the airlines of thirty countries and several Air Forces. A few examples still fly today with pleasure flight operators.

When I was younger I always wanted to have the Airfix kit when I was doing some plastic kit modelling.

Never bought it, as I moved into gaming.


RAF Bristol Sycamore

The Bristol Type 171 Sycamore was an early helicopter developed and built by the helicopter division of the Bristol Aeroplane Company. It has the distinction of being the first British helicopter to receive a certificate of airworthiness, as well as being the first British-designed helicopter to be introduced by and to serve with the Royal Air Force (RAF).

This RAF Bristol Sycamore was on display at RAF Cosford.

RAF Bristol Sycamore

This was one of the last four Sycamores to be officially retired from RAF service in 1971.

Auster T7 Antarctic

The Auster AOP.6 was a British military air observation aircraft produced by Auster Aircraft Limited to replace the numerous wartime Taylorcraft Auster aircraft then in-service. First flying in 1945, an initial production run of 296 were completed for the Royal Air Force in 1949.

The Auster T7 is a two-seat, dual-control aircraft designed for training of aircrew for the AOP6 artillery spotting and light communications aircraft, from which the T7 was developed.

In the training role the T7 replaced the Auster MkV, preparing crews for air observation post operations and as such was equipped to simulate night and instrument flying conditions. Many were transferred to the Army Air Corps during 1957/58 as the Army took overall responsibility for its aviation requirements.

The T7 prototype (a converted AOP6) first flew in 1947, production beginning in 1949. Seventy-seven T7s were built, while an additional ten AOP6 aircraft were later converted to T7 standard as the T10.

In 1955 two T.7 aircraft were modified for use on the 1956 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, being designated Auster Antarctic.

The aircraft had extra radio equipment, larger tail surfaces, the ability to be fitted with floats or skis as required and a bright yellow finish to increase visibility against the snow and ice.