- Published on Sunday, 04 March 2012 00:01 Robin Jenkins
1/72 and 1/32 RCAF Beaufighters Decal Sets
Cataloguge #'s A0D72002m and A0D32002m
Available direct from Aviaeology for $10.59 and $21.69 respectively
The presence and impact of Canadian airmen in the skies of WW2 is a topic that several books have addressed over the years. There is no doubt that their numbers, effort, skill and results all stand up really well to scrutiny all of these years later.
Around 10 years ago, I became very interested in the activities of the RAF Coastal Command "Banff Strike Wing" based in Scotland in the period 1943-45 and did a fair amount of research on the aircraft and squadrons associated with the unit. Comprised of various Mosquito and Beaufighter units, the Wing had some noticeable successes in its life, along with one or two very black days (particularly in attacks on targets in some of the Norwegian fjords in 1945). Two units emerged as being of particular interest to me: 248 Squadron, who flew the Mosquito FB.XVIII 'Tsetse' armed with the 6-pounder Molins gun and 404 Squadron, RCAF, who flew Beaufighter TF.X aircraft (below).
Credit and copyright: Wikipedia
In modelling terms, the Beaufighter has always played second fiddle to its more illustrious twin-engined stablemate, the Mosquito. In my usual off-the-wall manner, I much prefer the Beau, along with its antecedent, the wonderful Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber. However, there are several kits of the Beau available in 1/72 scale, of which the rather expensive Hasegawa offering is the best. In 1/48, the Tamiya range of Beaufighters rule the roost. In 1/32 scale, however, only one Beaufighter kit exists and that was first released in 1974 – the venerable old Mark If night fighter kit from Revell. I know I am not alone in struggling to understand why, of almost all 1/32nd kits ever launched by mainstream manufacturers, there has been almost nothing from the aftermarket sector for this kit – a very small number of decal sets, a couple of resin exhausts, some nice engines from Vector, a transparency masking set from Eduard and that's it basically. Oh, and sometimes on Ebay a couple of very old vacform conversion sets appear, one of which is for the TF.X.
So, here from Aviaeology are a pair of special edition decal sets in different scales, both entitled "RCAF Beaufighters: Canadians in Coastal Command #1", giving the modeller the opportunity to build four different Canadian Beaufighter TF.Xs from 404 Squadron. The set come in various scales, but all scales feature the same selection of aircraft:
- LZ451 – three variations, coded as 2-M and EE-M, from June 1944 through January 1945
- NE355 – two variations, 2-H and EE-H, from May 1944 through February 1945
- NE825 – 2-G in early 1944, when radar equipped
- NV173 – two variations, EE-X from June 1944 through December 1944
In 1/72nd scale, the decals are presented on 2 sheets, the smaller of which just contains registration numbers and a mass of stencilling. They are beautifully printed, in perfect register and with good colour density (below); they are without doubt the best aftermarket decals for any Beaufighter I have ever seen.
The larger decals, in 1/32nd scale, are spread over 4 decal sheets. The first 2 sheets (below) give national markings and most of the major code letters;
whereas the other 2 sheets (above) provide all of the stenciling, registration numbers and one single aircraft's codes. This larger scale shows the quality of the printing to an even better degree.
The instructions and references are common to both sets and are the very highest quality; in fact, they are really what make these sets stand out from the crowd. I, for one, as a "Beau Buff", could only marvel at the depth of research that had been undertaken for each of the aircraft portrayed. Part of the reference for NE355 is shown below.
These sets are stunning. Thankfully, there is also a set in 1/48 set available (A0D40002m, $13.99/£8.83), perfect for the excellent Tamiya TF.X kit. The inclusion in the range of the set in 1/32 scale is a massive puzzle, however. With no kit available, an OOP ancient vacform is the only way short of major conversion to turn the Revell If into a TF.X, so it makes no commercial sense whatsoever to launch these decals in this larger scale. Nonetheless, I can see large sales for the sheets in 1/72 and 1/48 scale.
So What Do We Think?
From every angle, these are well-researched and beautifully executed decal sets. I still find it strange that the set should be available in 1/32 scale, however.
Beautifully researched and produced
Our thanks to Aviaeology for the review samples.