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Build a Better Lancaster Part 1

As far as the Avro Lancaster goes, the only kit in town is the Tamiya 1/48 Lancaster kit in its various guises. This kit has been issued in various formats over the years and up until recently, only one has been available with second hand examples fetching ridiculous sums on various auction sites. This all changed in early 2009 with the the release of kit number 61105 Avro Lancaster B Mk.I/III. As with all things, this kit has now been discontinued and replaced with a similar but more expensive boxing which now includes pre-painted canopies, this is kit number 61112. The great thing about these later releases is that they included a number of new parts that were only previously available as resin sets from Paragon Designs.

The first kit from Tamiya, and by far the most desirable was kit number MA120 (later re-numbered as 61020) 1/48 Avro Lancaster B Mk.I/III. This was a kit of the "standard" Lancaster bomber.

The second kit was number MA121 (later re-numbered as 61021) 1/48 Avro Lancaster Dambuster/Grand Slam Bomber. This kit could be built as either a Dambuster version or the Grand Slam version but could not be built as the "standard" bomber. This has recently been re-released with some changes and is now available as 61111 Tamiya 1/48 Avro Lancaster Dambuster/Grand Slam Bomber.

Version three, which has recently been discontinued, is kit number 61504 Tamiya 1/48 Avro Lancaster Grand Slam Bomber with propellor action. This is a revised version of kit number 61021 but without the required parts needed to build the Dambuster version. Other differences include the addition of four small motors to spin the propellors, pre-painted cockpit and turret transparencies and bulged tyres. Unfortunately, straight from the box, this kit cannot be built as any other version except the Grand Slam bomber.



The Tamiya Lancaster kit is a superb kit but it is not without it's faults. Aside from the fact that it is now an old kit which features raised panel lines, the interior detail is also pretty lacking compared with today's kits; the engine nacelles aren't quite the correct shape and one of the fuselage windows is in the wrong place. The two engines that are included in the kit aren't really representative of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine and should be consigned to the bin. Another anomaly is the bomb aimer's blister; the one in the kit is the earlier, shallower type whereas most Lancasters had the deeper type, this includes the Dambuster Lancasters, the Grand Slam Lancasters and even R5868 S-Sugar which is the Lancaster that Tamiya used as their reference for this kit. The wheels in the kit are also the later, treaded type, most wartime Lancasters had smooth tyres. Some of these issues and more were addressed in the release of 61105 Avro Lancaster B Mk.I/III:


This kit is the pick of the bunch. It's many additions include the larger bomb aimer's blister, smooth bulged tyres, new engine nacelles with unshrouded exhausts, needle-blade propellors and a new twin 0.5" Browning rear turret.

Paragon Designs

Paragon Designs were one of the first companies to offer some superb resin conversions for the Tamiya Lancaster but they have recently stopped trading.

Other conversion kits were also offered by Paragon Designs, these included the Lancaster Prototype Conversion, the Avro Manchester conversion, Merlin 85 Nacelles and Lancaster Flaps. There are conversion kits still available to convert the Tamiya Lancaster to the Avro Lincoln but these are beyond the scope of this article.

Continued in Part 2...