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The Peter Buckingham Column Part 16




The Trumpeter Swordfish was almost ready for assembly and had proved to be the most enjoyable (albeit demanding) build to date. Surely it was just a case of putting the wing sets on and then the final tidying up would complete the package?



Wrong! Isn't it amazing how some things can turn around and kick you up the backside? Those of you who have been reading this build will have remembered from very early on that I thought it advisable to leave out the wing centre section 'root' ribs and spars (they hold the two bi-plane wing sets in the folded position - Kit Parts G1 and G6 for the lower wings and parts B12 and B16 for the upper wings) until a very late stage. I would suggest to fit them around this time of the assembly pattern.



They are prone to knocks in handling and, being plastic can become very weak which mine did and the two bottom ones had to be replaced. But how to do it without damaging the paint work? Using my trusty Swann Morton scalpel with the long number 26 blade I carefully and very very gently eased it around the glued joints in the lower wing centre section and managed to extract the ribs inflicting just slight damage to the area. Then, using the spare wing rigging P/E steel frame, I discovered that one of the long side pieces of steel was exactly the depth of the broken spar which was then cut to length and epoxied to the inside of the rib and therefore out of sight. I then did some even more careful easing of the wing spar box in the wing to ensure that the wings when fitted, could be easily slid into position. Once everything was 'tickety-boo' it was back to the Iwata TR1 and some gentle remedial spray work to the repaired centre section. This whole repair operation took about four evenings work. If I build another Swordfish in this configuration, I will do this modification from Day 1.



The wings were then carefully slid onto their respective spars and the final details were added. Stretched Lycra thread was used for the aerials, the P/E torpedo sight was glued into position and what looks like notched plumbing in front of the top wing centre section but what is actually a cunning torpedo aiming device was superglued. The last job was to fix the TAG's machine gun into it's location. And that was it - one Trumpeter 1/32 Fairey Swordfish.




Other modifications that I have not mentioned were the use of Milliput to make a thin padded 'leather' headrest for the pilot which was painted black and dry brushed to give it some life, scratch built pitot tubes from thin fuse wire to replace the too thick plastic kit items, some wiring on the top wing centre section and the arrestor hook in flight retrieval system.



I liked what I saw. At that stage, I hadn't seen another built. I have now seen the one that Tony O'Toole has built and shown on the Britmodeller website which is superb, and when you consider that Tony hand paints all of his models! Respect!! I also understand that another favourite modeller of mine, Geoff Coughlin, has one on the stocks for his club's entry at Telford this year. Geoff's models are fantastic and I will be very interested to see the result of his Swordfish build.




What I wanted now was a busy diorama to go with the Swordfish, so it was down to Wilkinsons for one of their cheapo picture frames. I sprayed a diagonal line of white matt onto the picture frame glass which, when dry, was then masked to represent a deck marking. A small number of oval shaped Tamiya masking tape pieces were randomly placed over the glass which would then represent puddles.The front and back of the glass was then sprayed Citadel Chaos Matt Black from a rattle can which is marvellous stuff from Games Workshop.




When all was dry, the tape was removed and the result was a nice white line and some shiny puddles on the 'deck'. To give some variation to the matt black I sprayed some random streaks of Klear. Through Graham's good offices at Relish Models, I bought some 1/35 (it is only a small scale difference) Tamiya and Mini Craft German Tank Maintenance crew figures and modified them to look like the Royal Navy and Air Force mixed crew that were on HMS Ark Royal and made a white sailor hat for one poor soul out of Milliput. Some 1/35 P/E Aber tools and tool box completed the set up and these were then strategically placed around the Swordfish. I made some wheel chocks out of plasticard, painted them red and ran some thin rubber tube in a 'snake' to represent an air line.




Just a few words about the real '2P'. She was one of 150 built at The Fairey Aviation Company works in Hayes, Middlesex and was on the Fleet Air Arm strength in September, 1939, before being transferred to 810 Squadron NAS, FAA, aboard HMS Ark Royal.




2P was one of the aircraft that attacked the German battleship Bismarck and was flown by Sub Lt Beale, with Acting Sub Lt Friend and L/A Pimlott as the Telegraphist Air Gunner (TAG). It is very likely that Beale scored one of the hits on Bismarck, though not the one that crippled her. Beale attacked from the port side and was likely responsible for a hit amidships. The strike that crippled the Bismarck was from the starboard side.




Returning from the attack, 2P was severely damaged while landing on the flight deck and was subsequently unserviceable for some considerable time, being 'struck off charge' in October, 1941. 


More next week,


Peter Buckingham