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  • Writer's picture@PlaneThought41

Immortal RAF Bomber: 1/48th Tamiya Lancaster BI/BIII

Let me start off by letting you know, this is not your typical Tamiya fit kit, it requires some work. My Lancaster below was also the original 1975 release. The Tamiya 1/48th scale Lancaster kits were given a bit of an update around 2009 and are still available. For decades Tamiya had the only Lancaster in 1/48th scale, until the recent HK Models release in 2021.

Notable Kit Features:

  • The only Lancaster in this scale for 40+ years

  • Optional open engine bays (on 2 engines only)

  • Optional open bomb bay

  • Nice deep control surface recesses

Build Inspiration:

As many RCAF personnel flew this majestic aircraft in WWII, I wanted to have an example of a 1/48th scale Lancaster in my collection. As luck would have it, I got my kit second hand at a reasonable price from a fellow model maker who bought one and then decided they didn't have the space (or time and effort) to build one. It took me many years to get around to this one and I was inspired to do so after finding the AeroMaster decals for an RCAF example that had shark-teeth painted on the nacelles.

For a great guideline on building up this kit see Steve's walk through of his build in the link below:

Heads-Up Report:

  • Basic cockpit with engineer's and radio operator's panels as well as the cockpit instruments represented with decals

  • Incorrect layout of the navigator/radio operator table

  • Crew seats have deep ribbing which is not correct

  • Ejector-pin marks on bomb bay doors

  • Basic bomb bay

  • Basic gun turrets

  • Side window positions may be incorrect

  • Short shot issues in clear parts on side windows were not uncommon

  • All control surfaces molded in neutral or closed position

  • Poor fitting nacelles that have incorrect features and lack detail

  • The two Merlin XX engines require much added detail (I opted for closed nacelles)

  • Propellers are rounded end type (check your references as many / most WWII Lancs had more pointed prop ends)

  • Nose turret and associated parts do not fit well

  • Only early style shallow nose blister is supplied with the kit

  • Rear machine guns mounting brackets is shown incorrect on the instruction sheet - Outer guns should be higher not inner guns (invert part B41 to correct)

  • Wing vents (B61) are shown incorrectly installed in the instructions, the vents should face rearwards on the wing (discovered this well after my build)

  • Lower nose glass required shim to fit opening

  • The main-gear tires have diamond-pattern tread (check your references - many Lancs did not have this tire style and not this exaggerated

  • Raised panel lines

  • Tamiya suggested paint pattern was deemed incorrect in the instructions

Note: The later 2009 Tamiya Lancaster releases reportedly included revised parts to provide new nacelle parts with recessed panel detail plus unshrouded exhausts; 'weighted' main wheels with smooth treads, and parts for the late rear turret with two .50 cal machine guns (as well as painted canopy parts on some kits)

Kit Additions / Modifications:

  • Moved radio operators station rearward 1 cm (1/2")

  • Filled side windows (as my example had overpainted windows)

  • Added wing fuel tanks, visible from the main landing gear compartment. Scratch built easily with styrene sheet and then painted red oxide

  • Removed tread from tires (filled diamond-pattern and sanded)

  • Hollowed out small air intakes on engines

  • Painted on RAF wing roundels, tail flashes and aircraft ID lettering

  • Used after-market decals from AeroMaster 48-453

  • Meant to replace the props with proper pointed tips but missed that detail

  • Used AeroMaster and photo references to apply correct upper camouflage pattern

  • As a final build delaying blow, I dropped the main canopy and stepped on it - Luckily Tamiya was able to provide a replacement

End Result:

The paint scheme for this aircraft was the standard RAF Night Camouflage consisting of Dark Green and Dark Earth upper surfaces over Black under and sides. Colour tones were varied during paint spray to show weathering effects. Black tones were all lightened so no true black was used (for scale and weathering effect). Additional weathering was applied using washes to any crevices as well as dry paint exhaust staining (using Tempra black paint powder). The unusual markings were of an example from RCAF 419 Sqn. R for "Ropey" (VR R - serial KB772) which survived WWII and ended up in Malton, Ontario, Canada shortly after the war concluded.

The After-Build Report:

Despite my long list of notes in the "Heads-Up section, if you want a 1/48th Lancaster the Tamiya kit may still be a contender due to the high price of the HK Models option (Kit No. 01F005). The Tamiya kit still fetches a pretty hefty price tag (in Canada at least) probably because there isn't much choice in manufacturers. It always surprised me that Monogram or Airfix didn't tackle this project in 1/48th back in the day, as the Lancaster is such an iconic aircraft. If you have some experience you can turn this kit into a rather nice display. If you want more detail and features the HK Models kit (while not perfect) is brilliant from what I have seen in the reviews, and includes dropped flap details, better engine and an overall update to this bomber.

Completed build #184 - October 2015 using the 1/48th scale Tamiya #61020 (MA-120) kit.

Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers

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