The Night's Watch - 1/48th Tamiya Beaufighter Mk.IIF (Conversion)
Updated: Apr 24
This Tamiya kit offering was pretty much the only Beaufighter available (aside form the Vacuformed Falcon kit) in 1/48th scale. Released in 1997, it still holds up quite well. The fit and detail are quite good allowing model makers of any skill level to get a nice build straight from the box.
Notable Kit Features:
Nicely detailed interior
Finely engraved panel lines
Well fitting parts
This build project started with a Tamiya 1/48th Bristol Beaufighter Mk.IV kit that I picked up by chance at a model show. The owner had also bought the Mk.IIF CMK Conversion Set and found himself out of his depth when the cutting started and shelved the project. I knew RCAF Squadrons had flown this type of aircraft so when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped in to pick up where he left off.
Now it was just a matter of picking a suitable squadron and aircraft... sounds simple enough. Out comes one level of separation between model builders... some build for fun, they can pick a kit, finish it out of the box, blissfully entertained & fulfilled by their accomplishment (ah, those were the days). Then there are those of us who have seemingly digressed into fretting over a multitude of details in the act of trying to produce some form of replica aircraft subject matter. This sometimes leads us into countless hours of internet research, hunting for the details of our chosen subject, and the Holy Grail of a period photo of the specific aircraft type we seek to build. Note: We don't start off by saying "I think I'll spend 65 hours or so researching this next build", it just happens somehow :) So having said that, I eventually came to select a fine RCAF 406 Squadron Beaufighter aircraft that was credited with their first night kill on September 1, 1941 (Serial R2336).
Robert Fumerton (left) and Radar operator Pat Bing hold a piece of the Junkers 88 they shot down for the RCAF's first night kill September 1, 1941. It was used as the squadron "Kill Board" for the duration of the war.
This is a nice kit so it's a pretty short list
It appears that the kit elevator trim tab actuators are solid triangles and are a bit off in their placement (these stabilizers would be replaced as part of the conversion)
Kit Additions / Modifications: (Keep in mind this is a conversion, so this list is a bit longer)
Added seat belts to cockpit
Cut out wing to allow for CMK Merlin engine replacements
Fit replacement engines (Sand, fill, Sand, fill, Sand, fill, Sand, fill or so)
Cut wing to remove wing filter intakes (not present on IIF) - Plug gaps with resin parts
Repaired Merlin forward engine scoops (broken on CMK resin parts)... only to realize they were not present on this A/C - Removed repaired scoops
After install and paint, l realized the Merlin exhausts provided in the CMK resin were of the incorrect type for this specific aircraft - Source & replace exhausts with correct type
Replace kit tail with pair of properly profiled horizontal stabilizers for the IIF
CMK Replacement spinners were a bit large in diameter - Sanded down profile (Reported as possibly too pointy as well so I blunted them a bit)
Scratch-built "towel-rack" antenna on bottom fuselage of aircraft
Custom sprayed Call Letters "HU L" on A/C - Later "Wait...L? that was supposed to be a J!" Repaint body and respray correct "HU J" call letters (After major problems finding the correct font for the J)
Just to add to the calamity - The masking process changing the "L" to "J" damages the fuselage roundel decal - Replace both roundels
Realizing that I do not have proper serial number decals (what was I thinking?) - Returned to paint shop to custom spray serial number R2336 (Careful not to damage fin flash decal as I do occasionally learn from my previous mistakes:)
(Hmmm... seems to be a high ratio of self inflicted issues above, however we won't dwell on those as I am supposed to know what I am doing here;)
I started the paint job with a bit of an undercoat in aluminum paint in areas that I thought I may want to do some chipping (It also comes in handy to expose how well the joins were made.) The weathered night-fighter black finish was achieved by multiple black tone applications of paint (none of which are straight black). Paint chipping was later done in areas such as the leading edges and prop hubs & blades (although a bit too subtle to see).
The After-Build Report:
I would definitely recommend this base Tamiya 1/48th scale Beaufighter kit for modelers of all skill sets. It has very few assembly problems and offers the typical good fit of Tamiya with a respectable level of detail in the various parts. If you want to do the Mk.IIF conversion you should have some experience behind you working with resin and performing kit modifications, as you will have to do major surgery on the wings of a decently expensive kit and it would be a shame to destroy it in the process.
I will also give thanks to the fellow who bought this kit (as well as the Mk.II conversion), started it and then instead of binning it when he gave up on the project, sold it to the next guy, eager to take a crack at it. I don't know that I would have otherwise thought to tackle a project like this. Certainly my "I hate to see a good kit go to waste" adoption instincts cut in to save this example from from someone's "Shelf of Doom". It is now a proud, not-often-seen, addition to my growing RCAF model aircraft collection.
Completed build #183 - October 2015 using the 1/48th scale Tamiya 61964-2800 kit as well as the CMK Beaufighter Mk.IIF Conversion Set No4010.
Feel free to ask any questions and I will see how good my memory is of the build - Keep on building what you want, how you want - Cheers