Thursday, 14 March 2019

Canberra PR.9 XH134 1985 Scheme WIP #1

If you have been following my blog from the start, you might start to think to yourself "Hasn't he already built a model of XH134?". The answer to that is yes, I did build a 1/72nd scale model of XH134 back in 2013, along with XH131 and XH135. These were part of my "End Of An Era" project which consisted of the last three Canberra's in RAF service when they retired in 2006. 

Now this is a new two part project in which I am building two 1/48th scale models of Canberra PR.9 XH134 at two different stages of her service. This is going to be the first part of this project, building XH134  as she was in 1985 when she was assigned to No. 1 PRU at RAF Wyton. The second part of the project will be how she was in 2006 in her Retirement Scheme, just like in my "End Of An Era" model, but in 1/48th scale with a load of aftermarket extras. Another point of doing this aircraft twice, is to show how she varied in her set-up between the 21 year period. So for the first part of this project, I am building XH134 as she was during 1985 and in the dark green and dark sea grey over light aircraft grey.

The base kit is the Airfix 1/48th scale Canberra PR.9, of which one of the four scheme options is the 1985 version of XH134. Just like the second model that I will be building, this one is having some aftermarket extras included in the model. These items are the cast resin bomb bay from CMK, Eduards interior and exterior etched set, and Eduards etched landing flaps.

So let us get started on the construction of this bird. The first area that I tackled was the alterations that needed to be done to the cockpit area. This was where I discovered a bit of a mistake on Eduards behalf. In their instructions they say to take kit part 1F, cut the tip off and then cut the navigators floor in half. The front section then has to be glued partially under the front of the main cockpit body so that it measures 52mm from the bulkhead to the end of the floor. This is wrong, do not cut the floor in half as it measures 52 mm when still attached and the tip cut off.

I continued with the alterations on the cockpit parts for fitting the pre-printed etched panels and replacement parts. The kit comes with the cockpit set-up of the B.8 aircraft, so some modifications have to be done to convert it to the PR.9. The first alteration is to remove the navigation and bomb aiming equipment from the front section of the cockpit. This has to be done so that you can move the navigators position from alongside the pilot to in front of him. This then left another issue that there was no way to mount the navigators ejector seat. So I made up a bracket that fits to the floor for the seat to glued to once everything has been painted and ready to go into the fuselage.

Once I was happy with the seat bracket, I moved onto the plain etched pieces that have to be fitted prior to painting. The biggest part at this stage was the panel next to the pilots position, this needed to be folded up and glued in place. I am not sure if Eduard ever built this up properly, but the measurements and angles were not correct meaning that some filing was needed to get this to sit near enough right. The other two pieces were box behind the pilots position and an instrument box over the main control panel. I gave all of the etched parts a coat of Mr Metal Primer before a coat of normal primer and a couple of coats of black.

Whilst I was in the mood for working with the etched detail for the model, I decided to get the etched flap housings done on the wings. Canberra's have two sets of flaps on each wing, one either side of the engine exhausts. The inboard housing looked to be the more awkward one to assemble, but it turned out that these were the easier ones to build compared to the outer units. Both housing were basically a case of bend up the end plate, the fold and twist the ribs around and glue into position. The inner unit also had a brace that ran across the middle to a panel at one end. This held all of the ribs in their positions making them more secure once everything was glued down. The outer unit did not have this brace, therefore leaving nothing to support the ribs allowing them to keep moving. Another problem was with gluing them, the slightest knock and the rib would break loose. The next set of these that I make up will be soldered together instead of using superglue, it is a bit more secure to solder them instead of gluing.

Onto the modifications to the upper wing surfaces for fitting the flap housings. The kit wings have moulded rib detail on the upper wing sections, these have to be removed to allow the etched replacement parts to sit in place. The  inner flap housing was straight forward preparing the area for that one to locate. You just draw a straight line from the engine tunnel across to the wing end and remove the raised rib detail. You also need to remove part of the end brace to accommodate the end panel of the new housing. I test fitted the housing with the lower wing section in place making sure there was no issues. This revealed that more plastic had to be ground away from the upper section and a little on the lower one along the edges. Once happy with the inner housing, I moved onto the outer one.

With this one, I placed the etched outer housing onto the upper wing section and marked out where it sits. The process of removing the plastic ribs started as well as thinning the trailing edges of the upper wing. After some test fitting, some areas of the lower wing were ground away to allow the two halve to close up properly. Once I was happy with this wing, the etched parts were glued into the places and work started on the other wing following the same procedure as this wing. Once both wings had their flap housings in place on the upper wings, I glued the lower halves to the uppers and secured the housing along the lower joints with some superglue to add some extra strength to them.

The etched replacement flaps at the minute have not been assembled yet, I am leaving that until a little later. These are going to be soldered together instead of gluing them, due to them being a box construction. I will tin all of the areas where they will join up, fold each flap into shape and run the iron along the outside surface to heat the solder and create the joint. This will be stronger than using superglue and easier to clean up any excess solder away.

Well, that is all for now, I will go into detail on fitting the resin bomb bay and fitting the pre-printed etch to the cockpit panels and navigators seat in the next WIP post for this project.

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